Firsts for May 1st

I’ve been meaning to get this brief piece finished and posted since the first couple of days in May but ‘Mr. Murphy’ and outside commitments conspired to make that a pipe dream.  Given I now have a bit of free time after completing my last 1,355 steps – I try to put down at least 1,150 steps at the top of each hour from 05:00 to 11:00 with a current target of 10,000 plus daily steps – I decided to get this piece done and posted.  My blogging has kinda fallen off across the past four to six months; not sure why other than to observe my creativity just hasn’t been flowing.  Of course, dedicating almost a quarter of each hour during the mornings to stepping does eat into my available time and the fact that I am a morning person and hence do my best work before noon only exacerbates this situation.

Anyway, as we rolled into May I was struck by some ‘firsts’ which I’d observed during this time.  Some are reoccurring while some are just new activities/observations.  One of the former variety involved observing my first American Robin of 2017 on April 24th in the early morning while walking with my Alaskan malamute (Anana) and my German Shepherd Dog (Qanuk).  Actually I heard him – I’m pretty sure it was a male as it was well up in a birch and singing loudly so probably marking territory – first and then was able to visually locate him.  There may well have been other robins around earlier but this was the first I’d heard and then seen in 2017.  For those of us who observe birds in this area the arrival of robins from the lower 48 signals spring is definitely here.

Another reoccurring observation was awakening in the wee hours of the morning of April 27th to the ‘tap-tapping’ sound of rain on my metal roof.  I love that sound but in a normal year one doesn’t hear it from mid-October to mid-November until April because most precipitation that falls during that time period is snow and the roof has a coating of ice and snow.  I look forward to many more upcoming rainy nights as I love to lie in bed and listen to that sound.  It also fascinates me to listen to the ebb and flow of the rain rate; in this area we don’t usually get a steady rain but rather experience rain bands of varying density.  This can produce what is almost a melody if the bands are spaced in a continual pattern which is repetitive.

As to some firsts that are truly ‘firsts’ on April 30th I completed 35 consecutive days of 5,000+ steps per day.  More than half of said 35 days involved putting down more than 8,000 steps and have helped me push my daily steps to their current 10,612 steps/day average.  I’m fighting hypertension and obesity so I had to find some form of exercise which I could, and most importantly ‘would’, do at least six days a week.  As of this writing I’m working on 44 consecutive days of at least 5,000 steps a day.  Much of the daily morning muscle/joint pain and stiffness is now just a distant memory and I just realized I haven’t had a bout of depression since I began this regime.  I saw no weight loss until I reached 9,500 steps per day; now the weight is very slowly beginning to disappear.  My goal is to push myself to 12,500 steps per day; given 10,000 steps is the equivalent of around 4.9 miles for me such a goal would see me putting down at least six miles a day.  I intend to continue walking at least 1,150 steps at the top of each hour between 05:00 and 11:00 in an effort to keep my system ‘energized’.  I’m aware stepping as I do it is not a true aerobic activity but it does ramp up my system and it forces me away from the monitor and into motion once an hour.  With luck as I drop more weight I’ll be able to start bicycling which will help my overall condition.  Of course, my canine companions love my lifestyle change and are now completely expectant of at least one long walk every day.  For anyone interested I use a Garmin Vivofit 2 wrist fitness monitor; the ‘Garmin Connect’ web-page is wonderful for tracking steps, calories burned, hours sleeping and similar!

A final ‘one time first’ for me occurred on April 14th when I sat in with my good friend Randy during his Friday evening classic rock music show at KTNA.  Anyone following this blog knows I spent almost three years doing both newscasts and music shows at KTNA but I decided I’d come to philosophically based parting of the ways with the station at the end of December, 2016.  While I’d done shows with other folks sitting in this was the first time the roles were reversed.  It felt great to be back behind a mic and during Randy’s two hour show we received three calls complimenting us and our performance.  All told it was a lot of fun although given it was a two hour show running until 23:00 it was a bit past my bedtime!

