April Fool’s: ‘We’re all gonna die!’ | VailDaily.com

April Fool’s: ‘We’re all gonna die!’

Melva Hess
Vail, CO Colorado
Pablo Picasso/Staff MarmotologistThe sqeakycoccus bacteria is spread indiscriminately by angry, vengeful marmots who hate themselves because they are fat little rodents.

BOND ” Sure, Eagle County is safe from things like hurricanes, dust storms and su .. tsu … tzu … those big tidal waves. But that doesn’t mean nature isn’t out to get us all, and in increasingly bizarre and horrible ways.

In Bond, home of the Yarmony Institute for Paranoiac Examination (YIPE!), Dr. Bill Shatner (not the actor) has been studying the ways the mountains can kill us for the past 30 years.

“The mountains are a deadly place,” Shatner said from the padded Airstream in which he does his research. “You don’t have to get lost in the wilderness and be eaten by a bear to die a horrible, horrible death.

“There are avalanches, of course, but not many people know that a drought can be just as lethal. When it’s too dry for the aspen trees to leaf out, an unwary hiker can drive a bare stick into his eye and straight into the brain, which is, of course, fatal.”

Shatner, who hasn’t left his Airstream in 17 years ” less-nervous volunteers bring him food, tequila and clean clothes every week. While there, they also bring fresh water and empty the travel trailer’s holding tanks.

“He lives a hermetic lifestyle,” said volunteer Shania Freen. “The more we’re able to help him, the more he can help us all understand the terrible, terrible danger we’re in.

Freen then scampered back to the Airstream, squeaking softly as she swiveled her head back and forth, alert as a field mouse to potential danger.

Most people live in the mountains without thinking about the danger of life at high elevation. Shatner worries for those people. But not as much as he worries about himself.

“Do my lips look blue?” he asks a visitor. “I think I’ve developed an erratic heartbeat. It could be hantavirus. Or maybe marmot pox. They’re very similar, you know.”

Things that can only be seen through a microscope are more dangerous than sparrows, or even adorable baby elk, Shatner said. But the visible world packs plenty of peril, he said.

“A newborn kitten seems like the most harmless creature in the universe,” Shatner said. “But if you get too close, it’s a choking hazard. And don’t get me started on dogs.

“The bottom line is this,” Shatner added. “We’re all gonna die, and it’s the things we aren’t worried about that are, by far, the most deadly. Now get out! I can see the germs coming out of your fingernails!”

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