Monday, November 29, 2010

Around Chicago November 2010 (Part 2)

Upper left - a crazy guy dressed as an Eagle for the Bears vs. Philadelphia game on Sunday night.  The Eagles fans were not shy about taunting Bears fans even when outnumbered 100-1 I questioned their sanity.  Upper right - the view from the "cheap seats" at the non-PSL seats at the Bears game where Dan and I reside.  Lower left - a view from the escalator at the Crate and Barrel store on Michigan avenue... as a kid I used to hate going there.  Lower middle - a view looking north on Lake Shore drive at half time at the Bears game from "the columns" at Soldier Field, probably near the time when that guy jumped out of the stadium and died.  Lower right - the ever-photogenic Sofitel hotel in the Viagra Triangle.  If you like more (funny) Bears stuff be sure to check out the "most important site on the Internet" Drunk Bear Fans where there is plenty more where that came from.

Monday Morning Blues

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hunting With Dottie – Her First Season

After a few training sessions on live quail with Dottie late last summer we finally had our chance to hunt some pheasant at Winamac.

Training in a field with planted quail is one thing. Field training is a controlled environment where a pup first learns what it is hard-wired to do, smell and point game birds. From there we gun break the pup and try to get them to hunt close. Competition and field trials are not in our future. We hunt, we shoot, we eat. That’s it.

Dottie is a pure-bred English Setter with an excellent bloodline on both sides, but the proof is in the field, not in the papers. The rest is up to me.

Winamac is my favorite place to hunt. It’s a state DNR managed property. Think of it as a wild, natural farm that is groomed and planted to attract and sustain wildlife. Our state fish and game license fees pay for it. Environmentalists and animal rights wackos pay nothing to maintain wild habitat. No surprise there.

Winamac has natural savannahs, prairie rows of millet, sorghum and corn crops that attract and hold deer and foul. There are plenty of densely wooded plots dividing the planted fields with walking rows well maintained by brush hogs.

After training two fine English Setters for field work and having a successful record it was like starting from day one with a fresh young pup for me. Dottie is 1 ½ years old and field feisty. She just wants to go. And go. And go some more. She’s like the Energizer Setter.

My task is to keep her under control.

Young pups like to run unencumbered when unleashed and our first day last weekend proved it. Young pups throw caution to the wind.

Me and the bro arrived at Winamac area #7 twenty minutes before shooting time, 9am eastern. The parking lot began filling with pickups and SUV’s filled with bird hunters and dogs. It was like a reunion. After hunting Winamac for about 15 years I know a few of the more sportsmanlike regulars. We chat. We bond.

On occasion a number of strangers show up and one never knows how ethically they will hunt or control their dogs. I ran into a group of eight hunters that had six dogs with them. It was a circus.

I hooked up Dottie to the boat hitch with a leash and bowl of water before the first hunt while I loaded my blaze orange vest with 24 16ga #6 high-brass loads, a check cord, leash, and a bottle of water. We patiently waited for shooting time with my vintage late 1930's A-5 Browning manufactured by Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal of Belgium in16ga semi-auto, the original “sweet sixteen”. It’s my favorite shotgun.

This is where the first hunt with a young pup gets dicey.

The group of eight entered the area first and I waited for them to pass by. We held back but Dottie was totally distracted by the other hunters and dogs. When I first let her off leash she looked like a champ. She zig-zagged looking for live birds and suddenly a few shots went off not far away. That’s all it took. Dottie bolted in the direction of the shots. Gun-shy, she’s not. Dottie relates gun shots to downed birds and that’s good.

Suddenly I lost sight of her. I called the come command and nothing. The new remote collar beeper was pressed with a beep followed by an electric sting. No luck. I dialed up the transmitter intensity, made the call, blew the whistle, hit the beep mode, made the sting and I heard a quick yelp. She came. So far, so good.

The problem on this first day is there were way too many hunters and dogs afield. Once Dottie heard a shot, saw another dog or a hunter wearing orange all bets were off. The remote collar was all I had to regain control, that’s what it’s there for.

We were walking down a row of thick woods that divided two fields. Suddenly Dottie got all ‘birdy’. This was a very good sign. She went on a hard point, even better. Suddenly another dog, a German Shorthair Pointer from the large party entered the scene and flushed a big rooster away from us without pointing. The rooster flew through the thick wooded divide heading for the opposite field. Dottie tore through some nasty brush chasing after it.

Me and the bro both shot in desperation knowing that few pellets would make it through the thick wooded cover. There was another hunter on the other side who got off a cheap shot and downed that big, colorful rooster. I was pissed. Out of respect, the dog that points gives the handler the right to the first shot. In this case the other handler did not see us, or Dottie, and figured that his dog had flushed the rooster. Oh well.

We continued on. The other hunters and dogs were too much of a distraction for Dottie. I exercised every bit of patience in controlling her.

We spent way too much time chasing Dottie than we did hunting. Patience, I told myself. She will get better with time and if I don’t screw up, all will work out just fine.

We were skunked on day one. But I saw good signs from Dottie. Her field exuberance was outstanding. She pointed a bird. She ran like the wind. After an hour or so she stayed closer to us.

We retired to the parking lot for a few imported beers, some spicy sausage, smoked hunk-o-pork slices, homemade pickles, bread and some homemade ceviche on crackers. We hunt like we tailgate. First class all the way.

On this day it would be just me and Dottie. The bro took a day off, Scott and his setter Penny were in area #3 so Dot and I were on our own at area #9. Speck and I hunted alone many times. Times like that are the inspiration for the term ‘Man’s Best Friend”.

The parking lot at area #9 was not full that day, only two other hunters entered the field at shooting time. A group of six hunters stayed behind fiddling with their gear and their dogs. They had some old, fat black labs.

Apology for the image blur, low light and no tripod, oh well.

My legs were quite sore the following morning. Walking for miles on uneven terrain, through corn stubble and wooded briar patches gets the best of my 57 year-old wheels. Sure wish I had some prescription pain pills. I went anyway. The prime pheasant season on public land lasts only one week in Indiana.

I have nothing against Labrador Retrievers but they make lousy field dogs. It amuses me to see bird hunters in the field with labs. Labs are great duck blind dogs but some hunters believe they can point as well. Wrongo.

Labs are fine for retrieving but come up short when asked to point. The best they can do is flush birds and the handler must hope they are not 30+yards away when doing so.

As the saying goes, “Pointers are for pointing, flushers are for toilets”.

