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 Stealth Pandemic: It’s Already Too Late

This posting will be a definite departure from my usual genre of relating my experiences and learnings regarding living in rural south central Alaska. With this said it may well be the single most important piece I’ve written in this blog; as such I hope it can at least assist others about to experience this situation if not offer some hope to those same folks as well as any who are currently making this difficult journey.

My impetus for this piece came from talking with a dear friend late last week who is just now beginning this arduous journey and hearing of his frightening albeit limited choices. The ‘stealth pandemic’ I speak of is something that is already well entrenched in our society and is also becoming more and more prevalent throughout the world. To this point there is no cure for its ravages and it has but one outcome: a degrading death for its victims while it destroys families and friends. I’m speaking of the dementia pandemic in general and of the vicious Alzheimer’s in particular.

Up until recently most folks knew of Alzheimer’s through humor; I, too, shared many of these jokes via email and word of mouth. But when my own mother began to show the signs of Alzheimer’s I quickly learned there is NOTHING funny about the disease! As the only family member proximate to my mother I experienced the grief, the frustration, the despair and the futility of this wicked disease first hand as I watched my once strong and intelligent mother devolve into a mindless stranger incapable of communicating and caring for her most basic needs. During Mom’s struggles and after she passed I volunteered at an assisted living facility which had a special section for the ‘memory impaired’; I worked within that section almost exclusively for over three years. I watched countless victims enter this facility in relatively good condition but then inevitably begin to succumb to the ravages of the disease; none of them ever left the facility alive because no one recovers from Alzheimer’s. During this time I not only witnessed the disintegration of so many wonderful people; I watched the disease’s effects tear apart families and decimate friendships. Indeed, I’ve observed many times that Alzheimer’s might well be the only disease that is at least as hard if not harder on family and friends than the victim.

Up front let me say that if you have not experienced the journey one embarks upon when dealing with a family member or close friend in the grip of this wretched disease then you cannot understand what is involved or the nature of the stress and pain that one will endure. This includes all health providers; in fact doctors are some of the absolute worst resources in this situation! They may understand Alzheimer’s from an intellectual standpoint but they do not grasp the emotional and spiritual effects; no one can until they’ve experienced it. I sincerely hope all reading this will never know this experience as it’s one that forever changes everyone who lives through it and in so doing it does scar one’s very essence.

Care-givers who deal with Alzheimer’s speak of starting a journey when dealing with a friend or family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This is really quite accurate; anyone in such a situation walks a path that has many commonalities with those others have walked yet no two are exactly the same. But without question anyone experiencing this journey will not finish it the same as when they started and for many of us the journey has never ended.

As mentioned I talked with a very dear friend late last week and learned of his untenable situation; I’ve chosen to relate this as a very clear warning to everyone reading this blog. His mother in law has been showing signs of Alzheimer’s for maybe a year now; based on what he shared I’d guess she’s in stage three or possibly early stage four of the current six stages of the disease. She is a stubborn single woman living in her home and she refuses to move out although she is clearly a danger to herself and others. The family has tried for years to encourage her to move into some form of assisted living but she refuses. The family was also unable to get her to sign any legal forms detailing her DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney) or MPOA (Medical Power of Attorney) so she remains in ‘control’ of her life and assets. She has slowly albeit steadily declined over the past six months and is now regularly hallucinating, is subject to fits of extreme anger and often cannot recognize family or friends. Only recently were they able to get her to visit doctors and just recently she’s been seeing a gerontologist. She regularly calls the police to report strangers in her house; this has happened so often the police now know of her and handle her calls accordingly. In short she should not be living by herself and should be in a very controlled and quiet situation. But the family is incapable of making this happen.

Why, you ask..? Because in this situation even though the gerontologist recognizes this woman is struggling with Alzheimer’s he will not sign the lack of competency forms the family’s lawyer has carefully prepared – he has seen the woman and is in complete agreement she is no longer competent to handle her own affairs – for some unknown reason. His ‘solution’ is to have the woman move in with the family such that they can provide care!! Even as I type this I remain aghast at this recommendation; it is probably the worst answer to the situation bar allowing it to continue status quo. This family has two daughters, one of whom is a special needs child, and thus already has a very full plate. Yet this gerontologist can offer just this ‘resolution’..?!?!?!

To me this is the classic case of a doctor being totally clueless regarding what is involved in attempting to care for an Alzheimer’s victim and I find it horribly remiss especially as this health care provider’s specialty is aged people. Very few families out there are capable of providing the care such a victim requires especially when one realizes her needs are only going to increase as the wicked disease further ravages her mind and body. She requires virtually 24 x 7 care yet both these adults work full time jobs on top of providing wonderful care for their special needs daughter. Even the Alzheimer’s Association recommends against having family attempt to care for another family member showing advanced Alzheimer’s mainly because the commitment, understanding and work load is beyond what most people can provide. In addition the stress and strain of handling such care will often completely exhaust the care-giver despite good intentions. This is why Alzheimer’s can rip apart families and destroy friendships; I saw this happen repeatedly while volunteering and in such circumstances the families were not even providing the care but rather just visiting their loved one at the specialized facility.

