Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Basement

What is it about basements that creep us out? Is is just that they're darker and cooler than the upstairs? Or does the fact they are lower than the rest of the house have something to do with it? Be honest. What do you feel inside as you descend the stairs to a basement?

The house in which I grew up was a rambler with a full basement below the main floor. There were 12 steps from the back door landing down to the basement's concrete floor. I never did understand why the wooden steps were painted gray. But I was always grateful for the stability offered by the amber colored wooden handrail in the stairwell.

The ceiling of the corridor was level with the the main floor ceiling, so that it got higher and higher as one descended the stairs. It abruptly ended at a high wall just above the unguarded entrance to the basement. That unreachable corner where the high wall and corridor ceiling met sometimes sported cobwebs, which only added to the unsettled feeling I often got as I descended those stairs.

(That abrupt change in ceiling heights once resulted in a scalp injury that earned me half a dozen stitches. But that's another story.)

Our basement was fully in the ground. It had concrete walls that extended to the exposed main floor joists above. There were five tiny windows high in the walls, all of which were situated at the end of the basement farthest from the stairs and some of which were in cobwebby window wells. Thus, the single large room of the basement was a fairly dark place, even in the middle of the sunniest day.

When I was young the opening to the basement at the bottom of the stairs always loomed like some kind of gaping dark maw waiting to swallow those that dared make the descent. Worse was the sparse artificial lighting. Of the four pull-string bare-bulb light fixtures, the one nearest the stairs was a good six or seven feet away—a desperately long journey into the terrifying dark for a young child. What's more is that the pull string was out of reach.

My brother and I would stand at the bottom of the stairs peering into the inky blackness, trying to judge exactly how far away the light fixture was. After working up heroic bravery, one of us would dash into the dark, running with all his might to avoid whatever lurking monsters were waiting to pounce. Whoever remained behind would stand on the bottom step—not on the concrete, because by some unwritten law that surface was fair game for monsters—breathlessly hoping that the adventurer would succeed in turning on the light.

Most of these forays ended with success. After two or three jumps flailing for the pull string the bare bulb blinked on and the monsters were banished, making for safe entry into the basement. Occasionally, the advance party ran back to the safety of the steps after failing his quest to bring light to the benighted basement realm, and we'd have to start working up our bravery all over again.

Even when we made it into the basement and got the light turned on, we would avoid going near “the crawl space” under the stairs. Even with all four of the light bulbs blazing away, the shadowy reaches of the space under the stairs seemed like the perfect cave for any number of foul beasts that wouldn't dare enter the lighted portions of the basement.

Even having the lights on was no guarantee of safety. Once when I was about five and my older brother was about seven, Mom and Dad took our oldest brother to a Cub Scout meeting. It was a short meeting and they figured that we would be OK at home alone for that long.

But not long after they left, my brother and I started to hear strange sounds. We carefully looked around the main floor of the house and outside of the house, but we saw nothing out of the ordinary. There must be a robber in the basement, we reasoned.

In retrospect, it would have been difficult for anyone to break into the basement unseen. It would be nearly impossible to get through any of the five tiny windows and the basement had no external door. Since no one had come through the back door, teleporting or magic were the only other ways into the basement. Five- and seven-year-olds are not good at that kind of reasoning.

Having been left in charge of the house, we were determined to protect it. Before venturing into the basement gloom to face the imagined intruder, we each fortified ourselves with a weapon from a kitchen drawer. Mom and Dad came home to find every single light in the house on and us standing wide-eyed at the bottom of the stairs brandishing butcher knives.

The basement never bothered Mom. She was invincible. She went downstairs frequently to do laundry. She would casually advance into the darkness with a basket full of clothes and turn on the light, as if it were no big deal. We'd often follow so that we could take advantage of her amazing valor.

With the lights on we'd play in the basement. But we knew that the lights had to be off when we came upstairs. Dad worked for the power company and we were repeatedly indoctrinated in the necessity of saving electrical energy. Turning off three of the lights was not a problem. We'd sometimes use a stool for that purpose. But leaving a stool in the middle of the floor was not permissible. And we certainly weren't going to bother trying to put a stool away in the dark after turning off the light.

