The Religion of Bears

One of my pet peeves has to do with bears. You know — covered with hair, four big paws, occasionally shows up around human habitation and causes people to freak out?It's not the bears themselves, it's the general reaction to them, the body of beliefs associated with them, that bugs me so much.I lived in a little mountain town in California for 22 years, and there were usually a good dozen or so resident ursids cruising around, usually at night but sometimes in broad daylight.I had o … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 5 of 8

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly (cont.) This kind of thought wasn’t completely new for me – I confess I’d dwelt many times on the fortunes of other men, wistful and envious of the assets they enjoyed.“What would it be like to be him?” I had asked myself, him way up there with all that money, with a daddy who provides private airplanes and the family’s own airport, with new trucks and horses and jet skis and scuba diving lessons there for the asking.“What would it be like to … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 4 of 8

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly For eight years in my 20s and 30s, I was a draft horse teamster at a resort-town ranch, driving a two-up hitch of massive blond Belgians or coal-black Percherons, on a huge hay wagon for mid-summer meadow rides, or on big sleighs that would glide over the high-mountain snow on moonlit winter nights.Molly was one of the ranch dogs. She was no particular color – a little black, a little brown, a little gray, all mixed up in a dark grizzle. Like most … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 3 of 8

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cutter After seasons of proving myself at many of the other chores of branding, on this day, I’m in charge of castrations. After the calf slides to a stop and both the heel rope and the top man are firmly in place, I step forward and kneel down by the calf’s belly. I stretch out the scrotum and slice across the lower third of it with a sharp knife. The testicles usually pop out on their own, but sometimes you have to fish around, pressing here and there, to … [Read more...]

Travelin’ Dog (Repost)

[ Another repost, from 2003. ] ________________________________Some stories touch you even when they have no clear ending.I was recently on a week’s vacation to California. I got to see a lot of people and visited a number of places I’ve loved—old good places where I sojourned for a while with dear friends. Sadly, I also said a number of goodbyes. One was to my good buddy Chardonnay, who happens to be a Golden Retriever currently engaged in dying.Chardy used to come for runs with me and my … [Read more...]

When Coyotes Danced (Repost)

[ This weekend I'm transcribing masses of audiofile notes for future posts on Beta Culture, as well as working on some book-y stuff — I have a book in the works, working title "BraynDrops, the Freethought Bathroom Companion" — but unfortunately neglecting things here. I swear I'll be back soon with some new stuff. Meanwhile, here's a repost of a piece from Sept. 15, 2011. ]_______________________________________________It was hot, the day the coyotes danced.It was about 1990, and I was ran … [Read more...]