Hey, I’ve Heard This Economic Crisis Story Before…

…it’s called the LTCM (Long-Term Capital Management) failure, and it happened back in 1998. And the exact same investment firms that are collapsing now are the same ones that had to pump money into LTCM in an organized bailout by private firms. Except this time, every company is its own LTCM.

I found this all out while reading a great book “When Genius Failed” which is a very in depth look at the entire life of LTCM. I’m sure you’re thinking that sticking a spoon in your eye would be more fun than reading a story about a hedge fund, but it’s an amazing read. Best part: you’ve already heard of all the financial instruments that sank LTCM: credit default Swaps, mortgage backed securities, leveraged positions; all of same players are there.

It also is a concrete example of another book I’ve been trying to get through, “Fooled by Randomness“. That one is a little more theoretical with the author quoting several obscure economists. However, the basic idea is that many times, proficiency at picking stocks (or betting on horses, or playing blackjack) is really the result of dumb luck, not the skill of the stockpicker. The problem comes when the picker and those around him believe that he really does have great skill at picking stocks. At some point, the picker’s lucky streak ends, the markets turn against him during some “once in 100 years” event that no one believed could happen, and the picker “blows up” and loses everything (and then some).

Ever notice these “once in 100 years” economic events seem to happen fairly often?

When the TARP first came up for a vote, I was yelling at congress to approve the damn thing and get these garbage securities out of the system. I have no problem with government intervention when the economic train has gone off the rails. Usually, markets are rational and move in predictable ways. But when the humans in the system get spooked, rationality goes out the window and everyone is working with primal instincts from 10,000 years ago. The system just can’t fix itself from within.

The problem is that interventions need to be quick and decisive and not wrapped up with so many rules that nobody wants the help. I just don’t understand why the Treasury is taking so long to start buying up the assets. They keep saying it’s because it is hard to gauge the value of each of these securities because they’re all different and very complex.

Bullshit. The value is what the market determines. Use a reverse auction where the security owners set the price they will sell the security for. Treasury Dept takes the amount the bank paid for the security (require them to open their books to allow them to partake in the auction) minus the amount they will sell the security for. That’s the loss that will be recorded on the bank’s books for the security. Treasury starts buying the securities with the highest calculated loss and works their way down. You want the securities off your books? Suck it up and take the loss.

As much as we’d prefer to not have the economy collapse, if we don’t cause enough pain to the banks and investors this time, they’ll just do the same crap with another bubble in a decade and we’ll be in the same mess as now (or worse).

How this whole thing began…

I was working on a long post on my political views as a Social Democrat and how they are obviously superior to other plans for a democratic government.

But as we are grateful that the elections are finally coming to an end, we should try to look beyond the prime time infomercials, the Joe the Plumber meme, and “real” vs. “fake” America disputes to remember how this country started:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence certainly weren’t perfect or divine instruments. But they had ideals. And even though its taken 200+ years, those ideals have become reality. Our ideals possess just as much potential as long as we fight for them.

So, if you live in a backward-ass state that doesn’t do complete vote by mail, brave the long lines and other frustrations on Tuesday and fight for your ideals.

All My Money Certainly Stayed in Vegas

Last weekend I stayed at the Venetian in Las Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party.

As someone who has been to Venice and who actually considers it one of the top ten coolest cities in the world, the Venetian is a horrible superficial copy.  Besides the “like new” look of a 1000 year old city, they actually perfume the air in the lobby (which drew the remark “the lobby smells like strippers”). I think that pretty much expresses the ulterior motive of the Venetian.

Which is really the motive of everyone and everything in Vegas: to take your money in whatever way is appropriate and/or possible. The first day or two that you are there, you try to spend money conservatively and make wise choices. But the non-stop barrage of insanely overpriced food, drink, and entertainment eventually wears you down to where you finally become detached from reality and begin to spend freely. From our female waiter at Delmonico’s giving us the number of a “friend” who ran a car service who could hook us up with whatever we needed, to the taxi driver who not-so-subtly offered us hookers and drugs; everyone was hustling.

Now, never really having been in Vegas before, I couldn’t say whether this was the normal state of the town or if this was a recent phenomenon (either caused by the economic crisis or something else).  I realize everyone has to make a living, but you also have to make the customer believe they got a fair value for their money otherwise they’re not going to come back and they won’t recommend you to others.

