Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman by Miriam Horn – a much needed reprise on working collaboratively to address environmental issues and still make a living

The overarching theme of the book “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn is to accomplish lasting, impactful solutions (in this case with climate change and environmental concerns) we need to work with folks in the middle. In essence, the folks in the extremes are too strident and reluctant to compromise.

A good example comes from the Montana rancher as he combats climate change and environmental degradation caused by fracking for natural gas. He works with folks who will address the environmental issues, but permit him and his family to make a living ranching. He notes the fracking companies paint a picture that is far rosier than it is, while some extreme environmentalists want everything to stop and do nothing with the land. At personal risk, he built a coalition of ranchers, environmentalists and government officials who were willing to follow his lead to preserve the environment while permitting the ranchers to do their thing.

The Kansas farmer speaks to working in concert with the land and learning and sharing best practices with other area farmers and the agro-economics people at nearby Kansas State University. Farmers want to maximize a sustainable yield on their crops, but climate change and water concerns increase the challenges to do so. He emphasizes growing what grows naturally in the area. There is a reason wheat and alfalfa are cash crops in Kansas. He notes the farm to table concept is not necessarily ideal – it would be a waste of water and land to try to grow everything everywhere. As for climate change, they work with legislators to protect the water resources, but have to stop short of using that term with their representatives. They gain collaboration by speaking to what is happening, not identifying its lead cause.

The book focuses on five professions in total, although only three are listed in the title. The other two are Shrimper and River Captain. Skipping over the fisherman and shrimper, who are each impacted by the environmental waste and degradation worsened by climate change, let me finish up with the River Captain.

The Louisiana based river man moves frieight up and down the Mississippi River. He understands the importance of experienced teams who know the river going both ways, with high, low or medium water levels. He has seen the significant dissipation of the wetlands in the Bayou which are causing huge problems to many. Engineers tried to outsmart the river and failed. In fairly dramatic fashion, the Gulf of Mexico is absorbing land due to rising sea levels and fewer buffers, So, they are working with scientists, businesses, and even the petroleum industry to slowly rebuild the Bayou.

Note, there are pros and cons to each set of solutions, so getting to the best answer requires honest input on the costs and risks to people, environment and livelihoods. And, some of the answers are counterintuitive. For example, not sending barges down the Mississippi means more truck traffic which pollutes the environment, degrades the roads and heightens risk for other drivers. With more electric trucks, this would lessen the risk, so that is a factor in risk/ benefit trade-offs. The farmer’s comment about farm to table also deserves scrutiny as farm to table also helps to lessen these trucking risks and costs. Yet, on a large scale, the point about growing stuff that is more natural to an area is profound and will lessen the impact on water resources which are dear.

It should be noted working in collaboration is how business and government work best. Yet, collaboration is hard work. For those who block the consideration of solutions, they need to be sidelined. In our toxic tribal political environment, we must remember each side does not own all the good ideas and both sides own some bad ones. Let’s follow the lead of these folks who get their hands dirty, understand what is happening and work together.

Advertisement

Thanksgiving leftovers abound

We sent many leftovers home with our guests, but we also have samples of what they brought. So, we will have to delay the calorie reduction for a few days. The weight has creeped up the last week with the combination of casseroles, pasta, bread and the wonderful desserts. I hope I can find a walk in-between the possible rain today.

The weight is also increased by the diplomatic desire to sample everyone’s dishes. When I see my plate, it looks like a series of two dollops of everything. My rule for judicious eating is homemade stuff gets priority over heated purchased stuff. The one exception is a honey balked ham, which gives a great alternative to turkey, which I also like.

The fellowship was wonderful. We had sixteen in total and since it was the day after Thanksgiving, the rule was to sit where ever there is a place. We have a new niece who we saw for the first time. She was quite animated as she looked around the room while being held. I got my chance to hold her and sing softly like I did with my kids. My wife thinks she likes my voice coming through my chest for comfort. She seems to like the Righteous Brothers better than Elvis and Bread. So, “Unchained Melody” may be her new theme song when visiting.

