Durango's weekly alternative newspaper, the Telegraph, has a lovely little advice column called Ask The Diver.  Basically, folks from around town send in questions, and other folks from around town answer them.  It's pretty sweet - if you don't read it on a weekly basis, you should.  In any case, VC's Joey Ernst spends his fair share of time being the Diver, and due to popular demand we've archived his columns here for your amusement, beginning with the most recent.

Interesting facts: It’s election year and the circus is in town / time to pick a winner from a line of clowns (no offense meant to actual clowns)

Dear Diver,
The other day, I went to a restaurant, where I ordered the kale salad, hold the cheese and chicken. The menu was confusing as to which salad prices "included" protein. Some did, some didn't. Suffice to say, I paid $15.50 for a small plate of kale with a few chunks of jicama and carrot. I complained to the manager that I was healing from cancer and can only have organic chicken and that a plate of kale shouldn't be $15.50. But he said he would not remove the $5 up-charge for chicken (which I did not have) because it took a lot of prep. What kind of restaurant serves a kale salad without a meatless option? Worst restaurant in Durango! Who scares off a customer over $5?
– Stuck in My Craw

Dear Complainer,
Could you have written a longer version of such a short question? Now I don’t have the space to solve your kale conundrum, but I’ll try: Next time order the “entitled hippie special” – they’ll get the picture right away.
-Maybe they just didn’t want you back, the Diver

Dear Diver,
The other day, I passed by a construction zone and there were four guys standing around watching one guy shovel. Is this what our tax dollars pay for, to have one guy work and the other three cheer him on? I guess at the least there's a good punchline in there somewhere.
– Street Walker

Dear Walkin’ Dude,
No, our tax dollars pay for cluster bombs, fighter jets, and congressional gridlock.  Fractions of tax pennies pay for street workers, who, while lazy almost by tradition at this point, still face the real possibility of ignominious death by texting teenage driver. I get nervous having to cross the street – imagine having to lean on a shovel in the middle of the road all day! Almost certain death! So, let’s cut ‘em some slack... I mean, a bit more than they’ve already taken.
-Hopefully they take turns “supervising”, the Diver

Dear Diver,
With the shorter days and winter closing in, I am starting to get really depressed because I won't be able to get off work and still get in a quickie afterwards. And mornings are just too darned cold and bleak. Please, diver, help me deal with the darkness.

Dear Sounds Awfully Depressed,
“Quickie”=bike ride, mmkay? I’d rather not know otherwise. Winter-wise, you’ve got a couple options: A) Man (or woman) up and go ride when it’s dark and/or cold, or B) Just pull the covers over your head and cry yourself fatter over the winter. Although many may opt for B, I’m advising you to choose A. Ever ride at night, or in the snow?  It’s awesome. Unfortunately I definitely don’t know of any bike shop in town that stocks tons of awesome fatbikes, lights, winter gear, and motivation. That’s too bad – back to option B. Tissue?
-I moonlight at that bike shop, the Diver

Interesting facts: If we stacked up 220 million bikes end to end, we’d reach the moon. Sorry, random – but the calculator was just sitting here...

Dear Diver,
Now that pot is legal in Colorado, I am so sick of people from other states always giving me the business, like “Oh, you’re from Colorado; wink, wink; nudge, nudge,” like I’m some sort of huge stoner. How do I convince them that not only am I not a stoner, but I hardly ever touch the stuff. It’s really getting annoying.
– Stone Sober

Dear Almost-Straightedge (XX!),
In my line of Divering, I talk to a lot of tourists. An increasing number of said tourists are asking me, oh so innocently, “So what’s up with the legal weed?” When I say I never touch the stuff (except that once by accident; never, ever, leave cookies untended around me), I certainly get that skeptical attitude. That, or I get the highly amusing “I was just curious, I didn’t want any for myself ... .” Sure, middle-aged soccer mom from Missouri, I read you loud and clear. Wink, nudge. In response to your question, Sober, you’re going to have to realize that many people want to be “naturally” sedated – and they don’t believe in people who prefer an all-natural perspective, all the time. Just deal with the innuendo and take comfort in the realization that you don’t have a strange addiction to Doritos and bad sitcoms.
– Mostly XX for life,  the Diver

