It’s The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that make each day special. Things like going to see friends. Or finding a quarter on the ground so you can pay for your Starbucks with the rest of the change in your pocket without breaking a twenty. Discovering a new good thing about somebody you really care for. Hearing that voice on the phone when you’re about to go into a major meltdown. How do they know you needed that. And just at that time too.

Everybody waits for that big huge something that’s going to make your life so much better. Winning the lotto. Finally getting that new car that makes you feel like you’ve made it. Whatever success that will make your life turn around and be magnificent. Those things might do for awhile, but they don’t last, they don’t have legs. They can’t be sustained.

You need the little things, those constants that make you smile or give you that warm and fuzzy just when you need it. That’s what makes life worthwhile. Small little joyful moments that keep you smiling long after they’re over. And sometimes it’s just finding that mouse in the grass when you least expected it.

First Day of Spring

Oooooh Mann Does that feel good. I can’t believe I’ve been wearing this coat for like five whole months. We need a bigger clothing allowance if the honchos here at Yellowstone want us to look good when the season starts. I cannot wait to get this raggedy old thing off. It feels like my fleas have fleas.

It’s the first day of Spring and people are gonna be coming around looking at us and I feel like I just crawled out from under a bridge. Oh yes, right there. That spot has been making my teeth itch since the middle of February. Oh,k,k,k,k. I’m going to do this until June maybe even July.

The first day of spring is a time for celebration as it usually means good weather, new stuff to eat, time to look around for some of that winter kill. I am famished. Humans have it made. They can just take off their winter coats with a quick pull of a zipper and put on tank tops. Not us, I got like 12 more hours of scratching just to get the tangles out and then who knows how many days of squeezing through the oak brush to get my comb on. But I will look good. After all check me out. Even looking like this you know you want me.

Alright, the first day of Spring. I’m out of that smelly den.  After five months that’s enough to gag a man’s hinder. The suns out. I got the scratching tree first, looks like it might be a good year after all. Gotta run, well actually I gotta scratch and I need to concentrate here. Catch you later over on the flip side of Mt. Washburn. Where all the cool bears hang. I’ll be the one with the shiny new coat. Have a good one. Write if you get work.

P.S. Yeah I know I’m a little fuzzy in the picture but the guy taking the picture kept getting in my space so I had to back him up some. Apparently he was a little nervous after I ate his wrist watch and he didn’t hold the camera steady. And he was quite aways back and under his truck so I guess I can cut him some slack. You can decide how you want to handle it.

Legless George and The Birthday Bear

Legless George wasn’t always legless. In fact at one time he had two perfectly good legs, one on either side of his body, and had full command of how they worked. He did not always exercise the best decision-making protocol as to when, or when not to use them as we shall see momentarily. But first let me back up a little so you can understand George or Legless, as we came to call him, a little more fully.

George Clemency Baxter was an intern here at *The Institute during what we liked to call our Yellowstone days. He was a cheerful chap full of enthusiasm and a burning desire to observe and get close to our friends the grizzly bears who resided in the park. He was always the first in line to volunteer to help position the bears into the proper poses we needed for our photographs and had developed a close relationship with several of them including Crystal Hamstringer our lovely young female subject pictured above. Normally George and Crystal had a close working relationship, some would say too close, and that perhaps there were some unspoken feelings spoken by George at the wrong time, in the wrong place and that may have led up to what occurred next.

As near as we can put together from George’s mumbling then screaming then mumbling again, it was Crystal’s birthday and he may have made some off-color reference to her age or her disposition and then the rest gets a little fuzzy. According to George who was understandably upset and was having difficulty remembering the exact sequence of events what with all the growling, screaming, chewing and swallowing noises, not to mention the rending and tearing that was going on. And due to the fact that he was having all two of his legs tore off by a petulant grizzly it was hard to hear just what exactly he had said that caused this reaction in a normally well-mannered bear like Crystal. It ‘s been said that women or we should say females in general, don’t need much of an excuse to tear a fellows legs off even when they’re not having a birthday so it could have been anything.

