I thought this was going to be one of those columns that writes itself.
After all, it’s March, lots of politics around, logical fodder for my annual rant. We had the Board of Fish (I always picture a round table surrounded by various species of salmon, all in suits and ties and horn rimmed glasses ready to conduct a meeting; probably have better results) screw up the Cook Inlet fishery. I don’t have a horse it that race so I can say that as an impartial observer.
However, everyone I know on the peninsula is involved at some level with one or the other of the fisheries and NO one has had a good word to say about the outcome. The consensus seems to be that if we got the predators off the spawning grounds the kings MIGHT rebound, but the economic repercussions would be felt all over the peninsula. So ultimately, it comes down to save the resource or break the bank.
Which brings us to the State Legislative session: over half finished and things are beginning to move a little “down there.” The biggest issue thus far, if you don’t count the ever-present Oil Patch Syndrome, is public schools. I DO have a horse in that race, as should everyone, so I pay attention to what’s going on even if it has no direct impact on my life and the issue is the same: Save the resource (our young people) or build the economy. If we devoted as much thought and consideration to our public schools as we do to allocating fish runs we’d be graduating rocket scientists from every Bush school.
And on the national front there is the “Affordable Care Act,” better known as Obamacare, exploding onto the economic and medical horizon like Mt. Etna over Pompeii. It seems to be omnipresent (one of my English teachers told me many years ago that “someday you will use that word” and finally I did). Again, no direct impact on me, yet, because I am a Senior Citizen (as I confessed last column) but I have not seen anything positive about it among the people I know and have only heard that someone’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s sister’s baby sitter can finally get insurance for her pre-existing condition and it only costs her $4 a month, or something equally as obscure. While the idea is exemplary (save the resource?) the implementation seems to be less than economically feasible (break the bank?).
So, I was very happy to take a two week break and concentrate on the Olympics. Actually, concentrate is a slight misnomer, as I wasn’t locked on to the TV every minute; however, because of the time difference between here and Russia, it was difficult to get away from it as every news broadcast during the day, radio and TV had some piece of Olympic news. Watching at night was often anti-climatic, just to watch the action because you already knew the outcome.
And there was no need to watch NCIS or The Blacklist. The Olympics had the usual figure skating drama and scoring scandal, the doping disqualifications and the political activism. Hockey supplied the suspense while extreme skiing and bob-sledding offered redemption. Not to mention the Jamaican bobsled team and this year, just as unlikely, a skier from East Timor in Indonesia for comic relief. The surprises came with who won the medals in which sports. Not the old “tried and trues.” While the U.S. brought home the usual number of medals of all colors, they weren’t the ones expected to be earned by the heroes of the past but by the young whipper-snappers who sneaked in with the extreme sports.
Back in one of my other lives, I was acquainted with a woman who participated in the 1936 Olympics as a relay runner with the British women’s team. When I knew her, 50 years later, she said that at the time, of course, no one realized they were becoming a noted part of history. They were just there to do their best and maybe earn a medal (her team did not). She was still very athletic and walked a mile and swam against the tide every day. I wonder what she might think of the radical additions to the traditional favorite Olympic sports today and of the extravaganza the games have become because of TV.
So, the “column that wrote itself” has become more of a lament against Cabin Fever. This winter has been strange and no shorter than usual. I want spring to come so I can escape from the mind boggling issues that seem to plague us every February. The days are getting longer; the sun is trying to shine; and soon politics will become less all-consuming as real life takes over again.
But for now it’s back to fisheries, school funding and Obamacare. I think I’d rather be judging figure skating on somebody else’s home turf.
Virginia Walters lives in Kenai. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.