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I’ve always embraced change, perhaps to my detriment. I suspect it has something to do with a youth where we moved to different homes as often as most people buy new sneakers, so it just seems normal — and somewhat cathartic — to do things differently, even to the point of dropping old traditions and embracing new ones.

But some change I can’t accept, and one of those is Thanksgiving without deviled eggs that taste as much like my mom’s as possible. Some things are, after all, sacrosanct.

So this, perhaps, is how we in the traditional — and dare I say legitimate — media will meet our demise: fake news.

And just this past Saturday I was so optimistic that traditional journalism was somehow going to survive. I was visiting my daughter and some friends at Appalachian State and had a conversation with a college senior who is doing an internship at a High Country newspaper. He was full of that youthful excitement about journalism and was unrestrained about his desire to pursue a print newspaper job after seeing the effect his stories had in the small community his newspaper serves. I came home thinking of my own ambitions at that age and believing that young people like him would surely help our industry continue to do its important mission in our democratic society.

We are a democratic republic, not a pure democracy. I was reminded of that in a most unusual way at a most unusual place.

My wife Lori and I were descending the 15,355-foot-high Condor Pass in the Peruvian Andes on Wednesday, Nov. 9, when I turned to Bram — an engineer from Belgium who was part of our group and also happened to have an international phone plan — and told him I couldn’t hold out any longer.

I feel strongly about politics. I hope — with all the hope I can muster — that Donald Trump loses this election. I have major differences with his positions regarding taxes, immigration, public schools, foreign policy and a host of other issues. I think he has stoked some of the most vile tendencies in human nature — racism, sexism, bigotry, and xenophobia, to name a few.

Thankfully, few Americans embrace those characteristics, but some who do have been emboldened by his success.

My 18-year-old son, Liam, departed the mountains for Charlotte two weeks ago when his fall break had ended. 

He’s our youngest, the last to fly the coop, and so my wife, Lori, and I had anxiously looked forward to his first visit from college. As one might expect from a growing boy, he wanted some of mom’s cooking, and that meant we would enjoy dinners together. We also spent mornings catching up and talking, visited relatives in Asheville, did some mountain biking, and caught a movie.

Cruel. That was it, that’s the word that defines why I think Donald Trump is unfit to be president. Obviously, some others have already come to that conclusion. 

Like many Americans, I have spent too much of the time I have left on this earth cringing while listening to what Trump has said since he started seeking the highest office in the land, wondering how he has gotten this far.

Western Carolina University’s faculty has wrestled through months of both tedium and spirited debate in devising how best to manage a controversial gift from a politically charged foundation, and in doing so has apparently succeeded in doing a better job than any university in this country in protecting academic freedoms and its own integrity.

It’s a lofty achievement, one that deserves praise (and emulation from other institutions) and one that should make its faculty and this region proud.

When it comes to HB2, our state’s Republican leadership will eventually prove to be on the wrong side of history. Just give it some time.

Until then, however, the fallout from the so-called “bathroom bill” continues to reverberate around the nation and the state as hundreds of millions of dollars — perhaps billions — are sucked from the North Carolina economy. Our citizens and our communities are being forced to pay a steep price for this legislative intransigence at the same time we are beginning to work our way out of this stubborn recession.

We drove through the small town of Clyde on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11, right in the midst of the commemoration for the 9/11 attacks. Patriotic music was playing while firemen and law enforcement officials were at attention. Unsurpri-singly, I caught myself choking up a bit.

Similar celebrations were happening across the country, people recalling the countless acts of selfless heroism that were on display that day 15 years ago and the senselessness of the terrorist crimes that at the time were so new to most Americans.

When we got out of the car on Sunday at the parking area in Jackson County at the end of Fisher Creek Road, it was cool, perhaps high 60s or low 70s. Fall is coming, I thought. Despite the favorable temperatures, the walk up the trail toward Black Rock and Pinnacle Peak soon had all of us bathed in sweat, feeling winded and wonderful at the same time.

I’d been on the trail before. That was on a cold April morning a few years back as a pack of crazy trail runners took part in the annual Assault on Black Rock race. The sheer exhaustion I suffered during that run erased any real memory of the trail, and so this time it might as well have been my first time maneuvering up the rocky path.

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