Don’t Drive Angry!

Okay, so vent-post time…

71B1A6B0-460F-48C7-9F03-659397E7EF33Wait! Don’t drive angry!

Err, that’s not quite it…

Don’t post angry!

That’s it, that’s the rule…but screw it, I’ll post however I want, thank you very much.

I’ve hinted before that I’m …err… “involved” in the craft-beer industry. “Involved” is glossing over quite a bit, but…well…let’s just say that I am an actual expert in taprooms and small batch breweries and leave it there.

Now, from time to time, I like to check out new breweries in my personal neck of the woods. I should probably add that where I live is often(ish) referred to as the “Napa Valley of beer”. Northern Colorado has a lot going for it in our hiking and camping and rafting and fishing, but it has even more in our local craft breweries. Places like Avery and O’Dells and Horse & Dragon and WeldWerks would be worth visiting even if we didn’t have the damned Rockies right outside the door…

Checking out new breweries is, for me, a whole lot like opening a book from an author I’ve never read: it’s all about potential and excitement. Unfortunately — again, like new authors — it can be pretty damned hard to live up to my (increasingly) high expectations. In the brewing world, it’s most often the beer that fails. It is just too easy to screw up beer, to be honest; off-flavors from poor recipes, or poor technique, or poor hygiene/sanitation… There is a lot that can go wrong in the brewing process, and most new breweries manage to find each and every one of those potential problems.

But that’s okay. That’s understandable, even.

It takes a while to transition from smaller batch brewing — especially from home brewing — to larger commercial systems. I can honestly forgive brewing problems if they are corrected by the time I make a second visit. What I can’t forgive, however, is stupidity. What I can’t forgive are poor taprooms. And what I can forgive even less than those two unforgivable sins is a poor customer experience.

Sadly, I hit the freaking trifecta today: bad beer at one place, a bad taproom at another, and a shitty customer experience at a third.

Goddammit, all I wanted was some time and space — and a couple of beers — to sit and write for a few hours! Instead, all I got was disappointment…and anger. Two of these three problems happened at places that should know better, at places that have been in business for years. That they are still suffering these business/craft-brew sins drives me absolutely insane.

Err, kinda like writing, actually…

Certain sins and faults can be forgiven in someone’s early works…but those problems better damned well be fixed by the next story. On the other hand, those same faults from writers who should know better really ARE unforgivable…and they damned well should result in failure.

Just like a brewery with a bad taproom, just like a brewery that cannot give a good customer experience, a writer that cannot manage to handle the depth of character and plot needed to write a truly compelling story is going to run out of grace and success pretty stinking quickly.

Just like I can forgive tastes of corn and butterscotch from a new brewer — as long as (s)he doesn’t repeat them — I can forgive shallowness and corner-cutting from a new writer…

But, if that brewer has been around for a few years…

But, if that writer has been around for a few stories…

Yeah, you better have your shit together, ‘cause all that tolerance and forgiveness goes away pretty damned fast.

(By the way, if you ever want a list of breweries to avoid, I’m your guy!)

Overcompensation, or The Art of the Hunt

There’s this urge, when you write about something where you can (kinda) see both sides, to prevaricate. To cover your proverbial bases in order to establish your credentials with both sides.

Now, amidst the US’s current bitter divisions — divisions of society as much as politics — that might be simple common sense…or it might just be an attempt to weasel out of criticism or condemnation.

I am not, when you get right down to it, immune from such prevarication. I cover my bases, too, and today’s post is no different. My first go-‘round at writing this started with an intro paragraph about the fact that I own several guns, and that I have no problem at all with hunting. Hell, I went on to add, I have any number of recipes for deer and elk and duck and quail and anything else my friends might happen to bring home from their forays.*

*I personally suck at hunting, by the way. I grew up in Southern California, where walking around with a gun wasn’t “hunting,” it was self-defense…

But why should I need, or want, to add such prevarications? All those little caveats did nothing to change or add to or develop the point I wanted to make.  They were nothing other than a pointless effort to establish my bona fides with those who probably wouldn’t like what I have to say in the subsequent paragraphs.

