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Besnette Hauser: Debunking the myths of paying for college

As the academic year comes to a close, an estimated 63% of graduating high school students nationally are focused on going to college. Others haven’t yet made plans for next year. Some have been out of school for a long time. Whatever your status or thinking about college — can and should it still be in your current or future plans? 

The simple answer is: Yes!

It’s never too late to start, or finish, college. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg to get an education.

If you think you can only begin at age 18, or earn a degree by 22, it’s time to let those myths go. And while we’re at it, let’s debunk a few other myths.

College is too expensive 

Yes, college can be expensive. However, if you are a smart shopper, there are ample ways to make college affordable, without incurring large amounts of debt. This is so that you are qualified for jobs and careers — the vast majority of them in our current society and economy — that require a college credential or degree. You can shop for colleges that have lower tuition rates, like CMC. You can earn specialized certificates, which can stand alone and qualify you for a better-paying job now or can “stack” together with a more traditional degree program. And financial aid is more available than you might realize. 

If I get financial aid, I’ll be stuck with huge loans

Let’s look at a real CMC student, Jesse Moreno, who is completing an Associate of Applied Science degree in paralegal. By talking with a financial aid counselor, he learned that by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), he qualified for free grants that covered all his expenses — without having to take out any loans.

I can pay the tuition, but I need to work full-time to cover my books, rent and living costs 

Moreno’s free grants not only paid for tuition but also for books and living expenses, allowing him to take more classes so that he can finish school more quickly. For example, you can use grants to cover child care, a computer, and other costs to attend college.

Applying for financial aid is hard, and the FAFSA is expensive

If you have completed your 2022 taxes, you’ve already done the hardest part of the FAFSA. Moreno found that an hour’s worth of completing the application more than paid for itself, giving him much more aid than he’d expected. And keep in mind that the first word in FAFSA is “free.” If anyone tries to charge you money for helping you complete the form, it is very likely a scam. The counselors at CMC offer free help, too.

I’m too old and won’t qualify for financial aid

Moreno had been out of school for 20 years and learned that financial aid options are available for older students, too. This includes options like the new CMC Promise program, which is especially for people who are caught in the middle between qualifying for Pell Grants and being able to pay all costs of attending, including those who are independent adults. With the Colorado Mountain Promise, we will cover tuition for any Colorado resident whose family income is below $70,000. If you’re an independent student (typically over 24 years of age) we’ll cover your tuition if your household income is $50,000 or less.

College can be affordable, for traditional-aged and older students alike, often with federal and state grants, need-based or merit-based scholarships offered by your college and other organizations, and work-study jobs. 

But don’t take my word for it. 

Go to ColoradoMTN.edu/tuition-costs/paying-for-college/ to see three different student scenarios about affording a college education. Go to ColoradoMTN.edu/financial-aid/ to find out more about all the available options or to talk to a financial aid counselor at CMC. 

If you or your family are considering college, the time to take the next step is now. June 30 is the deadline to complete the FAFSA for attending college this fall. Like Jesse Moreno, it just might change your life.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is the president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at president@coloradomtn.edu or @CarrieBHauser.

Van Beek: Structure keeps teens safe in the summer

“Risky Business,” “Home Alone” and “Adventures in Babysitting” … while these films are humorous depictions of kids left to create their own adventures, in reality, smart kids are always pushing limits, and without structured activities and smarter supervision, they can find themselves in quite a mess. 

Of course, as adults, we never did anything that might be even remotely considered illegal, and others of us, are surprised that we didn’t end up on “America’s Most Wanted” wondering how we even managed to survive our teen years.

Every generation says that the newest one is so much worse, but in reality, each decade produces the exact same mentality, but with different toys to break.

Having said that, this year, things are a bit different. After two years of varying degrees of isolation, this past school year was the first return to normalcy for teenagers, and for some, it didn’t go as well as anticipated.

Academic achievement was off, and for some, quite a bit. Not everyone was back, as some chose to continue online learning. Some programs were diminished or eliminated. Even adults were different, as some businesses had to close, and others had jobs eliminated, and there were the moves. Many close friends and family moved away, seeking other opportunities, leaving those behind to wonder, will things ever return to normal? Because for many, it isn’t feeling very normal.

Add the usual teen angst to that level of uncertainty. We can safely assume that teens are currently not at their optimal best, and with too much time on their hands, they can get into a negative state of mind, or on the other side, a mischievous state of mind. 

