Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey Penguin, Bite Me

Now that I have your attention...

No, this isn't about the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.  The main noun in the subject would have pluralized.  And probably contained some other rude words.

No, this isn't about the cute, little Antarctic bird we all love.

This is about the bad taste in my mouth left by Penguin Publishing.

I am a reader - a relatively voracious one who tends to be very loyal to her favorite authors.  I buy a book, then a series, then replace books that get eaten by dogs, never returned, and now eBooks to replace my hard copies.  

So this very morning, I go to Amazon on my much-beloved Kindle to purchase Sookie 12 or Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris.  I fire up the WiFi, turn the Kindle on, get to Amazon, find the book and...


The price for the eBook is $14.99.

The price for the hard copy - $15.15.

I rub my eyes.  It is after all o'dark:30 and I haven't finished my cup of tea yet.

Nope, still $14.99.

I don't click "BUY".  

I turn off the Kindle.  And then the WiFi.

I walk away.

I walk away from a series that I have bought every book of - some several times over, anthologies so I could get all the short stories, the companion book, been a member of the website for about 8 years, subscribed to HBO to watch True Blood, etc.  I introduced about a bazillion people to the series.  I freakin' named my dog after the main character, Sookie.  

Walked. Away.

$14.99 for an eBook which has no physical product, no wrapping, no delivery charges, no cover art even.  $14.99 that maybe the author will see maybe 20-30% of the total proceeds, whether or not the publishing house chooses to ever really disclose their book sales to the author.  $14.99.

My brother is a self-published author who can wax poetic about the injustices of the publishing industries.  Kindle forums are polluted with vicious debates about the pros and cons of being a writer under contract to a publishing house.  We all know the Apple & Publishers v. Amazon Department of Justice case going on right now.  But today, the whole sordid kit and kaboodle hit home.

Today, I drew a personal line. I am not going to be held ransom to any publisher who thinks that $14.99 is a good price for any eBook.  I am sorry Charlaine, I won't be buying your book.  I'll see if in a few months, once the Department of Justice has brought Penguin to heel, if the price drops.  

If it doesn't, I won't buy.  I may try to get it from the library in about a year.  Until then, I am sure all the book tidbits will be shared on various web sites so I don't get left behind.  

I'll be looking for the self-published who write as well if not better.  I'll be looking for publishers who have lowered their prices for eBooks because they get it.  Or got it once faced with court proceedings and settlements.  

So for now, Sookie Stackhouse, you and I will part ways.  I love you dearly, but I won't contribute to Penguin's bottom line any more.  Maybe someday, you and I will sit down for some sweet tea and a slice of Caroline Bellefleur's marvelous cake.  Til then, ta.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic – a CAPS Fan Perspective

The Winter Classic – Hockey Mecca for those dedicated and rich enough fans who are lucky enough to get a ticket or strong-arm family members into giving them a ticket. On January 1, 2011, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins met for a clash in Pensburgh.

I was a lucky person attended the event with my brother(Matt), sister-in-law (Renee), two cousins Lauren and Mike, and Mike’s girlfriend (Madison). I had a blast.

The result?

CAPS WON – 3-1.
Enough gloating.

On to the really important stuff…like the whole experience.

Pre-game Celebration: Over at Japers Rink, there was talk of a non-official, official party. Seems that some of the Caps fans didn’t want to pay the $100 for three drinks at the official fan party. So JP and Kevin Ewoldt came up with the splendid idea to gather Caps fans at the Hofbrauhaus (http://www.hofbrauhauspittsburgh.com/) on Pittsburgh’s South Side. I convinced the brother and sister-in-law that this was the place to be, so we trooped out at 7 PM for the festivities.

Dudes, let me tell you what, we got there about 7:30 and the Bier Hall was PACKED with CAPS RED. Packed! We got the last elbow room space at the wall bar right inside the entry way. For the next hour, we’d play official greeters of the non-official Caps New Year’s Eve party. I returned cheers from entering fans, exchanged high-fives, back pats, hugs, and well wishes. We made a couple of good buddies (Kevin from Reston, and Chris, alas a Pens fan.)