I put together this blog as a kind of celebration of life; not just my own but that of Nature and other folks as well.  I’ve been so blessed to experience a two decade dream of living in semi-rural Alaska but coming up on my fourth full year of such an existence I’ve noticed I’m becoming a bit blasé regarding this situation and that both angers and saddens me.  I know it is human nature to become ‘used’ to situations but I do not ever want to become ‘used’ to the majesty and splendor of my Alaskan home.  If writing this helps me re-energize the awe and wonder I feel almost daily when I walk outside and immerse myself in Alaska’s magic then it has served its purpose.  If it does so for others, regardless of where/how they live, then so much the better!

Tek Robin

An American Robin atop a black pine at Teklanika campground in Denali NP&P

Privacy and the New World Order

Last night (02/06/17) I attended my second Talkeetna Community Council (TCC) meeting as part of an effort to learn more about what is ongoing in the community and what is being planned.  I felt this effort was important for me as I terminated my volunteering with KTNA at the end of December, 2016 and I also resigned from my post as vice president of the Upper Susitna Food Pantry effective March 13, 2017 which is the next board meeting.  The former was driven by ideological differences while the latter was based upon growing tired of being taken for granted and handed far more work than any of the other board members.  As such I’m now without a volunteering opportunity for the first time since I relocated up here in August of 2013.  Even then I was only without volunteering activities for a bit more than three months until I began at KTNA.  Prior to that I’d have to look back to April of 2010 which was when I first started volunteering at the Northville (MI) Sunrise Assisted Living facility to find a time when I was not volunteering.  As such volunteering has become a huge part of my life and I know I will not go long without locating at least one new opportunity in this area.

But back to last night’s gathering; about 90 minutes into the meeting the Chairman put forth a proposal to prevent any video – and just video, not audio – recording of the TCC meetings.  His basis for this proposal was a very unfavorable interaction with a film crew from KTUU (NBC in Anchorage) at the previous meeting which I also attended.  His proposal was met with a wide variety of views and responses, many somewhat passionate, and as I listened and absorbed what I heard I really started to reflect upon a person’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to know.  To this point I’m still rather conflicted; I can see both the pros and cons of this proposal.  Ultimately, as the TCC is an elected board that can and does make local policy, I feel they surrendered their basic rights to privacy with regards to the community meetings when they accepted their posts and therefore they probably couldn’t withstand a legal challenge if they invoked such a proposal.

However, there were many valid points in favor of such a proposal and it was these that really fueled my cogitation regarding this matter.  One of the most powerful involved the act of videoing producing a ‘chilling’ effect on people’s right to be heard.  Having a camera and/or microphone shoved in one’s face can be very intimidating for a lot of folks.  Indeed, the potential of this happening could easily cause some people to forgo their feedback and this is definitely counterproductive to the entire purpose of the meeting.  Another possible issue involves existing technology, not to mention developing tech, being used to manipulate both audio and video such that what was actually being said is altered or taken out of context.  There once was a time when we might have trusted journalists not to undertake such outrageous practices but as NBC showed during the Trayvon Martin debacle they were more than willing to alter audio and then try to hide behind the concept that omission of facts does not constitute a lie.  Such despicable behavior is, sadly, expected of scum trial lawyers but until recently wasn’t something most Americans expected from their media.

I feel I must reveal that I am a fairly private person by nature so, as such, my leanings fall with one’s right to privacy.  Indeed, I am proud it requires extensive and knowledgeable digging via the ‘net to even find my name.  I have nothing to hide but I also feel I should be able to choose what is revealed regarding me and my life.  And this is where I truly diverge from those of the younger generations.  It seems as though they have no real problems with revealing so much about themselves on-line that I often cringe if I happen to see some of such ‘revelations’.  I understand a lot of this is based upon generational gaps and I also recognize that it is a person’s right to reveal as much as they feel comfortable sharing with others.  When I’ve shared what I recognized as potentially private details regarding myself and my life I’ve often spent days contemplating doing so and really struggling with possible negative aspects before making my decision.  And I’d guess more than half the time I decided against doing so.

