Review: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

  • Posted on: 29 June 2014
  • By: TedG

Submitted by Adrian

On May 15th, Irv, Angelo, Scott, and myself met to discuss The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Our average ranking for both Readability
and Interest was 4. Likeliness of reading another book by this author: 3.25 (out of 5).

We thought the book was very interesting in exploring the time period. It provided some interesting perspectives on the history of World Wars I and II. It was
interesting to view WWII from the perspectives of the Germans. We were not sure about the significance of the apple raid, and whether it was critical to the story. We discussed whether the heroine was Jewish herself, but decided the plot did not give enough information to confirm. Ron emailed to say the movie was better than the book.

Review: “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” by Mark Owen, with Kevin Maurer

  • Posted on: 20 June 2014
  • By: TedG

Here is why I enjoy this group so much. We are tenacious. We’re tenacious readers, we are tenacious meeting attendants, and we like our beer. Even when no one else shows up, any one of us will sit at a table, order a beer and a pizza, and debate the highs and lows of the past month’s book…out loud, boisterously if necessary. We don’t care who’s looking (“let ‘em join us if they want to know what’s going on!”); we don’t even care if we take up a six-person table all by our lonesome (“Um, no, I can’t move; I’m expecting friends.”). We are the Men’s Book Discussion Group! 

In the spirit of odd-men-out, Irv held court in the Rivers Eatery to discuss No Easy Day by Mark Owen. No word on whether or not he did so boisterously.

Author Visit by Charly Ray ("Paddling to Winter" by Julie Buckles)

  • Posted on: 15 June 2014
  • By: TedG

Blogger's Note: This should have been posted on 20 March 2014, but somehow it never made it. My apologies for this oversight.

Let's not call it a trend, but this is the second book in a row for which we've been fortunate enough to have the author join us at our meeting. Though, in this case, it was not the author per se, but the story's co-star--Julie's husband, Charly Ray. ("I would love to come," Julie wrote to me, "but Charly would love it even more.") And can he draw a crowd! Ten of us were in attendance, including one new member--welcome, Doug! It was our most well-attended meeting ever.

We did not all share our opinions of the book, as is our normal meeting agenda, but it was easy to see that the group had enjoyed it. There were plenty of questions for Charly, and in between questions, he had wonderful stories to share about the trip and the different ways he and Julie approached it.

"Julie and I took turns journaling," he told us, "so the entries alternated between me writing about plants and animals and wind and weater, and Julie writing about people and emotions."

He also told of how the northern rivers and the cabin on Wollaston Lake has become part of their childrens' world. "My son jumped onto my lap one day and, without any provocation from me, asked, 'Dad, when are we going to Wollaston Lake?'"

That is a sign of how a trip becomes an intrinsic, inextricable part of who a person is (or, in this case, who two people are). Such a trip becomes a touchstone, a defining moment in life that is shared almost unconsciously with everyone else, including one's children.

A big thank you to Charly for joining us. 

In the attached photo: left-to-right (seated) Irv, Scott, Adrian, Art, Charly Ray, Ed, Jack. (Standing): John, Ted, Angelo, Doug.

REVIEW: "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich

  • Posted on: 26 April 2014
  • By: TedG

Submitted by Jack Wichita 

Chuck and I met Thursday evening for beer, pizza, and a discussion of
The Round House
. Chuck's wife, Ruth Ann, joined us for the discussion.

We all thought the book was excellent--multilayered, a fine coming of
age story, a credible  mystery, and a window into modern tribal life. We
felt that it illustrated the weaknesses of the justice system and the
failure to protect the res residents particularly women--in effect a
complex form of institutionalized racism. It also illustrated the
importance of community life on the res and the strength of family and
tribal ties as well as the importance of traditional mystical beliefs.
The latter incorporated the theme of the Windigo, a destructive monster
that killed humans. The Windigo belief was used by Joe as justification
for killing his mother's rapist when he concluded that the ineffective
justice system was failing.

The book stimulated discussions of child rearing, the importance of
community, and the importance of elders, among many others. We look forward
to reading more of her books, including A Plague of Doves, and another
work in progress that, with The Round House, comprises a trilogy.

Very readable, held our interest.

