| AspenTimes.com

When Ivana Trump skied Aspen

As a resident of Aspen since 1970, I have many memorable experiences on the chair lifts over the year. One seems especially timely and I would like to share it with you now.

At the time I was living in a condo that backed up to the old 1A chair lift. Sliding down to that lift one day the lift operator put me in a chair with another lady. Ivana Trump. I immediately recognized her, but in the best Aspen tradition of not bothering celebrities I said nothing. However, I could not resist commenting on her spectacular ski outfit. She was wearing an amazing gold lame one-piece suit with matching headgear (before we all wore helmets). And so I said to her, “That is just an amazing outfit you have on.” She looked at me down her nose and said, “And yes, I had one like yours years ago.”

So I decided to torture her by making small talk all the way up that long lift. Since she had an accent, I asked her where she was from. She turned to me and said she was Austrian. We all know she is from the Czech Republic. So things went along like this for the 30-minute ride to the top at which she shot off the chair and bolted down one of the many double diamond runs that are accessed from the top! The woman could ski!

Cheryl Towning


Things God hates

This is an interesting talk from Proverbs 6.

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes,

a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Another point that is most important, is that you matter to God!

John Eaton


Mitsch Bush for the people

Voting for Lauren Boebert to fight “creeping socialism” in the U. S. House race is also a vote to defund Social Security, Medicare, the U.S. Postal Service and affordable health care. Boebert’s rigid ideology does not distinguish between social benefits in a capitalist democracy and a socialist state.

Boebert has never said that she totally supports the full funding of these essential services at their current levels. Her opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, understands the dangers of socialism, while she strongly supports the funding of these crucial services for seniors and expanding affordable health care.

Who would you rather have in the U.S. House, Diane Mitsch Bush, fighting on your side, or Boebert working to save wealthy taxpayers money by cutting benefits and funding?

Diane Mitsch Bush is not a “wild-eyed” liberal, but an experienced local lawmaker, elected to positions of trust at both the county and state level, having a proven track record of working across the aisle to make government tick.

A vote for Boebert is one more vote in the House to “reform” these programs, by decreasing funding for Social Security, Medicare and the Postal Service.

Vote for Diane Mitsch Bush to defend the social benefits that you rightly receive after a lifetime of work, not defund them.

Bernie Grauer


Voting has never been so easy

Wow, how easy was that?! It just took me less than 5 minutes to fill out my November ballot and submit it online, via the Colorado secretary of state website, for transmission to the Pitkin County clerk. In an important election year, I’m grateful to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and the election authorities in Pitkin and other Colorado counties for making it so easy for voters anywhere in the world (I’m in Asia) to participate in the U.S. election process.

My American colleagues from other states are busy downloading ballots, inserting into snail-mail envelopes, and hoping that overseas mail delivery, slowed by COVID-19 in many cases, delivers their ballots in time to various points in the U.S. Colorado really is leading in this area, with secure and convenient electronic voting. What is privilege and a pleasure it is to vote.

David Mitchell


Sean Beckwith: Watching sports and ignoring 
the message isn’t the right play

Has anyone else heard a timetable for the NFL’s foreclosure? Is The Rock buying that league like he did the XFL? I’m just wondering because I thought the most popular pro sports league in America was in big trouble.

Finding a Broncos update on denverpost.com is like trying to find a political opinion on Facebook; you don’t even need to click on anything, just open each respective website. That — along with a yet-to-be-seen ratings dive — tells me Coloradans are still enjoying their fall Sundays.

Game day may be on your neighbor’s couch, your couch or some place that’s not a crowded sports bar, but it’s still game day. As far as I can tell, people whose life revolved around NFL Sundays pre-pandemic are even more invested this season.

So what happened to “Respect the flag!” or “I don’t want politics in my football!” Kansas City Chiefs players were booed during a moment of unity on opening night that didn’t even take place during the anthem. The outrage lasted as long as the news story — so like 24 hours, maybe?

