Archive for the ‘People Watching & Culture’ Category

What The Bleep?!

Friday, December 12th, 2008

In amidst all the the Blago updates on TV and radio media in the past three days, I can’t help but laugh at the excessive use of the word “bleep” by reporters.

“I’ve got this thing. And it’s bleeping golden. I’m just not giving it up for bleeping nothing. I’m not going to do it. I can always use it. I can parachute me there,”

How can a serious journalist take himself seriously when uttering the word “bleep”, or turn it into a present-tense verb, “bleeping”?  Yet I hear the quote exactly as written above,  on NPR, Sirius news, CNN.  What’s wrong with simply using the electronic tone that everyone has recognized for years and is comfortable with?

Print media has also started using the word, as evident here:

“It’s a bleeping valuable thing, thing. You just don’t give it away for nothing,”

In similar fashion, any combination of common symbols would suffice.  May I recommend $*#&^*?  How about @&$(#!?

Furthermore, its not like the word they are “bleeping” out has any meaning these days.  You know what word it is.  It is by far and away one of the most versatile word and commonly used word in the English language (on an American construction site, it is the most commonly used word in any language).  It can be a verb, noun, adverb, adjective.  It can have a good, bad, or indifferent tone.  It can show excitement, disgust, aggravation, humor.

However, for good measure, the FCC has dictated that our children must never hear the word.  So instead, while watching the news with their parents, our next generation is adding the word “bleep” to their vocabulary.   Only their young developing minds will know the true meaning of the word.  As our language continues to evolve throughout the years, we may continue to “bleep” more and more words, until our culture communitcates by uttering continuous “bleeps” of different tempo and tone.

By tracing the news trail back a few days, I think I can pin Patrick Fitzgerald with the blame for starting this ridiculous nonsense.

“‘You can be the [bleeping] junior Senator from [bleeping] Illinois if you let me out of these [bleeping] handcuffs,’” Mr. Fitzgerald read from a transcript. “‘And if that mother-[bleeper] Barack Obama tries to [bleep] with me, I’ll [bleep] him up.’”

According to Mr. Fitzgerald, “When I say ‘bleep,’ he didn’t really say ‘bleep’ on the tape,” adding, “I’m going to keep making that joke until one of you [bleepers] laughs at it.”

I find it ironic that, of all the ethnic groups on the planet, none abuse the word more than the Irish in Chicago.  How fitting that Attorney Fitzgerald has inserted the proverbial bar of soap into the mouth of every news reporter from coast to coast.

“‘And if that mother-[bleeper] Barack Obama tries to [bleep] with me, I’ll [bleep] him up.’”

Please comment on my blog, explaining to me just how exactly you would explain that phrase to an inquisitive child. ;)

Bull Down (part two)

Friday, November 21st, 2008


Like any backcountry woodsman, my first priority was to replenish our water supply and purify it.  Dusk was approaching quickly.  While traveling back to the pond, we moved slowly and stealthily, with guns in hand.  Every now and then my leader would turn around with a finger in front of his mouth.  We’d stand perfectly still and scan for any signs of movement.  “The ghosts of the forest” could have been moving in the dark timber down the slope below us, what our eyes could not see, our ears would have to step up.  However, no sounds of crashing timber or rustling brush were heard below us.

I had noticed when we first past the pond, that it was frozen.  Since I’ve dealt with that before, I just assumed I could punch a hole in the early November ice with a rock.  It proved not to be very easy.  The ice was a few inches thick, frozen completely through from the center of the pond out to the fingers that snaked through the grass and down the hill.  Giving up the rock, I opened up my leatherman pliers and started stabbing frantically at the surface.  I busted more knuckles than ice and all but gave up when my partner innocently asked, “Do you think it will break if I shoot it with my .45?”

“Will it break?!  Shit yeah, shoot that thing!” I jumped up and got out of the way.  Before the trip, I had rejected the idea of carrying a pistol on the hunt.  I viewed it as unneccessary weight, and a less effective form of bear deterrent than mace.  But Army Guy over here just had to relive the glory days with his in a strapped holster.