The CrazyFather and I were actually planning to go to DEFCON next year in Vegas for our annual trip, but now I am really hesitant to go because of the recent experience.

On the other hand, while I don’t feel like I get fair physical value for my money ($14 gin and tonics anyone?), I might have gotten fair spiritual value for my money.

I try to run my life fairly tightly and disciplined these days; mainly because the key personal resources of my life (time, money, energy, and sleep) are in short supply and I still have quite a bit I want to accomplish.  So an occasional shakeup to pull the stick out of my ass at least a little can radically change my perspective.

One of my mental tricks to keep me from becoming excessively depressed is the “at least I’m not that guy” game.  You know the game, you’re walking down the street and you pass a homeless person or some ignorant looking redneck, and think to yourself: “Well, things may suck right now, but at least I’m not that guy.”  Probably not the most compassionate trick, but it does serve to remind me that compared to 99.99% of the people on this planet, I’m living the life of a king.  And while I may be stressing that I haven’t posted on my blog for a week, at least I’m not stressing that I haven’t eaten for a week.

There is however an ugly flip side to this, which really reared its head in Las Vegas.  It’s the “Why can’t I be that guy” game.  Yes, we all know that game too.  Some guy in designer clothes with the supermodels on both arms and a full head of hair (when you’re losing your hair, you start to notice when people have a nice head of hair).  And you think to yourself: “That guy’s an idiot.  I’m smarter/funnier/more talented than him, why can’t I be that guy?”.

This of course is exactly what Second Noble Truth (the Origin of Suffering) of Buddhism is talking about.  Buddhas said that the reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity.  Longing (especially unrealistic longing) for these things and ideas will only bring suffering.  I will never be a rock star.  I will never be a movie start.  I will never be the life of the party with hundreds of friends to hang out with on a whim.  And I will never have a full head of hair again (unless science gets off their ass and does something).

It’s tough when you’re sitting and watching all the beautiful and seemingly happy people around you, wishing you could be just like them while you know that the wish is completely unrealistic and is only going to make you feel worse about your life which is really quite terrific taken on whole.

The only problem I’m still having with embracing Buddhism is that I find it hard to know where the line between healthy ambition and longing is.  Is working hard for a promotion so you can have a little more money and a little more control over events at work an unhealthy craving/longing?  Some of the greatest leaps of mankind have been brought forth by people with unrealistic longing who suffered for their creations.  If everyone was happy with what they had and did not long for “better” things, would we all still be living in caves?

Well, probably would be better than staying in Vegas.

Never, ever get rid of old hardware.

Because if you do get rid of it, chances are someone will come up with a really cool project idea that needed your now absent electronics. I give you The Nintendo Entertainment System Lunchbox.

Obviously I have no choice but to obtain not one, but two Nintendo units so I can craft one for each of my spawn. They may ask for My Little Pony or Dora the Explorer lunchboxes, but they’re getting NESLs. The kids will have no idea what it means, but their teachers will.

And they will know that Isabel’s and Elisabeth’s dad is going to be one of “those parents” who just can’t get with the program, be an adult, and make their kids conform.

Totally unrelated, Mrs. CrazyEngineer is trying her hand at blogging again.

And the CrazyEngineer is Getting…Smaller?

I’ve had a rather unpleasant personality issue for as long as I remember: not following through. I’d get inspired and start a new project, but always seemed to abandon it for some perfectly sensible (and rationalized) reason. I thought for awhile this might mean I was manic-depressive or had ADD (which is still possible) but I think the real problem was that I entered most of these projects with unrealistic expectations of the outcome. So as the project progressed and I realized the expectations were unrealistic, my energy faltered and I moved on.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I finally completed a “project” that I have long struggled with, abandoned and renewed several times over the course of years, and thought I would never finish.

I hit 175 lbs yesterday.

That’s 85 lbs, 12 inches of waist, and 11.4 BMI points gone since I left college back in 1999. And since this was actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions (and one of the most common resolutions that no one keeps for that matter), I’m doubly proud of myself.

Some people I haven’t seen in a long time have described me as “gaunt”. I totally do not understand that because I still have a nice little gut and love handles. Compared to the super-sized, hawaiian shirt mammal I was, I am sure I do look gaunt. But I’m not about to blow over in a stiff breeze.