My guess is the NFL probably prefers it that way, too. Its “Moment of Unity” was about as self-serving a ploy as its “workout” for Colin Kaepernick.

“Here, look, we care about our employees. We even gave them a special time during pregame where they, er, I mean we can address racism.”

Messages in the end zones and on the back of helmets are the superficial cherry on top of the “Please don’t f— up my Sundays” sundae. Ask soccer how its on-field anti-racism ad campaign impacted change.

I mean, if you ask Noel Le Graet, the president of French Football (soccer), racism in his sport “does not exist.” Yet, Black soccer players are still routinely being taunted with banana peels even as tone-deaf businessmen fly the “Mission accomplished” banner.

Telling athletes to “Shut up and play” is some old school, antebellum South racist shit. Might as well as add “boy” to the end of that while you’re at it.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz posed the question: “How can you support us on the court but not off it?” I’d retort by saying they’re not always supporting you on it either.

You know when a player makes a mundane tackle after a 5-yard gain and you get mad because he celebrated? Or how about bat flips? You hate those, too? Probably not as much as you despise bad shots or hero ball. (Unless it’s Jamal Murray saving the Nuggets’ season from getting Plumlee’d over and over and over again.)

Disguised in a lot of the play-the-right-way rhetoric is play the white way — and it’s not limited to Black athletes. (See Tatis Jr., Fernando.)

I’m not sure why White people can’t figure out the concept of emotions.

“Celebrations should not go beyond a smile — no teeth — and a firm handshake. Inner turmoil should be bottled up unless it can be released anonymously online.”

The point of sports fandom is a release; a couple hours a day or week where we get to escape real-life problems.

While I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of athletes, as well, we’ve seen that it’s about more than football, basketball or any sport for many.

When you’re not properly represented in places of power, you have to make the important places you do occupy powerful. With even the most peaceful protesters being labeled as thugs and anarchists, I don’t blame athletes for using their platforms to speak out with, in my opinion, a tremendous amount of grace and poise.

If you’re upset they’re filling your sports with politics and activism, you can help them do something about it by, first, listening to what they’re saying because I guarantee you it’s not what you’ve been led to believe and, second, supporting their causes.

I sincerely believe the NFL and a majority of its owners think the shortened nature of NFL careers and the ease with which players are replaced (plus a large dash of hubris) will deter an NBA-type scenario where the entire league voluntarily doesn’t play.

It might not happen because, without fans, you can’t physically boo in person. But if you think the players didn’t notice that completely ludicrous display of bigotry by ungrateful Chiefs fans then you’ll probably be surprised when the divisiveness that’s engulfed the country seeps into your Sundays.

As the hierarchy of what matters changed with coronavirus, the importance of sports held strong, if not increased. Asking amateurs to postpone the college football season to the spring was like asking Republicans to wear facemasks. And that should only reinforce to athletes that their protests are being heard.

Sport without minorities is just croquet, and you’re not scheduling your weekend around mallet golf, but you might have to if you keep treating athletes like commodities instead of as an equal part in your communities.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at sbecwkith@aspentimes.com.

Role model for how Aspen restaurants should operate

Role model for how Aspen restaurants should operate

In my letter to the editor on Sept. 16, the word “rogue” should have been: Su Casa is the role model for being safe. Also, during the fundraising party, the cops should have been there from the start! Sorry about that.

Ruth Harrison


Judson Haims: Understanding the many types of COVID-19 tests

While at a friend’s house for dinner the other day, I overheard a conversation about COVID testing. There seemed to be quite a bit of confusion about the testing types and accuracy. With all the talk about COVID-19 on TV and the plethora of information on the internet and within print, it is understandable confusion exists.

First of all, antigens and antibodies are not interchangeable words. Antigens cause the production of antibodies. Should you want to know if you currently have COVID-19, there are couple types of tests available: molecular tests and antigen tests. If you want to know if you already had COVID-19, you’ll need an antibody test called a serology test. A serology test is a blood test that looks for antibodies within blood that were produced to fight the virus.

