Life. Simplified. column: The secrets of marital bliss |

Life. Simplified. column: The secrets of marital bliss

If you’re looking for the secret to marital bliss, here it is: Put stuff away and clean up your messes. Honor your promises. Schedule intimacy at least a couple of times every week. Share the load. Pick your battles. Try to be kind, generous, patient and forgiving. Take turns preparing deliciously nutritious meals, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, picking up dog poop, and getting the kids to bed. Smile more. Yell less. Save more. Buy less. Listen more. Say less. Agree to disagree. And celebrate — as often as possible. Show up. Every day. That’s it — that’s the whole show.

In my family, we’ve agreed on three additional non-negotiables: 1) no hitting, 2) no cheating, and 3) no saying “eff-you” when you’re angry. For my wife and me, that third one is the verbal equivalent of the first two. In our home, it’s simply the most disrespectful thing you can say, so we’ve made it off-limits. We’re lovers, not siblings — and there’s a reverence we’d like to honor in each other, and model for our daughter, who we hope will grow up with enough self-respect to choose a partner that honors whatever’s most important to her.

My wife and I celebrated eight years this week; a full decade if you count the fun stuff before the wedding. We’re not running for couple of the year, and we understand there are tough times ahead — but we think we’ve got this whole marriage thing. In a word, we’re partners. We do what we can with whatever we’ve got, and try to make the best of every situation. We don’t always agree on how to get stuff done. So we take turns and talk through objections with as much understanding and compassion as we can muster. We’re not perfect, and sometimes it gets ugly.

I’ll admit, sometimes we joke about hitting each other with the car, and we’ve certainly gone to bed angry — but I could probably count those nights on one hand. Alright, maybe two. But every morning is a new day; a new chance to wake up, make up and get on with it. Life’s too short to hold a grudge; besides we’re both far too lazy. We understand we simply couldn’t do it without the other — at least it wouldn’t be any fun. So, we look for opportunities to keep it light, shake things up, keep it fresh and play. When things get heavy, we call it out, talk it over, and work it through by nurturing our common ground.

If there’s one thing I admire, it’s a family that commits to working things out with heart. Helene Taylor, a California family law attorney, recently reached out to me to learn more about the impact clutter has on relationships. Helene’s innovative heart-centered approach to resolving couples-in-conflict actually helps good people navigate the complex dynamic where love and the law collide. When couples are racing in opposite directions, she’s bringing them back to the table — helping them work things out. When irreconcilable differences rule the day, her radical approach guides individuals through the process of separation and divorce with compassion and dignity. Yes, she’s a renowned divorce coach, but her professional emphasis is on honoring love, compassion and peaceful transitions. You can learn more about Helene’s unique approach at

Sure, life gets messy; but what matters most is the strength of my relationship with my wife — and that requires following through with heart and integrity. In my wedding vows, I promised, “If love is what you do, and not what you say or how you feel, then to you, my love, I pledge my life.” In response to popular demand, I recently wrote an 80-page ebook titled “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex and Relationships that Last.” Downloaded several hundred times since last November, it’s a pocket guide outlining my six steps to decluttering relationships between lovers — and still available for free on my website.

Wishing you epic love, clutter-busting bliss, but above all — joy.

Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email

Fitness column: Redneck heartburn — fun but dangerous

Many of my clients used to take antiacid drugs mainly because they used to eat poorly, failed to exercise and allowed fear, stress and anxiety to control their lives.

So you have been popping Tums and Rolaids for years, not changing any behavior and have gotten to the point that the whole handful you take now doesn’t work anymore. You finally decide to buck up and get some “extra-strength” drugs to mask your poor behavior. You are told to “try” something more powerful (prescription or over-the-counter heartburn drug) to see how they work for you. This process sounds really scientific and “medical,” doesn’t it?

About 15 million Americans take proton pump inhibitors, which suppress your body’s natural secretion of stomach acid — which you really need to digest food. So how could taking them fix anything without causing more problems?

Masking a simple-to-fix-problem with drugs makes you sicker and Big Pharma richer. That’s why Prilosec OTC uses a comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, to sell drugs to you.

The symptoms that these drugs suppress are mostly caused by our own dumb behavior and not usually a medical issue, in my humble opinion. Heaven forbid that we stop eating deep-fried, chemical frankenfood and stressing out about everything while glued to the news channel in fear.

Basic gutology: Just about every time there is some kind of general stomach symptom, three things are happening:

1. Low stomach acid — not “high acid,” like legal drug dealers tell you on commercials.

2. Out of balance gut flora from our American diet.

3. You ate a bunch of deep-fried, processed junk while watching the news, again.

Gut symptoms have scary names like GERD and acid reflux and leaky gut syndrome to dupe you into buying drugs because they hope that you won’t fix your behavior.