And now that I’ve hit a good weight, it’s time to trade the fat that’s left for muscle. The lifting program I have been following has just been revamped into a 3rd edition and I really like the changes. Stronglifts 5×5 is an awesome program. Mainly, because it’s easy to learn (only 5 different exercises each workout) and it’s only about 45 minutes 3 days a week.

The other issue I have to consider is whether or not I should keep going. My Prolonging Health book for longevity extension recommends that a BMI below 20 is optimal for long-term health. That works to be another 30 pounds or so. I’m not sure if that’s really possible for me, especially if I’m trying to put on some lean muscle (also important to longevity). Losing 30 pounds and trading even more fat for denser muscle would probably shrink me so much that everyone would worry that I had manorexia.

I think goals for next year instead would be a body-fat percentage below 15% or being able to bench press 135 lbs (a 45lb plate on each end plus the barbell itself).

The Tyranny of Sleep

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with sleep over the years. It’s always been a rollercoaster, short fits of nighttime sleep, followed by a long 9-10 hour crash, then normal 8 hour sleep for awhile, then the shortening of sleep in a quest for more time during the day, crash, repeat.

However, now with secure office space, I have finally been able to implement a new sleep schedule. It isn’t as hardcore as the Uberman sleep schedule, but it does allow me to pick up a few hours a day. It’s a bi-phasic schedule, also known as an afternoon nap.

Radical, I know. But here comes the science!

Humans have a sleep cycle of about 90 minutes. That means left undisturbed, the body will naturally go through some number of cycles while it sleeps, and then wake up on it’s own. The first 60 minutes or so are increasingly deeper levels of sleep. The next 20 minutes is REM sleep, followed by a few minutes of very light sleep, then the cycle repeats. Being awoken in the middle to end of a cycle will make you groggy and disorientated because this is when your deepest sleep stage and your REM sleep stage (both of which are needed to repair and recharge your body) occur. Which means when doctors say you should get 8 hours of sleep, they’re actually screwing you up by waking you in the beginning of a new cycle instead at the end of a complete cycle.

Try it sometime, take a nap in the afternoon and make sure you are not disturbed and try to block out the sunlight. You’ll awaken on your own some multiple of 90 minutes after you’ve fallen asleep.

The other fun aspect of these cycles is that your first cycle has the longest period of deep sleep. Deep sleep is responsible for hormone regulation and tissue repair, not to mention that the strongest effects of sleep deprivation are from inadequate deep sleep. Your deep sleep stage actually gets shorter as you repeat cycles. So your fourth sleep cycle of the night is doing less for you than your second sleep cycle of the night which is doing less for you than your first sleep cycle.

Conversely, REM sleep length actually increases each cycle, with the first cycle having the shortest REM stage of the night. REM sleep is when we dream. It’s needed for processing emotions, memories, and stress. It is also believed to be vital to learning and developing new skills. However, if REM sleep is disrupted one night, your body will go through more REM the next night to catch up. Not to mention that you can actually dream during other stages of sleep. If you are sleep deprived, the body makes up your deep sleep deficit first, then your REM sleep deficit.

So I’ve broken my sleeping into two sleep periods. I take a 90 minute nap around 1:30 PM in my office, then a 4.5 hour nap (3 sleep cycles) at 1:30 AM. This way, I get two first cycle deep sleep doses (which easily equal the deep sleep contributed by later cycles in the same sleep period). While initially I might short myself on REM sleep, my body should adapt by moving through the early sleep stages quicker to get to deep sleep and then REM sleep to make up the deficit.

Despite my many years of being a morning person, I’ve actually been able to make this switch quite easily and I now get all my quiet work time at night. Then I’m able to get up rested with the rest of the family to start the day.

Why is there a Group of Soccer Moms with Pitchforks and Torches on my Lawn?


Here’s a request for some honest feedback from the few souls who actually read my blog on a semi-regular basis. The events as I related them occurred about a week ago (although I wrote most of this post the day after) and while I am trying to tell the story as objectively as possible, we all saw that ST:TNG where everyone’s testimony in a murder trial was shown on the holodeck and nobody remembered anything the same way.

Mrs. CrazyEngineer and I put both kids in our double jogging stroller and walked to the nearby park around 7PM. The park was moderately busy, but by no means crowded. There is a play structure at the park (slides, platforms, stairs, etc) that Isabel has played on before and rather enjoys. We stopped at the play structure, let Isabel out to play, and Mrs. Crazyengineer and I sat on a bench to talk while I kept an eye on Isabel.

