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YVR isn’t what it used to be

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YVR isn't what it used to be

The metropolis nestled in the southwest corner of the Canadian mainland of beautiful British Columbia isn’t what it was in 1988. Well, neither is any place else. But Vancouver was not as exuberant as we had remembered from our previous trip three decades ago.

FIRST ALASKA

We flew non-stop from Honolulu to Anchorage, a 6-hour flight over the North Pacific. This was a fulfillment of a long time dream to see Alaska up close and personal.

I had transited the airport in Anchorage a half-century ago when I was in the U.S. Air Force and remember seeing the snow-capped mountains from above. But, never got the chance to get beyond the airport at that time. My wife is from the Philippines and this was her first Port of Entry into the United States at a time when they used to issue green cards right on the spot.

On this long-awaited adventure, we attended her 54th High School reunion on the scenic Kenai Peninsula, arranged by her classmate in Anchorage. Before that, we had the informative and pleasurable opportunity to visit the Native Alaskan Heritage Center in Anchorage. A highlight of our time in Alaska was the Wildlife Tundra Tour at Denali National Park.

We then boarded a cruise ship at Whittier bound for Vancouver, with photogenic visits to the Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay, followed by Ports of Call in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan.

Much, much more could be said about our fascinating time in Alaska, but my intention here is not just to provide a travelogue. Alaska entered the union early in 1959 just a matter of months before Hawaii.

The Last Frontier lives up to its reputation as a starkly harsh but entrancing wonderland. Virtually every friend and tour guide has a story about surviving the most brutal frigid winters in the sub-Arctic.

All In all, Alaska not only lived up to but exceeded our expectations.

THEN CANADA

After plying our way down the foggy Inside Passage, we disembarked at Vancouver. The first day, the temperatures were above 80° F but moderated over the following days.

Over 30 years ago, when we were living in Southern California, we made a very long round trip drive to Vancouver and back. That was in 1988. I have long recalled it as a very interesting and enjoyable brief time just north of the U.S. border.

Vancouver at that time seemed to be a vibrant city with a bright future ahead. But, today, it felt more like a stagnant metropolis in the mode of Los Angeles.

There are certainly beautiful oases within and around Vancouver, including Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Gardens. I got a lot of excellent photos from both as we had also done from our days in Alaska.

I have always thought that Honolulu is a very expensive city which makes life difficult to afford for local residents. That indeed it is. But I am now told that to buy a family home in Vancouver can run you well over $2 million.

Most of the houses we saw are relatively small two stories, with minimal yards around them. There are also numerous crowded condos with no atmosphere or ambiance. There surely must be affluent neighborhoods with flowing lawns for the wealthy. But that is not what one sees in Metro-Vancouver. Affordable living would be at least an hour’s drive outside Vancouver.

The city streets felt a lot like L.A., flashing green lights notwithstanding. But, in Canada, Vancouver is a mecca for people from other parts of the dominion.

For one thing, it is the only city in Canada with a moderate Pacific maritime climate. Like Alaskan winters, we have all heard both testimonies and tall tales of the cold Canadian winters.

During our first visit many years ago, Canada had a rather homogeneous composition. I am a full believer in reasonable immigration. But Canada, like the United States, has not really been reasonable.

Perhaps you can use the mot du jour: intersectionality. There is rivalry among and occasional animosity against various multiple ethnic groups and nationalities in this newly cosmopolitan environment.

Not talking about the feelings of Canadians of northern European ancestry whose families have been there for generations. Rather, the clash for instance of Middle Eastern cultures with those from East Asian countries.

In many Arab countries, the dominant group expects and mandates that everyone else accommodate themselves to the majority with no need to respect the minority lifestyle. As we have seen this playing out in the United States, so it does in Canada as well where immigrants from the Eastern Mediterranean expect everyone else to become like them.

Canadians in my estimation for the most part are historically a very open and amiable people. But, they truly need to rethink their immigration apparatus to encourage those who will respect traditions of Canada and not try to bring a foreign template with them.

SUMMING IT UP

These have been just the opinions and reactions of a longtime observer of our Northern Neighbors. That term, in and of itself, could apply both to Alaska and to Canada. But the mindset appears to vary greatly from one to the other.

I must with a little levity admit that I met absolutely zero persons in Alaska with the accent of Sarah Palin. We actually stopped and ate at an excellent Mexican restaurant in her hometown of Wasilla. They said she comes in with her family occasionally. But I heard nobody who talks the way she did during the 2008 campaign.

Basically, Alaskans appear very forward-oriented and comfortable in their own skin, be they indigenous or otherwise. Vancouver feels more like a city on the verge of major social disruption.

As we focus so much on border issues here in the United States during this marathon presidential election campaign, let’s be sure to keep a watchful eye on our nearest neighbors to the north. For all our differences, Canadians and Americans have so much in common. Our mutual border is not the hostile environment that we have with Mexico. For that we should be duly appreciative.

The photo at the top of this article is of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Pre-Clearance in Vancouver. We were checked and admitted there for our flight to Seattle with connection to Honolulu where we live. It was a very comfortable and non-stressful process.