Fun was had by all. We even called another niece and had a live chat with sixteen folks on our end. The final thing we do before everyone leaves is get a photo shot of all present. I think we have about ten of these pictures over the years.

I hope everyone had a great holiday. Have a wonderful weekend. Pick out a good tree if that is in the works.

Let’s be different and call it an Orange Friday

Black Friday started as a day of shopping for others, but has turned into a month long inventory close out event for personal shoppers. Oh, a few gifts are bought, as well. I have never cared for Black Friday, so when we visited my grandparents for Thanksgiving, I would always take my cousin and sister to a movie on Black Friday. It was a lot quieter then.

So, rather than call it Black Friday, let’s call it Orange. As per the show about women in prison, “Orange is the new black.” I am not saying we are all prisoners of the retail engine, but we should just use a more fun color and do something different. Orange is brighter and more vibrant.

In our family, we have a larger dinner gathering with multiple siblings and cousins where we can knock out more leftovers after our smaller Thanksgiving meals. Yes, I will be eating more today. So, more hiking, Yoga and Pilates will be required.

A few odds and ends for this Orange Friday are as follows:

In Alaska, the votes are tallied and the results are favorable. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the few Republicans with the courage to stare down and call out the deceitful actions of the former president, won her Senate race. And, Native Alaskan and Democrat Mary Peltola won her Congressional seat defeating former governor and vice president candidate Sarah Palin. It should be noted the former president endorsed the opposition in both races, so this adds two more to the tally of failed candidates under his purview.

In Oakland, a new mayor was voted in named Sheng Thao, a progressive who defeated the moderate Loren Taylor. What proves interesting is Thao was at one time a homeless person after a split up from her abusive husband fifteen years ago. Plus, she is the first woman of Hmong descent to ever be elected mayor. Her parents were refugees.

I find these two sets of stories very compelling. To me, they show more glimmers of hope that Democracy can survive when too many folks are trying to bully, lie and cheat their way into office. It is not surprising that outgoing Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro is contending his election loss (this was an easy prediction of a few weeks ago), nor is it surprising that Kari Lake won’t concede her Arizona governor race loss, even though the existing Republican governor is welcoming incoming Democrat winner Katie Hobbs. Both Lake and Bolsonaro like to emulate the former US president and his penchant for tossing the checkerboard when he loses.

So, let’s celebrate an Orange Friday. Enjoy your families, enjoy the day and enjoy that the candidates who emulate the orange hair guy did not win.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Even for our friends who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, peace be with you. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, bar none. Sixteen of us will sit down to dinner and fellowship tomorrow with a smaller gathering tonight.

If the rain cooperates, we will do tomorrow in a picnic shelter as we have done the past two years. Otherwise, our house will be crowded once again. We moved outside when the pandemic hindered us but liked it so much we did it again.

This will need to be short as more preparation is required. We have been at this for a few days, but thank goodness people will be bringing food, drinks or ice.

Please remember this season all of the things to be thankful for. Also, note good news is vastly underreported and bad news is vastly overreported, so things are never as bad as they seem. With that said, there are too many who do without or less than we do in this country and world. There are too many that live in a more dangerous area than we do and are ostracized and disenfranchised daily.

Let’s be thankful for what we have and remember those who are not as comfortable as we are or are in severe need. And, let’s take time to remember the empty chairs at the table. This is a way for our beloved family no longer with us can be celebrated. All the best.

Welcome to America – I hope you are packing heat (a second reprise)

Second reprise in November, 2022: Two more mass shootings have occurred in America in the past few days. Maybe it will be easier to post when there have not been any shootings that day. Today, it was reported that seven were killed at a shooting in a Walmart in Virginia. Last week, five died in a nightclub in Colorado Springs. Yet, it is still early in the week. A watered down gun bill was passed earlier this year. It was something, but not enough. In the US, the real danger is not even the mass shootings. It is the everyday killings over a fight, crime, or escalated disagreement. Or, it could be when a four-year old finds a gun and thinks it is a toy. As for the mass shootings, it not ironic that the two that just happened dovetail the reference in the first reprise in May, 2021.

