Saturday, November 14, 2015

Grizzlies On My Mind (A Late Night Facebook Chat With The President)

Often when I can't sleep I put my computer on my chest while laying in bed and I Google and Wikepedia and browse the night away.

Sometimes I catch up on news, or watch YouTube videos, or read articles about grizzly bears and wolves. Sometime I fall asleep with the computer on my chest. But not tonight. Tonight I was checking out President Barrack Obama's new Facebook page. Yup; the President launched a Facebook page. And while I am admiring his first post -- a videoed stroll through his backyard at the White House talking about climate change and the need to protect our wildlife, wild places and the clean air, clean water and planet that sustains us -- one of those little intrusive blueish chat boxes rudely pops up on my screen.

"Hello?"
"Uh . . . hello!" I respond.
"I have a surprise for you," he writes. "I am in Missoula and want to hang out."

I was indeed surprised. So much so it snapped me out of my sleepy stupor. I sit up. Then I notice the name on the chat box.

For discretionary purposes I will just call him John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, which of course isn't really his name (nor my name too). He often chats me up late at night. I find it sometimes annoying only because I can't type well while laying down, so I have to sit up if I want to reply in much depth. Which I do; He seems smart enough and looks good enough to make it worth sitting up.

"Oh, wow. I am surprised," I respond. "What brings you here?"
"Going to the Grizzly game."
"Cool"
"Want to hang out?"


Ugh! I do want to. But I feel pretty lazy and settled in. I lay back down to think about how to best respond in a tactful, honest and polite manner  . .  . and . . . and then the chat screen pops back up.

"Hello?"

Again, it snaps me out of my sleepy stupor. His words seems to impatiently imply, Are you ignoring me? I don't want to ignore him. I sit up. Then I notice the name on the chat box.

Barack Obama
"Hello?"

David Stalling
"Hello."

Barack Obama
"You're up late."

David Stalling
"Yes, I am. I don't mean to be rude, but is that really you Mr. President, or someone who works for the president?"

Barack Obama
"Lol. UR not being rude. It's me. I promise. I can show you my birth certificate if you want?"

David Stalling
"Lol. No Sir, not necessary; I am not one of THEM!"

Barack Obama
"Lol. Glad to hear that. So why up so late?"

David Stalling
"I just have a lot on my mind."

"I can relate to that," he replies. "My mind keeps me awake as well. I won't bore you with my stuff, but I would sure like to know what's on your mind?"

I feel silly, and tell him so, thinking what's on my mind is trivial compared to what must be on the mind of the President of the United States. "Don't worry about that," he writes. "We all have stuff on our minds; perhaps just not the same stuff. It's all important. I want to hear what's on your mind, if you don't mind?"

I don't mind; So I tell him:

"I have grizzlies on my mind."

I tell him about my passion for wildlife and wild places and my growing concerns about climate change; The ongoing loss and degradation of and need to protect what little remains of truly wild places; The terrible and tragic notion of selling our public lands, an idea being pushed by many Republicans; The Republican-led attacks on the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and other important environmental laws and regulations; Some people's selfish willingness to put greed and profit above the health of our air, water and the very Earth that sustains us; Our growing disconnect from nature -- the REAL WORLD -- and how that has led to so many problems on so many levels; The abandonment of and Republican-led attack on science; The sad, ongoing persecution of and hatred for wolves, and my related concerns about what I believe is a premature effort to delist wild grizzly bears from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and turn management over to the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming -- all of which seem eager to open morally-unjustifiable trophy-hunting seasons for the Great Bears --  despite the alarming impacts a rapidly changing climate is having on their habitat, influencing changes in food and where they go to search for food, which brings them closer to and in more frequent contact and conflicts with humans, which means increased bear mortality, which means . . .

. . . Well, you get the picture. I hope. I tend to go on and on about such things. I apologetically tell the President that.

I anxiously await his response. . . Nothing. I fear I maybe went too far; Perhaps I drove him away? Put him to sleep? I minimize the chat screen and lay back down thinking about wild places and wild grizzlies and hope and change . . . and . . . and then the chat screen pops back up.

"Hello?"

Again, it snaps me out of my sleepy stupor.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," I quickly respond.

I don't want to ignore him. I sit up. Then I notice the name on the chat box.

John Jacob J.S.
"You didn't offend me. I just assumed you fell asleep. What's up?"

David Stalling
"I just have a lot on my mind." 

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