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According to Real Clear Politics, 55% of voters find Hilary Clinton to be an unfavorable candidate. 58% say the same about He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN). We’ve put ourselves in quite the predicament. The resistible object against the movable force. I do not like either choice, but I do not believe that they are on equal footing. One is a corrupt lifelong politician. The other is a swindling demagogue with authoritarian impulses and a propensity for rash behavior that could destroy life as we know it. Interestingly, none of the 5 living presidents supports HWSNBN. They understand that he lacks the knowledge, temperament, and self-reflection to hold an office with the gravity of president. I share their greatest fear – that the republic will not stand under his rule. Clinton may be business as usual, but in four years there will be an election and another chance to get things right. Are we sure that will be the case if HWSNBN is president?

So, what’s a boy to do? First, according to 538’s Election Forecast, Maryland is the safest state in the union – with greater than a 99.9% chance that Clinton will win. In that case, my presidential vote will not sway the general election. This is freeing to me. My strident opposition to HWSNBN need not force me into the camp of a corrupt oligarch. So, I’m going to vote for Jill Stein.

In the past three years, the myth of the “pause” in global warming has been debunked, as we march ever forward to the desolation of our planet. The topic was barely raised. Politicians stay away from the topic, or outright deny it. I’m voting two ways: 1) against the political parties that gave us two uniformly loathed candidates and 2) for an under appreciated issue of huge importance.

Down ballot is more informative. I am voting against HWSNBN’s right to rule. If I see your sign on the same yard as a sign for him, I am voting for your opponent. I will vote against any candidate who thinks that he is a good idea for this country. I will vote against any ballot measure supported by anyone who thinks he is a good idea for this country. He is a dangerous tyrant who must be opposed, either directly or in the form of a strong bulwark to his political standing. And you thought that Obama abused his executive privilege – be ready for the hypocrite train to pull into the station.

Or maybe he won’t be so bad. Maybe he gets into office, quickly bores of it, blowing off meeting with our allies and enemies, preferring to give speeches about programs he has no authority or money to implement. Maybe he becomes increasingly tired of attempts at his life and holes up in the White House, not even delivering the State of the Union. Maybe he’s elected and the markets tank, millions lose their jobs, and the demographic that brought him to power abandons him. Maybe he does three different things worthy of impeachment in the first year of his presidency, and maybe we end up with 2 and a half years of President Pence and a Republican party split between White Nationalists and Small Government Conservatives. Maybe 3/4ths of his supporters in the aristocracy back-peddle with a sort of revisionist history that’s hard to do in the age of social media. Maybe America is resilient against the strong hand of a dictator to be. It was built to be resilient against it.

Or, maybe it’s as a 55 year old, white, retired military man at my work says – if he loses, there will be a civil war. Maybe if he loses, the rural south is inflamed with racial violence. If he wins, the violence may shift to the cities.

Who knows. Protect your family, hope for the best. I’m apprehensive in any scenario. I would rather live in no country other than America. But we are not immune to the sort of fears and strife that threatens the world as a whole. Humans are capable of all forms of evil. God created government to restrain our sin. It does so imperfectly. We will, as always, reap what we have sown.

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In posting this year’s log, I noticed that I never typed up the one from 2009 for our canoeing trip in Algonquin PP, Ontario. After a brief search of my files, I found the log written on the back of the one from Glacier. I’m gonna lose this thing – it’s time to type it up before I do.

8/8/09 6:50 PM EST
After 7+ hours of driving, taken up mostly by computer games, we are in tiny Maynooth, Ontario. Maynooth sits on the junction between routes 62 and 127. It’s a solid hour and a half from anywhere, though there is a cell tower around here somewhere. We’re staying at the Arlington Hotel – a hostel. The room is sufficiently cozy, no complaints here. The goal is to be out on the water by 9:30 AM tomorrow. Long day in front of us – best to get away from people ASAP. Day punctuated by a 1.5 mile portage.

8/9/09 5:56 PM
Steve and I are currently at a beautiful site near the Timberwolf to Misty Lake portage, right on the water, 20 ft from Misty Lake.

We started from Canoe Lake this morning just before 10 AM. Literally 5 minutes later, it started to rain. 10 more minutes and it was pouring, During the next few hours, we paddled amonst ominous rumbles of not so distant thunder. By the time we got to an inconvenient beaver dam near Tom Thompson Lake, we were both cold and fairly miserable. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the mile and a half long portage (pronounced port-age in Canadian). There was, by that point, a few gallons of water in the basin of the canoe, though our packs were helpful in absorbing most of it.

As an aside, I just watched a loon dive into the water and resurface 80 meters away. Impressive animals.

So far, canoeing wasn’t much fun. But it’s a blast compared to portaging. That was hard, hard work. There is a reason why people take two trips to do it – canoe+pack=miserable.

