Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Important Because it's There

This will become one of my favorite philosophies. (Oh yeah, I'm back from my trip.) One of the spots we camped at was Yellowstone, where there is still controversy over the reintroduction of wolves, who have now apparently spread across Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and parts of Colorado. Experts are hoping they will reach Rocky National Mountain Park, where they have decided not to reintroduce them because of the hassle (creating a fund to compensate ranchers for lost livestock and such). Wolves are spreading quickly in part because of the overpopulation of food, particularily elk and deer. The big question those against the wolves pose is always the same: "Why is the wolf important?" In general, why is anything in nature important? Answer: It is important because it is there. Nature knows what it is doing, just leave it alone. Consider that with the reintroduction of wolves, elk populations are being kept in check (Elk can easily overgraze an area, in turn helping to increase flooding and mud slides). Coyotes, carriers of rabies and pests themselves, who have killed far more pets than wolves ever did pets or livestock, and who seem to thrive with human civilization, are being killed by wolves left and right. In Yellowstone, wolves have killed more than half the coyote population, either directly or by lowering the number for birthing. In turn, other animals--whose food sources have been over eaten by coyotes for generations--are making a strong comeback. Bobcats, foxes, lynxes, badgers, and hopefully fishers, martens, and other such critters will re-surge in numbers. Also, according to some info I read regarding east Canadian wolverine populations, the reintroduction of wolves could very well help reintroduce wolverines, who rely heavily on wolf kills for scavenging purposes. (Wolverines are primarily scavengers.) It's important because it's there.

