Father’s Day memories – 2016

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This is a picture of my dad and me in front of our first house on 10th Street in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

My father died in 2003 and my two grandfathers passed on many years before that. I haven’t mused about them, really.

All three were sports fans, but none followed professional basketball. The NBA championship series ends on Fathers’ Day Sunday with the Warriors hosting the Cavaliers in Oakland. It’s been a weird series with a lot of blow-outs and down to game seven. I was too short for the organized game but could hold my own in pick up games. I’ve played enough to know the rules.

My paternal Grandfather Ohashi was named Toichi but known as George. I don’t know exactly when he emigrated from Japan, but it was in the later part of the 19th century. He and apparently one or more of his siblings initially ended up in Alaska.

There’s a photograph of him hustling pool someplace in Alaska, which I will dig out. When I was on a trip with the Presbyterian Church to Sitka, Alaska we took a ferry boat ride up and down the panhandle.

While in Ketchikan, my pal Sam Allen from Cody and I came upon a sign that said OHASHI Candy and Tobacco. Turns out it was owned by my Great Uncle, my grandfather’s brother who’s name escapes me. I was later at a conference in Seattle a few years ago and ran into an Ohashi who was a niece and a distant cousin of mine.

alan grandpa ohashi

This picture of my Grandfather Ohashi and me must have been taken on Fathers’ Day in front of his house.

His game of choice was billiards. I’m pretty sure he was a nine ball hustler. He owned a billiard hall on 17th Street in downtown Cheyenne. I inherited one of the pool tables when the pool hall closed and had it set up for many years, but when I moved to Colorado, I donated it to the Ethete Senior Citizen Center. I kept an old 9 ball from the rack. He was going blind, but could still hit a few trick bank shots.

My cousin Matthew from Salt Lake and his dad got me started collecting and scrounging up old stuff. He had an old Phillip Morris poster in there that I wanted, but couldn’t get freed up. I’ve wondered what happened to that item.

My Grandfather Ohashi in his downtown Cheyenne pool hall.

He developed diabetes later in life and couldn’t see very well. His spectator sport of choise was boxing. Back in the 1960s, there were only black and white TV sets. My dad and I would visit him and watch the Friday night fights. Boxers wore white or black trunks and it was easy for him to follow. He got pretty sick and moved into our house on 10th Street for a period of time. I was young but had to give up my room to my grandfather. I can’t remember how long he stayed, but he let me give him his insulin injections in his thigh. That was back in the day of those huge needles

He and my grandmother owned the Highway Cafe on the south Greeley Highway. He originally was a truck farmer from Brush, Colorado. He drove around an old panel truck and picked up produce from the farmers and sold them from a fruit and vegetable stand next to the cafe. It was nestled against a bluff where Interstate 80 would eventually pass and they moved a few blocks north. The Building still stands today, but is now a tobacco store.

Every once in a while I got the job of writing the new $1.00 specials on the black board. It was stuff like hamburger steak, egg foo yong, liver and onions. There was a Filipino guy named Carl who came in every night and had a half order of the special. The famous Cheyenne fisher Hank Okamoto came in from time to time showing off his string of fish. He was a fishing buddy of my Uncle Rich.

My dad brought my sister and I one at a time and together to the cafe. He cooked there after he finished working and after dinner. I don’t know this for fact, but it seemed to me the state Public Health Department put them out of business. The last straw was when the state required a vestibule to be constructed between the public area and the restroom, of which there was only one and not two.

alan grandpa sakata

Likely the same Fathers’ Day visit around town. This is my Grandfather Sakata and me on the porch of their home on Capitol Avenue.

My maternal Grandfather Sakata’s name was Jusaburo, but he was called Joe. There’s a Cheyenne history book that has the details about his emigration to Wyoming, but off the top of my head he came from Japan, then returned for my grand mother who was 20 years younger. What I mostly remember is he worked for the Burlington Railroad.

Back then it was known as the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and he was the section foreman at a place called Orpha, Wyoming. Orpha still is there and located across the road from the Fetterman Battlefield State Historic Site.

I went to visit a few years ago. Many years before when I was in junior high school, my sister and I spent the summer irrigating on the Shinmori beet farm near there. We took a tour of Orpha which included the one room school, and the house where my mom’s family lived. Only the foundation remained when I last went to look around.