There are breeders who claim they produce fine pointing labs but I have yet to see one in the field during my thirty plus years of gun dog ownership. Labs tend to flush birds well out of range of their handler. I’ve seen it way too often. They wander about aimlessly. They are disobedient. Not good. Pointing labs are a joke.

Dottie and I entered the area #9 field at shooting time behind only two other hunters. Dottie was much easier to control without distractions of the previous day.

Within ten minutes walking the edge of a cornfield she went on point. It was a rooster, I saw it run the row. When it ran Dottie broke point, the bird flushed and flew directly away from me like a stalled zeppelin. I missed with three shots. Damn did I suck. Lousy shot. My fault. I hate apologizing to a good dog.

We walked on.

Dottie went on point again, about twenty yards ahead but the bird must have seen Dottie and ran since it flushed as it reached the edge of the corn. I took three shots in vain, knowing the bird was well out of range. Dottie followed its flight and I had to call her back. She came!

Dottie was showing more signs of being a fine gun dog in the field. We walked on.

Soon she went on point about ten yards away. Solid and staunch. No movement at all. When I approached a hen jumped up. BAM! I blew away half of the breast meat. That’s what frustration can do to a hunter. Just shooting, never giving the bird a chance. That’s not my way but threw control to the wind. I want my meat. My way is to let the bird get downrange a bit before the trigger pull and hope a head or wing shot will bring it down.

Oh well, one in the bag.

Soon thereafter Dottie went on point again. As I approached it had to be a hen because I could not see the hen in the thick grass due to their natural camouflage. The bird flushed as I approached. I shot. Dead bird, Dottie. Perfect. She got a mouthful of feathers. All was well in the world.

After 45 minutes Dottie and I shot out our limit of two. The field was all ours. No distractions. We headed back to the Exploder and traveled to area #3 where Scott and Penny were hunting.

Scott and Penny bagged two roosters. On any other occasion we would have hunted together with them. On this day it was better for a young pup like Dottie and me to be on our own. It made a big difference.

Dottie has a lot to learn. I need to exercise a lot of patience. We’ll get there.

On another hunt I had some concern when I left the country bunker. Our registered party consisted of five guys, me, Scott, Scott’s buddies Fred and John and the bro.

This would be the first time Dottie would hunt with another setter (her step sister) as well as five trigger-happy hunters. Sooner is better than later I thought.

On top of that, the day before I hunted in a t-shirt with temps near 70 and the next day provided lower 30’s with gusty winds as predicted. No snow.

We all met at the check-in station, registered and then gathered again at the area #3 parking lot.

I have a Winamac parking lot ritual. Putting on my gortex boots, loading shells in the vest, getting the dog out, letting her drink some water, putting on the remote collar, loading the shotgun, waiting for shooting time and bullshitting with the other hunters.

Dottie is unlike Speck or Mookie, my last two English Setters. The others would use every ounce of strength to get into the field. Speck could have pulled my Jeep up a hill she was so excited to hunt and I rarely let her out of the transport kennel until shooting time. Mookie almost jerked my arm off when I held her near an open field on a leash.

Dottie is much more laid back.

This was a concern to me since this is not what I expected based on past experiences with my other setters. Dottie just hangs around in the lot with us waiting to go. She socializes with the other hunters and dogs and is rather friendly. Neither Speck nor Mookie wanted anything to do with other dogs or hunters on a hunt day.

Once on the short leash as we entered the field Dottie made up for it. On this day she came close to pulling my arm off at the shoulder.

What happened next made me the proud owner of a young gundog pup.

Dottie worked close to me. Scott’s dog Penny had no affect at all, nor did the other four hunters in our party. Dottie zig-zagged and covered each area well. Her energy was contagious.

Not far away another hunt party of two flushed a rooster. It flew over our heads. They were courteous and did not shoot over us. I took a shot directly overhead and missed. Fred, who was walking behind me, brought the rooster down with his overhead shot. Dottie gave chase and got a snoot full of feathers. Life is good. This is how a pure-bread gundog discovers what it is they are hard wired to do. This is what gets a young dog jacked up on birds. This is the real deal.

We walked our chosen area on a very brisk, sunny morning in the field. What a fine day it was weather wise. Crisp temperatures in the thirties and a steady wind kept me from working up a sweat. After about a hundred yards Dottie went on a hard point. She was solid and staunch. I went in the brush to kick the bird up. It did. I shot. One bird in the bag for me. Success.

This would be my only bird for the day, on every other point my positioning would not allow me to get off a safe shot. We never shoot over a dog or near other hunters. We want to live and hunt another day.

We walked a while. Penny pointed a few. Dottie pointed a few. The two dogs worked very well together, as stepsisters should. While walking near some standing corn both dogs pointed the same bird. Solid. Staunch. What a sight it was, like a classic photo that could appear in Outdoor Life magazine.

I don’t take photos in the field much but on this day I wish I had. My gun could have stayed in the truck while my camera could have captured some outstanding shots. Maybe next time.

We scored nine out of our limit of ten before the knees and lower back gave up. I’m such an old fvck.

Best of all, Dottie is on her way to becoming a fine gun dog.

I took Thanksgiving and Friday off to rejuvenate my feet, ankles, knees and back. Getting old sucks.

Entertaining over twenty Thanksgiving friends and family required our culinary expertise as well as a lot of prep and cleanup time.

All I am thinking of right now is sitting close to the crackling fire and warming these old bones.

Let’s hunt ‘em up Dottie! I heard that in my sleep last night

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It Works Until It Doesn't

The Euro came into being in 2002, replacing many national European currencies with a common currency. There are 16 members, with the largest economies being the Germans, French, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The launch of the Euro was done successfully and it brought down transaction costs and financing costs across the Euro area, and was part of a broader movement of labor and services across the region (not as simple as the currency conversion, however).

The Euro was originally at around 80 cents to the dollar; it has gone as high as $1.50 to 1 USD and currently ranges around $1.30 - $1.40. This appreciation has been significant, caused both by policies that weakened the USD and strengthened the Euro.

While the Euro has been a successful currency and has brought benefits to the region's economies, particularly the weakest economies (like Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal, the "PIIGS"), recently the region has had difficulty with high budget deficits and the scepter of outright default in these weaker countries.

While all parties benefit from having the Euro, some parties benefit more than others, and are "free riders" - particularly the weak Mediterranean countries that would never have such low financing costs and ability to easily raise funds in the bond markets without the implicit backstop of the German, French and Dutch treasuries.

