Me and Jeff Tedford

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I’m down to my last clean clothes. And this is my last clean shirt. Otherwise I wouldn’t be caught dead walking around in public in this atrocity (aside from being two sizes too small, I prefer bland and colorless clothes that don’t call attention to me).

The “Ted Head” in question (get it??) is former Cal football coach Jeff Tedford. And I have a weird personal connection with the guy.

For awhile Jeff Tedford was the most highly-paid faculty member at UC Berkeley with an annual salary in the millions, even more than the Chancellor was making (all that TV revenue — big-time college football coaches like Jeff Tedford are like the stars of a hit TV show).

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And for awhile Tedford was riding high. He had Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Marshawn Lynch at running back — two of the greatest football players of our times. And then a couple years later Cal was ranked 2nd in the nation and undefeated at the time. And they would rise to #1, and with a good shot at a national title,  if they could win that game. But their starting quarterback got hurt, so  Tedford had to put in this freshman back-up quarterback in his first start (what a way to start out your career! — a national title on the line). And the frosh QB was playing great. And it looked like he was going to lead them Cal Golden Bears to victory. Marched the team all the way down the field on the last drive of the game. And they were on the 12 yard line with like 14 seconds to go. And all they needed to do was kick a field goal (which from that distance was as easy as an extra point) to send the game into overtime. But on the last play of the game, instead of throwing the ball out of bounds to stop the clock to set up the game-tying field goal, the frosh QB decided to try and scramble his way into the end zone for a touchdown. Instead he ended up using up the last seconds on the clock and got tackled and didn’t make it to the end zone.

Game over. Loser.

Cal never recovered from that defeat. And neither did Coach Tedford. Ole Tedhead decided what they needed was to completely renovate the football stadium. And Cal spent millions adding luxury suites for the rich alumni. As well as millions more to build a state-of-the-art training facility — to entice the blue-chip prospects.

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But then these Berkeley radical political activists decided to stage this massive protest to prevent the trees that were in front of the stadium from being chopped down (“SAVE THE TREES!!” — Berkeley is always a sucker for that shit). And they organized this 24-hour-a-day “tree-sit” that went on for several years and prevented the renovation of the stadium. So ole Jeff got locked into this years-long legal battle with the activists, as well as on-going physical confrontation between the police and the activists. A major headache for Jeff.

But my personal connection with Tedford. While they were renovating the stadium Tedford had to vacate his office that he had in there. And set up his office in this little trailer in this deserted parking lot on the other side of the football stadium. And every night for two years when I headed up to my homeless campsite in the Berkeley hills, I would pass Coach Tedford’s trailer.

And he was almost always in it. It could be 2 in the morning and I could count on Tedford being in there and the light was on. Studying film or whatever it is football coaches do. Football coaches are notorious work-a-holics, working 16 hours a day and sleeping in their offices. There are endless details football coaches need to take care of. And if they don’t put in the hours, you can bet the coach on the other sideline IS. And when they meet, that Coach will win. And you’ll be out of a job. So it’s a grueling and highly-pressurized job. College football coach.

And as I passed Tedford’s trailer every night — toiling away, burning the midnight oil — I developed a weird sympathy for the guy. In spite of his millions, he led an even more spartan lifestyle than me. Sleeping every night in this cramped little trailer on a cot. At least I had beautiful feral cats that went along with my campsite set-up

And I think the pressure finally got to him. Not just the pressure of being a big-time football coach (which is more than enough to deal with). But dealing with all the elaborate details of the multi-million-dollar renovation project. As well as battling with all these crazy Berkeley political activists. So he had a LOT on his plate.

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And then his football team started losing. Even worse it came out that something like 80% of his football players never even graduated. The Athletic Directors will put up with that shit if you’re winning. But if you’re losing, you’re toast. So he got fired. And never even got to enjoy the spiffy new stadium and training facility that he had worked so hard to create.

So then he managed to get a job as an assistant coach for an NFL team. But after a couple of games he had a heart attack. So that put him out of commission for awhile

But I’ll always remember passing by him every night at 2 in the morning for those two years. We were the only two people around in that neck of the woods at that time of night. So I almost felt like we were roommates. Me and Jeff.

