Letters – October 2010


The List Guy: Thoughts About Cool Things and The Fine Line

Editor’s note: After priming the creative pump of both yours truly (Smoke Signals,“Listing Who We Are, MG #166) and the MG Tribe (via the two dozen or more Letters we have run on the subject), Dave Baldridge, whose idea it was for people to list the cool things they have done, has come back to us with his reflections on the whole process.

This is a lot deeper water than I ever imagined. The list was kind of spontaneous, and now I’m thinking about what it’s worth, if in fact it’s worth anything at all. At least the psychic rummaging around has been heating, in kind of a weird way, as editor Fayhee aptly puts it.

It’s allowed (forced) me to think for the first time about whether there are patterns in my list. Re-arranging it in chronological order, I see a lot of self-testing, especially in the older things. There’s also a lotta need for validation, but that’s never been any secret, according to my friends. My abundant search for approval probably isn’t all that different from other “cool-thing” pilgrims. Neither does it call for psychoanalysis; it’s just a list.

One unintended byproduct is that it pushed out my adrenaline threshold. Progressively over the years, it’s taken more and more to get high. Better drugs, bigger risks. I’ve come to think of this tendency as “fool’s gold.” It never led me to resolution or peace or lasting satisfaction — it’s an endless highway, littered with lotsa wrecks.

I got good at healing. And falling. As Dick Dorworth described in his 1970s MG classic “Night Driving,” there is an art to healing. Ski racers, he says, are sometimes very good at it.

On the mountain bike trip to Nepal (Item 8), I had a couple of horrendous falls, potential helicopter evac stuff. Came up unscathed both times, although helmet and sunglasses were broken. Previous experience with falling helped. Have had practice healing from broken clavicle, ribs, toe, wrist, hip, nose (21 fractures), three knee/ankle surgeries, several hundred stitches, kidney removal and a couple of times from a broken heart. That last item was the hardest.

When I left the mountains after a couple of decades, my next job took me deep into Native America. It was with a national Indian aging organization, advocating for American

Indian elders. I careened into it with the usual abandon, but this time something was different. Looking back, I feel a real sense of peace and worth about it. The only difference, adventure-wise, is that it was for the benefit of someone else, not for me. That was the key. It turned everything around, opened internal doors that were very rusty. Interesting that this only shows up once on the list (item 26).

Even now, though, it feels good to have all this stuff embedded in my psyche like road rash gravel. It’s hard to get too upset by some account executive freaking out when you’ve been chased by a head-hunting rodeo bull (item 1) or looked an avalanche fatality in the eye (item 11).

As it turns out, if I could ever write a book (never done that), these things on my list would probably be the chapters. I didn’t expect this. My girlfriend says it should be called “Going Big: The Fine Line Between Adventure and Stupidity . . . or How I Got My Knee Brace.”

Anyway, here’s what I, the list guy, hope I’ve learned in the process of getting the brace.

• What’s cool for you may not be cool for someone else. Many won’t understand or care about the coolest things.

• When you go out, take your whole heart with you, not just adrenaline. If it’s not in your heart, it isn’t cool.

• If it matters to you, it matters. Cool comes from inside, not the spectators at the finish line.

• What’s the difference? Maybe only that someone imagined something larger .

• You’re gonna get hurt. Not every time but enough. That’s why more people don’t do cool things. Cool and risk usually go hand in hand.

• Gotta try to live large. That’s what it’s all about. Well, that and being kind.

• Don’t compare self to anyone else after it happened. Winning or losing has no home among cool things; it orbits on the periphery.

• Visualize. Many a man hath seen himself in dreams. Try to channel the best before you launch.

• Roll with the punches. They can be important parts of the cool things. Sometimes they can BE the cool things.

• Nike got it right. If you don’t do it, you’ll never know. I’ve lost far more through hesitation than impulsiveness.

• Cool is a luxury of hindsight. When it’s hitting the fan, cool is meaningless.

• Breaking the rules isn’t always important. There’s enough drama to go around without taking down the system. Usually.

• If it was done with love, it’s been cool. Every time.

• The coolest, toughest adventure of all is the internal one.

Thanks again for the platform.
Dave Baldridge,
Albuquerque

Whither art thou, MG poetry?

Hey man! What happened to the poetry section? You all don’t believe in supporting and publishing the poetic insights of the mountain folk any more? I have been out of the West for a year and was shocked to not find a poetry section in the current issue that I eagerly scooped up as soon as I returned.

