Loud & Clear: From Skipping The Restaurant Tip To Mesa Verde Artifacts

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Colorado Matters recently highlighted an Italian restaurant in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, which has done away with tipping and put its servers on salary. Diners at Abrusci's instead pay a 20 percent surcharge that's added to the bill.

John Irvin is among those who don't like the change. He writes via Facebook: "I should determine the tip. Some service does not warrant 20 percent. The whole idea of a tip is to improve personal service."

Tracy Anne Hickman embodies that idea. She's worked in the service industry for about two decades and writes: "I remember a Billy Crystal comedy routine when he jokes about not getting a coffee refill in the former soviet union. He said [the servers] were all in the kitchen smoking because they get paid regardless of the service received. Bill Crystal's coffee, says Hickman, would always be full if he was in my section because that is how my bills are paid."

Paul Migliore of Arvada feels servers in many of the restaurants he frequents could be paid better. So he's devised a system. He tips $10 for each hour he sits at a table, no matter where he goes or what he orders.

"Recently we were at a restaurant with some folks and our bill came to $62," he says. "So 20 percent of 62 would be $12, but we were there for two hours so I left a $20 tip. I'm very happy with that. It's simple for me and fair, according to my rationale."

He notes his own quandary. Should he get a bill for, say, $100, but is only there for an hour, he'll be tipping $10 instead of the $15 to $20, based on the 15-20 percent tip that's customary. But, he says, he tends to eat at less expensive places, "and so those tips tend to be on the high end of what servers are used to seeing. So they're very pleased. And actually, it makes me happy because I think I'm doing the right thing for those folks."

And what if Migliore gets really bad service? He'll leave two things: a smaller tip and feedback on the service.

Another recent story, on the ubiquity of cycling in the Netherlands led us to a University of Colorado-Boulder professor's work. He's studying Dutch bicycle culture. Listener Kit Baker says he listened with great interest as he's mired in a "trans-Atlantic dispute" with his brother over helmets. Kit's brother -- in Europe -- tells him he risks serious injury not wearing one in Fort Collins.

"I'm not against wearing a helmet, but I cycled more than 10 years in Europe sans helmet or serious injury, and I believe the vast majority of Europeans, including those in Amsterdam, still don't wear them," he writes. "I'd be curious if your guest, Professor Krizek, has any comparative stats."

Indeed Krizek did and the use of helmets is considerably lower in Europe. Here's why that is:

"So, in general, what we see is that the perceived risk is a lot lower in European settings because traffic is slower and there's a lot less traffic," Krizek says. "Because bicycling can compete more easily on the same ground, same street, you don't quite have those speed or other power differences that you have in the U.S. ... The likelihood of dying on a bicycle is greater in the U.S. and that has to do with the speed differences. Most roads on which bicyclists are traveling in European settings are 30 kilometers per hour, which roughly converts to 20 mph. Most roads on which bicyclists are traversing in the U.S. -- a lot of them are going on 40 mph streets. So what happens when items with large mass collide with items with small mass? The risk of injury is quite higher."

Last week, historian Tom Noel shared some fascinating Colorado trivia with us, including that some artifacts from Mesa Verde are in a museum in Helsinki, Finland. They've been there since the 19th century when explorer Gustav Nordenskiöld removed them. After hearing this, Raven Savage said: "Finland should return the Mesa Verde artifacts to their place of origin. The Finnish would want the same if the United States possessed artifacts taken from Finland."

We asked the chief archeologist for Mesa Verde, Scott Travis, if they've ever attempted to get the artifacts back. The answer is no, and Nordenskiöld "raised the bar" at Mesa Verde:

"We still use that information for comparative purposes and of course just to look at the history of archeological method and thought," he says. "What he brought with him was an astute understanding of the archeological methods which had been utilized for some time in Scandinavia in particular. And that included documentation methods, mapping, photography, detailed note-taking but also some excavation methods."

Travis says the collection, which is still intact in Helsinki, is available to the park service for study.

In the same Colorado trivia conversation Noel mentioned New Deal Projects here in Colorado -- Red Rocks, maybe the best known, but also the Monarch Ski Area and the old Stapleton Airport. On our website, Sherri Barksdale added the Pueblo Zoo, and that checks out. The zoo's website says, "...in the 1930s, the Animal House, Tropical Bird House, Monkey Island, Monkey Mountain, and Bear Pits" were built as a part of President Roosevelt's works programs.

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