He aimed and shot down at a high angle to the surface.  BLAM! SPLASH!  The water blasted up like a fountain 10 feet in the air, leaving a hole in the ice.  One shot was enough, and I was just about to take a step forward when he fired another shot, and another, at the ice repeatedly, shooting well over a half dozen shot before holstering the sidearm.  (VIDEO LINK)

“I think that will do it, I said and drew water into water bottles and hydration bladders.  We sat on a log wait for the chemical reaction to work in the water, in the cold, dark silence.

When we got back to camp, I started to get comfortable. Now that it was dark,  It was going to get cold very soon, and stay that way until well after sunrise.  I was grateful to have packed in a foam bedroll.  It was not very heavy and made the entire night much more comfortable.  I had also brought slightly more insulation than necessary, but I knew the next day would be ruined if I didn’t sleep well tonight.  We built a small fire and remembered a lesson that was given to us by J.L. back at Elk Camp the night before….

“Hey laddies,” the original orator started out after a swig from a Budweiser, “do you know the difference between an Indian fire and a white man fire?”

“No”, we all replied.

He changed his tone to mimick a wise old native of the western slope:  “Indian fire very small…sit very close.”  Then he tossed a capful of Coleman fuel on the flame, causing it to flare up to the height of him, illuminating his face in a blaze of red.  “White man fire very big…sit far away!” and folded his arms in front of him.

Deep in the wilderness, when our small Indian fire was built and crackling away, it was time to eat.  We were careful not to overdo the food packing during the trip, but nonetheless we managed to bring the “red neck gourmet”, which included, roasted Spam on a stick and hot cocoa spiked with a flask of Jack Daniels.  After dinner, I tucked into my sleeping bag with all my thermal clothing on, and pulled the hood of my down puffy over my head.  I gazed up at the stars for a bit.  It was a very clear night, and I could not think of any other place more peaceful to be in but in the deep mountain forests of the North American West.  I don’t know how long I watched the sky, but I slept soundly and warm the entire night.  (Utilizing an old method, I had boiled a bottle of water and zipped it up in an insulated sleeve.  I placed it down between my legs, and when I awoke sometime in the middle of the night with a chill, I unzipped the bottle and replenished the warmth in the sleeping bag, and fell back asleep.)  Occasionally through the night, I heard the coyotes howling away.  I hear them everytime I camp out in the woods, but have never had an encounter with one at any time.

I like my spam well done

We woke at nearly 4:00 AM, and it was still dark.  I was already dressed and ready to hunt.  My Jet-boil, already loaded with water from the previous night, was right next to my sleeping bag.  I fired it on and brewed two cups of coffee for us in minutes.  My headlamp, navigation tools, binoculars, and rifle were on the other side of me.  I stepped out of my bag and was ready to go.

We hiked through darkness back down towards an open talus field that we encountered the previous night.  We hid in the dense trees at the base of the field and leaned against a log, each of us viewing in a different direction.  Then we sat in utter silence until sunrise.  We realized then that we had made a slight error: today was the first day of daylight savings time, and the GPS had already recalibrated when we awoke this morning, thinking that sunrise was approaching, when in fact we had added an hour to our wait.

I’ve never truly experienced a dawn awakening in the mountains before.  At any time I was up before dawn for a mountaineering ascent, I was moving and staying warm.  I never realized how truly cold it gets just before dawn until sitting motionless that morning.

I first felt the shiver in my toes, and then spread to my legs.  I started wiggling them slightly, careful not to move.  “C’mon, dude,” I told myself, “just ride it out like a wave, and then it will get warm again.”  It was a strange experience, because although the horizon started to glow with a slight dim of sunlight, the temperature was getting colder with each second.

I heard my partner snoring on the other side of the log.  Damning him, I had a smoke to relax, and rode out the cold snap.

Listening to the forest wake up was another new experience.  There was total silence for a long time, and then I distinctively remember hearing the first bird chirp of the morning.  The first official awake animal of the day.  Then another, and another, and soon birds were flying from tree to tree, overhead.  Then the small mammals, squirrels, pika could be heard talking to each other and scurrying around the grass.

