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Why I write and keep a blog

Most people keep their opinions to themselves, at least initially, and so they might wonder why a person maintains an opinion blog. Many other people simply do not like to write, and so they might wonder why other people do write on purpose. Hopefully both questions can be answered here.

Let’s start with why I write.

Simply, I write because I really like to write. Just like other people really like chocolate, or listening to certain music. It is an urge in me like some people have to play music, paint, sing, perform in plays, or downhill ski. I enjoy writing because it gives me a sense of satisfaction that very few other things provide. Writing comes naturally to me, and although I am a good public speaker and I always welcome opportunities to speak publicly, writing really gives me my best opportunity to be creative.

And that is it in a nutshell; writing is my own best possible act of creativity. Because I suck crap with tools and wood. My mechanical skills are up there with Cro Magnon man inventing the stone wheel, maybe. No one wants to hear my opinions any more, so writing is what I got left.

I was not always a competent writer. Although I did pretty well writing for English teachers in high school, it was a couple writing classes at Penn State that helped me focus on writing as an act of personal self-expression. As opposed to simply reporting facts. One of the courses was business writing and communication, and the other was creative fiction writing. Were any of my kids to take these college courses today, I would accuse them of wasting my hard-earned money on tom-foolery. But for me, some 38 years ago, these two courses brought together an inner passion, a need, and the mechanics of how to meet that need.

Now, when we couple that urge to write with perhaps the most openly opinionated person you have ever met, the blog naturally follows. A blog gives me the ability to explain why and how I think about substantive issues, and also to exercise that creative urge.

You might ask how or why I became so opinionated. And the simple and honest answer is, I have always been a pain in the ass in this department. That is, The Niggling Facts and I Want to Know Why and That is Not Fair Department. Maybe that is three separate departments, but I am putting them all in one. Probably my best personal trait is the one that gets me into the most scrapes, the That is Not Fair department. What most people simply accept as a daily parade of selfish and dishonest acts, I just cannot take. My sense of justice and my severe opposition to all forms of injustice is hard-wired into me. I hate cheating and lying, double standards, and general acts of phoniness. Can’t help it.

It all started because I was that little kid at the super market who said loudly “Mom, that man has three eyes. Why does that man have three eyes, Mom? Hey mister man, why do you have three eyes?”

And in fact, the art of being annoying and articulate just kept on improving from that point over the years. Add some adult experiences and voila!, we have a blog writer.

Most people do not have the luxury of expressing their opinions on everything from toilet paper hoarding to three-eyed politicians and the scum-sucking self-serving sycophants who enable them. I am not sure I have this luxury, either, but I have made sure to be able to afford it. Because if I did not express myself through politics and or public policy, I would have to find some other way to convey opinions that I believe are well reasoned and fair. Having failed to attain elected office, and having self-quarantined myself from taxpayer-funded public agency death-trap jobs that most Americans would kill for, all I have left is either sitting at a bar somewhere, getting drunk, and ranting away about politics to whoever will sit close enough to listen to me, or writing the blog.

I choose the blog.

Missing Vera

The lady had the grace of an angel.

An easy smile, a quick wit and light heart, yet with incisive comments that always supported someone in the room and advanced the discussion, Vera was new to me a couple years ago. And yet here I am writing a brief obituary about her because of her powerful life force.

Many other people were fortunate enough to enjoy her for much longer than I. And now that she is gone, probably from a heart attack at her home, Vera’s life and positive way serve as a reminder to make every moment we have on this earth count, take nothing for granted, and always do our best, with a smile on our face, if possible.

Vera Cornish has been described as an effective life coach, book author, education consultant, and a host of other professional activities that really just scratched the surface of her excellent personality and capabilities.

I met Vera two years ago at a Dauphin County commissioners’ meeting. She walked up to me afterwards and introduced herself, and immediately I felt I was in the presence of an angel. Nice lady. And not light and airy or phony, but very smart and direct.

We have served together on the Detweiler Park Steering Committee since its inception, and every single time she was there she had a calming effect, because she was so centered. Not that anyone is seriously disputatious at the meetings planning a new 411-acre county park, but Vera’s force could be felt there every time.

I did not really know Vera Cornish, not as a friend, not well, and that only by working with her for a year. But whenever she saw me outside of our meetings, she came up to say hello in the nicest way, her eyes sparkling, just 100% positive energy. She was just as positive and peaceful at our park meetings. She was said to be this way in all other public and private encounters.

I wish I had some of Vera’s impressive qualities. Heck, I wish the world were made of Vera Cornishes. Great lady, with attributes the world can use a lot more of. You will be missed, honey.

Purple woad. Or why hunting leases

Leasing land to hunt on is a big thing these days, and there is no sign of the phenomenon decreasing. Most of it is about deer and turkey hunting.