Men’s Book Group, By the Numbers

  • Posted on: 30 March 2014
  • By: TedG

Recently, a friend asked me if the Men’s Book Group reads anything written by women. Fortunately, we were, at that time, reading something by a woman (Julie Buckles’ Paddling to Winter), and our next book was also going to be a female author (our current selection, The Round House by Louise Erdrich). I was also able to name a few others, but then I was curious, so I went back through our reading history to see just how many female authors we have read. In the process, I came up with some other interesting little statistics about our reading preferences.


So as our group approaches its fifth anniversary (this June), here is a glimpse of what secrets lie in the hearts of men. All of these lists include our selected books through July of this year.


First Meeting: June 2009

Number of Members: Variable

Average Attendance: 5 (41 meetings)

Least Attendance: 0 (May 2011)

Greatest Attendance: 10 (March 2014)

Total Books Read: 53

Non-Fiction vs. Fiction: 31 to 19

Books by Female Authors: 8

Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story by LeAnne Howe

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard*

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard*

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Paddling to Winter by Julie Buckles

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

* Candice Millard is the only author we’ve read more than once.


In 2010, we began rating each book on Interest (did the book hold your interest?) and Readability (was it difficult to read, or did it flow well?), using a scale of 1-to-5 for each category.


Books with a Combined Average Rating of 10*: 8

The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature by David Baron

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre

True Grit by Charles Portis

The Overton Window by Glenn Beck

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

*The one that “missed it by that much.”

The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea    (average score of 9.9)


In 2011, we began choosing a Book of the Year from all that we have read in the past 12 months. The system used to make this final and momentous decision is complex and proprietary (patent pending), so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that we have top men working on it.

2011, (Non-fiction): The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea; (Fiction): The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille

2012: The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

2013: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Number of Author Visits: 2

Jeff Foltz (Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War)     February 2014

Charly Ray (Paddling to Winter)        March 2014


REVIEW: "Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War" by Jeff Foltz

  • Posted on: 21 February 2014
  • By: TedG

It’s Birkie week, arguably the biggest and busiest event in the Cable–Hayward area. Thousands of skiers from all over the world are coming to town to participate in the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross-country ski race in North America. But where does this name––Birkebeiner––come from? Many who ski the race undoubtedly know the story, and probably a good number of the rest of us do, too. But did you know there is more than one version of the story? This is one of the things we learn upon reading Jeff Foltz’s fictional account based on a lesser-known version (at least in this country) of the Birkebeiner story.


Jeff Foltz is a skier, and he has participated in the Birkie many times. He returned to the Cable–Hayward area this week both to ski and to sell some of his books at the Birkie Expo. He met with the Men’s Book Group on Wednesday to discuss Birkebeiner.


Some years ago, while staying at Telemark, Foltz saw the famous painting by Knud Larsen Bergslien of the two Birkebeiners with baby Prince Hakon, and he thought to himself, “those two men are not babysitters. Why do they have that child with them? What’s the story here?” Those questions set Foltz on a path to learn the story of how two soldiers took baby Prince Hakon over the Norwegian mountains from Lillehammer to Nidaros (present-day Trondheim) to save him from an army seeking to overthrow and kill his father (King Hakon) and any of his progeny. It was a story that took Foltz to Norway in the winter so that he might gain some insight to the terrain and the challenges the Birkebeiner’s faced. In the process, he learned at least three versions of the story, one being that the soldiers had not taken the baby alone, as the painting suggests, but that the baby’s mother had gone with the soldiers. “How else would the soldiers feed an infant during this almost week-long journey?” Foltz wondered. And what mother would allow two large, hairy men to take her child while she stays back to watch her husband battle a marauding army? Thus, Foltz’s story is told from the mother’s perspective.


It is the winter of 1203, and Inga is married to Hakon Sverrisson, Norway’s king and the leader of an army that is defending Lillehammer from the Crozier army ostensibly led by a man named Magnus. The Croziers seek to overthrow Hakon and name Magnus king. But Magnus is something of a pawn in a power-hungry game being played by his father, Erling, the one they call Crooked Neck, and Bishop Eystein, a singularly evil and loathsome man despite his position in the church. Hakon’s army is renowned not only for their military toughness, but also for the birchbark leggings the men wear to keep their legs and feet dry in the deep snow. The Crozier army mocks the rustic choice of clothing, but the birch-leggers––the Birkebeiners––wear them with pride, holding up their legs and touching the birchbark with their weapons each time they are successful in battle.


