Author: Jon DeVos

Four Wasted Bucks

Here we are back to the stupid wall. Mexico’s never gonna pay for it. Hey! I just looked in my wallet and there’s $4.27 gone! Look in yours. I bet it’s missing the same amount, in fact, it’s missing from the pockets of every man, woman, baby and immigrant in America. Those four bucks are your down-payment on the wall because our president promised it. He promised it to show how ferocious and unkind he intended to be in preserving cabbage-picking careers for capable, white American hands. And he does this while his towers and resorts are staffed with immigrants. Instead of giggling their fool heads off, Congress approved a $1,600,000,000 payment that will not be in pesos. Let me write that out: sixteen-thousand-million dollars. That hurts. How far would that go toward opioid and fentanyl education and recovery? How many lives could that money save? Instead, our president is determined in squandering it on a medieval bulwark laughably defeated by tunnels and drones. And the sad thing is – he knows it. It’s all show. I’ve written about it before. History is replete with failed walls. Back in 21 BCE, ancient Sumerian’s built a hundred-mile wall between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that worked perfectly to keep out the unwanted – for three years before they were overrun by the Amorites. One of the longest walls of antiquity...

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When Wildlife Attacks

Like many of us in Grand County, living on the edge of the wilderness, my wife and I live under the threat of becoming a snack for some marauding bear while we’re basting chicken wings on the barbecue or pulling weeds from the garden. Every day you read about some poor indigenous hillbilly getting mauled by a moose, badgered by a bear or chomped by a cougar. So the other night, just as I stepped out the door, a huge black shape charged at me out of the darkness of the garage. I was terrified. Don’t you think my wife would excuse me for squealing like a schoolgirl? Apparently that thought never crossed her mind. When it comes to our two rescue mutts, Freeta Goodhome, who is one stenchful basset hound, and Surely who snores like a buzz saw, we love them but we’re also realists. We gave up long ago thinking they would ever bring our slippers or fetch the newspaper without chewing it to smithereens. On the plus side, they wag when we walk into the room. They don’t run loose in our neighborhood, but it isn’t that tough on them.  From the upstairs safety of their Select-Comfort bed, they stand on tiptoe, shredding the curtains to see if there are squirrels in their pen. There are always squirrels in their pen. So they blast downstairs, careening...

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Heeney to Heemeyer

The Heeney Tick Festival began sometime in the 1960’s as a fundraiser for the Lower Blue Volunteer Fire Department. It commemorated a Heeney settler’s recovery from Rocky Mountain spotted fever back in the 1940s. That’s when the Green Mountain Reservoir was being built as part of the Big Thompson Plan. Recollections are hazy as to exactly when the festival began, but by 2001 the crowds were so thick that things were getting a bit chaotic. Others claim the first Heeney festival was held in either 1980 or 1981. It seemed to depend upon the age, memory and beer content of the local you’re talking to. The population of Heeney then was about 50, but that included 14 dogs for tax purposes. By 2001, the population had swollen to 58 after a big litter of pups, but the crowds at the festival had to be bussed in from remote parking.   The confusion about the number may be linked to the fact that there were two places to buy commemorative t-shirts, five places to buy hand-made crafts, and 18 places to buy beer.  There was even a young entrepreneur walking around with an insulated beer keg on his back selling refills for whatever you tossed in his cup. I’ll never forget my first Cheesy Beany Heeney Weeny, but then, who could? Despite the festival’s growing success, Heeney’s strategic location near...

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Who’s In Charge

We have dropped our guard and allowed bumbling idiots to rise to the top. Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson announced stentorously during an Armed Services Committee hearing that the island of Guam is in danger of tipping over because one side of the island was becoming over-populated. The Colorado Department of Higher Education keeps trying to enforce licensing and oversight of yoga instructors. At exactly the same time, Colorado Senator Kevin Lundberg was pushing to eliminate licensing and oversight for small day cares. Kids are tougher than they look. Representative Steve Stockman of Texas tried to block federal funding for schools that punish children who play with imaginary weapons. House Speaker John Boehner said that he and his fellow Congressmen “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.” There’s an intelligent path to making America great again. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina tried to make bathroom hand-washing optional for restaurant employees, eliminating an entire level of intrusive bureaucratic oversight. “It should be the employee’s choice, not a government mandate.” Nevada assemblyman, Jim Wheeler is so supportive of American values that he said he would vote to allow slavery if his constituents wanted him to do. When someone pointed out to Senator Rand Paul that he had plagiarized large portions of his speeches from “Gattaca” and “Stand and Deliver” he called them “hacks and haters” and challenged them...