Dear Diver,
Please settle a discussion between my friends and I. We are confused about the differences between a “bar,” tavern” “pub” and “saloon.” Not to mention the more esoteric terms like “spiritorium,” “cocktail lounge” and “speakeasy.” Are they all interchangeable, or have we been drinking at the wrong place all these years?
– Bar Fly

Dear Fly On The Wall At The Watering Hole,
Please adhere to the following standards, approved by absolutely nobody in particular. Bar: Where one goes to watch muted ball sports and ignore other people. Tavern: A place where all those other people are smoking Marlboros while swilling Budweiser. Pub:  A dying form of tavern in the UK. Saloon:  Swinging doors, big hats, danger of death due to live ammunition. Spirit-whatsit: Pretentious ghosts drinking hard liquor. Cocktail Lounge: A place where girls drink girly drinks and... ah... cocks chase tails... speaking of roosters of course. Speakeasy: Doesn’t appear to actually exist, as every place of watering hole I’ve visited has been more like a SpeakLOUD! There you go – no more fear of going to the wrong location next time you want a simple drink. You’re welcome.
– Make mine a brewery, the Diver

Dear Diver,
Should the liquid in the can of beans be drained before consuming the beans? I insist on draining but my husband is a nondrainer. It drives me crazy. Who is right, and more importantly, can our marriage be saved?
– A Hill of Beans

Dear Beano,
A simple question to answer yours:  Whose meals produce a more fruitful melody later that night?  That person is in the wrong. And can your marriage be saved?  Since you’re asking this question in response to differing ways of preparing legumes, sorry – nope.
– Enjoy those burritos, the Diver

Interesting facts: Fatbikes make your butt look smaller.  Really.

Dear Diver,
Like many things in Durango, it seems there are two ways to pronounce "Wapiti" when referring to the run at Purgatory. There are some folks who take the common pronounciation "wop-EEE-dee" and there's a few who run it all together and say "WOP-pity" (rhymes with "boppity.") Please help settle this confusing take on local nomenclature, preferably before the next big storm.
Goes Both Ways

Dear Swinger,
“Preferably before the next big storm”?  Okay, I'll just put this question on hold until March or so.  ...Okay, I'm being told there's a 0.05% chance of snow this very weekend.  You're spared the wait.  Anyone who visits or moves to our fair burg realizes very quickly that things are not always as they seem.  “Flori-da/Flo-ree-da”, for instance – how should you know, when asking for directions to Bread, that it's a secret password so that we D-town dwellers can determine if you're an outdoorsy, vaguely hippie-like outsider, or an outdoorsy, vaguely hippie-like resident?  (Other than the fact that you don't know where Bread is already, of course.)  The Weminuche Wilderness is another one – my favorite pronunciation is “train-served, gaper-trashed basins” whoops, meant to say “WEE-man-OO-chee”.  As for the Wapiti run at Purg – I'm no skier.  So yeah – not gonna be able to help you out there.  Sorry.
-Good luck with that, the dee-VER

Dear Diver,
So my girlfriend has an overly friendly dog who is fond of jumping up on people. I think it's rude and am constantly telling him to get down, but she thinks it's "cute" and considers it a "hug." How do I convince her, delicately, that not everyone wants a sloppy, muddy hug from an oversized puppy without hurting her feelings?
All Paws

Dear Cat-lover-Republican,
Sacrilegious!  You don't want a HUG from a DOG?  Why do you even live in Durango, or even Colorado?  I bet you don't like beer or bicycles either.  How many guns do you own?  How many giant lifted diesel trucks?  You don't want a HUG from a DOG?  Just move back to Texas or Wyoming!  I bet you can pick your NRA membership up where you left off when you moved here.  You don't want a HUG from a DOG??! 

