Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happiest Hour: Montana Helles Lager

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 12:21 PM

CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Cathrine L. Walters
What it is: Bayern Brewing’s version of a light Bavarian lager (“helles” means “light” or “bright” in German). After originally starting as a specialty brew provided only to a single Seattle bar, Bayern expanded its Helles Lager production and added it to its year-round lineup about a year ago.

Why you’re drinking it: Helles Lager took the coveted Best of Montana award, as well as Best Lager, at the 23rd annual Garden City BrewFest earlier this month. The Zoo City Zymurgists, Missoula’s venerable organization of homebrewers, judged more than 70 beers for 10 different categories.

Who else received honors? Other local winners included Philipsburg’s Rope Swing Saison for Best Belgian/French, Great Burn’s Montana Creamsicle for Best Specialty and Lolo Peak’s Double Eagle Scotch Ale for Best English. In addition, Widmer Brothers’ Alchemy Pale Ale took Best Pale Ale, Carter’s Brewing out of Billings won Best IPA with its Ghost Train Double IPA and Goose Island’s Summer Ale received Best Light Beer. Best of Show and Best Stout went to the Double Stout Black Ale from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Co.

Tell us more about the Helles Lager: The Zoo City Zymurgists aren’t the only ones smitten with Bayern’s new-ish beer. It took bronze at the 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship and silver at the North American Brewers Association’s North American Beer Awards the same year. More importantly, at 5.6 alcohol by volume and with a full-bodied, smooth finish, it’s a perfect spring and summer session beer.

Where to find it: At the Bayern taproom, 1507 Montana St. It’s also widely available in bottles around town.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why you shouldn't take aim at armadillos (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
A funeral procession thwarted a man’s attempt to rob a 79-year-old woman in San Antonio, Texas. “We were going really, really slow, so as we passed this bus stop, there was this elderly lady, (and) a gentleman was knocking her around and was pulling on her purse,” witness Robert Garcia said. “Before I turned around, about eight of the mourners were all around him, getting him down, and then we flagged the police officer that was guiding the procession.” Joe Carpenter, 41, was charged with aggravated robbery. (San Antonio’s KSAT-TV)
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Tony Jerome Torbert Jr., 20, attracted the attention of authorities in Brevard County, Fla., after he posted an ad on Craigslist offering “Legit Counterfeit $$.” Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant and seized a printer, a computer and counterfeit currency. (Florida Today)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Authorities accused Carl Grace, 48, of breaking into a house in Hill, N.H., and attacking his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend with a fire extinguisher, striking the woman in the head and on her arm and leg. (Manchester’s WMUR-TV)

German police were summoned at 9:40 a.m. after a woman reported that an intoxicated 37-year-old man attacked her and other passersby at a Munich market with a white mouse. Police confiscated the mouse but returned two hours later after a complaint that the same man was throwing a different white mouse at pedestrians. (Germany’s The Local)

Pain of Progress
A 29-year-old California man was diagnosed with a torn tendon in his thumb caused by playing “Candy Crush Saga” on his smartphone “all day for 6 to 8 weeks” with his left hand, according to a study reported in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. One of the authors, San Diego orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dori Cage, cautioned that the rise in the number of people with smartphones who spend lots of time texting or tapping on their cellphones or tablets has the potential to lead to a “texting thumb,” a repetitive stress injury that affects the thumb and wrist. She said that people experiencing pain from texting might instead use voice control, such as Siri on an iPhone, or “actually pick up the phone and call somebody” to communicate. (U-T San Diego)

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Rockies Today, May 8

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 12:47 PM

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Montana, Washington state tribes have different view of coal terminal
As part of its ongoing series to photograph coal's effect in America, High Country News visits the Crow Reservation in Montana, where a seam running under tribal lands beckons with the promise of better financial conditions, and the Lummi Indians, who believe their hunting and fishing rights on ancestral lands on Washington state's Puget Sound will be disrupted if the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which is proposed to expand coal exports from Montana and Wyoming to Asia.
High Country News; May 8

