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!

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.

Why Are We Even Talking About This?

So, I took a little break from posting…not because I didn’t have anything to say, and not because I didn’t care.  Nope.  Instead, I took a break because I’m thinking about…err…running away again.

I’m thinking about taking off for the wilds of Montana/Yellowstone.

Again.

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks talking to folks about jobs and opportunities up there.  Now, I don’t know whether any of that will work out or not, but it is something I’m looking at semi-seriously.

Then…well…then I decided to get back to reading the news, and to posting on the blog.

Ahem.

What the fuck is wrong with us?

Never mind, I’m pretty sure I don’t actually want to know the answer to that…

seriously-youre-surprised-by-thisAnyway, I sat down and read about the “college admissions scandal” currently in the US headlines.

Umm…

Wait…

What…?

What scandal?

No, really — WHAT FUCKING SCANDAL?!?!

Unqualified, unacceptable — downright unintelligent, even — kids have been getting into college on the coattails of Mommy and Daddy since…oh…about the day they first opened the freaking doors almost a thousand years ago.

Just what kind of fantasy universe do you have to live in, anyway, in order to be surprised by this kind of shit?!

Now, I am NOT going to get into “privilege” and all the loaded code-words that go with that particular concept nowadays.  Not a chance. Butbut parents pulling strings for their kids…parents using old friends — using connections, using influence, using money — to help their kids get ahead is about as “new” as, err, DNA itself.

Again, I have to ask: just why the hell are we surprised by this?

Does anyone really think this is new?!

I’ve mentioned before that I am…err…umm…well…an idiot.

I admit it, I’m an idiot who has the same level of common sense as your average goldfish…

Exhibit A of that idiocy, I should explain, is that I didn’t use my parents to get ahead in terms of college.  Look, I have degrees from two different universities, but neither of them is all that “major.”  My parents, on the other hand, have a certain amount of *ahem* influence with one of the largest universities in the world.

Not making use of that influence was actually one of the biggest mistakes* of my life, by the way.  Err, okay, so such influence and assistance was never actually offered to me, but still…I’m a good enough sales-pimp to have lied and schmoozed and weaseled my way through…if only I had been smart enough to try…

*And trust me, there is A LOT of competition for that particular title!

No, this whole “scandal” has nothing to do with colleges, nor with fraud.  The true fraud involved is our (societal) fetishization of college degrees…our over-reliance on the “blessing” of a degree from any institution, regardless of reality or need.

Honestly, just why the hell do we think 90%+ of the workforce needs a Bachelor’s?  Do we really want to create a situation where mandatory education becomes damned near 20 years*?!?!  And, yes, if you add it all up, preschool + kindergarten + elementary school + middle school + high school + college BA = 18+ years!!

All that time — all that MONEY — does nothing to change the fact that folks like electricians, and plumbers, and carpenters, are far more important to our society — not to mention our economy — than every single one of us History majors added together…

I have a friend from my hockey world.  A nice guy, if someone even more quiet and withdrawn than me.  Now, this friend of mine is happy as a clam with his career.  That career happens to be his own business — making a pretty decent living — doing high-end, custom cabinetry…a skill he learned in his own damned garage.

You want to know what my friend did before he struck out on his own to do that?  He was a senior researcher for the freaking EPA…

Yeah, that PhD — and the hundred thousand+ dollars it cost — is really helping him now!

On a personal level, I made the most money in my life as a sales-monkey.  My success in that (miserable) world came not because I have two college degrees.  Nosirreee, not even close.  No, what made me successful in that career was the ability to empathize and put myself in someone else’s shoes that I learned — had to learn! — as the youngest of four kids…

As a society, we have made a college degree a requirement — a talisman and magic entree to success — and THAT is the real problem.  No more than 10-15% of the population actually needs a degree.  The rest of the jobs in the universe can be filled by anyone with the aptitude and willingness to learn…

But

But, we have let “Human Resources” become the be-all, end-all of the business world.  We have let bureaucrats who want to check boxes and tick-off items on lists become the ultimate arbiters…

…yet still we have the temerity — the stupidity — to be surprised when folks with money and influence work to “cheat” the system.

I despair for us, I really do.

**Of course there’s a song for that!  Why do you even ask?!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux1VBD20ZcI&w=560&h=315

Venting My Spleen, Or How Bad Beer Ruined My Day

IMG_0384Harrumph!

Look…I live in Colorado.  Yes, I live at 5,000* feet.  Yes, we get snow.  Yes, we have some cold, windy days.  But — and this is the big but — if it is 5 degrees and snowy on Monday, it is pretty damned likely to be 60 degrees and blazing sun by Wednesday.  That’s just life in Colorado.

*Actually, I live at more like 8,000, but I spend a lot of my time “down the mountain” at 5,000

That’s also, err, kinda why I like living here.

So why, in a place where cold weather lasts hours rather than weeks — let alone months — why in the hell would a brewery completely close its patio?!?!

For the last four days I have been stuck in crazy wind and blowing snow, not to mention temperatures that have had to really try just to reach double digits.  But now…

But now, when I’ve come down the mountain to meet friends for lunch, the weather is sunny and 60…yet still I’m stuck sitting inside!

GODDAMMIT!!

HARRUMPH!!!!

Okay, so I’ll (kinda) save you from (yet) another bad-taproom rant…but it’s hard.  Honestly, it’s really freaking hard.  Do you have any idea just how much I hate restraining myself like this?

My spleen may explode, by the way, for lack of proper venting…

*sigh*

694A53EF-73B8-4A6E-BABD-2162622AB479I really need to get back to work on that brewery guidebook I’ve had simmering on the back burner for that last couple of years…

SSSHHHIIIIIIITTT!!!!!!

Okay, so while I was waiting, and wasting time, I had my first sip of a terrible freaking beer…

I hate my life right now.

…No…must…restrain…self…

…Cannot…vent…now…

…Ummm…

48F2F907-46AF-4A20-A700-9A245B197775My one poor little brain cell can’t…err…do two things at once, so it’s either vent or write, but not both…

I repeat: I hate my life right now.