For mental health concerns, there are some excellent peer groups that can be reached at MountainStrong.org/Therapy/Peer-Support.

For the mischievous mind … there are several other options. 

While many programs are already full or may be beyond the family’s budget, there are other things that kids can do. There was a time when not every minute of a child’s life included a scheduled activity, yet there was structure and supervision. 

Like what, you may ask?

  • Some may find jobs, but given our rural location and limited public transportation, they may not be able to get from home to a job that can be located anywhere in the valley. 
  • Even volunteer opportunities are limited. However, have your teen register as a volunteer with day camps in the area, as they will sometimes be shorthanded and can use an enthusiastic young person who is willing to be on call. Summer camp volunteers have as much fun as the campers because they are usually engaged in the same activities. 
  • If the organized community sports teams are full or too expensive to join, the neighborhood kids can create their own touch football, soccer, or basketball teams. If they are uncertain how to do it, they can ask their grandparents, who spent every summer with their own version of sports like (stickball, kickball, handball, four-square, or hopscotch). They can be called the Retro-Teams!
  • In neighborhoods where there are many kids, parents may be able to organize group park or recreation center activities, or library trips, and take turns as the parent-in-charge. 
  • If transportation can be arranged, a trip to a horse farm or ranch to volunteer to help in exchange for riding time or other fun activities, like swimming or fishing in the property pond.
  • Even though some may say it’s corny, older kids love to create things like DIY obstacle courses and teach the younger ones how to navigate them and maybe offer a contest.
  • If someone in the neighborhood has an old flat-screen TV, they can set it up outside and have some fun movies playing with popcorn.
  • An afternoon can be made fun with everyone contributing to an ice cream sundae bar and a contest for the most creative.
  • A kiddie pool can be great fun, as are “war games” with water guns and water balloons … it’s summer, after all.
  • If it is a neighborhood of houses, perhaps each house can designate a small patch of dirt to be a “community garden” and the kids can go from house to house planting things and watching them grow. The homeowner gets a lovely garden, and the kids have a fun learning experience. It’s one of those muddy, dirty, experiences that create lasting memories, even if the garden isn’t perfect.
  • Neighbors can contribute to sidewalk chalk and have kids draw themes … which can be drawing animals on one day, plants on another, famous buildings can be interesting and historical, cars, foods, or an abstract day where people have to guess what it is. Just about anything can be added, and it will beautify the neighborhood in color, which can easily be rinsed away.
  • On a more caring note, the kids can pick one house a month or a week that belongs to a senior or disabled neighbor and do their lawn care.
  • If someone has a microphone, let the kids organize a talent show with different themes, like the funniest show, a show with only homemade instruments, a show with the silliest poems, one with the craziest DIY costumes, one where everyone has to sing a famous song but with their own imaginary words, etc.

There are lots of things that can be put together with little effort, which will make a huge difference in the life of a stay-at-home kid in the summer. I’d rather see them in their backyards having fun than in the back of a police car. 

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at james.vanbeek@eaglecounty.us.

Robbins: Lawyers come in two types

No, not good or bad, friendly or unfriendly, or some other casual metric.

What I am referring to is the two major distinctions of lawyers’ practices.

What might surprise many people — particularly after a steady diet of John Grisham novels, movies, and TV series — is that most lawyers, the vast majority, in fact, have never seen the inside of a courtroom.  OK, they may have seen one, from time to time — after all, lawyers get called for jury duty too — but that’s not where the bulk of attorneys ply their quotidian trade.

Say what?

That’s right. Despite what Hollywood, Grisham, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and what others may have led you to believe, lawyers who click their heels and strut in a courtroom are only the tip of the legal iceberg. A recent reckoning suggests that only about one-quarter of practicing attorneys devote any part of their practice to trial work. But that’s only part of it which I’ll come back to in a sec.

So, your perceptions shattered, if lawyers aren’t out there cracking heads in a courtroom, what then are they doing?

Well … paper shuffling mostly.

But that’s unkind, particularly as I do a whole lot of paper shuffling myself. This brings us back to the title of this column: What types of lawyers are there?

Generally, they fall into two broad types: litigation attorneys and transactional attorneys.

When I was a young attorney — as green as a new spring bud — the law firm to which I intended to become hitched asked me in the interview process, like in a James Bond movie — stirred or shaken — in this case “litigation of transactional?” 

My response was “both” which, although the grand poohbahs of the firm ultimately agreed to it, put them on their heels for a moment.

