All Dreams Must End

A view from the main deck of the World Headquarters of The Institute, “Even the hills are sad” said The Director from his gold plated Chair of Immensity as he gazed out into the unknown one last time.

As many of you know *The Institute has been a constant in the life of the blog here at BigShotsNow.com since the blog was started. It has been the center of knowledge and wisdom gained by a continuous quest for the unusual, the ridiculous, the sublime, not to mention the impossible. It has more than fulfilled its mandate to collect, observe, analyze, collate, spindle and in some cases mutilate the facts that have been collected. Our constant scientific approach to reporting the incredible but strange observations we have made has made us an unrivaled source for those who need to know stuff. Stuff being the little niggling thoughts in the back of your mind, such as “Are there more fake flamingos in the world than real ones?” Answer: Yes. What, you didn’t know that!

Our motto ” Tell them and they will believe” has been our guiding precept since the very beginnings of The Institute from its inception back in the misty, raw, primeval formation of its creation. Back to the time when we first began to make stuff up and then tell people about it.

The “The Institute” (it is always referred to as The Institute no matter how awkward that may make things) is composed of many huge interconnected yet rambling structures with ancient high walls and soaring towers, narrow deeply cut windows suitable for defense if needed, balconies and various platforms that jut out from the walls at dizzying heights for observation and the making of photographic studies.

There is an open to the air aviary with gorgeously colored birds from every part of the globe, a celestial observation dome with a one-off custom Hubble telescope to make discoveries never before seen by human eyes no matter how keen, weather modification facilities, galleries with art collections rivaling the Louvre, single use bathrooms, a dirigible tower for the mooring of The Institute’s own fleet of sleek but shiny airships that continually arrive from all four corners of the globe bearing visitors and dignitaries, educators and students, really smart people and some just a taco short of a combination plate. All of them here to soak in the tenacious atmosphere of The Institute. There is a full-sized fully automatic medical center staffed with neat medical stuff so advanced even an intern can run it and often do, that we haven’t even unpacked it all yet. It’s still sitting there in boxes, with labels like “Heart Installer !!! This end up” and Billy Kimshee’s “New and Popular Lymph Node Stripper” plus others too medical to list. Whole operations have been performed here with and without human assistance, or anesthetic for that matter. Just lock them in the chair, select what procedure you want done from the digital menu and hit the on button.

Nestled on the slopes of an ancient caldera The Institute hugs the side of a mountain and overlooks the meadows and forests that make up the floor of the bowl formed after the last eruption that seems like months ago. Down on the gentle land in the valley miles below you can see great herds of mule deer and Elk making their way from stream to pasture. Parts of the valley floor are sectioned off for agricultural pursuits, you can see some of our indentured servants and interns (same thing really) working happily away bringing in the harvests and tending to the livestock, keeping them from straying into the razor wire and the fell pits dug to discourage trespassing. Our huge fields with crops of sisal and myrrh used in the production of quinine and other life saving drugs lie next to the great barren areas of crushed volcanic ash, mined for the making of tooth whitening powder in the mills and factories scattered throughout this great land of ours. Enormous herds of nearly extinct wildlife, black rhinos, lowland gorillas, Minah birds, black racers and African spitting Cobras, ferrets, rare blue wildebeest and Snow leopards are cultivated for sale to the many Wild Game restaurants throughout the United States and parts of the Far East but not North Korea. The Institute is a bucolic land full of life and love and sometimes puppies, but not always.

If you are the kind of reader who is brave or merely curious, or just plain bored, you could type in the phrase “The Institute” into the handy and permanent search box at the top of the page and you would find dozens if not many examples of the amazing if not incredulous varieties of scientific discoveries, unrepentant adventures, steamy instructions on how to live a more fulfilling life, pleas (read begging) for funding our many sketchy unsupported government projects, new unique explanations of how things really work and handy tips on how not to be a dweeb but instead be someone cool and fun without being that good looking, that your friends and that gorgeous chick with the insane betty’s in 7b would admire. Go ahead, take a chance it might just change your life (be sure to read our disclaimer page before making any real life changes). We are not and never have been responsible for weird stuff you choose to do after visiting the internet.