Hunting leases have been popular for a long time in states with little public land, like Texas, but the practice is now spreading to remote areas like suburban farms around Philadelphia and Maryland. So high is the demand for quality hunting land, and for just finding a place to hunt without being bothered, and so limited is the resource becoming, that leasing is a natural step for many landowners who want to get some extra income to pay their rent or fief to the government (property taxes aka build-a-union-teacher’s-public-pension-fund).

Having been approached about leasing land I own and manage, it is something I considered and then rejected. If a landowner at all personally enjoys their own land themselves, enjoys their privacy there, enjoys the health of their land, then leasing is not for you. Bear in mind that leasing also carries some legal liability risk, and so you have to carry sufficient insurance to cover any lawsuits that might begin on your land.

Nonetheless, some private land is being leased, having been posted before that. And the reason that so many land owners are overcoming the same hurdles that I myself went through when considering land leasing, is that in some cases the money is high enough. Enough people want badly enough to have their own place that they can hunt on exclusively, that they are willing to pay real money.

Makes you wonder what kind of population pressures and open land decreases America has seen over the past fifty years to lead to this kind of change in land use. Makes me think of one anecdotal experience.

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend of 2007, I drove up to Pine Creek to dig the footers for our barn. All the way up I shared the road, in both directions, with two motorcyclists headed in my same direction. That is it. In addition to my pickup, a grand total of two vehicles out for a Sunday drive in the country were on Route 44 and Rt 414.

Fast forward 13 years and my gosh, Pine Creek Valley has nonstop traffic in both directions at all hours. It does not matter what the time of day or night is, there are vehicles going in both directions. And not just oversize pickup trucks possibly associated with the gas drilling occurring around the area. Little tiny dinky tin can cars are going up and down the valley, too. There are literally people everywhere here now, in what had been the most remote, undeveloped, quietest corner of rural Pennsylvania. Even if you go bear hunting on some sidehill in the middle of nowhere up in Pine Creek Valley, you will encounter another hunting gang or two. Which for bear hunting is actually a good thing, but the point being that there are people everywhere everywhere everywhere in rural Pennsylvania.

OK, here is another brief anecdote. Ladies, skip ahead to the next paragraph. About ten years ago I was fishing on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. When I was finished for the day, I drove back north toward home. At one point I had an urge to pee, so I began looking for a place I could pull off and pull out, without offending anyone. Yes, I have my modest moments. And you know what? The entire region between The Chesapeake Bay’s northern shores and the Pennsylvania Mason-Dixon Line, is completely developed. Like wall-to-wall one-two-three-acre residential lots on every inch of land surface. At the one place that finally looked like I was finally going to get some relief, I stepped out of the car and was immediately met with a parade of Mini Coopers and Priuses driving by on the gravel road to their wooded home lots. There was literally people everywhere, in every corner, in every place.

So what happened here?

There are more people and there is more land development, both of which leading to less nice land to hunt, fewer big private spaces for people to call their own, and so that which does exist is in much higher demand.

Enter Pennsylvania’s new No Trespassing law. AKA the “purple paint” law.

Why was this new law even needed? Because the disenfranchised, enslaved Scots-Irish refugees who originally settled the Pennsylvania frontier by dint of gumption, bravery, and hard work had a natural opposition to the notions and forms of European aristocracy that had driven them here. Such as large pieces of private land being closed off to hunting and fishing. And so these Scots-Irish settlers developed an Indian-like culture of openly flouting the marked boundaries of private properties. Especially when they hunted.

And this culture of ignoring No Trespassing signs carries forth to this very day.

Except that now it is 2020, not 1820, and there are more damned people on the landscape and a hell of a lot less land for those people to roam about on. Nice large pieces of truly private land are becoming something of a rarity in a lot of places. Heck, even the once-rural Poconos is now just an aluminum siding and brick suburb of Joizy.

So in response to our collision of frontier culture with ever more valuable privacy rights, Pennsylvania now has a new purple paint law. If you see purple paint on a tree, it is the equivalent of a No Trespassing sign. And if you do trespass and you get caught, the penalties are much tougher and more expensive than they were just a few months ago.

And you know what the real irony is of this purple paint stay-the-hell-out boundary thing? It is a lot like the blue woad that the Celtic ancestors of the Scots and Irish used to paint their bodies with  before entering into battle. Except it is now the landowner who has painted himself in war paint.

Isn’t life funny.

Book Review: Neither Wolf nor Dog

Given the recent road blocks by fake Indians (No, not presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, but other white fake Indians inspired by her) in Canada, we have here a timely opportunity to look at a book about American Indians and the Caucasian people who purport to love them.

This is a Book Review of Neither Wolf nor Dog, about 1990s  life on the rez, something I know a fair amount about, having seen it myself.

