Remembering 9-11-2001

So, what has changed in my life since the morning of September 11, 2001?

Lost Innocence

I used to get out of bed in the morning and not give much thought to world events.   Most happenings on the news seem so distant…with little, if any, impact on my life.   Not anymore.   Now in the mornings before I turn on the television news a part of me wonders what catastrophic event is currently taking place that I am now just about to hear when I click on the TV.   Yup, a part of me braces to anticipate the worst.   Even though we are surrounded by lots of good things that happen in our lives daily, it’s foolhardy to forget we are also immersed in a world of true evil.   Terrorists like to cast fear and worry…but they also like to act when we let our guard down and become susceptible to their insidious acts against mankind.

Increased Vigilance

Perhaps we were once naive to think it could never happen to our country…that some group of radical people could use the freedoms enjoyed in our society to cause so much harm against us.   But they did.   We watched it happen before our unbelieving eyes.   Like most others, I was glued to the television to see what would happen next.   It seemed as if I went through different phases upon learning of the terrorism act.   First amazement, next disbelief, then came an urge to be close to family and gather together all who were important to one’s life…and the emotions continued in the hours and days to come.   All in all, we became suspicious of everything and nearly everyone.   When people acted strange we would view it with heightened curiosity and seriousness.   Still do to this day.

Have A Plan

We never thought we would see a day(s) where the planes stopped flying (well, commercial ones anyway).   Indeed, 9–11 gave us a taste of what life would be like turned upside down.   Imagine if cell phones no longer worked.   Imagine if the Internet was completely out…or even spotty and unreliable.   Imagine if fuel and electricity…the very things that power our society were suddenly in very short supply.   How would we react?   Well, it caused me to develop a plan.   Family knows that priority number one is to assemble at our home as soon as possible.   Once we’re all together…we will then assess the situation and gather needed resources.   But the plan can only work when we are all safe and together no matter what it takes to make this happen.

Take Nothing For Granted

As many of you know I have become an avid ham radio operator in the past year or so.   While so many people laugh about what they perceive as playing with outdated technology, I see it more as a time-proven reliable technology.   In fact, what most hams practice for are the type of situations we hope we never have to use in reality.   In other words, if the world is relying on hams to communicate…it likely means some dastardly event has taken place to cause it and life will not be carrying on as we once knew it.   Yes, I have both the equipment and the know how to communicate over a wide area…and potentially around the world given the correct conditions.   Best of all, this can be powered by batteries and recharged from my vehicle.   As landline phones slowly disappear and we all depend on phones carried in our pockets…you tell me if you can’t imagine the potential problem with this situation.   Yup, don’t take things for granted and have a backup means to communicate.   Wise to have a backup for everything you do in life.

Greater Appreciation For All Men & Women Who Serve

I really don’t care what your feelings might be about why we went to war.   Nor do I care about the politics, at least to some degree, that are seemingly woven into all aspects of our life these days.   Yet, what I do care about are the fellow citizens who fight to keep us safe.   Whether soldiers fighting in a war zone…or cops fighting in some nasty cultural uprising…we have brothers and sisters doing a tough job for little reward.   They do it because they care.   We all need to appreciate that.   When is the last time you thanked a soldier for their service?   When is the last time you purchased a cup of coffee and a donut for a police officer?   We all owe these people a lot and it takes so little effort on our part to show some proper appreciation.   These are the folks on the front line acting as a buffer keeping us separated from evil.   They sacrifice so much to do what they do.   If there is one good thing that came out of 9–11 it’s that these heroes in our life have been given an opportunity to shine and be respected by all of us.   Let’s be sure to do that!!

Random Thoughts On Cecil The Lion And The Lingering Media Madness

Okay, so I’m not going to describe the situation involving a Dr. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota and the now famous Cecil the lion (apparently pompously pronounced, cess-ill) as most of us have already heard the story to the point of ad nauseam.   In fact, if you haven’t heard about it by now…then quite likely this blog post will mean nothing to you anyway.   Instead, go find some other blog rating diaper brands or comparing cavity fighting qualities of various toothpastes.

The fact is the story about the Zimbabwe lion has grown well beyond a prudent person’s sensibilities.   So much so that in today’s news I now read how the leader of PETA has called for Palmer to be lynched.   Really?   A group professing the kind, gentle and proper treatment of animals shows no compassion towards its own?   Of course, those of us who know PETA for what they truly are realize this is no big surprise.   Indeed, the longer they fan the media flames, keep this item newsworthy, keep it in the public’s mind…well, you know…the longer some people will open their pocketbooks and provide to them the reason they actually exist.