First reprise in May, 2021: The following post was written almost eight years ago, but as you read it, the events seem to come right out of today’s headlines. This is one topic I am truly tired of writing about, as lobbyists have hobbled the ability for legislators to act like parents and spouses and do something. Americans have said in surveys they want, yet nothing gets done. It reveals who butters the bread for these politicians. At this moment, one more shooting has occurred in Virginia. After Colorado. After Atlanta….

I have written several posts about our excessive gun violence in America. We lead the world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. Yet, we continue to do nothing about it. We have a parade of children led shootings at schools the past few weeks, yet we continue to do nothing about it. Pick up any US newspaper anywhere in the country and count the number of gun death or violence stories. I wrote a post about Googling a “six-year-old kills four-year-old” and counting the number of stories that pop up. Yet, we still do nothing about it. We have mass shootings, which are horrific tragedies, but dwarfed by the daily killings of kids, yet we still do nothing about it. And, Americans by virtue of reputable surveys, clearly want better background checks and more elongated waiting periods, yet we still do nothing about it.

Here are a few links to these previous posts.

I am thinking of the person who finally asked Senator Joe McCarthy during his communist witch hunt trials, “Senator, have you no shame?” That was actually the beginning of the end for McCarthy. I fully recognize the complexity of what is causing gun deaths, but the NRA and strident gun amassers would like you to believe that guns have little to do with gun deaths. Responsible gun owners know this not to be the case, which is why they take great pains to teach their use and put them away for safekeeping. So, using the McCarthy line above, “NRA, have you no shame?”

We are well past the time to act on these issues. It is a poverty issue, it is mental health issue, it is a lack of civil discourse issue, it is a violence in entertainment issue, but make no mistake about it, it is an access to guns issue. Without access to a weapon, the child does not kill his sibling or cousin. Without access to a weapon, the depressed teenager, college student or adult does not act on an impulse and end a life. Without access to a weapon a drunken patron at a bar or ball game does not go to his car and come back guns a blazing because they were offended.

NRA, have you no shame? You could have acted responsibly like the majority of gun owners, yet you decided to fan the flames of a fervent crowd and crow about Second Amendment rights, which I still have not seen anyone threaten. You have also usurped the leadership of the GOP and taken them down a darker path along with some other fervent misconceptions. As a result, we cannot have the long overdue civil, appropriate debate about this topic looking at all issues, including what Americans, even Republicans want by far – better background checks and elongated waiting periods. We should do more than that, but those two issues are no brainers and largely popular.

It is past time. NRA, have you no shame? NRA, stand down. We need to have a better conversation without your involvement, as you violated the trust of Americans and responsible gun owners, whom you no longer represent.

What a real hero looks like (an encore performance)

Two years ago I wrote about the latest act of heroism from Dolly Parton. Last night, we watched a host of popular, rock and country singers honor her as one of the latest inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. From Pink to Brandi Carlisle to Sheryl Crow to Zac Brown to Pat Benatar, we saw a loving and admiring tribute to this talented woman. She also played a new rock and roll song she wrote for the occasion, “Rocking til the cows come home.” It was pretty good. Yet, she might be remembered more for her humanity.

I have written before about this hero primarily for her book gifting program for young kids, which is now an international program called “Imagination Library” (see second link below). Her name is Dolly Parton. I heard she could write songs and sing, as well. Yet, Parton just received some new acclaim for helping fight COVID-19.

In an article in The Hill by Judy Kurtz (see first link below) called “Dolly Parton among donors behind Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine,” her efforts are revealed. Here are a few paragraphs from the article.

“Dolly Parton can add another achievement to her résumé: helping to fund research for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The ‘9 to 5’ singer was one of several donors listed Monday as part of the announcement that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate was 94.5 percent effective in an interim analysis. The ‘Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund’ was named as a supporter in the footnotes of a New England Journal of Medicine report.

Parton, 74, announced back in April that she was giving $1 million to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center toward finding a vaccine to fight against COVID-19.

In an April Instagram post announcing her contribution, the Grammy Award winner said she was donating in honor of her longtime friend, Dr. Naji Abumrad, a researcher at Vanderbilt who informed her ‘that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure.'”