He and my grandmother moved to Cheyenne. The Burlington Northern railroad used to run through Cheyenne so I’m thinking he retired there. My mom, who was the youngest of the three kids ended up in Cheyenne, too. In his retirement, he became a gardener and did yard work for some of the neighbors around their home on Capitol Avenue a couple blocks from the state capitol building. That was one of the resupply depots for soda pop that we sold along the Cheyenne Frontier Days parades.

plains dairy trip

This is a neighborhood field trip to tour the Plains Dairy in Cheyenne. Notice I’m wearing the Yankees cap given to me by my grandfather.

His game of choice was baseball. My aunt lived in Washington DC and he watched the Senators play. He went to New York and brought me back a cap and pennant from Yankee Stadium in 1960. That was the first year I followed baseball. I’ll never be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan having watched Bill Mazeroski homer in game seven to beat the Yankees.

When I graduated from high school, I remember getting his wise words in Japanese – but my grandmother reminded him that I only understood English and got the speech again in English.

Language was a barrier keeping me from knowing my grandparents better. Of course, after World War II, that was a big wake up call for the Japanese American community. Even in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, there wasn’t any Japanese spoken around the house nor were Sansei kids – third generation – expected to learn Japanese nor retain much if anything about the culture, although I still prefer rice with my eggs. The 20th Street Cafe run by a Japanese family serves eggs with rice upon request.

I learned to be self sufficient, but that may have been because I was boy. When I graduated from college, I lived at home for a couple years while in grad school at the University of Wyoming. I think my parents appreciated that.

My father, Frank, worked his entire career at the Coca Cola plant in Cheyenne eventually becoming the manager. When the business was sold to the Ludwig family in Laramie, my dad was a part of the deal. When I was a sophomore in college and away in Hastings at the time, they moved over the hill to Laramie. I remember going to that house on Downey Street for the first time. I didn’t know which drawer the forks were kept.

When I was in high school, I worked summers for him at the Coke plant. That was an eye opener for me seeing him in a capacity other than at home. He managed like it was a basketball team – he was a pretty good basketball player on the Cheyenne High School team. He didn’t ask anyone to do anything he didn’t do himself. That’s one thing that rubbed off on me. I remember him chewing out a guy, who came to work drunk and eventually was fired. It was the first time I’d heard him swear like a sailor.

One time I was caught shoplifting and the condition of my staying out of the system was fessing up to my dad and he calling the store manager. That was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my 63 years. I don’t think he told my mom about it.

He was always supportive of my activities, even later in life. When I played in the Fremont County orchestra, there was a performance in Laramie. Very few people were in the audience, but my dad was there. He pushed me to get my Cub Scout activities completed. I made it up to getting my “Bear” patch before Pack 113 folded. He was asked to take over, but it wasn’t his thing.

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My dad at the first game at Coors Field in 1995

My dad was quite athletic. He was a sports fan and knew the rules to a lot of games. He had good hand eye coordination and was a pretty good bowler, golfer and basketball player with a wicked hook shot. We played softball together in church league and had a good change up which fooled hitters even in slow pitch. As a spectator, he and my mom were avid Wyoming Cowboy fans.

He also was a Yankees fan. One of his Coca Cola plant truck drivers was a guy named Tony Rizzuto, who was related to  former Yankees 2nd baseman Phil Rizzuto. A bunch of guys from work a a guy from the air base all loaded up in my dad’s car and drove down to Denver to watch the Denver Bears play an exhibition game against the Yankees. That was in 1964. It was great seeing Mantle and Maris play. 

Definitely a big life highlight.

Coors Field opened in 1995, the replacement Rockies played the replacement Yankees in the strike-shortened year. I took my dad to watch that game. The Rockies made the playoffs that year too.

What about the name O’Hashi?

Nobody knows for sure, but the O’H is attributed to a school administrator who changed his name when he found out his birthday was March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. Only my dad and his youngest brother Jake used the anglicized spelling.

I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do on Sunday, probably not watch the basketball game since my team, the Celtics, aren’t playing. The only tie I have to the Dubs is back in 1980 when the Warriors traded Robert Parrish and top draft pick Kevin McHale to Boston. The Celtics won the championship in 1981.

How I ended up a Celtics fan is another story, but it dates back to when Wyoming center Leon Clark was drafted by Boston in 1966.