After a tremendous fight at the gates of the Birkebeiner fortress, the Crozier advance is once again thwarted through the use of clever tactics and superior power––and because Magnus was forced by Bishop Eystein to attack instead of waiting another day for Crooked Neck and his army to arrive. That evening, after Inga makes it clear to Hakon that she will not stand by and watch this army kill their son, the king meets with Torstein, his friend and most trusted warrior, to make plans for taking the infant prince over the mountains to Nidaros, where he will be protected by their allies and a much larger army. They enlist the help of Skjervald, the best skier in Hakon’s army, and then Inga, more by force of will than any sort of logical persuasion, makes it known that she too will be making the journey.


This sets the stage for the rest of the story, which is a harrowing and thoroughly engrossing chase…on skis. Magnus and a dozen of his men set off in pursuit, and within a few days, the two parties are skiing within sight of one another. This is the best part of the book. For those who ski at all, let alone ski the Birkie, the endurance required by this trip is awe-inspiring. It is difficult for a modern-day skier to imagine how Inga, Torstein, and Skjervald are able to move with such speed over untracked snow, pushed on by the specter (emphasis on “speck”) in the distance of a group of men bent on catching and killing them.


In our meeting with Jeff, we learned how some of characters and actions are entirely creations of his mind. These secrets are best left unsaid, but knowing them does not diminish the greatness of the book, nor does it detract from the immensely fascinating and true history. We know that the journey was made. Based on the three versions Jeff heard from Norwegians about how the journey was made, the details of the story are up for interpretation, the stuff of legend.


+ + + +


Thank you to Bev Bauer at Redbery Books for first suggesting the idea that we meet with Jeff and for making the connection with him. A huge thank you to Jeff Foltz for taking the time to meet with us after driving here from Maine. This is a busy week for him, and we really appreciate him working us to schedule the meeting. Thank you, also, to Scott and Paulette Smith who volunteered the use of their home for the meeting. Scott skis the Birkie and Paulette skis the Korteloppet, and they have family coming to town who are also skiing, so it is a busy week for them as well. Still, they graciously opened their home to our group so that we would have an intimate setting for our discussion with Jeff.


Attached photo: (left to right, standing): Ted, Angelo, Jack; (seated): Ed, Scott, Art, Jeff Foltz.

Review: "11/22/63" by Stephen King

  • Posted on: 19 January 2014
  • By: TedG

It was a good turn-out on a busy night at the Rivers. Seven of us met to discuss the book, while three others emailed in their comments. Meanwhile, there was a lot going on in Cable on that weekend, so the Rivers was full, and our group was graciously accommodated by Bev, who set up a nice little space for us among the books.


Almost everyone prefaced their comments by saying that this was not a book they would have normally read, either because it was by Stephen King or (more commonly) because it was about time travel. However, nearly everyone enjoyed the book enough to finish it, and even if they didn’t like the story, they enjoyed the description of the late 1950s and early ‘60s.


“I am not a fan of science fiction and [reading the book] was bit of a chore,” wrote Ron in an email. Still he “did enjoy [King’s] description of the time––Safeways, Green Stamps, cars, etc.”


Jack agreed, writing in his email, “Best about it was placing the reader back in the ‘50s and ‘60s; he hit all the right cultural notes for the period in which I came of age. It was like reminiscing with an old school buddy.”


Adrian compared the book to The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which our group read in 2010. In that book, “we don’t know how or why all of humanity disappeared, but Weisman used it as a mechanism to explore how the planet might change without human influence.” Similarly, King uses time travel as a way of putting his characters in the time period he wanted to explore, yet still have those characters know what the future holds. King uses that mechanism to tell a compelling story in his inimitable style.


“I enjoyed reading it,” wrote Ed. “Few authors keep my interest page to page as well as King, [and] at 860 pages, thank goodness!” Still, he notes, “it's not a book I’ll contemplate or remember long.” 