We eventually got a table in the dining room and drank, ate and made merry. M&R decided to hit the casino pre-midnight instead of wading back into the madness of the Bier Hall. My guesstimate is that the hall holds about 500 hundred. About 80% of that was wearing red. On the way out, there was a line about 50-60 deep of Caps fans trying to get in.

JP and Kevin – AWESOME idea. A+++

: So for the first time, the Winter Classic suffered a rain delay. The game, initially set for 1 PM, was moved to 8 PM to avoid the buckets of rain. For the days leading up to the game, Lauren and I traded phone calls on the weather status, which looked crappy and got progressively worse. From mere rain, it went to heavy downpours, and finally predictions of up to an inch of rain. We kept hoping the game would get pushed to Sunday, which promised to be 34 and sunny. No such luck. My sister-in-law ordered us red rain ponchos. Cool.

The powers-that-be at the NHL were not forthcoming on rain delay. At first, they said they would go hour to hour which sounded liking a losing proposition. Then they finally said the game could start as late as 8 PM. On Friday, they finally announced the 8 PM start. We shrugged our shoulders and got our game faces on.

The forecasters promised temperatures in the upper 30s by game start. Whoops - Mother Nature went all girl-like on us. Pre-game temperatures were in the low 50s. We dressed for the 30s and wind and rain, but the majority of moisture being generated pre-game was our own sweat. As we came around the front of the stadium (the river-facing gate) we got hit by a slight yet welcome breeze.

While we were in the NHL Experience thingy, someone told us that a squall line was due to come through around 8 PM. We shrugged our shoulders and made towards our gate.

The squall hit about 8:30-8:45. As luck would have it, we had very lucky seating (see the seating section below.) Alas, not so the more expensive tickets in the 100 section.

Between the 2nd and 3rd period, the winds started up and the temperature finally started to drop. But of course, as this was the day of contrary weather, the winds blew in from the east not the more normal west.

By the end of the game, the rain was continuing as the temperature continued to drop. After we got in my truck at about 11:30 PM, we were hit with freezing rain and then snow.

It was the best and worst weather Pittsburgh could throw at us.

Grade: C

: Section 223, Row P – you are the best seats ever.

We had marvelous seats in the second section of the first tier. The seats were in the enclosed end of Heinz field, and as we trooped up to our seats, wonders of wonders, we were under the overhang for the second tier – no getting wet for us! We were directly behind the Home (Penguins) goal. The only action we couldn’t see was anything directly at the goalie’s feet.

Our section, 223, was a majority of Caps fans. Our row had only one lone Penguin fan in it, my cousin Lauren. My other cousin and his girlfriend were in Row H, and lucky for them, just under the overhang as well.

Every Caps goal brought out an entire round of high-fiving and chanting – “C-A-P-S, CAPS, CAPS, CAPS!”

Great seats.

Grade: A

Fans: What can I say – the Caps fans rose to the occasion and were amazing! There was unity in our love of the team that Rocks the Red. I got more hugs and high-fives during the whole weekend than I did at my college graduation.

The Penguins fans seem to run the gamut from nice to indifferent to rabid to pure haters. I had one Pens fan (not my cousin) hug me and congratulate me after the game. On the trip out of Heinz Field, we ran into a couple of teenage haters who would be better served to expend their anger tracking down terrorists or cleaning out sewers. Someone with a few more psychology classes than me, offered up a “Flyers Suck” chant that diffused the situation. The people following our small army of combined fans out of the stadium seemed amazed at the rallying chant. But then, who doesn’t hate the Flyers?

Speaking of chanting, during the minutes leading up to the opening ceremonies, Caps and Pens fans exchanged cheers. One brave individual, wearing his Sabers Jersey and a ridiculous Mohawk hat, stood up and yelled during a lull, “Let’s go Buffalo!” Kudos to you, young man.