I doubt I’ll watch the game. I did pick up a ball at the Sports Authority liquidation sale and may shoot a few hoops someplace.

Whatever your Fathers’ Day memories are, I hope they are fond ones.

My sport of the day? I’m going fishing if the water isn’t too high.

 

Anti-gun groups should take a page from the anti-abortion playbook

 

abortion like guns

My friend Barbara May posted this meme shortly after the Umqua Community College in Oregon was shot up by a guy with 14 weapons in his apartment. Click on the image for a video about changing the gun culture.

The Orlando Massacre that left 49 dead and 53 wounded reminded me of a conversation some of my classmates and I had at our Hastings College homecoming reunion with Denny Storer, one of our political science professors.

That was in October 2015 – a week after an Oregon community college was shot up by another twisted buy with 14 weapons in his apartment.

Rather than more laws, how can the culture change? There’s an excellent scenario that played out in Manhattan with huge impact. Watch it¬†here.

After our reunion reminiscence about a poli-sci class we took on the road in Washington DC during January 1973, I had an ‘aha’ moment about the nexus between the 2nd and 14th amendments.

The anti-gun crowd should take a page out of the anti-abortion playbook.

The latter is pretty good about dancing around the constitution while the former doesn’t have a clue about how to create cultural restrictions around curbing gun sales.

The above meme is tongue-in-cheek, but tells the practical truth. There are 300,000,000 firearms circulating. I agree that laws won’t help much.

Changing the culture is the most practical and the anti-abortion crowd proves that.

Hastings College operates on a 3-1-3 class schedule that, in 1973, included a one month Interim trip on a long bus ride to Washington DC for a month-long “Legislators and Lobbyist” field trip class.

The advertised highlight of the class and trip to DC was the inauguration of President Nixon. An unadvertised highlight was the death of President Johnson. We stood in line and viewe his casket laying in state under the capitol rotunda.

What’s the upshot of this story?

Less heralded at the time, Denny reminded us about the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision handed down on January 22, 1973. The ruling held that women have a right to privacy and protected from unwarranted searches and seizures.
The anti-abortion lobby figured out that passing restrictive laws do stand up to constitutional scrutiny. They work hard to change the culture through grassroots efforts and pass laws that don’t ban abortions, but put roadblocks in the way coupled with strategic public shaming.

The pro-gun lobby says that more laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of anybody, let alone crazy people. I have to agree with that.

All crazy people have access to guns, but not all crazy people have access to mental health services. I don’t know how politicians decide who’s the craziest, though.

After the killing spree in Orlando, I had to quit watching TV because it was all about blood, guts (interviews with wounded people in their hospital beds) and superficial grieving (candles, flowers and facebook posts).

While I’m sure that everyone personally deals with events like this differently, there doesn’t seem to be very many who are interested in creating the social and cultural change necessary to end gun violence.

Compared to anti-abortion groups, the anti-gun groups don’t show the same long-term passion that would include protesting in the rights-of-way of gun stores or on the public sidewalks in front of the Walton family homes; grooming like-minded people to appointed and elected public offices.

I’m thinking that in the final analysis, the only people who get involved in trying to change things are those families and friends directly affected by the death or injury to a friend or loved one. That’s a pretty small number of people and they can’t do it alone.

If 27 school kids murdered in their school, nine South Carolina church goers shot in the back, another nine gunned down in a community college classroom, don’t move legislators into action, I’m not very optimistic that 49 more people killed in a night club will provide much impetus for legislative action.

Here are three ideas to help change the culture without having to take anyone’s guns away since that’s not happening any time soon:

Short Term: Feel the Bern and Get Out The Vote – The biggest thing Bernie Sanders can keep doing is get more of his supporters to keep registering more voters. The disgruntled Bernie supporters – of which I am one – need to get on with life and not support any kind of third party or write in candidate for president. If that’s too difficult, at least vote for Democrats down the ticket.

Medium Term: Limited Martial Law (for lack of another term) – I heard Matt Lauer talking about this on the Today Show this morning. He asked a Homeland Security guy about what it would take to “asterisk” civil rights laws so that anyone like the Orlando terrorist could continue to be watched and monitored even if there is no probable cause determined. I think the only time limited martial law was approved was by the antebellum Congress at the time of Abraham Lincoln.

