21 August 2008

Not my interview with Karzai

Time interview with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
Some points that Karzai brings up in particular is the presence of the international groups contributing to existance of miltias under being supported like quasi security forces. Also he suggested that the international community doesn't see the Afghan viewpoint and often decisions get made which seem correct by them but then results in worse that before. Government corruption allegations get discussed.
I read it and continue to realize how complex and delicate the state of affairs in Aghanistan can be. At this point, it appears there needs be more attention to "Afghanness" of how to aid Afghanistan rather than assert a western model. Doesn't history teach us that Afghanistan won't succomb to the foreign forces pressed against it? Afghanistan will belong to Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, I don't doubt good things are being done by the international community and hopefully will continue. Yet, the bad tends to rise to the top (or at least that's what we see or interpret) in the midst of various forces and pressures.

20 August 2008

500th posting

I lament that this is the 500th post of the Royce Files. Why? Well, I think I could have done much more. Granted I am not the most prolific of bloggers nor does my wit astound many. I guess its that cliche "old man" lament that I wish I could have ______ (fill in the blank).
Here's two I could have filled in the blank with:
Gone to the Olympics
Either as an athlete, journalist, or volunteer, I would have loved to have been at a winter or summer games. Granted I may still have time on this wish but my athletic prowess has dwindled. Preparing for a marathon is tough enough. I guess I regret not really incorporating much sport into my life between high school and after college. My greatest claim would being the overall winner of the pentathlon in junior high. Those were my greatest years on the track and in the field. It was only recently that I converted myself into a distance runner with much work.
Journalism and volunteering appeals to me because I get to be part of more the action. I would get to see the whole picture and tell (and see) the numerous stories. A good one- the other day, Afghanistan won its first medal ever. I admit I get Olympic fever. It invigorates me how sport becomes a transcending language. And how gymnastics, swimming, diving, rowing, speed skating, figuire skating, and skiing garner our attention for a few weeks. Just last night I was pulled in to watching the BMX supercross event. When will we see these sports more than just at Olympic time?
Took more opportunities in college
I guess in college I spent a great deal of time as part of one group which ceased to exist after I graduated. I look back and wonder if it was time well spent. I am not counting the prayer or discipleship components because this was a "religious" organisation which were meaningful and worthwhile. However, the time devoted to meetings and events and the administration took much time yet made little return on the investments. People may argue the experience was worthwhile but I did the same things with other groups. I definitely could have used the time to study better. I could have studied abroad. Or perhaps found an internship which would have given me a jump on work experience. Maybe I could have been part of the soccer club or wrote for the newspaper. I got my degree and then struggled to find a job which I enjoyed and was considered qualified. But then again I was a dual core. In college straddled 2 disciplines- science and arts. I wonder if I was good at either.
Yet, in retrospect, I don't regret these decisions. Still I ponder which method is ideal: break the doors down or let the doors open themselves; agressive pursuit or one day at a time.

Here's to you Ronnie Drew

Irish folk singer Ronnie Drew passed into eternity this week past. The founder of the Dubliners had been battling throat cancer. He was probably more recognized for his deep gravely voice although he had a big bushy beard up until he began receiving treatments for cancer for which you must say added to his recognizably. The elder statesman of Irish music leaves a legacy of music behind for us to enjoy. Bono even likes him.

