Glenwood teacher nears New Yorker glory | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood teacher nears New Yorker glory

Folks who follow the New Yorker magazine might have noticed a Glenwood Springs resident among recent finalists for a weekly cartoon caption contest.

“It looked a little odd seeing my little town there,” said Hilary Garnsey, who submitted a snarky caption for a cartoon featuring a pair of giraffes.

A teacher at Crystal River Elementary School, she’s a longtime New Yorker reader.

“My kids always turn to the back page, and we make a sort of game out of coming up with captions,” she said.

They don’t usually submit their ideas, but this one for the giraffe couple — “What happened to us? We used to be so wild.” — struck her as too good to pass up.

With more than 5,000 entries a week in the contest, she made it to the top three, so the judges must have agreed. Her parents, who make the subscription an annual Christmas gift, have been telling all their friends about it.

Voting closed Sunday, and the winner should be printed next week with a prize of glory and bragging rights. Even if she doesn’t take the top slot, Garnsey considers it an accomplishment to have made it this far.

The contest used to have a prize — a framed and signed print of the cartoon, with the winning caption — but the magazine earlier this year eliminated that. Robert Mankoff, the magazine’s cartoon editor — yes, cartoon editor — wrote that the prize “creates legal issues that make it difficult to have citizens from certain countries enter” and disallowed entries by anyone younger than 18.

A win from Colorado is rare. According to a map published online in September 2015, the state has recorded no more than two winners in the history of the contest.

Colo House majority leader: I’m in for Hillary

The presidential primary season is over, and the nation now turns to one of the most historic general elections ever — and the stakes couldn’t be higher, especially for women.

Donald Trump has a decades-long history of disrespecting women. Trump has compared women to pigs, degraded them and judged them based on their looks. And he’s even called for women who have abortions to face “some form of punishment.”

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Fox News’ CEO Roger Ailes, Trump belittled the women who made those allegations public as “complaining.” He even went so far as to say that if his daughter were in a similar situation, he hoped she would “find another career or another company.”

This type of victim blaming is reprehensible. Trump appears to think that harassers should get to keep their jobs and that women who are harassed should keep their mouths shut and find new jobs. But the problem is, most women don’t have the financial resources to go out and find a new job. Victims should not be the ones who have to upend their lives. Trump’s rhetoric is offensive, unacceptable and disqualifies him from the White House.

During the campaign, Trump has accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman card” on the campaign trail — a direct attack on her bold agenda to address the challenges facing women, families and our economy.

It’s true — Hillary has stood up for women her entire life. She has put forward proposals to put in place paid family leave, ensure access to child care, increase the minimum wage, close the pay gap and protect women’s health. For working Americans, these are pocketbook issues that impact all families. As Hillary has said on the campaign trail: “If talking about equal pay and paid leave and more opportunities for women and girls is playing the gender card, then deal me in.”

Hillary, count me in.

From the skyrocketing cost of child care to unequal paychecks, American families are facing tough challenges. We need a champion in the White House — and Hillary is that champion. Hillary has a record of delivering results that make a real difference in people’s lives. As first lady, she fought to get health care for 8 million children. As a senator, she championed the Paycheck Fairness Act and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help close the pay gap.

The challenges affecting women’s lives are inextricably linked with economic issues. When women do better economically, families do better and so do their communities.

How do we stop Trump and his dangerous rhetoric and build a better future for our families? By voting. In November we can send a clear message to Trump: We don’t need divisive rhetoric that tears us apart; we need a leader who can deliver results that will make real differences in the lives of every American.

At the ballot box, we’ll show Trump that his bluster and bigotry have no place in America — and stand with Hillary to break down the barriers holding women — and families — back.

Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, is the Colorado House of Representatives majority leader.

Randall Scott Withee

Randall Scott Withee, 59, passed from this life at his home in Rifle on Tuesday, Aug. 23rd. He was born in September of 1956 in Rapid City, SD, to Warren and Betty Withee. After moving to Colorado Springs at a young age, he went back to Rapid City to attend the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

In 1980 he married Jane (Krohn) Withee in Rapid City and the couple was blessed with four children. Randy worked at various engineering jobs during the first years of marriage, including projects in Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona, before re-locating to Rifle in 1990. At first, Randy worked with MK Ferguson on the UMTRA project. For the past 17 years he worked as an engineer for Garfield County.

Over the years he was very involved with his children’s activities, sharing his love for sports by coaching recreational soccer, baseball, and basketball. He enjoyed playing golf and spending time with his family. A baptized member of Christ, Randy loved to serve the Lord by being involved in his church.