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Mad Max

Mad Max: have carburetor, will travel­   After waxing nostalgic last week about my dad’s fireworks fiasco, I’ve been thinking a lot about his Silver Bullet. That’s what he called his favorite car, a 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV. By the time it was handed down to me it needed considerable restoration but I settled for a lick and a promise, just enough to enjoy slinking through Fraser’s highway and byways looking all cool and gangster. But then, miraculously, my brother came through and took it off my hands. Let him find the 40 grand to rehab the beast! But I sure miss the slinking part. Then I read about a Finn named Vesa Mikkonen who converted a ‘79 Lincoln Mark V to wood power, claiming he got about two kilometers per kilo of wood. I looked out the window at a billion standing tanks of gas and my first thought was “Gimmee my car back!” but then reality intruded and I decided to let sleeping Lincoln’s lie. But in researching wood-powered cars, I discovered that far from a rarity, there were over half a million cars running on “producer gas” around Europe by the end of WWII! Producer gas is created by the burning of organic material, primarily wood or coal, in an enclosed space with just enough air to smolder a combustible gas. Interestingly enough, very little...

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The Problem, Not The Solution

It’s The Problem, Not The Solution – TGIF Marxism is out of favor and folks don’t like to talk about class distinctions in America but what is happening, under the smoke and mirrors of the new budget and making health care better, is that these bills are a clumsily disguised taking of $700 billion dollars from those who need it most and giving it to those who need it least. Think I’m kidding? If you make $875,000 per year, your tax obligation would be lowered by $45,000. If you make $5 million per year, you just saved $250,000. On the other hand, if you’re making $56,000 a year, your health insurance will run around $20,500, an easily affordable sum if you don’t eat and live in your car. Even the president called it “mean.” That $700 billion dollar gift to the rich; how’s that paid for? Simply put, it’s coming from the money we give the government to keep us safe. Governor John Kasich of Ohio summed it up nicely, asking, why we would take away vital services for a depleted middle class, the mentally ill, the elderly and the poor to give more money to the people who don’t need it? Many of the cuts make no sense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are charged with the formidable task of preventing threats to American’s health. Cutting...

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Fire In The Sky

My pyrotechnic interests had two early influences that blended into one memorable experience. The first influence was my father’s war with our neighbor and the second was our proximity to Nogales. We’d just moved to south Tucson into a tract home so new we had to wait for the concrete sidewalk to dry. The neighbor’s name was Choate but I think political differences were at the heart of why my dad called him “Pig” Choate, a play on the homophone with shoat, the term for a young pig. Our houses faced each other across Menor Stravenue. Streets called stravenues are found nowhere in nature but Tucson, Arizona. It is a diagonal street that intersects a street and an avenue – a stravenue, with a unique postal abbreviation of “Stra”. Now, I stared over at the Choate house a lot because along with his wife, Pig lived there with 3 daughters, one of whom was Mandy, my deepest and most abiding love before I got my driver’s license. I’d sit in our front yard for hours waiting for the opportunity for a glimpse of my maiden of Menor. I think I was once rewarded with a tiny wave and a shy smile but in hindsight, I think she might have been creeped out by the binoculars. One day mid-June, my dad drug out a long extension cord and drill and...

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Blowin’ In The Wind-Shield

Young people are always asking what it was like in the “olden days” of Grand County around Hideaway Park. They stare at me expectantly as they might a tipped vessel spewing wisdom. I stand there hesitant, because it was so peculiar living here that one’s words must be chosen carefully, admittedly less so now that the statute of limitations has passed. Let me momentarily digress for newbies: Hideaway Park was the name of this happy hamlet until 1978 when goofy met greedy and they changed the name to Winter Park hoping to hoodwink hapless tourists away from the ski area and into town where they would theoretically spend lavishly on T-shirts and view lots. I explain that back in the early ‘70’s, it was cold, there weren’t a lot of jobs, and folks wore knitted hats saying “Ski Elsewhere” and “Ski Barstool”. It wasn’t a tourist town or a real estate bonanza, just a happy little self-contained colony of self-contented forest-dwellers next to a Denver city park. Rather than try to describe early Grand County culture, which most closely resembled that of Trobriand Islanders crossed with Nordic Berserkers, I find it more illustrative to provide anecdotes about what life was like then.        I mentioned jobs were scarce, but that allowed an astonishing array of creative revenue-producing talent. For instance, there was a fellow here named “Rootin’ Tootin’”. I...

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