Of course by then the damage such as it was, was done. George was legless, Crystal was upset and the situation had deteriorated to its lowest point. We were all pretty bummed. It was then that another intern, I forget who, said “Hey! Lets call him Legless.” and the hilarity ensued. Fortunately we had some 4×4 gauze pads and ace bandages in the trunk of the Bokeh Maru our lead expedition vehicle, and we got George bandaged up enough to get him to the Ranger station even though we were laughing so hard we lost those little metal things that hold the ace bandages in place and had to tie a Bowline knot to keep them there. Their medico’s got him ready for transport to the legless ward in Boise fairly quickly.  Of course telling us that, the going to the legless ward part, got the whole legless thing going again and there were people staggering all over the place saying “Legless, legless” and snorting through their noses and just generally trying not to wet themselves and we all got tossed out of the Ranger station but it was all in good fun. Legless was off to get fixed up, see there we go again, we just can’t stop saying Legless. We went back to tell Crystal how George was doing and to recover our camera which George had left there.

It was then that we noticed how blurry the image was and how difficult it is to see George’s left leg but look close and you can see it dangling from her mouth, or it might have been the right one it’s really hard to tell which one Crystal was holding, and as Crystal was still in a snit we didn’t opt for any more shots right then. Legless was pretty P.O’d at us for not retrieving his legs as he had some misguided idea that they could be reattached but Crystal had made fairly quick work of that prospect.

We guess the moral of this story if there is one, is don’t make any but the blandest comments to a birthday bound female if you want to keep your legs. We recommend something like “Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.” or  “I’m not making any age related jokes because I generally feel bad about how old you are.” or our personal favorite ” Your birthday reminds me of the old Chinese scholar, Yung No Mo.” All of these are preferable to whatever it was that Legless George said. We think.

* 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.

Practising

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As Fall closes in on us all the animals in the park are preparing for the winter. For some like the Yellow-bellied Marmot this means gathering all the grass that it can stuff in its burrow. If you’re a buffalo not only do you stuff your big fat face with all the grass and foliage that you can, you also grow a thick mat of hair all over your body and especially on your face. This will allow you to push that face into the snow over and over again looking for that old frozen grass and not freeze your nostrils off.

Birds for the most part, being infinitely smarter than other animals just bail as soon they notice the cold and head for places that are warm. Miami, Rio, South Texas. They don’t bother with all that extra feeding. It’s hard to fly if you’re a 15 lb. Bluebird, so they opt for dining lightly on the trip south.We could go on and on about all the idiosyncrasies of the different animals preparing for winter but you all have cable, you watch the Animal Planet so you’re pretty aware of all the preparations they make.

What you may not know however is the huge amount of prep and practice that goes into the bears preparation for wintering over in Yellowstone. Especially grizzlies. Yes, you know about going in the cave, sleeping, then doing that some more until winters over and it’s safe to come out. But what you don’t know is how difficult it is for a naturally active grizzly bear to just go into that cave and go to sleep and stay that way for like six months or more sometimes.

He’s just had a very full summer of dashing around eating Elk calves, tearing the lids off of garbage cans, biting the occasional tourist, fighting with other grizzly bears, thinking bear thoughts, leaving bear tracks along the lake’s edge for tourists to find so they can see how big he is, having to deal with those pesky wolves, getting the occasional ear tag for some infraction or other. It’s a lot of work being a grizzly and along about November or even late October they have to go to bed again. Except they’re really amped. They are pumped up from the busy summer and sleep is the last thing on their minds.

They’re thinking about all the cool stuff they got away with this summer, pulling the door off that camping trailer, hooking up with that hot little female, running off before the rangers could shoot it with those rubber bullets. There’s no way it’s going to sleep.