Kent Nerburn’s Neither Wolf nor Dog was kindly given to me as a gift by someone who knows I have a strong interest in American Indian history and welfare. And so I dutifully plowed through all 343 pages of this 1994 publication (reprinted in 2007 and 2017), a mysterious road trip set in the Dakotas. By the end of this book I felt like I, too, had been on a long, slow, arduous, winding trip. In fact, I felt sick from sitting in the back of the car.

This book does have some artistic merit. For example, the description of the lone Indian’s hands as “axe heads” at the end of his long, slender arms, actually conjures up some interesting images that ring true with some rural lifestyle body types. Here and there some creative writing exemplifies a writer trying to achieve more than racist propaganda.

At first I was intrigued by Nerburn’s first-hand narrative writing method. It sounds real enough, like this book is not fiction. But as he repeatedly decried other writers who falsely ascribe great mystical powers and innate supernatural wisdom to American Indians, Nerburn himself writes a book that is devoted to repeatedly ascribing great mystical powers and innate supernatural wisdom to American Indians. While openly mocking the contemporaneous movie Dances with Wolves for its many alleged trespasses against Indian history and culture, especially with Kevin Costner as the white liberal savior, Nerburn takes 343 pages to solidly present himself as the white liberal savior of the Lakota Sioux and of all other American Indian history, culture, and interests. A kind of keeper of the fire, he thinks. It is open hypocrisy, but for a meritorious  purpose. Because his intentions are good…..

This method did not bother me at first, because I was certain that a writer so clearly violating his own red lines in the sand would surely have enough self awareness to not do it so blatantly himself. But as the pages plodded on and on, and the ‘Wise Sage Old One’, Dan, drones on and on in a preachy and accusatory voice, and with way more words than I have ever heard any Indian speak, I realized Nerburn was as one-dimensional as he appeared to be. Nerburn has just put his very white liberal guy words in the mouth of Dan the Lakota. And no un-truer words were ever spoken.

The writing problems here stem from Nerburn’s commitment to the publicly failed notion of “white guilt” and multiculturalism, that idea that everything Western and European is automatically bad, and that everything else is automatically good and legitimate, even cannibalism and violent criminal behavior.

To wit: ‘ “Forgive me.” The words passed from me like stones – hard, evil little balls of an illness that had stricken my soul, suddenly flung free, releasing me from years of torment. That was why I was here — not to help, but to earn forgiveness, to earn forgiveness for the shame in my blood.

“Forgive me,” I said again, confessing to unknown sins and transgressions , to my desire to leave, to my sense of righteousness and superiority, too my whiteness.’ (Page 135)

Multiculturalism celebrates the differences among Americans, instead of what unites them, while simultaneously trying to eradicate any sense of American-ness  and painting as evil anyone here with “white” skin.

“...the shame in my blood…”? Who else carries a blood-guilt over generations that cannot be eradicated, hmmm? It’s nonsense.

Anyone trying to do something similar in say Poland, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, or Bolivia would be laughed out of polite company by the natives, who are quite proud of their own nations and histories. Only in a society as open and welcoming as America has the enticement to virtue signal at the expense of the nation been pursued and realized by people like Kent Nerburn.

For multiculturalists like Nerburn, history begins in 1509, when Europeans migrated to the New World. Neither Wolf nor Dog has history beginning in about 1889, and before that, it seems, the American West was a pastoral Eden full of peaceable Indians sitting around smoking sacred tobacco, beating drums, and occasionally having deep spiritual chats with bison before killing and eating them.

More nonsense. Indian violence, genocide, migration are ignored.

To multiculturalists, the human migration from Europe is a very bad thing, because it upset the inhabitants who had simply migrated there beforehand. Not to belittle the many crimes and grand thefts committed by the Conquistadores, the Portuguese, the Italians, the Catholic missionaries, or the US government in Washington, DC. But let’s be honest, the American Indians from the farthest reaches of the Arctic Circle to lowest temperatures around Tierra del Fuego did precisely and exactly the same violent things to each other, for far longer than the Europeans did them. And they did it without any remorse.

For example, the Cheyenne (Tsi Tsi Tas) took no adult male prisoners. Wounded enemies were summarily killed by Cheyenne warriors on the battlefield. Other Western tribes were much less merciful, and like almost all of the Eastern tribes, they made a great happy spectacle of slowly and sadistically torturing their captives to death.

The Aztecs and Mayans committed great acts of mass human butchery, to satisfy their gods’ bloodlust. Using captured slaves to build their cities and religious monuments, the great South American Indian cultures all raided, enslaved, massacred, and sacrificed one another for a long time. The Indians of North America also massacred, raided, murdered, and tortured one another for a very long time. That is, after they had all invaded, I mean migrated to the New World from Asia.