And jerseys – wow. The collection included:
• Team Canada
• Buffalo
• Maple Leafs
• Flyers (boo-hiss)
• ‘Canes
• Canucks
• Montreal
• Devils
• Sharks
• an Old Whalers
• A huge selection of vintage and current Pens jerseys
• Caps Winter Classic

Grade: Caps Fans/Other Fans – A
Pens Fans - B-

NHL Fan Experience/Village/Whatever the heck it was

Fail. So what do you get when you pack 70,000 people through a ¼ mile of service road around Heinz Field? Mass Hysteria.

This was by FAR the biggest disappointment of the whole event. Too many people in too small an area, and no way to get into any of the vendors or displays without throwing some hip checks.

The only ones enjoying the experience were the folks at the hot chocolate stand, because everyone was too hot to drink cocoa before the game.

One highlight was the face-painting stand. The Pens side of the stand was about 20 people. The Caps side of the stand, 3. Got my Weagle with glitter as did my sister-in-law. My brother opted for no glitter on his Weagle.

Grade: D-

Entertainment: I’m stumped when it comes to what the heck the NHL was thinking when it picked the bands. I mean, really, Styxx? I didn’t know until after the Classic that during the Steelers game, they have a video rally that uses “Renegade” as the music theme. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay. Got it. Wasn’t anywhere as good as the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park where they sang “Sweet Caroline” between the 2nd and 3rd periods.

Hinder was okay, not what I would have picked. And the Clarks – the poor Clarks. A local Pittsburgh band that was all but drowned in the squall that started during their 1st/2nd period intermission show. Bless your hearts.

Steven Page singing the Canadian National Anthem, brilliant. I love to sing “O Canada, which is set in a reasonable octave, unlike the United States National Anthem which is best performed drunk or by howlers monkeys, or perhaps drunk howler monkeys.” Jackie Evancho, from America’s Got Talent, the precocious twelve year old, managed to mangle the word “perilous”, but didn’t flinch when the Caps fans belted out “red” as in “rockets RED glare.”

The best band of the Classic was a band performing outside in the “Experience” zone. Alas, I didn’t hang around due to the whole salmon swimming upstream effect.

The only good thing to say is that the entertainers were a step up from Chaka Khan at the 2010 NHL Awards show.

Grade: C
Wrap-up: Blast, blast, blast! It was for the most part, freakin' awesome! Applause to the organizers, the teams, the fans, and my family for a great 2 day Caps adventure!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meet Thelma & Louise - Looking for a Forever Home

Meet Thelma and Louise (to the left of the big dog). Two foundling puppies looking for a forever home. These adorable litter mates are some sort of yellowlab/husky mix and are about twelve weeks old. They are calm, smart and very loving. They are looking for a permanent home where they can be together forever.

Thelma looks more husky-like than her sister. She has a teddy-bear soft coat, and a big heart. She is the dog that will be sitting at your feet every night. Louise is the smoother coated of the two and is a little angel. She is more petite than Thelma and very sensitive. Louise will be your ball-player and hiking companion.

Since I don’t know their medical history, they are going through the full rounds of puppy vaccinations and worming. They’ve had round one and have two more to go. They are as house-broken as twelve week old pups can be. I currently keep them in a crate during the day, with a lunch time outdoor break. They are romping and playing with my large dogs like pros, and are cat curious, not cat aggressive.

These two are going to need a home that will keep them as indoor pets – both have heavy down coats and will be uncomfortable in the summer heat. They will be larger so their new family will have to understand that they can’t be crated for endless hours and will need exercise. They will need a weekly brushing to keep their down coats from matting. These two will do great at puppy school. My vet was impressed with their demeanor and attitude.

The perfect family for them would have older children or perhaps an older couple looking for new companions.

To adopt these babies, here’s the deal:

  • Potential adopters must have a vet reference and personal reference

  • Potential adopters will have a home visit

  • Homes with a fenced in back yard preferred

  • Adopters must understand what “forever” and indoor pets mean

  • The adoption fee is to cover their spaying and micro-chipping
What you will get in return are the two best companions ever. These two are going to be beautiful, loving dogs that are the sunshine in your life. In South Carolina, over 19,000 adoptable animals are euthanized every year. These two are escaping that death sentence and looking for their forever family.