Fuck it, I finally yelled at myself, just make the goddamned point!

Alright, so just what the hell am I talking about?

Hunting grizzlies.

Well, not just hunting grizzlies…trophy hunting in general. Hunting not for meat, nor for need, nor for survival, but solely to “prove” just how big is someone’s imaginary hunting-dick.

I am not, as you might have guessed, a fan.

Quite simply, I am a firm believer in the concept of showing respect to that which you kill. Anything you kill. You use everything — and I mean everything — to show that respect. Skin, meat, organs…you use the lot. Whatever you killed, be it deer or elk or fish or what-have-you, deserves at least that much.

But to hunt and kill something solely for a pelt? Or some horns? Or, worst of all, for a fucking picture with its corpse?

Yeah, there ain’t enough bragging in the universe to make your genitals seem any bigger than the sad, tiny little things you actually possess…

Ahem.

So, Wyoming — my neighbor state, I’m ashamed to admit, and my home when I lived in Yellowstone — chose to schedule a hunt for grizzlies just as soon as the current administration decided to “unlist” them from the endangered species registry. They were unlisted because Yellowstone currently has about 700 hundred of the things…700.

Where once thousands roamed, there are now SEVEN HUNDRED…and the rednecks just couldn’t wait to start shooting the damned things.

Not even freaking Montana or Idaho jumped into the slaughter so quickly, or so thoroughly. But Wyoming is…errr…well…it’s a shithole, to be honest. It routinely competes with Alabama to see just who can limbo ever lower under our already low bar of decency, civilization and intelligence.

650B1C08-042C-47C7-BB68-111D28CFA0A5No one, by the way, kills a grizzly for the meat — bear meat is greasy as hell, and not worth the effort. Just as no one goes out to hunt random grizzlies to survive. No, if a grizzly is threatening you, or is preying on humans, you shoot that specific bear…you have to, when you get right down to it, because killing in those instances is a necessary part of survival. I carry a gun on every single one of my backcountry hikes, and I’m fully prepared to shoot if and when I hit one of those “him or me” moments. But what you don’t do is go out and start randomly blasting away at any and every grizzly you see and have the gall to call that “survival.”

No, the sad truth is that the “great” state of Wyoming just wanted to give a handful of trophy-hunting yokels a chance to get new rugs for their floors…

All my criticism and condemnation aside, there have been some good guys in all this. There is a wildlife photographer out of Jackson Hole* who managed to cage one of the permits. He got the permit to shoot grizzlies, yes…but to shoot them with a camera, not a scoped rifle. Others have been working similarly, to deny at least some of the limited number of permits to trophy hunters. I have supported those folks, and will continue to do so…

*Far and away Wyoming’s best town, by the way, even before all this crap.

I don’t care if it’s grizzlies, lions, giraffes, or freaking penguins, for heaven’s sake — if you are hunting solely for the thrill of the hunt, and to prove how “manly” you are, you have failed. You have failed as a man. You have failed as a human. You have failed as anything other than a pathetic weasel with, err, “substandard equipment”…

Schadenfreude

63E1C0B4-DAD6-4E75-8161-E847AB9361C0Okay, so, I hate Facebook. This should not come as a surprise to anyone — I’ve been pretty open about my opinion of the whole damned platform ever since I started this blog.

I’ve hated Facebook since they first got going, and I hate them even more now. Hell, when a supposedly “secret” memo from a top executive leaked a few weeks ago — you know, the one where he said ethics, morality and the law mean nothing in the face of Facebook’s “greater mission” to “connect people” — it did nothing but confirm my disdain for the company, and anyone who works for them.

Yeah, yeah, I know…I say I hate the company, but I have a Facebook page linked to this blog. But…well…look, cognitive dissonance and I are old, old friends, okay? I created that page as a “should-do/must-do,” not a “want to do.” Hell, all anyone has to do is take a look at my timeline and check out my complete lack of connections or activity to see that.

