High Country Snooze

  • Cartoon: Another morning at the "New West" Cafe

    Diane Sylvain
  • New intern Joey Winterbottom

  • Wyvada/Diane Sylvain


HCS publisher heaves fowl

Joey Winterbottom, an intern who arrived last week, successfully administered the Heimlich maneuver to HCS publisher Ed Motown during a brown-bag staff meeting yesterday. Motown had noticed the meeting had gone two minutes over the designated hour and was trying to sigh conclusively to indicate it was over - a technique he learned in a recent management seminar - when a chunk of chicken lodged in his windpipe.

"Everyone said that Ed usually struggles for breath at the end of meetings, but when he turned blue I realized he wasn't kidding," said Winterbottom. He sprang to the struggling publisher's side and administered a quick bear-hug, causing the chicken chunk to sail into the business department.

"I remembered that somewhere between graduating from Harvard when I was 17 and being an Outward Bound instructor, U.S. ski jumping champion and delivering Patagonia clothes to the children in the high Andes, I had also received a medical degree from Duke. So I knew what to press," said the 25-year-old master gardener and ornithologist. "It sure is nice to be back in the West. Writing is what I really want to do."

- The Staph

In a surprise move, members of the radical environmental group Earth Fist! and the animal rights group People for the Extra-Nice Treatment of Bunnies have formed a new group for unemployed cattle, Progressive Lives Off Pasture (PLOP).

The coalition has started cattle retraining programs in seven Western states, although staff livestock specialist Bo Vine says the "inborn metacarpal deficiency" of cattle may "severely curtail their potential contribution to an increasingly technological society."

But he remains optimistic: "Keyboards can be redesigned. I envision a Hooves On Line being up and running for the next generation of beeves."

A group of Western congressmen, hoping to stem the loss of traditional cattle jobs, are co-sponsoring a bill to "restrict the sale of any food stuff whose protein content is below that of an average sirloin, and/or whose color is not brown or red." Insiders say the bill will likely fly through the House but may have harder going in the Senate.

PLOP's Vine emphasizes that cattle should not totally abandon the range for cyberspace. "We also need to be looking at things cows are naturally endowed to contribute," he says. "Methane, for example. Fertilizer, for another."

The adjustment to the New West won't ever be total, the activists warn. For example, most cows would not be comfortable in ski resorts.

"They would find the pace hectic," says Vine. "They find slow-paced rural areas, "cowtowns," if you will, most amenable."

PLOP president Doc Hatpasture of Woregon sees a bright future: "We feel there's no limit to what bovines could achieve, providing they are given good clean water, grass and air, and plenty of time in which to develop new brains."


Dear HCN:

I was angered (in a just, scholarly way) by your recent story, "The West's spider mites: Friend or foe?" You disparagingly condensed my 41 years of research - from my graduate school days at old Missou through a post-doc at the Purdue's elite Pest Institute and my Fulbright to the Swedish Institut och Mitey Mite all the way through my Professorship and finally my (rather quick) promotion to Head of the Department of Mites, Arachnids and Small Crawly Things here at Nevorado State University - into two tiny sentences.

I spent hours with your reporter, who spent most of the time picking at her split ends and drawing great blue herons on her notepad. To add insult to injury, my quotes appeared right next to those of someone who disagreed with me. I wouldn't have spent decades pursuing the objective truth if I thought I'd have to spend my tenured years duking it out with thugs like Angus McCloud, who doesn't have a Ph.D, nay, even a master's degree in science.

But since he called me a bloodless prisoner of the ivory tower, let me say in retort that he, like life, is nasty, brutish and short. He's also an insurrectionist who thinks that beneficial pests should breed like rabbits and be simply given to all kinds of hairy sustainable agriculture types, who doubtless have thriving populations of beneficials growing in their beards. As for McCloud's ranting about "sustainable agriculture'; if agriculture were sustainable, why would it be in the mess it's in today?

To McCloud, and to High Country Snooze, I say this: The West's spider mites, at least those I've worked with (and I've probably worked with most of them); belong to DuPont.

A. Fray Leego, Ph.D
Fort Cruces, Nevorado


Dear HCN:

I am incensed. I have been since birth. But I am more incensed right now because your reporter quoted what I said. When I said the Forest Service District Ranger was "the most gainfully employed retard in state of Idahah," it was OFF THE RECORD. Now he won't talk to me. God. Great. Aren't we on the same side here?

Flame O'Connor
Idahah Coalition Coalition
New Indignation, Idahah

Environmentalists cry foul

Environmentalists are crying foul at Wyvada developer Spurge Burdock's plan to dam the Couscous River and sell the water to some other equally dry rectangular Western state. "We hate it," says Begonia Feldspar, spokeswoman for the citizens' group Friends of the Bleak Arid Wastelands. "Endangered limpets and rare birds such as Burmaster's pin-headed squidge and the least green-tailed buffett love the Couscous."

Burdock, however, is known to be close friends with Chellen Henoweth, R-Pluto, who is sponsoring a bill that would allow Republican developers to do "whatever the hell they want" while environmentalists would be forced to eat endangered salmon, at gunpoint, if necessary.

Meanwhile, back at New Mexico's Diamond Beer allotment (HCN, every issue for it seems like years), rancher Lit Kaney once again reminded reporters that if the jack-booted federales tried to move his cows off his grazing allotment, he and his friends have a lot of guns.

"We also have chemical weapons, heat-seeking missiles and the bomb," he added, "but we won't use them unless we decide to."

- Bill Meelater

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].

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