Among the things in life that come without instructions, such as children and head colds, add Round-Up.
Most readers of this column know all about Round-Up. It's been part of life for as long as you've lived in Eastern Oregon, and you know every nuance of the Let'er Buck Room, Westward Ho! Parade, Happy Canyon, Indian Village, purple and chartreuse shirts and being "cowboyed up."
One thing certain, however, is that you learned all that from exposure, some kind of osmosis.
How does a dude from back East learn this stuff? Up until this year, it has been trial and error. Imagine if you "cowboyed up" and chose one of those slick lavender shirts with the pearl buttons and then the real Mainstreet Cowboys noticed you?
Could be embarrassing. Could leave a mark, on the psyche anyway.
But dudes the world over will get the instructions they've never had this year from this column and a "blog" on www.eastoregonian.com.
"Dude's First Round-Up" will tell all. From getting fitted for a cowboy hat, to daily firsthand reports from downtown Pendleton and the Round-Up arena.
For those readers who are out of step with modern technology and jargon, a "blog" is a kind of Internet diary. Blogs give readers a chance to respond to the "blogger" and can even ask questions that the "blogger" can research and answer.
Laura Sellers-Earl is the East Oregonian Publishing Co.'s Internet wizard. (Her real title is director, but for some of us the magic she knows makes wizard more accurate.) As such she is hands on with every aspect of all the company's interactive sites, including the EO's.
So, it was with confidence that questions concerning the blogging mystique were turned over to Laura.
"Does one write a blog or is there another more hep, technical term for producing this modern marvel?" Laughter from a wizard is not all that becoming.
Chuck Slothower, the summer intern from the University of Oregon, is another can't-miss source on the blog. After all, his generation, (is it Y or moved on to Z by now?) invented "computer-assisted journalism." Earlier generations called research "research" proving just how badly creativity was needed in the old days, like in 1995.
Anyway, Chuck was approached for content advice. He understands that all writing starts with an understanding of the audience. "I wouldn't read that," he said matter of factly. "If you put your picture with it, my dad might read it."
Sounds as if generational bias is alive and well.
Blog is a neat term, however. If you say it enough, you get a certain satisfaction from how it feels as it rolls off the tongue and lips. It has the finite, hard, consonant ending that marks great four-letter words. And, at least when addressing an audience of people your own age, it means whatever you want it to mean, whenever you say it, as in "What the blog is this?"
Giddyup is another great word that undoubtedly will be heard often during Round-Up. This is another word that, with the inflection of voice can take on new and varied meanings from "let's go" through the amazement of a breathless "giddyup?"
There is certainly a language that is pure rodeo that goes with the Round-Up. In line Friday waiting in vain for entrance to see Vice President Cheney, there were lots of people "cowboyed" and "cowgirled" up.
One beautiful leather vest worked in beaded images of wild horses on the range evoked a Round-Up question: Do they make cowboy clothes as beautiful as that? A Round-Up veteran from Hermiston quickly responded, "yea, but you have to go to San Francisco to find those stores..."
Being a "dude" at his first Round-Up is certainly going to be interesting, but when this is over, there will be at least one instruction manual for future first-time attendees.