But sleep it must. They can’t be up and goofing around during the winter, that’s not how this whole bear thing works. It’s designed for the bear to sleep for the winter or else everything just goes all wonky and we can’t have that. After an exhaustive study to see how these grizzly bears handle this problem it was found that they have developed a pretty inventive solution to it. They practice sleeping. That’s it. Just practice. Every chance they get, like after a great big meal of freshly killed buffalo for instance, they just crap out along side the carcass and sleep for as long as they can. That’s what this guy in the picture above is doing. You can’t see the carcass because he’s sprawled on top of it to keep the magpies and ravens from getting it. In a while he’ll wake up and eat some more, then go back to sleep again and will repeat this maneuver until he’s got the ability to got to sleep at the drop of a shinbone. This repetition of eating and sleeping gets his weight up to about eight hundred plus pounds or so, kind of like when we eat that Family size, Papa’s Favorite Pizza from Papa Murphy’s with extra red sauce and cheese at 2:30 in the morning and wake up later unable to fit our shoes on.

This is how they get all the sleep experience they require to stay asleep for months. This is also the time they perfect their dreaming skills. To see what they dream about check out this previous post http://www.bigshotsnow.com/2014/11/09/ and it will tell you all you need to know about Bear dreams. It won’t be long now before all that practice will be put to good use. The leaves will fall, the winds turn cold, and the long trek up the mountain to enter the cave he has used for the last six years will begin. Fortunately the bear has prepared himself well and as soon as he gets settled in and gets all turned around just right with his nose pointed toward the entrance, he will do that thing he does to cause him to fall asleep and that’s it. He’s in for the duration. He’ll sleep until the first trickle of melting snow runs down his back. Then he’ll be up and at it again. Nature has come full circle.

 

Cloud Cutting

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Many of you long time readers are aware of *The Institute’s weather modification program. We developed this ability to modify and even create certain kinds of weather early on in The Institute’s development. This was done for many reasons, all of them altruistic, but mainly for money. The Institute is expensive to run and maintain and we seek funds wherever we might find them.

We have different projects in the works constantly to fund our operation, from our innovative metal can retrieval program from the roadsides of our Nation’s highways to assisting NASA with their Space Program by supporting probes to Uranus and beyond. We have an outreach program where we have housebound or incarcerated individuals address envelopes for various corporations to help keep the Post Office’s Junk Mail program alive. That keeps untold dozens of postal workers busy and gainfully employed. There is no project too small if it assists us in maintaining the integrity and longevity of The Institute and brings in a buck or two.

Our supremacy had been untouchable in the weather modification arena and we had been so far out front that you had to jump up in the air real high to even see our dust. Then the Aussie’s got in the game. Man, they are tough. Their program to limit rain and cause desertification of huge areas, if not all of their country, has been unassailable. Our program to “drought up” California has been good but we can’t even touch what the Australians are capable of. Which is difficult for us to admit. Right now they’re the ones we watch.

Because of their (we’re talking about those miserably overachieving Aussies here) ability to make inroads into the weather modification business in general, we have had to look for other areas of the business to augment our extensive programs. We believe we’ve hit on something the rest of the WeatherMod group hasn’t touched yet and that is the untouched field of Boutique Weather. This is a small business at this time but we think the potential is absolutely enormous.

There are many very wealthy States that have incredible tourism businesses. States like Colorado, Utah, Arizona ( a biggie ) Montana, parts of New Mexico and when they pay their bills (which is why we have them in a “droughtie” right now) Northern California that are looking for that edge to keep those tourists coming in and to keep them there longer. That’s where we come in. We are already supplying many of those states and other small touristy kind of countries with custom-designed sunrises and sunsets. With our new custom “Cloud Cutting” ability we can custom tailor those sunrises and sunsets by ‘cutting’ the edges and shapes of the clouds so that they can feature or highlight a tourist drawing element, by allowing the light to be directed on them for maximum viewing pleasure. Think, Devil’s Tower, or parts of the Grand Canyon, Isis for instance, where before you had a pleasant sunset that sort of showed off the various elements of the scene, but now with our Patented Applied For “Cloud Cutting” technology, those individual elements can be seen by those money-toting tourists much more clearly and colorfully than ever before. Talk about making it rain greenbacks, we can hardly keep up with the demand for these new custom tailored clouds. Now coupled with our ability to create clouds of any size, shape or profile we feel we have a real winner here. Need God beams, we can do that. Need tiny or large holes or openings in your cloud for extra special effects? We can do that. Right now the sky’s the limit, so to speak.

