I Think Earth is Trying to Evict Us

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By Persephone

Not that I blame our planet–that magical orb without which we would not exist.  She gives us life, food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe.  She is the source of all known life in our solar system.  In return, we pour pollutants into her atmosphere.  We dump chemicals and pile up landfills on her surface, contaminating our ground water.  We throw hazardous waste into her oceans.  And she’s starting to resent us.

That’s right.  She’s starting to resent us.  This is only the beginning.  For decades, scientists have warned us of the consequences of choosing consumerism over consideration of our planet.  We’ve chosen the easy route instead, denying that climate change or global warming even exist.  Conservatives have pointed out that the earth was already warming naturally, while environmental scientists have stated that the earth wasn’t warming up this quickly.  The creatures on this planet don’t have enough time to adapt.  And that includes us.

This isn’t just about increased temperatures and melting ice caps.  Those were the preliminary signs.  Now, we’re dealing with the aftermath.  It isn’t pretty.

On August 25th, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas.  It was a Category 4 storm.  Our scale only goes up to 5.  Over 50 inches of rain was dumped on Texas, and parts of Houston and other cities suffered from major flooding.  Over 70 people have been declared dead as a result of this natural disaster.  It also caused upwards of $200 billion in property damages.  Texas has never seen the like before.

Last Thursday, Mexico was hit with a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale.  It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in over 100 years.  Over 90 people have died as a result.

Where I live in central Washington, we too are feeling the effects of extreme weather changes.  Every year, the droughts last longer, and extensive fires break out.  Fires surround where I live, and that includes fires not only in Washington state.  Canada has been fighting fires all throughout the summer.  Montana, Oregon, and California have also suffered.  As a result, smoke has hung over my area in a haze for a solid two months.  School days have been cancelled, tourism has disappeared, and we haven’t seen the sun in months.

I’m not sure if the Earth is mad at us, but she sure is acting like it.  A lot of suffering through cataclysmic storms, droughts, fires, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes have already occurred.  Then, there’s today.

Today, Florida is getting hit with Hurricane Irma.  It is the strongest hurricane in recorded history.  Our hopes and prayers go out to the people of the Caribbean who have already survived this storm and must piece their lives back together, and to the people just now dealing with the enormity of a Category 5 Storm.  I’m so sorry, Florida.

So, climate change is real (obviously).  What can we do?  There are things we can do, but at this point a lot of the damage is irreversible.  There will still be consequences for the last century of abuse to our planet.  However, we can recycle, start fixing our possessions instead of buying a new one every 5 seconds, maintain our cars rather than switch them out for new ones all the time, invest in alternative technologies, replace our lightbulbs with LEDs (this one is actually a big deal), plant more trees, have fewer children, and most importantly write our congressmen!!  Gods help us, it’s the politicians who hold the real power to changing environmental policy.  They hold private energy and vehicle companies accountable.  Vote!!  The EPA could also use some support from us before Trump does away with it entirely.  We need the Environmental Protection Agency to set up regulations and clean up our messes.

Other countries need to do the same.  We need to start caring about our home.  There’s no other planet like it, and we need to stop damaging Earth any further.

I repeat: this is only the beginning.  The 16 hottest years occurred in the last 17 years.  Every storm seems to gain in strength in the Atlantic, and people are dying.  These conditions aren’t going to improve.  They’re only going to get worse.

So, brace yourselves.  There’s a lot of momentum behind climate change, and we cannot even fathom the full extent of the damage that’s already been done.

Photo from The Telegraph

 

 

There are More Important Things than President Cheeto

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By Persephone

We’ve heard many stories over the past week about Hurricane Harvey as it struck Louisiana and Texas.  Houston–the fourth largest city in the United States–was hit with over 50 inches of rain, and the city has been flooded ever since.  It is only now that the waters are finally beginning to recede.

Over this week, there’s been many photos of the brave locals who have gone out again and again in murky water containing snakes and alligators to rescue their fellow neighbors.  We’ve heard many inspirational stories of men going out again and again in their boats to save everyone stranded by the rising waters.  There have also been horror stories of people drowning and many illegal immigrants remaining in their homes rather than risk deportation by ICE.  Last I heard, there were 47 people declared dead due to the hurricane and its aftermath.  That’s a significant number in a country that’s supposed to be prepared for such disasters.