But to multiculturalists like Nerburn, none of this matters; because of “white guilt,” time and history artificially and inexplicably begin only when Europeans arrive in the New World. And so Neither Wolf nor Dog deals not in actual history, but in massive quantities of silly feelings over a very short amount of time. Sadness, shame, remorse, anger, and so on, all of it aimed at “white” people. It turns out that “white” people are greatly guilty. All of them, regardless of where or when they were born, lived, or did for a living.

If there is one theme that just repeatedly bangs the reader over the head in this book, it is that “we” “us” and “you” “white” people carry some great burden of sin, a terrible guilt, which can never be cleansed. Even if one is an Irish, Italian or Jewish American who arrived at Ellis Island by steamer in 1898 or 1910, without a buffalo nickel or Indian Head Cent in their pocket; or the descendant of one or all of these ethnicities. Pushing collective guilt of all “white” people is the primary purpose of this book. Even if your “white” skin carries the olive hues of the Mediterranean, or the pasty white of Europe’s lowest and most mistreated ethnic group, the Irish.

So in the name of being against racism, white guilt is a trans-generational racial culpability, not an individual crime committed on the Plains in 1876. It is the flip side of the white supremacist coin, and just as nonsensical.

What is wrong about this book is that it is possible for Americans to strongly support Indian treaty and land claims, and to relate to their bad feelings, without buying into the whole white liberal shame and guilt nonsense.

In real life, an animal that is neither wolf nor dog is a coyote. All of the Plains Indians regarded the coyote as the embodiment of crafty, sneaky dishonesty.

Cheyenne warrior George Bent relates first-hand one of General George Custer’s last personal encounters with Indians before he got his just desserts in a very real and up-close-and-personal encounter in 1876, was when he sought to entrap a number of Cheyenne to use as hostages in his negotiations to push the tribe onto various reservations.

Custer had invited the Cheyennes to meet and talk, supposedly, and as his troopers clumsily sprang their trap, most of the assembled Cheyenne jumped on their horses and fled. A few remained, foolishly trusting Custer to be a man of his word (they were all murdered in cold blood), but one brave rode his horse right up to Custer and waved his quirt in Custer’s face.

“You are nothing but a coyote,” said the young brave to Custer’s face, before galloping off to safety.

And I would say the same thing to Kent Nerburn: You are neither wolf nor dog, Nerburn. You are neither a strong, noble predator, the wolf, nor a useful, loyal friend, the dog. You are a coyote, Nerburn, like Custer and the government in Washington, DC. You have reduced these great Indian warriors to perpetual victim status, pathetically beating their symbolic drums and walking around with their heads down. Just like white liberals did to American Blacks – perpetual slaves, and victims, can’t help themselves, who must always be rescued by white liberals.

Talk about doing a disservice!

So there, I read this book for you. So you don’t have to.

One call I won’t take

Phony, fraudulent telemarketer calls are super annoying, and like you, I am fed up with them.

Another phony call just arrived, called “Call of the Wild,” a new movie loosely based on a Jack London book by the same name.

Jack London’s stories of tenuous life in the Yukon and Alaskan interiors are the stuff of pre-internet American boyhood. Just like coonskin Davey Crockett hats were all the rage among American boys in the 1950s and 1960s after Fess Parker starred in the same-named TV show, so too did London inspire many young men to get their forestry degree, build a canoe, cut down their grandmother’s favorite apple tree with a hatchet, or move to Alaska. His stories of nail-biting survival and creeping or sudden death in the boreal forests and frigid back country rang true, and a number of movies have been made about them. Some better than others, but all of them pretty good just because the story line is great.

London’s story about a young man caught at sundown in the winter time Alaskan bush, unprepared for the minus-forty-degree night, who gets down to his last match and finally succeeds at lighting a life-saving fire, only to have the snow from the branches above fall and smother the fire, is classic.

This latest iteration involves an unrealistic CGI human-like dog that giddy un-wilderness urbanites will fawn over. It also includes Harrison Ford, a man blessed with poor acting skills who nonetheless has landed a huge list of Hollywood roles and who made a huge pile of money. Play acting and playing dress-up; not exactly brain surgeon level or even bank teller level stuff.

And to be fair, Ford’s best movie roles are those that fit his kind of simple, bland, taciturn persona, like the Jack Ryan character, or Indiana Jones, or the emotion-less Blade Runner cyborg cop. Or those roles that are actually enhanced by his lack of acting skills, like Star Wars‘ Han Solo. Whenever Harrison Ford is tasked with actually acting, his lack of nuance or depth shines through bright and shiny. One suspects that this Call of the Wild will be one such role and performance. Or maybe not, because the 2020 movie poster for it shows Ford looking all serious and taciturn.