Montana city learns it will lose 4th largest employer, 348 jobs
On Thursday morning, Asurion, the fourth-largest private employer in Great Falls, told its 348 workers that it was closing its call center in the Montana city, although some workers would be offered jobs that would allow them to work from home.
Great Falls Tribune; May 8

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rockies Today, May 7

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 1:17 PM

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Montana congressman stand firm on preventing sale of federal lands
U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke rolled through Bozeman on Wednesday, where the Montana Republican stopped at Simms Fishing Products and attended a donor luncheon, where he received kudos from the business crowd on his vote against a budget resolution that would have set up a system to handle funds from the sale of federal lands.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; May 7

GAO: BLM dropped ball on requiring capture of natural gas
In 2010, the Government Accountability Office pressed the Bureau of Land Management to update its guidelines for the burning or venting of natural gas from drilling operations, and an investigation released this week found that the BLM had failed to conduct production inspections at roughly 20 percent of high production wells to ensure the U.S. government was getting its full share of royalties.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); May 7

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A community looking for answers decides to listen

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 12:42 PM

Jon Krakauer speaks with Larry Abramson on stage. - PHOTO BY CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Photo by Cathrine L. Walters
  • Jon Krakauer speaks with Larry Abramson on stage.

Last night at 5:30 p.m., a full 90 minutes before Jon Krakauer spoke about his latest book, the line to see him wound through the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel, down a hallway and doubled back. There was excitement in the air—several people carried their copies under arm in the hope of getting the author’s signature—but there was also tension. One angry man screamed, “Move out of the way!” at people as an older woman tried to hobble past. Any sign of cutting into line provoked calls of “No, no, no!” from those in the back. Not everyone was going to get a spot in the 600-capacity room, and no one wanted to be left out.

The makeup of the crowd was a perfectly distilled illustration of the Missoula community reacting to Krakauer’s Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, a book that tells the story—using Missoula as the case study—of how colleges, police and justice departments continue to fail rape victims. In line to see the best-selling author were people who had never read the book and weren’t sure they would, as well as people who loved the book and felt it appropriately addressed the issue. There were also detractors who felt he unfairly characterized the town or vilified certain key players. But once people got inside—save for those who didn’t make it into the full-capacity room—a majority of the audience clapped and cheered as Krakauer took the stage.

Fact & Fiction bookstore owner Barbara Theroux began her introduction with, “Welcome, Missoula ... It’s going to get hot and steamy in here,” a prediction referring to both the actual temperature in the room and the heightened emotion. Krakauer had already done many interviews—on NPR and with the biggest national magazines and newspapers in the nation—but here he was in front of the town whose name he had chosen for the title. “I don’t like doing these kind of things,” he admitted into the mic. “But I wanted to come here and explain.”

Though billed as a public forum, the setup was more of an interview a la Charlie Rose, though much more harsh. Larry Abramson, dean of UM’s journalism program, challenged Krakauer with sharp questions, including some submitted from audience members: Did Krakauer really not realize that the name of the book would raise the hackles of Missoulians? (Answer: He didn’t think it would be a problem.) Isn’t it a journalistic obligation to interview the people you write about? (Answer: No, not if you have the documents to back up your facts.)

On the surface, Abramson and Krakauer could seem prickly and defensive with each other, but that’s what made the exchange all the more satisfying. I didn’t know what to think of the questioning at first—it felt like they were in a boxing ring. But after a while it dawned on me: Abramson had to ask the tough questions to satisfy a town looking for answers. Krakauer’s blunt rebuttals portrayed a man who had already asked himself the tough questions and felt strongly that he made the right choices.
Krakauer and Thomas Dove in a heated argument. - PHOTO BY CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Photo by Cathrine L. Walters
  • Krakauer and Thomas Dove in a heated argument.

“I didn’t know the town would be so defensive,” he said, and the room seem to check itself in silence. But several minutes later, when he talked about why he wrote the book in the first place, he said, “I didn’t know [rape] could be so devastating,” and a ripple of sympathetic nods spread through the crowd.

At one point, Abramson asked, “There are a lot of books written about rape ... Is it ironic or strange that you come along—a guy—and you write a book and it suddenly seems to be getting an inordinate amount of attention. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Does it show that people only pay attention to these problems when a big-name author writes about it?”