The Institute has been a fully realized dream of the author and as such it has been representational of a time and place that happened in a blink of an eye, or the firing of a synapse in the lower dark place of his brain. It has been a way to share events and happenings that actually took place in the real world but perhaps not completely as they were described in the various posts that were written. But like all dreams the dreamer is forced to wake and face a new day. Even as you read this the mighty walls of The Institute are becoming thin, slowly folding in on themselves, becoming transparent, the far-reaching borders of The Institutes’s grounds pulling in to the center, shrinking until the once mighty reaches of its borders are nothing more than a mote in God’s eye.

The indentured servants, interns and our tame PhD’s that have faithfully served us since we began making them up way back in 2013, a year that will live in infamy, are evaporating like snowflakes landing on steaming prose, returning to whatever state they were in before being shanghaied to live and exist here in the confines of The Institutes world. It is a time of change. Bold, tumultuous, totally unexciting change, where due to some awful but catastrophic events that have occurred that we would like to share with you but can’t, mostly because it might cause depression on a scale unprecedented in the world to date, the The Institute has been forced to close down, shut its doors, and perhaps, and this is the tear-jerker part, cease its activities forever. As Mr. Bill said on Saturday Night Live some time ago “Oh No! Not that! Don’t do that!” yet it’s true Virginia, The Institute may be gone forever.

When you next wake The Institute will be no more than a brief if not exciting dream, sometimes a nightmare, sometimes one of those kind you learned about in High School health class, but always interesting, always fun, or meant to be anyway. All dreams must end. The dreamer wakes, looks about, struggles to find meaning in the new day, and soldiers on. As do we all. Yes it’s a memory, some might even think it a loss, we love those people, they’re the ones that kept the dream alive for as long as it lasted, but if you stop and consider that after a long day we have a new night, a time to rest and rejuvenate, a time to turn the days thoughts, activities and stresses off and perchance to dream again. Remember in dreams anything may happen.

The blog BigShotsNow will continue with new images and new stories to accompany them, as often as The Director can write them, and as always some of them will be true, not all, but some. The fate of The Institute is up in the air, like the author stated, perchance we’ll dream again.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Denver March Powwow

Quick shot taken with my iPhone. Yes real photographers use their phones once in a while

Short Post today. I’m shooting the famous Denver March Powwow this weekend and as always it is fantastic. This is the Grand Entry from Friday night and as you can see not only was it well attended but everyone was dressed to the nines and it was incredible. If you get a chance go to the Denver Coliseum and take in this amazing spectacle. More later.

Recollections of 2016 #1 The Trampling

Horses 1 – Photographers 0  

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Some Horses Get Crazy and Trample People Just Because They Can

I was photographing the Indian Relay Races at Ft Hall, Idaho on  August 11, 2016. It was a day like all days with little warning that it was going to be an extraordinary day filled with head wounds, bruises and general unconsciousness unlike any I’d ever had before. It was warm with little to no breeze to cool one down. Shade was hard to come by out on the race track. It was one of those days where you just settled down, sweat and waited for the action to start.

I’ve done this photographing of horses, riders and races many times before in various parts of the country and have always had a good rapport with the horses involved in what I call Chaos on Four Hooves, or as they are really known, Indian Relay Races. As such I was not totally prepared to be run over and trampled unconscious by one of those horses for no other reason than I was there. In fact, as the day dawned I did not even think that such a beautiful and gracious creature could even harbor such maliciousness and spite, let alone act on it. I’ve always thought I was a pretty good judge of character in both Man or beast. After all I am a high school graduate and a veteran. I vote. I have been somewhat educated by our magnificent public education system. I have an I.Q. higher than a geranium but lower than a programmable oven that has served me well so far. I’m kind to puppies and little old ladies. Most of them anyway. I did not know this horse. I had not spoken to this horse. I had not slighted it in any way that I was aware of. The horse just decided that I was there so I should be trampled into a state of unconsciousness. And so that is what it did. And I’m told it appeared to enjoy it.