Long Term: Reapportionment – the US Census will be completed in 2020 and new US congressional districts will be drawn as well as state legislative districts. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of independent redistricting commissions taking gerrymandering out of the political process. This is an opportune time to create competitive state and national districts.

I’m willing to participate in the short and long term ideas i’ve proposed. It will be interesting to see if there’s the political will to limit civil liberties, but I would think Donald Trump would be all over that one.

The black ops probably have the authority to do this, in any event.

Cheyenne East High school class of ’71 obits updated for download

Click on the above image of the EHS homecoming float being guarded by Tony Ross to download a copy of tge Cheyenne East High School class of ’71 obit book.

I’ve been out of high school for 45 years and have managed to keep in touch with a bunch of classmates mostly because of social media.

The mid-decade class reunion for Cheyenne Central, East and St. Mary’s¬† is scheduled for August 5 – 6 in Downtown Cheyenne.

So far, there has been scant interest, which means the plug may be pulled at some point soon.

The East High class list of obituaries is now downloadable.

A friend of mine is getting ready for his 60th reunion. He said his class eventually quit keeping track of obits. They started going by who showed up.

I was sorting through a box and came across this picture of the¬† East class of ’71 homecoming float “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They.” We must have played Sheridan. That’s Tony Ross mugging for the camera. The blue pump behind Tony was liberated during a midnight raid to Veedauwoo.

The festivities start Friday night on the Depot Plaza with the Delta Sonics. We’ve partnered with the United Way of Laramie County and encourage you to buy from one of the food trucks they’ve arranged.

You can sign up for it on eventbrite. The cost is $50 which covers the  Southwestern buffet and music on Saturday night at the Historic Plains Hotel.

I, along with a bunch of other ‘mates helped organize the 40th reunion and intended to come, but was called out of town for a funeral in Boston and ended up going to the class of 1972 reunion later that summer, which was a good time.

Speaking of funerals, EHS alumnus, Ralph Zobell, has edited together a list of our EHS classmates who have passed on and converted it to a pdf file for download. It will be periodically updated.

If there’s anything that’s certain, we’ll all end up on the list at some point!

Shall we have a “last classmate standing” pool?

I was an illegal worker in Mexico

francisco lopez barajas

My business partner in Zacatecas Mexico Faustino Lopez Barajas.

I generally only write about things that I’ve experienced personally. I’m becoming more convinced with the recent flood of children crossing the into Texas, that the United States has the most porous border of any nation in the world.

Let me tell you about the time I was shaken down by soldiers with machine guns for being an illegal worker in Mexico. It was a very helpless feeling.

Maybe it’s that poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty by Emma Lazarus:

tablette-statue-de-la-liberte

Turns out, if you’re from a European country, this quote is more applicable.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Most other countries have largely indigenous populations that have lived there for centuries. The US, on the other hand, conquered the locals fair and square, and that was just over 200 years ago. 

I did business in Mexico for six years or so starting in 1992 when the North American Free Trade Act went into effect. Then US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown held a bunch of meetings around the country, including one in Denver. I was working for the Northern Arapaho Tribe at the time in economic development and went down to check it out. At that time, the tribe was looking to sell its hay.

hotel sombrerete

Downtown Sombrerete

After all the speeches, there was a round table session with representatives from businesses in Mexico. Most everyone split and left all these business people sitting alone. I stuck around and sat down with a group of guys from a credit union based in a small town called Sombrerete in the state of Zacatecas. It’s located in the north central part of Mexico. We hit it off and they invited me down for a visit.

A friend and colleague of mine flew down to check things out. A couple tribal guys – Fred and Gary – and I started up the 600 acre Arapaho Farms. The Arapaho Tribe was big into sustainable agriculture at the time and was interested in farming practices in Mexico – like using a tree branch hooked up to a mule as a harrow. As it turned out the farming thing in Mexico didn’t work out.

Meanwhile I began consulting for a marketing company based in Boulder which had a manufacturing facility in Alamosa, Colorado. They made and sold hair accessories. The manufacturing costs, even in Alamosa were too high.

francisco mexico city

Francisco at the Mexico City factory.

I mentioned that I had experience in Mexico and when I was down there before, I learned that some of the small towns would be devoid of working age people – mostly men – who went to the US to work – many illegally. I figured out that workers would rather stay in their home towns rather than leave, but there is no work in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. The immigration policies favored US businesses wanting to create jobs there.