Or, you could just try telling your girlfriend that you don't want her dog jumping on you all the time.  It's not that hard to understand – just ask her to instill some good manners in her unruly pup, please and thank you.
-No HUGS from DOGS, please, the Diver

Dear Diver,
Every year after the holidays, my husband goes on the wagon until Snowdown. He is trying to convince me to join him, but I think I would rather he just be the designated wagon driver. Is a month of sobriety really worth it? Won't my system go into shock if I suddenly quit cold turkey?
Boxed In

Dear Box Wine Aficionado,
Two things immediately come to mind.  #1: Everything in moderation.  If your husband drinks, why arbitrarily quit for 1/12th of the year, unless he feels bad about the other 11/12ths?  And, #2: Everything in moderation.  If your system goes into shock because you quit drinking, that's a pretty good sign that moderation isn't part of your drinking routine.  Here's my draconian prescription to restore moderation, beginning with extreme prohibition to counter your last 11 hazy, sodden months: Quit drinking now, and for the duration of the winter.  If you can successfully avoid drinking through both the drunken orgy that is Snowdown and the remainder of the dark, cold nights of winter, then you will both know you're not alcoholics.  Then, and only then, will it be safe to open up, like a flower in spring, to occasional watering with some delicious Mexican Logger or even box wine, if you must.  Have fun detoxing!
-This may or may not be the worst advice ever given, the Diver

Interesting facts: Joey’s mom doesn’t write love letters to the Telegraph because she wants the Wildcat to continue believing he’s special

Dear Diver,
The ice cream man in my neighborhood always plays “When the Saints Go Marching In.” What does that have to do with ice cream? Shouldn’t they play something more appropriate, like “Ice Cream Man” by Van Halen? Or is it a covert attempt to convert our children?
– Sweet Tooth

Dear Sweetie,
We must live in the same neighborhood, as the ice cream man here plays the same repetitive song.  I’ve been plotting ways to hijack him, though. On one hand, I could just jump on the van and tear the megaphone off the top. Ah, blessed silence. On the other hand, I could sneak inside and figure out a way to play something much more fitting … say, “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” by Billy Ocean. Ah, blessed irony. The kids probably wouldn’t get it, though, and it would be just as annoying after a while. Maybe the best thing to do is just to buy ice cream from the new ice-cream-trike folks on the bike path – best ice cream in town, and they don’t play any stupid songs! It’s win-win, and the only potential conversion to fear is to ice cream snobbery – a good thing in my book.
– Don’t talk to strangers in vans, the Diver

Dear Diver,
I keep seeing a “foam party” advertised in the calendar at a local bar. What sorts of things go on at a foam party? Is it good clean fun?
– Sudsy

Dear Suds,
I have no idea what a “foam party” is.  But I’d bet that “foam party” is shorthand for “phone home party.” A savvy bar owner in a town like Durango understands that most people are here because they like it better than wherever they came from. So when we call back home, only to hear about Aunt Erma’s ear infection, JimBob’s cow-tipping feud, and how we really need to move back to Kentucky, our reaction is to look for the nearest open container of alcohol. This is where that savvy bar owner comes in, offering reasonably priced anesthesia for our familial woes. Get a whole bunch of people calling back home at once, and you’re bound to sell a lot of booze. Hence, the “foam party” – nothing more than a way to sell more beer.
– There’s no way I’m off base on this one, the Diver

Dear Diver,
Who is the Diver’s choice for the best small-person actor of ’80s sitcoms? I think, hands down, it was Tattoo from “Fantasy Island,” but my friend thinks it was Gary Coleman. Of course, Webster is another small actor who made a big impact. Who does the diver think was king of the molehill on ’80s TV?
– Couch Potato

Dear Couchy,
Your Diver wants to know who the hell let this question get through the approval process. I’ve never owned a TV, and even if I had, I wasn’t old enough in the 1980s to remember any lame TV actors from the era. In fact, what little I can remember from the 1980s I’d prefer to forget – even as a child, the culture of the time seemed excessive, poor in both taste and style. Just listen to some of the music from that time – or, rather, don’t. Unfortunately, in response to your question:  “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
– Get outside a little more often, the Diver

Interesting Facts: American roads were first paved for the use of bicycles. Take that, brodozers.

Dear Diver,
What’s up with the annual Durango spring break-ups? Each year at this time the flowers start to bloom just as local relationships wither. Does this happen in other towns? And what can I do to avoid my boyfriend dumping me?
–Signed, Nervous Nelly

Salutations, Nellster,
I’m not sure what you’re talking about. My now-wife and I moved here together, pre-ball-’n’-chain, and somehow we still ended up tying the knot. All I can say is the odds are in your favor – after all, it’s like 55 percent men, 45 percent women around here. Maybe even 60/40. Just make sure you’re a good lady Durangoan – climb/bike/kayak/ski/yoga (yes, all that) with the best of them, you’re quite good at the hippie-loosey-shakey dance, and you’re really into that mary-ja-wanna. You might even grow some natty fashion-dreads. What normal Durango man could resist you? Besides me, I mean.
–No worries, the Diver
Dear Diver,
If Lance Armstrong paid the USPS all the money he “earned” from them, would the postal service be solvent again?
-Just Wondering