There have been various crisis that the Euro has faced, and they countries have responded to claim fealty to the Euro and pledge support to the flimsiest members. Notably there is the crisis in Greece with monstrous budget deficits, almost no tax compliance and a completely uncompetitive economy; and the crisis in Ireland, whose country and banks have been knocked flat by a giant bubble in the property sector.

Now, however, the core problem is rising again, which is the fact that at some point the rich countries will have to officially "backstop" the weaker countries or they will not be able to refinance their mounds of debt at favorable rates, which in turn will topple their finances like a Jenga tower with the bottom block yanked out.

This happened in the United States; when the crisis hit in 2008-9, the US Government effectively nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and took over the US housing market, probably picking up $400 billion or so in losses, as well as backstopping US banks, GM, and even many states and local government entities through various stimulus measures and "Build America" bonds. While painful, at least the US government was bailing out US entities; while we can gnash our teeth and call for punishment (including criminal punishment) for those responsible, at least we are trying to clean up our own mess.

But it seems incomprehensible that Germany and other strong Euro-zone countries will just indefinitely prop up the spendthrift and uncompetitive countries; it isn't that this is a liquidity crisis (short term cash flow) - this is a solvency crisis, meaning that they can't pay their bills now (at incredibly favorable interest rates that they received today with Euro financing and the implicit backing of the strong countries like Germany, which will soon evaporate) or later; the debt burden is just too high. And Germany isn't linked to say, Portugal, the same way that the United States is bonded together. Would the US risk our currency, solvency, and standard of living to backstop another country; maybe if the impact was small, but not forever and not if the impact was large to our net financial position, especially if it wasn't linked to an imminent military conflict.

Assuming at some point the rich Euro countries give up the ghost, then the smaller countries won't be able to finance their debt in the markets at reasonable rates, and some sort of restructuring will occur. Perhaps they will get some help, and each may have unique fates, but the current plan of implicitly relying on the stronger countries will evaporate.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the Euro is dead; we will just move into a new era where countries will have to deal with the consequences of huge deficits each in their own way and take their own steps to be competitive and get their finances in order. It isn't clear what happens next.

The lesson for us in the United States isn't to be smug; it is to be terrified. While the US has many advantages over these other countries, we need to realize that confidence in the markets exists, and then it is GONE. There may be signals in advance, such as the earlier crises that hit the Euro, and today's TARP an ultra-low interest rates may be our same markers towards insolvency.

It works until it doesn't.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Happy Thanksgiving

On a more serious note, Lex from Chicago Boyz has a wonderful post that captures the spirit of the day better than I ever could.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

At The Bottomlands Cafe

You can shoot all the mallards you want.

Just don't get caught.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I See Dead People

The kids have been bugging me and Mrs. DFM to take them to Bodies, The Exhibition for a while now. We thought it might be a good educational experience so today was the day.

It cost something like $75 to get two adults and two kids in.

The display was interesing, but a little freaky. I started out enjoying it, but I left having second thoughts about what I just saw.

Bodies is a series of displays of the human body, and they are real bodies. I have heard that the display is from China and also heard that some Madison residents protested the show because there was a rumor that some of the "volunteers" weren't exactly doing this of thier own volition. I have no clue if this is true or not and am too lazy to look into it.

This display was pretty graphic, and we had to cut out just a bit sooner than we wanted as my youngest was getting grossed out. There were bodies cut in half lenghtwise, widthwise, and in different athletic poses - with their bodies opened up so you could see everything. Besides displays of the opened up bodies they had different bones, organs, you name it.

I am assuming that the people who were standing in the displays volunteered for this - but did they really? I have donated my body to science (if they want it) when I croak, but I don't think I want my body holding a football or something like that, while a zillion strangers saunter by and gaze at my schwantz, as well as my opened torso. I doubt these people knew this would happen to them.

As I looked at the displays I began to feel like I was doing something wrong. They had a display of partially formed fetuses - I assure you that those fetuses didn't agree to be on display like that. I think that bothered me more than anything. They had a human brain in there that you could touch. It made for a good joke afterward as I was taking the family out to lunch and got to ask in a serious tone for them to all wash the brain off their hands before they ate. The kids liked that one.

I would never go to this display again, I just have too many problems with it - on a few different levels - but it makes for an interesting couple of hours if you are into this sort of thing. The wife and I were both just a tiny bit queezy afterward from what we saw. ymmv.

Illini at Wrigley

Dan and I went to the Illini at Wrigley yesterday and it was a lot of fun. I obtained these tickets by purchasing four end-zone season tickets from Northwestern for $384, which allowed me to buy up to 8 seats for this game. An excellent trade, especially because I took my parents' to the Northwestern home opener (they are alumni) and others had a great time with the Iowa game and my brother took his son to the Purdue game and toured the campus.

I thought there might by a fly-over so I recorded the end of the national anthem, sung by the new Blackhawks singer Jim Cornelison. There was no fly over but here is the video nonetheless which gives a good feeling for how close we were to the action on the field.

We were in the end zone that the offense played away from because of the bleacher walls. This didn't impact the game as badly as we thought it might; we did see some cool drives that started deep in their own territory as well as the TD return by Northwestern. At that point it was obvious how many Northwestern fans were in the seats relative to Illini fans; they were the clear majority. The seats were absolutely right by the field which was fantastic for us and we really liked the view.

The manual score board was kind of a hoot with football games from Big Ten teams up there.

I was surprised to see the Wrigley marquee painted purple. Northwestern did a really nice job with the stadium, even putting up banners for their hall of fame and famous players.

ESPN Game Day was across the street but I couldn't get any good pictures of that because it was a mob scene and we watched most of the action from inside a nearby bar by the time Ditka got on TV.

All in all a great time; Wrigleyville was ROCKING after the game; it was like a Cubs playoff game or something in the fact that every bar was absolutely packed to the gills and people were everywhere on the streets. We also were lucky in that the weather was decent and it wasn't raining because that takes the fun out of everything.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dumbest of the Dumb

Above is what Wrigley Field used to look like before 1970 when a football game was played there, typically by the Chicago Bears (before they moved to Soldier Field).

You can see that it is a tight, but manageable field with the end zone just touching the wall behind home plate in the corner of the football field. Note the portable bleachers erected over the permanent ones.