A little explanation for those who do not know what Indian Relay races are. It’s quite simple really. You get a bunch of horses divide them into groups of three, find a single rider for each group, then simply race around the track once, return to your starting place where you have your extra horses waiting, jump off your horse, run to the next one that your horse handlers are holding at the ready, leap on it, race around the track once more, return to your starting place, jump off your horse, leap onto another one, race off… well you get the picture. This is done until all the horses have been ridden and someone who has managed to stay alive and on top of his horse comes across the finish line before anyone else. Thus winning. This is the good part. Of course everyone goes gonzo nuts, yelling and screaming for their team and against all the others and a good time is had by all. Except unconscious photographers. They don’t have a clue what just happened. They don’t even know if they’ve been snake bit or struck by lightning.

How the race works sounds quite simple and in theory it is. What you don’t factor in until you’ve attended one of these races is the noise, the dust, the confusion, the energy, the horses who range from those silently waiting to those who have to be physically restrained by maybe biting its ear, until the rider returns and mounts it. There is the yelling of the crowd, the thunder of the hooves as they race by, the single-minded purpose of getting on your horses and winning this race at all costs, all this and more add to the general mayhem of Indian Relay Races.

This is the actual ‘photographer trampling horse’ on its way across the track to do the trampling. I, being  a trained observer, noticed its unexpected approach but thought little of it. I have to state here that this was a premeditated act on the part of the horse. You could see it in its eyes. It looked crazy. Demented. Homicidal. It looked like one of those people counting ballots in California late into the night or more like someone reading the election results that next morning. The rider was powerless at this point to stop the horse, turn it from its chosen path or to reason with it in any manner. If you look closely he is trying to talk the horse out of this unreasonable behavior but to no avail. That horse wouldn’t listen. It was driven. Its looks are deceiving as it appears in the photo as if it is ambling across the track in a leisurely manner, but in actuality it was at full gallop and coming across like a Burlington freight train and you’re stuck on the track like a stranded gasoline tanker. You just know there is going to be a fire, not to mention a lot of noise. This is mere moments from what is now known as TTP or ‘trample the photographer”. A day which will live in infamy.

Some of the things that go on as the race unfurls are crashes where one horse and rider will crash into another, either by accident or in some strategic hope of knocking the other guy out of the race, or just sheer exuberance in being in alive on such a beautiful day. This is all considered good fun and hardly anyone takes offence. Below is the aftermath of one of those events.

As you can see, the horse has most likely kicked this young man in the stomach. And stolen his shoes, plus probably created a small amount of trauma induced blindness causing him to use a special ‘kicked in the stomach’ stick to find his way off the race track before he gets trampled by the oncoming herd. That may not be the accurate explanation of events but since there was a lot going on it’ll do. Meanwhile back in the center of the track where there is a lot more mayhem happening, a rider is on his knees begging the horse to let him back on and of course the horse being a horse is having none of it. In fact it looks like the horse is trying to position itself so that it can kick him in the stomach too. Of course the crowd finds this all vastly entertaining and cheers loudly.

Here is the final almost actual happening of the trampling. The horse is breaking through the barrier. The photographer at risk, which in this case would be me, you can tell because I’m the one in the white hat with the red arrow pointing at me, doing my version of the moonwalk trying to get out of the area. I was prepared to Moonwalk clear to Boise if necessary. The horse apparently was wise to that ploy however and made an immediate right turn and trampled me. I, as a matter of self-preservation, immediately became unconscious and played dead, having heard this will often trick the attacking animal into leaving you alone. That part must have worked because as soon as it had its trampling done it turned and raced back on to the track in a vain attempt to win the race. It didn’t.

I awoke a short time later lying on the ground, looking up to find my self surrounded by EMT’s. One said “How you doing?” I asked if I was hurt. ” No.” He replied, ” you’re just old.” It was at that point I told him to do something anatomically impossible. They all laughed as if all of this was great fun and helped me up. Not badly mangled I returned to shoot the rest of the race.