“I don’t know how to answer that except I don’t regret writing it,” Krakauer answered. “I’m glad it’s getting attention but it’s not like I had control over that.”

“But I do think it’s a sad statement,” Abramson said.

“Oh, it’s a very sad statement,” Krakauer agreed.

“People wanted the book to be something it’s not,” Krakauer added. “It is what it is. It has its limitations. It’s the best I could do, but it was a very conscious effort to focus on these victims and what they went through.”

Between answers, the crowd clapped in support of Krakauer, except for a small group in the back corner who booed on occasion. At the end of the interview, a retired lawyer named Thomas Dove approached the stage. When Abramson gave him the mic, Dove started grilling him court room-style about his “confirmation bias.” The crowd booed Dove down, yelling, “Take the mic away!” which Krakauer did. Then one of the moderators thanked everyone for coming and the event was over, though many people lingered at the exits for several minutes afterward.

If the forum had changed anyone’s minds about Krakauer’s intentions, it wasn’t entirely clear. For some, it seems they’re still grappling with the question of why the author decided to shine the light on Missoula. But there was also a sense that Krakauer had disarmed the crowd. He had shown up, first of all. He admitted to errors in his book. He praised others for their work, including reporter Gwen Florio, as well as the police department for showing improvement. Even university faculty clapped at his scathing words for their employer. It was an interview where punches were not pulled—a nice parallel to the tone of the book itself.

It was 8:30 p.m. as the audience filtered back out. On the sidewalk, one woman was crying while another hugged her. Men in suits hurried away holding stacks of papers. A few heated conversations continued in the parking lot until it began to grow dark—and then Missoula went home.

This story was updated May 8 to clarify the exchange between Thomas Dove and Krakauer. An earlier version of the story stated Dove was part of a group booing at certain parts of the presentation. Dove says he did not boo. Also, Abramson, not Krakauer, handed Dove the mic to ask his question.

"Half the town is scrambling to get here": A view from outside last night's Krakauer forum

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 12:16 PM

In the hour leading up to last night’s community forum with Jon Krakauer at the DoubleTree, dozens of people crowded around director of catering Callie Aschim desperate to gain admittance. The event room hit its 600-person capacity at 6:15 p.m., and while a few people continued filtering in the door—flashing red “x”s inked on the backs of their hands for reentry—Aschim found herself reiterating the same news every few minutes: We’re full.
CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Cathrine L. Walters

“Can you leave the door open so we can hear?” a woman asked.

“I’m sorry,” Aschim answered. “We need to clear the hallway so we’re not blocking the exits.”

Rachel Pauli, a local activist and organizer at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, urged the crowd not to direct its frustrations at Aschim. “If anyone needs a place to watch the forum,” Pauli shouted, “the Badlander has agreed to screen it for us.”

David Strobel, retired dean of the University of Montana’s graduate school, lingered in the hall nearby with his wife and several friends. The group arrived at the DoubleTree for dinner at 5:15 p.m., Strobel explained, and “there were already people in line. They were crowded everywhere.” At one point, Strobel added, he watched as former Dean of Students Charles Couture was initially turned away. Strobel stepped in and informed the staff working the door that Couture was actually a prominent character in Krakauer’s book. Couture was allowed to enter.

Erica Zurek and Andrew Connor were also among those turned away from the event but reluctant to leave. Both showed up curious to discover what the nature of the dialogue would be. Zurek, who said she’s worked in violence prevention in the past, finished Missoula shortly after it was released and was “glad to see a book written by an acclaimed author.”

“I’ve heard a lot of riffs and complaints about a man writing this book,” Zurek said as the doors closed and the event officially began, “but I think it’s important to have a man as an ally in this dialogue.”

Zurek added she thought it was “frivolous” to be upset over the title Krakauer chose. “The issue is so much bigger than that,” she said. Connor agreed that the reflexive reaction to the title was “misplaced.”

“Every criticism of the book I’ve heard was before the book came out,” Connor said. “There was no substance, no responding to actual material. I feel that invalidated a majority of the criticism.”