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Fatty vs. Mini Scaredy: The territorial turf war

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Timid li’l Fatty.

I’m not sure what to do about this. It’s become a personal vendetta with Mini Scaredy to run off Fatty and Moo Cat if they get anywhere near me (she’s so possessive!). I haven’t seen either of those cats in over a week. So I was starting to worry.

Then Fatty shows up this morning. Nervously hangs out about 30 yards down the trail from my campsite. So I bring her a dish of food.

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Mini Scaredy, alpha cat of the feral cat tribe. (This is only the fourth bird in the 12 years I’ve been living with feral cats, that I’ve ever seen them catch.)

Then I lie down in front of her to shield her from Mini Scaredy. She at least got to eat about half of the food when Mini Scaredy came charging at us like a bat out of hell. Chased Fatty down the hill, across the creek, and up the next hill.

Cats. Sheesh.

So now I’m thinking: Maybe I should feed Mini Scaredy in the morning. And then pack up my campsite. Mini Scaredy usually leaves the area after I pack up. And then go set up down by the creek. Where I can feed Fatty and Moo Cat in peace. It’s worth a try. I find it almost impossible to “train” feral cats in the wild. So that’s not really an option.

(The next day)

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Fatty manged to polish off an entire 13 ounce can of cat food. I don’t know where she puts it all. It’s pretty impressive considering she probably only weighs about 10 pounds.
Ha ha. Victory is mine!! You gotta be pretty crafty to out-smart a feral cat.

I fed Mini Scaredy her breakfast and then packed up my campsite. Mini Scaredy assumed I was leaving so she wandered off to another part of the woods. HAH! The dumb beast. Instead I snuck down to the creek and fed Fatty (her rival) her breakfast. Where she can eat in peace without worrying about getting run off by Mini Scaredy.

But of course it won’t be long before Mini Scaredy gets wise to this ruse. And I’ll have to come up with something else. Feral cats can be plenty crafty too.

*

One of my friends suggested that my feral cats were trainable because I’ve “trained” them to show up for food when I arrive.  But that’s a little different. Feral cats are very intelligent at studying my behavior and adapting to it and living along side me.

But with house cats, most owners “train” them when they’re little kittens to do stuff like pooping in the litter box. Where the owner imposes their will over the cat. That kind of thinking, that kind of behavior modification, is completely foreign to a feral cat and very difficult to impose on a mature feral cat. I suppose a person with highly refined animal training skills could do it. You can’t really bop a feral cat in the nose and “scold” it. Wild animals react to any form of aggression directed at them as a potential death threat. And scoldings just bewilder and frighten them, mostly.
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All’s well that ends well. . .
Sometimes people question whether my cats are truly “feral.” Since they’ve been socialized to me as their human. . .  Ask the people at the animal shelter who had to deal with them when I had them fixed. They are wild animals, extremely difficult to control. Even for professional animal handlers.
The fights my cats have are over territorial issues. A primal and extremely ingrained instinct. It’s not something where I can just scold them and that’ll modify their behavior.

 

Like a lot of people I spend a certain amount of time assessing the state of my head

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Another morning, trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head-bone with strong coffee and the sports page.

Sometimes I wonder what effect the ocean of alcohol that I’ve consumed over the years might be having on my brain and my mental facilities. And I worry that I might not be as sharp as I used to be when I was a young man. And if I WAS starting to get soft in the head, how would I even KNOW? People that ARE soft in the head are usually the LAST to realize that they’re soft in the head because, well, because they’re soft in the head.

So I asked this long-time friend of mine who’s known me for many years if he thought I wasn’t as sharp as I used to be.

He put his palms up in front of him and said: “OOOH no, Ace! I’ve been following your Facebook posts and you’re still sharp as a TACK!!”

Ha ha. . . Of course it could be HE’S soft in the head, so how would he know for sure.

A raccoon on the road-side

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A couple of guests showed up at my hangout spot this evening.

It reminded me of an odd scene the other night. I was headed up the road to my campsite around midnight when I spotted one of my feral cats hanging out in the darkness on the other side of the road where she waits for me every night. So I called out to her, and she came trotting over to me. But when I got a good look at her it turned out to be a raccoon and not my cat.