Two errors caught by two different readers reinforce the so-called “smarty pants” nature of our group. First, in his email, Ron noted that when Oswald told his wife, Marina, to walk, “he uses the Russian noun ‘walk’ and not the imperative of ‘to walk.’” I don’t know anyone else who would catch Russian conjugation errors like Ron does.

The second error was a historical one. John noticed a reference made to the Chicago Bears winning the NFC (National Football Conference) title in 1963. “The NFC didn’t exist in the early 1960s,” John pointed out. “It was just the NFL at that time.” The NFL did not create its two conferences––the NFC and AFC, or American Football Conference––until 1970.

We all agreed the book made for a good story, but only one said he would read another of King’s books, but only if it were outside his normal horror genre. The rest said they would not or probably would not read another book by King, regardless of the genre. Never the less, the average score for holding our Interest was 3.8 out of 5, and the Readability of the book scored 4.6 out of 5. If you enjoy a good story combined with a trip into the real past, 11/22/63 is a good way to spend your reading time.

And the 2013 Book of the Year Is....

  • Posted on: 7 December 2013
  • By: TedG

The orchestra was warming up in some distant pit, the crowd murmuring as they found their seats, nodding and waving to friends across the aisle. This was the holiday event of the season, the one everyone talked about and speculated on and waited for. This was the Men’s Book Group Book of the Year!

OK, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. There was small crowd at The Rivers, and none of them were paying attention to us. Well, one guy did, but he wanted to know if we were going to use the whole big table, or could he use the other end.

There were six of us at Thursday’s meeting, and for the second month in a row we had two new people join us for the discussion. Welcome Scott and George! (Though George did say he was moving to Arizona next month. No word on whether that had anything to do with his first experience with the group.) Though they had not read any of the books we were about to discuss (George had read Shadow Divers), they were keenly interested in the discussion that was about to unfold.

We were a little slow getting started. I, for one, felt the weight of responsibility that we were about to wield––the making or breaking of some hopeful author with our weighty deliberation and selection. I went down the list of books we had read over the past 12 months––eight in all. Then we went around the table, and everyone threw out their contenders. That discussion eliminated two from the pack. However, we agreed that Peter Geye’s Safe From the Sea, while not a contender, deserved to be in the “Good Book” category. With six titles left in the running, the scrutiny and the high-minded thinking kicked into gear. They don’t call us the “Smarty Pants Group” for nothing.

“OK, now let me have your top 2, in order of priority,” Ted said.

Angelo went first, confidently casting his votes for The Warmth of Other Suns and Shadow Divers.

Irv was clearly conflicted. “Shadow Divers is my second choice, but I’m torn between Beast in the Garden and The Warmth of Other Suns for number one,” he said.

Then he hit upon a wonderful tie-breaker. “I couldn’t put down Beast in the Garden or Shadow Divers,” he began slowly, “And Warmth of Other Suns was definitely more difficult to read (for its context, not the way it was written), but it is a more important book. That is the one I think everyone should read. So I’m going to say Warmth of Other Suns for my first pick, and I’m going to split my second place vote between Beast in the Garden and Shadow Divers.”

We all sat there looking at him, awe-struck. Such brilliant logic, such an eloquent decision. If we weren’t guys, we might have wiped discrete little tears from our eyes and touched Irv’s arm knowingly. But we are guys, so we didn’t do that. In fact, no one probably even thought of it. We just nodded our heads, sipped our beers, Ted wrote it down, and we looked at Adrian to go next.

Adrian agreed with Irv that The Warmth of Other Suns is an important book, so he too made it his first pick and Beast in the Garden his second choice.

It came down to Ted, who first shared Jack's choice with the group, which Jack had emailed to Ted earlier. He, too, had liked Beast in the Garden, but his highest praise went to The Warmth of Other Suns. “I agree with that,” said Ted, casting his vote for The Warmth of Other Suns and Rez Life as his runner-up.

Now, the non-existent crowd was buzzing (well, in my head they were buzzing...or maybe a phone was ringing). Anyway, people were tallying up the scores in their heads, trying to anticipate the formal announcement. Ted was feverishly doing the same. But it didn’t take that much work. The choice was very clear. The Men’s Book Group 2013 Book of the Year is Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns!

The closest runners-up were The Beast in the Garden and Shadow Divers, but even they were a full six-and-a-half points behind Warmth.