Rather, as the other children climbed onto the stairs, one of us would stand below the pull string of the light fixture nearest the stairs. It was considerably easier to turn the light off than on because we could see the pull string. The designated light turner offer would stand below the string, gather courage, leap and grab the string, release it after the light clicked off, and then run like crazy for the lighted stairwell. We hated it when the string rebounded and got caught on a floor joist brace, because we'd then have to recruit an adult to fix it.

When I was about eleven Dad wired and started finishing the basement (a project that lasted more than two years). But from the moment the place was wired we could turn on the lights from a switch at the bottom of the stairs. Gone were the days of fearfully dashing into the dark. It's true that I was older by then and plenty tall enough to reach the old pull string. But walking into the dark basement still gave me the willies.

Eventually the basement was sheetrocked and fitted with real light fixtures. I still remember the glorious day when burnt orange shag carpet was installed. How stunning that looked at the top of the formerly bare steps, where it mated up with the avocado green carpet in the dining area. (The 70s was a strange time in the evolution of home decor and those carpets were eventually replaced with neutral toned flooring.) Even when I moved into one of the two basement bedrooms at age 16, going down into the nicely finished basement alone still inspired a hint if eeriness.

Although the finished basement in our current home is a “full daylight” basement (meaning that all of the windows are fully above ground and have no window wells) and the basement has nine fairly large windows, I still harbor some sympathy for my younger kids when they tell me that going down there is kind of creepy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Of Men and Home Maintenance

My Dad was an amazing handyman. He could do just about any kind of home maintenance project from tiny electronics to major construction. When the family gathered before closing Dad's casket, my brother slipped in a pair of pliers. He grinned and said that Dad was better than MacGyver. Dad could do anything with a pair of pliers  Another brother chuckled and said that Dad would be able to use the tool if the casket gave him any trouble upon resurrection.

My younger brother is an architect. Dad's handyman gene skipped me and went to my brother. Dad taught me enough about home maintenance that I can do many things. Over the years I have handled electrical, plumbing, insulation, roofing, fence building, painting, concrete work, landscaping, etc. I tried my hand at carpentry once before hiring a professional. I gave up on sheet rock and tile work before even starting. I'm fair at doing stuff that nobody has to look at, but you don't want me doing anything that needs to be aesthetically pleasing.

Still, the older I get the less I want anything to do with home maintenance. I can see chores that need to be done at home—fence repair and maintenance, plumbing fixes, landscaping improvements, wall repair, etc—but I just don't want to do these things. I put them off for as long as I can. When a project intrudes I quickly re-learn the validity of my basic rules of home maintenance, which are as follows.
All home maintenance/improvement projects:
  • Take longer than expected.
  • Cost more than expected.
  • Require more trips to the hardware store than expected.
  • Cause far more frustration, cursing, and injury than expected.
  • Produce worse results than expected.
Saturday evening's events provide a simple example. The shower head started dripping a few weeks ago. Having been through this many times I knew how it would work. With each successive morning we'd crank the shower handles off harder and harder to prevent water flow. Despite our strong-arm efforts, the shower head would drip, drip, drip more and more until one day it just wouldn't stop running.

By Saturday evening the shower was just at the point where strong-arming the valves was about to become ineffective. Surveying my schedule for the next couple of weeks, I figured that I'd better repair it before it became a steady flow on a day when I had no time to fix it. (Yeah, this kind of advance planning in the face of impending home repairs is uncharacteristic for me.)

Accordingly I fetched the tools I knew I needed: a Philips and a flat-head screw driver, a huge socket that I had ground to make flat spots that could be grabbed with pliers, and a pair of big jaw RoboGrip pliers. I fetched my collection of rubber plumbing washers, hoping that the size I needed was in there. For some reason I can never remember which size my shower uses until I have pulled the valve cores and can compare washer sizes.

I removed the knobs and external valve hardware before shutting off the house water. I wanted the water to be off for as short a time as possible. Next I climbed into the crawl space, turned off the house water inlet valve, and hurried back upstairs. I turned on the valves in the shower and in the bathroom sink to drain some of the water from the system.

