Wednesday, October 12, 2005

White-water Kayakers .. Head Smarts Means LIFE

The high-volume rush of water, tumbling over rocks at steep incline, in a constrained space, builds the playground for one of the most exhilerating, fastest growing and dangerous sports in the world This outdoor activity is known as white-water (W-W) kayaking. Thousands of people have rushed to enjoy the sport of W-W and each year there are deaths. Most of these deaths are attributed to drowning, but a good number also show the drowning occured following a blow-to-the-head. Many kayakers - if not most - wear helmets. So - why are there so many deaths when the participant is wearing protective gear? Maybe the gear is not as up-to-the-task of protecting as we think.

In 1998, Lucas Turner was killed on the North Fork of the Payette river when his boat fliped, he was ejected and his head hit a rock with the fatal blow. But how could this happen? This was a common occurance. What happened? Well for one thing the helmet Lucas was wearing was pushed back on his head - exposing his forehead to the full impact on the rock. This was clearly a design issue.

Lucas's father, Gil Turner of Park City, UT sought answers and a solution. His quest took him to Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. Two graduate engineering students took on the
task of designing a new, safer W-W Kayaking helmet.

I've been kayaking - both white-water (W-W), river and sea, since 1974. It's a great activity; from very challenging to just plain enjoyable. The thrills, spills and chills are real attractant to those int the X-treme sports. With W-W kayaking being one of the fastest growing outdoor sports worldwide, so too comes with it the dangers of big water, fast current, hydraulics, hypothermia and big rocks. A clean run can mean nothing more than an adrenaline pumping experience that will thrash you for days. But a bad run can leave you either dazed or dead.

I've kayaked the Main Fork of the Payette, it's no where near the technical or dangerous water found in the North Fork of the Payette, but it is still a river that should NOT be taken lightly. My son and I were there in 1995 while on a pre-trip planning session on the Missouri River (a long, sad story for another time). The day we ran the North Fork was beautiful; bright sun, blue skies and the water running at about 2800 cfm. My son had never been in white-water in a kayak before and I was more than a little concerned for his safety. He was very athetic and used to water, being an avid wind surfer - but the hydralics of white-water are much different than what a wind surfer is used to. So we chose to put in on a relatively calm section, do a modest 5 mile shoot and hitch a ride back to the truck.

First note ... I'd personally not been in white-water for at least 6 years and never in the new Dagger Responses we were using for the first time. I'd also never kayaked white-water west of the Mississippi River. So, I was taking a risk on 3-major areas: 1) out of shape 2) unfamiliar equipment and area 3) unskilled companion. But we went anyway.

We put in just above a nice chute that looked to be nothing more than a gentle Class III. However, when we got into it - it was anything but 'gentle' ! My son - being younger and more agile - wisely took a route around the main chute and passed through it a 'glancing blow', without any trouble. I, on the other-hand, was heavier in the boat than I should have been, was paying most of my attention on seeing how 'my son was doing' than on the river and ended up going right through the midst of the chute. I was a fun ride - until - I had a unexpected encounter a rock that rolled over in an instant.

My 'kayak-roll' was never great, but it was generally adequate for the lesser-hydraulics of most eastern waters. It wasn't for this river! I soon began to stuggle. This compounded the situation. I was eventually able to do a 'deep-water-ditch' and made it, drawn-and-exhausted to the shore. We had neglected to procure bladders for the boats to aid in floatation and I learned just how valuable that would have been! I was able to get my boat and self to the shore. But I was totally exhausted. And - at that time - I had no idea where my son was. I was frankly very frightened. But I could do nothing at the moment but set in the sun, get warm, catch my breath and get enough energy to walk down-stream, put back in the calmer water and find him: hopefully, well.

I did find him. He was absolutely ecstatic! He'd had a maverlous run and was pumped to run the water for the next 4.5 miles of the trip - and probably do it 2 or 3 times again. I on the other-hand, was wiped out: physically and emotionally. I'd NEVER felt like that before on white-water. And I have had my share of 'close-calls'. But this one showed me I really had no business being on this water - in as poor a physical condition as I was. I made a tough call: we were through. My son was NOT happy and did NOT understand. I stood my ground and explained to him that though he was probably fine with the experience, I was neither about to let him paddle on his own - or attempt to make the same mistake again for myself. He acquiesced - but still was pretty hot about me 'spoiling' his fun day; he still is, 11 years later. But he's still alive, too. He had no idea how much I hated to do that to him - but I just could not go back myself. Sobered and shaken we made it back to the truck and into McCall, ID for the night.

I learned a big lesson that day on the Payette River and I am most grateful that neither I, nor my son, had to pay the expense of that lesson with either our lives or serious injury.

Using one's head pays off in lifelong ... even long life ... dividends.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Open Letter to Dave Winer & the Community Blogosphere

Dave ..

If you're reading this email ... PLEASE READ THIS!

We thought 9/11 was an event where blogging and podcasting could and did serve a great need, well, Katrina is the REAL PROVING GROUND. There are needs .. HUGE needs .. and they are NOT ALL centered in New Orleans !!!

As you well know - the Media is a one-sided, cycloptic monster. It only sees - all at once we must admit !! - in one direction. There are many stories of pain and suffering - atrocities we thought we'd never see in this country. But one of the most troubling, new development - is that the US Government Military is STOPPING and not allowing help to enter the areas, coming from family members and other citizens of the US. These are caravans of supplies needed - by those in the affected areas - to sustain life and rebuild their communities so life can struggle to its feet and make a lunge for some semblance of normalcy. People in these hardly accessible areas - such as Gulfport, MS - are DEPENDING on these supply lines getting through. It has become obvious that the lack of leadership from the highest levels of the US government to the local level are NOT going to do all that is needed to be done.

The WORD must go out to LET THE AMERICAN people help. And those who DO HAVE the connections - so well developed through their business contacts and many years of experience - DO NOT HINDER their actions to move forward in their - and their neighbors - struggle to recover.

I am in contact with a young lady - now in Atlanta - whose parents are still in Gulfport. They were very fortunate to have ridden out the hurricane and survived with their house to remain standing; scathed, but standing. If this were not bad enough, they now must take up 24-hr vigils to keep the thieves and vandals out of their home (read her entries 1 2 3). Understand, this is NOT about food and water - it is about property abduction .. shear theft: nothing else. This is NOT an isolated incident and it is NOT happening ONLY in New Orleans - it is happening all over Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis. Hell look at it, it's all the way from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans (just do a Google on Gulfport - go to the Google Map and back OUT 3-cliks and you'll see the area of devastation - not just destruction - but DEVASTATION!) - this WHOLE area has been devastated and is becoming a wasteland overrun by thieves and thugs preying upon the survivors of Katrina's wake of destruction !

You're the KING of the Blogosphere .. like it or not. When 'Dave speaks' the blogging community and the blogosphere LISTENS! Speak out! Speak out now! Get the blogosphere humming with the news of this GROWING disaster. Katrina is gone from the map .. but SHE IS NOT GONE! Her wake is still reeling from the pummeling she gave this entire region.

If the WORD is not gotten out .. and I do mean the TRUE WORD .. the HONEST comments and stories of WHAT IS happening on the ground and in the backgrounds of humanity in these areas --- the fallout will reach from sea-to-not-so-shining-sea, from border-to-tenuous-border !!! This is an IMMENSE NATIONAL DISASTER that is STILL IN THE MAKING. But we CAN yet STOP the 2nd Wave of Katrina's Disaster .. the Human Reaction to the obvious, Inactive Leadership Vacuum, found at every level of government in this country.