He is survived by his wife, Jane, and children: Brian (Jennifer) of Littleton, Justin (Nicole) of Highlands Ranch, Jenna (Brandon Lampe) of Albuquerque, and Jacob of Phoenix. He was a proud grandfather to Amelia, Braden, Braxton, and Colton. He is survived by siblings Warren of Atlanta, GA, Craig (Patti) of Bend, OR, and Janie (Kenny) of Black Hawk, CO. Randy was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law Patricia. He leaves behind his mother-in-law, numerous brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, and a host of friends. He will be greatly missed!

Services will be held at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 652 East 5th St. in Rifle at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 27th. Memorials can be made to Emmanuel Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten.

Professional cuddling business opens in Rifle

One of Rifle’s newest businesses is still trying to get its arms around the local market.

Touched, a professional cuddling company based in south Rifle, opened its doors two weeks ago. Since then it has been a slow slog to market not only the business but the concept of professional cuddling, said Aimee Wilshire, owner and founder of Touched and a Rifle resident for 16 years.

The business is centered on the concept that physical, platonic touching is beneficial in a number of ways, and that nonsexual touching is deficient in many adults’ lives.

Wilshire admits she has some work to do in opening people’s minds to the idea of paying a stranger to cuddle.

“It is definitely a weird idea,” she said. “The idea of just going somewhere and paying somebody to cuddle with you, it’s very weird … and it’s almost taboo, especially if you’re looking to reduce depression and anxiety and stress and get the health benefits of it. We’re taught basically (as) young kids that we’re supposed to, you know, you’re an adult, you suck it up, you just deal with it and you move on. You don’t really seek help for just minor things.”

She’s gotten some phone calls and a couple of interested people have stopped by the office, located at 818 Taughenbaugh Blvd. Suite 104, but Wilshire is still waiting for her first official client.

While the concept is, as Wilshire said, weird, it is not unprecedented.

Professional cuddling has become increasingly common, primarily in larger metropolitan areas. The New York Times in June interviewed a woman working for Cuddlist, a nonsexual touch website.

Many of the professional cuddling websites follow a basic template that makes multiple references to the benefits of touch therapy — which they claim can help with ailments such as depression and anxiety, among others. They also directly state that sexual activity of any kind is explicitly prohibited.

In 2013, Samantha Hess, of Portland, Oregon, founded Cuddle Up To Me. At the time, she had just ended a 13-year relationship defined by isolation and rejection, and noticed that all her male friends were instantly hitting on her, she said.

The thought of feeling love and acceptance from nonsexual physical contact was incredibly appealing and Hess started to think others had to feel the same way.

About three years later, Hess is in the process of training her fifth professional cuddler with Cuddle Up To Me and she has trained many others, who have their own companies, across the world.

The topic is polarizing.

“I’ve actually dealt with a ton of backlash on this,” Hess said.

However, she views her business not as a way to make money but as her life’s mission, saying she envisions the day where touch therapy is licensed like massage therapy and covered by health insurance, which it currently is not.

With that said, Hess is skeptical and at times critical of other cuddling companies. Some might have the best of intentions, but it requires real skills, Hess said while firing off a number of different “holds” for different situations. Bottom line is it requires training, she added.

With a lack of any training resources within a reasonable distance, Wilshire is relying mostly on her own research and abbreviated correspondences with other professional cuddlers.

For Wilshire, a video titled “People Spoon With Professional Cuddlers For The First Time” on BuzzFeed served as her initial exposure to the world professional cuddling.

Her first thought was: “Is that a real thing?”

“And I did a little more research on it and found out what it was about and who actually goes to a professional cuddler and the benefits of that,” she said.

As a former employee at Mountain Valley Developmental Services, a Glenwood Springs-based nonprofit assisting people with developmental disabilities and their families, Wilshire’s second thought was: “I can do that.”

“I was thinking it’s something right up my alley,” she said. “When I worked at Mountain Valley … I kind of had a problem with the touching boundaries. You’re supposed to care about your patients but not … get too close to them, and I always thought … it wasn’t real fair. Some of them never see their families and never get hugged or touched when they’re sad.”

Services offered at Touched include: companioning, which offers little to no physical contact; single cuddling, which comes down to “platonic touch in all areas except those which would be covered by a bathing suit’; and couples cuddling.

Unlike other professional cuddlers, Wilshire set up a by-the-minute fee structure — $1 per minute. However, Touched offers several discounts, including a special rate for the first responders in Garfield County.

Another difference, and one Wilshire was adamant about, is the brick-and-mortar location. Many other cuddling services allow for appointments at a person’s home or in a hotel room if a home is not an option.