Using my socket and pliers I quickly extracted the valve cores. A couple of years ago a plumber showed me that these things needed to be screwed in only until they were just past finger tightening. So they aren't that hard to remove anymore.

To my great surprise I soon discovered that I had exactly two rubber disks of the proper size. I installed them on the valve cores, returned the valve cores to their proper place, cranked them tight counterclockwise, ran downstairs, and turned the house water back on. I could immediately hear water running upstairs. I jogged up and saw that the water was running full blast in the shower. I cranked the handles clockwise all the way and the water was still running.

I soon had the house water turned back off. I again extracted the valve cores and noticed that the O-ring on one was pretty much shot. The other one wasn't in good shape either. I figured that the defective O-rings were allowing water to flow when it shouldn't. But I had no O-rings in my plumbing collection. So I headed off to the hardware store.

Now, I realize that for many guys a trip to the hardware store is like a trip to the candy store for a kid. Many guys like going to the hardware store as much as they like watching football on TV. I too enjoy a trip to the hardware store about as much as I like watching football on TV. Only, unlike the aforementioned men, I happen to detest watching football. So you can imagine how I feel about going to the hardware store. It seems like I can never get exactly what I want at the hardware store. I frequently end up making do with something that doesn't quite work for what I need it. And shopping at many hardware stores strongly resembles shopping in a landfill inside a massive bomb shelter. I just don't like it. (Besides, it usually means more work.)

Still, I made my way to the plumbing section. I brought my valve cores with me, but I couldn't tell whether they used 11/16 or 3/4 O-rings. Then I saw a board with threaded holes. I found the one that fit my valves and was surprised that it read 13/16. Accordingly I bought a packet of 13/16 O-rings plus a couple of packets of washers for future use.

40 minutes after running out of the house, I went to stretch a 13/16 O-ring over one of the valve cores, only to discover that it was too big. Why I hadn't thought to try this in the parking lot at the store is beyond me. I probably sounded like Ralphie's dad working on his furnace in A Christmas Story as I dashed out the door to return to the hardware store.

This time I bought two packages of 11/16 O-rings. But there was less dilly-dallying. So 30 minutes after leaving the house, I once again tried an O-ring on a valve core. This time I fit like a charm. I soon had both repaired valve cores back in place. I again cranked them counterclockwise, ran downstairs, crawled into the crawl space, and turned the house water back on.

But instead of feeling satisfied with a job well done, I felt dismay as I again heard water running upstairs. I ran upstairs to see the shower head running full bore. I'm sure I again sounded like Ralphie's dad. As I grabbed the knobs to crank them the other way I noticed that one stuck out a lot further than the other. The only reason for that would be....

I suddenly recalled that the last time we had hired a plumber to fix the shower he had replaced both valve cores. Instead of both closing by turning counterclockwise, one closed by turning clockwise. Of course I knew this. After all, I had been turning the water off and on in that shower daily for a couple of years since the repair. I deftly turned the one knob all the way clockwise and water stopped flowing from the shower head.

Part of the reason that I hate doing home maintenance or improvement projects is that common sense seems to flee from me under such conditions. It's like I put on my stupid hat when I start a project. Mistakes come so naturally. I just can't see some of the obvious realities and shortcuts that would allow for efficiency.

Well, at least I didn't make a third trip to the hardware store. And I only spent about $3.50 on supplies. Not counting the cost of driving to and from the store. And the water was only off for about an hour and a half for what should have been a five-minute task. But, hey, at least the shower head won't leak for about a year and a half. Unfortunately, by that time I likely won't remember what size of washer and O-ring I need for the job. Grrrr.

Don't even get me started on automobile repair.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Art of Campfire

I have camped out hundreds of nights over my lifetime. Most of these experiences have involved a campfire. One personal observation that seems undeniable is that boys like fire. I'm not just talking about youth. Boys of all ages like fire. Males seem to naturally have some kind of bonding relationship with fire that differs from the way most females relate with this same force. For example, roughly 90% of arsonists are male.

Crafting a campfire is an art form. Sure, you can chuck down a few logs, douse them with some kind of liquid accelerant, throw down a match and have a fire. But I'm more of a traditionalist. It comes from my days of working on a Boy Scout camp staff as a youth. I don't like to use liquid accelerants or even paper when building a campfire. I prefer to employ natural materials.

