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Vacation Trails

I’ve had about 5 days to ruminate about my summer vacation. I took the near the same trip as I did last year, only by myself. As a native Montanan, I find great serenity near the mountains. This shot was taken right near the east gate of Yellowstone National Park. Doesn’t it look like serenity to you?

I left Salt Lake and headed north to a little town, Driggs, Idaho that serves as a bedroom community for the workers of Jackson, Wyoming. The town impressed me so much I made my way across the street to the City Hall and found myself talking to the mayor and chief economic development adviser.  It’s a town with few negatives and yeah, very near Jackson, Wyoming. Nuff said.

I left Driggs and went to Jackson, thanking my lucky stars my breaks worked well at landing safely from the Teton Pass somewhere around 8-9,000 ft in elevation to 6,723 ft in elevation in about 15 – 20 minutes. My lunch was from the Red Iguana in Salt Lake which arguably serves the best mole sauce north of the border. The park bench was where I had my left overs. The town square, a park with two sets of columns of cow skulls diagonally across from each other served as the entrances into the park, setting the frontier spirit ambiance squarely on the visitor’s mind. With no time to tarry I shot off to claim my tent space at Colter Bay, like I did last year. It was still BEAUTIFUL!

Got my tent set up then took a nap. Of all of my camp neighbors the only one to bother to cross my path was a fox. Like the other neighbors, he did not stop to chat. SoOK, I headed over to the Jackson Lodge for dinner, drinks and jazz or was it jazz, drinks and dinner? Sallright, I visited the gift store before the drinking and found a stuffed bison for my dog to hunt and destroy went I got home.  As I type, there are bison guts on the floor, polyester fill.

Next morning I scored some coffee and oatmeal at the camp village of all the standard shops, showered, laundered then back to dismantle the tent.  Good thing. I had every intention of really doing the Yellowstone portion of the trip this year having encountered forest fires last year. But, with over cast skies and chances of rain higher that 40% finding a room or the will to pitch a tent in the rain I was eastward thinking.

The one thing all the rain brought was everything was so pretty and green. A forest with plenty of moisture in the middle of summer offers such abundance of life and sweet scent of pine I could not help but believe I had witnessed Yellowstone at it’s peak, brief but perfect.

I approached yet an other village around the cauldron, the rain was not giving up. I went to the PERMITS office and ask one of the rangers what the latest update on the weather was. With creased brows and serious eyes, “Just got a report 15 minutes ago a storm with quarter sized hail is expected to come across the lake soon”. Adios, Yellowstone.


Flipping Switches and Learning by Giving

When learning something new and on your own the whole process can be like being in a closet and not knowing where the light switch is and bumping to everything and everybody. I have been plagued by thoughts of not only getting my fingers burnt, having to do everything again, but most importantly disappointing others who believed in me.

I finally found a team of information technology people who have helped lead me to the light switch. Rene Williamson, the founder of Steel City Technologies, and Garth Schafer, the team’s audio guru, have sliced and diced the weeds out of my way. I am so grateful!

I am not, let me repeat, I a not a techie so very few things have not been intuitive for my step by step advancements. An other big help has been volunteering at the Carnegie Library System specifically at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. CLBH is also affiliated with the State of Pennsylvania and the Library of Congress. I mainly spend my time editing the narrated audio books. My goals eventually are to offer a deeper and wider selection about science and to get the services into the ears of the our disabled veterans. A book can offer new worlds to explore.

While it may seems like I am donating my time editing for the CLBPH, I am also learning how to get organized and use optimal software for the best audio outcome. The help is the two way street. I must add when I really needed it, I realized I am a pretty good editor.  The occasional pat on the back really helps in the face of parking by Braille.

When it is all said and done I might just make a YouTube video on how to make a interview podcast.


Exiled In America


Chris P. Dum                                            David J. Harding

How we interact with each other does not get enough serious time in the press. It is a shame because judging from the success of social web sites there is plenty to ponder about sociology. Enough about me what about “we”.

Christopher P. Dum PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Kent State University started asking for his dissertation, whom among us is the most reviled, toxic person most of us recoil from, what is this person’s life like, how does he or she fit into society? A likely choice on anyone’s top ten list is the pedophile. What Dum found was the subject of his new book, ” Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel”.

For one year Dum lived along side pedophiles who were taken to an approved residence upon re-entry into society after a finished prison term. Many states use non-market viable motels for a reasonably low fee per week to house various fragile people for temporary housing until better opportunities presented themselves to the residents. These residential motels are privately owned, operated and open to the general public, too. Teaser, Dum’s research ended up examining far more than pedophiles and ex-cons. His research included people just down on their luck, the mentally challenged, the health challenged and the addicted.

David Harding PhD. Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California Berkeley, too has written a book, “Living the Drama: Community, Conflict and Culture Among Inner-City Boys”.

Both sociologists look at life on the margins from different angles. What is it and why is it that life on the margins keeps people from moving forward? What is nurturing despite all of the limitations? The listener and reader are likely to be surprised of the strength of community and fellowship that can develop in difficulty. What happens to the Golden Rule, treat people the way you want to be treated, falls apart? How important is the role of dignity to our mental health?

What are the chances of going to prison for the first time and what are the chances of re-entry? This is not a bleeding heart liberal, Kumbaya songfest but a realist’s inquiry about lowering the huge the number of incarcerated Americans. How can we bring these numbers down responsibly? What does it take to return to society as full productive citizen with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Introduction to Exiled in America:

Part 1 of Exiled in America:

Part 2 of Exiled in America:

The American Chestnut Tree

  The American Chestnut Tree Rebirth Podcast

In the 1800’s some Asian Chestnut Tree seeds were shipped into California. Lurking in the seeds was a deadly pathogen, the Cryphonectria parasitica fungus, for which the native American Chestnut Tree had not yet developed a resistance to. This fungus has completely decimated this keystone species except for few few stands throughout North America.

The American Chestnut Foundation, ACF, was created to find a way to being back the tree to its mighty place in our environment. It has back-crossed desired traits in and back crossed undesirable traits out for decades. However, the newest weapon in the war on C. parasitica is a wheat gene enzyme, oxalate oxidase or OxO. This enzyme of wheat beautifully breaks down the acid required for C. parasitica to thrive. Hear some members of ACF tell their story and why we all should care.

William A. Powell PhD

  • Professor and Director, Council on Biotechnology in Forestry
  • Co-Director of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project

William L. MacDonald PhD

  • Professor of Forest Pathology at West Virginia University
  • Has held most of the executive positions for the American Chestnut Foundation
  • The American Phytopathological Society

Sara Fern Fitzsimmons PhD Candidate

  • Pennsylvania American Chestnut Foundation
  • Research Technician
  • Forest Resources



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