“I’ve heard quite a few nightmarish-type stories from other people. They generally make house calls or meet at hotels and I just refuse to do that. That’s not safe and I’m not going to set myself up or my potential future employees … in a potentially dangerous situation,” she said.

To the best of her knowledge, Wilshire is the first professional cuddler on the Western Slope, where she said it takes a little longer for trends to truly settle in. With that in mind, she said she fully anticipated a slow start and is ready to try and change any skepticism people may have.

“New ideas don’t always take off right away and I knew it would be somewhat an uphill battle starting out.”

Integrative Pet Vet: Probiotics provide important benefits

How likely would you be to give a pill to your pet that could speed up the recovery from episodes of diarrhea, help with allergic skin problems, assist the body to deal with stressful situations, support the immune system and improve the immune response to vaccinations? This sounds like a tale that is unbelievable, but, it is true.

A growing number of studies have shown that probiotics can deliver these beneficial effects in humans and animals. Probiotics are living organisms that confer health benefits in addition to their basic nutritional value.

Probiotics contribute to improvements in intestinal and immune function because they can exert positive effects on the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is a collection of living microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, archaea and protozoa. It is estimated that there are 10 times more microorganisms in the gut than there are cells in the entire animal body. Bacteria are a significant part of the microbiome of the gut, and it is no surprise that there is an incredible variety of bacteria types.

This vast variety of microorganisms results in a complex interaction between the microorganisms in the microbiome. Some of these interactions have been determined but many remain to be identified and understood. In addition, the microorganisms can form a defensive barrier against bad bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, help to breakdown nutrients in the diet, provide important nutrients for intestinal cells and the body, and regulate the immune system.

The balance of the microbiome is constantly being impacted by factors like stress, altered secretions and motility of the gut, antibiotic use, consumption of certain foods or diet changes, and colonization with bad bacteria. Changes in the microbiome can result in alterations in the intestinal barrier, absorption of nutrients and vitamins, and proper metabolism of bile acids and soluble fiber. In addition, an altered microbiome can result in toxic substances passed in the bile being absorbed back into the body.

Interestingly, dogs with chronic intestinal problems have been shown to have changes in the microbiome. Some of the bacterial groups that are significantly reduced are ones that produce short-chain fatty acids which play an important role in the health of the large intestine. Other bacterial groups that secrete metabolites with anti-inflammatory properties have also been shown to be reduced in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.

With the increased understanding of the importance of the gut microbiome and the realization that many disease processes can result from an abnormal microbiome, the use of probiotic products to support the microbiome has dramatically expanded. Numerous probiotic products are available, making selection of the appropriate product difficult.

General guidelines for probiotic selection includes 1) ability of the microorganism to survive passage through the stomach, 2) ability of the microorganism to establish itself on the lining of the intestine, 3) number of strains of microorganisms in the product, 4) number of viable microorganisms in each product dose, and 5) does the product contain a prebiotic.

Ability of the microorganisms to survive passage through the stomach and establish colonies on the intestinal lining is critical. Not all microorganisms can survive the acid in the stomach. For example, microorganisms in yogurt, unless specifically included as a probiotic microorganism, are generally not considered likely to be able to establish in the intestines. Some probiotics products contain one or a handful of microorganism strains while others contain 10-14 strains.

The argument is that products with lots of strains are better. However, this has not been uniformly accepted as an important criterion. Successful therapy with products with a small number of strains has been shown. An additional consideration is the number of microorganisms in each dose of the probiotic. A common recommendation is 3-4 billion microorganisms per dose. Prebiotics are substances that feed the good bacteria and help them to establish. Some prebiotics like FOS (fructooligosaccharides) can also have suppressive effects on bad bacteria.

Another consideration focuses on the question of giving animals probiotics that are intended for humans. Some have argued that these products are not effective in animals, but, research and clinical experience show that these products can be effective in animals. Products intended for animal use have not always performed better.

As the understanding of the gut microbiome increases, the selection of microorganism strains for specific health problems will become possible. This will result in more effective therapeutic use of probiotic products for health maintenance.

Ron Carsten, DVM, PhD, CVA, CCRT was one of the first veterinarians in Colorado to use the integrative approach, has lectured widely to veterinarians, and has been a pioneer in the therapeutic use of food concentrates to manage clinical problems. In addition to his doctor of veterinary medicine, he holds a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology and is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and certified canine rehabilitation therapist. He practices integrative veterinary medicine in Glenwood Springs.

