Posted by: greentangle | April 3, 2017

Bears Repeating

I read a couple more Yellowstone books last month. Not because I’m having new thoughts of returning (if that ever happens, it will be at least two years from now after I’ve started collecting Social Security and stopped working any regular jobs), but because they’d reached the top of my to-be-read interlibrary loan books list.

Yellowstone Ranger is by Jerry Mernin, who worked 32 years in Yellowstone, retired long before I got there and died while I was working there. The book of his writing was put together after his death. He grew up in Yosemite where his father was a ranger, and first worked there as well as at Bryce and Grand Canyon before staying at Yellowstone until he was forced to retire due to age. He then became a backcountry volunteer until he was physically unable to continue.

As you’d expect from the time period involved, the book is filled with old school attitudes, suggesting a carload of hippies get haircuts and shave so they’re less likely to be considered suspects, sexist not as vulgarly as Trump but in a more chivalrous manner. In keeping with policies of the time, he shot and killed a lot of bears, though often wishing he hadn’t needed to do it. With my fear of heights and falling, his descriptions of rappelling into the canyon to retrieve bodies had my stomach flipping.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was his speculation about the identity of the bear which killed a Swiss camper in 1984 and was never captured or identified. He suggests that a bear captured and killed several weeks later at Fishing Bridge campground was the same bear, although this differs from the NPS conclusions about the age and size of the bear in their report about the camper’s death.

The second book was Taken by Bear in Yellowstone by Kathleen Snow, which gathers information on bear attacks in and around Yellowstone. As you might expect from the title, this is a fairly sensationalistic book. A very large percentage of the text comes directly from NPS and other agencies’ reports as well as newspaper articles and trail guides, with detailed descriptions of the attacks and the bodily damages caused by the bears. And what comes across is how completely unpredictable bears are. Playing dead and not resisting often seems to help lessen the attack–except when it doesn’t and the bear wants to eat you, or is pulling you sleeping from a tent.

The book seems like a school paper—I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which had less text actually written by the author. Which may not be a bad thing considering a bizarre paragraph in which she tried to excuse photographers who are killed after getting too close to bears by comparing them to hunters. Except that the hunters either accidentally get too close to bears or are deliberately trying to kill them, while the photographers are simply acting irresponsibly. I don’t excuse either group, but they’re not comparable.

Still, it was useful to have all the bear incidents in one book, and as someone familiar with Yellowstone, it was interesting to plot out all the locations against my memories and experiences. One of those attacks involved someone I knew when I lived in the park. But other than the completeness for this particular location, a much better book on the topic of bear attacks which includes several of the Yellowstone incidents is Mark of the Grizzly by Scott McMillion.

Posted by: greentangle | March 4, 2017




Posted by: greentangle | February 19, 2017

The Fox and the ELF, aka Mourning in America

Here’s a link to a podcast episode about ecoheroes, ecosaboteurs, ecoterrorists, (depending on who’s doing the describing), which wonders if the time may be ripe to see an upswing in these activities again now that the US government has declared war on our planet, and what the public reaction might be.


The podcast begins with The Fox, a Chicago area biology teacher who started marching to a different drum for science back in 1969. Apparently, his efforts turned into family affairs, which I think would be a great tradition to pass on, and also had some support from local police. Here’s an article by someone who knew him.


There’s passing mention of Greenpeace and Ed Abbey and Earth First!, but the second half of the program focuses on the Earth Liberation Front. Following is the trailer for the documentary film If A Tree Falls (that’s a link to the film’s website) about ELF which is discussed with the filmmaker. I remember watching the movie, but apparently didn’t write about it at the time on either of my blogs.



For some more straightforward podcasts about nature, check out Something Wild, also from New Hampshire public radio.




Posted by: greentangle | February 18, 2017

Ducks on Ice





Posted by: greentangle | February 17, 2017

Dirty Water

A personal favorite blast from the past from 1965, a song about my home city. We’ll all be singing along now with the Retrumplicans version of the EPA.


Posted by: greentangle | February 2, 2017

Save the Boundary Waters

Sadly, I had to go to a rally today outside the office of my representative, a Democrat who has appealed to the Trump administration to reverse a December USFS and BLM decision which protected the Boundary Waters from sulfide ore mining within its watershed.

You can read about the issue and watch a twelve minute video about a couple’s year spent canoeing and camping in the Wilderness at

Here’s an article about today’s rally. There might even be a greentangle sighting in the accompanying video.

Posted by: greentangle | January 29, 2017

Week One

I wrote this for my other blog, but because more people read this one, I’m including it here as well. It’s long, it’s political, and it’s very anti-Trump, so if that doesn’t interest you, come back another time.



This year is the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth, and we need civil disobedience more than ever.

I completely understand why many people didn’t want Clinton to be president. But though I’ve never been someone who bothered voting for the lesser of two evils, I did this time because the vileness of Trump was not only obvious but also something that he was clearly proud of.  At election time, I didn’t understand how anyone who claimed to see Clinton’s corruption and other failings could not see that Trump’s were many times worse. But after a week of him in office, deplorable is much too good of a word to describe anyone who still supports him. This is a man whose behavior and temperament would get him fired from almost any job in the country. Psychiatrists and historians are going to get rich writing books about him and his supporters.

Looking over headlines this morning, I saw the following adjectives for Trump and his policies: cowardly, dangerous, useless, awkward, un-American, and erratic. We need lots of press coverage like that to tell the truth instead of the alternative facts. So much is happening every day that it’s hard to keep up, but we need to stay aware.

