Mommy, What’s Does “Carnivore” Mean?

“Hey, look, it’s a 750-pound grizzly!  Let’s go take selfies with it!”

“Predator, what do you mean ‘predator’?  They wouldn’t let these things in the park if they were dangerous!”

I know it makes my current job & surroundings rather ironic, but can I tell you just how much I actually hate tourists?

I have to admit to a small, inner, evil part of me that wants to see a 2,200 pound bison launch a 160 pound tourist into next year.  I won’t go so far as to say I want to see a grizzly give that same moron a taste of claws and teeth, but…well…

There’s a book up here, one of the few that the staff read even more avidly than the visitors: “Death in Yellowstone”.  Of course, we read that book not so much to learn, but because it’s basically a bingo game to see just how many of the fatally stupid screw-ups we’ll witness in any given month.

“Oh look, a dad with a toddler on his shoulders, standing on the lip of a 200+ degree mineral pool — BINGO!!”

*sigh*

Never mind.

I don’t want to talk about tourists.  I don’t even want to think about tourists.  Nope, I wanna get on to the bit about writing.

Writing about tourists.

Err…maybe not.

Ahem.

Crap, I can’t get my mind off the idiots!  That’s what I get for trying to write a blog post right after leaving the store…

Can I point out some of the questions I’ve answered, just today?

No, I’ve never petted a bear…and, yes, I have been within ten feet of one — and I was scared shitless every single time that happened.

No, we don’t “turn off” the geysers at night.

No, the animals don’t get cold when it snows.

Yes, wolves really do weigh two-hundred pounds…and, yes, they really do kill.  The words “predator” and “carnivore” aren’t just marketing copy.

I agree, bear cubs are adorable.  Their 700-pound, frightened mother, on the other hand, is considerably less “cute”.

What in the park scares me the most?  Tourists.  After that?  Cougars.  At least you know when a bear or wolf is gonna try to eat your ass — with a cougar, your first clue is blinding pain…and then your very own entry in “Death in Yellowstone”.

*sigh*

Welcome to my life.

Thankfully, I do get good questions, too — from time to time — and that makes it far more worthwhile:

The coolest thing I’ve ever seen?  A bear and a wolf eating the same carcass, at the same time…without trying to kill each other.  It ain’t supposed to be possible, but we have actual film…

The toughest animal?  One particular young male wolf…he had his jaw shattered by a kick from an elk, and he kept going.  He was in blinding pain, but he kept going.  He even managed to bring down more elk to feed himself.  That was one tough bastard.

What would I never do again?  You mean besides walk through the home den of an adult male grizzly?  I’ll never, ever touch the Avalanche trail again so long as I live.  It might be only two miles each way, but what that little line on the map doesn’t show you is the four thousand feet of elevation gain over those two miles.  No thank you…

6FB600EF-C19C-4B59-9867-90E4E8D19FB6Closed trails?  Restricted access?  No, I would NEVER consider doing things like that…**cough*cough**…that would be wrong!  **cough*cough**  Excuse me, I just remembered, I have to do a thing, over there in a place…I think I hear someone calling me…

EDA2211F-0586-4596-BCB3-8091F6A6FE60I can’t stand to write about how stupid the tourists any longer…so I’m gonna go out and do some stupid things of my own!

Cockeyed

My life is cockeyed.

No, really, I’m being serious here!  The RV site Yellowstone gave me is all packed dirt.  Well…what happens when massive amounts of snow melt right across all that dirt?

Yep, you guessed it: it’s mud season for me.  The sad, unexpected (by me, anyway) outcome of this mud season is the fact that the blocks leveling my trailer are…well, they’re doing their best Titanic impression right now.

Okay, so it’s not the worst problem in the world.  It is, in fact, pretty much the very definition of “first world problem,” to be honest.  I mean, crap — no one’s shooting at me, I have all the potable water I need, I have heat* and electricity, I have a “pantry” full of food…if the worst problem I have is that shit rolls off my counter from time to time, I’m pretty sure the world ain’t about to end.

*Screw you Big Sky RV, and your cheap lie about filling my propane tanks!!