I had to learn that once one puts something on the ‘net, be it via social media, email, blogging or similar one effectively loses ‘control’ of said information and it can be used in virtually any manner.  Because I grew up before the internet and all the associated technologies I didn’t have the now all-encompassing caution regarding using the ‘net and a couple of my lessons were rather harsh.  So I ‘learned the hard way’ but there was no great loss or negative impact upon my existence.  Sadly, as so many have learned, this is not the case today!  Ultimately, I feel it comes down to being responsible for one’s own actions; if I have any concerns about posting something online I will not do so.  But the choice is my own.  In situations like what I described occurring at the TCC meeting if someone were to video me providing feedback and then post it to social media I lose that ability to control what is and is not shared on the web.  And, for me, this is totally unacceptable!

How to control this from happening is a very difficult concept and reminds of that admonition to ‘not try tap dancing in a minefield’!  However, such situations are becoming more and more common as now everyone seems to have a cell phone capable of at least grainy, if not HD, video recording.  We’ve already seen instances where videos made of public events have failed to show the context or ancillary information and thus have provided a skewed view.  Whether this was deliberate or not is another question; the simple fact that it occurs is troubling.  One thing so many people need to really consider is this; as we give up more and more of our rights to privacy we offer governments, businesses and organizations more and more information about ourselves and our lives.  Are we really ‘okay’ with this concept in an age of increasing surveillance and data mining..?!?

big-brother

Time Is the Forge Upon Which Change Is Fashioned

As we are just into the first week of our new year – 2017 – I guess it is only natural to do some reflecting and reminiscing.  While not someone who enjoys dwelling in the past I must admit there are times I find it both entertaining and enlightening.  Yes, I know this runs counter to the concept I regularly espouse regarding living in the ‘now’ but then human beings are not perfect and I am true to my ‘breed’ in this respect!  As an aging male I can look back across my life and see so many stupid moves, self-destructive drives, wasted time and more than a few ‘what if’ situations; this is typical of most human beings.  But there are also a relative few moments of inspiration, creativity, extraordinary love and epiphany.  One thing that is common to all of the aforementioned is change.

Such a recent example of change occurred on December 28, 2016 when – after a day and night of extensive reflection and consideration – I elected to severe my ties with KTNA in terms of support and volunteering.  As most of you know I truly loved doing live radio so this was hardly an easy or straightforward decision.  Indeed, after cementing the decision I’ve experienced many hours of self-doubt and rigorous introspection.  Yet it has now been eight days and despite all the above and my own bent to question my ulterior motives when having made such a weighty decision I remain convinced it was the right choice.  I continue on an emotional roller-coaster regarding the KTNA situation; that’s exacerbated by last Wednesday being the first time I’ve missed my music shows.  Volunteering has become a lynch-pin in my daily existence; I went for three months without doing so back in August of 2013 but I had just relocated up here and I had a ton on my plate so I didn’t miss it; prior to that you’d have to go back to March of 2010 to find me not involved in volunteering.  So basically I went seven years with at least one volunteering stint in my life and it has been almost three years since I’ve been handling two volunteering efforts coincidentally.  I’m going to remain open to what volunteering possibilities exist but I’m not going to rush into decisions.  I know I will add another volunteering effort again with some function in this area; I get far too much out of volunteering to walk away from the function.

I knew this would be an impactful decision but knowing this to be the case ‘intellectually’ doesn’t mean one is prepared for the emotional and spiritual impacts.  I thought about my decision across the past week almost constantly and it has intruded upon my dreams during those nights.  It really has been a tough time but then I knew I wasn’t going to break a three year relationship, which included me being named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for 2015, without some grief and pain.  And, as expected, I’m second guessing my decision even though I know it was the right one.  The GM called me the day I resigned but I answered via email and have kept that as our means of communication.  She did make a couple of halting attempts to get me to reconsider but I also believe a lot of her impetus is based on the fact the Saturday Evening Announcement program (I did this in addition to my two hours of music on Wednesday afternoons) is extremely difficult to cover.  You need someone who is reliable, a year round resident, willing to give up part of their Saturday evening and able to handle the broadcast and any potential issues with no additional help onsite.  Such a volunteer is indeed tough to find as sadly it is the first requirement that is often not present in potential volunteers.  I harbor more than a bit of guilt about deserting my listeners; I just hope they understand my motives.