Contact me via the comments section on the blog or via Facebook.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Egads - the truth will out...

Read the email rant that started this...

Obama Surrendering Internet to Foreign Powers

By: Bradley A. Blakeman

Without the ingenuity of America’s brightest minds and the investment of U.S. taxpayer dollars, there would be no Internet, as we now know it today.

Now, the Obama administration has moved quietly to cede control of the Web from the United States to foreign powers.

Some background: The Internet came into being because of the genius work of Americans Dr.Robert E. Kahn and Dr. Vinton G. Cerf. These men, while working for the Department of Defense in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the early 1970s, conceived, designed, and implemented the idea of "open-architecture networking."

Read the rest below.

My Response:

Wow - this is so bad, I don't know where to begin. Let's start with basic facts. While DOD did some of the underlying computing work to build TCP/IP networking, we ALL know that Al Gore really invented the Internet.

The Internet is vast array of GLOBAL (always has been!) computers and networks using the TCP/IP technology that came out of DOD for space flight. DOD has a vested interested in their two proprietary Internets - ARPA and DARPA. If you want all the gory details of the Internet and how it came to be see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet . And be prepared to yawn.

What is the Internet anyway? The World Wide Web, email, FTP, telecommunications, and more! Things most of the world never ever even sees. Seriously, though, the dude that invented the Web as we know it was invented by a really cool guy named Tim Berners Lee from, gasp, England working for a pan-European group called CERN. Read more about Tim at http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/

IANA is operated by ICANN (not U.S. Dep't of Commerce!) and may more appropriately be called the owner of IPs, domains, etc. ICANN is HQ'ed in California by the way and is directed by an international board of directors. ICANN negotiates with all governments world wide for domain space. And let's face it, the US is probably the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to initially buying domains. You've got to have someone watching the shop or else the Chinese will start backroom-selling knock-off versions of the Web.

For a long time Network Solutions based in Herndon, VA held the stranglehold on registering IPs and domains in the U.S. They were declared a monopoly, and then we had the birth of cut-rate registries born, like GoDaddy.com. (And who doesn't love those commercials??!!) What happens is that there are top-level domains that are assigned to countries/entity types/etc by ICANN and their governmental agreements.

Registers buy blocks of these top-level domains and then parcel them out to various organizations. So you know, Verizon walks in and buys about oh, say 5,000 high level domains that they then parcel out to their various business units and eventually trickles it ways down to you at home. You at home, unless you are a real geek, probably don't even have an IP address that is your's and your's alone - most home networks get assigned a random IP address from their host network when the home user connects to the Internet.

Curious about your IP address? http://whatismyipaddress.com/

So what I THINK the author was trying to point out was the recently signed (9/30/2009) agreement between US DOC and ICANN amending the original 1998 agreement. Now here is where you need to put on your thinking caps people. I have worked with government entities for nigh on 15 years. I've got the insider track on this...If this amendment was signed on 9/30/09, just WHEN did the negotiations for the amendment begin? Just taking a guess on how long it took for this agreement or any agreement to be reached, it probably was the terminus of 2 or more years of hard-work by mid-senior level attorneys at DOC and ICANN. And doing the math, that would make it taking place in the Bush Administration. Putting on my shocked face!

For instance from the amended agreement, read Item 8:

8. ICANN affirms its commitments to: (a) maintain the capacity and ability to coordinate the Internet DNS at the overall level and to work for the maintenance of a single, interoperable Internet; (b) remain a not for profit corporation, headquartered in the United States of America with offices around the world to meet the needs of a global community; and (c) to operate as a multi-stakeholder, private sector led organization with input from the public, for whose benefit ICANN shall in all events act. ICANN is a private organization and nothing in this Affirmation should be construed as control by any one entity.