Lets compare and contrast this setup to what we will see tomorrow - this is the East end zone, up against the right field wall:

Do you think they could have taken just two minutes to surf the web like I did to see how they used to do it? Look how that goalpost is bolted into the wall! So stupid.

And now they aren't even gonig to use that dumb looking goalpost.

The Big Ten has had to ALTER THE RULES for tomrrrows game - on every offensive posession, the teams will be heading east to west - so they will have to reset the ball after every punt. Oh man this is going to be one long game - not only that, but I am putting the over/under on referee errors at six. I bet the ball will be placed on the wrong side of yard markers, on the wrong side of the hashes, you name it.

This is such b.s. The workers just plod away, nobody questioning anyone. Instead of somebody growing a set and asking the higher ups - "hey, wtf are we doing with this", they just put the field down pell mell like the Northwestern engineering department said to do it. I guar-an-damn-tee you that Illinois engineers wouldn't have laid it out like this.

I am betting dollars to dounts that my seats are in a spot where I get to watch the teams go away from me the whole game.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Having been a Mac evangelist and being a digital imaging pioneer for almost thirty years it was easy for me to resist the iPhone. I believe I have a well-rounded and fulfilling life and have no need to be ‘connected’ 24/7.

In my pocket is a free, simple cell phone. Want me? Just call. No text, no tweets, no facebok. Call and I will answer.

When I work ad agency contract assignments downtown (as I have all this week) it is astonishing to see how many people are walking down the street completely absorbed in their ‘personal digital devices’.

To me, when you stare at or are talking into a tiny glowing screen with a plug in your ear while walking down the street or riding in an elevator there is way too much to miss in life, even in downtown Chicago. So goes the modern urban experience.

I’ve seen this strange behavior in stadiums, ballparks and other recreational venues. Nothing like watching a ballgame on television at home and seeing so many in the stands playing with their devices. Why bother going in the first place?

One day, years ago, our IT expert walked into my office. We were good friends, having wired the office network together and specifying workstations transforming the office workflow from conventional to digital in the early nineties, well before other ad agencies. He asked if I was interested in a Blackberry. I asked, “pie or muffin?”. He said that Steve, the office GM, wanted all VP’s to carry this Blackberry thing. It was the first generation Blackberry capable of only email. No texting, no internet, just email.

I soon discovered why Steve wanted these, they were a leash for him to have on us at all times. In Monday morning management meetings it became obvious that if we did not check our email on Sunday night it could be embarrassing. So I went along. It was novel but after a while I began to hate the thing.

One morning on my way to LaGuardia I opened the taxi window and threw the damn thing into the East River while on the Tri-Borough Bridge. Good riddance.

When I arrived in Chicago I called Robert, our IT guy and told him I left my Blackberry in a cab in Manhattan. He asked if I wanted a replacement. Knowing our office was in an ultra austerity mode I told him that sure, with Steve’s approval. Heh. I was excused from my Blackberry leash.

My resistance to having an iPhone is as strong as it has been to social networking, which is what most personal device users are fixated on. It raised the question, how can these time poor young moderns live without being connected for more than a few minutes? The term “opiate of the masses” comes to mind as an answer.

It suddenly occurred to me that my life has been enriched in ways the newer generations will never know. Think about it.

Nothing ever invented has had such an influence on so many people’s lives as fast as these personal devices have. Not fire, not gunpowder, not automobiles, not aviation and not even the Weber gas grill has changed people’s everyday behavior as quickly as these devices.

Case in point (and this one is so ironic):

I read today that Bill Nye, The Science Guy ® was recently speaking to an audience at USC. When walking to the podium he collapsed. What do you think the attendees did to help him? Nothing. Instead they grabbed their personal devices so they could update their facebook pages or tweet about what was happening.

You would think one of these selfish MF’ing little mind full of mush bastards could have had the decency and compassion to call 911 on their miraculous digital devices first, but nnoooo-oooo.

Here’s the link.

The money quote: “Though there was a surprising lack of immediate response when Nye collapsed, students were reportedly quick to reach for their phones to tweet about the bizarre incident.”

What? Nobody snapped an image or took some video to post on youtube? What were they thinking?

It’s one thing to stand on the sidelines when a gunman goes berserk and shoots another in a crowd. Self-preservation naturally kicks in. But to tweet about another human being in need of medical attention instead of doing something, anything to help is reprehensible.

What the hell is happening to us?

Tweet to me, my babies, let me quell your pain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fly Me To The Moon. Please.

In honor of our brave and patriotic TSA guardians...

After spending many years and millions of miles on commercial aircraft traveling on business, it prides me to say that if I need to travel on commercial aircraft again it will be too soon.

Shoo-be-doo-be-doo-up and ah ring-a-ding-ding.

Air travel quickly becomes a chore when you travel twice a month from Chicago to and from John Wayne airport in Orange County and three times a month to and from La Guardia in Queens for a decade or so.

Airports can quickly become cold impersonal and uninviting institutional corridors of insanity depending on the time of day. Commercial aircraft can become tubular aluminum prison wards when you arrive ‘home’ in Chicago at O’Hare airport on a Friday night at 8pm on time but spend two hours in the ‘penalty box’ waiting for that rare UAL gate to open up. I hate UAL and American and the rude, surly people who work for them and still do. It comes from experience.

When I traveled a lot and accumulated a ton of miles UAL sent me free upgrade coupons for first class, which I saved for the longer flights. That’s the real torture. Not sitting in first class, no. Sitting in coach on the first flight AFTER sitting in first class, that’s the real torture. Thanks a lot @ssholes.

This is where getting old isn’t so bad. With memories of zero airport security my biggest worry was will this damn thing crash due to mechanical failure, pilot error, mid-air collision, or were we going to be making a non scheduled stop in Havana for a day or so.

How many of you remember those regular Cuban hijackings back in the late 70’s?

Airport security has become a hot topic lately. Who is steering the news cycle today? Lemme see…

Airports are becoming a hotbed of voluntary public pornography and molestation, as I understand. We don’t travel on commercial aircraft much these days and I have no idea what is currently going on at the airline gates. It’s hard to tell if I would feel insulted, violated or surrendering my freedom and liberty to the terrorists as some claim. It all depends on my libido at the time. That would be my guess.

(I would go off on a rant here but air travel matters not to me anymore)

Want a naked photo of me? Send an email and I will oblige, of course there will be a black band over my eyes since I know Photoshop. And that’s not all I would digitally augment.