I am sad to say it... but this is NOT a UNITED States of America ... it IS a very troubled and perilously close to dis-United States of America! A continuous line of communication MUST BE opened and the MEDIA must - ONCE AGAIN be moved off their hype position and MOVE the government to do what they are in-place to do .. SERVE THE PEOPLE OF the USA!! ALL THE PEOPLE!

Yes .. I am blogging this on two blogs:

The O'fieldstream Blog


Weather & Outdoor Heritage .. It's Life

I'm working with Doug Kaye as
'mentored junior editor' on his IT Conversations and I'm sending him this email as well. I'm also sending it to all the major bloggers I know and know of. I am hoping - PRAYING - that the blogging and podcasting communities join together to Become the FORCE for ACTION - not revolt - ACTION to get the wheels of bureaucracy freed up and turning for the good of the American people who PAY to have it work for them.

I'm listening right now to Geraldo Rivera claiming the wonders of the chopper FINALLY arriving to take the 25,000! people - they are NOT REFUGEES! - they are SURVIVORS - Human Beings - Citizens of the USA - out of that fetid hell-hole to a place that is cleaner, safer and a chance to make a new start. The logistics of this entire Event .. is a nightmare. But we are NOT going to be able to wakeup from it ... it IS REAL! And IT IS NOW!

Thanks for your help. Let's hope, pray and work our asses off to get this moving. If we don't WE ALL WILL LOOSE .. and LOOSE B I G !!

les booth
aka, O'fieldstream

Friday, September 02, 2005

In for the LONG HAUL

Here we are - Thursday Sept 1, 2005 .. just now 4 days into the aftermath of hurricane Katrina ... and we are seeing the signs of our fragile social fabric - tearing under the stress. These were the same words used last night on the CBS Evening News - when veteran reporter, Harry Smith - stationed in Gulfport, MS - gave the wrap-up on his report for the day.

FOUR DAYS!! Only 4 days. Let's picture this. Yes, it's a very short time in considering the rebuild scale that will be needed. But on the human level .. that means - for those who do NOT have food - even if healthy - it's 1/5 of the way to starvation. For those without water .. it's already half-way to dying of thirst! So .. it's a far more dangerous number than we first imagine. And that is the ONLY perspective that it should be viewed from. People are dying in the streets of New Orleans and the devasted regions not yet even seen by anyone but those who are suffering in seemingly their own lone positions. This is a human tragedy... not an economc one. That will come later.

Remember NONE of this takes into consideration the likelyhood of disease from the decaying corspes littering the area; the fetid waters filled with chemicals, fecal matter, and decay. The animals that will either be dying - are dead - or who will begin feeding on both the dead, dying and living. This is a very grim condition. And we do NOT have time to play 'government games'. If people are to be rescued and given a chance at survival there is no place for buracracy. But we all know it will happen - it is happening - and it will continue to happen.

So the big question we need to address is " IF we are seeing this kind of meltdown now .. What are we going to be seeing/doing at 4-Weeks .. 4-Months ... 4-YEARS !! ???

Yes - there are hundreds of acts of heroism, selfless service to those in dire need, and the most needed 'acts of kindness' - that go unreported. But all of us have -at one time or another- been in need. We've been on the receiving end of the kindness of friends, relatives and neighbors. And we've also seen 'them disappear' as the days - weeks and yes, years - drug on.

A care-giver - no matter at what level - or at what task, must be IN IT for the LONG HAUL. Once a person is in the need of 'care' - true, honest, life-sustaining care ... they need help and a helping hand then - and will need it for some time to come. Also, many will need that help a lot longer than others. Then there are those who will take advantage of the kindess - and 'bleed' the care-giver to death - if left unchecked.

Unfortunately we have and we will continue to see this dispicable behavior: it's all part of the human canvas we call life. It's not pretty - but it's still there. And unless we are ALL in the effort for the LONG HAUL - we will only look at the ingreats, the despicable and the seemingly 'down the rathole' efforts poured forth. And NOT ONE of us can afford to walk that path. Because IF we do - we will ALL LOOSE.

So ... from the 'get go' .. let's all realize this is a NATIONAL DISASTER - of scale that only Hollywood could show us. It is not apocolyptic ... but it is of the size and scope that will leave this country changed forever. It is NOT just a local problem. I do not live on the Gulf Coast - for a very specific reason - I personally know the damage nature's fury can inflict and I do NOT want to be the recipient of that onslaught. Therefore I chose not to live there.

HOWEVER ... the misery and the pain being felt there at this very moment IS MY PROBLEM, TOO. And I'm not talking about the price increase at the gas pump. I'm talking about the suffering of the people who have survived this natural disaster is MY SUFFERING, too.

Those affected,are PEOPLE I personally know. They are parents, grandparents, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters .. all elements of the human family. They are citizens of the United States - but more importantly - they are ALL citizens of the Human Race! They are all my fellow human beings. I cannot - therefore - with a clear conscience .. because I do have one .. just toss my $5 or $500 into the Red Cross cauffers and say, "There, I've done my part." and let it be at that.


The problems - and make no mistake about it - these are EXTREMELY serious PROBLEMS! - are not going to be fixed in a month - or even in a year. It will take years ... even our President had to come that conclusion - and probably to the horror of his policy advisors - said so on national TV yesterday at a press conference. It will be Y E A R S before the stretch of the Gulf Coast blasted, by Katrina, will be viable. And, too, we have to remember that there are hundereds - if not thousands - of square miles of devastation that has not yet been shown.

So - as individuals - and as a collective nation - when we reach our hands out to those in need - had better be ready to maintain that position for many months to come.

If you don't understand WHY we need to do this .. then I am truly sorry for you. Your upbringing was sorely shortchanged! In case you still don't know WHY .. well, it's nothing complicated .. it's just the right thing to do. Nothing more gand than that ... and yet knowing that and acting upon it is the most powerful force in humanity. Let's hope and pray we never loose sight of it.

And yes .. this IS what the Outdoor Heritage is all about. It's about knowing our roll in the scheme of life. One of those rolls is that we cannot take the position of 'Sole Survivor' .. for if we do, we may well find ourselves the 'Sole Survivor' and that would - in true REALITY - not be a place to aspire to.

Just to give both sides of the coin a good look ... there's a 'selfish' reason one could take for helping out: One never knows when he or she will be on the needy-side looking up for help. There is an old, old saying that is every bit as viable today as it was the first time it was uttered - whenever that was : "What goes around, comes around." Let's not ever forget this either.

These are hard words. Hard questions. And these are much harder times. As much money as is poured into the preparations for disasters - why was there not put into place - ready to move in a moments notice - from a major military base well out of the reach of the hurricane's path - that could be brought to bare on the immediate needs within hours of assessment. We may not have seen the pictures of the devastation on TV for hours or until the next day -but there were helicopters and airplanes who DID see it and could have started the immediate responders in-motion THEN: not 4-days later.

What are we going to do WHEN - we get hit with another big one like this - say into Miami - and then hours or days later an earthquake hits LA or SanFran or Seattle? No, we sure don't want to think about that do we? Well - the REALITY is this - nature doesn't care whether we want to think about - it's just doing it's thing: day-in-and-day-out. And IF the earth mantle makes a sudden movement that results in an 8.0 in the LA basin, just hours after a hurricane Cat 4 takes on Miami and all surrounding counties - hey, that's tough. You all know the saying, "Shit happens." The only question that is viable is - 'How well can you dance to the music?" In other words - are we - as individuals - prepared to fend for ourselves AND our neighbors?

If nothing else has been shown by this calamity is has been this: "We are not a cohesive unit of people - at the ground level - when we need to be." There are pockets of those who DO function well - with anyone around them - as best they can - but this quality of character is becoming a rare commodity in our soceity. IF we do not recognize this and take immediate steps to correct it - then we are digging a hole and setting in it - waiting for when the 'dikes' will break and swamp us. Then it will be too, late.