Still, by the time we emerged from the portage, the skies had cleared – completely. The remainder of the trip was a pleasure, as short portages are not terrible.

We’ve been drying out stuff out for the last two hours, and we’ve made good progress. However, as I write there are dark clouds gathering in the west. Distant thunder is rumbling, quietly still. The woman at the diner this morning said “So, I hear there’s hurricanes comin! Err, tornadoes.” The real answer is neither – I’m just hoping not rain, though I would not bet on that outcome.

Rain is fine, as long as stuff can dry in between. Still, we’ve on land now and we can control a lot more on land. The canoe, which earlier collected water, is now flipped over, ready to protect our packs instead of saturate them.

At least it’s warm. Probably 68 degrees right now. Water is a very comfortable 64, we swam earlier.

8/10/09 ~6 PM EST
After another cloud day – which was welcome given our long haul on the water, the sun as finally arrived, blazing brightly. I’m sitting on a rock on our island camp site on the east end of Big Trout Lake, wearing tiny running shorts and crocs. I just finished pumping water, before that swimming, bathing for the second time in as many hours. The tent is set up and once Steve gets back from his fishing trip, we’ll be all ready to cook. Rice tonight, probably with some BBQ salami.

Today featured somewhere in the vicinity of 14 miles of paddling. Most everything is sore by now, not the least our bruised butts. The canoe took a beating as we skipped two portages on the river, one accidentally, but we made it through unscathed. Then followed three intense hours of open water canoeing across White Trout, then Big Trout. We continued to alternate between strong side (me to my left, Steve to his right) and weak side (opposite) every so often, originally switching every 8 minutes though today switching, on timer of course, every 10 minutes.

We were greeted, upon arriving at the island, by two little brown squirrels. They came right up to us and cackled like velociraptors in Jurassic Park. They were keenly interested in our food.

We threw rocks at them and tried to whip them away with my belt. Some people think that squirrels are nature’s version of their cat – they feed them, thus making them semi-domesticated and fully annoying.

Steve and I hatched a plan to capture them and transport them to the mainland, where we needed to go to get firewood anyway. Unfortunately, we had no bag that we thought would hold them – we’d have to paddle them into the lake if they escaped on the voyage. We’ll see how cute and cuddly they are trapped on a boat!

Alas, 10 minutes later, I found Steve 30 feet up in a tree, pulling down dead branches. On an island, wood is hard to come by. When the squirrels saw Steve’s haul, they seemed to realize he was not one to trifle with. Though I won’t leave them alone with the food, they at least respect our space now.

After about 5 fitful hours of sleep last night, I had enough energy to make it through the day. There has been a veritable cacophony of rodent and duck/loon noise at dusk, though nary a large mammal (or trace of them) in sight.

I’ll need another respectable night’s sleep tonight as tomorrow features 3 portages, 2 of them over a mile. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that portages are hard, miserable work. We have a 1.5 trip concept that is probably our best bet – still, any time one lugs one of those damn boats overhead for more than a few hundred meters, it’s downright crappy work. It won’t be fun. But look at that blue sky!

8/11/09 4:50 PM EST
It’s just a minor shower – we knew it was coming and I began readying camp for its arrival while Steve sat on a rock. Somewhere in there, he decided to take the canoe, the same canoe that shelters our stuff when it rains, out to the middle of the lake.

5:21 PM EST
Yes, that rustling in the birches and firs WAS rain. Having already closed up the tent, I hurriedly put the sacks in to the original plan – giant plastic bags. Despite my threat when Steve took the canoe, I covered his bag as well. My job, lacking the skills to actually do anything scout-like on camping trips is to do every little thing. Steve does the laissez-faire approach, though he won’t hesitate to complain about wet gear. Steve’s the adventurer, and yes, I’m the wet blanket, but with dry clothes.

5:40 PM EST
As for the rest of the day…last night was a good night for sleeping. After watching the distant lightning flash dimly in the northern sky, I drifted off fairly quickly. I only woke up because my arm was literally about to fall off – I was so tired I slept through depriving it of blood for God knows how long. I literally [literally for real this time] had to move it with my other arm. When I awoke, I noticed the moon was out. No more than 5 seconds later, I heard a wolf how. I did not hear another for the remainder of the night.

Today was a day of portages. While we figured it out somewhat, I am glad to be done with it – lugging that thing is miserable work.

We set camp on a south facing rockface in the North Arm of Lake Opeongo. With time to kill, Steve decided to swim to the small island 800 meters away. I followed in the canoe and gave him a ride back. With no gear in the canoe, we were alarmingly fast. We normally go 6 km an hour – this was easily 10. Tomorrow we’ll put our skills to good us – 13 km in open water, now with the added challenge of motor boat wakes.