My impetus to give up my live radio ‘career’ stemmed from an ideological break with NPR in general and KTNA in particular.  As such, it was based on ‘principles’ and often such decisions are the toughest to resolve and then put into place.  I was never completely comfortable volunteering at a NPR outlet because I do not believe any form of mass communication should be funded – even partially – by the government which really means by the people.  And, to me, NPR has a decided liberal lean which is something I do not share.  But I also recognized what the station did, and does do, for the local communities in terms of reporting on dangerous situations, weather, local events and local news.  When I was volunteering and supporting KTNA it was these functions I really backed.  All the other radio stations in this general area pretty much end their coverage in Wasilla and that’s 60 miles south.  With the current crisis in Alaska’s budget and across the board financial cuts KTNA is going through changes.  Most of the former staff were either riffed (reduction in force) or retired.  One of the latter was the GM; his replacement came on-board a few months back.  Since that time I’ve seen more and more movements to the left in the station; it was this perception and a confrontation with the GM regarding some requirements I had been bending that finally caused me to completely re-evaluate myself with respect to supporting KTNA.  In hindsight this was probably the infamous ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.

So I’m now beginning 2017 with a major change in my life and it has not been one which I welcomed.  However, in trying to always find that silver lining in every dark cloud I’m working to remain open to any positives.  And, to this point, I’ve found a few.  I dedicated at least 3.5 hours a week to KTNA related efforts; I now have that time to devote towards improving my blogging and/or finally starting to write a book among other potentials.  And the $25/month I was donating will now be ‘fleshed out’ with an additional $15/month and split between supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the ASPCA.  Finally, this huge shift in my lifestyle has opened up the possibility of additional volunteering in this area.  I never imagined I would make such a decision but then maybe it was time to move on..?  I gave KTNA three years of service and support; they allowed me to discover how much I enjoyed live radio and embrace this love.  For me, that’s a very equitable exchange…

And so it is I find myself moving on with my life while continuing to collect learnings and working to discover new opportunities.  In my case three years of volunteering and supporting KTNA finally culminated in a major shift in my life.  I’m trying to remember that all change is beneficial and positive energy can arise from even negative situations; I need ‘only’ remain receptive to such energy.  So once again I’ve re-espoused that ‘time is the forge upon which change is fashioned’!

KTNA Studio Desk Shot

Someplace I’ll remember with great fondness – the KTNA Broadcast Studio

The Balance In Letting Go

During a recent email exchange with a good friend I declared I believed all of life is a balancing act and then suggested this might be based on my ‘Type 6’ personality in the wisdom of the Enneagram and being a Libra in terms of astrology which has a balance as its symbol.  While I am an ardent follower of the wisdom surrounding the Enneagram I never had much faith in astrology; it has far too many glaring inconsistencies.  This conversation started me thinking much more about the concept of balance in one’s existence.  At some point I realized I had the foundation for another blog piece.

I cannot deny I feel and function best when my life is in balance but just what does this concept involve?  It can be very difficult to define yet most of us would recognize this state of being and almost certainly understand what it feels like to be ‘out of balance’.  Many eastern philosophies speak of being ‘centered’; I believe this is synonymous with being ‘in balance’.  Both imply a state of being in which our existence ‘feels’ equalized within all the surrounding forces both external and internal.  In another sense our internal energies are in balance with all external energies providing a ‘sum zero’ existence.  Imagine a bubble floating in the air, moving neither up nor down, right or left.  Its internal pressure is equally balanced against the external pressure allowing it to maintain its iridescent sphere of film.  I conjure this image when meditating or performing other efforts to regain my center.  Without question I feel better when my life is balanced even though such states of being are very difficult to attain let alone maintain.

Of late I’ve begun to wonder if the whole ‘in balance’ thing is just a philosophical construct.  While setting one’s sights on such a goal may not be a bad thing, to cling to such a drive on this plane is probably a snipe hunt.  The more I dwell on this concept the more I believe it is probably best to keep all things in ‘moderation’ – at least where ever possible – and just go with the flow.  Part of me believes this is my attempt to resign myself to the fact I will most likely never achieve a real state of ‘balance’, at least for any period of time, and hence have lowered the bar.  But I do believe if I could moderate all my beliefs, my passions, my emotions and similar I would probably be a much more balanced person.  And I honestly do embrace the concept of just ‘going with the flow’; as I’ve written in previous postings some of the best things that have occurred in my existence have come from truly letting go and just allowing the Universe to flow through and direct me.  However, as with the concept of balance, I find it very difficult to honestly let go.  This is reflected in my ‘Type 6’ personality as one of the major attributes is being ‘security oriented’.  One of the toughest things for a Type 6 person to really embrace is the concept that almost all their ‘securities’ are illusion.  I understand and do embrace the idea of really letting go but I have a very difficult time doing so because I remain so afraid that letting go will compromise my security.