Dear Wondering,
1: The Postal Service will never be solvent again. At this point, the only reason politicians aren’t cutting the cord is because they enjoy having a dedicated outlet for all their lame, glossy campaign pamphlets. 2: What you should be wondering is how doped-up egotistical guys in stretchy pants get paid zillions of dollars to do something the rest of us go out and do for free.  We dish-divers, waitresses and small bike shop owners (all in the same income bracket, believe me) work our booties off at real jobs, then go play outside for the fun of it. But somehow we’re OK with paying cyclists – and footballists, baseballists, and other-ists – big money to do the same things, but with more drugs and less sportsmanship. The human psyche is a mysterious thing. Whenever someone wants to step up and pay our bike polo team zillions of dollars to play, we’re all down. Anyone? Anyone?
– It’s hard to be a sellout when no one is buying, the Diver
Dear Diver,
Often, when I’m riding my bike around town, I get confused about the proper protocol for navigating intersections. For example, is it OK to run a stop sign if you’re actually saving other drivers from having to stop and wait for you to come to a complete stop and get going again? And what is the right way to access the sidewalk without making angry men in trucks want to shoot or run me over?
–Riding Scared

Dearest Scaredy,
Oh boy. “Proper protocol?” Guess what: It’s called traffic law. You might know it, say, if you’re virtually every American over 16. In theory, anyway, as a lot of drivers’ actions leave that open for debate. Your bike IS a vehicle. Substitute “car” for “bike” in your questions above … no, it’s not OK to run a stop sign in your car, and there is no right way to access the sidewalk in your car, period.  Your type, along with Lycra sausages who refuse to ride single file even when they’re stacking cars like pancakes, are the ones who sour public sentiment for the rest of us. So when short guys in 3-ton brodozers buzz you, it’s because another rider did something stupid in front of them yesterday (also, because those brodozer guys are insecure cretins). Ride predictably and follow traffic laws.  Pretend you’re invisible and ride defensively. Drivers’ awareness often sucks – and if you get into a bike vs. car, you lose, no matter who was in the wrong.  Now get out and ride… and for goodness’ sake, put some lights on your bike!
– Tough love: Hurts now, helps later, the Diver

Interesting Facts:  Long-hair cats start shedding when it's 50 degrees outside, even in January.  Either that, or my cat is going bald.

Dear Diver,
Over the past few years, I've noticed an increase in the saying "Happy Snowdown." As in, "Have a Happy Snowdown!" Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this overkill? I don't even really like Snowdown, so what am I supposed to say to these people? When did Snowdown become an official holiday around here?
Durango Anarchist

Dear Killjoy,
If there's one thing Durango likes better than dogs, bicycles, and giant diesel trucks for guys with size issues, it's drinking beer.  That, and costuming up as excitedly as third-graders getting ready for their first school play.  And if Durangoans can do things like jump in a pool full of beer while wearing said costumes, they are going to be more excited than Tom Chapman or Red McCombs finding a new mining claim for sale in a wilderness area.  This means that if you dislike Snowdown, you're the odd one out.  Don't worry, I'm right there with you.  I don't get Snowdown either - but that's because I'm a stick in the mud who can only handle a beer at a time and whose only costume idea would involve donning a ski mask and a tutu.  What's your excuse?  You need one, so that when someone says "Happy Snowdown!" you can explain why you're a raging bore.  If that sounds like too much, just frown and stalk away.  That's what I do, and it works every time.
-They'll get the idea, the Diver

Dear Diver,
Sometimes, when my dog poops in rich peoples' yards, I don't pick  it up. I see it as a way of sticking it to the man, telling him that despite his big fancy house, his shit stinks too.  (At the very least, they'll walk in it and ruin a pricey pair of shoes.) Is this the wrong way to get back at the 1 percenters?
Robin Hood