I am not being negative. Never confuse the courage to face the facts of reality for negativism. My comments here are made in the hope that we see where we need to make changes. Changes that will prevent the exacerbation of pain, misery and death in the face of huge natural calamities that we as humans have absolutely no control over. But we do have control over US - and how we deal, individualy and collectively with the 'morning after'.

There are answers - we, as a the human-community- just need to grasp hold of those answers and put them back into force in our society ... and we must do it NOW.

God speed to all who are providing the services needed and let's all be sure we are NOT doing anything to jeapordize or hinder that one bit.


Weather Underground Photos of New Orleans

If y'all haven't looked at the Wunder Photos Very Important Photos, then you need to. SmithFarm Photos, a Fish & Wildlife employee, has uploaded an extensive gallery of photos of the condtions - on-th-ground - in New Orleans. SFP did not label each photo extensively - the Captions are a repeat - but the photos are very descriptive. As well - I find the Caption itself very telling.

Take a look ... this is what 'one of our own' ... IS doing on-the-ground in the ravaged New Orleans area.

These are but a few of the many ...


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Links in Previous Post ...

I apologize that the links in the previous post did not come through ... here are the URLs:

CNN interview w/Dr. Ivor van Heerden (posted on 29 Aug 2005)

CNN video interview w/ Mr. Walter Maestri [click link after 1st paragraph in at the link above] (this is from a 2004 interview! ) -- this IS a chilling commentary. We ARE NOW seeing it - it has happened!

Sorry for the technical clitch ...


They Knew, Did Nothing: Tip of Many such 'icebergs'

I know - professionally- the director of Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center, Dr. Ivor van Heerden; he's also the director fo the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, located in Baton Rouge. He gave .. and has been GIVING a report on the impending disaster - for the past 20 years - we're are now deep into with New Orleans.

I will make a comment on his studies - that of several others - and what I've been involved in myself, later.

But for now ... I want to pass along this CNN interview report with Dr. van Heerden and a video interview with Mr. Walter Maestri, Director of Emergency Management for Jefferson Parish; nearly a 500,000 populace-part of New Orleans.

To say, "I told you so."- may be too painful for people to hear, but once you view this video and read the article - you will come to no other conclusion that just that.

CNN interview w/Dr. Ivor van Heerden (posted on 29 Aug 2005)
CNN video interview w/ Mr. Walter Maestri [click link after 1st paragraph] (this is from a 2004 interview! ) -- this IS a chilling commentary. We ARE NOW seeing it - it has happened!

[NOTE: I don't know when the interview with Dr. van Heerden was 'actually' conducted, but I DO know this information has been around for over 30 years ..and, at this level of seriousness! Hurricane Betsy in 1965 - killed 61 people and forced the levee system constructed - and ever since then EVERYONE knew they were were NOT enough. The computer models showed a Cat 4 direct hit would kill no fewer than 44,000 people in New Orleans - ALONE! ]

This is incredibly sad. And we are in no way seeing the 'only' such case of this level of 'osteriching'. This is one .. of many 'icebergs' floating around in the ocean of our society. We are in danger.. from so many fronts. And we've played osterich for so long. We are 'over due'.

I think we can say ... 'stike two'. We all know the next call ...


Bureaucracy Kills ...

I've been listening - like may of you - to all the news channels - CNN,FOX, MSNBC and all of them have reporters saying the same thing: We hear that help in on the way - but no one has seen it!

Grains of sand can totally immobalize a 60 ton tank. And just like those grains of sand, the grains of bureacracy are immobalizing an entire country: OURS If we don't stem this flow of confidence degradation in our own government - then we are in for a whole lot more trouble than Katrina could ever bring!

If you don't think this would happen to you .. then you're just as vulnerable as those poor souls sweltering in the fetid humidity of the former urban center known as New Orleans.

The majority of the folks stranded in that hell-hole are regular - law abiding, tax-paying, everyday citizens .. just like you, me and our neighbors. So, WHY are they being ignored?

We were all hearing the 'flooding of the streets of NO' were the problem, 2-days ago. Then we heard the Army Corp were not able to make the repairs ??? So, what happened to the great ability of our armed forces? We are still hearing the 'level' explantion today .. 48 hours later. Why?

OK .. they are struggling with a huge problem, so WHY is this stopping helicopters from air-lifting aid to those on roof tops when they pass over them to help others .. and to those who are stranded at the Superdome??

The fact that the real problem is that the location of New Orleans should NEVER have been allowed to grow to the size it is. When you can stand anywhere and look UP to see a huge 200' barge going by at 40' ABOVE you .. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that is NOT a place to be in for an extended period of time.

But regardless of this .. what does this have to do with air-lifting drinking water and food to people who are in dire need of it - in a central location designated by the authorities?


I have yet to hear any kind of reasonable answer.

In one report - a very lucid reporter for NBC news (sorry did not get his name - but he was reporting during Mike Regans show on Fox TV) stated that when he left last night - he came upon no fewer than 60 buses just setting there - on the highway a few miles away from the Superdome. He stopped; they did not want to be on camera - so he asked them WHY they were not heading to the Superdome? The answer he got was, 'it was unsafe and the drivers would not drive into the area'. The reporter told them he just came from there and it was not pleasant -but it was not unsafe, either!! They did NOT move: and still have not! It's Thursday afternoon for goodness sakes!

Mike Brown, Dir of FEMA says help is on the way - in huge amounts. But that help is being held up by individuals who have no real authority to do so. Communiations breakdown. Hmm, signs of bureaucratic BS rearing its ugly head all over the place.

I can tell you that if I were that reporter I would have given those bus drivers two choices .. 1. get in their buses and believe it to be unsafe or 2. remain where they were and know for certain they were unsafe in doing that.

As usual ... it is a breakdown in communications at the lowest level that messes up the whole works. Bureaucracy working at it's very best pace: DEAD STILL!

Just like those grains of sand .. it only takes a few in the wrong place - at the right time - and even a giant will come to a grinding halt.

Oh ... if there isn't a massive 'calvalry ride over the hill' .. and REAL SOON .. then the spill-over of this injustice ... real or otherwise ... is going to be felt from sea-to-not-so-shining-sea, border to border and it will not be good. It WILL cripple our nation. Talk about a national security problem. We won't need to worry about terrorists .. we're in the beginning throws of doing to ourselves !

This is quickly turning into a real PR-nightmare. And I do believe a number of before 'hidden problems' .. or not-so-hidden depending ones level of naivite .. within our governments leaders is really beginning to show itself. The first sign - as my mother used to tell me when I began screaming, ''s not my fault!', that the sign of a guilty person is the speed of which the assure you they are perfectly right in what they did. There have been a whole lot of quick-draw artists plying their spin-craft all day today in that other fetid wasteland, known as Washington, DC.

Let's not loose hope or breakdown to anarchy- that will do NO ONE any good. But when the polls open up again in November - let's not forget we need some serious changes. Let's remember the role bureauracracy played in this unecessary -totally preventable- disaster-of-its-own-making ... and say with voice, pen and lever ... ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Let's bring people into office who are REAL and know how to be REAL. Real people can admit error - take responsibility for their actions.. good or bad. They admit it and get on with doing the right thing at the right time.

Do we still have anyone like that who WILL serve the American public? Will our country even accept them IF they show up? I don't know the answers to this .. but I sure know what I would like. How about you?

Frustrated - but hopeful - in brokenheart Hoosierland,


FEMA in action ??