Now, because I am a wilderness hunter, fisherman, and trapper, any new movie like Call of the Wild immediately gets my attention. Bad acting or no, evil corrupt anti-America Hollywood or no, CGI human dogs or no, it is a movie I would naturally be inclined to go see. It is about nature and outdoor adventure, my favorite things. However, Harrison Ford finally performed honestly the other day and thereby blew up any chance of me seeing his film, and probably many other people feel the same way.

Last week, Ford appeared on not-funny Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show, and blasted Preident Trump, calling him “a son-of-a-bitch.”

Out of nowhere, and for no particular reason. Other than pandering to Hollywood.

What a shame, because at one time Ford was a spokesman for Conservation International, a worthy environment protection organization. His other opinions about so-called climate change and carbon reduction are the usual Hollywood hypocritical hilarity, because Ford is also the guy who flies his own plane on a 400-mile round trip to get a single hamburger to satisfy his craving for fast food. Talk about a carbon footprint, and yet his lecturing never ends.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and like Ford, I am entitled to mine, too. And my opinion is that I will not support with movie ticket purchases those celebrity Hollywood actors who insult me, my values, my lifestyle, or the people I vote for. So I will not be answering Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild. Though I might play it on one of the many black market bootleg websites, just so I can take from Ford a tiny bit of what Ford took away from me: A good feeling.

Below is just one video of Harrison Ford actually whining about his wild success, as if it ruined him as some sort of serious artiste. Oh please. Ford is just another out of touch, spoiled rotten Hollywood jerk. Where is comedian Ricky Gervais when we need him most? Every Hollywood actor like Harrison Ford should have to spend a week with Gervais following him or her everywhere they go, commenting on their vapid lives and stupid statements.

on Mayor Steve Reed

Steve Reed was the long-time Democrat mayor of Harrisburg City, and he died last week. I knew Mayor Reed and I feel compelled to say some things about him.

My uber-Republican grandparents Ed and Jane introduced me to Steve back in the early 1990s, when he was first running for mayor of Harrisburg. When I queried how such ardent partisans as they could support a Democrat, the response they gave was a life-changing truism that is worth everyone remembering:

“Support the best candidate who will do the best for The People, regardless of political party.”

And besides, the Republican Party had long since abandoned Harrisburg City, as the GOPe has chicken-out abandoned all other urban areas across America. So there was no real Republican to challenge Reed.

The truth is that Steve Reed really did have the best interest of The People, the citizens of Harrisburg City, at heart. Like a lot of gay men his age, he felt that his opportunity for personal companionship was self-limited, and so he had nothing else to live for than his citizens, the people he viewed as being under his care. And he did dutifully care for all of us to his best ability.

When a bad vehicle accident would occur in the city in the very dead of night, or a homicide, Steve would show up in coat and tie, maybe fuzzy slippers on his feet, to find out exactly what happened so that he could try to fix the cause. Or at least communicate to the city’s citizens what had happened, so that there was the least mystery possible. He was always on the job. The guy cared about his job in a way that hardly anyone ever cares about public service jobs any more. Reed was truly a public servant in every good sense of the phrase.

Long ago I joked with Mayor Reed that when he died, I was going to embalm his body, dress him up in one of his dowdy suits, put a cigarette in his hand, and prop him up in the window in his old office, so that the citizens below could look up and see Steve, The Mayor, still on the job, still doing his best for us, and that knowing all was well, they would all be consoled of all concerns and go on with their lives, happier and more confident. A perpetually stable Harrisburg.

He always smiled at that joke.

His attempt to build the nation’s premier cowboy / Western museum was a great idea, like his successful idea to build an incredible civil war museum. But that Wild West Museum did not happen only because it lost momentum, despite having a veritable mountain of wonderful bona fide Western frontier artifacts to show. When the museum lost momentum, questions began to arise about how all those wonderful artifacts had been obtained with scarce public funds, and where were they kept, etc. And once those questions were asked, it was the beginning of the end of Steve’s reign. Such was the public’s trust in Mayor Reed that he could really do no wrong, and when he demonstrated that even great people have weaknesses, the public mostly abandoned him.

The last I saw Steve was at a home in Uptown Harrisburg, down the street from where we live. It was a gathering of a political who-is-who in the area that I rudely barged into uninvited, and the hostess, Peggy, cheerfully greeted me with hugs and a hot drink nonetheless. The three of us, Peggy, myself, and Mayor Reed, were all back in a corner chatting while eating fresh fruit. Steve looked happy, and Peggy was her usual 100 MPH self. Until Steve asked me “Josh, you don’t support Trump, right?”

“Of course I do, mayor, I absolutely do support President Trump. He is doing a great job for America, and I think you of all people should appreciate how hard that is to do,” I responded.

