|HUMOR: Heard Around the West|
|Betsy Marston | 5/8/12|
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Now in its 20th year, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., always attracts wannabe authors who eagerly collect advice from the writers and editors present. Invariably, one tip always gets mentioned, says Kirsten Akens of the local weekly Independent, and it has nothing to do with finding an agent. It’s “Never, ever, pitch an agent or editor while in the bathroom.” Someone once tried that ploy on a “famous” New York editor who was otherwise occupied in a bathroom stall. It proved anything but successful: After the manuscript was slid stealthily under her door, the editor said, “They were very lucky I didn’t use it for toilet paper.”
Speaking of toilets, if you took 400 of them bound for a landfill and ground them up instead, and then added the bite-size bits to concrete, you’d have a road material dubbed “Poticrete.” At least that’s what they’re calling it in Bellingham, Wash., where poticrete was incorporated into the Meadow Kansas Ellis Trail Project. The project achieved LEED-like certification from the year-old Greenroads Foundation, based in Seattle, which means that the new road of former porcelain thrones meets a high level of sustainability.
It’s hard to know whether the calf appreciated its ride in the backseat of the car; maybe it got to poke its head out the window and flap its tongue in the wind, in classic Fido fashion. But the animal must have looked noticeably larger than even a very large dog, because a deputy sheriff in Luna County, N.M., pulled over the Honda Civic to ask the driver a few questions. Then he arrested the three men in the vehicle for rustling the 220-pound calf that was “sharing” the backseat with one of them, reports the Carlsbad Current Argus. The men were jailed and charged with suspicion of larceny of livestock, conspiracy, lack of a bill of sale and exporting livestock. The Associated Press did not mention how the calf exited the car or whether it had to hitchhike to get home again.
An impatient driver in San Francisco recently received an unexpected comeuppance. After traffic in his lane ground to a halt, reports The Week, he decided to swerve around other cars and keep moving, only to find that his Porsche had entered a lane made of freshly poured cement: “The car sank about a foot and got stuck.”
Canada geese may not enjoy reading, but one pair has definitely become territorial about the Harmony Library on the campus of Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colo. When library patrons try to enter or exit the main door, the 10-to-14-pound geese hiss and flap their wings — an “intimidating” experience for little kids in strollers who find themselves at eye level with the angry birds, says the Coloradoan. Yet the migratory birds’ bad behavior has been tolerated for some years and even become “something of an annual tradition” during the spring, so library staff merely post signs that warn: “Aggressive geese. Keep walking!” Of course, visitors occasionally break into a run when the geese get their dander up, and it’s advisable to step carefully, since the geese leave sizable calling cards on the sidewalk. Still, as one unflappable visitor put it: “They’re just acting like geese. I’m just amazed they pick this spot.”
In Wyoming’s southeast corner, the Niobrara Shale oil play is big business with energy companies combing the area hoping to snap up leases. But though the pressure is intense on local people to lease their mineral rights, not everybody succumbs. Leslie Waggener, an archivist with the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center, has been collecting oral histories from residents to chart the progress of this latest energy development. One day, she met an “aginner” named Harry “Bud” Rogers, who says he turned down so much money he couldn’t believe he’d done it, reports the Casper Star-Tribune. But Rogers said he’d “bought this property to pass on to my kids,” and that was that.
Even billboard-hating drivers in the college town of Logan, Utah, probably don’t get angry when they pass an unusual sign on the corner of 700 North and Main. Its giant message isn’t selling anything but niceness: “BE KINDER THAN NECESSARY.” A couple of years ago, the billboard appeared for the first time on Interstate 15 in the town of Tremonton, the gift of an anonymous donor suffering from a terminal illness. He wanted “to pass on an uplifting message to fellow citizens,” reports the Herald Journal. Since then, the Headrick sign company, at the suggestion of salesman Mike Watts, has kept the message alive at new locations, all at company expense.
Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, an op ed syndicate of High Country News (hcn.org). Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared (email@example.com).
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