Dear Robbin' the 'hood of clean walking space,
If you really want to stick it to the man, you're going to have to work a little harder than that.  Follow the below 5-step program to make your point.  1: Every time your dog takes a pee, collect it.  2: Once you've got a good 55-gallon drum's worth, drive on over to Wall Street – yes, that Wall Street.  3: This is the tricky part – without getting caught, you have to rig the drum of golden goodness over the door to the New York Stock Exchange under cover of darkness.  4: When the first rush of one-percenters hits the door in the morning, all in a hurry to make zillions of dollars, your cleverly-rigged drum will give them a literal interpretation of what “trickle-down” economics feels like on this end of the socioeconomic ladder, showering them with gold from above.  What a delightfully ironic (and salty) way of turning the tables!  5: Make no mention of me when you're rotting in prison.  This is important.
-For the 99%, the Diver

Dear Diver,
Please help me, as I am a bit confused. So, you're telling me it is now legal to smoke marijuana in this state, but I still can't walk into a grocery store and buy full-strength beer? Are the gods crazy?
Suds 'n Buds

Dear Sudsy-wudsy,
Life is full of contradictions.  For example, every morning now I awake to find myself covered in approximately one long-haired-cat's worth of fur.  But when I look at the cat, he's still smugly furry.  I ask myself, are the gods crazy?  Or get this one:  All those conservative commenters on every Herald article, bloviating about hard work and values – how are they always lounging in front of their computers, hanging on every word?  I ask myself, are the gods crazy?  Or texting and driving: How the hell do people imagine they can both drive safely (which does, believe me, entail looking at the road) and type out messages (“Hey BFF!  Be thr soon!  Drvng ovr rite -” CRASH!... “OMG, just ran ovr a cyclist!  LOL!”) on teensy little buttons with both hands?  Yet again, I ask myself, are the gods crazy?  Then I realize, nope – people are.  Cats too.
-Look out for crazies of all species, the Diver

Interesting Facts: Joey doesn’t ski.  (There, it’s out.)  Instead he rides bikes all winter. Conformity is overrated.

Dear Diver,
According to a Texas preacher, Obama’s re-election will pave the way for the antichrist to re-appear. My question is, what should I wear for such an auspicious occasion?
– Thanks in advance, John the Baptist

Hello John Not-the-Baptist,
As I understand it, the Antichrist is pretty much something prophesied to appear, necessary before the second coming of that big guy in the sky. You can’t have a big old showdown without someone to fight. If Christos himself is the red Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em boxer, then the Antichrist is the necessary blue opponent (see? They’re even politically color-coded). Thus, since Texas preachers and other fundamentalists are just waiting for Jesus to come back, you’d think that they’d all be voting like crazy for every progressive candidate on the ticket, just to hasten their day of righteous judgment. “Crazy Right-Wingers for Obama!” I’m waiting for it. As for what to wear – what do I look like, a fashion consultant? Anyone who knows me knows better.
– Fire and brimstone, the Diver

Dear Diver,
I just read about a local turkey testicle eating contest in which you could win a vacation to Mexico. I was thinking of entering, but as a young male of reproductive age, is it safe to eat another animals gonads?
– Testes Tom

Greetings young Tom,
As a “young male of reproductive age,” a little turkey testosterone won’t hurt you. In fact, it may indeed help you. Perhaps if you were to eat turkey ovaries instead (if indeed such a thing exists – I’m too lazy to do a web search) it would be unsafe for you – too much turkey estrogen and so on. But, say, worst case scenario: You eat a crapload of turkey testicles, win the trip to Mexico, and while you’re there a bright red snood (that turkey-beak’s Trump hairpiece thingy) grows off your nose. Look on the bright side – given our health-care system here at home, at least you’ll be in a place where the surgery is cheap and probably won’t kill you with a staph infection! I say go for it.
– Gobble gobble, the Diver

Dear Diver,
What’s up with morning people? I am traveling over the holidays to visit the in-laws, who are all early risers, of which, I am not. Please, dear Diver, some coping mechanisms?
– Crack o’ Nooner
Dearest Nooner,
You could pull a Wildcat and simply drink espresso all day and night. Seems to work for him, as I never see him asleep, just hunched over a sketchbook or grooming his beard kittens. Or – and this would be my sincerest recommendation – just harden the #@%& up and get out of bed at a normal hour like the rest of us. Your in-laws will probably think better of you.
– Good luck with that, the Diver

Interesting facts: The pros’ bikes don’t make them faster.  Training does – and for a few, drugs.  The rest is just marketing ... so go ride!