13 August 2008

300: Ride through the South Dakota heat

This is the 4th part of the account of the 300 mile bike journey I took from my front door and back in early July.
Leaving Brown's Valley behind I entered South Dakota. It was a bit surreal as I passed many abandoned fireworks "shacks" and quonsets in the middle of nowhere. These places were literally on some country road, the only remnants of civilization for miles. One was particularly disturbing. Out front was a smoldering fire, probably made from the remaining fireworks and supplies. It made for an eery scene which I imagined terrorists had come and destroyed the festive July 4th ingredients. I digress.
Sisseton is approximately 10 miles from Brown's Valley. I made it into town around noon. A big Pow-Wow was in progress but I failed to seek it out as I sought for a place to lunch. Solemn emptiness welcomed me to the downtown of Sisseton. Not a sign of an open business. With heat rising I decided to eat at Taco John's mostly because they had the History Channel on the dining area tele. They also had the AC kicking out some chill.
I had intended to go to Fort Sisseton 28 miles further but nixed the idea as I rode through a veritable prairie desert to the west. A flat tire changed my mind added to the pain. I made it as far as the Nicollet Tower before deciding to change course.
The Nicollet Tower is an interpretative centre and an actual tower, dedicated to the life of Joseph Nicollet, the man who mapped a vast portion of the Dakotas and Minnesota in the 19th century. Well worth a visit. From the tower you can see portions of 3 states- SD, ND, MN.
After a lengthy stay, I set out for Sica Hollow, thinking that would be a good place to spend the night. I changed my mind when I realized I'd have to go west again to get to it. I changed course and decided upon Hankinson, ND.
On the way there I came upon a small town, Claire City, that had a pop machine which contained Mountain Dew Code Red for only $1 (Pretty remarkable in this day). At least that is what I thought. It turns out it was sold out so I chose Pepsi instead (Pepsi points for me again). I discovered in my time in South Dakota they perfer cans to bottles when littering so my Pepsi point collection did not increase much.
Into North Dakota I biked through about 10 miles of wildlife refuge. I arrive in Hankinson around 8PM and after a bite to eat at the covenience store head out to Lake Elsie to camp. The Lake Elsie beach area is a mess after the Fourth of July weekend with leftover fireworks a cans strewn all over. The bugs are bad too but what can you argue about for free.

12 August 2008

Ah, Oui Voyeguer

A few days ago I completed another trek through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This time I partnered up with a fellow named Craig. It was a pleasant experience with very little excitement. I guess that is a little deceiving. There was a broken canoe seat during the first hours of the trip. However, beyond that mishap, everything went smooth albeit Craig was a camping and canoeing neophyte.
Originally, I was to go with Phil (you know the quotable beer guy) and a rather large party. However, Craig wanted to go but could not fit on the permit. Only 9 people per permit are allowed. I then decided to purchase another permit to accommodate Craig and anyone else who want a less "crowded" experience. No one else came forth. So Craig and I launched out from Kawishiwi Lake as the other crew 20 miles west shoved out from Little Gabbro.
This year I added another canoe to my collection. A few weeks before the 15 foot pakcanoe was vandalized at a resort I was staying. The thwart had been broken. Also realizing that my crew would be a bit big for the little canoe I felt I needed to obtain something more substanial. That's when I went ahead and purchased the 17 foot mango Pak Canoe from Pakboats. Its pretty much the bigger brother of my other canoe. (I also purchased another canoe pack, a sleeping bag, and another tent.)
This trip included a lot of river, 3 large portages, pictographs, 3 rain storms, and Mocha Moose Pie and 2 moments of lostness. I'm sure we covered roughly 24+ miles and always got a campsite. However, the wildlife that the guides bragged about was non-existant. A few beavers, a hawk, and some ducks were all I saw. No moose and no bears. Didn't even hear the wolves howl like last year. The route we were on was pretty busy up until Malberg. Coming out I think we ran into every permit holder for the entry point (I think its 9).
Again I am impressed with Ely. This town on the edge of the wilderness never ceases to please me. I didn't get to any of the museums but I did drink a few Dorothy's Root Beers and even got a 6 pack. I always leave Ely longing to return again some other day. I especially would like to spend more time at the Wolf center and Bear place.

02 August 2008

300: Down to the Valley

This is the continuing saga of my 300 mile bike tour into 3 states I completed in the beginning of July.

I spent a good part of the day in Morris with my friends. After a few shopping stops for supplies and a bite to eat (Willie's still has the cheapest sandwiches around), I head west on MN 28 towards Graceville somewhere between 2 and 3 PM. There wasn't much excitement from Morris to Graceville. I think there may have been a wedding in Chokio but most of the time it was flatland fields.
I stopped in Graceville and looked around. I didn't see much open. Seems small towns close up early on weekends. I went to the covenience store to stock up on water, then continued down 28. The topography did not change much. It still was flat but there was an occasional slough and lots of ducks.
Nearing Brown's Valley brought the most remarkable changes. It was a valley! At last there was something different. I rolled through the deserted town at 8PM and found the city campground and settled down for the night. The campsite was deserted too. I was the only customer at the respectable park with indoor plumbing and electricity. Other camping options were a bit too distant and scouting a little further aroused the attention of a Collie which chased me back to the campground. I pitched the tent under a crabapple tree, made dinner, then went to bed.
An amazing thing about Brown Valley, is that a number of years ago the remains of a pre historic man were found nearby. Apparently when they were analyzed, they were found to be from 4000 Bc or there abouts. Well no museum took the remains and so they were returned to the guy who found them. The bones then disappeared for some time. I have no idea if they are still around.