First the size and then the bombardment of advertising and now the poetry section!?! I understand you all have to make money and give you praise for being able to survive the black plague of publishing, but the poetry, the mountain prose, the heart and soul of the only outlet of expression we mountain people have!

Please tell me there will be more, every other issue or that I missed some serious philosophical reason for its banishment.

Sorely and sincerely yours,
One more Lost Mountain Poet,
Jen C.
Pb

Editor’s note: Not only did I have the great fortune to have received this Letter, but I had the even greater fortune to meet young Ms. Jen C. recently at a watering hole in Leadville, where she, her mother and her two sisters organized the first annual GreenerLead Festival, which was a rousing success.

That said: Verily! Yes, yes, yes, our esteemed Poetry Section has been gone for several issues now, mainly because our poetry editor moved on to greener and far-less-lyrical pastures. It is our intent to relaunch our Poetry Section as soon as we find a replacement editor.

A Third Phase Wilderness

Dear John: So much of Idaho’s potential wilderness areas, like Utah’s, are neglected, as Brook Williams suggested in “The Middle of Nowhere” (MG #170), not because of lack of beauty but because of their remoteness,

and therefore, invisibility. Two huge and beautiful places on the

Payette National Forest near McCall, the Secesh and Needles roadless areas, are even recommended by the U.S. Forest Service for Wilderness protection. But they haven’t gotten the attention of the designated Wilderness areas, despite being equally spectacular. Anyone who has gone to McCall has seen these areas, but they hardly know it. People drive beside these roadless areas and between them or enjoy them at a distance; advocates rant and rave about Wilderness either pro or con, but few actually go into them to see their guts. Few know these enormous wild places for their inherent values.

But Brook’s main point is more germane: these areas have their highest human value for being nowhere. Their profound solitude is a great bargain for evolving humanity as we look at the places we came from. Wildlife moves through these invisible places from Hells Canyon Wilderness on the west to the enormous River of No Return Wilderness: wolves,wolverine,bears,elk,pileated woodpeckers, great grey owls, eagles and many of the other beasts that live there. These proposed Wilderness areas are the connective tissue by which species will survive in the future as our climate changes. There are no trails through large portions of this land and other trails that lie forgotten or lost. It is raw land in the presence of untamed nature. There is nothing sweet or tame about this third phase of wilderness; it is a punishing landscape that sometimes manages gentility and grandeur.

These are places that people go to find out who they are in the silence of a vast loneliness. I hope that we will know enough to protect each of these little-known places to maintain their loneliness, their grandeur and more simply, their obvious wildness.

Mike Medberry,
Boulder

We Were Liberal Arts Majors!

Dear John: I realize that I subscribe to Mountain Gazette and not Math Gazette but I am still puzzling over the “simple” math included in the piece, “Death: Germ vs Bear” by Laura Pritchett (MG #170). In this article, Ms. Pritchett concluded that we are much more likely to die from bacteria than bears because bacteria are so much more abundant, and presented a calculation that estimated that there are about 100,000,000,000,000 (10^14) bacteria per human. The mathematical logic employed in calculating this number appears suspect.

It is stated that there are 10^29 bacteria in the world (the most commonly cited number is actually 50-fold higher than this) and that one percent of this number is 10^24. It is not clear why one percent of this number is used but one percent of 10^29 is 10^27, which is 1,000 times larger than 10^24.

If the more commonly used estimate of bacteria in the world is used (5x 10^30) and divided by the number of people in the world (7,000,000,000 or 7 x10^9), you come up with roughly 7 x 10^20 bacteria per person. This is 7,000,000 times more bacteria per person than the number stated in the article. So if you were worried about bacteria before, you can now be seven million times more concerned.

Regards,
Wayne Van Voorhies
Las Cruces, NM

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.

Letters – September 2010

Grandpa JT

John, Just wanted to give a shout out to you about your story on JT. (Smoke Signals, “Up in Smoke” (MG #167) He was the closest thing I had to a Grandpa in my life. The things I learned from this old soul will never be forgot and passed on to all who need a little JT logic in there life. Your story brought me back to the times I have spent with JT with a tear in my eyes and thank you for that! I can’t help to have a bit of giggle in me about all the Medical Marijuana in Colorado and the conversa- tions JT would be having on the subject over some tequila and a joint.