Parton will be remembered many years from now for her Imagination Library where 147 million books have been provided to young children. Currently, there are 1.7 million children signed up for the program. Yet, seeing her do things like the vaccine funding adds to her legacy.

Seeing her interviewed on multiple occasions, the depth of her kindness, integrity, and approachability is heart warming. Her ability to laugh at herself (both the stage personality and at home one) reveals a very smart woman that disarms people. She does not need to solicit attention for her good deeds, it just spreads.

Well done, Ms. Parton. You are a credit to the human race. Thank you for your music and big heart.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/dolly-parton-among-donors-behind-moderna-s-coronavirus-vaccine/ar-BB1b6aIj?ocid=msedgdhp

https://imaginationlibrary.com/

From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes – Robert Clary’s story – an encore (may he RIP)

The following is an encore post from this summer to honor the amazing life of actor and holocaust survivor and advocate, Robert Clary, who passed away yesterday at age 96.

For those of us who grew up in the 1960s or watched a lot of reruns on television, there was a comedy show about a prisoner of war camp in Germany during World War II called “Hogan’s Heroes.” One of its stars was a diminutive and funny character named Corporal LeBeau, played by French actor Robert Clary. Yet, while a POW camp is a not a concentration camp where Jews were exterminated, Clary also had the horrid experience of being a survivor of the real Holocaust in a camp called Buchenwald.

I learned this watching a movie made in 1982 called “Remembrance of Love” starring Kirk Douglas, Chana Eden and Pam Dawber where two young lovers were split apart by the Nazis and Douglas’s character went to a Holocaust event in Israel to see if she was still alive. Clary played himself in the film as an ambassador to these Holocaust survivors.

Per Wikipedia, here is Clary’s early story:

“Born in 1926 in Paris, France, Clary was the youngest of 14 children, 10 of whom would die in the Holocaust. At the age of twelve, he began a career singing professionally on a French radio station and also studied art in Paris. In 1942, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth, in Upper Silesia (now Otmęt, Poland). He was tattooed with the identification ‘A5714’ on his left forearm. He was later sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.

At Buchenwald, he sang to an audience of SS soldiers every other Sunday, accompanied by an accordionist. He said, ‘Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived. I was very immature and young and not really fully realizing what situation I was involved with … I don’t know if I would have survived if I really knew that.

Writing about his experience, Clary said,

‘We were not even human beings. When we got to Buchenwald, the SS shoved us into a shower room to spend the night. I had heard the rumours about the dummy shower heads that were gas jets. I thought, ‘This is it.’ But no, it was just a place to sleep. The first eight days there, the Germans kept us without a crumb to eat. We were hanging on to life by pure guts, sleeping on top of each other, every morning waking up to find a new corpse next to you. … The whole experience was a complete nightmare — the way they treated us, what we had to do to survive. We were less than animals. Sometimes I dream about those days. I wake up in a sweat terrified for fear I’m about to be sent away to a concentration camp, but I don’t hold a grudge because that’s a great waste of time. Yes, there’s something dark in the human soul. For the most part, human beings are not very nice. That’s why when you find those who are, you cherish them.'”

Clary published a memoir, From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes: The Autobiography of Robert Clary, in 2001. Rather than summarize his career before and after “Hogan’s Heroes,” I encourage you to link to the Wikipedia article on his behalf. He was often asked to distinguish between the fictional POW camp and the real concentration camp he survived.

“Stalag 13 is not a concentration camp. It’s a POW camp, and that’s a world of difference. You never heard of a prisoner of war being gassed or hanged. When the show went on the air, people asked me if I had any qualms about doing a comedy series dealing with Nazis and concentration camps. I had to explain that it was about prisoners of war in a Stalag, not a concentration camp, and although I did not want to diminish what soldiers went through during their internments, it was like night and day from what people endured in concentration camps.”