Dawn in Sherwood forest

My partner was awake and heard the low rumbling sound from far down the valley below.  “I hear a generator,” Construction Guy said. “Someone is running a gas generator.”

“No…listen.  Those are the frogs, down in the swamp at the base of the mountain,” I explained.  True, the massive rumbling sounded very much like a generator, but I knew we were miles away from the nearest Homo Sapien.

Unfortunately, we did not sign a single Wapiti.  Discouraged, we decided to head back to camp and strip some layers, now that the sun was up.

We had crossed this boulder field in the middle of the night.  This was the first time we saw how large it was.

Afterwords, we headed out east from camp.  “Let’s split up,”  Scott said, “do you want to go to the right or to the left?”

“I’ll go this way,” I said and pointed off to the left, down the northeast slope of the mountain.  This was the first time we had split up.  Although I had expected it, I was flush with a sudden apprehension.  “So what’s the protocol?”  I asked.  “If I see it, shoot it?”

“If you see it, shoot it.”

Because the statistical facts of Elk hunting in Colorado state that all hunters start out with a 20% rate of success the minute they buy their tag.  From that point on, we had done everything to increase our chances: hiking in far away from human pressure, tracking through the steep, dark, north-facing timber, and now splitting up to improve the odds once more.  The rest of the odds were controlled by pure luck.

I scrambled down the slope, careful not to lose too much elevation, and sat on a large rock where I had a wide view of the mountainside below me.  I then sat and watched.

I had not sat there ten minutes, when I heard the shot–BANG!

I was startled, then my mind started to race.  We had heard a few shots during the first day of hiking, from many hunters miles away in the valley.  But this one was LOUD.  I knew there was only one other person out here.  Excited, I started running aimlessly in the direction of the shot.  I did not hear a second shot, which was a good sign.

However, there was a second shot quite a while after the first.  I was confused, but headed for it, climbing higher and higher to the south, and finally over the spiny ridge that separated the faces.

“Adam!”  my partner yelled.  I looked down through a grassy clearing, but did not see anyone.

“Yo!  How are you?!”  I asked.

“Bull down, baby!  BULL DOWN!”

I grinned from ear to ear after hearing the news.  If I had any traces of jealousy for my partners success at that moment, they died almost instantly.  I was so happy–SUCCESS.

“Let’s hike up and get all our gear.  We’ve got a lot of work to do!”  He wasn’t kidding.  Now it was for real, and stopped being just another hike in the woods.  I was ready for anything.

We met back at camp and he was fired up, telling his story.   “I was hiking down that field when I saw movement to the side, and I was surprised by a cow.  She was locked on to me and I was on to her.  It was a staredown.  Another cow came behind her, and before I could draw my gun, they bolted.  Then another cow appeared, followed by the bull.  He stopped to look for the disappearing cows, and allowed me a split second shot.  BANG!  Did I hit him?  I tried to reload and the gun jammed!  Fuck!  While messing with the action, I watched him take a few steps, then drop to the ground.  Dead.”

“Wow.  Good job, man.”

We scrambled back down and I had my first look at the game.  It was a middle-aged mature bull, with a wide, sweeping 5×5 rack.

Bull Down!

“Wow…that thing is huge!”  I uttered in amazement.

“Yeah, I’ll give you half the meat if you help me pack it out of here,”  he offered.

Of course I had no choice.  We were looking at at least 200 pounds of raw meat, 6 miles back in the middle of the mountains, and the storm clouds were moving in.  Every working effort put forth by the both of us for the rest of the trip was spent on bringing this meat to the dinner table…


Madness on the Pass

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

About every three weeks, I make an early Monday morning drive from Denver to Aspen.  I’ve been doing it since last winter, racing across Interstate 70 in cold and icy blackness, to arrive in the Roaring Fork Valley just at sunrise, and joining with the regular commuters for the battles on Highway 82.

In the summertime, a second option is available in Independence Pass.  I’ve driven this route at least a half dozen times, and I never cease to enjoy the solitude and natural scenery for the two hours away from the interstate.

