Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'm Doing What on Saturday?

This Saturday I will have to cram myself into a wetsuit, swim 600 yards, run to a transition area, somehow peel off the clinging wetsuit, get on a bike and pedal 13 miles, then run a 5K. These are not difficult distances, so speed is the key to this triathlon. Since my training has been pathetic, I'll chalk this up as training for a longer-distance triathlon next month. Buffaloes like this mom and her little one are amazing athletes, adept swimmers that could whip me in the open water, and at a full gallop of 30 miles per hour could easily top me on the run. But they don't bike. Got 'em there.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where the Buffalo Moan

After reading Cassandra's account of the demise of turtles crossing the road in southern Illinois, I'm posting this photo of a car that met a buffalo in the road. Photo was taken at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. Don't know how badly the buffalo was hurt, but the car isn't well after colliding with 2000 pounds.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Simon rates his own show

Watched "American Idol" last night for the first time. Snooze TV. What's the attraction, America?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Albert, Jim and Joe

If any Cardinal fans are reading this, I am an avowed White Sox fan, but when I listened to an interview with Albert Pujols yesterday, I was impressed. I had never heard him speak, just viewed his power hitting. I must say the guy seems the be the real deal, a genuine player's player. He came across as quite likeable and down-to-earth, and not the juiced and puffed athlete like McGwyer was and Bonds is.

Same can be said of Sox slugger Jim Thome (top photo), whom teammates and rivals say is one of the friendliest guys you'll meet. Second to Pujols in homers in the major leagues, Thome, like Albert, gets the job done.

My favorite Sox player, Joe Crede (bottom photo), is not a great hitter, but his fielding as third base is among the best I've seen. Solid and reliable. As the Sox motto says, "Good guys wear black."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Race over, normal life resumes

Waking up Saturday at 4:10 a.m. was normal, but waking up to the thought that 160 runners, walkers and volunteers would be converging to do things that I was responsible for as race director was a stronger stimulant than eating a pound of coffee beans. For the 5-mile Buffalo Trace Trail Race, insurance, flyers, t-shirts (second photo), awards (top photo), race numbers, giveaways, food and drink, entry applications and money, data entry, course marking, and race results and scoring somehow all came together. Weather was the last and only factor that I could do absolutely nothing about, but after last year's gray and damp 32-degree race day it just had to be better. In fact, it was perfect. Sunny, slight breeze. I had good, reliable people working the race, so I was relaxed knowing that race registration, course guides, aid station, race results, and food and drink distribution were in good hands. The race went well, but I am quite relieved that it is over. I just hope everyone had fun.

The rest of the spring and summer I will train for and participate in triathlons. In August, though, there is the potential for two hurricanes that might have quite an impact on life as I know it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"What are the buffalo doing that is so wrong?"

So rants a steamed homeowner at the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park after Montana Department of Livestock agents invaded his land without prior notification to haze bison that had strayed from the park to seek food. The homeowner tells agents that the buffalo can eat the grass on his land. "Leave them alone when they're in my yard," he demands. He adds that his neighbors feel the same way. The angry homeowner then shouts, "They've been here longer than all of us." So true; hundreds of years before human settlement. The homeowner is part of some very powerful video footage at the website of the Buffalo Field Campaign. If you are an admirer of wildlife, a warning: one video shows buffalo being gunned down one by one.

Yeah, there are tree huggers . . . and there are buffalo huggers like me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Underwater Adventures of a Whacky Deep-Fry Cook


How do you entertain a four-year-old on a rainy day? Sponge Bob, THE MOVIE.

I must admit, Sponge Bob is appealing, and I've always liked the introductory song to his regular cartoon ("Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Absorbent and yellow and porous is he! SpongeBob SquarePants!"). Catchy. The full-length story of Bob, the little yellow deep-fry cook at the Krusty Krab restaurant, and his sidekick Patrick the starfish kept my grandson Ethan very entertained.

Confident that he will land the job of manager at the new Krusty Krab 2 restaurant, Bob is dowwncast when the job is given to someone else. Bob's work as a deep-fry cook at the restaurant in Bikini Bottom, a city at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, is getting stale. Bob is shown crying his eyes out at the nut bar of Goofy Goober's. Tragic. And an ice cream hangover from the bar doesn't help. But fun also abounds in this movie as Bob and Patrick ride around in the patty wagon, a hamburger vehicle on wheels of pickles. "You don't need a license to drive a sandwich," says Bob. Eugene Krabs, Bob's boss, eventally sees the light and gives Bob the manager job ("We're gonna party till we're purple," Bob says).