There was one other child on the structure at this time, a boy who may have been an inch or two shorter than Isabel but who I considered to be older both do to his agility and verbal skills. He was being a little wild on the structure, but Isabel didn’t seem to mind. They were even bouncing together on one of the bridges and Isabel would laugh everytime they both fell down. The child’s apparent mother was by herself sitting on a bench about 1/4 the way around the structure from where we sat.

Also on this play structure are several painted vertical bars that the kids can spin. I did not see who started playing with it first, but I did see the boy shoulder Isabel from her position centered in front of the bars to completely out of range of the bars and block her attempt to play with them (she actually had one foot on the stairs that went down right next to the bars). Isabel began to cry.

At this point, while I was quite annoyed at the boy, I didn’t say anything about him. There will always be bullies in this world and several articles I read say that it’s best to let playground squabbles work themselves out between the kids so children learn conflict resolution early instead of having helicopter parents intervene.

The mother of the boy had run up at the same time and scolded her son for his actions, however I did not pay much attention to them as I was asking Isabel if she had an ouchie since it was possible that her hand had been caught on the bars. She seemed physically ok, so I soothed, told her she was ok, and then offered to help her swing on the monkey bars, to which she readily agreed. Incident over, no big deal, no hard feelings, everyone carry on.

Of course, as soon as I started helping Isabel swing across the monkey bars, the boy was right behind her on the platform yelling for my attention then yelling at his mother to come help him. He was really crowding us but his mother did not get up instead just yelled at the kid to stop it from her seat on the bench. I think the kid backed off at this point (again, I was focused on not dropping Izzy as I helped her across the monkey bars).

We sat for a bit, walked a bit, some more kids came onto the structure, and the boy was still being rather wild and his mother was stilling yelling to him to behave from her bench, never getting up and reading a magazine so she didn’t even always notice his antics. I remember that at this point I had already pegged the woman as the “non-attentive, I’m more important” type of parent. I wish to stress that I certainly was not watching her or her son the entire time and very well could have missed her properly correcting her child. Since we won’t have her side written here, I at least would like to point out the high possibility of gaps in my narrative.

So, we were getting ready to go, and I asked Isabel if she would like to go down the slide one last time. She nodded and ran to the stairs that lead up into the structure where the slide is. However, the boy was back, standing halfway up the stairs, hands outstreched grabbing opposite railings, and not allowing Isabel to pass. He then pointed at us and I most definitely heard him say “Go see your mother”.

Isabel backed off and walked dejectedly to us.

At this point, I felt I was in a “no-win” parenting situation. My options, as I saw them were:

1) Ignore what just happened and put Isabel in the stroller and leave.
To me, this was probably the worst thing to do. Backing down and walking away would have been what I did was a child confronted with a similar situation, and it is a character flaw I have been trying to overcome ever sense. Teaching Isabel to avoid conflict by backing down or changing her behavior to make peace is something I do not want her going through life emulating. It’s made me miserable on several occasions in the past and only now have I been able to stand my ground in more situations (possibly to my detriment of course, see below).

2) Try to say something profound about the situation and put Isabel in the stroller and leave.
Great idea, except I didn’t have anything profound at hand. And she’s two and a half; ancient Chinese proverbs or cowboy wisdom probably would have done little to offset the effects of backing down.

3) Try to convince Isabel to go back and try to get past the boy and go down the slide (he was still in his position on the stairs).
At this point, I don’t think I could have been prouder if Isabel had shoved the kid out of the way to go on the slide. She was smaller and in the right, bullies should reap what they sow. And while we all say violence is not the answer, that’s not how the rest of the planet sees it. With the banning of dodgeball and tag (tag FFS!), we’re raising kids who are going to be unable to handle physical conflict and competition when that’s all that parts of the world know.

But at the same time, I didn’t want to try to actively encourage her to push the kid. That would probably just make her upset trying to figure out what she should do since she was getting mixed messages. I would much rather have her solve conflicts with her mind than her fists. And it might have escalated the situation. Since the boy seemed stronger and more aggressive, that could be very bad for Isabel.

4) Walk over with Isabel to the boy’s mother and tell her that her child was bullying my child and could she please move him out of the way.
Yes, this was probably the wisest choice of action. But to expand on the previous point, kids need to learn how to handle conflicts on their own, not always run for help from adults (there are obvious exceptions of course). Today it’s just a toddler bully on the playground, soon it will be a 2nd grade girl in the girls washroom bullying 1st graders. Better to instill an assertive streak in her now that will not only make bullies choose easier prey but will allow Isabel to ask and strive for what she wants instead of meekly taking whatever she gets.