Why would anyone forego man made materials when building a fire? For one thing, such materials may not always be available, such as in a survival situation. If you've never learned to build a fire from scratch, it is unlikely that you will magically figure it out when you find yourself in a distressing situation.

You can successfully build a fire under most conditions in which you might find yourself—even if every last scrap of wood you can find is soaking wet. But you have to know how to do it. And you have to take the time required to carefully craft your fire.

Building a fire from scratch requires proper preparation. And that takes patience. We live in a world that teaches impatience. Whether it comes to food, entertainment, technology, services, or any other facet of life, we have been taught that we should be able to have what we want RIGHT NOW! How do you think personal and governmental debt got so out of control?

Learning to craft a proper campfire from scratch teaches the law of the harvest—that you can achieve worthwhile things through necessary persistent effort.

If you have access to dry natural material, you start by gathering tinder—stuff that will easily burn if touched by a flame from a match, such as dried grasses or small twigs. Dead evergreen branches with dried red needles contain resins that burn quite easily. If your tinder is still green or is damp, you will create smoke rather than fire. Gather more tinder than you imagine you will need.

If you don't have access to natural tinder, you may have to create your own. My favorite method is to create a 'fur stick' by carving into a piece of wood as if to create hundreds of shavings while leaving each shaving intact. This creates a number of fine edges for the fire to catch on. If you are in a downpour, you can often find 'squaw wood'—dry and dead wood suspended in trees. It is kept dry by the trees' canopies. If all else fails, you may need to split wet wood to get to the dry center to create your fur stick.

Next you will need wood of various thicknesses. You separate this into groupings based on thickness. You need a group of stuff that will easily catch the flame from your tinder, a grouping of wood that will easily catch the flame from that, and so on until you get up to logs.

When I teach boys this method, they usually assume that they can build their fire with three groupings: tinder, one-inch-thick sticks, and 6-inch-thick logs. Wrong. You need a minimum of five groupings. You can assure success with seven or more, as long as you have enough of each. Split wood burns better than whole wood. You gather all of this stuff next to your fire pit before even thinking about striking a match.

I have two favored methods for actually building the fire structure. Each has its purpose. Either you start with something tiny and build up to a healthy campfire, or you start with a graduated log cabin structure that will give you an immediate campfire and won't require more work for a while.

When going with the log cabin structure, I like to build a 'council fire.' I start with two large logs at the base. Atop these I place a layer of slightly smaller logs going the opposite direction. Then two slightly smaller logs with a layer of yet smaller wood atop. I keep alternating in this manner until I reach the top layer.

On this top layer I place my tinder, usually woven into an airy nest. (Fire needs oxygen, so don't weave the nest tightly.) I then build a tipi-like structure around the tinder nest out of materials slightly larger than tinder. If I'm building a tiny starter fire, I simply start with the tinder and tipi in the bottom of the fire pit.

Now you are finally ready to strike a match. You should have extra tinder nearby in case your tinder threatens to burn out before the next larger material catches fire. If you have prepared well, you should be able to stick a single match into your tinder pile, stand back, and watch you fire burn. Of course, if you started with a tiny fire, you need to tend it, constantly feeding it fuel until it is burning logs well.

Watching the fire catch and actually work its way through each level of the fuel you have gathered is a creative experience. Yes, it is also destructive in that it consumes the fuel. But it is creative in that this force is your creation—the fruits of your own labors. A properly managed fire creates useful warmth. It is also a work of art. The force of fire creates its own beauty—something you have worked hand-in-hand with nature to bring forth.

If you've never crafted a natural campfire before, you will undoubtedly run into problems and frustrations the first few times you try. These should be considered welcome learning experiences that help you understand what works and what doesn't.