In fact, physicians tell me all the time about how you all walk into the office demanding a prescription for some drug you saw on TV, while ignoring the doctor when she tells you to stop stressing out and to eat something healthy occasionally and to stop drinking so much cheap beer, maybe try exercising and so on.

Luckily, Larry the Cable Guy is an endorser of one brand (coincidently the best seller) of these popular drugs, because this is both insulting and hilarious at the same time.

Do rednecks get more heartburn than other people? The marketing team and Procter & Gamble must think so. Perhaps that’s why legal drug dealers hired Larry. These people have used one of my favorite comedians to peddle drugs to unsuspecting rednecks, and it just ain’t right.

How could I resist taking drugs with Larry on the package making me laugh? I can almost see Larry burning doughnuts with his monster truck, eating redneck food, getting heartburn — hilarious.

A pile of research indicates that these drugs (PPIs) cause several important nutrient deficiencies — a major one being B vitamins. Chronic B vitamin deficiencies often equate to a slow, difficult to diagnose, medically bankrupting death.

The reduction of stomach acid from the overuse of these drugs affects protein absorption and compromises the uptake of many nutrients, including those necessary for the uptake of B12.

Natural fixes for many “lifestyle” digestive disorders:

• Manage stress, fear and anxiety in healthier ways like exercise, prayer and meditation.

• Eat a more alkaline-causing diet (more vegetables, less fake junk).

• Eat whole, real, unadulterated foods.

• Stop eating poor quality animal products.

• Eat raw, fermented foods.

• Drink raw apple cider vinegar or sodium bicarbonate to manage flare-ups.

• Drink quality, unchlorinated, fluoridated water and not much else.

• Avoid processed foods.

I don’t mean to rip on P&G for exploiting Larry to try to dupe unsuspecting rednecks into buying drugs. People develop symptoms from drug side effects due to deceiving marketing all the time. Being part redneck myself, I know how a diet of processed, deep-fried or flame-burnt feedlot meat, cheap beer, zero vegetables and absolutely no yoga or Pilates suppresses one’s inner spiritual being, but is also kind of fun sometimes. It’s too bad that legal drug dealers can’t come up with a drug or a celebrity diet that gives people a sense of humor.

Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness.

Glenwood Canyon to close as rock-catching fences are added

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will be fully closed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday as crews install some heavy-duty fencing at the site of major rockfalls in February.

The crews will use a Huey helicopter to lift 13 steel posts, weighing from 1,800 to 2,800 pounds each, to two sites along the northern canyon wall just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel.

The highest of these fences, which are each 16 feet tall by about 200 feet wide, will be installed about 300 feet up the canyon wall.

These locations were scouted out by Colorado Department of Transportation geotechnical specialists, and the fencing will be positioned to provide some redundancy of protection, said project engineer Mike Fowler.

After these closures the rockfall mitigation project will continue, with crews working seven days a week, partly to make up for some unexpectedly late supplies, until about Sept. 1.

Two more fences will be installed with a crane at lower elevations during that time, but the project is not expected to require any more full closures past Thursday.

Some of the ongoing work installing the lower two fences may require a 10-foot vehicle restriction on the westbound lane.

These fences, equipped with braking mechanisms, are capable of stopping boulders up to six and seven feet in diameter, said Jim Stepisnik, the project manager. That’s equivalent to about 3.6 million foot-pounds of force, he said.

“These are some of the biggest high-impact fences that will have been installed in the U.S.”

I-70 was closed for nearly a week in February after major rockslides. It was the longest closure in the 24-year history of I-70 through the slide-prone canyon.

Much of the work to prep the sites of these fences, digging and pouring concrete, has been done by hand with crews hiking up to the locations, said Stepisnik.

The fences are first galvanized, then given a protective coating to give them a long working life, said Fowler.

The rockfall mitigation project has a $1.7 million budget, which Stepisnik said has so far come in on time and on budget.

CDOT has a $9 million geohazards budget and about 750 rockfall areas that the agency monitors, the Post Independent reported earlier.

Crews working on the Grand Avenue bridge project plan to take advantage of the closures to get some utility work done on the new pedestrian bridge — hopefully allowing the team to avoid a couple of night detours of Interstate 70.

Recreation opportunities

Rafting companies west of Glenwood Canyon will be able to get to Grizzly Creek and Shoshone put-ins until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, when Colorado State Patrol will start clearing the canyon in preparation for its reopening.

No private boaters will be allowed during the closure, and rafting companies east of the canyon are not being granted such access.