Hurricane Harvey has shown the worst of the people of the federal government, yet it’s shown the best of normal everyday Americans.

Let me elaborate on that.

I’m sick of writing about Trump.  I know I write about him an awful lot, but this isn’t because I find him a fascinating individual.  It’s just my therapy to process the horror that is his presidency.  He’s an incompetent asshole who has the attention span of a pit bull on acid.  It’s not fun to be an American right now.  As if to make up for his lackadaisical initial response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Trump can be found in Texas today, kissing random babies and smiling for every photo op.  Never mind that Congress is looking at cutting $876 million from FEMA’s budget, which handles situations like Harvey, as a means of paying for Trump’s fucking wall.  The wall which is meant to shut out Mexican immigrants, such as 1/3 of Houston’s population.  FEMA is almost already out of money this year.  Their budget cannot get decreased any further.

In the meantime, Congress might also shut down the government on September 30th if they can’t agree on a new budget.  That includes social programs, military spending, FEMA’s budget, the existence of DACA, and many other programs that the conservatives of Congress want to get rid of.  Meanwhile, Trump is threatening to shut down everything anyway, even if Congress agrees on something, if they don’t pay for his border wall.

It’s just nice to know that normal Americans can band together and prove that basic human decency still exists.  You won’t find similar evidence of that in Washington, D.C.

Picture from abcnews

French Toast

By Persephone

For every person eating, beat one egg and 1 1/2 cups of milk.  Add in a healthy amount of vanilla.  Soak slices of bread (this one’s a preference–but white or French bread usually works the best) in the mixture, then place the bread individually on a hot griddle.  Turn when the French toast is golden brown.  Serve with butter and syrup.

Proper Etiquette in the Checkout Line

By Persephone

For the last three months, I’ve been a checker at Safeway.  You might have noticed that my articles have been very hit and miss this summer, and that’s a significant reason why.  I’ve also been taking classes and teaching a class, but the tumultuous schedule and mind-numbing work at Safeway has played a significant factor.

I’ve never worked in a store before.  I’ve worked many other jobs, including in a warehouse, but this one was a new one.  All the chitchatting and socialization that came along with it took some adjustment, but I managed.  Although I haven’t hated the job, I knew it was only a summer gig.  I have student teaching this fall to get through.  With my position at Safeway about to end, however, I thought I should partake of a little wisdom to anyone going through the checkout line in a store.  There are a few trends that should be squelched immediately:

  1. Stop making comments about the checker’s name.  My real name is rather pretty, and everyone has to ask me questions about it.  This gets old.  If something crosses your mind as a really clever comment about someone’s name in a store, don’t say it.  We’ve already heard it so much that we’re sick of having name tags.
  2. If you decide not to buy something, don’t hand it to us to put away.  We’re already understaffed, and now you’re sticking us with more to do because you’re too lazy to do it yourself.  This goes double for perishable items like ice cream or meat.  Put it away your own damn selves.
  3. When it’s time to pay for your groceries, get off your fucking cell phone.  It’s rude to the checker and to the people waiting in line behind you.  Plus, I shouldn’t have to tell you this is rude.  Honestly.
  4. When your groceries have been bagged and put aside, please put the bags in your cart.  I don’t know how many times a person just stared at me as I checked and bagged their stuff, waiting to put the bags up until they’d paid and it was time for the next person to get through the line.  Pay attention, people.
  5. Don’t wait until everything is through and it’s time to pay before you remember that there was something else you needed.  Or, if you do, pay, go find it, and go through the line again.  I’ve had to stand there for five minutes with an increasingly pissed off line of people because someone remembered at the last second that they needed barbecue sauce.  This is what lists are for.
  6. Don’t take it out on the checkers or the courtesy clerks if you didn’t find what you wanted or you thought your groceries were too expensive.  We aren’t the people who stock the shelves or set the prices.  We just get yelled at for it.
  7. If the city or state we work in requires us to card everyone for buying liquor regardless of age, don’t get mad at us.  We are literally just doing our jobs when we card you when you’re clearly in your eighties.  Grow up.
  8. Don’t wait until you’ve already paid before noticing that a coupon or sale didn’t go through.  If it’s that important, notice it before your credit card cleared.  It’s so much easier for us to fix it then.
  9. Be polite.  This isn’t to mean that you have to make conversation.  To be honest, I prefer not to do a lot of chitchatting.  Making small talk is exhausting after eight or nine hours of it.  That doesn’t mean you can snap at me because you’re having a bad day.  I didn’t personally cause it.

Despite this list of advice, I didn’t actually dislike checking.  The vast majority of the people I met were extremely polite and simply wanted to get their groceries and move on with their day.  I can totally relate to that.  However, even if only one person in twenty is extremely rude, it can ruin your whole shift.  Remember that we make minimum wage.  Remember that only an asshole yells at a person who makes minimum wage and still finds the energy to smile politely at you.

What to Notice About Charlottesville and Its Aftermath: The Good, the Bad, and the Predictable

By Persephone

Yes, it’s been more than a week since there was a White Nationalist, KKK, and Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Technically, they were there to protest the upcoming removal of a Robert E. Lee statue commemorating the Southern side of the Civil War.  The counterprotestors for this movement far outnumbered the Nazis, and one of said Nazis ran a car into the crowd of counterprotestors.  Nineteen people were injured, and one woman–Heather Heyer–died.  I should have responded immediately, but I sort of wanted to stand back and see how everyone else was reacting.  Here’s what I’ve noticed…

THE PREDICTABLE:

For some reason, the fact that Trump’s a racist has surprised people.  HOW??  When Trump first came out after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, he said that there was “blame on many sides,” clearly diverting blame from the neo-Nazis to those protesting Nazis.  Oddly enough, people freaked out over this blase attitude.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around their disbelief.  President Cheeto’s list of didn’t-mentions that day was extensive: he didn’t list the hate groups by name, he didn’t condemn the act of violence, and he didn’t even say the victim’s name.  To anyone who had been paying attention to Trump’s presidency, this should hardly have been a surprise.  He’s a coward with an incessant need for praise, and the White Nationalists were out there praising him that day.  The counter-protesters sure weren’t.  So, therefore, he wasn’t going to say anything strong against the racist bigots because they’re his peeps.  On the following Monday, he finally named them in a short 4-minute segment, condemning their actions, but he blew even that decency out of the water the following day when he backtracked at a rambling press conference.  Because, with Trump, every press conference is rambling.

THE GOOD:

The removal of multiple Confederate monuments.  While I honestly don’t care about the Confederacy statues and what they stood for, as I grew up around such things all my life in Oklahoma and the South in general, I can see why multiple special interest groups have wanted them down.  I’ve heard several conservatives ask why these statues are such a big deal all of a sudden, so I keep responding with one particular sentiment.  These statues have always been a big deal; it’s just now that city councils and states are starting to accept the removal thereof.  After all the bad publicity of the Confederacy last week, it’s hardly surprising that so many monuments are getting the fast-track to the dump.  The Confederacy was a five year period in which the South decided that maintaining the dehumanizing act of slavery was more important than their patriotism, yet we have hundreds of monuments commemorating their efforts.  Slavery lasted for hundreds of years, yet we gloss over that aspect of our history.

Charities are backing out of events scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.  I was more surprised to discover that anyone still booked Mar-a-Lago for events, but hey.  Better late than never, I guess.  I hope President Cheeto loses a lot of business.

The size of the White Nationalist movement itself.  Not only is this movement even smaller than I’d believed–there were just a few hundred people protesting in Charlottesville–but there are very few women in this movement.  It is primarily made up of white men in their 20s and 30s.  You know–the spoiled brats of society.  They’re upset that not everything has been handed to them, so it’s easier to blame the Jews (because clearly there’s so many of them around) and other races than recognize that life isn’t easy for anybody.  What makes them so special?  I would like to point out how oogy it is that several have suggested that they wouldn’t mind forming an all-white society with a polygamous family base.  That’s right, folks.  Despite their inability to get even one wife, they think they’re all entitled to two or three or more.  Icky.

Tina Fey’s idea of “sheetcaking.”  If you haven’t heard about this, you really need to watch this sequence.

How late night comedians have responded.  Many set aside the jokes and the commentary for a short time to just hash the seriousness of the situation with the right amount of quiet contemplation that’s very much needed right now.  Seth Meyers was particularly poignant.

Steve Bannon is now no longer an official member of the Trump administration.  ‘Bout time.  Although his removal from office lacked the scandalous fanfare we’ve grown used to in this administration.  It’s hard to compete with the Mooch!

On Saturday, several conservative, White Nationalist rallies were scheduled throughout the U.S.  Their numbers were small.  The numbers of the counterprotestors were not.  The pictures from Boston’s protest were quite good fun.

THE UGLY:

White Supremacists, the KKK, and Nazis exist in the United States.  They aren’t just trolls on the internet anymore.  I cannot emphasize how dangerous this is.  People I work with have mentioned sympathy for their plight, and this is unsettling.  If you sympathize for White Nationalists because you feel the elitist hippies are being too mean via twitter, then you really should sit back and take stock of your priorities.  It’s always okay to condemn Nazis.  They have nothing positive to offer anyone.  That’s the one group that should always be oppressed.

Worst of all, someone died.  There’s no glossing over that.

 

Zucchini Bread

By The Oracle

This is a great recipe for the end of summer.  It’s easy, quick and full of fiber.  Plus, if you grow zucchini like I do, you have a lot of those suckers around.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup molasses  (The hero of this recipe.)

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. salt

2 ½ cups flour

2 cups shredded zucchini

 

In a large mixer bowl, cream together the eggs, oil, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda, cloves and salt. You want to stir this for a while, so it fluffs up.  When it’s fluffed a bit, reduce mixer speed to blend.  Then alternately add the flour and shredded zucchini a cup at a time.  When everything is evenly mixed, split mixture between two greased bread pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Cool, slice, and serve with soft butter.

If He Ends Up Killing Us All, I’m Going to be Pretty Miffed.

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By Persephone

The big news this week…not that I’ve been updating this website lately (sorry about that–school is my biggest excuse)…is the recent exchange of threats from North Korean President Kim Jong-un.

Sometimes, I just feel like screaming.  We elected the biggest baby of them all to head our military and make all war decisions.  Can I just say–why?  That’s like handing a lighter and a basketful of firecrackers to a three-year-old with a propensity for arson.  It’s just insane.

North Korea has grown more and more menacing over the last six months.  They continually develop stronger nuclear weapons with increasingly longer ranges, and Kim Jong-un keeps marching his millions-strong army and other weapons in front of the cameras.  It’s difficult to tell just how serious the North Korean President is about attacking other countries, but he definitely has an out for the United States.

Well, here’s the thing.  North Korea can’t really do anything.  If they attack the United States, our allies will retaliate.  If they attack China, the rest of the world will retaliate.  If they attack Europe, they can expect the same response.  As long as they don’t attack anyone, they will be left alone.  As soon as they make good on any of their threats, they will be annihilated.  Not only is North Korea a tiny country, but they aren’t the only country with nuclear weapons.  We might not like nuclear war, but we are prepared for it.

Having said that, the only thing we can do is bide our time.  Unless North Korea does anything, diplomacy is our only option.  No one actually wants to go nuclear.

Of course, this is all speculation that doesn’t involve our beloved Cheeto-in-Chief.  Trump threatened North Korea right back, and all this posturing only succeeded in North Korea threatening to destroy the American territory of Guam.

Sigh.

I do hope President Trump realizes just how tied North Korea’s hands actually are.  If they attack us first, they’re on their own.  If we attack North Korea, though, we will have screwed ourselves.

Because, while North Korea might be a small country with minimal resources, China is not.  Thanks to the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty, China would have to get involved if another country attacks North Korea.

If we attack first, we’ll have to contend with China‘s nuclear arsenal.  We cannot do this, President Cheeto.  No more posturing.  No more threats.  No more vague notions.  Diplomatic responses are the way to go.  Unless North Korea actually attacks, you need to shut the fuck up.

Because, if you get us involved in nuclear war, I cannot guarantee that our allies will stand by us.  You’ve kind of isolated us with all that “America first” rhetoric.  If we attack first, they are not obligated to help.  It would be us against China.  Even if we win, countless thousands will die.

That’s way too big a price to pay for your desire to act like a big shot.  Go play some golf instead.

Picture from NBC News