Basically, ICANN is going to do what's its always done - help preserve the Internet for everyone who uses it. I bet the dude who penned the gunk below doesn't know that ICANN along with CERN and CERT (CERT is HQ'ed right there in good ole Pittsburgh, PA at Carnegie Mellon) have dedicated teams that keep the Internet safe from the losers who invent such crap like the Conficker virus and other such hacking marvels.

So now that I am going for jail writing ARPA, DARPA, Chinese, and Conficker in the same email which I am sure is a violation of the Patriot Act, please bear in mind that Obama is not the anti-Internet demon waiting to have all our computers spew our credit card numbers out to malicious and ill-willed Nigerians wanting to take over your bank account.

Your Internet is still free folks, even to distribute stuff like this. Feel free to contribute to my bail fund.



Read the rest of the bad stuff...
This breakthrough in connectivity and networking was the birth of the Internet.

These two gentlemen had the vision and the brainpower to create a worldwide computer Internet communications network that forever changed the world and how we communicate in it.

They discovered that providing a person with a unique identifier (TCP/IP)that was able to be recognized and interact through a network of servers would allow users to communicate with others.

The servers woulduse a series of giant receivers to recognize the identifier and connect networks to networks, passing on information from computer to computer in a seamless real-time exchange of information. This new process of communication became know as the "information super highway," aka, the Internet.

Now for the bad news: In an effort to show the world how inclusive, sharing, cooperative, and international America can be, the Obama administration set off on a plan to surrender control and key management of the Internet by the U.S. Department of Commerce and its agents.

The key to the control America has over the Internet is through the management of the Domain Name System (DNS) and the giant servers that service the Internet.

Domain names are managed through an entity named IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. The IANA, which operates on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources.

In short, without an IP Address or other essential Internet protocols, a person or entity would not have access to the Internet.

For years, the international community has been pressuring the United States
to surrender its control and management of the Internet. They want an international body such as the United Nations or even the International Telecommunications Union, (an entity that coordinates international telephone communications), to manage all aspects of the Internet in behalf of all nations.

The argument advanced for those seeking international control of the Internet is that the Internet has become such a powerful, pervasive, and a dependent form of international communications, that it would be dangerous and inequitable for any one nation to control and manage it.

Just this past spring, within months of Obama's taking office, his administration, through the Department of Commerce, agreed to relinquish some control over IANA and their governance. The Obama administration has agreed to give greater representation to foreign companies and countries on IANA.

This amounts to one small step for internationalism and one giant leap for surrendering America's control over an invention we have every right and responsibility to control and manage.

It is in America's economic and national security interests not to relinquish any control. We are responsible for the control, operation, and functionality of one of the modern world's greatest inventions and most powerful communications network.

What better country to protect the Internet than the United States?

We invented it, and we paid for the research and implementation that made it
possible. We are the freest, most tolerant nation on earth, we believe in the
fundamental right of free speech, and we practice a free market of commerce and ideas.

America has always been against censorship and has shared its invention with the world without fee or unreasonable or arbitrary restriction. The user fee to operate on the Internet is not one paid to the U.S. government; a consumer pays it to private Internet companies, who provide access to the Internet through servers for their subscribers.

Look no further than China's recent move against Google to censor the
Internet, and you can envision what can happen when other nations less free
than the United States seek to control the Internet beyond even their own borders.

America needs to wake up. If we lose control over the management of the
Internet, we have given away one of our nation's greatest assets with nothing
in return to show for it.

The Obama administration's actions will set in motion a slow and complete takeover of the Internet by the United Nations or some other equally U.S.-hostile and unfriendly international body. And once it is gone, it will be gone forever.

The surrender of the Internet will spell disaster for our nation, financially, as well as for safety, security and our standing as a great power that values freedom and the free exchange of ideas and information.

As far as I am concerned, America is still the last best hope for a more
peaceful and prosperous world and our president should not be looking for
ways to weaken us. Rather, his job is to work to strengthen us and protect our nation's greatest asset our people's creativity and ingenuity.

Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-20004, teaches Public Policy & Politics & International Affairs at Georgetown University.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's 2010 - Yippee!!!!!

