Wenatchee bullrider talks about life in the ring

Bullrider Garett Wolfe doesn’t get nervous anymore. The Wenatchee-raised pro rider can carry on a calm, steady conversation up until it’s his turn to ride. But once he’s in the ring on a 1,500-pound bull, the screams and cheers of 6,000 rodeo fans couldn’t break his concentration.

“You never know from jump to jump what these bulls are going to do,” Wolfe said. “Even bulls that have a set pattern will throw a monkey wrench and do something different every now and again. Once you’re passed that first push out of the gate, you’re just trying to match the bulls’ moves.”

Wolfe is one of 35 cowboys competing for cash in the G.S. Long Bullriding Blowout. Three other riders are from North Central Washington: Seth Carden and Austin Covington of Omak, and Aaron Hammen of Winthrop.

The Town Toyota Center is expecting about 6,000 spectators Friday and Saturday. The rodeo also includes a mutton bustin’ competition for kiddos up to 50 pounds who want to try their hand at riding sheep. Four people from the audience will be chosen to play bull poker, a card game held in the ring with a raging bull on the loose. The last player sitting wins the cash pot.

The ice arena began its transformation into a rodeo hall Monday. A crew covered the ice with a fiberglass insulated floor, then topped it with heavy plastic, plywood and about 20 semitruck loads of dirt from Bob’s Apple Barrel Bark in Wenatchee, said Chris Berg, director of operations at the TTC. Two frontloaders spread the soil about a foot deep across two-thirds of the arena floor Tuesday.

The other third of the arena will be reserved for a mechanical bull, reserved seating, vendors and a musical stage for local country band Night Rider.

The crew is waiting anxiously to hear how the Wenatchee Wild do this weekend. If the team wins one game, the team will be back on the ice by Tuesday. If they win both games or get eliminated, the crews can take their time hauling out the dirt, sweeping the floors and dusting off all the seats, Berg said.

For Wolfe, the preparation has been in the 14 years he’s been riding bulls. Wolfe’s family introduced him to the North Central Washington rodeo scene as a boy, and he began riding sheep and roping steers. By age 13, he learned how to ride bulls and later drove to Okanogan County every week to break in young bulls after school.

Wolfe went on to ride bulls in the national finals in high school and college. He was named among the top 12 bullriders in the nation four times and made the top 10 in 2011. He was offered full scholarships for bullriding, but took breaks from school to compete professionally. At his peak, he earned about $40,000 in four months in prize money, and competed in more than 70 rodeo events nationwide.

Now 26, Wolfe is considered an old-timer in the bullriding world. Admittedly, he’s beginning to pull back on rodeo life to focus on more traditional trades. He recently graduated with a degree in civil engineering technology and started his own personalized bobbleheads company in Milton-Freewater, Ore.

“I’ve been taking it pretty slow this year,” Wolfe said. He’s competed five or six times this year, he said. “This year not really craving it, and it’s one of those sports you really have to crave. ... It truly is a young man’s sport.”

As the name suggests, the MediaPad 7 Lite is a 7-inch tablet running Android 4.0. It succeeds the MediaPad and Ideos 7 tablets and, although it suggests Huawei has taken some of the criticism about its earlier offerings — low-resolution screens, poor performance and terrible battery life — to heart, it hasn’t got the mix quite right yet.

For starters, the MediaPad 7 feels quite thick (11mm) and heavy (370g) for a 7-inch tablet. It’s noticeably bulkier than Samsung’s recent 7-inch offerings and thicker than all of the leading tablet computers in its form factor.

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One of the unlikely upshots of the device’s heft is that it feels far more high end than its predecessors. The MediaPad 7 Lite is clad in a metal-looking, plastic unibody shell, with white panels at the top and bottom of the device’s rear cover.

Even the volume rocker and power/lock button feel surprisingly sturdy and resilient, as do the built-in covers for the Sim and microSD card slots. It’s these little touches, along with the 1 024×600-pixel display (which is far better than the 800×480-pixel displays often found on budget 7-inchers), that make the MediaPad 7 appear to be a higher-end device than it is. Turn the tablet on, and the illusion quickly dissipates.

The MediaPad 7 is slow — painfully so. Sometimes something as simple as changing the display orientation can induce shudders and flickers on the display as the 1,2GHz processor struggles to keep up. Data-intensive websites generate similar problems, and running multiple custom bobbleheads simultaneously only compounds the problem.

Of course, one has to make concessions for budget devices, which is why it seems unreasonable to complain about the poor quality of images from the 3,2-megapixel rear camera or the 0,3-megapixel front-facing one, or to be too scathing about the 8GB of internal storage (expandable to 32GB via microSD card).

However, given how integral processor speed is to user experience, it seems like a corner not worth cutting. Similarly, poor battery life is sure to leave users frustrated.

Left fully charged and inactive for a day, the MediaPad 7’s 4 100mAh battery lost almost 60% of its charge. In use, half an hour of browsing using Wi-Fi wiped out 10%. In heavy use, the MediaPad won’t even make it through four hours. Slow performance may be tolerable; a rubbish battery isn’t.

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