The traffic closure should make for a rare experience for boaters and other recreationists such as bicyclists, who will get an opportunity to enjoy the canyon free of I-70 noise.

Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Co., said his guides have been fighting to claim the river trips on those days.

This also comes at a peak time for rafting business, said Erik Larsson, co-owner of Whitewater Rafting LLC. “As long as you can get here, it should be a fun time with the water still flowing at great levels.

“You’d think that July Fourth is our biggest time of the year, but in reality it’s the last Saturday in July that’s always our biggest day,” said Larsson.

Jess Weaver Trail, Grizzly Creek Trail and Hanging Lake Trail will remain open, but hikers should work around the closure as they won’t be able to access I-70 during that time.

The Glenwood Canyon bike path will remain open, except periodic 10-minute holds near the Hanging Lake Tunnel when the project’s helicopter is overhead. If your trip on the bike path requires a shuttle, plan around the closure.


Westbound I-70 traffic will be forced to exit at Dotsero, and eastbound traffic will have to exit in Glenwood Springs at Exit 116. Drivers will not be allowed to queue up on I-70 for the canyon opening.

The Hanging Lake rest area will also be closed early, starting at midnight preceding evening and remaining closed until 3:30 p.m. each day.

CDOT will maintain access for No Name residents.

For alternate routes, motorists coming west from the Front Range can head south on Colorado 91 at Copper Mountain, continue south on U.S. 24 through Leadville and finally turn back west on Colorado 82 and onto Independence Pass.

This route is 123 miles and takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes. It’s important to note that Independence Pass has a 35-foot vehicle length restriction.

Drivers trying to head west from Eagle County should first drive east to Wolcott, head north on Colorado 131, turn west on U.S. 40 in Steamboat Springs, then south on Colorado 13 in Craig and on to Rifle.

From Wolcott to Rifle, this detour is 204 miles and takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Drivers in Grand Junction can get to the Front Range by taking U.S. 50 east to U.S. 285 for drivers heading to Denver and to U.S. 24 for those going to Colorado Springs.

Some alternate routes have width restrictions that commercial drivers should be aware of — Colorado 131 has an 8-foot width restriction and Colorado 9 north of I-70 has a 12-foot width restriction.

Commercial vehicles west of Glenwood Canyon will be able to park in Dotsero off Exit 133.

CSP will also be staging commercial vehicles on I-70 west of the canyon closure.

CDOT does not recommend driving Cottonwood Pass, Frying Pan Road or Hagerman Pass as alternative routes.

Bustang will continue to run routes between Glenwood Springs and Denver. Visit for the schedule.

Immigrant Stories: Escaping civil war in El Salvador

Mercedes Garcia came to the United States from El Salvador. She describes her experience to Walter Gallacher’s Immigrant Stories.

Garcia: In 1990, I came to the United States from El Salvador. I was 25. The civil war in my country had been going on for 10 years, and I was looking for a safe place to live with my son and my husband. We were suffering a lot then because we had soldiers and the guerrillas fighting one another in our village, and we were caught in the middle.

When I think about it now, I realize how blessed we were to have survived. Our houses were made of wood, so the bullets came through our walls. When the fighting would start we would hide under the bed, but we didn’t have big, thick mattresses to protect us. Under the bed wasn’t a safe place, but it made us feel safe.

Gallacher: Did the fighting happen a lot?

Garcia: Yes, the war started when I was 15. It was really hard because we always lived in fear. When the guerrillas came the fighting was all around us.

Every time we traveled, our bus was stopped by soldiers. They would take us off the bus, line us up, check our papers and interrogate us, trying to find out if we were guerrillas.

I remember the day that the soldiers took my brother. He had just turned 15, and they needed soldiers for the army. When my mom found out what had happened she went to the army office. She knew that if she didn’t get him out of that office quickly he would be moved, and we would probably never see him again.

She stayed there for hours crying and begging the soldiers to let my brother go. She gave them what little money we had, and they finally agreed to release him. That’s when my dad decided to take my brother and flee to the United States.

It was 1989, I was studying accounting at the university, but things kept getting worse and worse. Bridges and power stations were being bombed, and we were without electricity and transportation for months. The sounds of the war were everywhere. I finally decided I had to join my dad and brother in the United States and find a safe place so my son and husband could come.

Gallacher: Why did you come without your son and your husband?

Garcia: My husband had a job as a teacher, and we needed somebody to be making money. Also, my son was 5 and has learning disabilities. I didn’t feel like I could keep him safe on the journey north.

Gallacher: What was that journey like?

Garcia: It was really, really difficult, but I was fortunate to come with some of my neighbors. There were 10 of us, seven guys, my cousin and me and the wife of one of the guys. It was really dangerous, so it was good to have the men there to look out for us.