Between comments, Zurek held her smartphone to her ear, attempting to catch snippets of the online stream.

Fifteen minutes into the forum, roughly 60 people sat at tables, the bar and on the stage at the Badlander. The venue agreed to screen MCAT’s online stream at the last minute, shortly after the DoubleTree hit capacity, and all eyes remained locked on a large projector screen near the door. Aside from some scattered laugher when Krakauer told universities to “get your fucking act together,” the room remained silent and attentive.

Penny McCormick, who had first arrived at the DoubleTree around 6:20 and eventually wound up at the Badlander, said she was “curious about what [Krakauer] had to say … and what the community thought.” As a mother of three sons—two of them athletes—McCormick said Missoula “really changed my thinking” on the issue of rape and false accusations. The forum video was difficult to follow, cutting in and out frequently; by 7:30, MCAT’s feed had completely stopped working, prompting Pauli to switch to audio from Montana Public Radio. Even so, McCormick was “impressed with the support” shown by the crowd that arrived at the Badlander. She sat at a table next to Sarah Anderson, who said that while the book didn’t make it entirely clear how widespread an issue rape is beyond Missoula, she felt many in the local community outraged over Krakauer’s writing “are more pissed about the title than the actual book.”

MTPR’s audio feed cut out in the midst of a heated exchange between Krakauer and a member of the audience, and the last sound heard over the Badlander’s speakers were boos. Despite the evening’s abrupt end, Alyson Visgauss said she was moved by the volume of people who turned out to listen—not just at the DoubleTree but at a downtown bar.

“The fact that half the town is scrambling to get here and concerned about it,” she said, “that’s why I love it here.”

The Indy newsroom is hiring

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 10:24 AM

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There are some changes happening in the Indy newsroom. Staff Reporter Ted McDermott is leaving us (for Freemasonry, perhaps?) and we're promoting long-time Calendar Editor/Copy Editor/Reporter/Wearer of Many Hats Kate Whittle to full-time Staff Reporter, where she'll continue to cover both news and arts. These moves mean we have three new openings in the newsroom, which is pretty exciting if you're looking for an opportunity to work at Montana's only alt weekly newspaper and its award-winning website.  

You can find details on each open position below, as well as instructions at the very bottom on how to apply. Any questions? Email us
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STAFF REPORTER
The Independent seeks a professional, highly motivated full-time Staff Reporter to produce ambitious local news content. Applicants should have a strong background in journalism, a nose for compelling features, an uncontrollable compulsion to collect useful information and a demonstrable mastery of the English language. This job opening represents an extraordinary opportunity for intrepid reporters looking for a chance to do memorable work in a great setting.

CALENDAR EDITOR
Each week the Independent receives dozens — sometimes hundreds — of press releases for its online and print calendar of events. We’re looking for a motivated, organized and funny Calendar Editor capable of wrangling all those releases and creating a thorough—and thoroughly entertaining—guide to what’s going on around town. This part-time position puts you at the center of the local arts scene, and includes ample opportunity to write additional freelance stories for the paper’s award-winning A&E section.

COPY EDITOR
Know the difference between who and whom? It's and its? There and their and they're? The Independent is searching for a part-time Copy Editor to ride herd on our em-dashes, capitalize our Capitols and apostrophize our possessives. Candidates should be anally attentive to detail, familiar with AP style, prepared to learn proofreaders' marks and willing to work late on Tuesday nights. We'll provide all the red ink you can spill. Experience is preferred but we're willing to train the right candidate. Successful applicants will pass a copy editing test. 

