Angry Cows vs. HTC (hint: HTC wins… kinda)

I am here to tell you how angry cows proved 1) that the HTC Incredible is built pretty damned well, and 2) that the new features of Google Voice and calling from within Gmail completely useful and disruptive of the traditional relationship between customers and mobile telephone service providers. For more details about those telephony features and their disruptive nature, check out my earlier post about Google’s disruptive telephony features, but this one is all about the angry cows…

Last weekend I went to a wedding in Bend, OR and decided to stop and do some fishing at Black Butte on the way back to Portland. Unfortunately, the herd of free range cattle that sometimes graze there were out, and I didn’t notice them at first as they were in the distance and around the corner from some trees and brush that blocked the view. My girlfriend and I were on a small outcropping of land into an area where the stream widens out quite a bit when the herd came around the corner. They were all business with bulls out front – ears and eyes up, horns sharp. We were already boxed in at this point – the bulls were past us and drinking at the water’s edge downstream from us. The rest of the herd was upstream from us blocking the path back to the stairway that runs over the fence.

There were a ton of young calves that couldn’t have been more than a few months old with the herd, probably adding to the tense vibe and protective nature of the adults. The bulls eyed us intently for 4 or 5 minutes from about 30 feet away before deciding we were weak, insignificant and not worth their energy, and they moved on slowly. During that time I was telling my girlfriend to be ready to get in the water, but as they moseyed along we began to breath easier. Until one young pissant calf decided to be a total a-hole. The rest of the herd was keeping their distance and slowly passing by us and were probably 15 or 20 minutes from the point where a gap would open behind them and we could simply walk away and out of the field, happily on our way. But this one young calf decided to chase a bird towards where we were standing, and when the bird flew off he found himself very close to us. He hadn’t noticed we were there, so he startled himself and was scared. At that point the mother looks up, hears her calf making scared noises, and sees him looking at us – what’s a mother to do but assume that we had done something to scare her young’un… So mom comes over and stares us down, and the calf starts to feel empowered with a full ton of no-guff-taking-mama behind him. He starts false charging us from about 10 feet away, backed by her stare from about 20 feet away. It’s at this point that I tell my girlfriend that it’s time to get in the water.

We get in and it’s immediately above our knees. Of course we hadn’t planned on wading, so we’re not outfitted with waders or prepared for this at all. The calf continues to false charge closer, and the mother isn’t walking away, so we moved behind a large dogwood on the shoreline, which eased things simply by breaking the eye contact. However, the mother knew we were still behind there somewhere, and she wasn’t budging. We stayed in the cold water for about 10 minutes like that before we decided it was time to cross. It might get deep, but there just didn’t seem like any other choice at this point. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t mess with big animals when their young are around.

And it’s at this point, as we’re preparing to ford the stream, that I realize that my HTC Incredible is in my hip pocket still… underwater… soaked. It’s there for the same reason that I don’t have any pictures of this whole debacle… this was not a time to be worrying about gadgets. I quickly said “dammit” and moved the phone into a chest-high pocket, noticing the water pooling in the corner of the phone behind the screen. We crossed, and it was deep. About chest-high for me. We got out on the other side and briskly walked down a path and out to the parking lot with the nearest access where my car was parked. On the way we passed a putting green for the golf course nearby. Interestingly enough 2 of the 3 golfers practicing didn’t notice us, and third only looked up as we were going out of sight at a bend in the trail. If there’s one thing I can say for golfers, it’s that their concentration was a great help in our not feeling embarrassed… though they did miss out on what must have been an awesome and intriguing sight.

I disassembled my phone immediately and then we changed into dry clothes and left. A few miles down the road when we were less freaked out we stopped, ate sandwiches and laughed, though still a bit nervously. When I got home I hit the phone with excessive blasts of canned air like you use on your keyboards to clean them, and then I buried it in dry barley. Most people say to use white rice, but because I live in Portland all I had on hand was barley and quinoa… :) A couple of days treatment and I’m happy to say it works like a dream. In fact, one of the first things I did after booting it back up was the manual install of official Froyo 2.2!

I’m still trying to track down the name of the breed that they graze up there at Black Butte Ranch – if you know, please drop me a line. I’m trying to figure out if we were city slicker jerk-offs who got ourselves wet for no reason, or if we made the smart move. I’m typically one to play it safe, and I’m no stranger to large animals, and everything from my Zoology background was telling me to avoid confrontation. However, I can’t help but think that if there were a real cowboy out there he just would’ve whooped and hollered and waved his hat around and spooked the hell out of those cattle… but then again they’re usually on horses when they do stuff like that to animals that way a literal ton. If you know anything about this type of situation, I’d love to hear it in the comments, or reach out to me at @supnah. But those things looked like they were ready for cougars and coyotes and anything else that wanted to take a crack at their calves, and I wanted no part of that.

So here’s to you HTC! Thanks for making a phone that a bunch of a-hole cows couldn’t ruin for me!

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