My idea was to recruit home sewers and assemblers in Sombrerete to make the hair accessories, rather than establish on the US – Mexico border, which is the generally accepted maquilla model.

maquila worker

The factory in Zacatecas.

The operation called Luna Llena at its peak employed two shifts of 50 people. We had a bonded warehouse on the border in McAllen, Texas. The first shipment was a disaster, though. How the process works is simple. The idea is to send 10 straps, 10 beads and 10 feathers through customs in Mexico. Then the materials are assembled and the completed 10 pony tail holders are then shipped to the US warehouse.

The finished inventory didn’t match up with the raw materials list. After getting that workflow figured out, everything went smoothly.

One of the best things about Mexico is the time zones are the same as the US. I sometimes flew into Guadalajara or Zacatecas, but mostly flew into Mazatlan in the state of Sinaloa, hung around the beach for a few days then took the bus to Sombrerete. “Papers? We don’t need no stinkin’ papers!” I traveled uneventfully on a passport and a tourist visa for five years.

In 1997 President Clinton and the President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo signed an agreement hoping to stem illegal immigration and drugs from flowing to the US.

clinton zedillo

US President Clinton and El Presidente de Mexico Ernesto Zedillo

One of my business partners, Francisco,  was driving us from Sombrerete to Zacatecas in a beat up Toyota pickup with expired California plates. Just outside the town of Fresnillo we were stopped by an armed cadre of soldiers.

We were ordered out of the truck and handed over our papers. I had my US passport and the tourist visa from Mazatlan, which immediately caused problems.

Francisco and I were separated. He was worked over in Spanish and I was worked over in English. A third soldier emptied the truck and tossed my suitcase and repacked it. After an hour we were cleared to go, but not quite. My suitcase was again turned upside down and rechecked for contraband.

I was an illegal in central Mexico on a tourist visa from a coastal state.

They let us go.

I did go through the process to get a visa to work in Mexico. It’s not as big of a deal as it is in the US. I had to get a letter from my partner about the nature of our manufacturing work and took it to the Embassy for Mexico in Denver, pay $125 and I was granted a work visa.

There are plenty of isolationists, including Donald Trump, who want to close the US borders to immigrants – legal or illegal – who at the same time are against moving US jobs off shore.

I’m convinced that the best way to stem immigration from Latin America is for international companies from the US and elsewhere of all sizes to move there and create jobs for locals.

My gig in Sombrerete was good while it lasted.

What happened?

Francisco’s brother, Faustino, was the brains of the operation. He was the only guy among his group who spoke English and had a US visa. On his way to Colorado, he became very ill. Turned out he had cancer.

He moved himself and his extended family to Mexico City for better medical care and eventually died. Francisco moved the factory to Mexico City, which made a sense in a lot of ways and took the business in a different direction and sewed clothing.

I haven’t been back to Sombrerete or Mexico lately. Looking back, it was very isolating being the only English speaker for miles around. Communication was exhausting and I wore out a couple English – Spanish dictionaries.

I hear that Ecuador is now a big haven for expat Americans but I don’t think I’d want to live among them.

On the trail of Bolder Boulder Skechers: Memorial Day 2016

Obligatory Bolder Boulder shot on Folsom Hill.

I don’t know why I do the Bolder Boulder 10K. Maybe it’s the familiarity – the Blues Brothers crooning  right out of the blocks; the girating belly dancers on the Folsom Hill and off key Elvis at the 7-Eleven; the Slip ‘n Slide – now there are two.

I used to buy a shirt every year but got rid of all of them except the 2002 race shirt. That was the race that remembered 9/11. That takes the guess work out of my annual wardrobe decision making.

I started covering the race in 2006 when I was with the public access TV station and have been going out on the course getting shots of pretty much anything but the race, including all the bands that entertain the runners along the way.

Mugging with Elvis at the 7-Eleven

It takes me around three hours to finish. I stop about 20 times and spend a few minutes with all the bands and live entertainment along the route. I get out too late to sample any of the bacon giveaway – the other power bar – around the 9K neighborhood. I did notice that the Colorado Pork Producers are now a sponsor and taken over the concession.

When I was recovering from my illness in 2014, I had to take a swig of oxygen staggering into the stadium just before the orange shirts – the mop up crew – threw me off the course. My strength and stamina are way better, except the rock climbing on Saturday took its toll. That’s another story.