Peggy exploded, poor thing. She was standing elbow to elbow with me, and her unhappy response was broadcast in bits and pieces across the side of my sweater and cheek. She was nearly foaming at the mouth with anger, indignation, her eyes were crossed, and a garble of unintelligible words poured forth from her mouth that I did not have to actually understand in their particular to understand in their overall gist.

Peggy disliked (still does) President Trump, and was ummm…frustrated that I would support him.

“Ignore him, Peggy,” said Mayor Reed. “He is just saying that to get a rise out of you.”

Mayor Reed looked at me, smiled, popped a grape in his mouth and walked off into the bigger party. He was politic to the end.

In our hunting camp there hangs a large moose head above the living room. It is named “Stephen” after Mayor Steve Reed, because it was purchased from the eventual auction of the Harrisburg Wild West Museum contents. When I picked up the enormous wooden crate with the moose head inside, I couldn’t wait, and I opened it up right away in the bed of the pick up truck. Inside was all the original documentation going back to the original purchase of the moose by Steve Reed, years before. He had acquired it from an old frontier saloon in southwest Minnesota, and apparently many cowboys had hung their hats on it over the decades. It was a real, bona fide emblem of the wild west; at least as the Western frontier was known in Minnesota.

Steve the Moose now looms over all our comings and goings at camp, provoking small children to squeal with delight and with fright, and grown men to pose all manly-like. No question the moose head is a symbol of the Big Woods and all that is wild in America, a proper companion to other real cabin furnishings like beaver pelts and traps. But to me, Steve the Moose symbolizes Steve Reed the mayor, the all-knowing bull moose, watching over his sanctuary, his people, his charges.

It is comforting to me.

Bye, Steve, you are gone but not forgotten. Here, let me dust off your ears for you. And have a light.

Mayor Steve Reed looks at one of the Remington bronzes he purchased for his Wild West Museum. The bronze was among the gazillion other real wild west artifacts sold at auction. Denver Post photo credit

Ammin Perry cartoon symbolizing about $7 million city dollars up in smoke, and Mayor Reed did like to smoke

Steve Reed the moose still oversees all

Rush Limbaugh

The other day I was driving up I-95 though New Jersey, destination Manhattan, listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. The usual analysis of recent events – Nanshee Peloshee’s failed political attack on the American president, the Democrat Party’s disarray of socialist presidential candidates, each trying harder than the other to give away more American taxpayer money to buy votes than the other, the SuperBowl result.

And Rush’s voice was gravelly, something new. Over the past year he has been complaining about having a cold, or a hairball, or whatever stuck in his throat. And over the past year he has taken off more time than usual. Usually that kind of time away indicates a change, usually due to burnout. But Rush would return to the golden EIB microphone and pick right up where he left off, with great energy and clarity. So no, his absences were not attributable to doing the same damned job over three decades.

And then, nearly at the end of the three-hour show, matter-of-factly Rush simply stated that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, which later on was disclosed to be stage four, which is highly advanced.

Now if there is one symbol of this iconic man’s persona, it is his cigar. Limbaugh enjoys a cigar, and has posed with cigars on the covers of magazines. Promoting, much less admitting to using tobacco these days is the ultimate rebellion, the strongest anti-political correctness statement one can make. Let’s just say, waving a lit cigar about in one’s hand these days gets a lot more attention and dis-approbation than a hairy man putting on scanty lady’s clothes and accoutrements and wobbling up and down a public street in high heels.

Limbaugh has used his cigars as the ultimate rejection of PC nanny state over-reach, to the point where he occasionally almost sounded flippant about the potential health risks.

And while tobacco can and should be enjoyed occasionally – a pipe with a bowlful of cherry Cavendish, a cigarillo, a Dutch Masters or Swisher Sweets mini-cigar, its constant use is anything but innocent. Because the constant use of tobacco products really does damage the human body. Nothing new here to science or human knowledge.

So while Limbaugh may have shared one thing in common with president Bill Clinton, the non-inhalation of lit smoking products, the fact is that cigars put off a huge amount of smoke that, unless one is outside or in a highly ventilated indoor space, is going to certainly invade one’s lungs. Apparently Rush’s lungs were invaded by copious amounts of heavy cigar smoke, despite his not inhaling.

Last night at the State of the Union speech by President Donald J. Trump, Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom from the hands of First Lady Melania Trump. Rush was obviously surprised that it occurred there and then, and his humility and emotion shone through like a giant airport beacon.

People who hold leftist views may disagree with or even hate Rush Limbaugh. But the level and pitch of their opposition to him is an equal representation of his effectiveness over the years. The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio was in my friend Kenny Gould’s car in Rockville, Maryland, in the spring of 1991.

“You gotta hear this guy, Josh. You gotta hear what he says. He’s amazing. He is so right. You should hear what he says about Bill Clinton; no one else in the media is saying it.”