The next time you build a campfire, consider using all natural materials. I promise that it will take time, effort, and patience. You could certainly just douse your logs in some kind of "fire juice." But I promise that you won't gain the rewards from this that you would otherwise garner from crafting a natural campfire.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Temple Fridays

I went to the Temple today, just like I do on most Fridays. (My current job schedule does not include Fridays most of the time. Don't worry, I still put in well over 40 hours each week.) Today's session was a good experience, but I can't help feeling a bit wistful. I'm missing my boys. Oh, I'm happy that they are where they are and doing what they are doing. But I miss Temple Fridays with them.

We were thrilled when one of our sons accepted a mission call last spring. We were surprised that his mission wouldn't start until 4½ months later. In the meantime, he completed an extra semester at school. He also received a sacred Temple rite known as the endowment. Almost every Friday over the subsequent weeks until he entered the MTC, my son accompanied me to the Temple.

A short time before our son left on his mission, another son accepted a mission call. The timing was touch-and-go. But on the final Friday before our first missionary entered the MTC, his brother likewise received the Temple endowment ceremony. Almost every Friday since then this son has accompanied me (and often my wife) to worship in the Temple. We have attended a number of different Temples in the area.

My son and I got in three extra Temple Fridays because his call was changed 2½ weeks before he was to enter the MTC. Mission call packets include a blurb stating that the church may change the assigned location and/or duties at any time to meet needs and conditions. But it always seems surprising when this happens close to home. The new call extended our son's departure date three weeks. This was somewhat frustrating for our son. He was ready to get on with it. I empathized with him. But the silver lining in this extension was three more Temple Fridays together.

Temple worship is designed to be a particularly sacred experience. However, like all worship events, it can be also be experienced as dumb, boring, tedious, etc. It's really up to the individual worshiper. The Temple is designed to focus on the eternal nature of the family. For that reason it has been especially meaningful to me to have these worship experiences with my sons.

Given the way life plays out, I may never have an opportunity to enjoy weekly Temple worship with either of these sons in the future. Once they return home, the circumstances that allowed our timing and proximity to line up will probably not repeat themselves. Our sons will appropriately move on with life. Who knows if similar time and location coincidences will occur with my younger children?

Regardless of how the future works out, I will always cherish the months of weekly Temple worship that I enjoyed with my two older sons during the summer and autumn of 2012. I know that these experiences brought to each of us a glimpse of the kind of eternal joy that we hope will flow through our family relationships in the eternities.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Source of All of Life's Wisdom

"Normal" health is an illusion. Nobody has it. Among the seven members of my immediate family, one has Multiple Sclerosis and hypothyroidism, another has spinal arthritis and a thyroid disorder that the doctors have yet to figure out, another has a permanent inner ear issue resulting in a balance disability, another grapples daily with a serious chronic pain condition, and another has a chemical imbalance that manifests itself as something akin to bipolar disorder.

I'm thinking that the other two family members simply haven't yet lived long enough for their health conditions to manifest themselves. In fact, I think that almost everybody I know has some kind of health issue.

As I thought about this, I thought of the scene in The Princess Bride where the Dread Pirate Roberts (Westley in disguise) tells Princess Buttercup, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

I recalled that a bishop of mine that had a fun sense of humor once quipped that The Princess Bride contained all of life's wisdom. So I pulled up a page of quotes and soon found myself immersed in this wisdom. It's broadly applicable.

On handling conflict: "You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people?"

On making a proper introduction: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

On eternal relationships: "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."

On patience: "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles."

On management-employee relationships: "Am I going MAD, or did the word "think" escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass." and "And remember this, never forget this: when I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy!" and "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

On grammar: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

On offering help: "I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you."

On diagnosing medical conditions: Miracle Max: "Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do." Inigo Montoya: "What's that?" Miracle Max: "Go through his clothes and look for loose change."

On explaining medical conditions: Westley: "Why won't my arms move?" Fezzik: "You've been mostly-dead all day."

On encouraging a friend: Prince Humperdinck: "Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped." Count Rugen: "Get some rest. If you haven't got your health, then you haven't got anything."

On optimism: "Nonsense. You're only saying that [we'll never survive in the Fire Swamp] because no one ever has."

On responding to an insensitive remark: "The King's stinking son fired me, and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?"

On property disputes: "You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen."

On jogging one's memory: Man In Black (Westley): "Why loose your venom on me?" Buttercup: "You killed my love." Man In Black: "It's possible. I kill a lot of people."