After grinding through yet another year, I decided to write a blog to actually make resolutions and goals that will guide my decision making in the next year or two. You see, 2009 SUCKED! A lot of people had a sucky year, and thankfully, mine didn't tank like some did, but all the same, in my personal micro-world, it was not a pleasant year.

For many, many reasons - not the least of which my dog died and oh yeah, the guy who I was living with left me (because he's effin' crazy! No, really - crazy as a bedbug! Just ask his psychiatrist!) between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, losing the dog hurt more, but dealing with the man and his injuries and all that attendant crap took a big bite out of my life.

So onwards and upwards...here's my New Year's Eve blog!

Top 10 Resolutions for 2010

#10: Don't get bit by a feral cat, for the love of Pete!
#9: Take more multivitamins to avoid being sick (again.)
#8: Avoid cutting down any tree over 10 feet tall.
#7: Ride your horse(s) more often.
#6: Do something new that makes you slightly uncomfortable at least once a quarter. Push your boundaries. The USMC Mud Run does qualify. However, see Resolution #4 for guidelines.
#5: See ALL your doctors this year. Even the ones you don't like.
#4: No broken bones. No exceptions.
#3: Trade in devoted significant other hat for the cougar cap. Meow.
#2: Get a body that looks good in the cougar cap.
#1. Whirled Peas or at least peace in my living room.

Top Goals for 2010

#10: Run three miles a day 4x a week by this time next year.
#9: Eat healthier
#8: Get rid of any clothing you haven't worn in 2 years.
#7: Read at least one non-fiction book a month. Read one new book once a month.
#6: Pamper yourself AT LEAST once a month - buy a special food, get a massage, go do something that is special just for you and don't share.
#5: Annoy someone at least once a month.
#4: Laugh. More.
#3: Remember, payback is indeed a b*tch and her name is Kristin.
#2: Work life, don't let life work you.
#1: Finish your book. And then the second one. And then sell them. Good luck.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cue the Breaking News Sounder - USMC Mud Run Update!

I survived the 16th annual USMC Mud Run. Barely, and with help from my team mates, but I survived. It was a LONG 4.2 miles with 30+ obstacles, and LOTS of mud. Did I train? Not much. My summer was eaten away by injury after injury - kicked by a mule, biten by a feral cat, breaking a bone in my foot, all the fun stuff. I went in knowing that I was inadequately prepared for the mud fest, but despite all that, managed to finish.

There are plenty of people who can tell you how to train for the mud run. I thought I would share my now first-hand knowledge with the world on how to survive the mud run.

  1. Set Low Expectations: It’s okay NOT to want to win. It’s okay NOT to place in the top 100. My goal from the start was to still be breathing at the end. And my friends, I was. I met my goal!

  2. Embrace Your Pain: Pain is a good thing. You don’t have pain if you are dead. So appreciate the fact from Number 1, and keep your feet moving.

  3. Don’t get attached to your clothes: Reference Picture 1 to understand what mere words can’t prepare you for.

  4. Laugh! The more you laugh, the shorter the course will seem, and the better time you will have. Unless you a REALLY serious competitor trying to complete the course in less than 50 minutes, then have some fun with it. Mud can be fun!

  5. Other Important Things

    Dress appropriately. No, seriously. Dress appropriately. You have a beer gut? Cover it up. Unsightly scars – hide them. No one can afford to be distracted during the over and under logs by your lack of clothing. Ladies, wear a sports bra at least a size too small. You need to be as aerodynamic as possible when mud running. And don’t wear girly girl stuff, if you want laid that bad, go to the bars after the mud run. And please don’t tell your team mates while on the course that her outfit makes her boobs look perky. That’s a great way to bring the race to a stop.

    Ignore the Marines yelling at you, unless they are telling you an alligator just crawled into the Tarzan pit. You are doing your best. (As an aside, I did meet one wonderful marine who cheered me all the way to the BIG mud pit – he made me laugh, which cost me valuable oxygen, but I appreciated it.)

