Friday, October 27, 2017

No Pulitzer Prize for me!

What do you do when you are surrounded by asses?  Do you just watch them?  Do you quickly leave, or do just sit there politely?

What about when the biggest ass looks at you?  Does it make you wonder if you are assuming to in when you assume something, "U are making an ass out of me"?

Maybe this donkey has a deeper understanding of who is where in this world...he is looking dismissively at me....what do asses call US?

In thinking of these higher meanings of prairie life I was thinking....

2016 was a "Big" year for me for many reasons.  One obvious activity was birding and another was that I was keeping up a newspaper column in the Watertown Public Opinion.  As with anything, if I had realized the readership I had generated for that or even with this blog, I may (may is the correct word) attempted to do better.  write more, and reflect a little better my perspectives...IDK.  I surprisingly got nominated for an award last spring.

Well the votes are in:

My resume can now state:

2016 South Dakota Newspaper Association Awards, Best Featured Series, second place

That means no Pulitzer for me, now, I can't advance, oh well, but heck...I won something.

I'm currently working on a bit of a memoir book, "The Year Without Pike" which may include some of my birding year, but has caused me to look deep in the Olaf archives.
I can rank this up there with catching and releasing the 105th largest pike ever in Manitoba (which I did in 2001), I won the 1984 "Largest Hog Sucker Award" at the Falun Sucker club World sucker fishing contest that spring in Falun Wisconsin.  The coveted "Best Orator" award at Ripon College in 1988 went to me and I see, now 29 years later, I never cashed the $25 check, that I won.  Somehow, my National Forensics League  Championship Humerus Oration on "Organic Gardening" deserves to BE forgotten.

Probably my adventures in 2016 also deserve to be forgotten.

It is kind of funny winning a writing award.  Although, I am exceedingly proud of my new Guide to St Martin birds, and it is up on Amazon now, with inventory actually going to be carried by Amazon within days...

I get the booby prize...(bad pun) for timing.  The book was in press when Irma hit the island
and I doubt I'll see enough royalties to cover any modest advances such a project generated.  That $25 dollar Oratory prize might look good compared to this book.

Yesterday, my former business partner, Troy Kastrup honored me by saying "Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to exceed my potential."  At first I thought he was kidding and then I realized he wasn't.  This a day after I found my old medical school application.  Reading my essay, I'm certain that if I was on a selection committee, I wouldn't have let that student in with that essay.  The score system is different then than with my son Tyko's test, so its hard to compare.  Tyko is interviewing at the South Dakota Medical school in a week and I wish him well.  His scores make me look like an idiot.

I took the test a year early and I never studied, I'm not sure my Physics and Chemistry mastery would be able to pull up the rest of my efforts.  Maybe majoring in Ecology for my second major wasn't the best way to achieve a good score on the MCAT?  I don't remember Ornithology helping me much either.  In 2017, I doubt my research internship on leaf-cutting ants and leaf-lining behavior of buteo hawks would give me a leg up either,   Maybe a leg up an then an out of the medical school campus.  A mostly untamed hick from the sticks growing up on the family sawmill I don't think helped my cause, either.  I just think 1987 must have been a nadir of applicants.

So Troy,  we have both exceeded our potentials, way exceeded our potentials

I was at the SD Ornithology Union Meeting last week, not to speak, they are too scientific for the likes of me, but to listen and hang a little.  I had to go to Colorado Springs to a meeting and Spearfish was on the way home.

The research projects seemed soft to me.  Much like my "leaf-lining behavior of Buteo hawks" but mine was just an undergraduate deal, and my Isolation and Identification of terpenoids found in native Central American plants avoided by leaf-cutting ants showing possibly fungicidal activity" was a bigger deal and more relevant.   But maybe I'm biased.  I did learn that the number one predator of sage grouse nests are badgers (damn badgers) and the state population of grouse is stable at near 200.  there are 32 pairs of American Dippers in South Dakota in two creeks.

I also learned that black-backed woodpeckers are increasing in the state, and were not listed as threatened as the dipper is.  we also learned that Russian olives and cottonwoods take over stream banks, and...some birds like them (orchard orioles) and some...don't.  I also learned that prairie grouse (chickens and sharptails) nest where there are few trees.

There were a few other talks but to be honest, i was checking rare bird reports to see if the yellow-breasted bunting was hanging in Labrador was hanging so I could bug out, it wasn't so I stayed.

I did add 7, state lifer birds!

276  Black billed magpie
277 Gray jay
278 Sandhill crane
279 Pacific loon
280 surf scoter
281 long-tailed duck
282 Clark's grebe

My SD  year total is now 257 and that gives me a not so big year but I'm well on my way to my goal of 300.

Some of the bird views.....

Maybe I should research leaf-lining behavior of Ferruginous hawks?

I can work on my PhD.  Without any field work on this species, I can tell you they don't do it in South Dakota much but do elsewhere.  Do you know why?  There is a lack of suitable trees and cottonwoods don't have insecticidal properties.  Maybe comparing nestling success of prairie nesting versus forest nesting Ferrugies would be a study, a study that i'm not sure really is needed, though.  I'll just stick with finding them as they are handsome birds.  some answers are better off remaining unanswered

Down the highway, I was out taking a picture of this sign, that appeared to announce 1804 resumes 34 miles ahead....was there this much unemployment around?

Maybe I need to make it 1805 resumes with mine?  Have they really counted them that exactly?  My career as a writer with my award on it, maybe I need to look for work and now some newspaper may want an award winning journalist?

Minutes after this I was stopped by the fish and game department, all lights and sirens.  I had swerved for a pheasant when he flashed the lights.  "Is it illegal in Potter county to swerve for introduced birds, officer?"  I asked calmly.  He admitted he had ran my plate thinking I was registered in North Dakota.  It came back as a black pickup not a red Volvo.  "The plate says South Dakota..." He apologized.  I guess he doesn't see many South Dakota plates there, it is pretty desolate.  I was outdoors without a hunting license, but he never asked anything else.  He gave us a tip on a trio of whooping cranes which we couldn't find.  Maybe he misled us on purpose?

I was also stopped this morning, for something.  Two more passes by the police, number 70, I'm now six tickets for 70....I may be a champion in that.

I guess it is good to be good at something.

...but second place is good and a real honor considering, i'm not a newspaper man!!  It may be my highest writing honor ever.....

I have exceeded MY potential...yet again



  1. So who won first place?? Anyway, congratulations!
    It is not easy to put out a column, so a well deserved honor.
    Your Big Year musings were a delight and I'm glad that got recognized.
    Kudos also to the SD Newspaper Association. It is wonderful that they have survived and are still spreading the gospel of good writing.

    1. Thanks, I'm not sure. I was trying to find it out, and sent a blurb to the organization to figure it out. Always good to see and read and learn from others your better

  2. This blog is awesome and very informative keep Sharing this type of blog.



The Lowdown of the Lowcountry

On Wednesday, we moved from a very overcast and wet Southeastern Virginia to a sunny southeastern North Carolina.  We reached the Low countr...