Here are a few pictures from the trip, which was awesome by the way; absolutely awesome. If you like animals, you'll find plenty here. Here's some voclanic activity in Yellowstone. We drove all the way to Yellowstone from Cody, only to find upon arrival that the East entrance was closed due to a forest fire. We had to go all the way back to Cody (over 50 miles of mountain driving) and head from there up to the Northeast entrance of the park (another 50 miles of driving). We were annoyed there were no signs posted by the park service anywhere about the closure or news about it on their radio station. When we got back to Cody, we went to eat dinner at a Subway in a Walmart. Look what was on the door (it turned out not to be a big deal; the drive to the other entrance was spectacular and well worth it; we wouldn't have seen it without the closure). Some people feed a Wild Burro in South Dakota, in the Black Hills. This was the most awesome thing on the trip. I was sitting on the curb, waiting for my friend Greg at the car. A man rushed toward me with his camera. I turned around to see what had him so excited (at first I assumed he had read God is a Woman and wanted my autograph, of course). There, fifteen feet away from me, was a young adult wolf. I was immediately overcome with awe. He looked at me for a few moments, then gaited effortlessly away, covering lots of ground with long, easy strides. I then snatched up my camera and followed. He looked at me again, given me a great shot, then gaited away, vanishing in but a moment. I did a little research to be sure it was a wolf because wolves have a tendency to look very different from one another, and sometimes coyotes are mistaken for wolves. The coyotes in Yellowstone are big but nowhere near the size of the wolf. He was easily more than three times the size of the coyotes we saw there. I found several similar photos of wolves in books and also learned that coyotes and wolves interbreed in the wild, making identification difficult. My wolf looks slightly different than the wolves we saw through high-powered telescopes in the park; while that is most likely due to the wolf being young, it could also well be that I saw what I now call a "woyote"--the product of a wolf and coyote who shacked up. A couple woodpeckers. We drove through lots of blowing sand in Idaho. Notice how small and sleek wild squirrels are, compared to the fat, lazy ones in cities. Just a simple mountain stream. This is what I look like after a week of not showering or doing my hair. (Ladies, this is also how I look the next morning.) The tundra in Rocky Mountain Park (area above the treeline on a mountain). The rarely seen pika, a critter that lives in the tundra. It is often heard barking high pitch squeaks but rarely seen, let alone photographed. This prairie dog in South Dakota was certainly sitting in a funky position. Some pronghorn in South Dakota. A raven, which is basically a large crow. These things may be the smartest animals on earth next to humans and dolphins. They can mimick sounds and voices and have one of the largest thought-processing areas in their brain. In one case, a guy who stocked his fish pond with large gold fish (essentially carp) kept losing them and couldn't figure out why. No one fished in the pond and it was surrounded by a fence. He decided to hide and watch. A raven that was being fed pieces of bread in a nearby park flew over to the pond with a few pieces of said bread in its mouth. It then dropped the bread into the pond. The fish came up to the surface to eat the bread, whereupon the raven swooped down and plucked one out of the pond for a better meal than bread. We could use one of these guys right now, eh? A nice view with a mountain lake. I'm very excited because a guy sold me this lake for fifty dollars! Come by anytime, especially if you're a woman. No swimsuits required in my lake. Old Faithful in Yellowstone. An osprey. This looks like ice but it's actually hot sulfur from the ground that comes up through hot springs. Cool sunset. Bullwinkle. Another mountain lake. Climb to the top of Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain Park and this is your reward. Or just look at the picture. A fox. I feel very lucky to get this shot. While I've seen about a dozen foxes in the wild, never have I gotten a photo of one. They always take off so quickly, there is no time to get a shot off. I actually got video of this one hunting and killing a mouse. Another trip highlight: A grizzly with four cubs. After the pictures I tried to put up a video of mom and the cubs but it wouldn't work; I'll get one up on YouTube with other animal videos I took and post here when they're up. A hailstorm in the mountains. A blue heron. Hiking in the South Dakota Badlands. This sign sits on the Continental Divide and explains what it is for those who don't know. There is always one moronic driver who wants to go around, thinking that people just stop in the middle of the road for no reason. An elk calf with mom. A herd of elk in Rocky Mountain Park. Man, these things are everywhere out there. No wolves, the local cougars prefer mule deer mostly, and black bears can't catch elk too effectively. Think I was lying? This is Estes Park, just outside Rocky Mountain Park. A dozen elk walked into town one sunny afternoon, as bunches do almost daily. They even rut in town in the Fall, coming down from the overcrowded park. Still think they don't need wolves? All these elk do is eat; constantly! It took this guy three hours to figure out how to get into this cabin. An elk calf. A coyote. Notice the different facial shape from the wolf, as well as the shorter legs, smaller feet, and different build. This guy was in Rocky Mountain, where the coyotes supposedly have gotten big enough to form packs and attack elk (larger than even Yellowstone coyotes). The packs must number like a thousand or something; I don't see how else they could take one down. This guy was less than a third the size of the wolf I saw, who was a young adult wolf at that. This lady was starving when we came upon her. We were glad the animal got there first. Getting a little wet. That mountain spring water is freezing cold but quite refreshing. South Dakota Badlands National Park. A bison. Got some short video of a few fighting. Pretty cool. A herd of bison. We had to stop for a huge herd crossing the road all night long one night in Yellowstone. Such as... A bull elk tries to figure out what is on his butt and if his health insurance will cover its removal.

I highly recommend visiting the national parks, especially Yellowstone, Glacier (didn't hit that one this trip but it is the most wild and rugged in the U.S.) and Rocky Mountain. As you can see, I'm a big animal buff. The trip actually gave me a great idea for a kids book to help younger kids understand, appreciate, and adore nature. I'm pretty psyched about it and am adding it to my list of projects. Seriously, get out and see these places. They are far beyond the justice of any photos or descriptions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Hey All,

I will be heading out for vacation tomorrow and won't be back on the Internet until Aug. 27; doing some serious camping out in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. I apologize in advance for the long absence but I should have some great photos to share. I may also have some big news... You'll have to wait until the end of August... Until then, check out some great blogs at Legal Pub, Ze Frank, and Singled Out. Good stuff!


Saturday, August 4, 2007

How to Get Her to Return Your Phone Call

This is an article I wrote for E-zine. I also posted it by request on The Mystery Method Forum. BTW, the Lifetime site is up and running, revamped. You can see my first two answers to women's dating questions here:

Ladies, please send in your questions to Lifetime or me. I will answer them as part of Lifetime (if it is one they send me) or in my column, separately. I think guy's will back up that my answers are solid and accurate.

Okay, here's the article:

If I see one me article about how to get a woman’s phone number, I’m going to punch someone in the face. Seriously; it won’t be the writer, just the next person I see. POW! I’ll punch them right in the face . . . then run away really fast.