And quite frankly, I was rather annoyed at the mother who in my opinion was doing a very crappy job monitoring her child. I would be horrified if Isabel was shoving other kids around on the play structure and would correct her at close range, if not leave outright, immediately. That she was just sitting on a bench with a poor view and occasionally yelling at her child (who ignored her) probably explained the child’s behavior.

5) Walk over with Isabel to the boy, and if the behavior continued, call to the mother to draw her attention to the unacceptable behavior of her child.
This is somewhat like 4, except with the added benefit of embarrassing the mom and putting her on the defensive in front of several other parents at the playground. I had hoped that walking over with Isabel and appearing slightly menacing to the boy would make him back down. Apparently I can’t even scare pre-schoolers.


6) Walk over with Isabel to the boy, and if the behavior continued with no notice by his mother, move him myself.

Yes, this is what I ended up doing. Obviously, at this point 1 million years of evolution had gone out the window and this had become a primal threat to my genetic legacy which required all the testosterone I could muster for defense of my offspring. After glowering at the boy (with no perceived intervention or calls from his mother), I growled “move kid or I’ll move you”. Hardly a polite warning, but a warning nevertheless.

So I grabbed his right arm, pulled it away from the railing, creating room for me to lead Isabel by the hand past him. I’m fairly certain the boy cried or screamed at this point (not from physical harm as far as I could discern, more of a “why am I not getting my way” cry). I stopped paying attention to the boy and his mother at this point, partly because I think Fight or Flight tunnel vision had kicked in and partly because I wanted to make sure I got Isabel past the boy and to the slide without further incident.

Isabel went down the slide, happy as a clam. We walked back to the stroller and got the whole family strapped in. Wasn’t sure where the boy was, and didn’t care at this point. I considered it over, the boy was probably back playing on the play structure and we were leaving.

However, we had to walk by the mother on the way out, at which point she said somewhat testily “In the future if there is a problem with my kid I would appreciate it if you let me handle it.”

Ah, how I wish I had 30 seconds to compose a perfect response that would have been such a verbal volley has to silence the mother. Something like, “In the future, I would appreciate it if you actually did handle it instead of just sitting over here and forcing me to do it.” However, I was on the spot and merely replied, “Well, if you were paying attention I wouldn’t have had to.”

To which she of course got defensive and replied “I was paying attention.”

With the obvious retort from me: “No you were not. You were sitting over here doing nothing while your boy bullied my child.” Or something slightly less coherent from me. The mother was saying some other things being defensive I think, but I just kept pushing the stroller and left, not wanting an argument over really what was a fairly minor squabble.

So, was I totally out of line? Was she? Mutual parenting failure? Was there another course of action I could have taken? I feel like everything I did was measured and sensible, but intellectually I know I could very well have missed something that should have changed my responses. What could I do to prepare for handling another such incident?

Elisabeth Shirley McCartin, the Easy-Going Sibling

Do not wake the snoozing Ellie.

Been awhile since I’ve posted, but this time I actually have a valid reason. On Thursday, August 14 at 17:12, CrazyBaby number 2 was born using unnatural natural means. Natural because no drugs or invasive procedures were used. Unnatural because Mrs. CrazyEngineer broke the labor speed record, going from transition to second stage labor to birth in about 12 minutes. Considering the first time took three days, the sudden onset was a bit of a shocker (especially to our newbie nurse and to our midwife who didn’t even make it to us in time to deliver the child). Ellie tipped the scales at 9 lbs, 10 oz; more than a pound heavier than Isabel. But she came out so fast that she still had a bunch of liquid in her lungs which caused her to have a low pulse-ox reading of 80 with room air (you usually want at least 95).

This unfortunately meant that instead of Mrs. CrazyEngineer holding Ellie right away, our child was wheeled off to the nursery to be given extra oxygen to get her pulse-ox level up. I went with her and stayed in the nursery letting her hang on to my pinky while she had this plastic hood over her head giving her 30% oxygen. It actually looked worse than it really was, but not exactly the birth we had in mind. But Ellie did improve and she was finally wheeled into the room to be with her exhausted parents around midnight.

Isabel holding her baby sister for the first time.