My recommendation is that all Americans should at some point in their lives spend time in Alaska and in Canada. But I would recommend Alaska first.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Conspiracy Theory

Now they want you to accept literal vampirism, too

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Now they want you to accept literal vampirism too

As article from Katherine Timpf in National Review from 2015 is getting new life as Truthstream Media called it up and highlighted the utter ridiculousness of claims made by “real vampires.” And by “real,” we’re talking about those with a mental disorder that makes them believe they need some form of sustenance to survive that falls outside of the standard food realm. Some drink blood. Some drink “psychic energy.” All of them have a detachment from reality.

As we move into the post-truth society envisioned by radical progressives, truth is only a function of one’s feelings. We are not allowed to question the validity of anyone’s personal claims. If they say they’re a girl even if they were born a boy, then the post-truth society demands we call them girls. If they believe they need to drink human blood to survive even if biology says otherwise, then by golly pour them a pint or two.

If you still have doubts we’ve been heading towards a post-truth society for a long time, watch this video. Kat Timpf’s NRO article and Truthstream Media’s video should put all your doubts to rest with no hope of coming back from the dead.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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To end confusion, President Trump calls on Iceland, Greenland to swap names

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To end confusion President Trump calls on Iceland Greenland to swap names

Yes, this is satire, and you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking otherwise, even for a moment.

As rumors spread that President Trump has asked his staff to explore the possibility of buying Greenland, he took to Twitter this morning to request the largest island in the world switch names with its nearby island neighbor.

“It’s way to confusing, like parking in a driveway and driving on a parkway,” he said in a Twitter thread. “Greenland and Iceland should swap names to put an end to the madness they’re causing. I’ve been to Iceland. There’s no ice!”

Greenland carries a sparse population for an island so large due to the thick ice that covers most of the land. Meanwhile, Iceland is a lush landscape with more plant life than it’s inappropriately named neighbor across the sea.

Democrats invoked “fluid identity” to rebuke the President’s request.

“Just as a man can be a woman and a woman can be a man, so too can Greenland be covered by ice and Iceland be covered by green,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “How dare the President try to force his opinions about identity on other nations.”

Members of “The Squad” attacked the President for trying to misname the islands. “Just because we believe Israel should be called Palestine doesn’t give the President the right to ask countries to change their names.”

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Hubris and how to save a vacation

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Hubris and how to save a vacation

Several years ago my oldest suggested we should hike the Appalachians. I thought it would be fun of course but remained undecided for a few months until we were helping family clean out some old junk. Among said junk were a couple of old external frame backpacks loaded with maps for the Appalachians. Taking it as a sign, I declared that we would go. Not for the whole thing of course and not right away. I had never been backpacking so I knew that we would have some serious work to do. We spent the intervening years doing smaller backpacking trips close to home, getting ourselves used to how we would need to eat and what sort of gear we should bring.

Finally, this past summer me and my two oldest went to Smoky Mountain National Park, intending to hike the Appalachian Trail straight through it. Within minutes, I worried that we might be in trouble as one of the kids was struggling before we even got into the woods. A few hours in and I was seriously thinking about turning back because I didn’t think we would make it to the shelter before dark. Not a good sign on day one. To be honest, about that time I was struggling as well, wondering if I would be able to complete the trip we had planned.

A couple more hours and it was clear, the trip was doomed. Yet, it was too late to turn back for the day. We pressed on to the shelter (arriving after dark) and turned around in the morning.

Despite years of training and experimentation, how did this happen? Hubris is a big part of it. I knew from recent training walks that my second would struggle. I refused to accept that the kid just wasn’t ready. I had too much of my own ego wrapped up in everyone’s participation. However, this was my fault. There was plenty of time, time that I didn’t take advantage of.

Also, I relied far too much on my own strength. I’m not the biggest or strongest guy you’ll ever meet but I’m not the smallest either, and I can generally get done what needs getting done without any help. That led me to pack significantly more than I should have, and insisting that the kids carry more than necessary as well. I assumed I could carry anything I could fit into my pack any distance necessary. As it turns out, I have limits. Add in the fact that I didn’t react well (at all) to our slow pace and the fact that we were going to fail in our attempt, the hiking trip was a complete bust.

Fortunately, once we calmed down, an idea began to form. As it turns out, the South is full of great American history. In fact, we started our hike at Fontana Dam which was built to power the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN to the north, as well as factories that provided the metal to build fighter planes. After my wife encouraged us to take our time getting back and explore the area, we formed a plan. We would do a small American history tour.

We spent the rest of the week filling in holes left by our less than adequate public education system. Our first step was to head north to Oak Ridge and tour one of the museums. From there, it was back south to Huntsville, AL and the US Space and Rocket Center. There, my oldest revealed to me that their school made no mention at all of the Apollo program. Considering that just a couple weeks after our visit, the nation would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, this seemed to be a huge problem (which will likely be explored further in a later column).

After learning of the dawn of the modern technological age and some of the most important events of the Cold War, we turned back the clock and explored the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and the home of Andrew Jackson. Along the way I couldn’t help but notice all the other signs pointing out places of historical significance. I hope to return in a couple years with the rest of my clan, maybe making a whole road trip out of learning about the Civil War.

All in all things turned out well. Despite my own arrogance and pride nearly ruining the trip, my children’s patience and my wife’s graciousness helped turn it into possibly the best trip I’ve taken. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun along the way. Instead of causing a major tear in our relationship, it drew me and the kids closer than ever.

But what about the Smokies? We’ll be back. Almost immediately we began planning our second attempt and have already begun training. Instead of giving up, we are applying the things we learned and making sure we do it the right way. Next time, we’ll be ready.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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