All day today the media has been agape with rampant reports of child molestation, nude photos, female breast groping and male crotch rubbing. They say this is happening at public at major airports by federal TSA employees right now.

If I fly do I get to pick which TSA employee gropes me at the gate? Would I be allowed to select between the dark haired Mediterranean broad with sultry eyes, a voluptuous figure, shapely legs in CFMP’s and long curly hair, or the tall busty Aryan blond chick that looks like the St. Pauli Girl? Please, please, please?

Can I pay a surcharge for the experience? I know Elliot Splitzher and Tiger Woulds will agree.

Or with my luck would my groper and photographer be some swarthy guy named Nino and have forearms as large as country hams?

This is all too much for me to ponder. All I can say is I am so relieved my lifetime business travel responsibilities have been fulfilled. Unless I get to spend a minute or so being felt up by the sultry looking Nina, originally from Milan, or the sexy Renata, originally from Munich.

If so just sign me up for the platinum frequent mileage club again. I’ll even fly on UAL. Or American. I’ll even fly out of O’Hare.


Physical Fitness as Relates to the Job

Above is a photo of Dennis Richards, Sheriff of Columbia County, Wisconsin. Columbia County is the next county north of Dane, where I reside.

Most can tell from the photograph that Dennis hasn't missed too many buffets lately. I saw an interview with him on the news last night since there was a shooting in that neck of the woods. He looks even worse now.

I get really mad when I see obese cops for some reason. Typically I believe that police officers should be able to at least run a hundred yards to try to apprehend a criminal. I think that if Dennis and others like him shot out on a sprint that they would drop dead relatively quickly. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

But here is some more serious business. If they happen to get into a hand to hand scuffle with a criminal, how long do they expect to last? There is absolutely no doubt that if I could disarm Mr. Richards and we were to go hand to hand that I would be able to kick the ever living sh1t out of him just because I am in shape. Not that I would want to - I am sure that the Sheriff is a very nice man and does a great job. But all the boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, JKD, RAT, and all the rest doesn't mean squat if you can't breathe after a minute of physical exertion. I don't like the fact that obese officers have to rely on the gun at all times. What if they get jumped by more than one person? They can't run!

The other day I drove by an accident site and I saw a city of Madison cop writing up the scene - this person was overweight by at least two hundred pounds. Obviously and completely clinically obese.

Of course, these are anecdotal ovservations, but I have seen a lot of fat cops in my life. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect police to be able to compete in the New York Marathon or the Tour de France or pull off an Ironman triathlon tomorrow. What I would expect (and shouldn't the police departments also expect this?) is a REASONABLE state of physical fitness that would allow you to do things related to your job, such as protecting yourself in hand to hand combat or running for at least a half mile or so. Is that asking too much?

Dennis and others can start out by just walking fifteen minutes a day and go from there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Squeezebox Radio Review Part II

Back in September I reviewed an interesting product that I purchased called a "Squeezebox Radio" here. I spent $179 on the internet radio back in September but now it can be purchased for $149 if you go to Amazon here.

In the original review I said that you basically had to have your PC on in order to use the internet radio and / or stream music off your PC; this wasn't technically true. I found myself streaming and using the client on my PC because I thought the "My Squeezebox" direct internet connection when the PC wasn't on was too buggy. In fact, the issue was probably with my internet connection / wireless router and / or the firmware that was running on the device. With a recent upgrade to 7.51 firmware, however, the radio has been running very reliably whether I stream music off the PC or just use internet radio stations when my PC is off. One thing I found (in the notes) is that they can't play certain formats of music and for some reason I have some MP4 files in my mix (from iTunes?) and the Squeezebox won't play them (this is rare).

There is a wiki site for squeezebox here and you can see the improvements that they are continually making with each firmware upgrade. If you were "old school" you might say that they should have fixed it all in the first place, but that isn't typical computer technology (or my standards are low).

Now it is at the point where I would pretty heartily recommend purchase of one of these radios, especially at a price of $149. They seem reliable and I am starting to find more and more interesting internet stations; including some alternative rock stations from San Diego and overseas that have few commercials and a wide selection of music. At some point when it is reliable enough or if commercials are few enough I may even consider that these give satellite radio a run for the money, but we aren't there, yet.

If you are going to run music off your PC library it doesn't drive much internet bandwidth; but if you are going to stream radio over the internet then you may want to watch that it doesn't consume too much of your total download speed. Usually download speeds are much greater than upload speeds and the radio seems to buffer well but this might be something to watch.

Also if you purchase a product like this based on reviews from a product like Amazon one item to consider is that reviews from earlier firmware when it wasn't as robust might not be as accurate as more recent reviews. It is another topic whether or not it should have been reliable in the first place, but since I am used to this sort of evolving quality on new categories of devices like this I may be more considerate than most.

Read It Here First

As I was paging through today's WSJ I noticed a couple things of interest... in the Marketplace section (B) on page B11 they have a little article in their "shorts" section called "Drink In the Decor At the Bus Stop" with a little blurb about those bus stops in Chicago that have been done over, like the one I did in the post below. They actually had a guy in the bus stop, while I tried to NOT take a picture of someone sitting in those chairs because I thought it was a bit rude to take someone's picture for a blog or newspaper.

Then on the back page of the (B) section under "Heard on the Field" there is a story about Wisconsin running up the score. But Dan's article was a lot better and I'll bet the WSJ doesn't have an autographed letter by Alvarez apologizing for swearing like Dan received from him in response to a letter Dan sent. I'm sure Dan knows more about the BCS computer black ops plans too for whatever that's worth.

Every so often for about 2 seconds I wonder what the blog team here could do with a few selected reinforcements if we actually tried to make a living out of it. Probably a lot of great content... more than lots of mainstream papers. We'd get the snot kicked out of us by Bloomberg because they actually know what they are talking about and I'm sure we'd lag on the latest celebrity news but that's about it. For this we'd make... about 25 cents each because why pay for informed content anyways while the Internet is full of free drivel and anyways as Dan says, blogs are just yesterday's buggywhip amongst today's social media.

But always nice when our team that spends about 1% of our free time blogging beats the press.

Monday Morning Blues

Thanks to Carl and Gerry for filling in for the MMB while I was busy and away and all that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Booze Around Town

River North has always been a destination for people who like to go out and get drunk. Bars and clubs are everywhere along with signs, billboards, and posters of all ilk advertising alcohol. It is hard to believe that the temperance movement that led to prohibition was headquartered in Evanston, a trip on the El away.