Why the gerontologist will not sign the competency forms is a mystery that the family is trying to unravel. No doubt it is based upon fears of some legal issues down the road. But should this care-giver’s personal fears force this wonderful family into a situation which will put untenable stress upon their family unit, further wear down the loving parents, cause additional stress to the special needs daughter and possibly do unrepairable damage to the marriage? Where is the logic of condemning a family to such a horrific experience in a futile attempt to care for a victim who is already condemned to death? If the victim had millions of dollars in an estate or similar one might see some rationale but this woman is just a lower middle class American with very limited finances and no portfolio or financial reserves.

Because this family is dear to me and because I know some of what their path will entail I truly fear for their futures. But sadly I know they are not alone in their peril; indeed, as the world’s population ages this ‘stealth pandemic’ will not be stealthy much longer. But until there is a cure for this most wicked of afflictions I fear there is little we can do. More and more people will be faced with situations just like the one I’ve related, if not worse, and probably will be given as few real options. There are no good answers to this pandemic; we can only attempt to manage it via a triage approach. But before long I fear we, as a society, will be forced to make some very tough decisions regarding how we handle a burgeoning number of elderly – and some not so elderly – victims of dementia.

So, what good can come of this piece? I can only offer the following recommendations based upon my experience and my observations:

1. When family members reach the age of fifty it is imperative to sit down, review their current health and have that tough discussion regarding how to handle their affairs.
2. At that same time decide upon a DPOA and MPOA, as well as secondaries, and have this drawn up in a legally binding document.
3. While doing this have any DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) wishes and similar clearly delineated and made legally binding.
4. Discuss any inheritance wishes and have them clearly defined in great detail and put into a legal document (i.e. will, trust, etc.).
5. Before your loved ones reach 65 years of age discuss with them their desires in retirement; if they wish to consider some form of assisted living DO NOT WAIT to get this process underway!!! Assist them in every way possible to review options, visit facilities and if at all possible put down a deposit. Try very hard to make it happen sooner rather than later. I say this based on experience; my parents did most of this in their early seventies but never actually put down the deposit. Then, as is so common, with age their outlooks changed and they became determined to remain in their home even after it was no longer safe for them to do so.
6. Once you begin this journey please, please, please avail yourself of the myriad of support mechanisms that exist; do not be too proud or too macho to ask for help. I can virtually guarantee you will face long, sleepless nights and feel utter despair such as you’ve never known while watching your loved one slip away. In worst case situations they can become angry and say and do things that will be extraordinarily hurtful. Never forget that in such situations it is not your loved one talking or acting; it is the disease!

And finally, when dealing with these situations, always ‘act from the heart’. You will almost assuredly be faced with making incredibly difficult choices for which there are no ‘good’ answers. Be prepared to experience overwhelming pain, utter desperation and gut-wrenching guilt; these are all entirely normal for those walking this path. While there are no good outcomes regarding this journey I can assure you that if you follow your loved one’s wishes and always act from the heart you will eventually be able to look back and know you did the very best you could do…

Rock & Roll – Mother Nature’s Style

At 09:51 AKDT this (September 25th) morning a magnitude 6.24 earthquake occurred centered 60 miles WSW of Talkeetna at a depth of 62 miles; at that time I just happened to be in a warehouse in Palmer picking out the donated food I would be hauling back to Talkeetna. I was standing on the concrete loading dock when all the overhead doors that were down began to tremble as if being buffeted by a heavy wind. My fellow volunteers and members of the local food banks looked around in stunned silence; for the first 10 seconds no one knew what was happening but very quickly the more experienced folks said; “Earthquake”. About that same time a couple of the warehouse employees raced out doors and headed into the parking lot.

About that same time I felt the heavy concrete floor began to rise and fall in a sine wave motion indicative of the event’s ‘S’ waves; by this time I was already moving to the closest open overhead door so I could stand in the doorway until the tremblor ceased. The entire event last a bit more than 30 seconds and was the most powerful earthquake I’ve yet to experience. In looking over the thickness of that loading dock floor it still boggles my mind that it can actually float and rise and fall in periodicity with the waves from the seismic event. It was a bit disconcerting to watch the faces of the folks with more than 20 years of living in Alaska; to a person there was some fear borne of the concern that this one might be ‘a big one’. From what I can determine this generally means anything at or above a magnitude 7.0 so in this case we were quite a bit short of that threshold. Still and all it was yet another amazing display of Nature’s power.