“Well,” they said, “usually it’s one or the other.”

“Yup,” I agreed.

What they meant by this is that most attorneys — transactional attorneys — devote their careers to drafting and reviewing documents, advising, consulting, reconciling, and otherwise avoiding court. Do not be deceived into thinking that this is unimportant work. To the contrary, the engines of government and business, as well as many personal relationships, run on the fuel of well-crafted legal instruments. Too, a well-thought-out legal document that anticipates what disputes may one day arise, deters unnecessary litigation.

Corporate attorneys, compliance attorneys, regulators and a whole host of others fall beneath the umbrage of “transactional attorneys” — some of whom are flat-out brilliant and invaluable.

As alluded to above, the other main branch of the legal tree is “litigation” counsel. These are the guys — and, increasingly, gals — who take up the reigns when a disagreement flowers into a full-blown dispute. But from the branch of litigation sprouts two sublimbs that most times run in parallel, the first of which is “litigation” and the second of which is “trial.” 

What this correctly suggests is that not every litigation attorney is a trial attorney, although many are.

It is not usual at all, especially in larger firms, for there to be attorneys — often younger ones — who help prepare a case for trial and other ones — often the more senior ones — who actually try the case before a judge or jury. While the trial guys may sometimes get the glory, they can also suffer the blame. But truth be told, an invaluable component of any litigation team is the often wickedly talented litigation-but-not-trial lawyers who put together the puzzle pieces of litigation and tee up the matter for success.

Though we’re talking here about attorneys, I’d be remiss to leave out paralegals who, as concerns both transactional and litigation matters, are often as wise and talented and smart as any attorney. A good paralegal — and there are many — is worth his, but most times her, weight in saffron stigma.

For the gears of this complex society of ours to freely and efficiently spin, both kinds of attorneys (and their trusted paralegal companions) are essential; transactional attorneys to put the wheels on, and litigation counsel to settle matters when the wheels invariably come off.

Back when I was a spring-green young attorney and interviewing for my first job and I answered “both” to what kind of lawyer do you want to be, what I suspected was that if I did both, being immersed in transactional matters would make me a better litigation attorney and vice versa. On reflection, 40 years on, I think now that is true. In drafting legal documents, knowing what rough edges may lead to litigation, makes one a better draftsperson. And knowing what sparks lead to fire in transactions makes one a more perceptive and efficient litigator.

Despite the grumbling of many jaundiced attorneys and the convenient slings and arrows of comedians, I, at least, find law fascinating work which, as I have written before, is really all about people and their fascinating hopes and dreams and stories.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices Of Counsel in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Caplan & Earnest, LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, and divorce, and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address at Rrobbins@CELaw.com. His novels, “How to Raise a Shark (an apocryphal tale),” “The Stone Minder’s Daughter,” and “Why I Walk so Slow” are currently available at fine booksellers.

Habitat for Humanity: Homeownership season

“I started crying in front of my class. … I let them know and they clapped their hands! I can’t believe it! I am so lucky and blessed. Thank you. A big weight is lifted. This changes my life! I am so thankful,” a future Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley homeowner recently recounted.

It’s notification season at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. To say it’s an emotional time is an understatement — we attempt to surprise hardworking applicants at their workplace or in our offices about their selection to partner with Habitat in building and then buying their permanently affordable home. The future homeowners react powerfully — from shock and disbelief to joy and relief. Those of us who get to deliver the news get caught up in the emotion.

The emotions continue as we explain to the 100 or so families why they weren’t selected in this round and encourage them to stay engaged and keep pursuing their home ownership dreams. We staunchly believe everyone deserves a safe and affordable home. Although our community is making strides, there simply are not enough opportunities affordable to our workforce in Eagle County.

Housing has gotten further out of reach for many living and working in Eagle County. In 2022-23, we received 170 applications for 24 homes. Families live in overcrowded or unsafe situations, rent prices skyrocket with no guarantee of housing from month to month, and it is heartbreaking to know there are only so many more families we can help each year.  

It’s because of this large number of people living perilously close to crisis that we are committed to tripling the number of homes we build this year: 24 homes. If it takes a village to raise children, it takes strong partnerships to build a better community.

On June 22, we will break ground on 16 homes, starting to build a new neighborhood with 16 new homeowners at Third Street in Eagle. This project is a standout in our minds for the partnerships that made it possible, the future homeowners, and the innovation.