Absolut apparently re-did this bus stop into some sort of "lemon drop" facility taking out the bench and replacing it with 3 swiveling chairs out of the 60's and putting a bunch of lemons on the roof. But where will the bums sleep?

Ah... this reminds me of Dan's great crappy beer challenge. I would title this photo "the trail of tears".

Program vs. Team, Bret Bielema Running Up the Score, and the BCS

Due to an interesting series of events, the Wisconsin Badgers are only a few outcomes away from a national title game shot in football. I know a lot of people around here that are going to be huge Steve Spurrier fans in a few weeks.

Living in Madison I have followed the Wisconsin football program with interest. And it is a program, not a team. Illinois has a football team. We are up and down (mostly down) with the occasional BCS game appearance (Sugar, Rose) and then no bowl game at all for a half decade or more. We fire our head coach with regularity about every five years or so. We haven't won a bowl game since 1999 in the tradition laden bowl. That game was my single good memory about Ron Turner. Virginia trash talked us all that previous week and we went out there and ran it up on them 63-21 or something like that. And we did run it up, of that there is no doubt. I don't like the practice of running up the score as you will soon see. We could have made our point just fine and stopped at, say, 56-21. You know?

In contrast, Wisconsin has a football program. They have risen from the ashes like the mighty Phoenix. Since they hired Barry Alvarez they have not fired a head coach. That is a long time ago. They consistently go to bowl games and win them. Everyone knows what to expect from Wisconsin and they deliver.

This year in particular, Wisconsin has been punishing it's opponents with no mercy. There was a major flap when Wisconsin was thrashing Minnesota in the fourth quarter by more than three touchdowns and they went for a two point conversion to rub it in. Here is what the post game handshake looked like after that game.

Bielema blamed his decision on the "card" which supposedly is the instrument that a division one football coach is supposed to use to tell him to go for one or two in game end situations. As usual, the Onion speaks truth to power when they said something to the effect of they weren't aware that Bret Bielema's card said to go for two when you are up by 25 late in the fourth quarter when your opponent hasn't done squat against you all day.

Yesterday Bret Bielema ran up the score again. And before you get all defensive - let the players play, etc. - take a look at this quote from a very well written column by Tom Oates:

Normally after such a game, you would ask why starting quarterback Scott Tolzien was throwing passes with UW holding a 52-13 lead late in the third quarter. Why UW kicked a field goal with a 59-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Why backup quarterback Jon Budmayr threw a 74-yard touchdown pass with a 69-13 lead.

The most important word in that quote is "normally". Normally, behavior such as we saw yesterday at Camp Randall would be treated with repugnancy and people would come out like Brewster did at the end of the Minnesota game and call it what it was - running up the score. BUT, with the advent of the BCS, the craziest, most bizarre way to pick a champion on the face of the earth, college teams have been running up scores with stunning regularity. If the opportunity arises, everyone wants to try to get attention with voters and computers to try to further their teams ranking. I don't blame Bret Bielema one bit for running it up on patsies like Indiana (83-20) or Austin Peay (70-3). Everyone is doing it. I would like him to just be honest and say "hey, everyone else is doing it to improve their rank and poll numbers, why can't we?" Instead we get the company line.

I have always held a personal grudge against Steve Spurrier for running it up so many times while he was at Florida.

On a personal level I find the practice of running up the score disgusting. The NCAA tries to put forth this illusion of sportsmanship and the wholesome competition of amateur athletes. Yet we reward coaches and teams for embarassing others. It is sort of sick if you think about it.

Someday, Wisconsin will not have a good year and someone is going to run it up on them. I sure hope I don't hear any Badger fans complain about that. And I am glad Illinois doesn't play Wisconsin this year.

Out of the Comfort Zone...Again

The gym has done something novel for the last three months of the year.

Attendance at the gym suffers over the holidays, especially in November and December for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact the gym always closes the last two weeks of the year for cleaning, remodeling if needed, and to basically give everyone's bodies a rest from the pounding we receive all year. It is a good break.

Previous years we would have tests in Muay Thai, JKD, BJJ and MMA (yes, we have a MMA curriculum) in May/June and sometime in November. Always twice a year.

This year they backed up the tests to late April/Early May and late September. October, November and December are what they have deemed "adult summer". Adult summer is basically going to be random topics, chosen by the instructors. All classes are forced to cross martial arts. The BJJ guys have to do standup, the JKD guys have to kickbox (well, they do anyways, but they have to stick to MT rules) etc. We are also doing fundamentals. Lots and lots of fundamentals in our arts.

In MT class, instead of soldiering forward in a curriculum we have gotten back to basics. We spent a whole week on tightening up our kicking. It helped me immensely.

Last week was self defense. In these classes we were taught some of Paul Vunak's RAT (Rapid Assault Tactics) system, as well as some submission holds and a bit of BJJ. Honestly I don't like any of this, especially the rolling, but it is GOOD for me to do things I don't like. I used to not like running either.

I think it was a brilliant idea for the gym to do the adult summer. People don't feel as guilty for missing a class or two here an there (I have had to skip some due to job and family responsibilities) and we trained very hard this year. It is a nice time for all of us to decompress a bit, joke around and actually have fun, rather than doing the intense training that we are all used to. There are a lot more smiles around and that is great.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Perch Fishing 2010

It’s Over When It’s Over. Yesterday it was over.

No, this perch catch photo was not from yesterday, it was from last year when we caught 45 jumbo perch in one day. I could not resist posting it again. That’s a limit for three licensed fishermen. The smallest fish was 9“ (there was only one of those to fill out the limit) and the biggest was 14”. What a day it was and there were a few more that would follow.

This year was a perch fishing bust. One season you get spoiled, the next is a letdown, just when you think you have them figured out. That’s life.

Some have asked why I fish for perch when I should be fishing for bigger bass, pike, walleye, salmon, etc. I have caught plenty of big pike, bass walleye and salmon. I am not after trophies as was the case in my younger days. Perch fishing is a satisfying day on the big lake and they taste the best to me. When we catch them.

Having never fished for perch in November I had great expectations for the big lake recently. The guys at the Mik-Lurch tackle and bait shop in Hammond IN had told me the best time for big’uns is between Halloween and Thanksgiving. They have photos to prove it. These guys have the best customer service for an independent bait and tackle shop I have ever been in. They are very friendly and offer excellent advice on what is working and where fishing is best. It works, especially since a huge Cabela’s retail store was built three miles south. It did not hurt their business much. The owners fish a lot, they know their stuff.