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If you're interested in applying to one of these positions, send your resume and cover letter to us via email at editor [at] missoulanews [dot] com. If you're applying for Staff Reporter or Calendar Editor, please also include three examples of your writing. Lastly, be sure to specify which position you're pursuing.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rockies Today, May 6

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 1:02 PM

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Montana U.S. Sen. Tester introduces bill to link oil, geothermal work
On Tuesday, Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester introduced the Geothermal Energy Opportunity Act, which would allow oil and gas operators to develop geothermal resources on public lands without having to go through a separate competitive lease process.
Great Falls Tribune; May 6

Natural gas continues to undermine coal market
The effect of utilities' move away from coal to natural gas was reflected in coal mining companies' first quarter reports, where even companies' operations in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, long a bastion of profitability in the U.S., saw demand drop in February by 5.5 million tons, nearly half of the national drop in demand of 11.7 million tons.
Casper Star-Tribune; May 6

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In the buff

Aerie instructor Trenton Harper shows his stuff on Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid”

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 9:05 AM

Trenton Harper crouched naked behind a hill in the high country of Udhampur, India, trying not to hyperventilate. He was about to meet the woman he’d be surviving alongside for the next 21 days, half a world away from his Missoula home. They’d have no food, no water, no clothes. Just a bowl, a custom knife from Missoula’s Behring Made Knives and the tireless scrutiny of a Discovery Channel camera crew. As his anxiety began to peak, Harper noticed an old friend sticking out of the dirt nearby: Verbascum thapsus, more commonly referred to as mullein.

“It got me my high school girlfriend,” he says, citing the plant’s medicinal applications. “She had an upper respiratory issue. I gave her mullein and it cleared up all her snotty stuff.”

The sight of that mullein in the foothills of northern India last May quelled Harper’s fears, convincing him that he could, in fact, survive an episode of Discovery’s wildly popular program “Naked and Afraid.” At the time, Harper says, he was “mostly trying not to freak out,” realizing that he was representing both Montana and his native state of West Virginia. Nearly a year after the experience, and roughly two weeks before the episode’s May 17 air date, the Missoula paramedic and 10-year Aerie Backcountry Medicine instructor laughs easily about it all. His only worry now is how he’ll come across in the final cut.

“If I’d had a full belly and been well hydrated and clothed and known I was on TV, I probably would have faked it and just pushed through it,” he says. “But the whole show is a fascinating study of physiology and psychology. The stress, the physical stressors, overwhelm you so that you are as much yourself as you’re really going to be. And I’m a cranky bastard it turns out.”

Naked, starving and on camera in northern India last May, Missoula paramedic Trenton Harper builds an animal trap based on a design he learned from a man in Costa Rica. Harper stars in an upcoming episode of Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid.” - COURTESY DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS
  • Courtesy Discovery Communications
  • Naked, starving and on camera in northern India last May, Missoula paramedic Trenton Harper builds an animal trap based on a design he learned from a man in Costa Rica. Harper stars in an upcoming episode of Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid.”

Harper first heard of “Naked and Afraid” ahead of its debut in June 2013. It was all the buzz on Facebook among friends and acquaintances in the primitive skills community, he says, and Harper even knew one of the first season’s female participants—survivalist Laura Zerra—through their mutual past work with the Buffalo Field Campaign. He didn’t have much interest at first in applying for the show. But it didn’t take long for Aerie Backcountry Medicine to wind up in Discovery’s casting net. When the network contacted director Dave McEvoy, one name immediately jumped out.

“Once I started talking to people about it, like friends and coworkers within Aerie and other places, everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, you should totally do that,’” Harper says. “So I did.”

Harper felt the experience would be an excellent test not only of his backcountry savvy but the primitive survival skills he’d practiced since youth. He built his first bow-drill fire at age 15, he says, and has since blended that knowledge with more equipment-reliant pursuits like backcountry skiing and backpacking. Back in 2010, while working as a paramedic-ranger in Yellowstone National Park, Harper found himself alone up Cache Creek re-reading Doug Peacock’s Grizzly Years when a grizzly bear popped up a few hundred yards from his camp. Not wanting to test nature’s boundaries, Harper “totally ditched.”

“Your decisions are dictated by the environment,” Harper says of recreating in Montana. “And that’s really rare. Montana’s one of the only places in the lower 48 where your decisions are actually dictated specifically by megafauna.”
COURTESY DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS
  • Courtesy Discovery Communications

When Discovery informed him a couple weeks in advance that he’d be heading to northern India, however, Harper knew predators would be the least of his worries. The temperatures dropped into the 50s at night. The sole source of water was a mud-hole with “like 15 monkeys in it,” Harper says, making fire an absolute necessity not just for warmth but purification. And food was scarce, limited mostly to small frogs and a single dove. While Harper says he did eat something every day, he’s quick to add, “I don’t know if a single grasshopper counts.”

