The annual one week reminder of what I really want in life.

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My son and I went down to Dryhead Ranch, based in Wyoming for branding week. I love being on a ranch. I love doing cattle work. Still, this is the best Tom Sawyer deal ever. I pay a lot of money to go do someone else’s work. It is possible that they could do the work faster without guests “helping” but Tom would still be proud.

We arrived Sunday evening in time for dinner after driving for two days across California, Nevada, parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Monday we gathered the cow/calf pairs and then sorted out the pairs in which the calf needed branding. We moved the sorted group to a lower pasture so they would be easy to pull down into the branding corral.

Tuesday we rode out to the pasture to gather and move the sorted pairs down into the branding corral. We had 49 calves that would get branded, ear notched, banded for castration, a 7 way vaccination and a black leg vaccination. Not a great day for the calves. “Mom, look what they did to me!”


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A rider will lasso the hind legs of a calf and drag it to the stove. An attempt is made to catch it in the Nord Fork. If this works, getting everything done is pretty quick. About half the time the Nord Fork does not catch and calf must be wrestled down by the mugger. Once the calf is down each person moves in for their assigned task; ear notching, 7 way vaccination, black leg vaccination, castration band for bull calves, and branding. If the Nord Fork caught, it takes about 3 minutes. If the calf is held by a mugger, it takes about 5 minutes. Once everything is done, the calf is released. One minute after the calf is released, it is impossible to tell by behavior which calves have been branded and which have not. The calf is reunited with its mother who checks it out carefully to make sure the calf is OK.

Branding is often a big social event in ranching life. Friends are invited to help and once the work is done, there is a big feast to celebrate the beginning of another year. Branding usually marks the end of calving season and the beginning of growing the cattle to ready them for market. A little like the celebrations that happen in farming communities once planting is complete.

This year was different in that the Smith women did not come along. Dryhead Ranch is more secluded and offered little in the way of shopping or sight seeing. So, the girls stayed home. My son and I got an opportunity to ‘bond’ and celebrate that father/son thing.

On Tuesday, Yoshi and I worked together wrestling calves. I really enjoyed working with my son. Which only further reinforces my desire to make a life change into a ranching community. On Thursday, Yoshi was out sick, which was a disappointment. He and I got to ride together on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. I was sick Wednesday, he was sick Thursday. The big drawback of the trip. Getting sick. Not fun.

Until I live in Montana/Wyoming/Dakota, I am sure that I will continue to pay Tom a precious price for the opportunity to do his work for him.

I am a unique item in my work place. Silicon Valley does not have a lot folks who show up to work in western boots, wranglers, button down (or snap down) long sleeve shirts and a huge cowboy hat. Everyone at work knows that I would much rather talk about pasture management, heritage breeds and cattle movement techniques than technology. So, I am suddenly a popular guy with the Bundy Ranch issue in the news.

The truth of the matter is that I am not overly qualified to evaluate the Bundy Cattle affair. I am not nor have I ever been a rancher. I have had a life long fascination with cattle, a life long desire to be a cowboy. Not a rancher. Being rancher carries business responsibilities, such as managing grazing rights, water rights and managing the associated permits that I never really wanted any part of. My dream, my focus has always been to own a saddle and a rope so that I could ride remuda horses and tend someone else’s cattle. I would like the opportunity to become good at it.

So, the issues that Cliven Bundy is dealing with are ancillary to my own primary interests. More importantly, my life choices led me to my current day job where I work on computer software. Understanding cattle and cowboy ways has for most of my life been relegated to a pastime, a hobby, a burning passion never satisfied. So, it is from that prespective that I watch with interest the happenings in Gold Butte, Nevada.

The simple version that I hear and read often is Mr. Bundy has refused for twenty years to pay his grazing fees. He is illegally using Federal land. Federal court has found him in violation twice. It is a simple matter and the BLM is doing what it has to to bring a criminal into compliance with the law. This is clean and neat. Easy to digest.