But it does get you thinking…

Well, it gets me thinking, anyway.

My life has been cockeyed for a very long time.  One could argue, I suppose, that all writers’ lives are at least somewhat cockeyed and out-of-kilter.  Shit, what insane idiot would choose a life where fulfillment and happiness are driven by words and sentiments that you basically have to prostitute your soul to make a buck with?

I don’t how many others out there share this experience, but for me that lack of balance, that skewed vision, is what makes it all work.

I was balanced and even as a sales monkey.  I was locked firmly in the glide-path for the standard, traditional American life: a nice house, a new(ish) car, a comfortable retirement account…

And I was miserable as hell.

I had six weeks of “vacation” every year from my company, and every year I used every single second of that.  Partly because — as you know from reading this blog — travel and adventure are the most fulfilling things in the Universe to me, but mostly because I hated that which gave me that vacation time.  I hated the drab, tan-and-grey corporate decor … I hated the unending meetings that bred faster than any rabbit could dream of … I hated the pretension and hypocrisy of the company, of many of my coworkers, of many of our clients … I hated, when you get right down to it, every single day that I had to put on a mask and pretend to be someone I was not…

As I wrote once before, a few years ago: the clothes I wore didn’t fit my soul anymore.

In between then and now there is a great deal of water, and quite a few bridges…some of them burning, and some still beckoning to cross back.  There is a failed business — and all the problems and heartache and exhaustion that you can imagine that comes with that — there are failed relationships, there are personal problems, financial problems, problems of every stripe…

And then there are my friends.

More specifically, there is the suicide of yet another friend.

I have stood in front of far too many caskets, said goodbye to far too many friends “too young to die” to not be changed by it.  One is far too many, and I’m way above that number.

The last of those was after the failed business, after the failed romances.

I asked myself, finally, in front of my friend’s coffin, just what the fuck was I doing?

Why was I putting off — denying — that part of my life, of myself, that lay at the core of everything?

Why was I living someone else’s life, someone else’s dreams?  Why was I working so hard to follow the roads so obviously laid out for me?

Why was I keeping the words to myself, the emotions and meanings and realities?

Why was I not being me?

Robert Frost famously wrote about the road less travelled.  For me, it is the last two lines of that poem that really says it all:

I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.”

My life is cockeyed, and I like it that way.

No, that’s not quite right — as hard as it can be for family and friends to understand, I need it that way.

My Cross To Bear

One of my favorite (over-used) concepts is having a “cross to bear.”  That phrase is generally so over-the-top self-congratulatory and gloriously narcissistic that it is pretty much self-parodying.6C1AA318-A27E-4D21-96A5-5D08414067F9

“I’m just too smart for my own good, that’s my cross to bear…”

“I’m gorgeous and rich, that’s my cross to bear…”

“Palpatine knows what’s best for the Republic, that’s his cross to bear…”

I know too much about beer, that’s my cross to bear.

No, really…stop laughing, I’m being serous here!

It’s a terrible burden, having a foot (and several internal organs) in the craft-brewing world.  I mean, c’mon, it’s hard going to new bars in new(ish) cities and trying new breweries when you know what various styles and types of beer are supposed to taste like.7B0C62A0-DFB2-46AD-8C85-C467639D0195

Look, when I order a Czech-style pilsner, I expect a Czech-style pilsner…not a freaking wannabe-IPA.  I hate (most) IPAs!  Harrumph!!

Like I said, having actual beer-taste — and knowledge! — is my personal cross to bear.*  It’s a terrible burden for which I’m willing to sacrifice myself in order to save you, because…because, well, that’s just me.  I’m a giver.

*As opposed to, say, my complete inability to commit to long-term romantic relationships, or my arrested adolescence that (still) shows no sign of ending…

I’ll even go so far as to go to other places to discharge my moral duty of sampling beer.  I mean, look, I’m sitting here in Bozeman, Montana — in preparation for going in to Yellowstone for the next six months — and what do I do?  I spend half-an-hour discussing craft breweries with a couple of the taproom’s staff members (after bitching about my poor, not-really-a-pilsner pilsner).