On subtle conversation: Grandpa: "That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying "As you wish", what he meant was, "I love you.""

On grandparent-grandchild relationships: Grandson: "Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow." Grandpa: "As you wish."

And so much more. I guess it's about time to dig out the movie and watch it again.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Wildlife Among Us

About two and a half decades ago, I was driving a vanload of Boy Scouts home from a service project at night. As we rounded a bend on a mountain road, a large owl appeared in the glow of our headlights, picking at a road kill rabbit. The owl spread its wings, launched itself, and sailed away into the darkness to the sound of oohs and ahs from my amazed passengers.

Nowadays we daily see birds of prey gliding in the air above our town. Hawks and golden eagles are the most common. This was a fairly rare occurrence when I grew up in this area. I now often camp in areas where taking bear precautions is a necessity. Such wariness was never required when I camped in these areas as a youth.

It is not uncommon to see deer wandering through the suburban areas near my home. Some of my neighbors complain that deer regularly kill the ornamental plants in their yards. The inevitable retort I hear when these neighbors voice their concerns is that we should expect this type of behavior, since we have moved into the animals' habitat.

Jim Sterba, who has written a book on human-wildlife interface, disagrees. In this WSJ essay, Sterba argues that the conservation movement that arose as a result of well documented "unbridled exploitation of wild birds and animals for feathers, furs, hides and food by commercial market-hunters and settlers" has been successful to excess.

"We now routinely encounter wild birds and animals that our parents and grandparents rarely saw," writes Sterba. "As their numbers have grown, wild creatures have spread far beyond their historic ranges into new habitats, including ours." Sterba says that the assertion that human-wildlife "conflicts are our fault because we encroached on wildlife habitat is only half the story."

Many wildlife populations in the U.S. are many times larger than they were when European settlers first arrived on these shores. These animal populations don't stay in the wild—not so much due to humans encroaching on their habitat as it is that suburban (and even urban) "habitat is better than theirs. We offer plenty of food, water, shelter and protection. We plant grass, trees, shrubs and gardens, put out birdseed, mulch and garbage."

The toll exacted by wildlife expansion is not trivial. Sterba notes that in the U.S., "the total cost of wildlife damage to crops, landscaping and infrastructure now exceeds $28 billion a year ($1.5 billion from deer-vehicle crashes alone), according to Michael Conover of Utah State University, who monitors conflicts between people and wildlife."

Many people are unwilling to face the realities of how best to manage this situation. People whose "knowledge of nature arrives on screens, where wild animals are often packaged to act like cuddly little people that our Earth Day instincts tell us to protect" are generally unwilling to consider introducing the most effective predation methods to control burgeoning wildlife populations.

Most of our population has grown woefully out of touch with real nature. Maybe they think it's OK for Bambi to be taken down by a wolf or a mountain lion, but they doubtless wouldn't want such predators wandering around their neighborhoods where the 'cute' deer come to dine. They resist as inhumane using the "predator that is already there: us."

Before giving into the cutesy indoctrination about deer, we should realize that they "kill upward of 250 people a year—drivers and passengers—and hospitalize 30,000 more."

Hunting by humans is the most effective, least expensive, and the most feasibly humane method of wildlife population control. Sterba also notes that humans have historically been the main predator of deer and other species. If people can reason through this and get past their squeamishness about hunting, we can talk about ways to best manage hunting to minimize negative impact.

Some areas currently use hired sharpshooters. Conditions in some spots are conducive only to archery rather than firearm hunting. Sterba suggests training hunters from the public in some areas and using public officers such as police in others. The idea is to manage "social carrying capacity," which "means the point at which the damage a creature does outweighs its benefits in the public mind."

In response to past destructive behaviors we have been conditioned to take a heartwarming, overprotective view of wildlife. The result has been a boomerang effect where wildlife is increasingly encroaching on and causing problems in human habitat. Sterba is not calling for a return to the bad days of the past, but a realistic and positive way forward.

It would seem that those that cannot climb out of their socially conditioned cartoon caricature of wildlife are destined to permanently disagree with Sterba, regardless of the cost.