Placebo Christmas (?)

Christmas morn blossomed brightly this year on the eastern Wyoming sage-brush prairie. A Christmas unlike all others for me. For in my wakening, no sounds of fellow brother or kin didst I discern. Only the usual blanched hush of yon simpleton's bachelor pad did register on hammer, anvil and stirrup.

But don't despair friends, for though the day began in singular fashion, the previous night's company was fresh on my wits, only taking priority behind the next social engagement soon to begin.

And thus I spent most of the Twenty-Fifth in the ranks of lovely familial townsfolk. Eating, chatting, even opening a gift they'd gotten me. That's quite awesome, thought I.

And so the day wore on, and the babies' ensuing meltdowns triggered an under-the-tree booty cease-fire. There's always tomorrow.

The sun set on opposing terra and it was over.

I'm not certain if being "away" for Christmas was as looming a banshee as the notion seems in theory. Perhaps it's just a grand placebo effect. A giant, neatly wrapped, tinseled sugar pill.

We may never know.

But regardless I felt the love of a new brethren who, though belonging not of similar bloodline, have welcomed me "home" to their prairie fences and couch-side hitching posts time and time again since my arrival and specifically on Christmas Day.

And that's something to be thankful for.

There's something I've learned in my months in Wyoming: Smalltown America is about relationships. First and foremost. There's not a lot of glitz on the Western way, but it will hold you up in the stiffest of winds it seems.

So, with nearly five months in country, the relational investments are getting some returns in deeper ways, I think. Yes, rootin' tootin to that!

So. 'Nog and cookie yourself, compadres. Here's to new, Wyo mighty mates.


Christmas dinner carne: prime rib from Douglas Grocery's legendary meat department. Dericious!

And then I got some sunset shots, per usual. Looking southwest, over the nearby Laramie Range.

Double time. I-25 runs over the tracks in the distance.

Laramie Peak, elev. 10,274. booyah.

I know, the traffic is pretty bad sometimes. But only during rush hour.

Yule horse.

In other news, I took this stress test recently. Scored like a 340. I guess that means I'll have serious stress-induced physical ailments if it continues. Hmm. Curious. I think I need a vacation or something. Oh, wait. I'm on one. Bonus.

See you all next year.

Happy 25th Berfday to Me


Used to Could:
a quarter century birthmas haiku:

Clunk bunk goes my trunk
Olding joints yawp grievances
Trunk funk no more youth

Today's high was six below, with signs of it getting even colder tonight. The windchill factor had it at -35 F this morning. Love that Wyoming wind. I want a Hot Toddy...

Here's the weather rolling in on Douglas' main drag. There's my office over there amid the blustering. On Saturday it was 50 degrees at 2 p.m. At 7 p.m. it was below zero.

When it Snows it Showers

POSTED IN | 10:12 PM

I was starting to think these proud, upstanding Wyomingites were all a bunch of liars. Ever since I crash landed here in my space pod on these Mars-esque rolling hills I have been hearing about the Wyoming winters. It always went like this with people I met:

Me: Yeah, I'm from Oklahoma, blah, blah, blah...

Proud, upstanding Wyomingites (PUWs): OKLAHOMA! Oh boy, are you in for a cold winter, sonny boy! Whew doggie! Rootin' tootin! Sweet fancy Moses! Gordon Bennett! (blah, blah, blah)

So. With such a delightful fall that came to roost here in eastern Wyoming, I accepted their climate forebodings in stride and only internally slandered them equivocators.

Then, as they say, the bottom dropped out last week. The cow troughs froze over, bears found their seasonal holes (woohoo!) and I started to see a very different vision of this remote outpost land. That vision came in long-underwear and wintry mix form, as last week posted a low of negative 3 degrees F. Cold as bollocks, one could argue.

So, amigos, it seems the cold is here to stay. Pass the milk and cookies, I guess. 'Nog? Plumb diggety! Packing on the Winter 15 is the way people roll around here, so I hear...

Some pics around my block from last week:

The back alley of my pad. Note the white wolf, nestled keenly immediately by my front door basically. My place is about 300-400 sq. feet and quite nice I have to say. Beauty, Clark...

My hood is all about the alleyways. Looking down my block to the south.

My landlords live here, immediately in front of me. They're nice folk, and invite me to dinner here and there, bake me bread and let me use their washer/dryer. We haven't talked room service yet, but it's on my long-term to-discuss list.