Molecular tests, also called a PCR test, detect the virus’s specific genetic material. While the tests are very accurate and considered the gold standard by the CDC and FDA, they are not without a margin of error. PCR testing (Polymerase chain reaction) is a laboratory technique that, within hours, makes multiple (millions or billions) copies of a specific DNA. This helps scientist study very targeted parts of the selected DNA.

Unfortunately, because the tests require specific equipment and chemicals that are in short supply, test results are often taking a considerable amount of time. As such, other tests are being sought. After all, nobody wants to be held in abeyance and find out that every day since they got tested, they stood the chance of infecting many other people. Therefore, the quicker antigen test is being used.

Just like PCR tests, antigen test samples are collected using nasal or throat swabs. Antigen tests detect specific proteins such as the spike proteins found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. The testing process is much simpler and less labor-intensive than PCR testing. This is because there is not as much chemistry and lab work involved.

Antigen tests uses a technology that is quite similar to that of home pregnancy tests — a process called lateral flow assay. Once the antigen sample is acquired, the sample is combined with proteins that can immediately reveal a visual result. Although turnaround time is a huge benefit, the accuracy is not as high as PCR testing.

As mentioned earlier, an antibody test is used identify past exposure to a virus. The test can be performed in a doctor’s office, lab, or hospital and results are often available with a few days. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “Having an antibody test too early can lead to false negative results. That’s because it takes a week or two after infection for your immune system to produce antibodies. The reported rate of false negatives is 20%. However, the range of false negatives is from 0% to 30% depending on the study and when in the course of infection the test is performed.”

Recently, the NBA helped fund a saliva-based test for COVID-19 developed at Yale University. The test is called SalivaDirect. It is both affordable and quick. With an expected consumer cost of about $20 and a turnaround time within an hour to 24-hours, depending on the proximity of the lab, the test may help the bottleneck being experienced with other tests.

While the tests are highly accurate, researchers at Yale expect the tests to soon be accurate at least 90% of the time. Unlike molecular tests and antigen tests that require trained personnel to acquire samples and expensive PPEs for protection while placing swabs deep into people’s nose, saliva samples can be self-administered. For health care workers, schools and other people needing routine screening, this could be a game changer.

Unfortunately, at this time, there are no testing methods that are completely accurate. False negative and false positive tests do occur. While we are all reaching our wits-end with this pandemic, please remain vigilant in exercising precautions to avoid exposure. Yes, wearing masks is frustrating and 6-feet of personal space is challenging. However, contributing to anything that could intensify and lengthen our current situation could be catastrophic psychologically and economically.

If you want to get tested, speak to your medical provider and discuss available options. However, please remember that hospitals are not testing facilities for the general public. Please do not show up to the hospital and expect to be tested.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

Colson: Judicial fight an aspect of Trump coup d’etat

This, for me, is one of those moments when I find myself veering between the prosaical and the acronymical.

Sometimes it simply is easier to communicate through a combination of capital letters rather than the complete words themselves.

An example:


RBG is DOA, and the USA democracy may be SOL!

If you need a little help translating the above, I suggest a series of Google searches and a tumbler of your favorite beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) to help ease things along.

Or, you can merely read along as I explain that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s unwelcome demise from a wicked little cancer last Friday, at the age of 87, has put this nation in electoral peril.

I lament her passing, of course, and I salute her service as a treasured icon of jurisprudence and wisdom.

Having served as one of The Nine since being nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1992 (she was confirmed the following year), Ginsburg had carved out a reputation for quick-wittedness, toughness, progressive thinking and a dedication to further the rights of women wherever possible.

She declined suggestions that she step down while Barack Obama was president (back when she was a mere girl in her 70s), suggestions based on the theory that Obama would have appointed a replacement who reflected her values but who was younger and therefore not in danger of dying on the job just when we need her the most.