Dear Diver,
I notice a lot of guys wearing Dickies or similar workwear while mountain biking. I like the look but when I tried it, I chafed like you read about. In fact, several weeks later, I am still experiencing tenderness in my “nether regions.” What’s the secret to looking cool and being comfortable while riding (the tight skin suit is not an option, I like to keep it modest.)
–Softside Steve

Dear Softy,
As someone who never wears the stretchy pants, I’ll let you in on a little secret – most guys riding in canvas shorts have the padded kind underneath. Turns out most fellows aren’t keen on highlighting certain parts of their anatomy, so they’ll wear a “function layer” topped by a “fashion layer,” which quite reminds me of women from Ye Olden Tymes wearing girdles topped by fancy dresses. Of course you can always take my route and just toughen the hell up, Stevie – after more than two decades of only riding in Dickies and such, my “nether regions” have broken in like a good Brooks saddle, and I’ve saved a lot of cash, too. It may be painful at first, but just remember: canvas shorts, $20; chamois shorts, $200; not having to wear a diaper to ride: priceless.
-Good things take time, Diver
Dear Diver,
Why does wearing Lycra almost always immediately turn someone into an asshole? And I am not just saying this because I am bitter, I even notice a change in my own ’tude when I trade in the cotton for synthetic. Is it because by being cooler, you actually think you are cooler?
– Joe Cool

Dear Dr. Jekyll & Mr. A-hole,
That’s a great question. To find an answer, I donned my old National Team duds for this edition’s photo, and as you can see, I immediately got angry. From what I can tell, anyone sausaged into Lycra for more than 30 seconds has good reason to be a jerk. After all, if you’re riding on the road in America, you may as well have a target on your back. When you add skintight neon clothing that gives 90 percent of riders a beer gut and multiple muffin tops, you’re looking at the perfect persecution complex storm. The only mystery is why riders continue to subject themselves to this misery. At least most mountain bikers seem to have figured this out – maybe roadies should add a “fashion layer.”
– Stay cool-headed, the Diver
Dear Diver,
I usually tend toward the liberal end of the spectrum but am a little conflicted about this upcoming presidential election. After all, I am a biker and wear special undergarments, and so does Mitt Romney. Does that mean I should vote for him?
– S“mitt”en
Dear Now I Know Why Intelligent Debate No Longer Exists,
Lots of people wear special undergarments. Medieval knights, astronauts and strippers come to mind. That doesn’t mean you’d vote for King Arthur to be president, does it?  (Come to think of it, if the stories can be trusted, he might do a better job than the last several presidents.) Your question does, however, solve a nagging question of mine: why is Mitt Romney such an A-hole? In the last question’s answer, we conclusively proved that special undergarments can turn man into monster. Those damned underwear. At least the presidential incumbent seems like a nice guy ... or is that just his “fashion layer?”
– Keep Your Mitts Off My Country, The Diver


Interesting Facts: When he’s not listening to metal, Joey listens to anything from the Glenn Miller Orchestra to Pinback to Over The Rhine.  If it’s good, it’s all good!

Dear Diver,
With summer here and the drought and everything, I have decided to take fewer showers to help conserve water. Plus, I tube most every day, so am able to rinse off that way. only problem is, my friends and coworkers have started to complain (I don’t use deodorant because I don’t believe in it.) Don’t they get that I am doing this for them and the rest of the world?
– B.O.b

Dear Big Ol’ Badness,
Oh boy.  You’re one of those guys.  I’m all for saving the environment and everything, but you really ought not forget your immediate environment – which you’re pungently polluting every step of the way. You know, every time you or one of your idealistic compatriots walk in the shop with no shoes, no shirt, no deodorant and no clue, I have to open the front door for at least a half hour so that subsequent customers don’t fall to gagging to the floor. And what’s pushing that lovely hormonal stew out the door? 100 percent AC-cooled air, baby. How’s that for environmentally friendly? So do the environment – and our olfactory glands – a favor, and go get some Tom’s of Maine. It uses hops to kill odor, which is also what they use to make IPA. I’m pretty sure that means that you can smell better and get tubing-drunk all at once – and you’ll save the cost of beer!
– Diver