And so Kenny turned on the AM radio to the Rush Limbaugh program, and I dutifully listened to what at first sounded like a chatterbox man talking and talking about political and cultural issues.

At the time I had started my first fully professional full time job as a policy staffer at the US EPA in Washington, DC. I disagreed with some of what Rush said that day, but I never forgot him. And years later, when I had discarded my anti-taxpayer job at the EPA like a piece of dog crap stuck to my shoe, because of my own observations and experiences, I had begun to understand just what this big voice on the radio was talking about.

And so tens of millions of other Americans have been educated and trained to think critically and analytically by Rush Limbaugh since that time, and as a result, he has had a tremendously out-size good effect on America.

First Lady Melania Trump placing the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck

More humility than some people might expect caused Rush to compose himself

Good luck to you, Mister Limbaugh. May you have a complete and easy recovery from your cancer. Please don’t be one of those guys puffing away through clouds of cigar smoke with the oxygen line stuck in your nostrils. That just will not do as a lasting image to your greatness. (…and to those who would never listen to Rush’s radio show, how can you say you disagree with him if you do not listen to what he says?…and to those who have openly rejoiced at Limbaugh’s health, you are exactly why he has needed a radio show in the first place, and why America listens to him)

Hunting season withdrawal, carpe diem reminder

Despite hunting a lot this past season, I am going through serious withdrawal symptoms. And mind you, hunting for small game is not done yet, and neither is trapping. And snow geese are in. So field opportunities do remain.

But with the bobcat and fisher trapping seasons now over, the justification for really heading deep into the silent woods has ended. Besides, a fisher just took up residence about 100 yards from the cabin. Only a few weeks after the season ended. It’s a “ha ha” finger in the eye reminder that some things are just not meant to be.

To be honest, I did not trap much this year, due to time limitations that kept me trapping right around where I have been working. And also to the fact that my outdoor work activities scared away the animals that will normally come in to explore the scents we use around our traps. And the freeze-thaw-rain-freeze-thaw-rain cycle of the past couple of years happened yet again during December, our best trapping time. Using footholds in those conditions is tough, because they can move around as the earth thaws during the day and re-freezes at night. When an animal steps on a trap that has moved in its bed, the trap moves under its paw, and then the animal digs up the trap. And If I put out winter-resistant cable restraints in that kind of weather, I can expect a very muddy animal waiting for me. And I am not in the business of shampooing coyotes and foxes. Too much time. So trapping season has pretty much passed me by, though I will try for a specific coyote, and maybe a few more possums in cage traps, just to save some springtime whippoorwill nests from being raided.

A few more squirrel hunts, a rabbit hunt or two with a 1920 Parker Brothers 20 gauge side-by-side, and some predator hunts will be had. Good times for sure, usually with good friends, but the few days of climbing high and sneaking through the quiet snowy mountains are gone. They ended almost before they began.

Hunting season is an annual reminder to grab all of life and squeeze and cajole every bit of living and enjoyment from it that we can, because before we know it, it all ends almost before it began.

At my grandfather’s 100th birthday (he lived almost exactly three more years after), he blew out the candles on his cake and sat back.

“I don’t know where my life went,” he said, staring into his chocolate cake. And he was a guy who had really lived.

Wildlife criminal or wildlife savior?

Unsurprisingly, British customs police noticed Jeffrey Lendrum’s strange looking gut the other day after he disembarked from an international flight. Upon further inspection, the naturally slender Lendrum was caught with a bunch of rare falcon eggs nested against his warm midriff in a fluffy swaddling. The eggs were kept warm and alive by Lendrum’s body heat and the lumpy material, like a mother bird would do while sitting on her nest.

Lendrum is no stranger to doing this, it turns out. For at least three decades, the guy has made some kind of living smuggling rare birds and, unbelievably, their fragile eggs, out of remote countries and from the really super remote, roadless places deep inside them. He has sold the wildlife and eggs to collectors and falconers around the world, but principally in the Muslim Arab countries, where (to their credit) falconry and horsemanship are both highly valued manly skills.

In a way Lendrum is a cross between Indiana Jones, the Pink Panther diamond thief, and James Bond 007, at one time rappelling from a hovering helicopter to steal rare eggs from a raptor’s nest high in a tree in the rain forest. As a result, he has had all kinds of legal run-ins and wild law enforcement encounters throughout his career and literally all around the world.

Brazil has demanded that Britain extradite Lendrum to answer for his latest alleged crime. In a typical British understatement, Lendrum’s lawyer has responded that Brazil’s notorious prisons are in fact violent drug gang headquarters, that the nation has no real rule of law, and that Lendrum’s life would be measured in the half-second were he to be returned there.