For me, letting go is hand in hand with the concept of ‘pushing one’s own comfort zone’ which is another way of saying reaching for goals well outside of one’s daily existence.  Like so many people, I am not really comfortable doing this yet I have a long history which proves to me that great things happen when I am willing to do so.  One example is my volunteering at KTNA doing live radio; as a young child I struggled intensely with stuttering for which I went to therapy but had little success.  Because of this I was terrified of speaking live in front of people.  Over the decades I slowly learned to manage the issue but I always knew it remained within me.  I was given the opportunity to become a ‘trainer’ for field sites when the company I worked for was rolling out new operating systems and applications; I spent many sleepless nights wondering if I should accept.  Finally, in a fit of desperation, I truly ‘let go’ and agreed.  The upshot was I became one of two top rated instructors – based on feedback by the students – and was even offered a posting as the trainer for a large plant in Georgia.  Despite this success when I was encouraged to volunteer at KTNA and do live radio I was once again shy and afraid.  But I needed a way to become more familiar with the immediate area as well as get my name out – I moved to the Talkeetna area knowing no local folks – so I finally agreed.  I’ve now been doing live radio as either newscasts or music shows for almost four years and I cannot imagine not doing so.  None of this would’ve happened had I not ‘let go’ and just went with the flow.

So why do I continue to resist and even fear letting go?  I have a bad habit of trying to make my life as comfortable (i.e. ‘secure’) as possible yet in my 63 years I’ve yet to learn that to really exceed at such an effort virtually guarantees I will become ‘comfortably numb’.  As soon as this settles in I become bored, lazy and begin to lose sight of that big picture.  And this causes a loss of moderation and focus as well as a feeling of being out of balance.  Ultimately, this will lead to depression and a loss of interest regarding life in general; I know because I’ve walked this path far too many times.  So once again, given I know all this why do I so resist letting go?  I suspect it all comes back to that ‘devil in the details’ involved in knowing something intellectually but not really embracing it spiritually.  My memories prove to me that letting go produces some wonderful results and is rarely negative; this forces me to accept the premise on an intellectual basis.  But my fear of releasing my ‘security’ – illusionary as it is – and really allowing myself to just go with the flow still frightens me and causes me to ultimately accept comfortable numbness over the unknown.  While age has exacerbated this issue I cannot place all the blame in that area as I have demonstrated real ‘neophobe’ tendencies for decades.  No, I do fear dropping my guard to allow myself to really let go and I also am lazy and I know doing so will require a lot of energy.  But long term refusal to at least try to just go with the flow will lead to a negative situation which I know all too well.

Quite obviously I am a human being with some definite imbalances and one of the worst is the aforementioned inability to resolve my perceived need for security versus my acknowledgement of the benefits of just letting go and allowing the Universe to offer up ideas and paths for me to walk.  In a way by identifying this imbalance I’ve taken the first step towards working the issue and, hopefully, resolving it.  A simple axiom from long ago comes to mind as I reflect upon this situation; ‘none are so blind as those who will not see’.  Perhaps it is time for me to finally face the delusion of my ‘security’ and come to ‘see’, at the deepest levels, its myth..?

Finally…I Be Alaskan!

Some of you may have noticed my ‘public name’ has changed from ‘Newbie Alaskan’ to ‘Forever Alaskan’. Given it has now been two years since I pulled into the driveway of 15158 East Barge Drive with a 26’ U-Haul van in close pursuit I decided it was time. Long time Alaskans have told me that one is not a ‘real’ Alaskan until they’ve weathered two winters. I chose to extrapolate that to living in the state for two consecutive years which will happen as of August 5, 2015. Admittedly, the two winters I’ve experienced were extremely mild and much less worse than a cold winter in SE Michigan but that is not by choice as I’d kill to see a true Alaskan winter. Sadly, with the record El Nino currently in the Pacific I’d bet this coming winter will again be very mild and dry in Alaska. Not much to be done; Mother Nature has her own plans and we are just along for the ride.