“Honestly,” Harper says, “two weeks into it, if someone had been like, ‘Here’s a granola bar,’ I probably would have been like, ‘Yeah, okay.’ You’re for-real fricking starving.”

Most challenging of all was the dynamic between Harper and his naked partner. She was much more reluctant with the experience and “it totally threw my mental game,” Harper says. He typically subscribes to the motto “control the controllable.” Being partnered with a less experienced survivalist was the one development he hadn’t anticipated, and while the two have since become good friends, he still regrets letting his frustration show.

“I definitely said a few different times, ‘I just don’t want to look like an asshole.”

Harper’s eager to see the final cut of his 21-day ordeal. He felt he hit his stride in the third week, though he never got around to several of the tasks he planned to complete. For example, Harper had every intention of making clothes, but found the small deciduous leaves native to the area would have done little other than reduce Discovery’s need to pixelate.

“That’s all my mom wanted,” Harper says, “was for me to make clothes.”

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Benedictine monks observe the Latin motto Laborare est Orare. The 19th-century abbot Maurus Wolter interpreted these words to mean "work is worship" or "work is prayer." He was trying to impress upon his fellow monks that the work they did was not a grudging distraction from their service to God, but rather at the heart of their devotion. To do their tasks with love was a way to express gratitude for having been blessed with the gift of life. I propose that you experiment with this approach in the coming weeks, even if your version is more secular. What would it be like to feel contentment with and appreciation for the duties you have been allotted?

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Here's one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health: Withdraw your attention from the life that lies behind you, and be excited about the life that stretches ahead of you. Forget about the past, and get wildly inventive as you imagine the interesting future you will create for yourself. Forgive everyone who has offended you, and fantasize about the fun adventures you'll go on, the inspiring plans you'll carry out, and the invigorating lessons you hope to learn.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In the children's book The Little Engine That Could, a little blue engine volunteers to pull a long chain of train cars up a steep hill, even though it's not confident it has the power to do so. As it strains to haul the heavy weight, it recites a mantra to give itself hope: "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." The story ends happily. The little blue engine reaches the top of the hill with its many cars in tow, and is able to glide down the rest of the way. As you deal with your own challenge, Gemini, I recommend that you use an even more forceful incantation. Chant this: "I know I can, I know I can, I know I can."

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here's a confession: I have taken a vow to foster beauty, truth, love, justice, equality, tolerance, creativity, playfulness, and hope. To do this work is one of my life goals. I approach it with the devotion of a monk and the rigor of a warrior. Does that mean I ignore difficulty and suffering and cruelty? Of course not. I'm trying to diminish the power of those problems, so I sure as hell better know a lot about them. On the other hand, my main focus is on redemption and exaltation. I prefer not to describe in detail the world's poisons, but rather to provide an antidote for them. Even if you don't normally share my approach, Cancerian, I invite you to try it for the next two weeks. The astrological time is right.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The hill where I take my late afternoon hikes is teeming with the six-petaled purple wildflower known as the elegant cluster-lily. Every one of them—and there are hundreds—lean hard in the direction of the sun in the west. Should I deride them as conformists that follow the law of the pack? Should I ridicule them for their blind devotion? Or should I more sensibly regard them as having a healthy instinct to gravitate toward the life-giving light? I'll go with the latter theory. In that spirit, Leo, I urge you to ignore the opinions of others as you turn strongly toward the sources that provide you with essential nourishment.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Am I reading the astrological omens correctly? I hope so. From what I can tell, you have been flying under the radar and over the rainbow. You have been exploiting the loopholes in the big bad system and enjoying some rather daring experiments with liberation. At this point in the adventure, you may be worried that your lucky streak can't continue much longer. I'm here to tell you that it can. It will. It must. I predict that your detail-loving intelligence will paradoxically guide you to expand your possibilities even further.

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