And there's the crib, folks. Part garage, part bach pad. Straight up. Interestingly, on the right side of the frame you see a hot tub. Also on the to-discuss list with the landlords. "Well, you see, the warm water is really good for my war wound!"

I shot him in the leg

POSTED IN | 10:51 PM
I startled awake at 06:45, with a pounding heart and adrenaline aplenty. As my alarm ripped me from the REM zone (time for Army band drill), I realized I had been amidst yet another nightmare of sorts.

I am happy to report there were no bears involved, and yet the highlights remain somewhat disturbing (at least at the time):

-I got kidnapped by a very nasty man.

-My hands were tied to a couch and he tried to kill me by smothering my face with a pillow.

-I escaped to the backyard where a handgun standoff commenced.

-Somehow I got the gun and shot the bad hombre two times in the leg with a Glock .40 (i knew i didn't want to kill him) while yelling like Tarzan.

-Suddenly another antagonist showed up and held one of my co-workers hostage at knife point.

-I called 911 on a suddenly appearing house phone. How convenient!

-I raised the gun at the antagonist and yelled bloody murder at him to release my co-worker while pondering my chances of shooting the bad guy in the head w/o harming my amigo.

-I cocked the pistol hammer back menacingly (like they do in the movies).

-Then the alarm went off and I awoke with a sprinting pacemaker. Game over. Seems I'll have to tune in next season for the finale...

So. Somewhat disturbing to the dreamer. If only I could have a gun in my bear dreams! Level the playing field at least. I think I need to stop watching LOST for awhile...

In the end I'm putting a fluffy, unicorn and rainbow filled episode in my Stuflicks Dream Queue next. Something light and enjoyable would be nice. Haven't dreamed one of those in some months.

And I'd rather not have to shoot anyone else, non-lethal wounds included. That's just kind of stressful...

(input? interpretations? suggested shrinks?)

Hot on the Press

POSTED IN | 11:06 PM
An interesting thing about being in the newspaper biznass is not the grit of a life spent chasing after the ever indubitable story. The story that always seems to be cresting the horizon as you pull into sight of it, and which has you always in a place of flux — never quite arriving or allowing you a proper requite. Though I have to say that part has its own charms, as maddening as chasing the wind becomes at times.

No, no. An interesting part (and one that is perhaps most often overlooked) of writing stories for a news outlet is how it's created, each year, month, week or day, depending on your publication's particulars.

It's the great relative of Gutenberg's epiphany at work, and it brings Frankenstein to life every week here in rural Wyoming.

Behold, the printing press! (cue stirring music)

The Budget goes to press every week here in the Douglas metropolis. (cue laugh track) Usually (depending on the four newsroom slackers) we get it written by about noon on Tuesdays and it's printed by about 7ish in the p.m. It hits the paper drops late Tuesday or early Wednesday for the spellbinding dissemination of Converse County's most cutting edge news. We're the leading paper of the county, might I remind you (read: only paper of the county).

But none of this would be possible without one veritable super man. He dresses in civilian clothing and is more often covered in ink than not. He is Richard the Great, and he's SOLELY responsible for getting the paper printed every week (this is a lot of responsibility, fyi). Here is Ol' Ricardo flashing a toothy edge of competence while printing some high qual action.

When the newsroom gets slow, boring or I run out of nutgraph ideas, I go to the backroom and just watch the press churn. It's a nuts 'n bolts symphony that grooves. I like to just sit and watch it. Puts my head back in order, likely giving my upstairs brain-rat some motivation to turn his wheel faster.

CYAN! Each paper goes through all the CMYK stations. Cyan! Magenta! Yellow! blacK! (here's where you call on Captain Planet). The newsprint rolls through, picking up the according colors and making a pretty paper that Ma and Pa can be proud of. It's a nifty process. I have no idea how it works. I like to think it's just magic. All of it. More interesting that way.



blacK! (cue Cpt. Planet!!!)

note: i guess cmyK sounds better than cmyB? who knows...

Looking down the line. Starts with yellow.

...rollin, rollin, rollin...keep those doggies rollin...

(note: i think we print like 5,000 copies of the paper every week)

And so I leave you with a parting shot of Richard the Great. He's a great guy, obviously. It's always good to just talk sensible things like press mechanics and tools and stuff. Being a reporter can be kind of convoluted. It's hard work pretending like you know what you're talking about all the time...

The end!

A peaky sunset

POSTED IN | 12:46 AM

If you use your imagination, you can wish away the power lines and telephone wires obstructing Laramie Peak's view. Sometimes there's just no time to get a good vantage point in the photograph of life.