Across these two years I’ve seen a lot and learned even more particularly regarding life in semi-rural south central Alaska. So much of the aforementioned learnings deal with not just surviving but thriving in this area; these were magnified for me because this is the first time I’ve lived semi-rural. Without question many of these learnings are pertinent to this area like bear safety, seasonal preparations, dealing with tourists and understanding the local weather and its trends but there is also a lot of information which pertains to just living away from a population center. While I do have electricity and broadband my water comes from my well and my waste water goes to a septic field; both these were new experiences. I love not having to deal with a lawn but I’m also discovering that even the boreal forest on my land needs some attention from time to time. Most goods and services require a 120 mile round trip drive to the Palmer-Wasilla area and, as such, require planning ahead to maximize the time spent in this area.

I’ve developed many interests which were mainly inconsequential when living in suburbia; I love to sit in my rocker on the front porch and just soak in the ‘immense silence’ while watching Nature unfold around me. Wildlife watching is indeed much more dramatic up here because of the presence of moose and bears along with a secretive local wolverine. There are a bevy of birds most of which I’ve had to learn as they are completely different from those I watched and fed in the eastern half of the lower 48. And, yes, I must admit to feeding ‘my’ birds year ‘round which is not supposed to happen – at least during bear season – as it can attract the local bruins. However, I’ve been very careful to clean up and I only use one small feeder. As I’ve never previously lived within earshot of a lake I’m truly enjoying listening to the loons on Question Lake giving voice in the mornings. Sky watching, particularly at night, has always been something I enjoy but up here it becomes a real obsession because of the clear, dark winter nights.

Without question I’ve become much more of an extrovert simply because when one is living rural opportunities for social interaction can be rather limited. And, too, I had to give up my volunteering with memory impaired elders simply because no such facilities exist in this area; the closest are in the Anchorage bowl. But this has led to me expanding my volunteering efforts to the likes of live radio at KTNA and supporting – and finally sitting on the board – of the Upper Susitna Food Pantry. Both opportunities have given me lots to do and allowed me to make new friends and contacts. They have also allowed me to really stretch my ‘comfort zones’ which is never a bad thing! I’ve noticed that as I age it becomes harder and harder to really step outside one’s comfort zone so anything that can serve to make this happen is most welcome.

I suppose if I had to sum up my first two years in this majestic state the concept of a ‘learning adventure’ keeps coming to mind. And if I had to select an image from my rather voluminous collection that best illustrates what I so love about Alaska it would be the following:

Christmas morning 2015 with 'the Kidz'; we're south of the back of my place clearing the new snow from the sat dish

Christmas morning 2015 with ‘the Kidz’; we’re south of the back of my place clearing the new snow from the sat dish

Annual ‘KTNA Volunteer Appreciation Picnic’

Every June the wonderful staff of KTNA (88.9 FM or ktna.org) throws a great BBQ to honor the volunteers who help make the station function.  This is always a great time as there’s an abundance of food, drink and fellowship.  We also get a group image for posterity’s sake.  A bit into the gig some of the locals provided musical entertainment.  I did bring Anana along to work on her socialization; she worked the crowd and made some new friends but she was also very warm as it was 88 F and sunny.  She mainly stayed in the shade and did get her share of great food.  Images follow:

The grills are started and the early volunteers work with the staff to prepare for the main event

The grills are started and the early volunteers work with the staff to prepare for the main event

The BBQ grill masters are hard at work cooking delicious food

The BBQ grill masters are hard at work cooking delicious food

Now that's a barbecue!!

Now that’s a barbecue!

Just a few of the many KTNA volunteers

Just a few of the many KTNA volunteers

Just an all-round great time!

Just an all-round great time!