It took us a month to get here. We traveled by bus and in the back of trucks and trailers.

Garcia: When we crossed into Guatemala we were taken to a house that we thought was safe, but in the middle of the night these guys with machine guns came and took everything we had. So without any money we couldn’t get anything more than what our coyotes gave us. That made the rest of the trip really hard.

We finally got to Tijuana where I crossed into the United States in the trunk of a car. From there I was picked up and driven to Aspen to meet my dad and my brother. It was very strange to be in a place that was so peaceful after living in a country where warplanes, bombs and rifle shots were part of daily life.

Even though I was glad to be away from war I missed my son and my husband so bad. In those days there were no phones so I wrote letters and cried a lot.

I got a job working for the Limelight Lodge in Aspen and started paying back the $3,500 that I owed my parents for the trip. My dad helped me get started on my application for asylum, and five months later I had a work permit. That enabled me to get my second job. Soon I was working mornings at the Limelight and nights at the Little Nell.

I worked hard and started learning English and saving money so that I could send money to my husband for the journey. Two years later, he and my son were able to come. It took them five weeks get here.

Gallacher: What was that reunion like?

Garcia: It was wonderful for me, but it was really hard for my son. He has learning disabilities, and the war had really traumatized him. I remember they were putting in a new ski lift in Aspen, and they were using helicopters to bring in materials. My son was terrified because he thought they were going to bomb us. Every time he heard them he ran away and hid. He was afraid of everything. It took him years to get over the trauma of the war.

Gallacher: How long did you and your husband stay in Aspen?

Garcia: Two more years. Rent in Aspen was really high so we stayed in small apartments, worked really hard and finally saved enough to get a mobile home in El Jebel. On New Year’s Eve 1994, we moved in. Six days later my husband was killed in a car wreck on Highway 82.

Gallacher: Oh, I am so sorry.

Garcia: I was so sad, but I had to be strong for my son. He couldn’t understand what had happened to his dad. The community really helped me during that time. I don’t know what I would have done without their support.

Gallacher: Now the civil war in El Salvador has been replaced by gang wars.

Garcia: Yes, it’s a very scary time. Young men and women are being killed constantly. These days, I get really nervous when I go back to see my family. Most of the flights get there at night, the most dangerous time. Thank God, there has never been a problem in my village, and I go there frequently.

But I think that changed last week. One of my mom’s neighbors was killed outside his house. In my country now, we don’t know who’s who. We know that there are gang members in our neighborhood, but we don’t know who they are. Everybody stays quiet, nobody talks about it, nobody says anything. It is really scary.

Gallacher: So no one complains about the gangs?

Garcia: Oh no, that would be a very bad idea. There are signs up in the city that say, “You don’t see, you don’t hear, you don’t say.” The gangs are running things, and when young kids are asked to join they really don’t have a choice. If they refuse they are killed. That’s why so many families are trying to get their kids out of the country.

Gallacher: When you go home does your family have stories of the problems?

Garcia: We try not to talk about that. We go to the beach and to the pool and have fun. I think they don’t want to upset me, and I don’t want to worry them. It is a time for us to enjoy one another and forget about the problems for a little bit.

Gallacher: Is your dad in El Salvador?

Garcia: Yes, he moved back about 15 years ago.

Gallacher: How did you end up working in public health?

Garcia: I worked in housekeeping for the Little Nell for eight years and eventually became a supervisor. I remarried and had my second son, but my husband left me when I was three months pregnant, so once again I was alone and trying to work and care for my boys.

I realized I needed a job that didn’t have such long hours so I could be home at night with my boys. A friend told me about a job as a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Educator with Eagle County Public Health, and I applied and got it. I worked there for 12 years. Now I am a WIC Educator for Garfield County Public Health.

Gallacher: Can you describe the job?

Garcia: I counsel moms during their pregnancy so that they can learn how to nurture and care for their children. I teach them about nutrition and the importance of healthy habits for themselves and their children.

We help the women in the program until their children turn 5.

Gallacher: You didn’t have anyone when you were left to raise your boys by yourself. It must be rewarding to be give these young mothers something you didn’t have.

Garcia: Yes, it makes me feel proud to be able to help young moms and their families. When I had my youngest son, my mom was able to get a visa and come stay with me for three months at time. She will never know how much she helped me. I think about my mom when I am doing my job, and I try to give the mothers the support she gave me.

Also, my brother and his wife had kids and we took turns taking care of our children.

Gallacher: I see you as a very strong person. How did you develop that inner strength?

Garcia: I had no choice. Life has so many things to give you, and you can either get stuck or move along. I feel like somehow I was able to move along.