The good news is that post-natal care is going much smoother this time. Mrs. CrazyEngineer is feeling much better than she did after giving birth to Isabel. We’re getting plenty of help from the in-laws so the adults still outnumber the short ones on most days. Ellie is nursing well and is actually allowing us to sleep several hours at a time (as opposed to Isabel who pretty much woke us up every hour).

Speaking of the Izzy, she has fully entered her defiant toddler phase. It’s becoming quite annoying how she now no longer listens to directions and moves at her own pace. I’d like her to pick up the pace sometimes, but I’ve seen other parents trying to get their kids to hurry up, and I just don’t want to be that kind of parent. So I just take a deep breath, try to enjoy our time together, and take comfort in the hope that she will grow out of this in a few years.

Hacking the CrazyEngineer

mvc-285f-734590.JPGHere’s the first post of an exciting new category on the site: hacking the CrazyEngineer for better health and longevity.

Today’s big decision: which multivitamin to buy?

Really not as easy as you would think. Crazy Mother-In-Law gets the Nutrition Action Newsletter that is full of interesting stuff. They just did a whole section on multi-vitamins, and there is currently some debate going on over whether a daily vitamin is necessary for everyone (or if it may even be harmful).

The biggie everyone is looking at right now is folic acid. Some studies have linked high intake of folic acid to higher rates of colorectal cancer and colon polyps. Pretty much every multi-vitamin has a significant amount of folic acid in them. Now, you want to be taking a high level of folic acid if you plan on being pregnant because it can prevent early birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord. But, since I’m not the one bringing embryos to term in the family, folate is less of an issue for me and it is recommended that I take a multi-vitamin every other day to limit my folic acid dosage until new studies are able to shed some light on the issue.

I also wanted to make sure the multi-vitamin did not have iron in it (for reasons I’ll get into later). So, going by these to big constraints and the newsletter’s recommendations, I purchased a bottle of Walgreens Once Daily for Men (same stuff at half the price of One A Day) and a weekly pill case with four time-based containers per day. No reason old people should get all the cool medical accutriments.

Canadian Adventure, Day 4: Let’s Get Ready to Rodeo!

100_2903.jpgToday we get to the meat and potatoes of the Calgary Stampede: the rodeo. Every day of the Stampede is a qualifying round, with the final round on sunday where the winner of each event gets a check for $100K (Canadian). I’ve never been to a rodeo before and have only seen snippets of it on television. So I didn’t even know that a rodeo wasn’t just guys riding bulls, there are actually seven events:

  • Bareback Riding: Ride a bucking horse without a saddle
  • Steer Wrestling: Jump off a perfectly good horse onto a running steer.
  • Team Roping: Two guys try to rope and subdue a steer.
  • Saddle Bronc: Ride a bucking horse with a saddle.
  • Tie-down Roping: Rope a steer from the horse then run over and tie its legs together.
  • Barrel Racing: For the ladies, a cowgirl races a fast horse around barrels.
  • Bull Riding: Guess.

100_2905.jpg Now, I can understand how most of these events evolved. Roping, riding, breaking a bucking horse: these are all tasks that cowboys would do in their daily life. But what the hell does Bull Riding or Steer Wrestling have to do with the daily life of a cowboy? Why would you EVER need to ride a bull? And wouldn’t you just rope the steer instead of jumping off your horse and risk getting injured on the range? I think the bull riding started as a bet between some cowboys around a campfire.

“Reckon you can’t ride that bull.”

“Reckon I can.”

Alcohol was most definitely involved.

100_2921.jpgThat evening, we got another huge super-shot of cowboynasity as we attended the concert in the Saddledome. The CrazyFather had somehow started liking country music. I think it’s because his mind is going as he ages. Anyhow, this was his can’t miss attraction of the Stampede and really wanted me to go with him. So I put my baseball cap on backwards, drank some beer from a can, and tried to look like I drove a pickup truck.

The opening act was Miranda Lambert, who I actually enjoyed quite a bit. She has a really great stage personality, because even though I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics and didn’t know any of the songs, I could still get excited by the show and have a good time.

100_2927.jpgThe main headliner was Sugarland, which apparently is the Sonny and Cher of country music (the wife has the talent and the husband is dead weight). I’d have to give them a big “Meh”. Except now I know who is responsible for that “All I want to do-do-do-do” song.

Sugarland, you’re on my list. And it’s not the “Who gets cake list.”

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