For whatever it’s worth, it would be easy to take twice the food when you only need to lug it for a mile at a time. This sort of trip would be sustainable for a full week.

Though it looks like more rain on the horizon. Steve, of course, is back out on the lake.

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In days past, I’ve been prone to developing unrequited crushes. Eventually, you start thinking to yourself, “hmmm – see that look? I think she notices me too.” You have conversations in your head, you run simulations, you start planning for the next, blissful step – if only you can take the first step. And then one day, you run into this girl in the hallway. You introduce yourself, and she asks if you’re new – she hasn’t seen you around before. It was all in your head. Only your head.

Maybe that’s not the sort of thing that you think about in your head. Maybe you think you’re a hero – a protector of the people, someone who looks out for the little guy, someone who takes a stand. You join the neighborhood watch, a selfless thing to do, you think. You keep a vigilant eye on your friends and neighbors – a thin gray-ish line between your peaceful little community and the chaos constantly rapping at the gates.

One day, you see a kid, a black kid, head down and hidden in a hood, talking to himself, walking just a certain way. You know trouble when you see it. This is it, this is why they trusted you with this responsibility. You follow, calling the police so that they can get the right name in the paper when they haul this mope in on an outstanding warrant. He looks back – damnit, he sees you. He walks faster, he’s hiding something, what’s in his pocket? You keep following. He starts to run.

Are you a MAN or are you a coward, George? Are you a man? How many chances will you have to step it up, to put your foot down, to show the thugs and thieves that you’re watching, that the people won’t stand it. There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to decide.

You pursue, he scrambles. It’s a chase, it’s on. You’re gonna be a hero, you think, as you finger the pistol in your jacket pocket…but you ain’t no martyr.

Now let’s say you’re Trayvon Martin. You’re lost in a conversation with your girlfriend – you’ve been talking all day, about pointless things mostly. You get yourself some candy from the convenience store because you’re 17 years old and skittles never killed anybody. As you walk away, you gradually become aware of a man a few dozen paces back. Whenever you turn, he’s there. He’s staring straight at you, a wild look in his eyes. You tell your girlfriend he’s watching you, and her frenzied reaction doesn’t help. You make a left at the stop sign, so does he. You pick up the pace, so does he. You run. So does he. He’s catching you. Heart pounding, it’s fight or flight…and flight’s not working. You turn to face the wild-eyed man, terrified, and he lunges toward you. You fight. You die.

I don’t think George Zimmerman set out to shoot a black kid on February 26th. I’d guess he got lost in his own head, in the illusions of his own heroism. We’ve all be lost in a fantasy before. Maybe it’s about your crush, maybe you’re the boss at work now, and everyone listens to you. Maybe you’re thwarting terrorists, maybe you’re saving a lost soul. And maybe you kept your friends and neighbors safe, aww shucks, any real American would have done the same. And the accolades rain down.

A hero’s complex with a gun is a bad combination. Call me crazy, but I’d rather that those with hero complexes also had martyr complexes. You give your life to save others. There’s a cost, a dear one, and so your heroism and the resultant glory does not come lightly. Nature does it best in the honey bee. The stinger is only to be used for causes so noble that the bee must give up its life to use it.

If George Zimmerman didn’t have his ballistic bravery, he’d never have confronted Trayvon Martin. He would have been forced to snap out of his fantasy, consider the cost, and weigh the evidence. It was a case of the wrong kind of power in the hands of the wrong kind of man.

One man’s life is ruined for nothing, another’s was ended for nothing. Remember that when you get wound into a knot of pseudo-reality. Step back. Count the costs, and not just the cost to you.

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Pictures

I wish these could be better.  But, here’s a small collection from <a href=”http://furstie.smugmug.com/NewPictures/New-Pictures/2094521_MP4pDg#!i=1753033513&k=p6DgJsj”>DC this morning</a>.

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Apple A Day

Is it strange that I tend to finish my lunch before 9 AM (before 8 AM today)? I think it’s strange.

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East Coast Hype

The GFS weather model is hyping a east coast hurricane for ~10 days out. That is longer than those models are accurate, but the point remains – there’s plenty of energy out there for a tropical system, and it seems like some of that energy is headed west. I’ll keep an eye on it, we’ll know a lot more by Monday.

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I don’t know anything about style. But I do know that Michele Obama’s looks like a frilly white tarzan dress. What’s the story with those puffy little nodules? Are they daisies?

Mr President, meanwhile, looks about as dapper as someone could look. For the first time in a long time, we have a president that could stand toe to toe with Vladmir Putin and not look unimpressive. Putin has the look of someone who is planning on choking Europe out of natural gas while he builds new tank divisions. Bush looked like he should narrate a children’s book on PBS.

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