Fitness column: How to replace your bad habits with good habits

Bad habits lie in wait for us to adopt them, like evil pets.

We can find them around the corner with no effort. And once we have adopted them, they make our lives unhealthy and often unhappy.

One of my clients, “Bob,” told me recently that he doesn’t like to miss his exercise sessions because when he does he gets too comfortable and he might stop coming at all. He has achieved his first goal of losing 24 pounds. He’s 61 and thought that it would be almost impossible to lose weight, yet he achieved it. He’s now going for five more pounds.

One of Bob’s strengths is that he knows his weaknesses and is willing to fight them. Many of us don’t want to see when we are sliding down the slope into bad habits, but Bob does and works to prevent relapses.

From personal experience I know that life is a constant fight to adopt and maintain positive habits. Unlike bad habits, however, good habits are not easy to adopt. Nonetheless the benefit of good habits is a higher quality of life, which in turn means happiness.


Bob came to see me because he knew he needed motivation to start a good habit, and now that he’s acquired it, he has the will continue exercising himself.

To stay on track, Bob focuses on the benefits that a good habit like exercise provides — such as weight loss, better appearance, strength, fewer visits to doctors, diminishing aches and more energy. Plus, the exercise habit has now motivated him to improve other habits, and he eats better now.

Bad habits cannot be “deleted,” only replaced by good habits. And once you start by adopting one positive habit, other positive habits are easier to get on board. One becomes more conscious of one’s ability to improve and keeps going. Our health depends on our good habits.

Whoever thinks that practicing negative behaviors only for a short time will be exempt from consequences is making a mistake. It’s like playing with fire and not wanting to get burned.

You can be the prisoner of your bad habits

When I was young I got into drinking, but a wise man saw me messing up and asked if I planned to drink like that my whole life. I was shocked and told him no.

He continued: “Do you think the people who become alcoholics or addicts dream of becoming alcoholics or addicts?”

“No,” I responded again.

“So,” he persisted, “you think you can control your drinking, but let me tell you, it becomes a habit, and soon you’ll be prisoner of that habit. People who become addicted think that they are the exception.”

I’ve never forgotten those wise words. Since then, I’m cautious about my habits. People don’t plan to become a slave of their desires or addictions; instead they like to make choices.

Be strong willed

I’m grateful I have the willpower to choose to make progress and improve my health and my body, just like Bob. He’s has chosen to better his life over his couch-potato tendencies. He’s happy to be leaving behind a sedentary lifestyle to improve his health and quality of life.

Psalm 126, verses 5-6 tell us that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He, who goes out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” My take on this ancient wisdom is that they are talking in their own way about habits.

Bob and I understand that good habits are the only genuine way to lose weight and keep it off. Don’t believe those silly TV and internet ads: There is no shortcut.

Is weight loss your goal?

Do an inventory of your habits and find out which bad habits are making you gain weight. Then, start developing good habits that will do the opposite. Keep in mind that you may be so used to your bad habits that you might not be able to identify them. And you may have become so attached to those bad habits that unconsciously you don’t want to give them up.

Believe in yourself

But believe in change: You are stronger than any bad habit you have developed. Reclaim your life and start losing the pounds you’ve always wanted to lose.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently” and a Watch Fit columnist. His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.

Glenwood bike share put off to 2018

Glenwood Springs will wait until at least 2018, after the new Grand Avenue bridge is completed, before launching a WE-cycle bike-share program in town.

City Council recently decided, due to the expected $160,000 upfront cost over two years to implement the popular pay-per-ride bicycle program that now operates in Aspen and Basalt, that it would wait for an outside source of money to materialize.

The city and WE-cycle Executive Director Mirte Mallory are hoping to win a $500,000 federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant.

A feasibility study presented to council earlier this month determined that WE-cycle could be successful in Glenwood Springs if properly implemented.

But getting the program in place prior to the planned 95-day Grand Avenue bridge detour period in August 2017, when the city and bridge project officials are looking to get as many vehicles off the streets as possible, would require the city to cover the start-up costs immediately, the study concluded.

“Without federal funding, implementing WE-cycle would be cost prohibitive for Glenwood Springs,” new city transportation manager Tanya Allen said in a recent memo to City Council members.

The city has agreed to provide $75,000 as part of the 20 percent match if the TAP grant is awarded. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has also committed $50,000 to help with that effort. The grant application is due Aug. 1, and awards are expected to be announced by December, Allen said.

Council last week also committed another $25,000 to continue planning for the launch of WE-cycle by early summer 2018.

Bike-sharing is a pay-per-ride, non-motorized option for people to hop on a bike to get from point to point with bike stations set up at strategic locations around town.