Dear Diver,
My dog is obsessed with licking anything metal, from chairs and tables to trucks and fences. Could she be missing a key mineral in her diet? Should I be worried she is going to get gut rot or has a horrible disease?
– Dog Mom
Dear Your Dog’s Mother has Four Legs and Eight Nipples and Doesn’t Speak English,
I should think this is pretty obvious. Your dog is trying to tell you, in doggie sign language, that she’s really sick of the Grateful Dead and The Infamous Stringdusters.  She’s hankering after some METAL. I know, it’s hard to do the hippie-loosey-shakey dance to A Life Once Lost or even Russian Circles but for your dog’s sake, you’re going to have to start a daily dose of music that is, shall we say, a little more kick-ass. So crank up the Between the Buried and Me, give your pup a black handkerchief to wear, and begin learning how to stay up in a mosh pit. Your canine slobber problems will disappear in no time.
– Diver

Dear Diver,
Why is it that Telluride always gets better music than us? All the big names go there and seem to just pass by us like we don’t even exist! Don’t they know we kick ass over Telluride?
– Rabid Fan

Dear Rabid Fan of Meh,
From what I can tell, most good music skips the entire Western Slope, opting for the Front Range and points east or the West Coast instead. As for the occasional sort-of big name that hits our secluded corner of the state, can you blame them for skipping Durango? Telluride is full of trustafarians and people like Ralph Lauren ... Durango is full of trustafarians and people like me. I ain’t got no $50 to see some washed-up has-been jam band. If you do, you can go see Michael Franti at Three Springs in August.  Have fun doing the hippie-loosey-shakey dance!
– Diver


Interesting facts: Some day Joey will hotwire a giant bro-dozer pickup and send it plummeting off the Bridge to Nowhere, Hayduke style. Not soon ... but some day.

Dear Diver,
I’m your typical spoiled, stupid bonehead, and I love to get wasted and act out because I can’t hold my liquor. Late at night when I’m hammered, I love to be loud as I am coming home from the bars, waking up people who have to work for a living. Sometimes, I’ll smash car windows for no reason or rip plants out of gardens or steal bikes off porches or, on occasion, I’ll go totally Hulk and stand in the street yelling like a wild berserker warrior baby who puts the rent on Daddy’s Visa. So my question is … why am I so awesome?
– Berserker

Dear Berserker,
It’s not your fault. You’re just a product of your parents’ wrongheaded approach, making you feel “special” while never letting you know that you were “special-ed.” In this era of gold stars for everyone, you never realized you were just another American kid doing 4th-grade math in high school. Fort Leisure hasn’t helped you much, because you have no idea how you stack up to college students at other stateside learning institutions, much less all those Chinese and Indian PhD’s on the other side of the globe, clamoring for your future job. You’ll graduate on the six-, maybe seven-year plan, hang out in Durango for one last summer, and then your Dad will finally shut down your credit, figuring at 25, you are old enough to “take care of yourself.” Unable to find work because you don’t really care to, you’ll come stumbling belligerently home in a sorry state of mind and wake me up, along with all my neighbors. The truth is, you’re only awesome in your own mind. So I’m sorry. You can’t help it. But the lead from my BB gun is going to hurt all the same.
– Sympathetic Sharpshooter

Dear Diver,
I just moved to Durango and I’ve noticed everyone seems to have a bike. Do I have to get one too? If so, any tips on bike choice and/or how to avoid the dreaded helmet hair would be appreciated.
– No-wheeled Wonder

Dear No-wheeled,
Having no bike in Durango can throw you into a weird social under-class, kind of like not having a Subaru, or not liking dogs or beer, or not having an MMJ card because you’re 25 and you have  “chronic back pain” (and for the record, I have neither a card, nor faux back pain, nor the desire for an altered state of consciousness, so I guess I’m in that under-class). It pretty much sucks to have no bike in such a bikeable town ... how else can you ride 17-abreast on CR250? I’d recommend getting yourself saddled up on the lightest, twitchiest, plastic/carbon bicycle you can buy (you may need a huge credit line). Be sure to pick up some neon lycra that only a skinny European road racer should feel comfortable in; if you have multiple muffin tops sticking out of every possible hem, you know you’re looking good! Stick with the Euro style for headwear – hair gel should alleviate the dreaded helmet hair, although it may rack up big medical bills at some point (in the meantime, you’ll look awesome). Look up  photos of Mario Cipollini, because this is what you’re striving for. He embodies perfection, which you can aspire to while riding to Bread via the River Trail, weaving in and out of walkers, tucked on your aero bars at 8mph. One final tip – don’t wave at ANYONE, no matter how friendly. On the other hand, you can get a basic bike, wear jeans and have fun. You’ll miss the hair gel though.
To summarize: Yes, you have to get a bike. Your only decision is where to get it ... lucky for you, I happen to know a guy.
– See you soon, The Guy