The image featured above is over the Eastern edge of The Institute’s testing grounds where we work on many of our new weather projects. This is the program at work using the new “Sun nibbling” feature where we are sculpting the edge of the cloud to perhaps highlight a small secluded cove on the Eastern Seaboard, or perhaps one of the little canyons that feed into the Grand Canyon, or a meadow up in Yellowstone where elk graze in the early morning or evening. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

We have high hopes for this new element in our Weather modification program and already interest is running high for this unique new addition and we see big things on the horizon. Watch the sky above and stay tuned for further innovations.

* 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.

 

Wolf Wild

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Some years ago, well ten to be exact, the Hayden pack had killed an elk along Alum creek. This was before the authorities began removing carcasses from being viewed from the road as a form of crowd management. If too many people stopped and watched the pack feeding on the carcass then there were traffic jams, crowd buildups, and rangers had to be sent to the scene for crowd control. So they began hauling away the carcasses to be dumped somewhere out of sight. Another opportunity to observe animals in their natural environment doing what animal do was lost. But money was saved and they could lay off some of the rangers so the balance sheet looked good.

Those were simpler days, before budget cuts and the natural fun aspect of the park was lost. When the rangers were more like teachers and helpers and founts of knowledge about the park and its residents, than like policemen who were more concerned with citations and keeping a tight control over the citizenry. Sometimes back then, to everyone’s surprise, folks chanced across a kill and could watch the natural course of events unfold in a civilized manner and no rangers were needed to police the area. It was a visual participation where you felt as if you were part of the activity. A respect was granted to the animals involved and to the other observers. No one ran up to be closer to the action. There wasn’t any interference with the wolves feedings, they basically ignored you. You just reveled in being part of the scene unfolding before you feeling like you were very fortunate to be able to witness nature at work.

This was the dominate female of the Hayden pack back then. We watched her walk along the ridge line, drop down into the valley where Alum creek flowed into the Yellowstone and approach the carcass along the creek side. Before long another young female approached and with submissive behavior politely asked if she could join the grand dame in her feeding. The pack leader graciously allowed her to and the two worked at reducing the nearly consumed carcass down to nothing but hide and a few bones.

This wolf is not with us any more, she  was apparently struck by a car and killed sometime later. But she lives on in the memories and photos of those who were lucky enough to have been in her presence for a brief while. The simpler days are missed. It isn’t often today that you get to witness the wolf wild and up close.

 

Hurry Up Eddy The Grass Really Is Greener over Here

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In Yellowstone as well as many other places the old adages are still in use and in the case of the Buffalo, followed religiously as well. If you observe carefully you can often see them being acted out. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the (add your own barrier here)” is the one being followed at the moment.

Perfectly intelligent looking Buffalo will be quietly grazing alongside the Madison when one of them will look across the river and with a bellow race directly into the frigid water to get to the other side where the grass is obviously greener. Soon every member of the herd will be on the other side wondering why their privates are freezing and doesn’t this grass taste exactly like the grass they were just eating a few moments ago.

But an adage is an adage so there must be some purpose in having them. It can’t be just to wash their undercarriage. It must be a case of one of them overhearing it somewhere and not being the mental giants of the ungulate world, decided it must be important or someone smarter than him wouldn’t of said it. Why the rest of the herd follows him is easy to understand. If you were able to look inside that great shaggy head, which is nearly 3′ wide and weighs over 250 lbs. of solid bone except for the small cavity right in the center that the brain resides in, you would see a buffalo command center roughly the size of a very small clock radio. The commands to go left, right, forward but not backward, buffalo do not back up, lie down, get up, fight with whomever is nearest your cows, make small buffalo, gore the occasional tourist and have room for one or two adages, one of which is always “The grass is always greener on the other side of the (add your own barrier here)” The other might be “Stand in the middle of the road until all traffic is backed up at least 17 miles in either direction, then lie down.” That isn’t generally a well-known adage outside the park but it is a big one for the buffalo.

Spring is here and everybody is revved up to do springtime stuff and making sure that adages both young and old are followed. The buffalo do their part. If you haven’t followed up any old adages lately you can do your part by personally Googling adage, choose several and make them a part of your life. You’ll feel good and be a better person for it.