In addition to the importance of the book, Angelo added that part of what made the book so good was its historical interest and the fact that it was so well-written. “She does a great job of weaving the stories of three separate people’s experiences,” he said.

Irv mentioned that there was something about the Great Migration on a PBS special, which can be watched online. I looked for this, and found an excerpt about the Migration from an episode of "The American Experience."

The Great Migration: From Mississippi to Chicago (clip from “The American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till”)

Adrian said that Isabel Wilkerson was interviewed on the Wisconsin Public Radio program “To The Best of Our Knowledge.” That I was able to find easily––

Having made our choice, the group sat back and basked in the glow of another year well-read. Conversation shifted from books to snow and skiing and bears still wandering about the nearly winter-woods. George told us about going to Arizona for the winter, but that he would be back and would join us again when the weather here turned more agreeable. We gave him an assignment to prepare book reports about next year’s selections and send those to us. We’re sure he will comply.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 16 January 2014, 6:30. We will discuss Stephen King’s 11/22/63….unless we can’t make it through the book in time (it’s just one page shy of 850). But Bill Bauer and new-guy Scott suggested that it may be pretty easy reading. We’ll see.

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Book!

Review: "Detroit: An American Autopsy" by Charlie LeDuff

  • Posted on: 21 November 2013
  • By: TedG
Detroit American Autopsy Charlie LeDuff

Detroit: An American Autopsy

Charlie LeDuff



I cannot remember reading a book faster than I read this one––286 pages in two-and-a-half days. And what a book.

I think I first heard of Detroit: An American Autopsy when I saw a review of it on National Public Radio. I have been interested in the state of Detroit and where it’s going, so I made a note to read the book. Now I’ve read it and I am both depressed by Detroit and amazed at the people who continue to live there, which includes most of my family.

I don’t know why I’ve taken such an interest in Detroit in recent years. I have never really considered myself to be from there, and I have never felt an urge to go back. But the fact is I was born there, and I have clear memories of my early childhood there. We moved away when I was nine, and I grew up in the northwestern suburbs, but my dad taught in the Detroit Public School system and continued to commute back and forth to the city every day for 30 years. Growing up, we often went into the city to visit grandparents and aunts and uncles. As a teenager, I went downtown to see concerts or go to the Detroit Auto Show. So Detroit is a part of me. It was an influence on and a backdrop to my life. By blood and history, I have an interest in the city’s present and its future. It is perhaps all very superficial, and to be sure, I am a very safe distance away from there now, but even from here, I am watching.

This book is both memoir and journalism. LeDuff moves back to Detroit after 20 years away, and he’s shocked by what he finds. So he takes a job as a reporter for The Detroit News, and he sets out to uncover what has happened and why, using his connections with firemen and police and family to tell stories about the neglect, desperation, vanity, and violence that run through the city’s broken infrastructure and shattered lives. Though LeDuff’s style is very engaging, the subject matter is hard to read, and it is not for children. The first chapter ("Gra-shit," a phonetic but descriptive spelling of a major thoroughfare––Gratiot Avenue––on Detroit’s east side) is LeDuff’s recounting of the time he pulled into an empty gas station on that street and was nearly mugged while filling his gas tank.

In Detroit, if possible, you don’t get your gas on the east side, not even at high noon. Because the east side of Motown is Dodge City––semi-lawless and crazy. Many times citizens don’t bother phoning the cops. And as if to return the favor, many times cops don’t bother to come. …Now here I was on the grubby east side––a war zone in its own right. A place of Used-to-Haves. And a Used-to-Have is an infinitely more dangerous type of man than the habitual Have-Not.

The muggers have no weapons, but there are two of them, and they have the jump on LeDuff. Fortunately LeDuff is allowed to reach into his car to get the money they are demanding from him. Instead, he pulls a gun from the glove box.

I emerged from the car and pointed the barrel square toward the man’s face. I said nothing. No Dirty Harry line. No crime novel metaphor. I didn’t even know where the safety was or if there was a safety or ammunition in it. I pissed myself a little.

It’s only after the muggers are gone that the gas station attendant pokes his head out the door to ask LeDuff if he’s OK. That’s the beginning, and it gets worse from there.