RFTA has agreed to host one of the Glenwood’s bike-share stations at its 27th Street BRT station, and the next phase of planning will look at other possible locations.

City Council has been supportive of pursuing a bike-share program in Glenwood as a way to help ease traffic congestion, especially during the Grand Avenue bridge construction and the planned detour that’s slated to be in place from late August to December 2017.

Once the new bridge is built, a bike share program would provide a non-motorized alternative to navigating the roughly 5-mile length of town.

In addition to possible federal or state grant funding, the city hopes to partner with private entities such as businesses that could benefit from a bike-share program in order to operate and maintain the system.

Whether the grant effort is successful or not, Mallory indicated she would report back to council in early 2017 to determine the next steps. At that time, the city would begin reaching out to possible private partners.

Column: If Trump wins, Democrats can blame themselves

As the Democratic National Convention begins, we get a look at the disarray of our second major party.

A week ago, the Republicans convened to nominate a man for the presidency whose campaign the party establishment fought to derail, albeit late in the process because leaders early on couldn’t believe Donald Trump would defeat the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie or even the widely disliked Ted Cruz.

Trump has taken over the Republican Party and ignored its norms such as free trade and military commitments to allies, just as he ignored the norms of campaigning and decorum.

Four of the five living Republican nominees — the Bushes, John McCain and Mitt Romney — didn’t attend the convention in Cleveland, nor did the GOP governor of the host state, John Kasich. Twenty sitting Republican senators did not attend. That’s an implied repudiation, whereas Cruz was explicit.

Much has been written about the Grand Old Party’s pandering over the past few decades to the elements that nominated Trump but then turning away from their issues to maintain the status quo. That perceived betrayal begat Trump.

Less has been said about the Democratic Party’s role in creating an environment in which a wholly unqualified, vengeful, litigious, self-aggrandizing and self-deluded demagogue with an exaggerated and checkered business record stands at the brink of frightening Americans into electing him president.

But if Donald Trump becomes president, the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves.

They, too, have paid lip service to the middle class as it has shrunk, oblivious to the loss of security and dignity that globalization and an otherwise changing world have wrought.

Never have they or will they face a more disliked Republican nominee. The closest parallel is the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater, who was more qualified than Trump but faced sharp criticism in his own party and whose candor and offhand humor (“Let’s lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin”) left him open to attack.

Lyndon Johnson, a flawed man but masterful politician, took 61 percent of the popular vote.

Against a strong Democratic nominee, Trump should lose at least as badly as Goldwater.

But the best the Democrats can do is to nominate an equally disliked candidate with so much baggage she’ll need a separate campaign bus to carry it all.

In August 2015, I wrote of Hillary Clinton:

“The well-financed, supposedly inevitable Democratic nominee is an uninspiring candidate who might be the best thing the Republicans have going for them next year.

“Her candidacy, unless grassroots Democrats reject her as they did in 2008, strikes me as destined to be an unenthusiastic trudge to defeat and Republican control of both the White House and Congress.”

That was before the FBI director wounded her with his assessment of her careless handling of email and undercut much of her explanation. It was before a leak on the eve of her nominating convention showed that the Democratic National Committee sought to undercut Bernie Sanders, furthering the narrative that Clinton doesn’t play by the rules.

Some of it is unfair; many of the attacks on Clinton are simply iterations of Fox News’ repeated lies and Swift Boat tactics.

Vincent Foster committed suicide and politicization of his death is vile.

Does the party of Donald Trump’s self-enriching bankruptcies really want to keep talking about Whitewater?

Clinton is no more responsible for the four deaths at Benghazi than Ronald Reagan, then commander in chief, was for the 241 Marines killed when their barracks was bombed in Beirut in 1983. A gate to the Marine compound was left open and sentries’ guns weren’t loaded, even though terrorists had bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut six months earlier, killing 63.

But, fair or not — and scrutiny of Clinton’s email handling is fair — she remains an uncharismatic candidate in Velcro, unlike Reagan’s or her husband’s Teflon.

Trump lies, repeats the lie, tops it with a nutso conspiracy theory from the National Enquirer, and his supporters shrug and say he tells it like it is. Which he doesn’t. He tells it like it isn’t.

Clinton provides nuanced explanations of why the sky is blue and voters she needs to win don’t believe her.

She is a traditional politician in a time when much of the public, well beyond Trump’s supporters, is fed up with traditional politicians. Thus it was that the non-traditional Sanders, who isn’t even a Democrat, did so well against her.

The Democratic power structure — not that either major party’s power structure is powerful or effective these days — should have known that a year ago, two years ago, four years ago, and encouraged some of the many bright leaders in the party ranks to position themselves to run. Instead, it went all in with Hillary.