We cannot know for certain how an Obama nominee in this circumstance might have fared in a U.S. Senate that already had become hyper-partisan, though the treatment of his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 offers us a clue.

What we can easily answer, however, is the question of whether the present Republican majority has any sense of shame or honor at all, and the clear conclusion is, “NO!”

As has been bandied about in print, on the airwaves and online, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was gleefully ready, even before RBG died, to ram through the confirmation process of whatever nominee President Donald Trump comes up with.

The fact that McConnell and his henchman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), then chair of the judiciary committee, refused throughout 2016 to allow even a hearing on Obama’s nominee, the rather moderate federal appeals court judge Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is not merely hypocritical, it is deranged.

Grassley even said earlier this year that he was opposed to the idea of a late-stage confirmation process on a Trump nominee, as did Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowsky last week. But Grassley has been silent on the matter recently.

McConnell and his allies in the Senate have claimed that “circumstances have changed,” meaning they now have a Republican in the White House rather than a Democrat, plainly putting party loyalties over all other considerations.

And they obviously are counting on confirmation of some right-wing ideologue who would do as the party bids in the off-chance that the Trump-Biden election ends up in the kind of stalemate that left it up to the “Supremes” to decide the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. As we now know, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the election to Bush, despite the fact that Gore won a higher number of votes in the popular election than Bush.

In case readers have forgotten, that court decision gave Florida’s Electoral College votes to Bush, by ordering that the state stop counting ballots in an election that was marred by illegalities and many, many mistakes.

That was the first time I realized the Federal Electoral College actually is an enemy of democracy. The second time was in 2016, when Trump won the electoral college race despite losing the popular-vote count to Hillary Clinton by some 3 million votes.

My objection to McConnell’s anti-democratic plan regarding the Supreme Court nomination process is not, however, based merely on partisan politics, but on the damage such a decision does to democracy.

The voting in the 2020 election already has started. Votes are being cast as you read this, beginning with North Carolina, which in early September started mailing out ballots to voters.

According to a Sept. 4 story on NPR, the state had logged more than 643,000 requests for absentee ballots, compared with fewer than 39,000 in 2016.

And, according to the NPR story, “almost every state has seen a similar surge” in early-ballot requests, and that early voting generally favors voters on the Democrats’ side of the fence.

What that means is that the rush to confirm a candidate clearly is a cynical bid to get this justice in under the wire in case Trump loses to Joe Biden, and to have a solid majority of justices on Trump’s side if there is any way he can throw the election into the courts.

The Republican party has tossed aside any pretense of adhering to democratic norms and practices, opting instead for a “power-at-any-cost” operating philosophy that has led to the ongoing gerrymandering crisis across America, which is related to the party’s insistence that the Electoral College be preserved in the face of progressive pressures to see the College for the outmoded, anti-democratic institution that it is.

And the Trump coup d’etat rolls on.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.

Justice for Ginsburg

The best way to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s love and service to America is to honor her last wish to wait, and only be replaced by the newly elected administration. Petition Sen. Cory Gardner. Contact him any way you can — phone, email, mail, visit his offices and respectfully ask that he honor her wish.

John Hoffmann


Time to reverse Roe v. Wade

I’m a right-to-lifer. I believe our U.S. Constitution was written with the intent to protect the lives of the unborn. This was common wisdom at the time our nation was founded, was common wisdom for centuries prior, and was common wisdom for at least the first century of our nation’s life. Mothers dying in childbirth happened not just because of limitations of medical technology but also because society placed a higher value on the life of the unborn child than society placed on the value of the life of the mother.

In the post Roe v. Wade era, society’s values have reversed. In today’s times an unborn baby is worth more dead than alive. The body parts of a fetus are worth more than the worth of an unborn child’s priceless soul. Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over the preservation of this immoral infanticide for far too long. Her death allows us to place a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court who will value the life of the unborn child equally with the value of the lives of the rest of us.

John Hornblower

Snowmass Village