Death and mayhem are rampant in Detroit. And among that sea of hopelessness, people are drowning, adrift, or valiantly fighting the tide. It can be inspiring, but mostly it’s heart-breaking. LeDuff investigates the city’s mayor and the allegation that he arranged for the murder of a stripper who performed at a party in his home because she could name the high-powered people who were there. He investigates the mayor’s illicit affair with this chief of staff. He takes on the corrupt, violent, and petty President Pro Tem of the Detroit City Council. He embeds himself with a fire company as they race around extinguishing burning homes that have long been abandoned, but which people set on fire for the entertainment value of watching the firemen come to put them out–– "it’s cheaper than a movie." The firemen, though, are working with outdated and malfunctioning equipment, and as one man predicts, it eventually leads to an unnecessary death.

LeDuff also navigates the tragedies in his own family. One brother is laid off, another is working in a low-paying job at a screw-making factory, his sister is dead––a victim of drugs and the city’s violence. Her daughter, LeDuff’s niece, isn’t far behind. After a friend dies fighting yet another arsonist’s fire in yet another abandoned home, he has to convince the other fire fighters to not burn the rest of it down, to not become one of the no-name arsonists, even though their reasons are different––they don’t want the memory of their friend’s death left standing. LeDuff persuades the city to demolish the house instead. When they do, the firemen and the neighbors thank him, but a man living across the street from the now-gone abandoned home "[sweeps] his hands across the calamity of his neighborhood and the half dozen or so other rotting houses [and asks,] "But what about the rest of it?" The endlessness of the city’s troubles begins to weigh on LeDuff.

Detroit was beginning to wear my [a**] out. I didn’t have the usual reportorial detachment anymore. This was home. This was where I lived. This was where I was raising my kid, and my sister’s kid dies in some dark basement not six weeks after I arrive. And this morning I’m watching grown men cheer the demolition of a [s**t] box as though it were the Berlin Wall coming down. I looked out the window realizing that Detroit was doing something to me that a story’s never done to me before. It was hurting.

This book is both memoir and journalism. It is a report on the neglect, desperation, vanity, and violence that runs through a city’s broken infrastructure and shattered lives. It is "an American autopsy," a look at the future of our country.

Americans are swimming in debt, and the prospects of servicing that debt grow slimmer by the day as good-paying jobs continue to evaporate or relocate to foreign lands. Economics talk about the inevitable turnaround. But standing here in Michigan, it seems to me that the fundamentals are no longer there to make the good life.

LeDuff is hard-edged and cold-eyed, but he has a great deal of heart. This book is his way of bearing witness but also of advocating for justice. It is the best anyone can do.

Buy the book here.

Congratulations and Thank You

  • Posted on: 10 November 2013
  • By: TedG

Before our meeting ended last Thursday, Ron suggested we recognize three members of our group for their achievements.

At their annual meeting in Milwaukee this past October, The Wildlife Society presented Adrian with the Jim McDonough Award for his work as a mammalian ecologist and Director of the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery and Management Program for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In part, the award recognized Adrian for “outstanding contributions to wolf management through his intense monitoring of the state wolf population, educating the public about wolves, working closely on wolf depredation management, and interacting with wolf specialists across North America and Europe.” Through these efforts, he “has been instrumental in wolf restoration in Wisconsin, a truly remarkable wildlife success story.” Congratulations, Adrian!

We also took a moment to recognize and thank the two veterans in our group. John joined the U.S. Navy with the goal of being a fighter pilot. It turned out he didn’t have the required 20/20 vision required of pilots, so he instead became a Radar Intercept Officer (the one who flies in the back seat of a fighter jet; think Goose in “Top Gun”). He spent 17 years at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego except when he was, as he says, “yachting” on the USS CONSTELLATION, RANGER, ENTERPRISE, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, or KITTYHAWK.

Jack joined the U.S. Marines straight out of high school, avoiding the draft by simply enlisting. He served in Vietnam for almost two years with an infantry company whose main weaponry were Ontos, small tank-like vehicles armed with 106mm rifles. He “typically set up communications for our unit in the field. I was also an interpreter and did field intelligence work for our unit.”

Though we haven't seen him in a while, I recall that Barry was also a veteran, though I do not recall in what branch of the military he served.

Thank you to John, Jack, and Barry for their service!