The party of the New Deal, the party that portrays itself as standing up for civil rights and workers has, in policy-making, turned its back on the middle class as much as the Republicans have shunned their social conservative base.

Both parties have become more of Wall Street than of Main Street and both are paying the price. As are we all.

Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.

Doctor’s Tip: Herbs and spices and amazing turmeric

In the next several columns, I will be discussing the rest of Dr. Michael Greger’s daily dozen from his book “How Not to Die.” So far, I have written about nuts/seeds, cruciferous vegetables and beans, with a separate column on soy.

Herbs are defined as any leafy plants without a woody stem, often used as household remedies or as flavoring. Spices are defined as aromatic and pungent vegetables used to flavor foods or beverages. Just as vegetables with intense colors (e.g. berries, greens, red onions, red cabbage) have more health-promoting antioxidants, so do intensely flavorful herbs and spices. Next week I will write about other herbs and spices, but today the focus will be on turmeric, a member of the ginger family, which is both colorful (deep yellow) and flavorful.

Turmeric is what makes curry yellow. The overall cancer rate in India is much lower than in countries on a Western diet, and this is thought to be due to the daily turmeric Indians consume in curry (the heart disease rate is higher due to ghee, which is clarified butter). According to Dr. Greger (, here are some of the benefits of turmeric, based on more than 50 clinical trials since 2000:

• It prevents and repairs DNA damage that is constantly occurring in some of the billions of cells in our body.

• It has been shown to play a role in preventing and treating multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer. Topical application has been shown to treat early stage cancer of the bladder, mouth, cervix, skin and colon (the latter by enema or ingestion).

• Its anti-inflammatory effect has been shown to improve rheumatoid and osteoarthritis symptoms as well as ibuprofen does, without the side effects or cost.

• It has been shown to treat other inflammatory conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis).

• In a small but impressive study, a teaspoon of turmeric a day showed reversal of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s (India reportedly has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world).

• Turmeric has been shown to help prevent prediabetes from advancing to diabetes, and is useful in treating diabetes.

• It has been shown to improve asthma.

If a pharmaceutical company could come up with a pill like this, it would make billions of dollars. Supplement companies sell one of the components of turmeric, called curcumin. However, as always, it’s a mistake to isolate an individual component of a healthy food, thinking that is the “magic bullet.” Curcumin has not been shown to have all the benefits that the whole food turmeric does.

You can buy turmeric root at Asian food markets and locally at Vitamin Cottage. A quarter of an inch of grated, fresh root is about the equivalent of one-fourth teaspoon of ground turmeric available in bulk at Vitamin Cottage. People in India eat about this much every day as curry, although if you’re worried about Alzheimer’s, one whole teaspoon a day would be better. Adding a pinch of black pepper increases the bioavailability by 2,000 percent, and black pepper is often an ingredient in curry.

Cooked turmeric offers better DNA protection, while raw has greater anti-inflammatory effects. I put three-fourths teaspoon of ground turmeric in a small amount of juice to get the benefits of raw turmeric, and one-fourth teaspoon in my herbal tea in the morning to get the benefits of cooked.

Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at

Judge rules chairlift pusher not guilty by reason of insanity

A 32-year-old former Aspen resident who threw a snowboarder off an Aspen Highlands chairlift last winter was found not guilty of attempted assault Monday by reason of insanity.

Aspen District Judge Chris Seldin made the ruling after first finding probable cause to charge Thomas Proesel with attempted first-degree assault and then listening to a state psychologist, who interviewed Proesel and testified that he was insane Jan. 17 when he pushed the snowboarder off the lift.

“It’s clear from (the psychologist’s) report that Mr. Proesel was, at the time of the incident, experiencing a mental state that rendered him incapable of forming the culpable mental state (to commit attempted first-degree assault),” Seldin said.

Seldin ordered that Proesel turn himself in to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo by noon today. The judge allowed Proesel’s father to drive him to the facility from Aspen, where he appeared in court Monday.

Proesel is originally from the Chicago area but lived in Aspen since at least 2012, according to property records.

He threw the 28-year-old snowboarder off the Loge Peak chairlift at Aspen Highlands about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, a powder day, after the snowboarder made an innocuous comment about skiers being better able to get face-shots of fresh powder than snowboarders. The snowboarder fell 20 to 25 feet but landed in a pile of fresh snow and was not injured.

The incident occurred near the top of the lift, and Proesel was able to ski away after tossing the snowboarder, despite a lift operator stopping the chair. Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies were able to track him down using video footage from another lift and information from a scanner that read Proesel’s ski pass before he got on the lift.