Getting trampled by a great huge ugly horse filled with an unlimited amount of malice is not something I’d recommend to you. It’s really uncomfortable. But after the fact it becomes one of those things guys talk about where you have some bragging rights, kind of like someone who gets shot and lives to show off his bullet wounds. “Yeah, check this out, I got this in a drive by over on Cranston. Damn near killed me”  However once is enough. I am not a slow learner. The next time I shoot a race I’m going to have my giant telephoto lens and shoot the race from across the parking lot. On top of an RV. That ought to be safer. Let that crazy bastard try getting me up there.

Zit Over?

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Turkeys are cautious creatures. Under those feathers lies a tastiness that causes an extremely high mortality rate come November. We mentioned in an earlier post how turkeys have begun managing this problem, the getting eaten problem,  ( http://www.bigshotsnow.com/surrealism-and-turkeys-a-holiday-story/ ) here at *The Institute, but we felt that we should delve into what happens after the holiday is over. When everyone is stuffed to the gills so to speak with their hapless cousins.

The genetically changed birds who have been safely (see above post) but surrealistically hidden begin their trek back to the easy but generally safe pickings around The Institute. Meanwhile the unchanged or non-GMO original turkeys come out of whatever haphazard hiding place they have been in.

Since Turkeys have a unique calendar, one that unfortunately has only eleven days to the month on it that resides mainly in their heads, and because they cannot hold things like calendars with their fat yellow feet, they miss out on about half the stuff that goes on around them during that part of the month that doesn’t coincide with our human calendar. Unfortunately for them Thanksgiving falls on the missing days of their pretty dumb calendar but appears with startling clarity on ours. You can see the problems that this might cause our friends the turkeys.

Consequently beginning on the first day of November they begin scratching the days of the month on a nearby rock with their beaks to mark off the days until they should hide real good. It is important that they accurately mark off the days as they have to estimate how long it is after their eleven days of their month have been used up that they must hide for the next two weeks that aren’t covered by their calendar. This is important because if they screw up and come out say the day or two before Thanksgiving………. Well you know what can happen, and given the high demand for their participation at the holiday table this can be disastrous for their Christmas plans.

On that first day of reappearance they are understandably nervous and jittery. The have to figure out if they’ve done a good job of estimating or not. What day is it exactly they ask. They can’t depend on their own calendar due its unsatisfactory composition. That’s why when you see turkeys in the wild like this bunch their heads are on a swivel and their cries of “Hey you know what day it is? Thanksgiving, zit over” ring through the neighborhood.

This bunch was lucky, they timed it just perfectly and emerged on the 26th of November just when humans are looking at the turkey carcasses sitting on the kitchen counters thinking “OK that’s about enough Turkey for a while.” So they’re safe for the next year if you don’t count coyotes or Great Horned Owls or some of the younger birds getting on crack or something.

Due to the paucity of large breasted turkeys this holiday the Director and his right hand woman with their very good friends had Cornish Game hens this Thanksgiving and you know what, they tasted just like Turkey.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Surrealism and Turkeys A Holiday Story

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Surrealism is seldom affiliated with Turkeys or the day in which we eat them. It is usually thought of as an art movement where in the words of one artsy art guy, its aim was to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality”. It’s like a really big deal in art circles and everyone who knows about it is very proud of their knowledge. Mainly because most real people don’t know what it is and the art guys get to look very smart when they talk about it.

So whats that got to do with turkeys, Thanksgiving, and the proper preparation of their carcasses. Normally we’d say not much, but in the case of our free-range turkeys here on *The Institute’s grounds it’s a very big deal, huge actually. Because of the fact that our Institute’s hunters, I mean gatherers go out and collect about 150 male, female and children turkeys to feed our staff, interns and hangers-on each Thanksgiving, the turkeys have become very adept at camouflaging themselves in the weeks leading up to their Day of Doom as they call it. So adept that they have changed their DNA and developed strategic methods of keeping themselves from being harvested.