And oh, the irony of a nation that cannot stop people from daily executing each other in the streets, that is bargain selling its own rare natural resources and wild areas at break-neck speed to every international nuclear and hydroelectric dam concession, that cannot conserve a chicken let alone a falcon, now demanding some sort of home-grown justice for a white guy who actually values some birds that now live in a place that next year will be a coffee plantation with no bird habitat left.

I am a wilderness hunter and trapper, and I hate wildlife crime. But Lendrum is probably helping ensure the survival of some of these rare bird species who, otherwise left to their own devices in these shithole countries, will be eaten by naked savages for dinner.

Texas has become the home to a dozen rare and otherwise wild species from India and Africa that have been market hunted (not recreationally hunted) into extinction in their native habitat. This is not just because the Texas climate is suitable to these animals, but because hunters pay a boatload of money to hunt these naturally reproducing animals in Texas. A market incentive has kept these endangered species alive and well, if not in the actual ecosystem from whence they evolved.

I am unconvinced that Lendrum is a wildlife criminal. Like the role of zoos has changed from wild animal freak show full of gawkers to sole breeding repository of rare and endangered animals who could never survive in their own home countries, Lendrum is in actuality seeding dying species’ DNA around the planet in the expectation that placing high commercial value on it will lead to people paying to conserve it.

That is, by placing a value on the birds that is much higher than a dinner take-out by a jungle dwelling Indian, Lendum is creating a market-based incentive to keep these species alive and breeding.

Jeffrey Lendrum, wildlife conservationist.

Jeffrey Lendrum, mother hen

Now Greta Thunberg makes sense: Climate Fuhrer

Not until I had sat under a hemlock tree overlooking a quiet ravine with a flintlock rifle across my knees for two hours in the morning cold did it occur to me: In the context of angry liberals, abrasive hypocrite Greta Thunberg does make sense.

Thunberg is the carefully manufactured Hollywood and mainstream media creation from Norway, or Sweden, whichever it doesn’t matter, whose mental health her wealthy and abusive parents sacrificed on the altar of gaining political advantage and notoriety. She is a 17-year-old high school drop-out, with apparent learning disabilities that normal, loving parents would try to heal, not enhance. Her message continues to be that everyone else in Western Civilization must cease using fossil fuels and abandon capitalism while she flies in jets and other capitalist-created transportation all over the planet making sure that we all feel her rage and judgment, and do as she says. Like some sort of malevolent angel.

And though for the longest time I kept wondering how trying to shame people into submission was really going to work in this day and age, it’s her angry judgmentalism part that turned on the light bulb in my head this morning.

“Yes, we can ride together, but you must not mention The Name That Cannot be Said,” said a long-time dear friend of mine about an east coast fishing trip we were planning. His sore feelings about the 2016 election result were still evident, and the other old friend whom we were planning to see on a certain leftwing island enclave felt the same. Even though we had not discussed the election, no, we avoided it, when we did talk, the anger and judgmentalism were tangible.

No, I would not wear a MAGA hat, I said. No, I would not get drunk on the beach late at night and begin dancing around the campfire “Trump! Trump Trump! USA USA USA!”

“I could not vouch for your safety if you did that,” said the tender islander.

“But I would not do it in any case, knowing that it would bother you. I love you guys, and I do not live to bother my friends,” said I, allowing images of hungry bluefish and striped bass and screaming fishing reels to cloud my thoughts and thereby unwittingly admitting to my support for The Name That Must Not be Said, and then feeling his judgmental words cut deep into a relationship decades old and already tested by many trials together.

So it seems that while Thunberg is probably not necessarily designed to cast a wide net and gain new adherents to the climate religion and big centralized government control thingy she is so angry about, her role is probably more to rally the faithful. To give them a fresh new figurehead. Someone through which today’s young people – totally devoid of life experience – can channel their inner despot and ignorant judgmentalism.

These ever-angrier young people haven’t a clue about life, making a living, paying rent, making an economy run, science, climate, etc., but if there is one thing they will be good for, it’s shock troops. The western equivalent of the cruel and merciless children of the Chinese cultural revolution. Young people to defiantly harm their own parents and elders in the name of some greater good.

And so now Greta Thunberg makes sense to me. She is a deliberately unhappy cheerleader, not searching for solutions, but for sacrificial scapegoats upon whom her anger must justifiably be poured in a cleansing action that will bring holistic stability to all humankind.

She is the climate messiah, the climate Fuhrer, beginning a jihad, bringing unholy fire.

Climateland uber alles

Greta Thunberg holding a Jewish caricature in one hand and the usual puppet in the other. At the bottom of Leftist beliefs there is, ironically, always anti-Jewish hatred

The purposeful comparison is undeniable between ol’ Adolf and child actor Greta Thunberg. She means to emulate him