I have just been listening to FEMA director Mike Brown giving a press conference on just WHAT FEMA is doing in the face of this disaster.

I would NOT want his job. But I can tell you that he is the first public official I've listened to today that speaks straight forward -without policy-speak. He is doing all he can do at this time.

If we want to really help .. then, regardless of your religious affiliation or belief - PRAY that the current operations under way do NOT encounter insumountable barriers. Also pray that the people who are in the midst of the suffering KEEP AS CALM AS POSSIBLE and not allow the hot-heads and intolerant spread their poison.

As I stated in most previous post .. this is ONLY DAY 4. We cannot afford to loose temper, hope or purpose so early on. We are either going to Part of the Solution or we'll be The Problem. Let's not make this any worse than it is .. 'cause it's all the 'worse' it needs to be.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Downtown New Orleans .. from

In all the chaos of Katrina I completely failed to remember that my Domain Hosting company, is located in New Orleans .. I didn't know 'where' exactly until a few minutes ago when I went to their site to check on a Domain. BOOM! Right there in front of me was the announcement of how they were dealing with Katrina's aftermath.

Plaza across street from offices - dwntwn NO

DirectNIC is on the 11th floor of an office building right in the downtown district. They are running on diesel double-drop power backup - so they have gone - so far - without a drop in service. And they have NO intension of evacuating NO.

They have an active webcam - looking down on 'whatever street' is below them - I have no idea where it is as I am totally unfamiliar with NO. This webcam feed is to MS Media Player.

They are also running a blog on LiveJournal. It's an interesting read - to be sure. They also have a series of stills - presumably from the webcam and some obviously from still digital shots, too.

They also sustained damage to their offices. office damage

There is NO WATER in this portion of the downtown. I'm looking at a 'real-time' video (webcam) of the street below - and it is totally dry. But the activity below is quite interesting. They report on the blog all kinds of looting going on and wholesale 'street vending' of the stolen goods !!

I've been so intent on getting info from my online source - but failed to realize that dependance was so tied to the dedicated staff of DirectNIC keeping the servers running.

My sites are all hosted here in the midwest - but if the DirectNIC hosting services go down - my websites are off-line and I'm out of business. So my thanks are to those employees and owners who are protecting their investment and mine!


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Helping Hands are Most Welcome

As I mentioned yesterday, good friend and collegue, Dan Small and his wife Shivani were in a near fatal crash of their SUV and trailer on Tuesday of this week, on I-94 in northern Ohio.

They survived miraculously with no more than minor scrapes and bruises. But they have lost their 15-year old cat, Bobby. In the aftermath of first determining they were OK, then picking up the remains of their belongings, they began both the sorting out and the looking for Bobby, The Cat. But they have not been alone.

The small town of Kingsville, OH - a literal 'spot-in-the-road'- population of around 2500 folks. And from the reports Dan gives - I'd say they are pretty much all friendly folks, too. From the moment the EMT's arrived on the crash scene 'til today - the folks of Kingsville have been extremely kind and helpful to the two crash-refugees in their time of need. Again - I'll leave you to read Dan's continuing story on his blog, On The Road.

From Dan's reports, the folks of Kingsville, OH get high marks in being just plain - 'nice folks'. Kudos the community of Kingsville, OH. That is to your credit. It really nice to know that if a person finds themselves in dire-straights, there are folks like you all around. Please, by all means... keep it up!


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Seat-belt usage .. Still having doubt?

OK .. fellow travelers of the highway system .. how many times a week do you head out of your driveway with the safety of your seat-belt hanging from the door-jam of your vehicle? Well, for your sake and the sake of those along for the ride .. I hope NEVER!

I received word late the other night - in an email - from Dan Small; TV-personality for Wisconsin Public TV's Outdoor Wisconsin, publisher of the Dan Small Outdoors website and his Blog the Road weblog - that sent chills up and down my seat-belt spine. Dan and his wife Shivani, came as close to death-on-the-highway as anyone would ever want to see. I'll let Dan give you the details in his
Blog the Road entries on the accident - he has photos, too.

Dan is a very good friend and special colleague. I am very thankful that he and Shivani were BOTH wearing their seat-belts: Dan in the front DRIVING and Shivani in the BACKseat as passenger of their Ford Explorer. Dan's first blog entry say's a lot: "Seat Belts' Save Lives". He and Shivani are living proof!


I grew up on a farm in central Indiana. I was driving vehicles from the time I was able to reach the peddles with the help of a 'peddle-cruch' (aka, a 2-pieces of 2x4 strapped to the peddle - my 'cheaters'). We didn't use seat-belts because they did not exist: our loss.

So, what caused me to begin wearing seat-belts?

It was a front-row seat in the arena of 'Speed vs. Body Trauma', experience. A seriously stupid motorcyle accident (oh, no they don't have seat-belts on motorcyles - but they do have a 'helmet law'!! ), in the spring of 1970 provided me a combo, 'wake-up call and 2nd Chance', and I've been an ardent user and evangelist of seat-belts ever since.

OK. But you ask, "Seat-belts and motorcyles.. what's the connection?" Good question and glad you asked.

I was wearing a helmet. It was a full-size w/face-shield, buckled-to-fit and of proper size. I took a 90 degree corner at 45 mph - 35 mph TOO FAST! .. due to unfamiliarity with the bike's shifter (RULE #1: Don't ride when you're not educated to the bike). I shifted UP and NOT Down .. using my normal 'gun-the-throttle-double-clutch' (RULE#2: Don't 'play with the rules' ). I 'punched' the bike into the corner .. lost control .. and slammed into an embankment in a ' 30 mph T-Bone'. I was thrown over the handlebars, breaking 6 ribs, both collarbones, dislocating the right-shoulder, right-knee and - upon impact just above my forehead - my entire upper-neck was compressed over 5cm!! I was not killed and was NOT paralyzed - but my helmet was SPLIT IN HALF!! Safety device worked even if my brain was somewhere dancing on Pluto!!

A friend took a photo of the area a few days after the wreck to show me just how close I came to being killed. I've long since misplaced that photo, but the image of the 60 lb.- ROCK that lay embedded just inches from where I HIT the 12 feet high, 70 degree, embankment, is unforgettably etched on my mind.

Had I NOT been wearing the helmet, I would have been killed - for sure! Had I hit that rock - helmet or not - I'd have been just as dead. The thing is - I DID NOT hit the rock - the helmet DID save my life despite being destroyed in the process. It DID its job and I am alive and walking to prove it.

Again, what's this to do with seat-belts? Simply this:

Devices made to offer protection are only as effective as the USE they are given.

Had I NOT been wearing the helmet, I would have been killed. 80% of all vehicle fatalities - in which the driver or passenger were NOT wearing seat-belts would have had a 98% or better chance of surving the crash. IF ... I had hit the rock, it would have only been by the Grace of God I would have survived and NOT been condemed to a vegetative state of existance. In the same vein - a head-on crash at road-speed - and we all know that 'road-speed' keeps going up year-after-year, despite the posted speed limits - with a semi-tractor trailer, SUV, farm truck or even a Geo Metro, will likely result in death - seat-belts or not ... without a heavy dose of Saving Grace Application.

So, if living to see the dawn of each new day is a desirable life-long goal, for you - put on that seat-belt. Buckle it with gratitude to the thousands of hours of design and engineering that went into its develoopment so You and I can be safe when our 'luck runs low'.

Don't forget it. Or, it just may be the last bad decision you ever get to make... as your luck runs OUT !!


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Ofieldstream Blog: NEW server

The O'fieldstream Blog is moving to our resident server. We will still be using Blogger as the blogging tool - and on a MONTHLY BASIS, publishing out to the our blogger account, but we are NOW PUBLISHING TO our our DOMAIN SERVER - on a DAILY BASIS.