Independence is a serious pass, with tight switchbacks and some very narrow sections where a descending truck must stop in place to let an ascending vehicle through.  But it is all paved and easily navigable in the summertime.

In early October, I took a risk heading up for the pass.  I felt that it may be my ‘last chance’ before CDOT would close the pass for winter.  I knew that a storm had hit the mountains on Saturday, but I hadn’t seen the conditions of the pass in any news report.  I based my final decision when I saw the sign at the Copper Mountain exit of I-70 that read “Independence Pass:  OPEN”.

For most of the drive up the pass, the road was all clear.  However, during the last few miles, above treeline, the conditions turned to blown over snow, with ice beneath.  I pulled over and locked the hubs on my truck, then transferred over to 4 wheel drive and continued my climb.

At the top of the pass, the entire road was a sheet of ice.  I pulled into the parking lot and saw a group of people struggling to load motorcycles onto a truck.  “What were they thinking?”  I thought, for they were crazy to be up here on bikes in this condition.  But perhaps they, like me, were not expecting the icy conditions.

“Do you need some help?”  I asked.  They responded affirmative.  I put on my hat and gloves, and carefully stepped over across the ice in my hiking boots (how I wished I had my Sorel rubber boots!)

After helping them out, I got back in the truck and sat for a while, contemplating the danger of an icy descent down to Aspen.  I watched a large CDOT plow truck scrape at the top layer of snow.  However, he was not dropping Magnesium Chloride (or “Mag” as Colorado drivers term it) to melt out the ice and allow tires to grip the pavement.  Finally, I figured that my trusted truck could handle a very slow and cautious descent.

As I crested over the pass, and could see the road below me, I was struck with a scene of chaos.  There was a line of vehicles, all struggling and spinning out as they tried to climb the steep eastbound slope towards me.  The sheet of ice prevented any traction for 2WD cars with summer tires, and many motorists were just stuck on the side of the road, unable to climb any more but too scared to turn around and go down.

First I encounted two irishmen in an old F150.  One guy was driving, and spinning one rear wheel uncontrollably, while the other had tried to push.

I pulled up in front of them and explained their futility.  For even if they could gain some momentum by pushing, there would be no hope of the tire ever gripping the road and making it to the top.  I offered to tow them up.

“Oh, God Bless ye!”  they said.

I wasn’t entirely confident it was going to happen, but I just had to try.  I brought my truck directly in front of them, almost until both our front bumpers touched.  Then I pulled out a 6 foot tow chain that I have (that saw a lot of use last winter!) and hooked it up between us.  Getting back in the truck, I shifted into reverse, and eased off the clutch, to take up the slack in the chain.

I had expected a bit of resistance, and was suprised to feel very little.  My truck had no problem pulling a half-ton pickup up the mountain, and my brand new BFG All Terrain tires never once slipped on the ice.  Slowly, I drove backwards, while looking out my rear window to stay in the lane, and towed the guys to the top.

At the top, the man came out and embraced me in a big hug.  Both of them thanked me many times.  One pulled out his wallet.  I said it was not necessary, but he shook his head, and said “This is for da beers.”  ( I wasn’t sure if he intended for me to buy some beer, or find a bookie and bet the money on “Da Bears”!)

For the second time, I left the summit and attempted a descent into Aspen.  This time, a front-wheel drive sedan was stalled perpendicular across the road.  There was a long line of vehicles trying to get around him, and many people out trying to push the car off to the side and out of harms way.  Again I parked my truck and walked down and encountered a middle age woman.

“Would you like me to tow you up?” I asked her.

“Oh!  Do you have a tow truck?”

“No, just my F-250, but it can do it.”  This time, I was extremely confident in the abilities of my vehicle.

“Please!  My husband will be so grateful.  I will go tell him.”

Again, I drove down and hooked up both front ends, and towed the small sedan all the way up the pass in reverse.  This couple (tourists in a rental car, i later found out) were so excited that they even took a photo of me and my truck, and called me their “Guardian Angel.”  Again, I was offered money, and when I refused, I was told “Sometimes miracles can happen.  This is not like the parting of a sea.  It is a miracle that you just happened to be here when we needed help.  Consider this a donation to your church.”