Admittedly, I don’t know many of the facts surrounding this lion hunt.   Very few people do.   Of course, lots of people think they know and have already convicted the dentist faster than you can open you mouth and say ahhhh!   Sadly, we may never know the true story.   At this time I certainly won’t defend Walter Palmer any more than I will condemn him for some terrible poaching act.

Still, I have to wonder how what could be a very innocent man ever regains his life back.   A person doesn’t pay $50,000+ for a hunting experience and expect the sort of outcome that has apparently developed.   I would think when a person hands over that amount of money they are expecting memories and a trouble-free hunt to be their dividend.

I remember a guided turkey hunt I was on in western South Dakota many years ago when I was at the total mercy of the guide.   I paid him a nice fee and he was expected to deliver to me a quality outdoor experience.   And even though the hunt never resulted in tagging a bird, it provided me experiences and opportunities in a part of the country I will never forget.

But, it also provided me something else.   It provided to me the understanding that when you are on a guided hunt you are not always in total control.   Case in point…we were hunting on Federal land when my guide suddenly mentioned to me hunker down and be quiet.   I asked why.   His response was because we are now on private property where we don’t have permission to be.   I said REALLY??!!  What the hell are we doing here!!!   I expected the guide to know the boundaries and to always play by the same rules I used in my ordinary hunting pursuits.

I learned.   No matter how well you vet a guide prior to the hunt…when you rely on someone else to show you the path toward achieving success ultimately you are no better than they are, sometimes through no reasonable fault of your own.

Personally, the notion of traveling to Africa for big game hunting has never motivated me.   I get it how some people want to live out those unique experiences and pay small fortunes to do so…but it’s not for me.   Still, no person should ever be subjected to what Walter Palmer has endured no matter if he’s guilty or innocent.   Protesters shutting down his business and essentially driving his customers (livelihood) away should be sued for his economic losses.   After all, one could call them protesters, but a case could just as easily be made they are more like terrorists causing direct and measurable harm against others.

It’s one thing to exercise your freedom of speech and do so in the manner in which you care to express it.   However, it is quite another thing to do that juxtaposed on sidewalks and private property so a client no longer feels safe to seek out the services of his/her medical professional.  Not to mention all the adjunct employees in that office who now have an unknown future because protesters have a beef with their boss.

Consider this.   In our country when a deer is poached who usually gets most upset?   PETA?   The tree-hugger neighbor?   Perhaps some other bleeding heart individual?   Nope.   When a deer is poached in America the person who is most upset about the situation is the other sportsmen who strive to play by the rules and appreciate fair chase efforts.

Now, consider how widespread poaching has been in other countries over the years when it hardly gets any concern or mention until the situation grows dire.   Even then, poaching hardly tugs at the heart-strings of the vast majority of the general public.

Yet, this time it was different.   It was the perfect storm, so to speak.   A story that was ripe for a social media and Internet explosion of raw and unbridled emotions.   Why?   Because the player involved appeared to be some privileged white male with money to spend on such pursuits.   Not only that…but he succeeded in taking a lion that had a name — Cecil.   This is anthropomorphism at its absolute finest.   How could some hunter travel half way across the world to shoot a creature WITH A NAME?   Presumably, when something has a name it has a personality, feelings, life aspirations, you get the idea.   Yeah, this time it was different.   An asshole blood-thirsty dentist shot a beloved 13–y/o favorite creature supposedly known throughout Zimbabwe.

Bleeding hearts have petitioned the White House pleading with the President to extradite Palmer back to Zimbabwe so justice can be served.   Surely we can trust a fitting justice will be served by the Zimbabwe government who can’t even take care of its own starving human population.   It’s all ludicrous.

Here’s what’s going to happen, IMHO.   This will all eventually backfire.   Mark my words.   No American hunter in his right mind will book a future hunt to Zimbabwe after seeing this incident play out with Palmer.   Soon, the money will dry up and then be spent in other African regions more hunter-friendly, so to speak.   Hey, don’t take my word on this alone…read this by someone who knows.  University of MN’s Craig Packer is one of the world’s foremost lion researchers who has dedicated 30+ years of his life studying the king of the jungle.

I recently saw a post on Facebook by Steve Pennaz, a long-time editor and outdoors writer who succinctly stated the following wisdom:

Kenya terminated hunting in the 1970s; since then it has lost 85% of its wildlife. In contrast, South Africa has embraced sport hunting the past five decades and wildlife numbers there are booming … from 575,000 wild game animals in 1964 to more than 24 million in 2014. Why? Hunting places an economic value on both wildlife and wild places. It provides direct incentives to protect and conserve these precious resources. Look no further than the Duck Stamp program here at home—it has raised more than $800 million and resulted in 6 million acres of wetlands conserved.