This year, I took a step on the wild side and made a Bolder Boulder impulse buy.

I was bound and determined to find a pair of new sneakers – Skechers. Last year, I was sitting at the lunch table with elite runner Meb Keflezighi. In 2015 Skechers was named as the big sponsor of the Bolder Boulder and Meb swears by Skechers. That’s been his shoe sponsor since 2011.

He couldn’t stop raving about Skechers – sort of like when after winning Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning said that he was going to relax and down a few Buds in reference to his Louisiana business interests.

Vintage Skechers

Not that I’m any kind of shoe aficionado, but I remember Skechers as pastel pink women’s walking shoes with the rounded bottoms. Now footwear for elite athletes?

If there’s anyone who’s the casual runner, it’s me. I bought a pair of Asics in 2002 and wear them once a year for the Bolder Boulder. Needless to say, my shoes are still in good shape.

Last year – 2015 – Skechers had a big trade booth on the Pearl Street Mall. The Flatiron Running Store was the local sponsor and was giving out T-shirts. I picked up a shirt and some literature about Skechers, but hadn’t made up my mind about the shoes.

Fast forward to 2016, this year I visited the Skecher trade booth and tried on a pair  of the 8 1/2 GoRun Strada shoes, but walked away. When I came back, they, of course, were sold, but I tried on every other shoe in my size, but none were quite right, even at $76. (Actually, any of them would have worked, but they were red. I don’t wear anything red because it reminds me of my high school rivals Cheyenne Central).

My $30 Skechers are little too colorful for my liking, but I won’t wear them until next year.

Not to be deterred, I went down to the Flatiron Running Store in the Table Mesa shopping center and much to my surprise, most of their Skechers were on the deeply-discounted sale table.

After searching around, I uncovered one pair, sticker price $130 marked down to $50 and marked down again to $30.

Retail is for suckers.

I got them home and as the Skechers shoe salesman on the Mall explained, the soles are made out of foam. They are light weight and felt good on my feet. As a general rule, it probably doesn’t make much sense to wear brand new shoes on a 10K run, but they were very soft and comfortable.

Afterwards, no bruised up runner’s toe or achy arches. For this kind of foot abuse, I normally need strong support, but not with these Skechers.

I sound like Meb.

Since I only wear them six miles per year, the foam should last me for a while. This model probably is not for hard core runners which may be why all these shoes were on the “buy these before we send them to “Aftica” sale table.

Ellen and infant Evelyn on Memoaial Day

One of my friends was due to have a baby around this weekend. In the pool, I had May 30th and sure enough baby Evelyn was born on Memorial Day.

Bragging rights.

I played the game of Risk in a past life. The custom of the group bestowed on the winner the imperial honor of folding up the board, sorting out the pieces and putting the game away.

Imperial bragging rights.

Baby Skechers rooted out of a pile at Nordstrom’s Rack.

In this vein, as the winner of the birth date guessing game, I felt obliged to get a present. I opted for a Memorial Day – Bolder Boulder themed gift of a pair of baby Skechers, which cost $30 – the same price as the pair I bought for the race. I’m pretty sure if Nike or Adidas sponsored the race, my baby shoes would have been way pricier!

After getting to Folsom Field, I happened to see two folks who were the last two finishers being escorted by the orange shirts past the finish line. Turns out the runners in their 70s were Don and Barb Worden from Rock Springs, Wyoming.

They said this is likely their last Bolder Boulder.

Maybe they have the right idea to end their running careers on a high note as the final finishers in 2016.

Environmental politics and the euthanized bison calf

bison yellowstone

Waiting for a bison in the road – Yellowstone National Park a couple years ago.

Bison have been in the news lately.

President Obama signed legislation designating the American Bison as the national animal. (See, Congress can get stuff done when it wants).

One of the more bizarre bison stories made the rounds this week which explains why the Northern Arapaho community in Wyoming has had a tough time getting any bison for its tribal ceremonies.

Seems a couple international tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park was quite concerned about the health and safety of a newborn bison calf that had wandered away from its herd.

bison_calf

This now famous bison calf was collected by a couple tourists in Yellowstone recently. They thought the young animal was cold and in danger.

The well intended park visitors scooped up the maverick and placed it in the back of their SUV and proceeded to notify the park rangers of their concern.