Stacey Tia Linman (March 01, 1963 – August 23, 2016)

Freedom, laughter, compassion and love. Stacey Tia Linman lived a short, but spunky life filled with color, travels, and deep connection to her human and animal family and friends. Born and raised in Chicago amongst three unruly brothers, Stacey held her own and eventually took on the role of protector and guide.

In 1991 Stacey moved to Glenwood Springs to live close to her brothers Brooks and Whitney. Her family grew larger as she gathered a new tribe of loving sisters, and a cherished position as “Tia” within the family of Whit, Sonja and her deeply beloved nephew Sawyer. Stacey’s true calling was that of an advocate for all people and animals who struggled or hurt. She worked at Colorado West Recovery Center, The Right Door and maintained her pet sitting business in her later years.

Stacey lived life on her terms and refused to compromise her deep commitment to joy and freedom. She spent the last year fighting genetic liver disease, and rose up to fly over the ocean and join her mom, brother Brooks, Aunt Abby and other loved ones who held out their arms for her on Tuesday morning. We will miss her terribly, but will see her in the crash of the waves, the flutter of falling feathers, and will hear her full and un-tethered laugh throughout our lives. A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, September 4th, at 1:00 in the afternoon, at “The River House.” Memorials in Stacey’s name can be sent to Rifle Animal Shelter, http://rifleanimalshelter.com/content/giving

Senator: U.S. problems bigger than presidential race

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — During his kickoff address Friday to the eighth annual Freedom Conference and Festival, U.S. Sen Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, told attendees he had decided before even arriving in Steamboat Springs that he would not discuss the contentious 2016 presidential race between former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and billionaire business mogul Donald J. Trump.

“I’m not here in any way to talk about the presidential election of 2016,” he told a packed lunchtime audience in the Korbel Ballroom at The Steamboat Grand. “The issues we’re facing are much bigger than who occupies the White House.”

And for the most part, Sasse remained true to his self-imposed determination, weighing in on the Clinton-Trump race only when directly asked during the Q&A session following his talk. And even then, he addressed the race in only the most cursory of terms.

“I’m not supporting either of these candidates,” said Sasse, who has recently garnered criticism for his outspoken opposition of Trump.

But this year’s presidential race — and the caustic rhetoric it has aroused in the American electorate — might easily be seen as symptomatic of the “bigger issue,” which Sasse — a first-term senator who has never before sought or held elected office — said is facing the United States as the proper, constitutional roles of the government and the governed — as well as the relationship between the two — have essentially been reversed.

He said challenges before the nation are rooted in a general lack of understanding about what the American idea really is and a general mischaracterization of why the nation is currently in the grips of an historically “disruptive” era.

“We live in a uniquely disruptive moment, and the disruption is going to get larger,” said Sasse, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University and served as president of Nebraska’s Midland University from 2010 to 2015. “What we’re going through really is historically unique, and the economic change — that maybe we think about as disintermediation writ large — is affecting nearly all our institutions right now.”

The founders — in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — were really telling the rest of the world it had been wrong about government and wrong about the core ideas from which government is derived.

Sasse offered his audience an analogy of an island in the midst of a vast ocean.

“The island is the enumerated powers of the government, and the ocean is the limitless rights of the people,” Sasse said, drawing thunderous applause. “Think about why the Constitution is the most exceptional political document ever written. What’s unique about the Constitution is that it’s an exclusively negative document … it’s simply us giving the government power.

“… The Constitution doesn’t give you any rights … these rights are outside of the document (in the Bill of Rights). Our founders did this on purpose. All of our kids should understand this. … Our rights predate government.”

Sasse said this interpretation of the proper relationship between the American government and the American people is no longer being taught or practiced.

For example, he said, a recent survey found that 41 percent of respondents 35 or younger thought the First Amendment — which encompasses several rights, including freedom of speech, religion and the press — is dangerous.

Media disruption and the phenomenon of people living and listening to only those with whom they agree is the antithesis of education, which, in its best form, challenges students to wrestle with ideas and viewpoints they’d never before considered.

“The American idea that we have to pass along to the next generation is, when we get to this new, disrupted fourth world of the digital economy, what will entrepreneurship look like?” Sasse said. “What will cultural pluralism and a robust defense of the First Amendment look like? What will it mean to be able to say that the meaning of America is still centered in institutions like the Rotary Club, where people actually live, where they know and love their neighbors and where they actually want to do good, not just wear tribal labels about some distant fight in Washington, D.C., that isn’t anywhere near up to the task of the moment we face.

“That’s the challenge before us.”