Memorial Day Show

Once again I find myself reflecting upon this very special Monday and wondering just how many of my fellow Americans are doing the same. Indeed, we should start every day with a brief review of all we have to be thankful for and our freedom should be right up with the top five selections. But this Monday has been set apart as ‘the’ holiday to honor our vets and all they have done for us. While the focus of the holiday is on those vets who gave their all for this country and its people I prefer to include all our vets in my reminiscing. As a country we can never hope to adequately thank our vets for all their incredible effort on behalf of not just Americans but so many people around the world.  Most of us have no real feel for the level of sacrifice these brave men and women put forth on a regular basis to ensure our comfortable and free lifestyle.

Yet we are a country divided; one in which a large faction seems intent upon destroying the very liberties and freedom we hold so dear. There is a fringe liberal movement that would shame us into weakness by holding that we are an imperial power bent solely on dominating the world at any cost and as such we are evil. Tell this to the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps or those who endured natural disasters around the world across the past 15 years and are alive today only because of the generosity of the American people coupled with the power and strength of our military who selflessly were almost immediately on scene to provide assistance, supplies and comfort.

We elected a president who believes we should no longer be a major player on the international stage; that we have for far too long meddled in other country’s business simply for our own gain. And he and his dysfunctional administration have sought to ‘lead from behind’ – the very phrase is idiocy personified – while slowly eroding our military power. As a result we now live in times that are actually more dangerous than those of the Cold War days when it was the USSR and the USA at odds. During such times each super power had too much to lose to ignite a full blown conflict; nowadays with the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS bloodying the news we are all vulnerable to terrorism from savages with no moral compasses. While nuclear Armageddon hardly felt ‘safe’ as someone who lived through those dark days it was preferable to the specter of nuclear, biological and/or chemical terrorism initiated by fanatics with nothing to lose.

I fear for my country yet I cannot deny ‘we the people’ allowed this situation to grow and fester through inattention and an unwillingness to understand what was happening within our government. Decades of preferring TV and video games to becoming involved in the political process has left us with a bitter legacy which has poisoned so many people’s outlooks on this once great country. Fringe elements on both ends of the political spectrum utilize the fallout from this poisoning to recruit new ‘believers’ in the war for the country’s soul while so many of us are forced into inaction because we can see no way to reverse this trend.

Against all this I cannot help but wonder what all our veterans would think of this country; the same they spilled blood to support and often gave their very lives? Would they be proud of their efforts and sacrifices? Or would they just be befuddled and confused regarding what has happened to ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’? Sadly I believe it would be the latter and that is a disgrace upon their collective honor, one they shouldn’t have to bear.

On this most poignant of national holidays I fear for my country yet I also have hope because of the legacy our veterans have given us; that of commitment to cause, dedication to principle and a willingness to sacrifice everything to perpetuate the dream of a free, proud and strong America. They have done, and do, so much for us and ask so little in return. Yet the debt we owe them is immeasurable and we can never hope to even begin to adequately repay them for their service. Across my years I’ve purchased and stuffed packages with ‘comfort’ items going to troops overseas, I’ve written letters to many service men, I’ve assisted in cleaning local veteran’s cemeteries and I give as much as I can to support organizations like the ‘Wounded Warrior Foundation’ and ‘The Snowball Express’. But in the end it all seems so meager, so little in the face of their sacrifice. Yet I will continue to do what I can because our vets deserve it…and so much more!

Tonight, if tuning into 88.9 KTNA Talkeetna or listening on ‘KTNA.org’ I will once again make a very humble offering in the form of:

“Good Evening, you are listening to KTNA broadcasting at a frequency of 88.9 MHz on your FM dial and streaming live via our website – KTNA.org.  It is now 20:00 on a Monday evening and that means it is time to ‘Take A Little Trip Back…’ Tonight is a special program as once again we find ourselves celebrating Memorial Day; as such this is the day we take time to remember all those who gave their lives to ensure this country would remain free. Indeed, this is something we should reflect upon each and every day because as this holiday so poignantly reminds us:  ‘Freedom isn’t free!’ I’m dedicating this entire to show to all our service women and men, whether still with us today or deceased, Thank You All for your dedication, your courage and your sacrifice!! You embody the very best this country has to offer and ‘we the people’ owe you all a debt we can never hope to adequately repay. With the greatest of respect I dedicate the next hour to our vets…”