Turns out their unlawful act of kindness resulted in a ticket and fine.

The story has a not-so-happy ending because after repeated attempts to reunite the calf with its mother and herd, it was rejected and park wildlife officials had to put the young animal down.

Some of my friends were aghast wondering why there isn’t a bison rescue organization,¬† that could have taken the orphaned calf and nurtured it.

That makes a lot of sense but unfortunately, bison are among the most political animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

gye map

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has been the home for conflicts between wildlife and livestock interests.

This bison calf would have a big identity crisis had it wandered into Wyoming because it could be treated as livestock or wildlife or both.

There’s a political skirmish between cattle ranchers and wildlife managers as to the proper jurisdiction – in fact, the state vet and wikdlife managers both have jurisdiction.

What complicates the matter is a contagious disease called brucellosis which isn’t harmful to people, in most cases, but when the bacteria gets into a cattle herd, all animals generally have to be destroyed and the state quarantined.

You’ll recall there was a big furor a few years back about mad cow’s disease. Most recently, there were many chickens destroyed because of avian flu which is why poutry is still expensive.

How does all this happen?

The disease epidemiology is very complex biologically, but causes huge economic impacts that not only include the domestic livestock industry and wildlife management, but also the tourism industry.

Over the years, due to US National Park Service herd management, certain elk populations outgrow their environments. Bison contracted the disease from the over populated elk herds in this case, the GYE.

Bison wander out of the park, elk migrate to and from and the conflict originated when cattle ranchers began to develop infected herds and the blame fell primarily on the bison because they are more sedentary, as opposed to migratory.

Montana treats bison mire like wildlife and through the state veterinarian’s and wildlifr offices there and the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a brucellosis quarantine facility set up just ourside the park. (Fun Fact – APHIS is the agency that oversees the safety of airports so the chance that birds smack into airplanes is minimized).

Bison that leave the park are given a blood test and checked for brucellosis. if they are positive, they are slaughtered, if they are negative, they are put into quarantine and eventually released back to the park.

kids bison

This bison was part of a Northern Arapaho tribal ceremony in November. There are community members who want to reestablish bison on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The bison calf in question could have been tested. If it tested positive, it would have been put down. If it was negative, it would have been quarantined and someone, would have had to stick with it for 30 days or more.

Even if that care taking did happen, my druthers would have been to give it to the Northern Arapaho Tribe to help them reestablish a bison herd on the Wind River Indian Reservation in a highly managed pasture – as opposed to free-roaming.

The fact is, Wyoming is currently NOT a brucellosis free state. In the Cliff Notes version of the process, this means the bison calf, if it was tested and found to be brucellosis-free, as well as others could be culled from the Yellowstone herd, quarantined on Northern Arapaho land and allowed to propagate for tribal ceremonial purposes.

There’s currently a prototype already operating at the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins with Yellowstone brucellosis-free bison. There’s a small herd now on the Soap Stone open space park by Livermore.

Take away the politics and this isn’t rocket science.

 

 

 

Forget Trump, Hillary is the big GOP unifier

donald-hillary-billThe three men in Hillary’s life right now will be nothing but trouble until she can get them in line. I, like Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich, am Feeling the Bern until I can no longer.

Bernie can’t win. Why doesn’t he quit?

The better question is why doesn’t Hillary adopt some of Bernie’s tenets before the convention?

As long as Hillary keeps wearing the blinders, her path doesn’t get any straighter.

Bernie is sticking around to nurture his populist movement. So far, do good, but I thought Occupy would get traction, but turns out Occupy morphed into Bernie.

Hillary, likely, is betting Bernie, like Occupy, will be irrelevant. His followers have zero chance of changing Wall Street.

Trump is showing his campaign hand. He’s going after Bill. I’m pretty sure, he’s dis-entombing Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and others we might not have known were hidden in the crypt.

It’s gonna get ugly.

Hearsay, innuendo, made up stuff, the whole shebang.

The political pundits are dancing around the issue, bracing for the onslaught. Hillary is ignoring it.

Then there’s the email thing. I don’t agree the latest reports are a rehash. She’s tried joking it off, ignoring it, sending Claire McCaskill to run interference, even apologizing.

She can’t shake it. It keeps popping up in the tabloid and ‘legit’ news cycles with click bait headlines of all kinds. She isn’t helping her cause.

gennifer-flowers-monica-lewinsky1It’s gonna be uglier than any campaign I’ve seen before, which isn’t saying much since none of them have been this gossipy and personal.