    Remember the fun you had as a kid, sliding on your butt down a hill? Revisit your childhood and slip-slide away down steep hills to save your ankles and knees.
    Ignore the first water stop. This is a trick. What you don’t know is that in front of you is the Z-Ridge and at the end of it, your body will expel any liquid left in your stomach.

    Oh yeah, the BIG MUD PIT. It’s a dozy! If you haven’t swum fully clothed for a long time, you may want to practice it a few times to remember the drag of clothes and shoes. And don’t be too dismayed by the ropes at the other end that you need to pull yourself out with. At least you made it to the other end.

    Accessorize appropriately. By this, I mean make sure your shoes still have tread left. Everyone will tell you to wear an old pair of shoes. But what they don’t tell you is to make sure you have some traction left. I didn’t realize what little tread I had would (literally) disappear during the course, and I would be ice skating across, down, through the mud. Duct taping your shoe laces is de rigueur, and it may even be gauche to not have taped your shoes. Kinda like wearing white after Labor Day.

    Build up your repartee. While most of the course is survived by brute force, your quick wit may come in handy. For example, as we were grinding our way to the end up and down the killer hills (this may have been called Heart Attack Hill on the official obstacle guide, which would be very appropriate), I slipped on a down side due to lack of tread, and face planted into the next up-hill. At this point we were nearing the end and spectators were gathering. I heard the crowd gasp as I embraced yet more mud. I, feeling no pain at this point, jumped up and yelled “DIRT – It’s what’s for breakfast!” My new fans yelled and clapped.

    Get a tetanus shot, if you haven’t had one in awhile. For reals.

    Buy some Imodium. Uh-huh, think of it this way – about 7,000 people are going to be swimming through the same mud pit. ‘Nuff said.

    Rice paddy/Light Armored Vehicle Trenches. Right. Don’t try to crawl, don’t try to swim. Float. And pretend you are a crocodile. Use your arms only to propel you forward. I moved faster and got a little rest that way. There was only one “rice paddy” that only had 6 inches of water in it, and the floating technique wouldn’t work. Crawling through it felt like crawling through wet sand paper. Also, no flutter kicking, per my team captain.

    The Z-Trench. Oh, for the love of Pete! Wasn’t the Z-Ridge enough? I gave up trying to walk this damn thing that would go from knee-high water to a 6 foot drop and crocodile swam. Take that, course designer person!

    10 foot Vertical Walls. Take the two minute penalty, don’t be a hero.

    Tarzan Pit – let go while you are over the water. Not when you hit the wet clay on the other side.

    Litter carry – you’ve made it. It’s only 100 yards of screaming hell as you carry one of your team mates on a litter to the finish line. Your muscles are crying for more oxygen, your eyes can’t focus. And then one of you team mates says “lets run.” What a jester!

    Post Mud Run

    There is a party going on once you cross the finish line. It’s okay to walk around wet and muddy for a few minutes. It’s your badge of honor, your Purple Heart, and your platoon’s colors all rolled into one. Of course, you are still trying to breathe at this point. But soak in the admiration. You deserve it.

    The water and the orange wedge you suck down will be the BEST ever.

    When it is time to start the de-mudding process, hopefully, you remembered to bring a garbage bag for your wet and muddy clothes. Feel free to toss your shoes in the provided garbage can outside the changing area. The clothes you see in the pictures went through a fifteen minute rinse process, and that’s what they looked like.

    Feel free to bring a shower kit with you. The water is ice cold and you are out in public, but the more mud you can get off here, is the less mud you will carry home.
    At home de-mudding: Remember to clean your ears when they are wet. Or better yet, buy an ear cleaner kit pre-Mud Run for use afterwards. If you try to Q-tip your ear clean, it will hurt. And don’t expect to get all the mud out on the first try. It sticks with you for days.

    Post Mud Run Pain Relief. I sucked down 4 Advil as soon as I got back to the truck. And about 4 hours later, took 4 more. Find a muscle relaxer for that night – it will help with the twitching. Do try to do some work the next day. It will hurt, but it helps to get things moving. Also, drink lots and lots of water.