The same information that you've come to enjoy is being posted and published at the new location. This will now allow ALL elements of the O' domain to function from the same location.

Thank you for your continued support and assistance.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dan Small Outdoors: Standing "Heritage Tall"

Dan Small Outdoors: "My scream is still echoing...

If you've ever hunted turkeys all day, had several opportunities to kill a bird, and then finally connected as the clock ticked down to quitting time, then you might have some idea how I felt when my young hunter, 13-year-old Mitch Heuple, lowered the boom on a 23-pound gobbler at 4:45 p.m. yesterday.

When that tom went down, I barked, 'Pump it, safety on!' to Mitch, jumped up, ran to the flopping bird and let out a 'Yeee-haa!' that carried the news to every turkey in two counties.

Then I remembered I had a radio in my pocket."


My fellow Outdoor Writer friend, Dan Small stood 'heritage tall' yesterday as he took a young man and his father out for a full day of spring Turkey hunting, Wisconsin style. Read about the exploits of that adventure in this the first installment from Dan's blog, "Blog The Road", this morning.

I can't wait to read, "Part II" as well. Enjoy.

The real world is outdoors. Go to it!™:

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Robert Winkler - Nature Writing

Robert Winkler - Going Wild: Adventures with Birds in the Suburban Wilderness

There are few things that can bring you lasting joy. One of them is just spending time OUTDOORS OBSERVING.

Robert Winkler has written a book that to me reflects in writing, what one of my favorite outdoor photographers - John Shaw has said for years and published in the American Photographer - where I was first introduced to John. In that introduction John stated was has been the essence of my method of 'Nature Recording' ... 'We do not need to go to far-off places to find the treasures of the natural world. We only need go out our back door and search in the areas we are already familiar with. We need to look at them more closely and truly observe what is there to see.'

Robert Winkler tells us the same thing in his book, Going Wild; showing us the diversity in our own 'suburban backyards' of bird life. The simple truth is - the facinating story of life is all around us. And so long as we remember this it will always be available.

When we start believing that the 'only place to see nature', is off in some remote area, then we will loose what is most important to the survival of all natural things .. our ability to be aware of our immediate surroundings. For being aware of what is close to us, is the essene of being aware of ourselves and the connectedness we share will all living things.

Nature aritists and journalists such as Shaw, Winkler and many more - show us in astounding beauty and clarity that we have a Heritage in being 'aware of our surroundings' .. as much as we have Heritage for life itself.

For being AWARE .. truly IS .. being ALIVE.

For those who are interested in starting a Nature Journal to record writings, muse, sketches, photos and more .. here are Robert Winkler's suggested LINKS.

Go peacfully and be aware.

The real world is outdoors. Go to it! ™

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wisconsin Outdoor News

Wisconsin Outdoor News ... Tips on a Safe Turkey Season Dan Small

Oh Man .. it's Gobbler Season again. My buddy, Dan Small with Dan Small Outdoors and the TV-talking-head for Outdoors Wisconsin, has written a slam-jam good article on saving your bacon when shooting turkey this Spring.

Here's my personal 'hunting mantra' covering ALL hunting scenarios'

Know Sex - Know Shot. No Sex - No Shot

It may be corny .. but if all hunters will keep this simple mantra in mind .. more of them will be back -ALIVE and UNHARMED- next year. As an added benefit, there will be a whole lot less 'ammunition' being put into the 'magazines' of those who want to do away with the priviledge of the heritage of field and stream harvesting.

Be safe. Have fun. Respect the Resource.

The real world is outdoors. Go to it! ™

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Martin & Kathy Buser .. A TEAM to remember!!

Photo from Happy Trails Kennel

The road to success is paved in many ways -but teamwork is one of the most predominately important and hard to accomplish. To win takes courage, endurance, tenacity, resourcefulness, grit and a healthy dose of luck. All of these traits can play against teamwork... just as much as they are integral to it. So, when a team does succeed, it stands out. Stands tall. Shines.

Whethere the team is one made up of well bred and trained dogs or humans, the success they achieve is only through consistant, pre-learned traits: ingrained, if you will into their very being. Nothing comes between the team and the goal. This is what puts us in awe of real teamwork.

Martin Buser and Kathy Chapota are just such a team. Married, with 2 fine sons, and owners of Happy Trails Kennel, they exude the team spirit. Just like the athletic dogs they raise and race, Martin and Kathy can pull their own weight individually and know when to leave the lines to the other when necessity arises. They also possess one of the rarest of 'team traits', they inspire others to become part of the team. This is where the team goes into greatness.

I don't know Martin or Kathy beyond a brief 3-hour meeting with them both at their operations last October (2004) and what I read reported on them over the years. But what I have observed - from both sources - combined with observing people in all walks of life for 30+ professional years - tells me this couple is an exceptional blend of, 'All the right stuff.' When people speak of them, they speak with respect. Why? Because both have worked hard to earn the respect. Their actions - in the good times and the bad times - have shown they base themselves on a purpose and/or goal, far bigger than themselves. They constantly exemplify the confidence that only comes with knowing they have nothing to prove; don't need to prove; enjoy their life; and live that life fully, with respect and awareness of the responsibility they have in remaining but a small part in the greater scheme of life. This is what many refer to as humility. And being that they are so - they will be the first to deny anything special about them or what they do. This is one of the reasons they are so well liked -by so many.

This is what makes the Busers such great spokespersons for the Outdoor Heritage Activity they make their life: dog sledding. The Busers are professionals and they are responsible (unusual note for dropped dogs). They have shown themselves credible. They continue to exhibit integrity - no matter the conditions. A commodity of great price - rare and hard to maintain. Credibility, like honesty, integrity and loyalty ... is won through hard work and dependable responsibility. It takes a lifetime to develop; only a moment to loose .. and is even harder to keep. Yet, it is worth every ounce of effort.

One does not remain at the top of 'the game' (remember LIFE is the ultimate 'game' ) long unless you are doing something very right. 'Roman candle winnners' may be exciting to watch, but they are not whom you want to pattern your efforts upon. Just like in the investment business. A risky venture can bring you ruin just as likely - if not more so - than it can riches. Investment therefore, is best done for the 'long-haul' --with vision and determination to be around long enough to reap the benefits of your efforts. When dealing in the realm of teamwork and success - where people are involved - the stakes are even higher and the losses even more devastating.

We can all learn lessons from the teamwork shown between the dogs in a sled-dog team .. and the teamwork between the musher and his/her dogs. Honor. Respect. Loyalty. Trustworthiness. Dedication. Determination. Love. Obedience. When we find human TEAMS that teach us this, too ... we are wise to slip into their tracks and learn how they made them so solid; so easy to follow; so welcoming. We are even wiser to realize they will not last; that they are only templates for our own learning. Soon they will be gone. If we want to continue in such 'good track', we must learn how to make them ourselves. Once we do, then one day, we, too, will provide 'track' others can use as highways to learning as well.

That in the end is the real purpose of TEAMWORK ... Winning in order to Pass On the KNOWLEDGE of HOW and WHY working as a TEAM is important in the first place. This is the only way society will continue forward in a sustainable future. The ONLY Way.

Thank you Martin and Kathy for being you. It has already spoken volumes for itself. And it's encouraging to know - it continues on.


Scdoris, Ellering .. Winning Combo!

Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage

Scdoris, Ellering recount Iditarod trip
by Jon Little

NOME, 1:30 p.m., March 18, 2005

When Rachael Scdoris’ dog team finally made it to Eagle Island, the Bend, Ore., dog musher was so wrung out from muscling the sled through soft snow that she cared for her team, shuffled over to a wall tent and collapsed into her sleeping bag. She didn’t move for hours. ...from Cabelas Idiatarod Coverage Online

Paul Ellering and Rachael Scdoris talking to the
media in Nome's convention center.