When it comes to getting a woman’s number, I’ve seen it all, from asking “write down your email, oh, and while you’re at it, put your number there, too” (she knows what your up to) to literally demanding the number if she won’t give it to you. Then there’s the inevitable debate about when is too soon to call and when is too late; the standard is to wait between three to five days. There are scores of articles and discussions about how to get digits, and when to call; not one about how to make sure she returns your call, mostly because the experts don’t have an answer. Getting digits doesn’t mean squat. How many times have women not called back? Are you after a number or a date? I want a date; thus, I need her to return my call. So, I don’t worry about getting digits.

I concern myself only with the conversation—listening to her and responding, inserting flirtatious comments when there’s an opening. If I’m still interested, I take something in the conversation and ask her out with it. For example, perhaps she mentioned she hasn’t been to a basketball game in a while or wants to check out some new Italian restaurant. I suggest we go—“You know that restaurant sounds really good. Let’s check it out. How about next week?” or “I haven’t been to a b-ball game in ages, either; you know, I think the Bulls are in town next week, let’s go to a game. What’s your number? I’ll check the schedule and call you.” (I live in Chicago.) The typical answer is, “Ah, yeah, I think I can do that; I need to check my schedule first.”

I get the digits and continue the conversation. Why? Because I enjoy her company and because I come off like a hit and run driver if I rush off immediately after getting her digits. Also, it’s quite possible that I’ll get something more than digits. If I realize nothing is going to happen that night, or that I don’t want anything to happen, yet; a little later in the conversation I end it, tell her it was nice meeting her, and remind her I will be calling her about the game or the restaurant or whatever. I’ve accomplished a few things.

One, I’ve shown her that I am paying attention to her. A lot of guys focus too much on their game and not enough on the woman. In fact, many guys really aren’t comfortable with women; they’re comfortable with their game. Those are two very different things. Women notice this and one of their biggest complaints is that guys don’t pay attention to them, more commonly stated as “men are clueless.” Two, I’ve made myself memorable. Who knows how many guys she’s going to meet the night I met her or between that night and the time I call? I need to stand out. Third, I’ve created a reason to call which involves a deadline; I don’t have to worry about calling too soon and how she might interpret that because I have a clear reason. Fourth, I’ve practically guaranteed she will return my call because, if nothing else, there is a very strong chance she will feel obligated to call and cancel our tentative date. The bigger the first date I suggest, the greater the odds she will feel obligated to call me to cancel. I’ve suggested expensive theater, concerts, and the symphony as a first date; way too much but that’s where the conversation went. Fifth, I’ve come off showing lots of confidence, which women tend to prefer. Finally, with her return call, I have the opportunity to reconnect, which is what I’m really after.

I use this practice a lot. It’s been at least four years since a woman hasn’t returned my call. When she does return my call and we reconnect, the result is me usually suggesting a simpler date, like a drink or dinner. I won’t pretend that I’ve always gotten the date; I haven’t. I do get the date about eighty percent of the time, though. Those aren’t bad numbers—100% returned calls and 80% dates from those calls. Like anything else, it takes practice. If you suggest something big like the symphony in the wrong way, you’ll come off looking desperate, so start smaller. (My background is standup comedy; trust me, timing and delivery are far more important than the actual material.) If she talks about the symphony, for example, ask her if she likes other music; suggest an open mic night at a coffee house or something similar in reply.

This technique isn’t based on them being women or manipulation; it’s based on them being human and common courtesy. If, as a guy, I met you out tonight playing darts or something and you mentioned you were a huge Sox fan, and I told you I had a friend who might have a couple extra tickets to the game next Thursday and asked if you were interested, got your number and told you I’d call when I knew for sure either way, would you not be expecting a call? Would you not return my call to decline or accept the tickets? One of the best things I ever learned was to treat a woman I liked as little like a woman as possible and as much like an average person I met, as possible. The more I like the woman, the harder that is to do; but, the more I like her, that is precisely when it is most important for me not to treat her differently.

Quit focusing on your game and getting digits; instead, focus on listening, responding, and getting a date. You’re not in a race to get her number or to move on to the next woman—at least you shouldn’t be; get comfortable with women, not your “game.”