    Did I have a good time? Yes! Will I do this again? Maybe! Am I in pain? Yes!

    Hey, wanna see what I’m talking about? Take a look at these:

    The State Newspaper Photo Gallery

    Midlands Connect

    WIS TV Coverage

    See the whole course - Someone wore a helmet cam!
      Hats off to our team mate Phil!!!!!!!!!!!! He pulled our sorry asses (mine in particular) through the course. He's my hero of the week!
      Hats off to Liz who finished even with a concussion from bonking her head during her Tarzan Pit experience.
      Hats off to Mike who understood my pain when I had to crawl out of my truck to open the gate to our driveway.
                      Hats off to my S/O Joe, who helped me out of my sports bra when my arms wouldn't move.
                        Hats off to Matt and Leo, our co-workers, who inspired us to pull together a team and participate.
                          Hats off to the event orgainzers - truly one of the best run events I've ever been a part of - wonderful job, and the key valet - superb!
                          Hats off to the vets that we ran and raised money for - thank you!

                        Wednesday, September 9, 2009

                        Help Save the American Wild Horse

                        Horse lovers and advocates for the American Wild Horse are aghast at latest atrocity being committed by the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of Interior. The BLM has now rounded up Cloud and his band of wild American horses from the Pryor Range in Montana. The BLM plans call to eliminate approximately 33,000 horses through euthanization/adoption/sale to kill buyers because of budget cuts during the prior administration.

                        Read another great blog about this on-going round up here: http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/the-managed-extinction-of-cloud’s-herd/

                        You can help save Cloud and his band and many other wild horses by contacting Robert Abbey of the Bureau of Land Management: Robert_Abbey@blm.gov and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior at: feedback@ios.doi.gov. You can also email the White House at by using the form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. And please forward this to any horse loving friends so that they can help as well.

                        From a press release from the Cloud Foundation:

                        Right now there are twelve entire herds being eliminated from 1.4 million acres near Ely, Nevada because these lands are suddenly not appropriate for wild horses,” Kathrens continues. “However, no action has been made to reduce cattle grazing in these areas.” There are no grazing permits in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and reasons for holding an unprecedented removal this year are not clear. The range and adjacent lands are in excellent condition following three years of drought-breaking precipitation.

                        Cloud and the wild horses of Montana’s Pryor Mountains are world famous but fame and an outcry from the American public does not seem to impact the BLM’s plans. There are currently only 190 wild horses (one year and older) living in the spectacular Pryor Mountains. The BLM plans to remove 70 of them, including young foals and older horses who could be sold directly to killer buyers.


                        You can help by using the form email below that you can copy and paste and send to Mr. Abbey.

                        Subject: Pryor Mountain Round Up

                        Dear Mr. Abbey -

                        It is with much dismay I heard about the round up of the Pryor Mountain Range horses, including Cloud and his band. Cloud is an ambassador for the American Wild Horse, and while he is slated for release, his herd will be drastically reduced to the point of genetic non-viability. Not only is Cloud and his band in danger, but every wild horse captured during this round-up. Foals and older horses can be sold directly to kill buyers waiting to transport them to Canada and death. Despite calls from the U.S. House and Senate to stop until the Senate can take action, the BLM has continued with this horrible course of action.

                        As an American taxpayer and concerned citizen, I am asking that the BLM immediately take action on the following issues:

                        • Wild horses over the age of 10 should be released directly back into their range. Their prospect at adoption is low and it is cruel to make them suffer only to bought by a kill-buyer.

                        • Herds should not taken below 150 adult animals to maintain their genetic viability

                        • There needs to be inncreased scrutiny of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. Our wild horses and burros need immediate change and an end to their mismanagement.

                        Mr. Abbey, I would ask for your immediate attention to this issue and look forward to your prompt response on how the BLM will be addressing these issues as well as the reasoning for the Pryor Range round-up.

                        Your Name



                        Thanks for your help!