By this time, the CDOT truck had dropped the Mag and started to thaw the ice.  The cars were now making it up the pass without help.  I made it down a few hundred feet and found dry pavement again.

Once again, I am so proud of the power of my truck and new tires.   I hope that it comes in handy many times this upcoming winter.   To me it was second nature.   I have the means to help people out in trouble, so I do so, without question.  Although I arrived a few hours late for work, it was well worth it, to see the smiles on those grateful faces.Some people may have called me stupid or gullible, but I got much more reward out of the good feeling up on the pass than I’ve ever felt at a job, current or past.

NFL Encounter

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

This week at work I finally made the necessary transition from the field to the office. This will happen many times during the course of my career, but this was the first. Gone are the carhart shirts and blue jeans, beard, driving trucks around in the mud, spittin’ tobacco on the floor (especially in meetings!), and basically mother-f***ing every single person you talk to. But like I said, its necessary.

This week i’ve been working in the estimating department. I’ve donned my finest Kenneth Cole slacks and Express shirts, even a tie once a week! Today was that such tie day…and so out story starts…

At about 11:00 this morning, I’m walking through the hallway of my office to the copy room when the company VP of Marketing stops me.

“Hey, what are you doing?” he asks.

“Well…I’m, uh working on pricing this job…” I reply.

“No, what are you doing right now?”

“Talking to you in the hallway, man”

Before I know it the VP has invited me to a charity luncheon that our company purchased a table at, and some of the “higher-ups” had bailed. I was to fill a seat for the good of the business. I’m always up for a free meal, so after a quick “ok” from my superiors, we’re off to the luncheon.

It wasn’t until we were on our way that my colleague told me that this luncheon was for the John Lynch Foundation…

…at Invesco Field at Mile High…

…with special guests Jake Plummer and Rod Smith.

Yup. No joke. We walk into the stadium club level, and its packed with hundreds of people. The greeter tells us we’re at table 5. Walking to table five I walk right past Jake Plummer talking to a group of people. My VP friend had to stop me, “Hey, that’s Jake!”

Table 5 is appropriatley right at the front of the stage. The room was tightly packed with tables, so I had to brush past a man in a suit, as I do I put my hands on his shoulders and say, “excuse me man.”

That “man” happened to be none other than one of the greatest players in the history of football, and one of my personal favorite defensemen, John Lynch. He turned around and with quick thinking and quicker action, I stuck out my hand and said, “Hey John…Adam Reiner, big fan.”

“Hey man,” he said as he shook my hand and turned back to his business. What a badass.

Anyways, enough of my brokeback football field obsession with John Lynch, the point of the luncheon was to recognize all the outstanding Colorado high school and middle school athletes. He and his wife recognized about 70 different kids, from a senior stud-basketball player on his way to a scholarship at Drake University to a swimmer/skiier with cerebral palsey. They even gave out awards to outstanding teacher/coaches.

The luncheon was capped of with an invigorating, yet completely random speech by future hall of fame receiver Rod Smith (yes the guy in the local Blackjack Pizza commercials!). Smith reminded everyone in the room that he started his pro career as an undrafted free agent from a Division II college, and has played 12 straight years for the Denver Broncos and has shattered every single receiving record in 40-year old franchise.

On the way out, i saw Plummer signing autographs. I stepped in the short line. When the guy in front of me asks Plummer for his autograph, this bonehead starts asking Plummer about Jay Cutler, the rookie quarterback that the Broncos drafted this year. “WTF?!” I’m thinking. Plummer has this “pissed-off-but-i’m-keeping-cool” look on this face as he politely tells this guy that the new kid will have no impact on what “Jake the Snake” is going to do next season. Then this dipshit keeps prodding Plummer about the future…4 or 5 years down the road. He finally leaves with his autograph and Plummer looks annoyed.

I walk up and say “No autograph, just a handshake…you’re the man, Jake.”

“Thanks, man” he says as he shakes my hand.

As I walk out with the VP, I say “Thanks, man, that was awesome!”

To which he responds, “No problem, I brought you because you were the only person wearing a tie.”