As I said before .. Rachael Scdoris is a WINNER, by any and all standards. No slack should be given toward Paul Ellering either. It's had to imagine a veteran musher having the patience to take on a rookie without any limitations, let alone one who has so much media and politics attached as well as limits. And all that binds him in total responsibility for safety and security. Paul Ellering is a good man. And as the Marines are well known for saying, 'they are hard to find'. But there's no doubt, Rachael will find herself among the mushers of Iditarod 34 in 2006. GREAT!!

This was a great story in the 33rd Running of the Idit .. but it was by no means the only one. And I must say, "Hats off, Saluds and Kudos" to Jon Little, the no-doubt frazzled, by smiling like the Cheshire Cat, journalist who pounded the snowy and 'not-so-snowy', lonely, wind-swept and heart-pounding trail to bring us all the latest information on the Iditarod Race.

Cabela's did a good thing in putting Jon on the trail of the stories for their web site. He has performed with the professional moxie of the very teams he's covered. So a BIG, Hearty -

"Thank You!!" to Jon Little, Iditarod Journalist Extraordinaire!!

More later ...


Friday, March 18, 2005

Iditarod 2005 - Women make BIG contributions and presence : Kathy Chapotan

Dogs rest in White Mountain.Kathy Chapoton praised at White Mountain

Dogs rest in White Mountain
Photo by Danny Seavey

Mushers arriving at White Mountain are usually puzzled enough after enduring long runs at the end of along race. They're as tired as they will get. So imagine the odd feeling they must have had upon arriving at this second-to-last checkpoint in a snowstorm only to be greeted by virtually no one. No one, that is, except a few local residents, Martin Buser's wife, Kathy Chapoton, and some tourists Chapoton enlisted to help. Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: "Scdoris scratches at Eagle Island" ... by Jon Little

Allllll Riiiiightt K A T H Y !!! Now this would be a great story in itself. Kathy - on the way to meet here husband - musher Martin Buser - at the far-out checkpoints of the Iditarod, gets socked in with bad weather - and makes the best of it by being the 'champion' of the hour for every musher coming through remote White Mountain. Of course there is no one else there - but that also means you have to a LOT more than you would normally. Either way - it was a 'BIG JOB'. Therefore - BIG THANKS !

But too boot - she IS Martin Buser's wife!!! That means Happy Trails Kennels had three (3) major human participants in the race: Martin Buser bib #78, John Hessman, bib#51 and Kathy Chapotan, bib#Chief-Cook & Bottle Washer!! From all indications, she was a happy and jovial -to be around- as her musher-hubby Martin. What a pair!!

I do believe this would pop Kathy into a shoe-in for the Louis L'Amour 'Woman to Ride the River With - Award' !! Hands down. Now we know WHY Happy Trails Kennels is so successful. No offense Marty .. you look good on the trail and mush dogs better than most - but Kathy is better looking and is a One-Woman-Army! That is ONE THING no one messes with - for sure! You are one lucky guy to have her on YOUR side. Don't forget the flowers and goodies .. she deserves 'em !!

"THANKS TO YOU KATHY!" from all of us in the 'from afar' range of viewing the Great Race - by paper, magzine, internet and TV. Your efforts were appreciated by those who were in your presence - in that hard-tme on the trial.. Your example, too, shall kindle fires for years to come.


Iditarod 2005 - Women make BIG contributions and presence : Rachael Scdoris

NOME, 11 p.m., March 16, 2005

Rachael Scdoris, who followed through on a childhood dream of running the Iditarod, despite being legally blind, has ended her first attempt more than halfway into the race. Scdoris opted to scratch at Eagle Island, one of the most remote and often bleakest points in any Iditarod." Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: "Scdoris scratches at Eagle Island" ... by Jon Little

Ahhh .. Maaaannnn!!! NUTS! I was pullin' for you RACHAEL! But, I guess Mother Nature has been pullin' against all the mushers this year. And being the last one up the trails, I can only imagine just how 'messed-over' they would be for you.. "8 ( That would be hard on your dogs; having to literally drag the sled over soggy ground. Not good. Not good, at all!

Regardless, though - you are a real winner anyway. I am really proud of you and your acomplishement in this race: just getting into it if nothing else. I can imagine you dad is really beaming with pride for you. Hey, you're young yet. You'll be back next year - and no doubt for several years. And I can see you winning the Iditarod in not too many years as well.

As I said in an email to your website, I and many others will be watching you, Rachael. You have a great future in front of you. It will be a beautiful scenery to behold. No doubt!!

Great race. See you next Iditarod.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Iditarod is Won - but NOT OVER!

Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage

Robert Sørlie with his two lead dogs, Sox and Blue, at the finish line.
Photo by Jeff Schultz.

Sørlie holds off Iten to claim 2nd Iditarod
by Jon Little

NOME, 10:30 a.m., Mar. 16, 2005

Robert Sørlie broke trail for more than 500 miles in what surely must have been one of the most sweltering Iditarod’s ever, barely holding off an impressive late charge from Bush Alaska musher Ed Iten to win Iditarod 33. The win, the second in three years for Sørlie, returns the championship trophy to Norway.

Well... the first 6 places are in - Robert Sorlie has Won the 33rd Iditarod and it is his 2nd time. Congratulations to Robert for a race well ran. He led from the beginning, despite bad weather, some trail troubles, and stiff competitors surging him - even to the very last. Still he held the lead and won.

But don't forget - there are still 61 mushers and dog teams out on the trail; in the bad weather, poor trail conditions and exhaustion. Sixty-one fellow participants of the Greatest Race on Earth .. and partakers in one of the last great Outdoor Heritage Activities left on earth: in one of the last 'wild places' as well.

My friend, Marty Buser is still on the trail - currently in 12th position; as well Jeff King (whom I've met and know professionally) in 11th position. They are among the 'next wave' of mushers who will be scrambling across the frozen surface of the barren north in crusted snow and ice, to get to the 'glow of Nome'. But they are not the last .. there are still mushers to come into Eagle Island - like Rachael Scdoris, in last place - 67th - but ever bit the energetic winner she is.

Pray for their safety. Pray for their good judgement. Pray they have a great run. Pray for their teams. Pray they will want to return again next year - to once again afirm the necessity of having 'wild places' to access - in which to do those things 'wild'. For it is peole like the mushers of the Iditarod who keep the Outdoor Heritage alive in us all. Thank them all those who participate and promote the Outdoor Heritage Activities - year-in and year-out.

Another musher will soon be crossing under the "Finish Line Bow" at Nome. Let's all be glad for it ... and pray it will never be lost. Let's all work to keep places 'wild' where mushers and dog teams will find snow and cold to challenge them and keep them coming back, year-after-wonderful-year.


Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage

Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage: "2005 Leaderboard

1 Robert Sorlie
2 Ed Iten
3 Mitch Seavey
4 Ramy Brooks
5 Bjornar Andersen
6 John Baker
7 Paul Gebhardt
8 Lance Mackey
9 Jessie Royer
10 Jeff King
11 Martin Buser
12 DeeDee Jonrowe
13 Aliy Zirkle
14 Doug Swingley
15 Jessica Hendricks

Well folks, that's the standings on the Iditarod's Top 15 positions from the Cabela's Iditarod web site. What a switch in two (2) days! Marty has fallen to 11th place (was 12th until he left the manditory 8 hr stop in Elim). The front six (6) are running a snow grinding race for the finish at Nome. I don't know how close they are yet .. but the Nome Cam shows it is 7:06:17 AM AST .. still dark but people are beginning to gather for the finale to what has been a really interesting race.