Dear Diver,
It is only May and I am already sick of watering/mowing my grass. Does the Diver have any interesting, low-maintenance, easy, do-it-yourself landscape ideas? And please, no lava rock.
– Lawn Boy

Dear Lawn Gnome,
You need to follow this three-step process: 1. Do a rain dance and make the monsoons start early, just like everything else has this year. 2. Once the rains begin, let your lawn go – completely. Let that Kentucky Bluegrass reach for the sky. You’ll know it’s time for the third step when you let pets or small children out and lose them. Bonus points if you can’t find your spouse. 3. The coup de grace is to get a herd of goats, preferably French Alpine, but Nubians will do. Let them loose and you’ll have a whole group of automatic mowing/ fertilizing machines, leaving you time to beat the undergrowth for your pets and family. If you prefer they stay lost for a bit, go for a bike ride with (soon-to-be) Two-Wheeled – the goats will eventually free your loved ones from their leafy chains.
– Have a tall fence, The Diver

Interesting facts: Joey’s nickname was “Durango” for years before he moved, or had even been, to Durango. Coincidence or fate? You decide.

Dear Diver,
I recently heard that the word “nazi” is no longer acceptable in everyday vernacular, as in “parking nazi,” “soup nazi,” etc. Is this true? Please advise, as I would like to stay on the right side of the politically correct word police.
– “Naz”osure

Dear Naz,
Who’d you hear this from, the lady next door who insists on referring to herself as her dog’s “mommy?”  We humans have a long history of taking our most reviled/revered individuals’/groups’ names and integrating them into our languages for use in certain situations.  For example:  “My son hit a homer!” Don’t know who Homer is? I’m pretty sure he’s some old Greek poet. Baseball’s older than I thought. Or, “He’s being such a Herman Cain.” Don’t know who Cain is? Tell me what rock you’re hiding under, because I want to join you.
In any case, as far as Nazis go, the trick is to not apply the term to any specific individual, because not many individuals can really live up to the hype. Even most (most) politicians, whom I despise in general, can’t live up to that moniker. However, when used in a non-specific, hyperbolic sense, I call no foul. As for your PC advisor, tell her to quit being a PC Nazi.
– Signed, Tactless

Dear diver,
A friend of mine claims she got herpes from playing beer pong, something about dirty balls and drinking beer. At first I was a little skeptical, but I am pretty sure she’s legit. Could this be true and if so, what can we do to protect ourselves, short of beer pong abstinence?
– King Pong

Dear Pong,
There are really only two answers here.  1) Only play with people who have been tested for all communicable diseases and are willing to carry around current proof of harmlessness. 2) Play whiskey pong instead.  Although admittedly this game won’t last very long, one taste of good ol’ Maker’s Mark and the herpes virus will drop dead. I think. Don’t quote me on this one.
Wait, is this public?
– Signed, Not a Medical Professional

Dear Diver,
What is up with the “Outlaw Snowdown?” I know it’s in Pagosa, but do they not know there’s a long-running event over here of the same name? Or are they just trying to steal our thunder? Are they insinuating that ours is the “In-law Snowdown?” What does it all mean?
– Snowed Over

Dear Snowed,
What? You think Durango has a registered trademark on drunken, costumed stupidity? What about that place that had the giant ridiculous brouhaha on Main Street at Halloween? Oh, that was here?  Hmmm.  Maybe I’ll call the trademark office.
In any case, it would appear that Pagosa just figures we’re too busy drinking/costume making to notice our name has been pilfered.  As for the Outlaw part, I don’t think they’re insinuating anything about us ... I think they’re trying to get Burt Reynolds and Frog to show up.  After all, who doesn’t like a ‘78 Trans Am?
– Signed, The Snowman