Thanks again,

Matthew Wade

That was me!

Hey M. John: Loved the Rio Grand Article in the May 2010 issue (Rio Grande,” by Ben Woodbeck, MG #167). I was that 12-yearold with 190s. They weren’t Rossignols, though, they where hot-pink Volkls that my German Grandpa told me were what I needed to go fast. I found them at an end of season sale at a Midwest ski resort, close to Chicago, where I grew up. They matched my neon head band perfectly!

I grew up taking two trips a year to the mountains with the family, spring breaks in Summit County were always a hit. I remember rafting, while still in my neon phase, with Keystone Rafting when they still existed and being in awe of the guiing lifestyle. Years later, I was wooed to Colorado, not by a woman, although that would have probably done it as well, but to play. I told my parents the 1,000-mile distance between nest and my future was for school and life in Fort Collins. They bought it, I think. They let me go anyway.

I remember the call home the day after finals freshmen year where I hesitantly told my family that I would not be returning to the moisture-laden air of Chicagoland for the summer. I had gotten a job raft guiding with Breck Whitewater. I hung up the phone on my awe-shocked mother and headed to the mountains, no looking back! I graduated and tried the real world scene, but now, at 26, I have been wooed again away from the straight and narrow, not for a NOLS course, but for two consecutive NOLS internships. I no longer guide on the river, but I call it home, I climb at sinks after work and the respon- sibility level has gone down to an accept- able level of nil. I house sit and eat free food, have no problem raiding the Safeway dumpster on Sunday nights, and it was all because I was wooed by the West and the life she promised to deliver. Although actual women have come and gone, the true love of my life stands strong, arms wide open, always willing to give me another chance when I stray. Thanks for the smiles, Mr. Woodbeck — I enjoyed reading about your journey!

Paul Ronto,

NOLS intern!

11 cool things I’ve done

Dear John, Re: (Smoke Signals, “Listing Who We Are,” MG #166. One’s life expe- riences are unique. And though I don’t think we should entirely link our identities to those experiences, they do help us understand who we are and shape who we become. These experiences do not sum up my life, but without them, I would not be who I am. My life, in many ways, resembles a Spaghetti Western film. Here’s how…

I emerged in the late 1960s, and was co-produced by an Italian.

After completing art school, I moved to the American Southwest (go West, young lady, go West!) and, typical of the genre, became immersed in a culture of minimal funds, gunslingers, outlaws, artistic camera angles and raw, explosive action scenes.

A low-budget, highly fluid, minimalist, creative lifestyle was the result. Audiences loved it, and I have come to be held in high regard.

For me, this list of “11 Cool Things I’ve Done” (note: My list goes to 11 … one MORE than 10), has merely set the stage for Phase 2 of life’s adventures: “A Frillion Cool Things I Have Yet To Do.”

1) I have lived, for a short time, in a yurt.

2) I have eaten whale meat with an Eskimo.

3) One Halloween, a friend and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a sword, a hair-straightener and the rest of our costumes’ components in our back- packs. As Gomez and Morticia Adams, we handed out Halloween candy to the happy campers at Phantom Ranch. I’ve also rafted through the canyon on another occasion.

4) I have milked goats and made cheese.

5) I have held my friend’s hand while she gave birth to her first child.

6) My husband and I eloped. And to make it official, we put the inked paw- prints of our dogs, Nanook and Guinness, on the witness line of our marriage license.

7) I have worked on a dude ranch.

8) I haven’t owned a television in 20 years.

9) As a volunteer on my 40th birthday, I was stationed at a checkpoint on the remote coast of Norton Sound in Unalakleet, Alaska, during the Iditarod to help care for the sled dogs participating in the race.

10) I have helped build an Earthship and a sweat lodge.

11) I have judiciously planted cannabis seeds in a certain mountain town’s flow- erbeds that were watered and maintained by town employees.

Thank You

Amy Fortunato

Cool things I have done

Greetings: I just recently “found the time” to come up with the 10 (sorta cool) things I’ve done list. I felt like putting the thoughts, the list, the old-dredged-up memories (not “to paper”) to the hard drive.

(a) Being an integral part of each of my kids’ weddings. NOBODY ELSE CAN DO THAT (especially the first wedding for each). “Giving my daughter away” — that’s a unique job/task/experience. Also, both kids, son & daughter, asked that I don a yarmulke and preside over the Jewish wedding-tradition sharing-&-breaking- the-wine-glass thing.