But the weird thing was how she came right up to me — to within a couple feet of me —  when I called out to her. Usually raccoons are much more wary about approaching humans, especially in public places. I guess she was familiar with me because of all the years I’ve been camping in the woods. She’s probably one of the raccoons that regularly sneaks up to my cat food dish and steals my cat food as soon as I fall asleep.

I looked into my backpack for some food. Spotted a jar of peanuts and tossed them out to the raccoon. It’s cute how they pick up the food with their hands and shovel it into their faces just like humans.

Another harrowing encounter with the Just-Out-of-the-Joint dude

The lunatic is back. The Just-Out-of-the-Joint fellow. He somehow managed to get out of his cage again and grace us with his presence at the Berkeley Public Library. The last time he was here he managed to last 5 minutes before they threw him out for threatening to cut up the guy sitting next to him. (https://acidheroes.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/one-more-reason-why-i-make-a-point-to-avoid-eye-contact-in-public/ )

Now he’s at the computer at the cubicle directly in front of me, so I can’t help but be looking in his general direction. He stands up, glares at me, repeatedly accuses me of eye-balling him. Calls me an unpleasant name. Makes several threats. I put on my headphones and lower my head down and just try to block out this human nightmare.

The guy at the computer next to me starts making mocking comments at the guy and laughing at him (he’s either very brave or very stupid or quite possibly both). Which at least diverts the lunatic’s attention away from me to this new target. “YOU WANNA STEP OUTSIDE AND SETTLE THIS?? YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU’RE MESSING WITH!!” The guy sitting next to me smirks again. I move my cup of coffee away from my cellphone, just in case it gets knocked over when the lunatic comes over to bash the guy’s head in.

But before things gets ugly, this big, black security guard is standing in front of the lunatic. “WHY YOU TELLING ME I’M THE ONE THAT’S GOT TO LEAVE?? THEY’RE THE ONES YOU SHOULD BE TELLING TO LEAVE!! THEY’RE THE ONES CAUSING ALL THE DISTURBANCE!! I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE!!” He actually dials the Berkeley police station on his cellphone. Babbles at the dispatcher for awhile. Mentions that, yes, he’s a “parolee” (what a surprise). Gives the address of the Berkeley Public Library. Says good-bye. And then packs up his stuff and is escorted out of the library by the security guard.

Just another day at the races.

Another harrowing encounter with the Just-Out-of-the-Joint dude

This lunatic is back. The Just-Out-of-the-Joint fellow. He somehow managed to get out of his cage again and grace us with his presence at the Berkeley Public Library. The last time he was here he managed to last 5 minutes before they threw him out for threatening to cut up the guy sitting next to him. (https://acidheroes.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/one-more-reason-why-i-make-a-point-to-avoid-eye-contact-in-public/ )

Now he’s at the computer at the cubicle directly in front of me, so I can’t help but be looking in his general direction. He stands up, glares at me, repeatedly accuses me of eye-balling him. Calls me an unpleasant name. Makes several threats. I put on my headphones and lower my head down and just try to block out this human nightmare.

The guy at the computer next to me starts making mocking comments at the guy and laughing at him (he’s either very brave or very stupid or quite possibly both). Which at least diverts the lunatic’s attention away from me to this new target. “YOU WANNA STEP OUTSIDE AND SETTLE THIS?? YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU’RE MESSING WITH!!” The guy sitting next to me smirks again. I move my cup of coffee away from my cellphone, just in case it gets knocked over when the lunatic comes over to bash the guy’s head in.

But before things gets ugly, this big, black security guard is standing in front of the lunatic. “WHY YOU TELLING ME I’M THE ONE THAT’S GOT TO LEAVE?? THEY’RE THE ONES YOU SHOULD BE TELLING TO LEAVE!! THEY’RE THE ONES CAUSING ALL THE DISTURBANCE!! I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE!!” He dials the police on his cellphone. Babbles at the dispatcher for awhile. Mentions that, yes, he’s a “parolee” (what a surprise). Gives the address of the Berkeley Public Library. Says good-bye. And then packs up his stuff and is escorted out of the library by the security guard.

Just another day at the races.