Yesterday I pulled the rig in front of the store and Big Mike, one of the owners, was sitting on a picnic table out front with his monster brown lab. Perchin’?, he asked. Yep, just waiting for the bro who was buying the bait I replied.

Mike usually displays a giant ‘bragging’ cooler in front of the store with his catch from the day before on ice. It is always impressive. This year I have seen his bragging cooler only once.

We talked for a while. Mikie, as they call him, is the unquestioned expert on Lake Michigan perch. He designs and sells special perch lures. His take on the past season on a scale of 1-10 was a 4. But after this fall run debacle he is lowering it to a 3. He blames mother nature, I agreed.

He seemed to think it would get better each day since the winds have died down and the water would become less murky. In recent years I have never seen the lake do discolored. Another observation from him was that the big perch never migrated from the north due to the extended period of water that was too warm. They stayed up north off the Michigan coast near Grand Haven and Muskegon where the water was cool and the food source was plentiful.

Me and the bro still went out, believing it could change in one day. It has before.

Yesterday we caught two perch. They had no color, they were so pale the fish looked as if they were left on a stringer all day. This happens when sunlight does not penetrate water that is more often than not, crystal clear. Fish, like people have skin that reacts to sunlight. The color is in the skin, not their scales.

We wrapped it up at 12:30 pm and hauled out the boat. Neither me nor the bro felt that going out today was worth it. The weather will be changing over the weekend and next week would be more of the same. Not good.

We officially declared the fishing season was over.

On the way home I dropped the boat off at Cabela’s for winterizing and minor repair on the Johnson 15HP kicker motor. Surprisingly, Cabela’s has a fine marine repair shop. I took the rig there last year. The prices are good and they finish up fast. Independent marine dealers in our area can be arrogant jack@sses and ripoff artists, I have learned.

So now it’s full-tilt hunting season with no distractions.

On Sunday morning, Scott and I will work our dogs and bag some birds. I do have plenty of fish in the freezer and some venison. Adding some game birds will round out the wild game larder.

Fishing will wait until next year. Maybe we will get spoiled once again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Injun Summer Is Happening Now

As long as I can remember the Chicago Tribune would publish this Injun Summer illustration annually. It was first published in 1912.

John T. McCutcheon was a staff illustrator and writer. He published many iconic images of Midwestern life at the turn of the century and was very talented. But none were as enduring as the Injun Summer illustration and story. It can be read if you click to enlarge.

I have written about this illustrated essay before. In the 80’s the ChiTrib editors deemed it offensive to the Native American indigenous people and ceased republication. Political correctness was beginning to take hold and the ChiTrib was probably in fear of bad publicity, subscription issues, whatever. How sad.

As a grade school kid I remember this illustration decorating bulletin boards in our classrooms along with other seasonal cardboard cut-out decorations such as scarecrows, turkeys, pumpkins and pigrims. Then, as now, I find nothing offensive about it. This is iconic American cultural heritage in its purest form. Cooler heads at the ChiTrib eventually prevailed and began republication in the Sunday magazine a number of years ago. Why not? It is a true cultural treasure.

We are now in official Indian Summer. Technically defined it is a period of unseasonably warm weather after the first frost. Hell, last week we not only had a frost and a freeze but our first measurable snowfall in Northern Indiana. Prior to that it has been an exceptionally pleasant autumn weatherwise.

Q: What’s the politically correct term for Injun Summer?

A: Native American Post Equinox Weather Phenomenon.

Today, I along with the bro and a cousin-in-law ventured out onto Lake Michigan to enjoy the unusual warmth and a last shot at some jumbo perch. We caught about six between us and two were considered jumbos measuring 12 and 10 inches respectively. Not good fishing but it was an outstanding day on the water for November.

The lake was still cloudy from the strong weekend northern winds. It should only get better, with a forecast of light southern winds and temperatures in the 70’s for another two days. It will clear up with time. We’re going back out tomorrow and possibly on Friday, if the bite is on. If not the boat will be winterized on Friday and put away for the season.

One last shot, that’s all we ask.

Hope you are enjoying another fine Injun Summer if you live here in the Great Midwest.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday Morning Blues

I am not certain if this is the "traditional" blues but it rates as blues for me. Very sad that Jeff Buckley died so young after pretty much just one studio album. This is one of my all time favorite songs.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Around Chicago November 2010

Upper left - a lot of the higher end or craft brewers are starting to sell their beer in cans.  This is a "Gossamer Golden Ale" from Half Acre Brewing Company, a local Chicago micro-brewer.  Good stuff.  Upper right - funny to see a Smart Car parked on the sidewalk on Wells street under the "El" tracks.  Lower left - over in Wicker Park "Brooklyn Industries" has their wares plus pre-emptively put up graffiti on half their building to boot.  Lower middle - I can't believe how low the jeans are on the shorter guy on the left side of the picture.  They honestly would go down to about my knees.  I am not a fashion expert but if you are already short wearing pants that make you seem EVEN shorter wouldn't seem like a good plan.  Also if you enlarge the photo you can see that he has his wallet in those pants too which for some reason I find funny.  Lower right - on Michigan Avenue they are still building new condos.  UNBELIEVABLE.  These are Ritz Carleton residences, you'd figure that if they can't even sell out the Trump that they'd give up on building more high end residences.  Or maybe they are way smarter than us and betting that the debased US currency will enable foreigners to use their Euros and other valuable currencies to snap up real estate, especially prime real estate on Michigan Avenue.  You never know.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

About An Inch

An early lake effect dusting happened Saturday morning.

It's not unusual in these here parts.

More to come.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Passport Service and Post Workout Recovery Bleg

Next summer I am going to France to ride my bike in the Pyranees on some famous mountains that are featured in the Tour de France from time to time. Also on the agenda is a race. It had been a long time since I had been to Europe and my passport was expired so it had to be renewed. I decided to do it by mail.

The government was pretty efficient! I sent my old one in on October 21 with the required forms (and $110!) and received my new passport yesterday, November 5. Exactly 15 days door to door. I think that is pretty damned good for a government agency. If you need to renew a passport, perhaps this is not a busy time of year for them. On a sad note, the dollar is getting killed right now and this vacation is getting more expensive by the day - I bought some euros a few months ago, but apparently not enough. But currency markets are funny, we will see how it goes.