(b) Free-Associating with Famous Free-Associaters:

(b1) After my “band” (for lack of a more-descriptive word — semi-coalesced- but-still-random-cacophony collective?) opened for him, later I was locked-out and trapped on the roof of Tulagi’s with John Fahey. I am somewhat above-average for the tendency and ability to just free-asso- ciate whilst talking, and Mr. Fahey and I talked about nothing and everything for several minutes until the Tulagi’s management let us back in, as John was, somehow, late for his second set.

(b2) I was wandering the seeming labyrinthine hallways of the Colo. State U. student-center trying to find where Gary Snyder was to be part of a panel discussion. I encountered another lonely wanderer, looking for the same venue. Gary and I free-associated like there was no tomorrow for many minutes until we found the correct room.

(c) Jekyll/Hyde Lothario (PG-rated version). My first two sexual experiences involving actual copulation were… one ex-treme versus the other. I carried my sleeping bag and convinced the object of my affections for a “sleepover” on a hillside outside of Boulder. When it came time for the, um, seminal event, well… it didn’t last very long. I didn’t know any better (having never read The Playboy Advisor, among other things). I asked if she “was satisfied,” and, she laughed. A few nights later, our paths crossed again. A horrible housemate of hers had given her perhaps half-a-dozen LSD-laced cookies. I decided that I’d baby sit her ‘til any danger had passed. We came back to my house, and, well, let’s just say we rocked the house from sunset to sunrise. My housemates were very, very, impressed, but I think she probably didn’t remember much, if anything, about it.

(d) One-million-millimeter midnight nude under-the-full-moon bicycle race at 10,000 feet elevation. I am fairly sure that I hold the whirled-(w)record for rid-ing a bicycle a million millimeters without clothing (*) under the July full moon at 10,000-ft. elevation. * neckties, shoes, socks, eyeglasses were allowed.

(e) Da hitches? Available upon request — and I am definitely not alone for having hitchhiked long distances several times and lived to tell about it. It’s just that I believe I have written a short story, which does an above-average job of summarizing these adventures and conveys the carefree optimistic non-paranoid atmosphere of the times.

(f) Nashunull anthemem. Like many (most?) mediocre musicians, it is really neat to have a captive audience, which HAS TO LISTEN and (generally) HAS TO APPLAUD when you play a song. I played the national anthem on the harmonica at the start of the State High School Track & Field Meet to perhaps 1,500 people.

(g) I hung-out at and spent time at many places before they “were cool” … Evergreen, Aspen, Crested-Butte/ Gunnison, Steamboat, Moab, Frisco/ Dillon (pre-reservoir!). Although I presently reside near Whitewater (and Grand Junction), I would be willing to bet money that “coolness” will not afflict those places in my lifetime.

(h) I usually run/ride/hike in places NOT in any guidebooks. I have to. When, basically, you’re vying to be the lead dog when going out with your 4 (sometimes more) canines, it’s a good idea to do the outdoor-experience thing where there are few, if any, other people. Heaven forbid that any of my “usual suspect” special places is listed in the local hiking/mountain- biking/running trail guide-books, well, I’ll look for another spot a bit farther away.

(i) And now, 60+ yr-old hockey goalie. There probably are older (and, definitely, better!) goalies, but in my local arena, I am 96% sure that I am the only 60+-yr.- old who tries to play in front of the net. Definitely livens up my dull week. “It was either that hobby or shuffleboard.”

(j) When facing total financial doom and uncertain health issues, took all of the family on a 2-week vacation to Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico. As of mid-January, 2009, we had lived the whole year thus far there.

Rosco Betunada
Western Colorado

24 Cool Things I’ve Done

John:

1) Hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (took off my pack arriving at Phantom Ranch, walked into the Cantina and sat down next to friends from hometown who had boated in.)

2) Decided at age 50-ish to “re-do” my math education… just for fun. Two years in… still working on it. Started with frac- tions… taking trig this summer.

3) Married an Eagle Scout.

4) Earned “A” rating in Pony Club.

5) Took a 4 year-old backpacking, carrying her own pack, bushwhacking straight up for 7 miles.

6) Illegally bivouacked midway into canyon of the Maze District of Canyonlands. (Ran out of daylight… couldn’t reach permitted camp in time. Whispered Happy Birthday to a 7-year-old… so rangers wouldn’t catch us.)