The honest truth is the conservation of a wild species does not come about by the people showing hype and sensationalism on the nightly newscast.   The efforts of saving and assisting a species so it can thrive is done often by the folks made out to be the villains in this activity.   I’m convinced how the people who shoot off their mouths in front a live news camera do nothing more than get some kind of emotional orgasm that makes them feel good.   How do I know this?   Simple…their rhetoric and well-intended gestures do nothing substantive and identifiable to benefit the species for which they cry over.

On the other hand, even a reviled dentist who may very well someday be proven to be a poacher, has done more for the conservation of African lions to ensure their future than 99.99998% of the people who have expressed their disgust for him and his killing act.   Those are the facts!   If you don’t like it then put your money where your protesting mouth is on this topic and make a actual difference for your cause.

What Deer Hunting And Coffee Drinking Both Have In Common

I just had a terrible cup of coffee.   At Christmas I received one of those single-brew coffee makers and it came with a variety pack of different coffees in an attempt to find just the right blend a person would want to purchase more of.

Well, sorry Starbucks fans…but that coffee sucks.   It’s bitter, leaves a bad aftertaste, it’s just not what my java-drinking palate yearns for, I guess.

I’m more a traditional coffee drinker…I like it hot and black.   Nothing added.   Just the pure taste of the roasted coffee beans and the aromatic magic it creates for all the senses.

Yet, I completely understand we all drink coffee in our own way.   Those who go to Starbucks are accustomed to somehow enhancing the flavor and making it more, shall we say, “personal.”   Take one Starbucks gourmet blend of your choosing then add a little cream, a little sugar…hell, for that matter add whatever pleases you to make the liquid your daily morning ambrosia.   It is your choice so do what makes you happy.   After all, you paid $4–5 for the experience get the most out of it.

As you can tell my personal tastes for coffee are not worthy of any fancy experience.   Oh, I’m glad there is Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, and all the other chain java stores willing to cater to the crowd who likes that sort of thing, but it’s not for me.   I’m totally happy with a different sort of coffee drinking experience.

This brings me to deer hunting.   You might ask, what does deer hunting have to do with drinking coffee?   Perhaps nothing in the literal sense, but certainly plenty in the figurative relationship.

You see, I also like my deer hunting simple without all the frills.   I don’t fret about finding this way or that way to constantly improve the experience.   Nope, I just like to enjoy the basic deer hunt experience without fancy additives.   Sort of like my coffee.   I want to consume the deer hunting experience much the same way I have always enjoyed it.   Not looking for creative new ways to improve it no matter what the motivation is behind the action.   That’s not my cup of…well, in this instance, coffee.

But that’s not how a growing number of deer hunters seem to operate.   They seem restless.   Always skeptical of their state’s game managers and the plans they have set forth for population managing the herds.   These folks have purchased their deer license and by god it’s time now to manipulate the experience in the manner best suiting their individual hunting tastes.

I call them Starbucks deer hunters.   Indeed, with that license purchase gives them the right to add a little antler point restriction, suppress methods and equipment use they don’t favor, essentially create the outdoor experience they want while all other deer hunters be damned.   This is their license and the deer resource should be enjoyed the way they choose to concoct it.

This is what troubles me about what hunting (and enjoying the outdoors in general) has become.   Lots of selfishness pushed by fringe interest groups.   Sometimes it’s done because folks think they know what is better for everyone else.   Other times it’s because they have a belief their hunting management style would be better suited to achieve personal goals and that is really all that matters.   They take this àla carte approach to deer hunting management much as they do the coffee they drink at upscale establishments.   They fine tune the taste so only they think it’s palatable, and in the process not really caring what others may think.

Seemingly gone are the days where our society all drinks out of the same coffee urn and is subsequently pleased with the product being consumed.   Today, we have become a divisive group of selfish wildlife consumers many of whom demand things be served up “their specific way” because that is what happens to appeal to them.

You may think how making a coffee and deer comparison is a rather silly approach to this topic.   Perhaps so.   Yet, I contend the analogy only serves to underscore how it’s still possible for all to enjoy the same product (deer hunting) without getting so hung up on the many various options available (restrictions, laws, regs, etc.) one might think is necessary to make it a more enjoyable experience.

As deer hunting and population management goes it should not become some trendy “flavor of the day” offering only to suit a rather small segment of the deer hunting tastes.

Oh yes, I get it when one walks around carrying a Starbucks logoed cup or carrying a fancy Mathews bow in hand this says a lot about the person.   Just realize my personal tastes for what you covet as important might be completely different and should not be shortchanged.   Not all deer hunters favor the latest trendy brand of deer management many folks want served up, nor should we be forced to drink it.