Mobile bank bandit sentenced to 18 years

EAGLE – Cynthia Johnson’s criminal record is 40 pages long, but won’t grow longer for the next 18 years.

Cynthia Denise Johnson, who insisted she was Jacquelyn Murray and up to 18 other fake identities when she was robbing regional banks, copped a guilty plea to felony racketeering charges.

District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman sentenced her to 18 years in state prison, the Canyon City, Colorado Crossbar Hotel – ironically one year for each of the fake identities she used.

13 banks in two months

Johnson, Vanessa Ravarre and a man calling himself Raymond Everett hit 13 regional banks in September and October 2015 along the I-70 corridor through Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties, faking their way to $37,000 in cash advances using the same forged Capital One credit cards and many of the same fake IDs.

When the credit card was rejected, and it always was, they would convince bank personnel to call the customer service phone number on the back. One of Johnson’s accomplices would provide a code to force the transaction through.

California car caper

While Johnson was doing that, she was on parole in Santa Clara County, California, for buying cars with forged credit cards and fake IDs, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney.

Johnson would walk into an auto dealership with a fake credit card and try to buy a car. When the credit card was rejected, she would convince the sales people to call the customer service phone number on the back. As with the bank jobs, an accomplice would provide a code to force the transaction through. The transaction would be approved, and Johnson drove away in a car.

Each car cost about $15,000, according to court records.

After Johnson was arrested for that California car caper, she was interviewed by an investigator who asked, “How many of vehicles have you obtained in this way?”

“Oh, I don’t know, 15 or so,” Johnson answered.

She was sentenced to California’s Folsom prison for that. She was released under California’s policy of releasing non-violent criminals.

She was still on parole for that when she spent last September and October pulling her series of High Country bank heists.

A piece of that timeline goes like this:

• Johnson hit Alpine Bank’s Vail and Avon branches on Oct. 3.

• On Oct. 9 she traveled to California for a meeting with her parole officer.

• On Oct. 13, she hopped a plane from Oakland to Las Vegas to Denver and headed up the mountain to continue her Colorado Mobile Bank Bandit caper.

• She was finally arrested in Frisco while trying to rob a bank with that same credit card scheme.

No furlough

Johnson pleaded guilty late Thursday afternoon to felony racketeering charges.

Judge Dunkelman was nonplussed when she howled that the sentence was too harsh.

Johnson waived her right to have her sentence potentially shortened – time off for good behavior – then asked for a 24-hour furlough to get some personal belongings from a trailer in Minturn.

McCollum was on her feet like she was on springs, pointing out that Johnson was not living in a trailer in Minturn prior to her arrest, and that she has no personal items there or anywhere else.

Judge Dunkelman sided with McCollum, and sent Johnson immediately to prison.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Community Briefs

Center for the Arts dance company auditions

Dance auditions for Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts will be held 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, for the Advanced Dance Company (high school ages); and 4:30-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, for the Senior Dance Company (sixth through eighth grades) and Junior Dance Company (second through fifth grades) at the Masonic Lodge, corner of Colorado Avenue and Ninth Street in Glenwood. For more information call the Center for the Arts at 970-945-2414 or go to glenwoodarts.org.

The American West vintage Carbondale newspaper exhibit and reception

The American West as Living Space series kicks off with an exhibit at the Carbondale Branch Library of vintage Carbondale newspapers from the Mount Sopris Historical Society. Come enjoy an opening reception for this special exhibit at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the library. Refreshments will be served. For more information call 970-963-2889.

Community Briefs

Coffee Talk: What is a Doula?

What are the benefits of using a birth and postpartum doula? The Carbondale Branch Library is holding a free educational talk with experienced doulas Hillary Lyen and Teresa Weinstein at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13. For more information call 970-963-2889.

The American West as Living Space library course

The American West as Living Space three-part library course will be led by Christine Smith, communications and humanities faculty, CMC Spring Valley; Ronald Edgerton, Pultizer Campfire Initiative project scholar; and Adrian Fielder, assistant dean of instruction, CMC Carbondale. The course will feature readings and conversations focused on work by Pulitzer-recognized authors, and include nonfiction, journalism, fiction and poetry. Join us on these special Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Sept. 14, 21, 28, at the Carbondale Branch Library. The course is limited to 25 participants who can preregister at the library. For more information or to register, call 970-963-2889.

Roald Dahl birthday party

As a most amazing human bean, you are invited to a very phizz-whizzing Roald Dahl 100th birthday party. Contests, prizes and special snacks can be expected for mischief makers of all ages. Join the celebration at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the New Castle Branch Library. This event is free and open to all ages. For more information call 970-984-2346.