The partnerships

Our board of directors was the catalyst for tripling housing starts. They saw the number of applicants in need of housing swell year after year. These families are crucial to the fabric of our community struggling to put down roots in Eagle County. The board led with their hearts and showed bravery as they put us on a path to achieve our aspirational plan to get more families in homes faster.

Third Street represents the best in all of us in the Eagle River Valley. Habitat is special. We have the flexibility, creativity and know-how to get more affordable homes built. We don’t do it alone. It’s because of our strong relationships with the community that we have unique partnerships and new funding sources combined with our acumen, expertise and ability to build more with a tight budget. Habitat can leverage every donation and our partners see that value.

Third Street is our foray into modular building. A shortened build timeline will get families into their homes sooner — as well as increase home production in conjunction with eight homes being stick-built in Gypsum. We are building the modular homes on land adjacent to Eagle Valley Middle School because our land partner, Eagle County School District, donated this parcel. Seventy-five percent of the homeowners work in the school district.

The town of Eagle was integral in helping us secure funding for infrastructure at $1.1 million which was awarded in part because of the town’s work to update their building code and adopt best practices to incentivize affordable housing. They are working to streamline the process and procedural requirements.

The state legislature worked quickly to design a program with the Colorado Division of Housing with the once-in-a-generation fiscal recovery funds aimed at projects that will create transformational change across the state. The Third Street project was awarded a major grant for construction to the tune of $1.2 million.

Finally, Eagle County via the Eagle County Housing and Development Authority is funding the gap between construction costs and affordability with Habitat Vail Valley’s largest grant ever at $3.2 million. 

We invite you to celebrate with us on June 22 at the groundbreaking of these 16 homes and see first-hand how your organization might be able to partner with us on the next neighborhood.

Elyse Howard is the director of development for Habitat Vail Valley. The organization has a three-year goal to triple the number of homes built, helping 40 families achieve affordable homeownership.

Writers on the Range: A teenager who was killed should still be with us

If you think that race is only an issue in the country’s biggest cities, consider a murder trial that recently concluded in the small town where I live, in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon.

The defendant in this criminal case was Robert Paul Keegan, a 50-year-old white man. In November 2020, Keegan was staying at a motel in Ashland, a few miles from my home, because his house had burned down two months earlier in a wildfire.

Keegan, who had complained before about noise at the motel, testified that one night at around 4 a.m. he heard loud music and believed it was coming from the motel parking lot where a Black teenager, Aidan Ellison, was sitting in a parked car.

Ellison, 19, was staying at the motel because he’d also lost his home in the fire. A roommate told police that Ellison had trouble sleeping and had gone outside to sit in her car to avoid keeping her awake.

Keegan admitted that he used profane language in shouting at Ellison, and claimed that Ellison responded in kind.

The motel clerk testified that after Keegan complained, he checked the parking lot, heard no music, and found Ellison to be “very chill” in his car.

Then, while Ellison and the clerk were talking, Keegan entered the parking lot with a gun and confronted Ellison. The clerk, the only eyewitness to these events, testified that he tried to break up their heated argument. The argument only lasted a few minutes because suddenly, Keegan fired, killing Ellison with a single gunshot to the chest.

Keegan at first claimed that Ellison hit him in the face, causing him to fear for his life and to fire in self-defense. But photos taken that night by police showed no evidence of Keegan’s face having been hit, and a medical examiner testified that an autopsy showed no evidence that Ellison had struck anyone.

Killing Ellison was “not a reasonable use of force in this situation,” the prosecutor told the jury.

Faced with overwhelming evidence that a white man had killed a young and unarmed Black man, Keegan’s lawyers crafted their case to appeal to the jury, which was composed only of white people.

Keegan claimed he was frightened by this tall Black person, and his lawyers told the jury that Keegan was being unfairly charged by authorities who felt pressure to be “hyper-vigilant” in a “post-George Floyd world.” The reference was to nationwide protests that followed the police killing of a Black man in Minneapolis in 2020.

After hearing the arguments, the jury found Keegan not guilty of murder — a crime that would have resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. Instead, the jury found him guilty of manslaughter — a killing that is “committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” That crime carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.

The judge in the case applied the minimum sentence plus one additional year each for convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment of the motel clerk.

At a community meeting in Ashland last year, Black speakers put the killing of Aidan Ellison in a context they know well. They said that unlike most white people, many people of color live with the constant fear of harassment, discrimination, or even death.