When I arrived home after dropping off my food at the Pantry I discovered a number of items had been shifted around but no real damage. The event did cause the dual monitor set up on my main system to get knocked askew – no surprise as they are bolted to the wall – and pushed around some items on the desk but that was about the extent of any effects. The large CO2 tank I have in the utility room I use to carbonate a multitude of beverages was still standing just fine but then it is chained to the wall studs just in case something like this takes place. The dogs didn’t seem to be any worse for wear; as I wasn’t at home I didn’t have a chance to see if they showed any response before or during the event. Last November’s magnitude 5.4 just awoke Anana from a sound sleep but Qanuk was sleeping upstairs and while he did come running down to the main room I think that was from the effects of the event rather than some precognition.

Alaska is the most seismically active of the 50 states and in just my thirteen months of living up here I’ve now experienced two events in excess of magnitude 5.3 and a number of smaller tremblors. Being a ‘flat lander’ from Michigan I’d experienced just a couple of very minor earthquakes growing up although while living around 70 miles ENE of Saint Louis I did awaken to a magnitude 4.6 event early one morning. This was the product of the notorious New Madrid fault line which uncorked a real doozey back in the early 1800’s – estimated to have been magnitude 7.1 to 8.0 – which caused the Mississippi River to reverse its flow for a few days. I’d experienced a number of relatively small events in the California Bay Area with most being between magnitude 4.0 and 5.0. My time in the Bay Area did teach me to seek out doorways in the event of a quake and stay away from windows. I guess the training did sink in as once I realized it was indeed an earthquake I immediately looked for a door way.

Earthquakes are a part of life in Alaska and as such most folks just endure them and get on with life. I must admit to being fascinated when I can feel the earth shifting beneath my feet and experience other effects common to fairly powerful seismic events. But I’ve also seen imagery of the damage and destruction even a magnitude 6.4 earthquake can inflict so I am aware of the potential for serious issues from such occurrences. Being ready by knowing safety rules and taking the necessary precautions at home are really about all one can do in preparation for such events. I still must admit I am fascinated by the geology and physics involved in such events and especially of the incredible power of our Mother Earth!

One Person’s Garbage…

Those of you who follow this blog know of my love of volunteering; I only discovered the joy in doing so once I retired but in those few years volunteering has become a staple in my existence.  I do so love the ‘warm’ feeling I get from engaging in efforts which I know will directly assist other people but the real beauty is how much more I get out of my actions than I invest!  As such volunteering for me is a true ‘win-win’ situation.  My first love was working with elderly dementia victims; this was brought about by regularly visiting my mother as she slowly succumbed to the horrific ravages of that wicked disease Alzheimer’s.  In hindsight it’s a miracle I even tried this work as I had no formal training and as so many who knew me across the decades pointed out I did not suffer fools gladly.  But for some reason I found the patience and especially the empathy to enjoy working with such folks.  Herein lies another wonder of volunteering; it caused me to really push my comfort zone and try things I never would have thought of doing.  This same situation is reflected in the volunteering I do at the local radio station (KTNA 88.9 MHz/ktna.org); as a young child I spent years in speech therapy and was never comfortable speaking in front of other people.  Yet now I handle the Friday evening newscasts and host a music show on Monday evenings.  Volunteering has also proven to be a well-spring for developing new friends and acquaintances; this was essential as when I relocated to the outskirts of Talkeetna I knew no one.

While I enjoy my KTNA efforts they are largely something I do because I enjoy live radio although I know it also helps out KTNA by filling air time with local broadcasting and the station is the only source of timely news, weather, announcements and local information for the upper Susitna Valley.  The work I currently do that really nourishes my spirit involves volunteering with the Upper Susitna Food Pantry (aka ‘the Pantry’).  By investing just a few hours a week I know that I am helping insure that local families and individuals are getting more nutritious meals and in some cases even meals at all.  Most of my time involves driving to specific warehouses (those that handle receiving ‘Food Bank of Alaska’ donations) in Palmer and Anchorage to sort through donated food stuffs, load up my vehicle and haul my load back to the Pantry where it’s cataloged and then distributed.  I truly enjoy interacting with the representatives from the other 10 to 12 food charities in the Mat-Su Valley.  We meet at these warehouses on specific dates just in advance of an arriving semi loaded with donated foods.  We then divvy up the food, get it segregated and weighed by group, assist each other in loading our vehicles and haul our loads.  The folks are really great people and I really love just interacting with them.