In the image above you can see one of the abilities that they have developed which is to project a dreamy, fog enshrouded look, a surrealistic mood if you will, to hide their passage past the commissary and its lurking Turkey harvesters. How is this possible you ask? It took us a long time to figure this one out ourselves, but after capturing one male turkey and giving him a tour of the modern hygienically sterile robotically equipped turkey processing center and offering him immunity, he spilled his guts (figuratively speaking) and showed us his genetically improved body. There are glands beneath their wings that will emit a heavy misty fog like atmosphere around them as they walk and flap their wings. The more they flap the greater the fog until they are virtually undetectable. This is pretty remarkable if not unbelievable when you think about it.

The turkey above is one Mrs. Breton with her children Andre, Cecily and Yolanda, A Surrealist of the first order, heading off into the far reaches of the Institutes back country until the holidays are over. As they pass through the fog they utilize the other major protective defense they have developed, a substance they call turkey sweat which is secreted by more glands on the bottoms of their feet. As they walk they leave a trail of this turkey sweat which has strong hallucinogenic properties that are picked up and dispersed thru the fog causing anyone within 800 yards of the turkeys to see things very differently. Everything becomes extremely surrealistic. Kind of like that acid trip you came down from once while rafting down the Colorado river and watching the walls of the Grand Canyon turn vivid hues of color like an old Technicolor movie before melting and threatening to capsize the boat.

We had been wondering why our Turkey harvest had gone from the hundreds down to like four this year. Now we know. Everybody connected with harvesting the usually plentiful flock of birds has been sitting around in the meadow chewing on grass stems and looking at the sun for long periods of time. Although we have our anti-hallucinogenic department working feverishly on an antidote to the Turkey problem it looks like we’ll be having sauerkraut tacos with fried okra and perhaps some spaghetti dumplings for Thanksgiving dinner this year. But that’s better than nothing at all which is what the Canadians have each year as they thoughtlessly continue to not celebrate Thanksgiving. They’re fat, dumb and happy up there eating moose parts with lard cakes and spam balls dipped in pine needles. But that’s their choice. If they weren’t so nice we’d hold that against them.

We hope to have the Turkey problem under control next year at this time but in the meantime everyone here at The Institute wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving. If you feel funny later in the day it was probably the turkey. Just lay down for a while. It should be ok.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Full Moon Over The Crow Camp

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This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!

It was nearly midnight as I walked through the camp. It had been a long day. It was Crow Fair 2016 and as always it was spectacular. Starting early in the morning to photograph the staging of the parade, following and shooting the dance competitions, watching the evening performances, it was a day packed full of excitement. This was the last day and I was heading home in the morning.

It had been cloudy and although the sky was covered by those clouds, occasionally the full moon would show itself but never long enough to get a good shot of it. But as luck sometimes favors the photographer the clouds seemed to dissolve and there it was in all its glory, full and round and positioned exactly where it needed to be to make this image. I was given a present in the form of this last memory. Walking through the cool night, feeling the moonlight wash over me, hearing the sound of laughter, singing, people calling out to each other, this was the perfect ending to a summer-long trip along the Powwow trail.

I began the summer in late April with the opportunity to photograph the largest powwow in North America, the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thousands of dancers, singers, drummers, participants, spectators, all brought together to celebrate their culture. This was spectacle at its grandest. At one point there were over 2800 dancers coming and going from the arena floor. This is like the Superbowl of powwows.

As the summer progressed I had the opportunity to attend powwows and meet people from nearly every tribe in the western part of the United States. There were Shoshone, Arapaho, Bannock, Cree, Chippewa, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Sioux, Comanche, Apache, Navajo, Hopi, and many other tribes. There were people from the Cree And Chippewa tribes that came down from Canada to participate in the Chippewa/Cree powwow at Rocky Boy Montana. This event was held in the rolling hills of Northern Montana on a hillside where you could see for two days in any direction. No buildings in sight, nothing but the golden prairie stretching on for miles and miles. The sound of drums and singing and the people dancing carried on the wind for days. The reservation in nestled up against the Canadian border just east of Glacier National Park and it was one of the most natural, authentic places I had the good fortune to visit.