“This is a story we’ve heard again and again, in community after community,” said Nkenge Harmon Johnson, head of the Urban League of Portland. 

“Something that should have been nothing at all turns into a deadly situation, and often it’s for a Black or brown person. They are killed at the hand of someone who thinks they have the right to do it, perhaps very much because of the color of the skin of their victim.”

After Keegan was acquitted of murder, speakers at a protest said that regardless of the trial’s outcome, justice had never been possible for Aidan Ellison, a Black young man who many local residents believe would still be alive today if he’d been white.

“Aidan’s mom will never see her son again,” said Ashland City Councilor Gina DuQuenne. “Aidan will never be a dad. Aidan will never be able to be a grandfather.

“Aidan will never be able to experience life because he is gone, and he’s never coming back.”

Matt Witt is a contributor to Writers on the Range, WritersontheRange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring conversation about the West. He is a writer and photographer in Talent, Oregon.

Carnes: Pride flag phobia proliferating

Here we are in Happy Valley, about to start the wonderful month of June, full of hiking, biking, fishing, camping, picnics, concerts and, of course, the annual blooming of hateful bigotry toward anything and everything involving rainbows.

It must be really hard for these people to look outside after a rain shower.

This weekend’s “Pride in the Park” in Avon will be the fourth year for the event to promote LGBTQ+ pride and equality, and the also the fourth year for a select few to share their homophobic pride by ranting and raving over some religious-based hogwash about rainbows and flags, specifically the town of Avon raising a Pride flag during the month.

Pride Month also provides perfect opportunities on a national level for elected nitwits like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert to once again prove that small minds are truly incapable of large thoughts as each desperately attempts to steer the bandwagon of corporate cancel culture.

“Experts think that Target won’t suffer the same fate as Bud Light. What they don’t realize is the guys, who quit Bud Light, wives shop at Target,” Greene tweeted (her punctuation, not mine), while Boebert shouts, “Let’s make it as shameful to wear North Face as it is to drink Bud Light!”

Why is it those who claim so fervently to be against cancel culture are the most prolific at promoting canceling culture?

Anyway, back to our local flag issue.

With hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently being considered across the country, this is just more elected officials, almost exclusively on the far right, telling people what they can and cannot do behind closed doors and with their own bodies, leading to my conclusion that governments, especially at the local level, should refrain from playing the role of making sure everyone gets a yellow ribbon, and should instead stay in their lane of collecting taxes to pay for infrastructure, fire, police, etc.

In other words, the town of Avon, while to be applauded on one hand for expressing their First Amendment right to fly the rainbow flag, should use the other hand to slap down further attempts to use their public pulpit for community expressions that can easily be misconstrued as personal agendas and most certainly are not representative of the entire community.

I’m all for the Pride events, and like all the religions in the world, have no issue with their existence as long as they show compassion for and don’t try to force anything upon others who think differently (yes, I have rose-colored dreams too, but whatever).

As a Vail Daily letter said last week, the Avon Town Council makes the decision on the use of flagpoles “based on values they feel are reflective and appropriate for the Avon community…” Well, they shouldn’t, as what values are appropriate varies greatly in a diverse community such as ours. I know some of my friends on the council might disagree, but no local council is ever going to please everyone all the time, as the thin-skinned and easily offended are so prevalent nowadays, so stop trying to and stick with what you were elected for in the first place — making decisions for the long-term benefit of the entire community.

The United States, Colorado and town of Avon flags should fly alone, and leave the marketing of morals and ethics up to the individual, or at least a Chamber of Commerce.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at poor@vail.net.

Haims: Neurodegenerative diseases and inflammation

Two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases are Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Not only here in the United States, but also globally, these progressive debilitating diseases pose significant challenges to national and global health care systems. Data from the Alzheimer’s Association states that in 2022, “the estimated healthcare costs associated with AD treatment were $321 billion, with costs projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2050.” For Parkinson’s disease, the estimated total economic burden in 2019 was $52 billion, however, as this data is four years old, the current cost may be much greater.

These conditions are characterized by the progressive degeneration of neurons, leading to debilitating cognitive, motor, and functional impairments. While the exact causes of neurodegenerative diseases are unclear, research suggests that inflammation plays a critical role in their onset and progression.

In general, inflammation is good. However, when inflammation is bad, it’s very bad. Inflammation is good when it is the body’s response to tissue damage or the invasion of a harmful intruder like a toxin, bacteria, virus, or even a splinter. Inflammation is bad when it becomes chronic (long-term) and has the potential to lead to cause diseases like obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, blood vessel disease, heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

Chronic inflammation in the brain has been linked to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As such, it has also been shown to impair cognitive function, memory, attention, and decision-making. In these conditions, prolonged inflammation triggers the release of toxic molecules that damage neurons, disrupt communication between brain cells, and contribute to the accumulation of abnormal proteins. Further, when toxic molecules continue to release inflammatory mediators for extended periods of time, neurodegeneration is perpetuated.

Studies have highlighted the role of misfolded proteins, such as beta-amyloid and tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease and alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease, in activating immune cells and triggering an inflammatory response. This immune response is thought to play a significant role in the progression of these diseases. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, there are several key aspects of immune cell activation.

To remedy immune cell activation in these diseases, researchers are exploring various approaches. Some of the approaches finding successes include anti-inflammatory medications, protein aggregates, and gut-brain axis Interventions.

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or specific inhibitors of inflammatory pathways, are being studied to reduce the inflammatory response in the brain. These drugs aim to suppress the activation of immune cells and mitigate neuroinflammation.

Since abnormal protein aggregates play a role in immune activation, efforts are underway to develop therapies that can prevent or clear these aggregates. This approach includes immunotherapies that utilize antibodies or vaccines to target and remove alpha-synuclein aggregates, thereby reducing immune cell activation.

Evolving evidence suggests a connection between gut health and these diseases. Researchers are investigating interventions that target the gut microbiota, such as probiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation, to modulate immune responses and potentially alleviate symptoms.

There are also inflammation reduction approaches that can be done at home. One of the best countermeasures we can do to prevent or reduce chronic inflammation is exercise. Both observational studies and controlled trials have shown that exercise suppresses the production of proteins that have harmful effects on inflammation. Further, exercise increases the production of certain molecules that play an important role in inducing anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms.

The foods we choose to consume are also powerful tools in fighting inflammation. By choosing to avoid certain types of food and integrating others, people can make a profound difference in their ability to fend off chronic inflammation.

Some of the foods that combat inflammation include tomatoes, fruits (berries, oranges) olive oil, green leafy, vegetables (spinach, kale), nuts (almonds and walnuts), fatty fish (salmon, tuna,) omega-3 fatty acids; high-fiber foods; and foods high in zinc and magnesium. 

Conversely, some of the foods that exacerbate inflammation are sugar, saturated fats (dairy, fatty meat), refined carbohydrates (fruit juices, pastries, white bread), and processed meats (sausage, deli meats high in sodium).

Researchers are making great strides in understanding inflammation. However, we too need to educate ourselves by learning about lifestyle choices that can both be harmful and helpful.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526. 

Norton: Reminiscing is one thing, lamenting is another, and both are awesome

Not sure about you, but one of my favorite pastimes is reminiscing with friends and family about the good times that we enjoyed over all the years we have been a part of each other’s lives. Oh, the stories change and grow in grandeur over time, but then we all laugh at one another as we realize the tall tales we are sharing about our favorite, crazy, and sometimes even cringeworthy events that we shared together.

We reminisce about those we have loved and lost. We remember our family and friends as tears build up in our eyes, recanting their most infamous moments that we can recall. And then we think about how angry we were with them at some point in our life, but we just can’t seem to remember why. Has that ever happened to you? It has certainly happened to me.

When we find ourselves reminiscing, we sometimes drift off into the daydreams of happy times and incredible memories. That day we first held hands, that first kiss, our first football championship, our first beer together, and so many other firsts. Or we go down memory lane, reminded not just of our “firsts” in life, but of many years of shared hardships, hurts, disappointments, wins, and celebrations. Reminiscing brings back joyful moments of those we have lived our lives with and through, and just how special each moment was to us during those seasons of life. Do you have any of those memories? I sure do.

While reminiscing brings fond memories of years gone by, we sometimes visit that other side of our memories as we lament the missed opportunities in life, lost chances of love, and the mistakes we may have made along the way. We don’t often hear the word “lament” anymore. Miriam Webster’s Dictionary defines lament as, “to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively, or, to regret strongly, or, to cry out in grief.” Those are some very strong words that should emote some very deep feelings.

When given the choice, most of us would probably prefer to reminisce about the good old days, right? We can laugh with one another, embrace one another, and choose to only remember the best times of our lives. There is nothing wrong with that and as a matter of fact, I highly recommend it. There is no greater cure for the blues than spending time with a family member or friend stirring up our greatest and most memorable escapades of our past.

Yet there is also something to be said of lamenting our past, our sorrows, our griefs, and the challenges we have faced in all our years here on earth. The struggles have been real, the hurts have been devastating, the challenges have brought us to tears, and the disappointments many and plentiful. Why would I say that there is something to be said about lamenting our past? Because sometimes even the pain brings back memories of something once cherished. Because sometimes, it’s healthy to lament, and feel the pain so that we can maybe finally let it go. And sometimes, it’s okay to never let go of something or someone we cherished so deeply, that is now lost, because it keeps us connected forever.

The daughter who lost her mom before her wedding day laments that she couldn’t experience that special occasion with her mom. The same daughter reminisces each holiday about how special her mom made each and every holiday, bringing both tears of sorrow and tears of joy to her face. Do you see how they can both exist in the same moment?

How about you? Do you love and appreciate the moments where you get to reminisce about the best, happiest, and craziest times of life with your family and friends? Do you also lament those moments in life where you wish things could’ve been different? I would love to hear your story at gotonorton@gmail.com and when we can remember all of the sweet, bitter, and bittersweet moments of life that shape who we are, it really will be a better-than-good life. 

Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.

Lewis: A zero-sum game

In my travels, I have been to well over 50 countries, and no place felt more “foreign” to me than Japan. It’s not bad, just different. If you want to get a glimpse into Japan, I recommend the movie “Lost in Translation.” While it’s hilariously funny for those who have been to Japan, it may prove challenging to follow for those who haven’t.

During my first trip to Japan, I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Back then, there were no credit cards in taxis, so I paid cash in Japanese Yen that I had exchanged at the airport. The driver returned my change on a nice tray. I took a couple of bills and left the rest as a tip. I exited the taxi but seconds later the driver was running after me with the tray in hand.

I tried explaining that the money was a tip, but he was having none of it, so I took the change and walked away. It turns out that, what I thought was a kind gesture, was actually offensive in Japan. I felt terrible, and from that point forward I researched the customs of every country before I visited.

In Japan, people believe services come with a predetermined charge, and individuals are honor bound to provide their best service in exchange for their pay. Many countries have different tipping cultures far less generous than the U.S., but most will simply smile at the clueless American and take the money. Not in Japan.

There are times when I wish our culture was more like Japan’s. I recently wrote a column expressing my concern that tipping expectations had gotten out of hand. With all of the recent angst about “tip fatigue,” it was surprising to see that our state legislature passed a bill that requires all companies to allow their employees to accept tips. Kudos to Gov. Polis for vetoing it this week saying, “this is not an appropriate area for state legislation.”

There are many reasonable situations where a company may choose to prohibit tipping. While tips are used to reward good service, they also are used as a bribe to receive special treatment.

During my time working in Massachusetts, I would frequently drive into Boston for customer dinners, which were usually at the Capital Grille. The parking around the restaurant was impossible. They offered a valet, but the garage was blocks away, so it would take forever to get your car when you came out after dinner. Wanting to get home after a long day, I started “tipping” the valet a little extra to leave my car right out front.

In most cases, these “bribes” are minor. We might want a better table at a restaurant or to get extra towels from the maid but, if all constraints on tipping are removed, there is the potential for abuse, and it makes sense that companies might wish to prohibit it. Should I be able to skip the line at the airport check-in by slipping the attendant some cash?

I think the most important thing to realize about these new tipping expectations is that it is a zero-sum game. Most everyone has a budget, and if you spend more in one area, then you will spend less in another.

I know I have altered my behavior due to tipping costs. For instance, my wife and I used to go out for coffee a couple of times per week. It was expensive already, but with tipping effectively increasing this price, it became too much. We stopped and saved over $1,000 per year! It is a simple economic reality that price increases, in any form, affect demand.

I also go less frequently to establishments where I feel intimidated to provide a tip, especially when it is expected upfront for minimal service. The emotional stress of being scoffed at by a clerk when not tipping simply isn’t worth it.

The legislature’s time would be better spent crafting consumer protection against some of the more aggressive approaches that are effectively forcing people to tip more than they want. For example, recommending exorbitantly high tip amounts and burying the “no tip” option three levels deep on the tip menu should be prohibited.

If we must have more tipping, maybe it’s time to start tipping consumers when they do all of the work, like at self-checkout machines. If I scan my own items and bag my own groceries, how about the machine spits out a few bucks for a good job well done?

Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.

Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance: How recreation supports conservation

Outdoor Recreation (from our view) refers to fun, leisure activities that take place in a natural setting (such as on trails) and benefit the body, mind and/or spirit. Conservation is the protection of natural resources and the environment for current and future generations.

Recreation and conservation are two highly important and ever-present parts of what makes our community a great place to live. The fact and reality are that our community values recreation and takes advantage of the abundant recreation opportunities our surrounding natural resources offer us. Often, recreation and conservation are perceived as at odds with one another, but that’s only when viewed through a narrow lens.  They are intricately linked and you really can’t have one without the other.

Recreation and conservation can work together to create a more sustainable future for our community and the natural environment we are fortunate to be surrounded by. The Colorado Outdoor Partnership states as one of its principles, “Both conservation and recreation are needed to sustain Colorado’s quality of life. Both are beneficial to local economic well-being, for personal health, and for sustaining Colorado’s natural resources.” We couldn’t agree more. Here are some examples of how they can support each other:

People don’t need trails, the land does

Let’s use the West Avon Preserve as an example to explain this concept. This land contains the rare plant Harrington’s penstemon and is important winter habitat for mule deer and elk. Imagine (or remember) how this 478-acre parcel of land in Avon was used prior to a land swap, conservation easement, and management plan executed in 2013. It was highly unmanaged, did not contain a seasonal wildlife closure, and contained a significant amount of social/illegal user-created trails.

People accessed this land whenever they wanted, undoubtedly trampled Harrington’s penstemon, and wandered, chartering their own course across the entire area. Today, the West Avon Preserve contains almost 12 miles of sustainable multi-use non-motorized trails to provide recreation opportunities, in the right place and at the right time. 

Before being built, each trail underwent significant environmental studies to ensure that Harrington’s penstemon was not trampled. Additionally, a majority of the land and trails are now under a well-respected and understood seasonal wildlife closure. If we don’t give people the right experiences and places to connect with nature, they are going to create it on their own, and more than likely in the wrong places and at the wrong times.

Between Avon and Edwards, over 8,000 people live within a mile of this recreation hub. It is a designated trail system that’s well planned, designed, constructed and maintained, minimizing the human impact on the landscape that’s been conserved.

Experiences and time in nature create a community of stewards

When people enjoy spending time in nature, they are more likely to appreciate the benefits and value of the natural world. Trail-based recreation provides our community with access to connect with nature. It’s no surprise that we have many nonprofits in our community such as the Eagle Valley Land Trust, Walking Mountains Science Center, Eagle River Watershed Council, and others that offer opportunities to connect with and protect our natural environment.

Our volunteer-driven Trail Stewardship programs include Adopt A Trail, Youth Trail Stewards, and Wildlife Trail Ambassadors, and annually engage over 1,200 volunteer trail stewards. These volunteers participate in our programs because they want to take care of the trails, public lands, and nature that they enjoy and love.  They want to ensure sustainable trail-based recreation and conservation initiatives exist for us today and for future generations.

Education and awareness lead to conservation action

The more education and awareness about conservation initiatives and responsible recreation practices we can provide to our community, the more action will be taken. For example, when we proposed to build the Everkrisp trail in 2017, we learned why seasonal wildlife closures exist and that our community was not informed or educated on their importance nor where and when they exist.

As a result, we launched our volunteer Wildlife Trail Ambassador program, installed new signage and gates at trailheads, and significantly increased education and awareness around seasonal wildlife closures.  In one month in 2017, a game camera on a closed section of the North trail showed 212 human violations of the closure. In 2022, that same section had 23 violations over a two-month period. The result was a new trail opportunity being provided for our community and an educational program being created to help educate our community to support wildlife.

Recreation is a powerful tool that can be used to support and promote conservation. By engaging our community who are enjoying our trails, we are able to create more stewards who are invested in conserving our natural environment. By coming together, we can provide recreation opportunities while also conserving and protecting the environment for future generations.

Ernest Saeger is the executive director of the Vail Valley Mountain Trail Alliance. The VVMTA’s mission is to connect our community to the outdoors through sustainable recreation. The VVMTA advocates for soft surface trails, manages trail stewardship programs, maintains and builds trails, coordinates and trains volunteers, educates outdoor recreational users, and creates opportunities to access the outdoors. Through trail access and experiences, our community will improve its mental and physical health, quality of life, and economic vitality.