7) Caught my 1- and 3-year-olds as they were dropped off a boat, and swam them through the surf into a private beach in Mexico.

8) Decided to stop drinking alcohol for 1 year… 20+ years later I haven’t had a good enough reason to break the run.

9) Lost 50 pounds… in one consecutive dieting effort.

10) Finally got a college degree… using 30-year-old, transferred credits plus local Community College classes.

11) Jumped into rapids from a raft that was wrapped around a rock… with my kids.

12) Gone camping with 80+ elementary (and later middle school) kids… multiple times.

13) Slept on the floor of the Denver Museum of Natural History overnight… 3 times, with the above mentioned 80+ school kids.

14) Designed and drew architecturals and built my own log home (with husband, but I did the drawings).

15) Listened to my son give Valedictorian speech at high school. Graduation (hasn’t happened yet, but is impeding and I know it’s gonna be cool).

16) Walked across the Colorado River (near Moab), naked, carrying my mountain bike over my head. (Took a lot longer than any of us thought it would.)

17) Climbed Mt. Elbert (tallest in U.S. Rocky Mountains). Remember those 80+ students? About 30 of them also made the top that day.

18) Took too much LSD… once.

19) Hosted foreign exchange students… 3 years in a row. (This is cool when you live in a small mountain town.)

20) Got to see John Fayhee speak on a media panel.

21) Breast fed baby while working on a computer at the Aspen Times.

22) Saw a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish out of the Colorado River.

23) Saw a wolf from a car near Durango.

24) Had a dog that would stand on an innertube and ride it down river.

Marianne Ackerman

20 cool things I have done

John: I really enjoyed reading this article. It got me thinking… so, I started compiling my own list. It was a lot of fun, so I thought I would submit it — as recommended.

1) Endured tough, grinding work in a family bulb-packaging factory in Holland with 50 chain smokers.

2) Connected with lost ancestors in Italy to find the best hugs on the planet… and awesome homemade pasta, of course.

3) Married in a castle on top of my home- town ski area to an illegal immigrant.

4) Started a community garden on a previously derelict site in downtown Steamboat Springs.

5) Followed childhood dream to relocate to Colorado Rockies … and never left.

6) Biked the Kokopelli Trail, a five-day trip, for my first mountain bike ride ever.

7) Skied to fish.

8) Saw the Rolling Stones in Vegas and snuck into the 8th row from Mick Jagger when I was fourteen.

9) Slept in a snow cave.

10) Went spelunking in non-commercial caves in Virginia with a federation of old men.

11) Absolutely abused my work “powder clause” during Steamboat’s snowiest year on record.

12) Played in a 24-hour Ultimate Frisbee tournament after all night drum ‘n bass rave … without drugs.

13) Learned to double dutch at the age of 27

14) Worked in a winter homeless shelter in England with heroin addicts and alcoholics and am still alive

15) Resided in a 2-bedroom, 800sf condo with my husband and high school sweetheart … for five years

16) Swam with bioluminescent organisms at night in the Potomac River, which glow blue/green when disturbed.

17) Skinned to the top of the ski area for sunrise with my dog, Shire. Made it to work by 8 a.m.

18) Rafted Cross Mountain Canyon, with serious Class IV whitewater rapids, for my second rafting experience. My first raft trip was down the Colorado River to State Bridge with a keg on our boat.

19) Completed my first lead climb in Red Rocks, NV, with my future husband as my belayer.

20) Drank a full pint of Swamp Donkey cider with “unknown” alcohol content in a small pub in England; I don’t remember what happened after that.

Thanks,

Caitlyn (Patrick) McKenzie

11 cool things I have done

John: A couple of months ago you wrote an article about creating a list of one’s accomplishments in life. Not just a resume, but a view of the unique things we’ve done and/or experienced. I have had a great time writing my list. It’s not something that can be written in one sit- ting. It required a lot of reminiscing and contemplation. I chose to stay away from listing peaks I’ve climbed or specific locations I’ve visited. I aimed to create a list that will lend itself to starting conversations with my friends when they read it. After completing my list, I felt much better about myself. I ended up with 26 items, but my top 11 are as follows:

1. Peed shoulder to shoulder with a United States Senator

2. Hugged wolves

3. Cursed the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square

4. Was accidentally fondled by an old woman at a funeral

5. Broke my toe doing laundry

6. Participated in an initiation ritual with Miss New Mexico

7. Ran the Boston Marathon

8. Wore a bee beard with 20,000 Africanized bees

9. Carried 70 pound dog down mountain after he hurt his paws

10. Was granted a private audience with the Bangladeshi Speaker of the House

11. Was locked in Charles Manson’s first cell.

Thanks for kick-starting this exercise.

