Sunday, March 9, 2014
About 5% of the United States, which is an area slightly larger than the state of California, is currently officially designated as “wilderness.” Of course, about half of that lies in Alaska, leaving a wilderness area approximately the size of Minnesota for the lower forty eight. In any event, since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, thirteen states have designated wilderness areas. I have explored many of them, and in preparation for my upcoming Arkansas canoe excursion, I have been in the process of updating my knowledge base before I travel through parts unknown.
As I stated in a prior post, my wife and I have been doing quite a bit of canoeing these days. Getting back into it, we are using muscles we had forgotten about years ago. Nevertheless, we are going through the training. Recently, we explored portions of the Matanzas River here in Florida that had been previously inaccessible. We learned quite a bit, especially how to prevent some of the swifter currents from washing us into the Atlantic in a tiny craft. That process alone had caused me to walk quite a few miles back to our Jeep before returning home. So far, my wife is still hanging in there.
When we hit the headwaters of the Buffalo National River, which flows down the center of the Arkansas Wilderness through a rough forested land of steep slopes that descend into deep valleys, she might get a little rattled. However, she has done these things before. The problem is the interior of the Buffalo is so remote, most people would freak out. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, and eagles abound. Smaller animals like foxes, raccoons, minks, beavers, and bobcats will make for some great photos.
When we portage the canoe, we will have to find our way through the area without the assistance of maintained trails. That is a little unnerving, but I love it. Whenever I return safely, I feel like I have the right to opine about the wonder of Nature for another year.
Anyway, that is what we are up to, and yes, I know I should probably do this myself. I will keep you posted on our progress.
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Monday, March 3, 2014
Over the course of five years, on and off, I taught graduate MBA courses to students in the Ukraine. Our university campus international branch was located in Luhansk, formerly Voroshilovgrad under the Soviets, in the easternmost province of the country, on the border with Russia. I taught online courses, but had the pleasure of visiting my students nine years ago, and I loved everything about them and their long history. The Ukrainian people are friendly, their students are excellent, their food is delicious, and their culture is fascinating.
Now, since the Russians under Vladimir Putin have moved into Ukraine, I feel a sense of personal sadness. My students shared many heart-wrenching stories with me, and I was left with a feeling of pride in my country, since the United States represented HOPE for that region of the world.
I am now ashamed that America has gone from “Don’t Tread on Me” to an apology tour and rhetoric like “grave concern” and “There will be costs” over the course of a single Presidential Administration. Believe what you like, but Obama said the same thing about Egypt, Syria, Iran, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and Libya. He is only tough on our allies, particularly Israel. I am very much anti-unnecessary conflict, but equally high on American strength. We are not facing these foreign policy difficulties for any reason other than the fact that Putin is eating Obama’s lunch.
Yesterday, I read a news story about a convicted terrorist serving as an Obamacare navigator. Despite a long criminal record, she was apparently missed by the government, since there is no background check required for Obamacare navigators. I remember “Cash for Clunkers” and Solyndra. I know we have a $17 trillion deficit. Like most Americans, I am concerned about wealth re-distribution, Cap and Trade, TARP, more stimulus packages, and increased taxes. I am learning that our fearful leader fares no better in foreign affairs than he has demonstrated in his disastrous domestic policies.
I am a concerned American. As a political Independent, I do not comment due to party affiliation or political ideology, but my mind does wander – a little:
Since 1945, there has been a cry of “Never again” over human indignities perpetrated by the Nazi regime. Yet, the world, absent a strong leader, sits back and watches while maleficent forces march on their brethren throughout Europe and Asia. We are victims of the United Nations, much in the same manner my grandfather’s generation witnessed the failing League of Nations contribute to the rise of totalitarianism overseas. Like Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia and Poland, Putin is marching on the Ukraine.
Perhaps our President should acquire a new list of friends and take some definitive, positive action on behalf of the nation as a whole, unless he is pushing for a second Nobel Peace Prize. He won’t find one on the path he is traveling. I think even Mother Teresa would not tolerate the recent Russian invasion. However, she earned her prize.
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