On Monday, Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan played a tape recording of Proesel’s initial contact with a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy over the phone. At first, Proesel tells Deputy Jesse Steindler he’s too busy to meet with him and didn’t know why he was calling.

When Steindler says he wants to talk about an incident at Aspen Highlands, Proesel said, “This guy was threatening me.” He then talks about a man in Salt Lake City who was “a potential T-word,” which a sheriff’s office investigator later said he learned was shorthand for “terrorist.”

Steindler asked if it was the same man on the lift as in Salt Lake City. Proesel said no, but that he knew the man on the lift “was looking for me,” and it scared him.

“They’re always around,” Proesel told the deputy. “They’re trying to circle me up when I go into a bar. They close in on me. They’ve been doing it since I’ve lived here.”

Proesel told Steindler the snowboarder grabbed him, then fell off the chairlift.

“I’m just scared, OK?” Proesel said over the phone. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Dr. Charles Harrison, a psychologist with the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, interviewed Proesel for 3 1/2 hours in May and diagnosed him with schizophrenia and another psychotic disorder based on mania he’s exhibited over the past 10 years or so. Proesel had previously been diagnosed with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Harrison said.

Proesel’s symptoms included severe paranoia and delusions about others persecuting him and wanting to cause physical harm to him and his family, Harrison said. He also has “grandiose beliefs” that means he thinks only he can see or understand certain information about, for example, the Pentagon, he said.

Proesel’s throwing the snowboarder from the lift after an innocuous comment is par for the course for a person with such disorders because they make connections that are not there in reality, Harrison said.

“The behavior and statements he made to others before and after the alleged offense, I believe, clearly pointed to his suffering from severe paranoia and severe delusions,” Harrison said. “It did interfere with his ability to form a culpable mental state.”

Proesel had a history of acting on his delusions, including locking his parents in their bedroom, urging them to change their phone numbers and attacking a clinician during a mental-health interview because he thought the person “was trying to get him,” he said. Proesel was first hospitalized in 2010 after posting a message about suicide on social media, Harrison said.

Before that, he exhibited anti-social behavior, including interpersonal miscues and an inability to relate to others, he said,

In Aspen, he was able to live despite being in a psychotic state because of the limited demands placed on him, Harrison said. He didn’t work or go to school, and his interactions with others were limited, which isolated him, he said. Proesel also didn’t take medication for his illness while living in Aspen, Harrison said.

However, he had an apartment and access to food, he said.

“You can be grossly psychotic and still function,” Harrison said. “It’s not too surprising he was able to function in that environment.”

When Harrison interviewed him, Proesel had been undergoing treatment at an in-patient facility in Tennessee for four months. He was taking the maximum dose approved by the Food and Drug Administration of a particular anti-psychotic medication at the time, but it was not fully controlling his delusions, Harrison said.

“That’s a sign this person’s mental illness is resistant to medications,” he said, adding that Proesel’s prognosis is “poor.”

Seldin commended both the Sheriff’s Office and Proesel’s family for quickly getting him treatment. He noted that deputies never allowed him to spend time at the Pitkin County Jail and immediately took him to a mental-health facility in Grand Junction.

Proesel will now be evaluated by state mental health personnel in Pueblo, who will determine where he will be treated and if he can be released into the community. He had been living at his parents’ house in the Chicago area since being released last month from the Tennessee facility and was undergoing weekly sessions with a psychiatrist. He also was being given monthly injections of an anti-psychotic medication, which removes the need to monitor his medication intake, said Saskia Jordan, his attorney.

Robert Earl Damm (June 13, 1925 — July 24, 2016)

Damm, Robert Earl, passed away July 24, 2016, at the age of 91. He fought in WWII in the Pacific. He is survived by his wife, Jane, of 54 years. Surviving are sons Stephen (Dana) Damm and William (Aleta) Damm, grandchildren Stephen R. Damm, Jennifer (Rob) Stephens, Rachel (Jeremy) Rippy, Johnathon Damm and Sarah Damm; and six great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death are son Gary Damm, five brothers and five sisters. He was a graduate of Carleton, Nebraska, public school and as an adult attended Jackson Jr. College. He was employed by Skelly Oil Company and Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance Co. He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Service will be held at 11 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1501 W. Michigan Jackson, MI., with viewing one hour prior to service, with Pastor David J. Eidson officiating. In lieu of flowers the family would like contributions in honor of Robert to one of the following; Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, 1530 Greenview Dr. SW. Suite 210, Rochester, MN. 55902 or Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1505 W. Michigan Ave, Jackson, MI 49202.

Wetherby Funeral Home, 402 Wildwood Ave.