People from the various tribes in Washington and Oregon were at different events along the way. It was a chance to see their different regalia and styles of dancing. All were welcome and made to feel like part of the family. That’s what these gatherings felt like. Large family gatherings where you got to see cousins that you hadn’t seen in years. A place where acquaintances were made and spiritual ceremonies brought everyone close together. The sense of community was strong. It felt good to be there.

Over the course of the summer I took over 20,000 images, many were of the various rodeos that were part of the powwow, but never the less, I took a lot of photographs. Now that I am back at my studio I will begin the daunting task of processing these images and posting them on the site. Hopefully the wait hasn’t been too long for those wanting to see the shots of their powwows. Each event will have its images posted as I get to them. My apologies for the delay.

This has been an incredible summer and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to observe, photograph, join in. I got to march in the Color Guard at the Western Shoshone/ Bannock Grand Entry where they celebrated the Vets that had served in all the wars. That was the first time in over 50 years that I have had the opportunity to participate in something like that and I will cherish the experience forever. But just as importantly it was the ability to be able to be a very small part in the total experience. Thank you one and all for making that experience possible for me.

As time goes on I will get the photographs you want to see posted. If you don’t see your event, don’t worry it’ll be there. Also please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Thanks for a great summer.

So, Where You Been Then

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“So, Where you been then.” That is just one of the questions we’ve been asked regarding our dearth of posting for the last month. In fact, pictured above, is Ms. Euclidia Hanson asking it again. “Where you been” she asked ” you don’t write, you don’t call, where you been? I didn’t pay good money to be treated like this.” and so on. (Note: In checking our records we found that Euclidia didn’t pay any money to us at all, and in fact owes us for service since the first of the year and all of last year. We’ll be contacting Ms. Hanson about that just as soon as the rut is over)

But regardless, we have a good answer. This summer has been the summer we have been hitting the powwow trail with a new event occurring almost every weekend. Starting back in April when we attended the Gathering of Nations, the largest inter-tribal powwow in the country, through the summer, and ending with the Crow Fair just last week.

We are working on an exciting new project that we’ll be announcing in the near future that requires lots of photography of the people and events in the powwows that occur throughout the summer. This has produced literally thousands of photographs that have to be processed and evaluated for inclusion in this exciting new project. More on that as we get closer to our release date.

When we are out in the field we run into several problems with posting to the blog. Most notably a lack of decent wi-fi in the areas where the powwows are held. Since that unfortunate incident where our satellite truck went over both the Upper and Lower Yellowstone falls and bent the roof dish all to hell and back and the generator had a total meltdown due to embarrassment or something, leaving us with nothing but an iPhone with a cracked screen, we have not been able to reliably send our posts back to *The Institute for reissuing to the world at large.

Plus now the Park Service is all cheesed off about satellite truck pieces scattered up and down in the Yellowstone river and has made us send people up there in hip waders collecting those parts for reassembly, kind of like they do with plane crashes, to determine how much they want to fine us. I’m not even getting into dealing with the satellite truck rental people, especially after the intern we sent to pick it up didn’t sign the insurance papers for it. He said he saved us $51.00 a day by not taking it. The satellite truck with all the equipment in it was only worth about $750,000.00 so he’s lucky that we can’t get into his hospital room. We’d rearrange his traction equipment for him.

Aside from that it was a great trip. We got incredible images of the different events, even with The Director getting run over by a stampeding horse and knocked tail over tea kettle in the Indian Relay Races at Ft. Hall, Id at the Western Shoshone/ Bannock rodeo. More about that in a separate post coming soon to a monitor near you.

So briefly that was why there were very few posts last month. Sorry. But! and it’s a big one. Watch for postings covering the various powwows and western events we attended this summer. They’re going to be great.

*Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind.