Highlighting Saluda Shoals Park

Saluda Shoals Park is a 400 acre park situated along the scenic Saluda River, on the northwest side of Columbia, South Carolina. The environmentally sensitive park offers visitors recreational activities as well as environmental educational opportunities. There is also a popular splash park for children.
Ten miles of paved and unpaved trails wind through the park. Trails are designated for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The scenic Greenway Trail meanders for 2.25 miles along the river. Visitors may bring their own bikes to ride or rent one at the park. Horse trails wind through other areas of the park. A short boardwalk allows visitors to observe a variety of birds and animals in the wetland preserve. Visitors often see herons, ducks, turtles, frogs, and crawfish.

Saluda Shoals Park is a favorite with anglers. The shoals off Corley Island are a great fishing spot. A boat ramp area allows visitors to launch canoes and kayaks. The park also rents canoes, kayaks, and paddling equipment from 9:30am-4pm on weekends and from 9:30am-2pm on weekdays. Rental rates are $23 per hour, $38 for 3 hours, and $48 for all day. Guided paddling trips can be arranged.

Children will enjoy cooling off in the Saluda Splash playground. This zero-depth, interactive water play area is open May-August from 9am-8pm. A separate admission is charged. The park also has a playground.

Saluda Shoals Park’s Environmental Education Center offers nature themed workshops and seasonal activities. Current research projects being conducted at Saluda Shoals Park include water quality monitoring of the Saluda River, native cane research along the riverbank, and mosquito research. There is also an ornithology research project involving Eastern bluebirds and Carolina chickadees. The study tracks the number of Eastern bluebirds that make their home in the park. Other facilities at Saluda Shoals Park include picnic areas, shelters, the River Center conference facility, and the Barking Lot dog park. Groups of youth and adults can utilize the park’s Real Team Challenge Course, with its low ropes course and orienteering course. Professionally trained staff can lead team building activities.

Saluda Shoals Park is located at 5605 Bush River Road in Columbia. It is easily accessed off I-26 at Piney Grove Road or I-20 at Bush River Road. Park admission is $4 per car for residents and $5 per car for non-residents. Separate admission for Saluda Splash is $3 per person. Horseback riders may pay a daily fee or purchase an annual Horse Trail Pass. The park is open daily from 7am-8:30pm in March-October, and from 7am-5:30pm in November-February.
By: Kim Roberts

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Exotic Hunting In The Texas Hill Country

One does not have to travel to the far regions of Africa to enjoy a good hunt for exotic animals as the Texas Hill Country has become quite notorious for such.

The Texas Hill Country, located directly between Austin and San Antonio, has become a notorious exotic animal hunting region. Its rolling hills are covered with cedar and oak, which is separated by grassy pastures making it the perfect habitat for a number of exotic game species. These species include animals from North Africa, India, Nepal and China. There is the emu, fallow deer, barasingha, Addax antelope, Blackbuck antelope, Axis deer, red stag, red sheep, scimitar horn oryx, zebras, bison and more.

Do to the number of exotic animals in this region, hunting is permitted year around with a state hunting license. There are a number of licensed guides in the area to help you along the way. These guides usually have permits and access to ranches and property for hunting.

Where do all these exotic animals come from? Many of these animals had originally been imported by collectors and hunters who have private ranches. Many of these animals have escaped and established themselves by the tens of thousands around southern Texas and particularly in the Hill Country. Now the overpopulation of these varieties has become a problem.

The executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association, Charly Seale, says that there are nearly 400,000 exotics living behind high fences in Texas. In addition there are 50,000 to 60,000 free-ranging exotics living outside of these fences. He adds, the populations have been growing at a rate of 10 percent a year. Owners of herds manage their population by allowing routine hunting. One ranch owner said they try to shoot 30 black bucks a year and 10 to 20 axis deer.

The hunting of these exotic trophy animals has not only been a boon for hunters but for locals as well. Hunts can start at $1,500 for black bucks and axis deer and go up from there for super exotics such as bison and kudu. Texas A&M studies have shown that the exotic animal business in Texas has assisted the economy by about $1.3 billion. For the Nature Conservancy, they see the hunters playing a key role in managing free-ranging exotics.

For those who hire hunting guides, their fee usually covers a two to four day package which includes the daily hunt fee, meals, lodging and guiding services. There are additional costs that vary according to the type of animal hunted to if an animal is wounded and survives after being shot – so ask your guide about these fees.

Whether you’re hunting with a gun or bow, you must purchase a license, which is sold at most local grocery stores. Nonresidents of Texas will need a valid Non-Resident Special Hunting License (Type 107) or Non-Resident 5-Day Special Hunting License (Type 157). Those under 17 must obtain a Youth Hunting License (Type 169).

Exotics that can be legally hunted include animals that are ungulates, that is grass- or plant-eating, single-or cloven-hoofed mammals that are not native to Texas. This list includes: aoudad sheep, axis deer, fallow deer, elk, bison, blackbuck antelope, feral hog, sika deer, scimitar-horned oryx, wildebeest, ibex, mouflon, Texas dahl sheep, Catalina goat, gemsbok, markhor, impala, eland, barasinga (Indian swamp deer) and other species. Hunting of ratites (emu, rhea, ostrich, cassowary) is also allowed.

No, one doesn’t have to travel to other countries to enjoy an exotic animal hunt, when there is the Hill Country of Texas right at your back door.
By: Deborah Allen

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Why Are Reality Shows So Popular

Switch on the television at any time of the day, you are almost sure to find a reality show on some channel or the other. Chances are that you have watched at least one of these shows and have taken a fancy to following the minutiae of the contestants’ lives as they unfold on the small screen right in front of your eyes. Just what is it about reality shows that make them so popular and grabs your attention like nobody’s business?

The contestants in a reality TV show are not acting; they are being who they are in real life. The producers and the editors of the show create a captivating story line as they go snip-snip with their editorial scissors. The result is pure, unadulterated entertainment, much more potent that any soap opera that you may have seen.

Do people like reality shows because they are real? Or do they just seem real? Observe yourself the next time you watch a reality show. Even if it is something as exaggerated and bogus as a starlet’s bridegroom hunt, you find yourself instantly drawn to it and caught up with the minute details. You may also find yourself unwittingly switching back to the channel to catch up with what’s going on even if you manage to channel surf to another show. Reality shows are so captivating possibly because you are getting a ringside view of other people’s ostensibly private lives.

Take any reality show, there will be some element of competition in it. The more fierce the competition, the higher the TRP ratings. Take the popular reality TV shows – Survivor, Big Brother or the desi Big Boss for instance. We like it when people bully each other, call each other names and engage in backstabbing all in the name of winning the competition. There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure that we derive, out of watching others fight it out and sometimes completely humiliate each other, all within the safety of our couch with a bowl of popcorn in hand.

Of course, there is a smattering of good too about the entire gamut of reality TV. Ordinary people from small towns get to participate and compete against contestants from across the country; the show is a huge platform to showcase their talents. People are, and always will be, obsessed with fame and fortune. The reality show contestants have their mini-celebrity status for the duration of the show and for a short while after. Some even manage to grab a couple of new shows banking on the popularity or notoriety that the reality show had generated for them.

Now, if you are interested in taking a peek into what happens behind the screens of reality TV, grab a copy of the novel Überstar by the Australian author Vaughn Alaine-Marshall. The author had interviewed reality show contestants from across the world before locking himself up in his study to complete the novel. The novel follows the path of eleven hopefuls as they compete for the starring role in a feature film. A must read for all reality show fans, haters and aspirants.

Love it or hate it, reality TV is here to stay. Producers will continue producing reality shows, big brands will continue endorsing them and we will continue watching them as long as the average human being continues to derive much pleasure from being a fly on the wall.
By: Vaughn Alaine-Marshall

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What Do They Mean By Left, Right & Centre In Politics?

Wikipedia introduces the subject like this …

“The meaning of the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ in a political context has changed radically over time. The Right is generally against intentional political, economic and social change, the Left is in favour of it.
The Left broadly identifies itself with the interests of the masses, while the Right is seen to favour the interests of the established propertied classes.”

This definition makes a good starting point. It describes the tension between two opposites … those who want to share the world’s resources more evenly, and those who don’t … most traditionally the haves and the have-nots.

But modern political polarities cannot be limited to the economist-blinkered perspective of supply and demand of goods; nor the rights and methods for transfering ownership – be they bureaucratic, reformistic or militaristic. Long-term we cannot avoid the accumulated destructiveness of the profit motive upon …
* our national and global societal arrangements
* our natural environment and universal life support systems

Collective acquistion and redistribution are ingrained in human survival patterns and expectations, varying upon history, traditions and beliefs. Private acquistion and ownership are a more of an instinctive necessity, an area which is addressed within all religious teachings with special attention.

1. The ME position (personal self-interest)
Every being, at the root of its consciousness, instinctively divides the world into two parts: the me and the not-me.

Driven to survive in bodily terms, the me must gather resources from the not-me, creating a circle of ownership which it then defends (and tries to enlarge) by whatever means it can.

This is the basic standpoint of the ‘Right’, its logic accesses the primitive in us, and is particularly favoured by those who have more, or want more, and who feel justified in the use of force (aggression and subservience) to strengthen their position.

Examples of Rightist regimes:
Red China under Mao Tse Tung
America under Bush
Germany under Hitler
The USSR under communism
The Catholic Church through till the 19th Century
The colonial empires – Roman, British, Spanish.

… proponents all of the blood-stained roads to riches.

The WE position (collective self-interest)
Taking a personal position supporting the ‘Left’ can come from a range of perspectives depending on the understanding of each individual, and on the value they recognise in cooperating for the common good.

Maturity in people goes through stages:
Child – others need to take care of everything at first,
Youth – starting to take responsibility for some things,
Adult – begins to take on the care of other people,
Elder – as well, they take responsibility for issues concerning their community + the land + the future.

At each of these stages the benefits of sharing has a different significance to the individual, putting them into a different relationship with those around.

The maturity of the Elder (as above) should be the basis for representing the position of the ‘Left’. However, in our present society the majority of people do not reach that level of maturity and the potential for a truly cooperation-based society therefore remains unattainable.
Indeed, giving the vote to pre-adults unduly biases polling outcomes against that possibility.

Examples of Leftist regimes:
Cuba under Castro
Tibet under Dalai Lama (pre-Chinese)
Theravadan Burma
Australian aborigines (pre-European)
Celtic Europe (pre-Roman)

The Centrist position
There is no natural position between ME and WE. The political Centre, or the notional Third Way, is no more than the current philosophy of compromise, based upon generalised self-interest, media propaganda and economic concerns.

This so-called Centre is populated by parties who are characterised by their leanings. In other words the direction of change which they advocate as a mean of improving the society at large … by promoting active self-interest (the business model), or wider egalitarianism (the community model).

In Conclusion
Although the Right gravitates towards capitalism for obvious reasons of self-gain and power, capitalism is not solely its domain – it’s a common mistake to equate capitalism and right-politics. Take for example the Mondragon corporation in the Basque region of Spain where the banks, schools, supermarkets and industries are all cooperatively owned and democratically run. Thoroughly cordial capitalism.

In societies that favour the values of the ‘Right’, their eat-or-be-eaten approach drives the social order, then the global, increasingly into chaos – gradually and inevitably to a crisis of awakening or destruction.
So while you can yet choose; eat-what-you-kill and enjoy the feast, or share-what-you-kill and enjoy the company …?
By: hotfrog

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