However, to me it does not make sense. Grazing rights is an integral part of ranching. Mr. Bundy is 68 years old and has been a rancher all his life, as was his father before him. Why would he suddenly decide to stop paying his grazing fees after 30 years of paying them? Even to the point of defying a Federal Court order. Twice. And how is it that even after Mr. Bundy stopped paying grazing fees and fought with the Federal government for twenty years, he is still respected by fellow ranchers who are still paying their grazing fees? And why after twenty years of haggling relatively peacefully did BLM suddenly bring in the big guns, literally.

This Las Vegas Sun article is the only source I found that attempted to provide some detailed background on this issue. According to this article, “environmentalists threatened to sue the agency to protect the endangered desert tortoise that lives on the land where Bundy’s cattle grazed. The BLM said Bundy’s cattle trampled the tortoise’s habitat.” If this is true, there is another player on the field. Environmentalists using the Federal government to pursue their agenda. This article further documents environmentalist efforts to force government action against Mr. Bundy.

Already the clean and neat explanation is not quite as clean and neat. The actions of the BLM were brought about by the actions of others. So what then of Mr. Bundy’s actions. A comment left on the Las Vegas Sun article provides some insight from the rancher perspective. According to oneladywriter, there use to be some 50 ranches in the area where Mr. Bundy is. There are now 3 left. So, maybe this is a group of people who fear losing their livelihood and their way of life. And while I have not be able to verify the information provided by oneladywriter it does make a lot more sense given what I know about ranch ownership and the people who choose to live that life.

Life is seldom simple. Life’s situations more often than not have complicated and interwoven stories that require time and patience to fully understand. You may believe that the desert tortoise is worth saving, even at the cost of several families’ livelihoods and an historic way of life. Or you may believe that Mr. Bundy is conducting an act of civil disobedience in defense of his right to pursue livelihood of his family, his tradition. Whichever you happen to believe, we should all at least have the integrity to understand both sides of the issue.

The Bundy Ranch issue is not simple. There are two sides to it. Both sides deserve a hearing.

–Smittie

I finally purchased and received that System76 laptop I was so looking forward to. I wish I could tell you what a wonderful experience it was. I wish that I could advise you all to make System76 your next computer.

I ordered the Galago UltraPro. I chose an 120 gb mSATA SSD drive. I purchased a Western Digital 750 gig, 7200 rpm drive to install myself. I upgraded the RAM to 8 gigs. The system price came to $1,226. I was very excited waiting for it to arrive.

Ubuntu 13.04 came pre-installed and worked as advertised upon arrival. I reformatted the SSD and installed Kubuntu 13.10. Again, without a hitch. I run the boot, swap and root partitions from the SSD, the /home partition is the entire 750 gb WD drive. The Core i7 processor running system software from the SSD makes it extremely fast. The computer cold boots faster than the old MacBook it replaces can wake from sleep. So far, so good. No serious issues with the components.

The problem is the materials and construction of the case. I have carried my computers (all Apple laptops up until now) in a Maxpetion computer bag which is reasonably well padded. I try to be careful but the truth be told I am probably a little rough computers. Having said that, the MacBook is over five years ago and had no damage until recently when it fell from the table and the CD stopped working. The MacBook came through a tour in Iraq without any issues. The Galago UltraPro went into the same case and got the same treatment.

The Galago struck me as a little flimsy when I first got it. The monitor flexes significantly with little pressure and plastic frame holding the screen is very thin. The laptop just does not feel very solid.

About a month after I received the computer, System76 sent emails asking for feedback. One evening I brushed my hand across the edge of the frame of the monitor and the case split into two pieces. It snapped back together but this was a clear indication of the fragile nature of the laptop. I decided to let System76 know via the review they had been requesting that I was not very impressed. System76 advised me to send the laptop in as they thought it should be more robust than my accounts indicated. Cool, I thought. Maybe it should be stronger than I have experienced.