This seems different than Nixon’s lying, cheating, and stealing, but campaign 2016 is being treated as if it’s the same as politics as usual though.

In fact, many of the Hillary supporters I know, at least who I read on facebook, say something to the effect, “Well, the Clintons have baggage and have had their clocks cleaned for 25 years or more, and have emerged relatively unscathed – so, blah blah blah?

I don’t think the election season will play out like typical politics.

Hillary just said that Bill is in charge of job creation. He’s officially fair game assuming Hillary finally gets enough delegates and she’ll have to accept not only his successes but his less successful actions.

Trump may have a 70 percent disapproval rating among women voters but he’ll prove his detractors wrong by being one of the biggest supporters of women when he continues to pile on an abusive Bill Clinton.

Hillary needs to own the violence against women narrative and along with it, solidify the electorate behind her story. So far, she doesn’t really have many stories. She’s campaigning on her political savvy – which is diverse at the state and federal levels and in the community. There’s no doubt she’s smart and experienced.

Without a good narrative, her political experience and knowledge will go the way of Mike Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry. These three also campaigned as highly experienced statistics-spewing policy wonks and ignored the simple Republican story lines against them.

dukakis-hortonDukakis didn’t respond to attacks about being weak on crime and Willie Horton. Al Gore couldn’t shake Bill Clinton nor did he have any answer to the “fuzzy math” comments by Bush 43 about his Medicare lock box¬† that couldn’t get any traction a month before the election. Kerry ignored the “Swift Boat” smear campaign and allowed George W. to paint himself as an “ah, shucks rancher” when he and Kerry both shared the same upper crust pedigrees.

What if Hillary said something like, “You know, it’s no secret that my marriage has had it’s share if problems, maybe like yours. There were times I thought my husband was a big SOB there were other times when things were great. I’m not proud about how my personal life went down like an episode of “Scandal.” Bill was impeached, he’s had a tough hill to climb. I have to tell you our entire family paid for his screw ups, and we moved forward.”

Victim blamers ask, “Why did Hillary stay?” as opposed to “Why didn’t Bill change?”

Well, Bill got a loud wake up call from the public-humiliation perpetrator treatment program almost lost his job and that was that. Hillary is putting him in charge of job creation. I did think his welfare to work program was a good one. The same could happen with a new look for incentive-based Medicaid.

Trump’s misstep about his “Bill strategy” is blaming Hillary because she “enabled” hom to philander – he leaves a lot of subtext there without having to explain. That will back fire except among the men and women who believe that women should be subservient.

So far, Bill has been brushing Trump off like lint, but his message should be the same. Something like, “Well, Anderson, we had some rough patches. They were all caused by my stupidity and it really messed up our family, in fact, I don’t know if it will totally heal up.

“We’ve gotten through it. Chelsea has a family of her own now and being a grand father has really put things into perspective. Hillary could have sent me packing, but instead we decided to work things out and I can’t say that’s been easy, but we support each other 100 percent now and want to get down to being responsive to the American people.”

What about Bernie.

He’s not going away anytime soon. He has a pretty good chance to win the rest of the states, including California. Lucky for Hillary, she has the super delegates mostly in the bag come June 7th.

If Hillary wants Bernie to go away, her campaign needs to start capitulating a bit. If it’s viewed as a zero – sum game (we won, so go home) there will be a bunch of disgruntled Bernie supporters, myself included.

Here’s how I would mansplain her strategy.

What if Hillary called up Bernie and said, “You know Bernie, you’ve raised a lot of good points over the past year and figured out how to harness that grassroots energy particularly among young people. To tell you the truth, I’m not so good at that.

Buffett Gates“You’re right, I agree with you about figuring out how to keep money out of politics and I’ve been a little to complacent on that and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for me to deal with the big banks and Wall Street after the PAC that’s been supporting me has accepted all that money. I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but apparently it is.

“But you know what? They’re going to have to cry in their beer when I’m not with them. I’m also okay with raising taxes on the upper one percent and they better get on board with that like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and others have about spreading out the wealth.

“So are we going to do this together? That means you’ll have to reign in your young horses and let them know we’re all in this together!”

It will take some doing, but she can win this thing. It’s not going to be politics as usual.