Dennis Barrett

21 cool things I have done

Hello John: We crossed paths from time to time while you were in Frisco but never met. My wife and I taught the telemark turn to many folks in the Over the Hill Gang at Copper. Since I’ve been urged to write my memoirs, putting this list together for you was pretty easy. Here it is as a mash up.

1) Watched huge icebergs outside Illulissat, Greenland.

2) May have been first in Boulder to simultaneously wear a necktie and ride a bike to work.

3) Worked trail crew for the Forest Service in the Indian Peaks.

4) Made first tracks on a powder day right thru a band of unseen ptarmigan, which flew up all around me.

5) Made up strange stories for the kids at the dinner table.

6) Likely made second ascent of Craig’s Crack on Longs Peak.

7) Spent Army at Camp Hale as instructor in Mountain & Cold Weather Training Command, 1955-57. Taught skiing, climbing and survival.

8) Biked across Bhutan.

9) Drank the great Burgundies in the ’60s, when wines were cheap.

10) Wrote about skiing for Colorado Magazine.

11) Rafted the Hula Hula River thru ANWR from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean.

12) Offered our bored kids $50 prize for the first one to the top of Pikes Peak. Oldest son Doug organized the trip and all five made it to the top by bus and cog railway.

13) Skied Tasman Glacier in NZ.

14) Couldn’t believe forty-year-old ski shop owner could whip my twenty-four year-old self at tennis.

15) Re-read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” late in life.

16) Attempted first winter crossing of Boulder Grand Pass, turned back by whiteout blizzard.

17) Easter Island’s huge moai pose more questions than answers. Go.

18) Crossed many, many glacial rivers backpacking 65 pounds across Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic.

19) First on the scene of a fatal plane crash on Green Mountain.

20) Lots of summer dinners on the deck talking and watching day softly become night.

21) Read Skiers’ Gazette and then Mountain Gazette that many years ago. Thanks for bringing it back.

Mark P. Addison

Boulder, CO

22 cool things that I have done, and then some

Hey John: Here’s my list — hope it’s entertaining.

1) Rode a $100 bicycle across America.

2) Ate a 32-ounce jar of mayonnaise.

3) Got a tattoo reading “A tattoo” on my ass.

4) Stood on top of Devil’s Tower.

5) Literally had the shit kicked out of me.

6) Quit a pack-a-day smoking habit by training for a marathon.

7) Read “Crime and Punishment” entirely while sitting on the toilet. Took 11 months.

8) Drank a “Smoker’s Cough,” a shot glass full of Jagermeister and mayonnaise.

9) Quit drinking.

10) Answered a pay phone.

11) Had my jaw wired shut.

12) Ate the entire Double Rhino Burger and fries at the Wooden Nickel in Sublimity, Oregon.

13) Spent a week in jail.

14) Hallucinated because of lack of sleep. More than once.

15) Ran 20 miles down Colfax Avenue in Denver.

16) Saw a Gila monster in the wild.

17) Fell asleep while pedaling a bicycle.

18) Urinated for 1 minute, 56 seconds straight.

19) Broken 3 bicycle frames (2 steel, one aluminum) while riding them.

20) Stopped on Interstate 10 and paid $1 to see The Thing in the Desert, twice.

21) Caught air while driving a car.

22) Was hit by an errant cow chip during a cow-chip-throwing contest.

What was fun about this is, when I started mentioning it to my friends, and they began to come up with their own lists. I started thinking the best thing to do would be to compile the best of all the lists of the people you know. A few:

1) Shot a shark.

2) Tuned an air guitar for an air guitar regional championship event.

3) Choked a dog while political canvassing.

4) Survived a hammer fight.

5) Saved a woman’s life with the Heimlich maneuver.

6) First experienced fellatio in a strip club with a dirt floor in Gulf Port, Illinois, in front of all the patrons in the club, on his 16th birthday.

Hope you’re well,

Brendan Leonard,

Denver, CO

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.