Saving the world, one beer at a time, that’s me.EC2EC66A-BB98-49BD-9AA3-D18ACC3974D2

Annie was right, it’s a hard-knock life…and that’s just my cross to bear.

Ramblin’ On

I meant to do this post back on Monday, but I got distracted by planning & preparing for my (imminent) Yellowstone departure.  Oh well…shit, as they say, happens.

At any rate, I’ve accumulated enough things I wanted to talk about, that I think it’s time for another list post.  Just as a word of warning: this post got away from me.  I went into with no plan, but a few things I wanted to talk about, and…well…welcome to random and unorganized bloggin’!did-paul-revere-1

  1. The elections are coming! The elections are coming!  The silly season is upon us!
  2. Of course, the US being the US, elections are always coming. Gone are the days when normal folks got a break from the constant din and chaos of campaigning and politics.  Okay, so the House was intended to be that way, to be the “immediate expression” of the “popular will,” but the Senate and Presidency…those longer terms were supposed to make them not on-going popularity contests but rather stable positions able to focus on the longer term and the bigger picture.  Holy crap, did the Founders got that one wrong…
  3. Okay, so on the topic of elections, it’s probably good to remind folks that nothing and no one on the news right now matters one bit.  Yes, there are more and more stories about the various Dem challengers for the 2020 ticket, more stories and biographies and speculation, more stories reflecting the electioneering and posturing and positioning of the “candidates,” but none of them mean a thing.  Look, all those stories are just like another big stretch of silly-seasons that’s going on right now: the NFL Draft.  There really is nothing to talk about in terms of the NFL prospects — let alone the Dem “candidates” — as not a single one of them can do a damned thing before the season (or the election) starts, but the talking heads (of both species, sports and politics) need something to talk about, something to drive viewers and interest.  They need something, when you get right down to it, to make them sound smart and connected.  And so we get showered with speculation and statements about this “can’t-miss” prospect/candidate and that “sure-thing,” and all the while the Truth just gives up and decides to go out and get drunk.  So, when you’re looking at these stories and either hoping or dreading in regards to a certain candidate — depending on your political team — just remember this: when the election actually starts, you won’t remember a damned thing that happens right now.11260C46-9429-4BEF-907D-D8D0AFF3A5CC
  4. I know, I know, I’m talking about the silly-season I just told you to ignore.  But, well…I never claimed to be particularly consistent, did I?!  Ahem.  I do want to say one more thing about the current Dem field: I like the fact that there are some new names getting involved — and the Repubs should take note of what their opponents are doing.  Far too often in the past both teams put up the same names, the same faces, that we always see. They put up the same praetors and pontiffs to run for the consulship, with the same bios and the same CVs and the same views.  If the 2016 US election — and others in Europe and elsewhere — showed nothing else, they showed that the rest of us, the normal folks, are looking for something different.  We are getting heartily sick of the same elites pushing the same policies and politics.  Just one look at this world is enough to show that change is very much needed.  Which, by the way, explains the popularity of guys like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — whatever you may think of each of them, they most definitely represent something “different” from what is/was usually forced down our political throats…character-war-soldiers-character-military-demotivational-posters-1313084604
  5. Crap…last political point, I promise!  I also want to call out a couple of names in the Dem field for a very specific reason — not for their politics, nor for their positions in the race, but for their titles: Major Tulsi Gabbard and Lieutenant Pete Buttigieg.  Both served honorably and well.  Both deployed to the Middle East.  Whether you agree with them or not, they bring a view the primary needs — on both sides of the aisle.  After twenty years of conflict and war, only now is the House of Representatives once again seeing the entry of veterans in decent numbers…of folks who know what it’s like to serve, and to deploy.  It is vital that we have that experience represented in DC.  Without veterans, without their experiences and knowledge, in positions of influence and power, it can — and has — become far too easy to use the men and women of the military for posturing and politics.  Honorable mention, by the way, goes to Joe Biden — although he did not serve, his son did, and the experience of those back home, of the parents and spouses and loved ones, matters.

Err…well…that went on too long.  I’ll cut the list short there and save the other stuff I wanted to talk about for Friday’s post, I think.  Black holes and the environment and The Matrix