The federal employees and scientists at NPS, EPA, NASA and other agencies who are choosing truth over Trump’s agenda, and the secret service agent not wanting to take a bullet for him, are heroes and we need more of them. Every species and the planet they live on needs them. The Doomsday Clock—does anybody really know what time it is? Al Gore has arranged for a conference to replace a canceled CDC conference. Even if all the rogue and alt social media accounts aren’t run by actual employees, we need them. We need the t-shirts and patches and caps they’re all going to be selling—we need to be visible every day.

Trump wants to eliminate support for the national endowments for the arts and humanities. We need more songs and videos like the previous post, more songs like those described in a book I just started reading, 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. We need more plays and movies and novels, more dance, more paintings, more support for education and libraries. The arts help people learn there is more to life than the money and power which drive Trump.

Trump wants to demean and control women’s lives, but is finding out that pussy grabs back. I looked for an inauguration day protest here but found only an evening church gathering which didn’t appeal to me. I was working on the day of the women’s march, though I would have changed that if I’d realized there was one here. 1400 people showed up in Duluth, not bad considering the many who went to DC or St Paul for larger marches.

Honestly, in the aftermath, I thought that although the marches were great as comfort and support for those of us horrified by the election results, they didn’t really mean much because I doubted there were any Trump voters marching, and the largest were in blue states which had already had their larger vote totals declared irrelevant by our election system. But a few days later I was looking through an Amazon forum I used to be a member of, and saw many pre-march comments from middle class women whose screen names I recognized from years of conversations. They wrote about how they were afraid and nervous about going to these marches but felt they had to stand up and be counted to oppose Trump. And so I realized the value of the marches I hadn’t recognized before—we need these newcomers, and we need a lot of them.

Trump wants to directly eliminate support for Amtrak and DC’s Metro, and indirectly for all other transit systems—those city people don’t support him, and they’re not using enough oil. I expect people are going to die at Standing Rock.

Everyone’s going to have health insurance—we’ll start by taking away what they have now. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare—the hell with those, just invest in the stock market. We need mayors of sanctuary cities and governors of blue states to be strong and creative because we’re all on the enemies list. We need Republicans who opposed Trump during the campaign to now say, “Well, we gave it a try, but this guy really is nuts and we have to stop him.”

Trump likes to pretend he’s a successful businessman despite his string of bankruptcies. We need corporations to oppose his plans. So far, I’ve noticed complaints from FedEx, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, and Facebook, as well as smaller companies.

We need the world’s governments to oppose Trump, and we need the UN to take our name. We need more religious leaders to condemn Trump as a phony Christian. Several Republican senators and representatives have spoken against his immigration policy and that he has replaced the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence with Breitbart’s Bannon in security meetings (because Trump’s sure he already knows more than anyone else and only wants to hear from those who agree—he’s, like, smart)—we especially need more of those Republicans. We need more judges to stay his orders. When I read about that, I imagined him sputtering, “They can’t do that, I’m the king”, and firing off tweets about fake laws. Supposedly concerned about terrorism, Trump is likely going to create much more, both from abroad and from American citizens.

I could go on like this forever, because every day brings new levels of stupidity. I did reserve the site for the Old, White, and Blue blog I had mentioned, thinking that I might start it at the beginning of the year or after his inauguration, but I decided there was just too much to write about and I didn’t want to spend all my time angry or depressed trying to keep up with it.  We do need every form of resistance we can come up with—overt and covert, written and spoken, broadcast and podcast, in the streets (and airports) and online, but we do need to refresh ourselves as well.

I’m not a flag-waver—if I had the money to finance the move, I would not be living in this country. That’s not just a reaction to Trump and the type of people who voted for him, although I certainly would have left since the election. I’ve never shared the country’s dominant values of greed and shallowness and religion, and if I’d been a few years older and drafted certainly would have gone to Canada, not Vietnam. I love the land and wildlife here which Trump and his ilk are eager to destroy, but as to the human aspect have long wished I’d been born in Europe. When I researched the continent decades ago, it seemed somewhere in Scandinavia would have been the best fit for me. But rather than moving, I took the easy way out of having as little to do with the mainstream US as possible. Now I’m paying the price for choosing to be a bad capitalist.

My preferred solution to this country’s deep division has long been that the country voluntarily split in two (or more) with each person free to choose where they lived. Whichever side you’re on, what is the point of having constant aggravation in your life? Any marriage with this deep-seated antipathy would have ended in divorce long ago. But it’s too late for that now.

At this point, I don’t care if it’s a lone gunman or a coup, if we make his thin-skinned head explode from constant opposition, or if Daenerys rides in on a dragon—the country and the world needs to be rid of this asshole as soon as possible. I suspect most people who’ve agreed with me so far would distance themselves here and say no, no, no violence. I’d remind them that this country would not even exist if people hadn’t been willing to be violent when needed, that Thoreau gave speeches in support of John Brown, and that following the rules is what got us here.

My only ambivalence about Trump being assassinated would have nothing to do with the morality of it, just as I think killing Hitler early in his career would have made the world a better place and saved many lives. My concern would be the reaction of his supporters, but I think there will be trouble even if he lives long enough to lose in 2020, or lasts two terms until 2024. I can’t envision the lunatic ever peacefully or voluntarily leaving the White House. He’s not even content to be there via the Electoral College; he needs to keep spouting lies about voter fraud to explain why millions more people voted against him than for him.

Rebecca Solnit’s version of the first week is here.

What do you think the country will be like in 2062, the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s death?

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