The weather has been a major factor. So have unexpected mishaps and errors. But this is the best race I've observed in a number of years. And it is all made so much better with the ability to gaze upon the hourly progress of the mushers via the Internet. I can only imagine what the 2010 Ididtarod Race will be like. Dog-cams; musher podcasts; virtual dog-teams .. who knows. One thing is for sure .. the weather could turn this into a wheeled sled race instead of skis !!!

There was also considerable talk this year about the lack of preparedness by race officials. The trail in many places out past Iditarod were not even prepared, forcing the leaders to be trail busters as well. This benefited the positions from 15 to 25 a lot. They were not forced to expend the energy. This could account for the swell of new faces in the Top 6 places.

However, nothing is taken from Bob Sorlie .. the 'Mighty Norseman'. He has led this race from the very 'get go'! Amazing race he has run. Unless he just keels over - he should have the 2005 Iditarod trophy in his hand within an hour or so .. to take back home with him to Norway.

If you want to watch the Crossing of the Finish Line .. then turn your browser here a LIVE STREAM from ABC Alaska ... it should be neat.

I do hope Marty Buser makes a good run to finish low in the Top 10. We'll have to see when he crossed the finish line.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Martin Buser - lost dog = lost 2 hrs

Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: AWOL dog costs Buser a couple hours
by Jon Little

EAGLE ISLAND, 7 p.m., AST, March 12, 2005

Martin Buser waves his arms in a kind of hula, indicating his sense of the ridiculous. Buser actually lost a dog on the way to Eagle Island. - Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage story 03.13.05

Well.. as I've said anything can happen on the Race trail .. and to the most experienced of mushers. One of the KEY things I read in this article about Marty's 2-hour goose-chase, was when he said, about his lost dog, Quebec, "He's a good dog, and I decided to have a good attitude about it". This statement reveals a man who can roll-with-the-punches. He's tough as nails - proving that by racing with this injured hand - and continuing in the Idit Race business for over 20 years, but Martin Buser is also a class act. He could have come into the checkpoint at Eagle all mad and making excuses, but instead he comes in characteristically jovial and joking about the mishap. Noone was hurt. Only time was lost - not a LIGHT THING EITHER .. but he was NOT going to let this get the better of him or his dogs. Because Marty knows, the dogs will 'feed' off of his attitude - therefore he keeps it High.

This is an exemplary example of the Outdoor Heritage. Where those involved realize they are not the objective and the cool-head, clear-mind, focused-on-the-goal-at-hand attitude, will WIN in the end. More importantly - will survive.

Good luck Marty ... you've already won in many categories. Let's see if "Buser #5 in 2005" is yours this year as well.


Friday, March 11, 2005

I REST my case ...

I just visited the Cabela's Iditarod site and found this headline report on Marty Buser ... it's quite an interesting read! Take a read and enjoy the air of this musher with a real sense of the moment ...


Day 6 on the Iditarod Trail: Buser is #3 and hot on the tail ...

The Iditarod: Seriously like REAL LIFE

Well... I've definitely got the Iditarod fever - so I'm posting more about it. And I'm fixated on watching the performance of 4-time Idit winner Martin Buser.

I always come in on the side of an under-dog, but who would have thought Marty would ever be an under-dog? But due to his hand injury - just a few days before the start of the 2005 Iditarod race - the event this man LIVES for .. had done just that.

Not even Marty was sure - right up to the gunshot start - whether Marty would compete or not. Folks that is SERIOUS stuff!

That's like imagining all the major players in the 'other sports' - you know the ones where guys and gals are paid a lot of money to play, in comfort and close proximity to saftey and help if they need it. They're the sports that the mushes in the Idit would call, 'woosie sports'; and rightly so. Well, it's like imagining they (the top seeds) ALL had to set out the season of their respective sports. Set it out WITHOUT PAY .. and without the opportunity to prove you're worthy of making any money the rest of the year.

Oh! Now it sounds a bit more serious. Doesn't it? I should hope so! This race - though today a very different race than even 10 years ago - is still one where a musher or their dogs can die on any given day of the entire race: even minutes before victory or at least a finish. This is serious. This is a lot like REAL LIFE. Maybe that's why I really enjoy this race.

March 10 2005 saw Marty come in from WAY behind to stop in Iditarod as #4 in the Race !! Woah MARTY!! And you're doing this with a severely injured hand? It's no wonder you're a multi-year winner of this Race.

This morning, March 11 2005 sees Marty on the trail with Paul Gerhart in front, but with Robert Sorlie and Martin Buser in a real RACE for 1st position. As of 09:15 AM EST on March 11 2005 - here's the Official Cabela's Iditarod Leader Board standings:

1 Paul Gebhardt
2 Robert Sørlie
3 Martin Buser
4 Aliy Zirkle
5 Ramy Brooks
6 DeeDee Jonrowe
7 Mitch Seavey
8 Jeff King
9 Ed Iten
10 John Baker
11 Tyrell Seavey
12 Gerald Sousa
13 Doug Swingley
14 Bjørnar Andersen
15 Lance Mackey

How's the young Rachael Scdoris doing ? She's currently in 61st position - remember she was in 70th position just 3 days ago - Whoa! up 9-slots ! Way to Go Rachael!! She's currently still in layover in Tokotna, 2-checkpoints out from Iditarod and 419 miles onto the trail. What a lady! This young lady is a true winner! GOOOO RACHAEL !!!!

Where's the Amazon Lady of the Iditarod .. Jessica Hendricks ? She's left Ophir making here way tod in 17th position - with 1 less dog in the team - to only 13 dogs, now - she's just 2-positions out from the Leader Board!! Amazing. She's 444 miles on the trail out of Anchorage - and breathing down the necks of every musher on the trail - and their future Iditarods! MUSH Jessica MUSH!!

I remain in AWE of these tough and knowledgable athletes - both human and dog - as they brave the bitterly harsh elements of the Alaskan wilderness. Today there is help along the way if something is SEEN to go wrong. And this is the KEY WORD .. SEEN. For if you get off the trail or have a crash in the trees - you may NOT be SEEN and therefore, you might become a statistic of the Iditarod that only OTHER people get to read.

A parting note on the care and concern given the dogs by their owners in this race. There have been, over the years, much debate on the ethicacy of even putting dogs in such a race. The argument is that the dogs are 'pushed' and 'beaten' - forced as if slaves' - to bear their mushers along the trail ONLY for the sake of winning. And this no doubt was the case in the 'early days' of the race .. for a FEW: but only a very few. For the musher knows full well that the dog IS the key element to getting from Point A to Point B safe, sound and alive. In the bush your learn very quickly that only a FOOL will knowingly put him or herself into harms way .. and that includes the dogs.

Read this piece from Kathy Buser, on their web site, talking about their dog Freedom - who 3 days ago injured her humerous - and the rapid chain-of-events that led up to her corrective surgery.

