We live a life full of daily heartbreak watching our beloved buffalo get captured and domesticated while waiting for their long trip to the slaughterhouse, or bearing witness as the buffalo that slip by the trap searching for lowlands and grasses are met with guns as they inch out of Yellowstone. For over twenty years now I have witnessed, videotaped, and protested this insanity only to be forever embarrassed and hurt by my fellow human beings conducting these actions. These sorrows are something at least I can fight against and ,make myself feel better by doing so. This last week has brought a double dose of sadness that will take time to heal.

In one week two of my dear friends left this plain to find their path to the spirit world. Andrew Rodman (Slug Thang) and Anthony Lee “Tony” Birkholz. I had the honor of knowing Andrew since the late '80s or early '90s. This man had many incredible gifts including art, poetry, writing, and editing but his greatest gifts to me were his friendship, wit, and humor. He had the profound ability to take the most heartbreaking issue and make you giggle, get educated, and take action with one strike of his pen. While he watched a presentation, he put wit to pen and by the time it was over he had a poem to chime in with. I have never conversed with someone who made the experience take flight like he did. Every time we talked, my mind was opened. My belly still aches from laughing with him. This gift of a man I had the honor of calling a friend has given me something I will always hold with me. That humor is the one thing they can never take away from us. In all sad, dark things in life, a witty, funny way of looking at it can keep you strong through anything. He never lost that spirit through his years of fighting cancer. This man even talked me, a wild Rockies man, into squeezing into a seal suit on the beach in Newport, OR, jumping on a long board, and floundering out in rip tides to ride the surf in the great white shark's ecosystem. For my first attempt the grey whales danced close to us and I was hooked. Andrew, my friend, thanks for sharing your beautiful self with me and helping me become who I am today. Until we meet again, I will keep kicking ass in your memory. The Oregonian profiled Rodman in 2011 after he had beat his initial diagnosis: http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/11/newports_andrew_rodman_--_surf.html

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Five days later a man way too young traveled to the great unknown. Tony came into my life about 10 years ago. A master video editor, artist, and creative being or as he said it, "another being creative." Tony was a joy to work with and he tried to bring this old dinosaur into the 21st century of media. With kindness, patience, and persistence he taught me this new world of video. His easy going ways and never ending great new ideas helped me grow. His endless passion for the real was an addictive bond we shared. Every time I found myself stumped in an editing problem, Tony was a call away and always saved the day. The many videos he did for the buffalo and the ones I had the honor of doing with him will hold him in my heart forever. His fun loving way of life will never be forgotten. Know your mark has been left with me and you will always be part of me. Tony’s work can be viewed on his Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/anotherbeing

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In this crazy world we live in, it is up to us to be the change we want to see. Our leaders have no plan for our children's future; they just live for today and never think about what we leave behind for others. These two great warriors lived their lives to do good things that benefited all, not just themselves. This is what we all need to do. I will be sad, knowing my life is less without you both, but stronger because I knew you. My path is set to make you both proud with action, persistence, humor, and laughter. May all of us find the way that you both taught me.

Until we meet again,
Mike Mease