System76 determined that the computer was damaged. They determined that the damage happened under my care and due to my rough treatment of the laptop. System76 replaced the damaged panels on the laptop at a cost to me of $138. I was not charged for labor.

I accept that the damage to the computer happened because I was too rough with it. However, other laptops that I have used for long periods of time have endured the same treatment and have never needed repair or replacement. This includes 3 or 5 Apple laptops which I have owned and 2 or 3 Dell laptops that my employer owns. To be clear, I do not fault System76’s handling of the issue. My point is that System76 laptops are not on par with major computer makers such as Dell or Apple. And that is a pity. I would very much like to purchase computers that are tested and shipped with Linux OS installed. I hope that System76 can bring the quality of construction in line with its competitors. However, my next laptop — which I will be purchasing much sooner than I had expected — will definitely not be from System76.

US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael J. Pernaselli 27, of Monroe, N.Y
KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher E. Watts 28, of Knoxville, Tenn
KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal 24, of Smithtown, N.Y.
KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

I remember these three men because I have a connection to them, albeit a slightly removed one. These men were killed by a suicide bomber who was attempting to attack the Khor Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT).  These men were about to board the dhow when the suicide bomber detonated his weapon killing these three men and wounding many more.

As a result of these actions, I ended up serving on KAAOT in support of security operations to prevent further attacks.

Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam war. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. When I finally make it to Arlington, his is the first grave I would like to visit.

I will never forget.

I have read through the docs that explain the basic structure of the WordPress theme. Seems simple enough. The next step is to delve deeper into the theme structure as I figure out how to duplicate the design I currently have on Smittie’s Ramblings. I would like to incorporate my resume into the design. This should include structuring it so that I can manage the resume entries using WordPress instead of authoring them directly in HTML, which is rather tedious.

I have several things I want to get done first but I am looking forward to exploring the plethora of plug-ins and extensions for WordPress. There is a lot of interesting functionality out there. Plug-ins for Movable Type are a bit of a mess. A given plug-in may or may not work on a particular version of Movable Type. The author may or, more likely, may not still be supporting it. Once installed a plug-in could bring your whole site to a standstill because Movable Type can’t find itself. I have heard and expect that the WordPress plug-in world is more organized. Or so I hope.

Smittie

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post.

I have lived on Movable Type for most of the years that I have maintained a blog. I have made a couple of attempts at WordPress but never very seriously. I did not like php. Movable Type is kind of falling off the face of the earth, WordPress is taking over the world. Time to learn Worldpress.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was a new blog entry once a week. That resolution did not survive even the first month. Part of that was the blog environment. Part of it was motivation. Ancillary project(s) are also contributing to my desire to learn and master WordPress. So, we shall see how it goes.

Smittie

US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael J. Pernaselli 27, of Monroe, N.Y
KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

US Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher E. Watts 28, of Knoxville, Tenn
KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal 24, of Smithtown, N.Y.

KIA 24 April 2004, Northern Arabian Gulf, Operation Iraqi Freedom

I remember these three men because I have a connection to them, albeit a slightly removed one. These men were killed by a suicide bomber who was attempting to attack the Khor Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT). These men were about to board the dhow when the suicide bomber detonated his weapon killing these three men and wounding many more.

As a result of these actions, I ended up serving on KAAOT in support of security operations to prevent further attacks.

Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam war. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. When I finally make it to Arlington, his is the first grave I would like to visit.

I will never forget.

…I hope you find peace [ news articles | Original blog post ].

I am sorry for you tragic loss. Specialist Casey Sheehan sounds like someone I would have liked. I wish I’d had the chance to serve with him. I believe he was a good soldier. I hope that, in time, you find a place where you are as happy and content in your life as I believe your son was in his.

I wish you the best, Cindy.

aloha

[posted with ecto]

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