The ‘Food Bank of Alaska’ does a great job in collecting a variety of foods and getting them to these locations where generally they are completely utilized by the charities.  But sometimes there are remnants and sadly many times they go to the dumpster or refuse collection point.  It breaks my heart to see perfectly edible food being just thrown away.  The food we see is completely edible but sometimes has cosmetic defects – mainly fresh produce – or has passed its shelf life.  As such it’s deemed ‘donate only’ although it’s still completely safe to consume.  Having spent twelve years in food manufacturing and food R&D as well as obtaining a BS from Michigan State University in Food Science I understand the potential liabilities with such food products most of which we can thank the damn trial lawyers for exacerbating.  But as a culture we have some very ‘unrealistic’ concepts regarding what is edible and what is not; it’s these concepts which cause us to be so wasteful.  Because of my background and experience I know the general costs associated with most food groups; this goes far beyond what the foods might fetch on the open market.  So when I see a pallet of bananas destined to be dumped because they are brown and a bit ripe I recognize we are truly wasting good food.  I’m not suggesting we learn to eat ‘green’ meat or fuzzy bread but certainly could eat much of what we currently deem as garbage.  The aforementioned brown bananas can be frozen and then used in bakery products or in drinks.  People often throw cheese out when it shows a bit of mold yet with a sharp knife on can easily remove the mold and a bit of the cheese as well such that the mycelium and similar contaminants are separated from the otherwise perfectly acceptable food.  One should also remember many cheeses would not exist were it not for molds and their actions.  I could go on and on but you get my drift.

The United States literally does feed much of the world and as such we are in a unique position to be able to begin to affect changes in our own cultural beliefs regarding what is edible.  For so long we’ve been so rich that it was viewed as almost our ‘right’ to waste food but such times are coming to and end.  As the earth’s population continues to increase there are more and more mouths to feed but we continue to deplete our soil base and have to turn to ‘mega-farming’ to economically continue to crank out huge quantities of basic food stuffs.  Over the long haul such practices are most likely unsustainable; they will be further negatively impacted by climate changes.  Now is the time for we Americans to begin to really recognize that our gift of fertile lands, copious water sources and farming technology is not without limits and we must work to better live within these limits.  On a longer term I can see where currently unacceptable food sources will have to be utilized; insects as a source of protein is just one of these sources.  To most Americans the thought of consuming ‘bugs’ engenders feelings of disgust but it’s amazing what hunger will do to one’s perspective regarding food.  If in doubt just talk to someone who has spent five days in the wild with only the clothes on their back!

Currently our difficulties in feeding our own people stem mainly from distribution issues and can be solved.  But we will soon face honest food shortages if we continue on our current path.  It really is time to reassess what we as a culture deem to be unacceptable for consumption as food; all too often what we view as ‘garbage’ would gladly be accepted as wholesome food by others.  So allowing such foods to simply go to waste is unacceptable.  We need to learn from those around us who are more than willing to consume what we currently term as ‘refuse’; it’s a simple case of one person’s garbage being another person’s treasure..!

2014 KTNA Volunteers

2014 KTNA Volunteers

Here’s most of the 2014 KTNA volunteers gathered in front of the studio for a group shot taken during the ‘KTNA Volunteer Appreciation Picnic’ held on June 12th. Many people have asked what I look like as I’ve mentioned the image I use as an avatar is from 2003; therefore I decided to post this picture. I’m the fat head in the back row with the shaved head and red shirt and vest.

A Wonderful ‘Thank You’ From KTNA!

Last Thursday the staff at KTNA held their annual ‘volunteer appreciation picnic’ and I was impressed no end with the great food and wonderful companionship as well as some truly memorable live music.  I’d guess there were maybe 60 to 75 folks in attendance; the staff set up a large tent to cover the food and a myriad of tables and chairs.  They cooked a variety of hamburgers, sausages and vegetables to order which went well with all the ‘fixin’s’ and, of course, a couple of pony kegs of locally brewed beer.  We even managed to get a group picture of the current bevy of volunteers who help make KTNA the ‘Voice of the Susitna Valley’.  My neighbor Larry was there and played his electric guitar with another gentleman who was very skilled on his acoustic guitar.  As good as these folks played when Kayti sang with them it was just incredible.  She’s obviously a very young woman but she has a very strong voice and she was equally adept at rock, blues and jazz vocals.  She could sing most song’s lyrics from memory.  I know there is a plethora of artistic talent in the Talkeetna area but in my estimation Kayti should be singing for some group touring the US!  Even the weather cooperated with overcast and cool temps with just a brief period of misting.  The locals told me last year the air temps were in the upper eighties; I’ll take the upper fifties we saw this year any day!!

All told this was a wonderful time and a great way for KTNA to thank us volunteers for our time.  Personally I’d continuing doing what I do for the station without such a great ‘reward’ but it did feel good to know our efforts are appreciated…Image

The studio and the picnic with the huge grill in operation

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Kayti (red jacket) singing with Larry to her right

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Great people, great food, really great music and a fantastic Thursday afternoon!!