So, when I saw the story the other day about the nosedive in Facebook stock…well…I know it’s petty, but I have to admit to a certain (large) amount of satisfaction in the corporate and financial pain associated with that. The simple fact of the matter is that Facebook creeps me the hell out. The amount of data they collect, and the invasive tactics and techniques that they employ to collect that data  — up to and including outright spying — are things I find pretty damned repugnant. And the smug, self-righteous disdain with which they treat any concern or complaint about those tactics and techniques is even worse…

Worse yet, I should add, is the “addiction” they intentionally inculcate in so many of their users. Even moderate users waste hour upon hour scanning their timelines in order to read and “like” posts. Hours on end spent staring at a screen, searching for the tiniest update from people with whom they have only the barest connection. Hours spent sending updates on great-aunts and great-grandchildren no one else knows. Hours spent looking at stupid memes and watching cat videos. Hours spent, when you get right down to it, trading true connections and real links for arm’s-length, electronic simulacra. Hours spent not reading or studying or doing something worthwhile.686681D3-5141-4C0D-9373-68DABF4668CF

Oh, and cat videos, for fuck’s sake…

Oh yeah, creepy as hell.

You have to wonder if the DARPA folks back in the 70’s would’ve been better off just getting drunk and skipping work that day they came up with the “internet”…

I’m hoping that, when the markets open on Monday, there will be yet more tankage for the one company in the entire universe that can make freaking Google look all restrained and innocent and pure.

In hockey, there are teams I don’t like, and I want to seem them lose. Well, life (in this case) most definitely imitates sports: I want to see companies I don’t like lose, too. I don’t want to see regulation or government control — neither of which would do a damned thing — I just want to see them go down in well-deserved financial flames.

Hey…I said it was petty, that doesn’t mean I think it’s bad!

…Cannot Get Out…

This has not been a good morning. Actually, this morning has pretty much sucked donkey balls.

Okay…look…I’m bitter and cynical, so if I add honest to that list, my bad morning means I’m pretty damned sure my entire day is already shot to hell, and I’m not even done with my coffee yet.

*sigh*

And my friends wonder why I titled my current story The Silence That Never Comes

E627885B-BCD9-494E-90FC-D3EFF940E24AAside from the metaphor involved, there is also the reality of mornings like this one. Mornings of distraction and annoyance and — worst of all — people…

The reality of people and activity and noise around the house.

I have to get out.

I try to head down the mountain, then, to a quiet little coffee shop. But, no…there’s construction and delays and noise on the road. More noise and chaos than home.

I have to get out.

I turn, I change…I try one of the lakes instead. A bit of hoped-for peace and quiet around the still waters to do some writing. But no, not today…of course not. Loud music and many, many people crowding the shores and the waters. Noise and chaos everywhere.

I have to get out.

09AE17E4-8CE3-4A69-87C9-D1A3F07CBB17Holy shit, I’m like the fucking Moria dwarves in Fellowship of the Ring: “…cannot get out…they are coming…”

Just how the hell can I explain this need for silence to people who actually enjoy noise and activity and bustle? People like, you know, all of my family, and most of my friends? People for whom the presence and noise of others is not just enjoyed, but preferred?

The constant presence of people — and all the noise and activity and bullshit that goes with that presence — is goddamned kryptonite to me. It builds and builds until it finally drives me nuts to the point where I can’t think, can’t function…and I sure as hell can’t write. Look, I spend most of my week around people, spend most of it being nice and friendly and “chatty”…

And I’m lying and scamming worse than my protagonist ever does. It’s all a lie, that false persona. Although it happens to be a lie I’m good at, that is not who I am.

I finally did get out, by the way…but it took over an hour of off-trail hiking to do so. At this very moment, I’m sitting on a goddamned rock, with my iPad perched precariously on another one, a couple of miles from the nearest trail (let alone the nearest day-use or camp site). I wish it was farther, to be honest, but I actually want to write, not hike all day.

Thankfully, all I now have around me are birds and squirrels and bears.

Bears…

Dammit, if I survived six months — and several close calls — dodging grizzlies in Yellowstone, only to get eaten by a lousy black bear here in Colorado, I’m gonna be well-and-truly pissed.

Hmmm…I wonder if a ghost can actually haunt a bear? If so, I’m coming for the bastard who finally does get me…