The movie is given a PG rating because of what is labeled "Mildly Crude Content." Most of this passes right over a four-year-old, but is great fun to an adult, like showing Bob's little yellow butt in one scene.

My favorite cartoon is Rocky and Bullwinkle, especially the segment starring Dudley Do-Right, the Canadian mountie. SpongeBob will never replace Dudley in my cartoon craving, but for Ethan, Bob is the man. I give the movie my highest rating - 4 buffaloes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

To Cassandra: Grrrrrr

Special Day

To Mom, Princess and all the buffalo moms of the Buffalo Nation . . . have a happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

And One Last Blast from the Past: The Drill Sergeant

The summer of 1969 was an eventful time:
Life magazine published the photos of all American soldiers killed in Vietnam during one week in June - 242 of them. That really hit home to many Americans. We landed a man on the moon in July, and Woodstock happened in August. I remember reading about Woodstock in a newspaper while in basic training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

In the second week of training we were told that we were to get a new drill sergeant, a veteran of two years duty in Vietnam who had been wounded three times. We thought, God, this guy will be hard core. This photo of him shows a wirey soldier who looked like Lee Van Cleef (left), the pipe-smoking villain of the movie "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," which had come out a couple of years before. If you look closely at the photo, our drill sergeant has in his belt a silver pipe. Lee Van Cleef with glasses! That's what he looked like, with slanted beady eyes and a steel glare. But getting to know him, he was no ordinary drill sergeant. He was not the egotistical clown that some were, not the sadistic joker that dominated our lives. This guy was tough, and all business, but fair. If you did what you were told and kept quiet, he respected you, and in turn we respected him. Even Clint Eastwood would have liked him.

From the Past: A Little Buddy

I took this photo at a favorite stop in the village of DiAn, South Vietnam - an orphanage. Occasionally we stopped there while on patrol and gave the kids goodies. Besides a bottle of Coke this little guy was enjoying (?) the contents of a can of something from our C-rations. It is likely his mom and dad had been killed in the war.

Bottles Up!

While I'm on this military reminiscences kick, I just had to post these photos. This is how Army MPs celebrated one of their buddies getting orders to go back home. I can't remember any of their names, but the guy in the middle was a giant . . . and crazy, and it was always an interesting time when I was assigned to do patrol duty with him as a partner. He liked to use his bayonet for cutting food. I took these photos at our barracks at DiAn (Zee-on), where I served in the 300th MP Company after transferring from the PBR unit (posted yesterday). DiAn was the base camp for the 11th Armored Cavalry (tanks).

Our barracks formerly housed the First Infantry Division (the Big Red One). The division had more than 3,000 of its brave troops killed in the Vietnam War. I had feelings of pride and deep sadness when I opened an old locker in our barracks and found a sort of yearbook of the First Division. It was full of combat and other photos. I have the book at home.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Long Ago and Far Away

The first live buffalo I ever saw was not an American buffalo, but an Asian water buffalo (above). It was amusing to see small herds of these creatures swimming quite well across the Dong Nai River near the village of Cat Lai in Vietnam, where I was assigned to a patrol boat (PBR) as a military policeman in 1970. If you've seen the movie "Apocalypse Now," you've seen our boats. I didn't know much about our unit and its history until I found this. The photo above is me on a barge full of 500-pound bombs in Cat Lai harbor, a major staging area for the shipment of ammunition for much of Vietnam.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sorrow at Yellowstone

This is a disturbing website, especially the video of the buffalo that have fallen through the ice. A wealth of information here about the 4,000 buffalo at Yellowstone.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tiny Bison

My friend Jim Konopack, who is also a Buffalo Warrior, sent me these photos today of his 9-week-old son Trenton. Just had to share these. That's Jim holding Trenton. I've sent buffalo t-shirts and bibs for newborns of the herd. The smallest shirt I could get was for a 6-month-old, so it's a bit big but looks great on him. Welcome to the herd, little guy.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sox Supreme

Guess who owns the best record in the major leagues right now? White Sox. So, in celebration here's a photo of me at age 5 . . . in a White Sox uniform. The Sox logo is lost in the folds of the balloon-like fit of a flannel uniform.