On another note, I have jacked up my workout regimen (more) so I can be competitive in the race (165 km with a finish atop the Plateau de Beille) and I have been looking into post workout recovery supplements/drinks. I have read conflicting information that says I should take these drinks immediately after working out and also that I should wait until the next day. Any info you have on this subject would be appreciated as to what and when I should be doing after my workouts to supplement my muscle development.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Low And Slow BBQ? How About A McRib!

Sit back kiddies and allow gramps to tell you a little story. It’s about my past experience with McDonald’s marketing and advertising. When the McRib sandwich was born I was there.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s I worked at a downtown advertising and marketing agency where McDonald’s was the biggest account. We executed all store level communication material from the backlit food photos on the menuboard to happy meal box designs along with those contests, games and sweepstakes that are currently down to one annual Monopoly game per year after a scandal that occurred about ten years ago. I was responsible for the graphic design of many marketing programs for McD’s.

As a sideline we also created backroom posters educating the crew people about new product introductions. I never knew what my next assignment would be and that’s what made work interesting and fun. I made a lot of money having fun, something most people can’t say.

One day my writer/partner Tom and I were asked to travel to a south side meat packing plant. McD’s was introducing round bacon, we were told. They wanted us to create an instructional poster to educate workers about this new round bacon product. Back then the posters were not bi-lingual.

Upon arrival at the packing plant we were given white lab coats, head nets, hats and paper booties to cover our shoes.

We were led through a very large warehouse facility with rows upon rows of stainless steel tables and automated cutting equipment. It was very sanitary but inoperative. I asked our guide what this room was for. His response? “This is where we once made the McRib patties”, was his answer. It came to be that McRib was considered a flop, very unusual for McD’s at the time, and taken off the menu. It lasted only a year or so.

Yes, THAT McRib. I was a member of the product launch group when it was categorized as a new product. McRib was a patty made of ground pork and shaped to look like a mini slab of ribs. Served on a sandwich roll it was coated with BBQ sauce and topped with a few pickles and slivers of onion.

Operationally McRib was a simple product addition without retrofitting the kitchen equipment too much and that always pleased the franchisees.

A few of us went to McD HQ in Oakbrook where we sampled the McRib in their test kitchen before it went into test market. I liked it.

We were all asked to contribute names for this new product. A winning product name would pay out a $5,000 bonus. Nobody ever won one naming contest since McD’s always fell back on Mc(fill in the blank) after focus group testing. My entry was Pig Mac, har har.

The McD marketing staff was very nervous because test market results showed that many customers looked at the McRib sandwich and thought it contained bones. So the creative platform given to us was to emphasize the fact this product had no bones. Product photography of the sandwich featured a toothpick sticking into the bun with a fake international symbol for no bones, as I recreated above.

Today in the ChiTrib McD’s announced the limited time re-intro of McRib nationwide. Seems there are many fans of the pressed and processed porky sandwich. Why not? It’s not bad at all. They get to say “McRib Is Back” for a limited time and make some noise. This is a promotion known as an L.T.O. (limited time offer) and is a shrewd marketing tactic to increase retail traffic. L.T.O.’s are a proven traffic building tactic and that's why restaurantchains offer them so often.

When my local McD’s offers the special promotion for McRib this week I will give it a try again.

Oh yeah about that round bacon. All the packing plant did to create round bacon was offset two slabs of bacon, mechanically wrap them into a round shape and stuff them into a mesh sock before the smoke curing process. The curing process bonded the two slabs of bacon in a yin-yang swirl of lusciousness. When complete the sock was removed and the cylindrical slabs were sliced into portion size shapes to fit on their round buns and mechanically packed for shipment.

I lost track of if or when the round bacon was discontinued, but it made sense. Maybe they still use it, I dunno.

McD’s is constantly under attack from the food Nazis. McD’s now offers healthy food choices because of food nazi pressure but that’s not good enough for the self-righteous meddlers and nannies who want to control every aspect of other people’s lives. If you don’t like their products don’t buy them. Don't go there, plain and simple.

Just call me pro-choice.

You can read more about the ongoing McRib phenomenon here and here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bird Dog Training Continues

When I trained my last two English setters there was plenty of open land around my country bunker.

When I bought Dottie it was from a breeder of both gun dogs and horses. Bob competes in field trials as far away as Texas, an expensive hobby. In doing so he wins ribbons that qualifies his livestock. This ensures his breeding efforts will bring a worthwhile return.

Bob told me I was welcome to use his ranch to train Dottie. It sits on over 100 acres and is groomed for both horse and dog training.

Bob also raises quail and other game birds for his own training purposes.

While not as convenient as across the street it’s only a 30 minute drive south and a great place to run Dottie.

He has a back property where you cannot see any roads and is very quiet and secluded. A few months ago my friend Scott was out at Bob's ranch training with me and his dog Penny pointed up a wild turkey hen.

Bob even built a tower to accommodate judges while holding actual field trials on the property. Serious stuff

Dottie is coming along fine. We have trained three times in the past week. Frequency, repetition, patience and consistency are very important.

Here is where we are at today.

She has a good nose and finds the birds, so that is out of the way. I have used a starter pistol the first few times not including this past week. Getting her jacked-up on the bird in flight is important in gun breaking. Gradually we worked up from the .22 blank to a 12 ga with low brass loads and she never flinches. So we’re done with gun breaking.

Once the bird is shot she is able to find it. This is another good sign.

Where we have a problem is that Dottie still needs work on the WOAH command. She has been breaking in on and flushing the bird she points. This needs work and it’s all up to me to fix this. It wont be hard, it just takes time and consistency. All we need is more time in the field on live birds. When on point a young pup needs to understand that WOAH means freeze on the spot. In gun dog training the word WOAH can be confused with the NO command. So when training a gun dog to understand NO we used the words NO-NO spoken quickly and firmly, insead.

In two weeks it will be time for real hunting trips so I need to get back out to Bob's ranch a few more times.

I am not expecting much in Dottie’s first season. She’s just over a year old.

I can see improvement each time we work in the field and that pleases me.

Frequency, repetition, patience and consistency with the emphasis on patience which is key to training a good gun dog and field companion. I have plenty of patience.

Hunting is fun and provides interesting table fare, but training is an enjoyable outdoor experience and the results are very satisfying.

Training also provides a few tasty meals.

Monday Morning Blues

The often overlooked J.B. Lenoir...