March 9 - Our team was once again mobilized and Freedom was at our own Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital with Dr. Beatsle before midnight last night. She is scheduled for surgery this morning and the prognosis for a full recovery is good. As soon as Dr. Beatsle heard the news about Freedom he made plans to rendezvous with her at the clinic. Harry happened to be in town so we had a fairly quick transport time. Considering the incident happened less than 12 hours earlier in Nikolai it's pretty amazing that she will be getting treatment so soon. Dr. Beatsle will examine each dog that is dropped as they come off the trail. Anyone who has doubts about the humane treatment of Iditarod dogs might make note of such incredible care given our dogs. Thanks to the staff at the clinic for their long term commitment to our dogs.
From the web site: Happy Trails Kennels ... 03.09.05

I would also recommend you take a visit to the Happy Trails web site and review the 'awards' Marty has won in his 25 years of running the Iditarod. Yes, he's a recognized 4-time winner of the Iditarod. This tells you he was skilled and fortunate enough to be the first one to cross the finish line. It also tells you he has and cares for a magnificent team of canine athletes. When to go to this LINK you will see that Marty is ALSO a 4 -time winner of the Alaska Airlines Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian and a 4-time winner of the Gold Harness Award among many others from 1988-2004. These two awards specifically tell you want kind of man and human - this person named Martin Buser - REALLY IS. Do not worry for dogs under the care, ownership or command of Martin Buser. Also know, he not only affects the dogs he owns, but many of the dog owners across this modern-day sport of the Outoor Heritage Activity of Dog Sleding.

I would say... Dog Sledding is in Good Hands, with Martin Buser. He also has two fine mushers walking in his footsteps and making their own in his two sons, Rohn and Nicholai. The family that mushes together - keeps the Heritage alive.

Here's a link to a really nice overhead shot of Marty and his dog-team a few miles out from the Ophir checkpoint.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

2005 Iditarod : the View from Below 61.2° N

Last year my wife, Debra and I - along with our good friends, Ed and Judy Hauser, were in Anchorage, Alaska for an annual church conference meeting. When we found out that the municple of Anchorage, AK was an available choose for attendance .. we jumped at the opportunity. This was the first time in Alaska for all of us and we will all attest - Anchorage was going to be interesting - but it what was Outside that we really wanted to see!!

Ed and I have dreamed of Alaska since we were kids - and we've shared hundreds of hours of conversation on the various topics Alaska inspires in the minds of those who love the outdoors, over the past 21 years we've known each other. Our wives, too, have had a deep interest in seeing Alaska as well; for reasons different than ours. But, I also think it was partially to see what has kept us so enthralled with this, the largest state in the collection of unique landmasses called The United States of America.

Well, needless to say, we were ALL duly impressed, awed and splendidly pleased with out first visit to the Land of the Nothern Lights. How could you not in a state with, "North to the Future" as it's motto.

One of our excursions - was a planned church outing - to visit the kennels of an actual Iditarod legend: 4-time winner, Martin Buser, owner of Happy Trails Kennels, in Big Lake, AK. We again - jumped on this opportunity - eagerly! And we were not disappointed.

Matin Buser- known as Marty - is an extremely outgoing, friendly and welcoming person. He operates a handshake and a smile the same way he does his business .. with warmth, compassion and professionalism. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the kennels, meeting the rest of the Buser family .. which includes the amble through the dozens of dog houses - where, as Marty puts it, ".. the true athletes live." And athletes they are: in endurance, skill, determination and welcoming! Marty raises his dogs to be 'people oriented' and they show it. They LOVE you to walk up, pet, scratch and talk to them. They then warmly reciprocate. I've never enjoyed dirty paw prints so much in my life.

When we left, carrying our brochures, souvenir dog-booties and several score of digital photographs, we also left with a new-found friend. You just can't help getting the feeling that both Marty and the Iditarod were NOW close to you. They both seeped into our souls... nestling in like a sled dog into a much earned snow-bed ... and warming up against all the 'cold' we find in daily life. Amazing that a race that takes place in such ominous surroundings; dangerous conditions; and spirit grinding length and breadth .. can actually infuse a person with such a 'fire'.

But - I reckon I'm not totally amazed at this .. I've been an Iditarod-junkie since the first time I read about it long ago as child on the farm in west-central Indiana: a long way from AK and Dog racing's Greatest Race.

Yes, it may be a long way from here to there, but that does not stop the 'fire' and the 'love' I have for both the event, the athletes, the mushers ... and that mystical land they all converge on the first week in March.

Tid-bits on the 2005 Iditarod

IDITAROD 2005 Weather Conditions ON THE TRAIL ... provided by Weather Underground

You'll see the current weather THERE as you pass your cursor OVER the Check Point and ... and in most cases, you'll be glad you're where YOU ARE!! ;-)

* Southern Route -this years route - (odd years) map for current weather conditions along the trail
* Northern Route ...(even years) map of current weather conditions along the trail

These are the two sites where I'm getting all this information:

* Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and
* The Cabela's site ... again has a GREAT coverage on the race - this year !!

Just thought you might like to know how our 'buddy' Marty Buser is doing.

1. Marty is IN the race .. despite partially amputating his middle finger ( right hand) in a table saw accident on March 1!! Yikes Martin .. what were your thinkin' '!!!!???!!!!! Here's a neat Interview with Marty .. some pix, too from HAPPY TRAILS KENNELS. Here's more in-depth coverage from the Cabela's site on Marty's amputation .

NOTE: Updates on Marty and his dogs found here - Happy Trails Kennels!

2. Marty is currently holding 8th position .. (may change by the time you all read this, too!) He WAS in 5th place when he entered the McGrath checkpoint, yesterday. UPDATE 03.08.05: Just as I sent this email Marty was still resting in McGrath and has now dropped to 9th position - just ahead of Cabela's sponsored Mike King .. who is a good friend and serious competitor with Marty. I now have met them both - want to get to know them both better. I hope he [Marty] has it in him to continue to the finish line .. we know his dogs do !! That's for sure !! :-)

3. Here are Marty's 'stats' on his previous races ... pretty interesting.

4. Marty's BIO from ITSDR site ... more background on Marty for this race ... note the NAMES of dogs at the bottom of this info.. you WILL recognize a couple - if not more - name ... Cool! 8-)

5. And if you want to find out MORE on ANY MUSHER .. go here. Select from drop-down list and clik .. really interesting!

6. Hey WANNA Race Next year?? !! Here are all the forms necessary ..!! :-) 8-)

7. Here's the NOME Web Cam ... I'm assuming that from here you can WATCH the Winning Musher cross the line !!! Wicked Cool! 8-) And - they say MORE are 'coming' .. here's the list of 'other' Race Cams.

8. The IditaRider Program begun by Mike King, Cabela's sponsored musher and used by Make-A-Wish and others ... very neat write up from the Cabela's site

9. Here a truly interesting and heart-warming story... Rachael Scdoris ( Yes, the spelling is correct !!) .. legally blind, fought with Iditarod race officials for several years to allow her to race. They finally gave in - here's her story. Here's more! This young lady is not only a great musher .. she's the first real "Iditarod Babe'!! :-D 8-) :-* And here are Rachael's CURRENT STATS ... she's in 70th position .. and EVERY BIT a WINNER !!!

10. Not to mention the Mushing Female Amazon Jessica Hendricks!! This shows here latest STATS from the Cabela's site. [From the first piece, notice WHOM she beat in the Tustumena 200 Mile Race !! Jeff King .. Cabela's 'sponsor god' !!! This young lady is a musher to reckon with .. she's currently in 12th position ... and she's a ROOKIE !!!

Well .. that's only a 'sampling' of the info from both sites. INCREDIBLE!!! Technology is pretty cool .. eh? Check out the web sites at the top ... there are some amazing stories .. just from THIS YEAR .. and that is not including the Archived Years !!!

I'm printing off each day's highlights - again this year - and sending them to my brother, who is in his final 14 months of a 20 year incarceration in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida facilities. He is and has been an avid fan of the Iditarod as long as I have been: so, He LOVES it! And so - it seems - do a couple of his 'roomies' .. they are FROM AK!! Well, you know they have GOT to be hurting - being 'cooped' in FL !!!
ARRGHH .. I think I just found another definition for HELL !! [:o

'til next time ,