To this day, there are people with hard-hearted and hateful motives who want people to believe the Holocaust did not happen, that over 6 million Jews, gays and lesbians and gypsies were not exterminated by the Nazis in World War II. This is not only a blatant attempt at disinformation, it truly is evil. It is on par with people trying to white wash all the bad things in history committed by humans against one another and the Holocaust ranks as one of the greatest atrocities in our history. These Jews and others were arrested, stripped, starved and gassed, because of some lunatic idea set forth by Adolph Hitler and his henchmen.

Interestingly, Clary remains alive and well at the age of 96, one of the last two survivors from the “Hogan’s Heroes” show. Yet, he said he still has nightmares at this age and lost many of his siblings due the Nazi genocide. We must never forget what happened to Clary and his family among the multiple millions of Jews and others that were impacted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Clary

We need religious leaders not cult leaders

One of my pet peeves is witnessing bigotry from the pulpit. To me, it is one of the more egregious abuses of power, as we look to our ministers to be among our better angels. One thing I have sadly learned over my worship, volunteer and business life is just because one is portrayed as pious, does not mean they are without fault.

To be frank, we need our ministers, rabbis, priests, imams, and other faith leaders to be religious leaders not cult leaders. We need our religious leaders to inspire us, counsel us, and guide us to be on and remain on a good path forward. We do not leaders to tell us who to hate, who to distrust, or who is less deserving of grace, using religious text as a weapon.

Former president Jimmy Carter is arguably one of the best ex-presidents we have ever had. His good works and good deeds around the world have helped eradicate exposure to a parasite in some third world countries, have helped shape peace agreements, and have bolstered Habitat for Humanity as he has been an ambassador for his country and the disenfranchised. He has also written around thirty books and taught Sunday school on a routine basis.

He is the kind of religious leader that we need. He often cites the context of the Christian bible rather pulling excerpts to demonize people with. He notes, taken out of context, almost any religious text can be used to put people down. In his words, that misses the point. He would look to those words in red in the Christian bible that say something like he who is without sin shall cast the first stone.

There is a reason some churches are seeing fall off in membership. Some of it is a self-fulfilling mission – when you teach a message of exclusion, people feel excluded and stay away. Even those who feel included may stay away as they don’t like the exclusive messaging. Religion is at its finest when it includes, but it is at its worst when it excludes.

A religious leader can make that kind of difference.

Moving on from the election – a letter to editor

I forwarded the following letter to my newspaper editor. Hopefully, they will publish it. I also forwarded it to some folks in an email. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As an independent voter and former member of both parties, it was good to see a significant number of election deniers and Trump sycophants defeated in the elections last week. While a few got elected in, the voters seemed to be saying enough of that storytelling and let’s move on.

I do feel the Republican Party needs to get back on track and move away from those who feel they must lie to curry favor with the former president. We need a conservative voice in our country and the current vintage of the GOP is not it. They could begin with cutting the lines to the anchor of the former president’s deceitful and allegedly seditious behavior. They could cut a few lines to his sycophants as well.

The sooner they do this, the better it will be for our country and their party.

There is a chill in the air

We have been alternating the last several weeks between turning the heater on, turning the air conditioning on and leaving them both off. It is cool one night, but we know it will get up to warmer temperatures tomorrow. Now, we are back to nice autumn weather. Let’s hope it remains for awhile.

My wife of course has the added frustration of does she put her summer clothes away or leave them be? So, we have boxes of clothes on the floor. Please do not even mention the volume of clothes, as I learned that lesson the hard way. We husbands can be taught, but it might require us getting banged in the head by a pillow to make it sink in.

Of course, the retailers have started Christmas and holiday advertising in earnest. I have always done my best to ignore these commercials as it slights my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving. The cooler days will help even more with that holiday, meaning we may be able to light a fire at our outside picnic, a tradition we started when the pandemic was waning. Cooler weather means you can take an extra bite or two of the offerings.

We are fortunate with our gatherings that we are all of a similar mindset politically, so we have been able to avoid louder discussions. It is not that we don’t have more strident folks in the family, they just are not part of our immediate family. Other families are not so lucky. So, be prepared to change topics and divert attention. Some folks just like to bait others, so those folks should be avoided. Vote with your feet and leave the room.

So, enjoy these cooler days. Have a fun holiday season. And, may your college or pro football team be victorious.