7 Quick Takes: Getting A Few Things Straight Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Who Antifa is. Just a head’s up:

Cadet Bonespurs is an idiot.

— 2 —

On defunding the police. This is what it means. This is what it can look like.

By the way, this is who a lot of the looters are.

— 3 —

Let’s get something straight. Breonna’s killers have yet to be brought to justice.

Say her name.

— 4 —

On dealing with racism. Aside from being completely on target, this gentleman’s penmanship is exquisite.

Dang...

— 5 —

Worthy. Beloved. Needed. He is right. “Matter” is the minimum.

The truth.

— 6 —

There’s work still to do. This is not an overnight process. We’ve got 400 years of horrible history to rectify.

We are only just beginning.

— 7 —

And because it still needs to be said… Y’all still need to wear a freaking mask.

Do you believe me now???

— Bonus—

One of my most recent facepalms. Apparently, nobody in Trump’s administration knows why it is racist to hold a rally in Tulsa on June 19th. Or… they just really don’t care.

(Tl;dr of the links is that there was a race massacre in Tulsa in the early 20th century that annihilated black-owned businesses, and Juneteenth is a day celebrating the enforcement of the end of slavery.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: What’s On My Mind Edition

7 Quick Takes

I’ve gotten political this week here and here. There is so incredibly much I want to say, and my constant state of exhaustion these days is making it hard to find the words, so I figured I’d give you a picture of the various directions my mind is going in right now (late afternoon on Thursday). Some of them are related to the events of this last week, and some of them are “ooooh shiny!” type thoughts about bullet journal supplies.

— 1 —

I’m honestly really angry at the people who are getting their news about the protests from biased sources. Click here for an interactive media bias chart. I tend to double and triple-check my sources to make sure that whatever I’m posting is as neutral as I can get it. I have also been examining my own biases and trying to get news from sites like The Grio that show things from a different cultural standpoint.

— 2 —

I’m really struggling with how helpless I feel right now. I’m not going to lie. It feels like this verse in the Dropkick Murphys song “The Green Fields of France” right now:

And I can’t help but wonder oh Willy McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died,
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause,
Did you really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying it was all done in vain,
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

While I know the song is addressing World War I, the whole thing about “the killing and dying it was all done in vain… it all happened again, and again, and again, and again, and again.” Last week, it was George Floyd. Before that, it was Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. I don’t blame the black community one damn bit for being angry because the cards are stacked against them, and there is no static date in sight for change to actually come until our society completely reevaluates itself.

— 3 —

I’m thinking about the casual racism I’ve witnessed in my own life. When I was living in Bexley for seminary, the cops there often got referred to as the “Bexley Border Patrol” because of their habit of following black men walking on city and neighborhood streets. It was only 20 years earlier that the seminary had their first black students, and the seminary president had to go to the police department and tell them to stop harassing them. (I heard the story from one of the students who became a professor there and was teaching my “African-American Religious Experience” class.) The local Kroger was right across the bridge over Alum Creek, and it was like walking into a different world once I crossed the bridge from the leafy streets of Bexley. It was then that I learned that Columbus looked like a checkerboard with white and black neighborhoods alternating. It was something that I had never thought about before as a sweet little 21 year old girl from northern California. That year of seminary changed a lot of the ways I saw the world.

— 4 —

I’m heartened at some of the conversations that are happening in various places. Louisville Metro Council’s public safety committee has unanimously approved “Breonna’s Law” which would regulate no-knock warrants. It is named for Louisville paramedic Breonna Taylor who was killed while asleep in her home when officers stormed in on a no-knock warrant and opened fire. Investigations have been opened into her killing by the FBI, and there was a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city by her family.

There is also a bipartisan push to demilitarize police, which I think is important for many reasons. There needs to be a serious push toward community-based policing and not the rough tactics that Trump has been demanding. We’re seeing from the protests that the rough tactics are backfiring pretty spectacularly and are causing more problems than they’re resolving.

I don’t think police departments are going to be defunded, but I’m really hoping that conversations between city officials and organizers of protests might start a kernel of change happening.

— 5 —

I’m reading what people are saying and trying to listen more than I speak. (And yes, this is harder than it sounds for me, and I don’t deserve a medal for it. Former President Obama wrote this, which I think is helpful for people like me in figuring out a starting point. There is also this list, which is being added to as time goes on. (For those who are “all or nothing” people like me, the second link is stuff to do over time to help you consider your privilege and move toward being helpful, not to have to accomplish by tomorrow.)

— 6 —

I’m mentally putting together a list of things to do tomorrow to help my child to not have a screaming meltdown. Let’s just say that someone had a bad night and someone’s mommy has been suffering the repercussions of this all day. It’s hard having a largely nonverbal child with autism who can’t tell you *WHY* they are enraged and screaming so loudly that it is shattering glass in a three-mile radius… at 12:45 a.m. (My hunch is that allergies are causing him to be congested and not feel good, and I couldn’t make a run to Haggen in my jammies for Children’s Dimetapp because they close at midnight due to COVID-19. (They’re usually open 24 hours.) He was tired today, but the 4-7 p.m. meltdown time was pretty normal in terms of rage at being told “no” to things that his crappy impulse control (from the ADHD) compels him to do. I’m seriously wishing there was even a shot at in-home ABA up here.

My kiddo truthfully occupies 90% of my spoons and 75% of my mental energy these days. This is why I tend to rip heads off of people who don’t have kids with autism but still think that they have anything useful to say to me regarding what I *SHOULD* be trying with Daniel. (Hint: A gluten-free diet isn’t going to magically cure him. Neither is the GAPS diet.)

— 7 —

I’m plotting out next week’s bullet journal layout to keep myself somewhat sane. I’ve got a bunch of stickers from Planning with Kay, but I still have a month to go until I migrate my bullet journal and use those for my July layout. (I get to start a new journal at that point! *bouncebouncebounce*) I also need my ink cartridges to arrive already so that I can print out stuff for next week’s layout.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

The Sacrilege Committed Monday Night By Trump

Let me be damn clear on this: I DO NOT SUPPORT THE ABUSES OF POLICE ON PROTESTORS IN THE LAST WEEK. NOT ONE LITTLE BIT. I posted about my thoughts on all of that on Monday night.

What has me spitting fire for the last 36+ hours is what happened in D.C. around 6:30 p.m. because it was just adding insult to the massive injury this country has.

There were peaceful protestors at Lafayette Park. Trump was speaking in the Rose Garden and trumpeting his power to call in the military to put down the protests, kind of like happens in Russia, China, or North Korea. Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s advisors, decided it would be a fabulous idea for Trump to take a picture in front of a St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible. Oh wait… there’s this pesky problem of the protestors in Lafayette Park around the church.

So… in the spirit of Napoleon “dismissing the crowd “with a whiff of grapeshot“, the police, backed by the National Guard, unleashed tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets on the protestors, who were peaceful and not violating curfew. (If you’d like a firsthand account from a clergy person who was AT the church when this happened, click here.) The mayor of Washington did not approve of this.

When he got to St. John’s Church, he didn’t go in to pray. He didn’t meet with church leaders. (His handlers didn’t even give the rector and staff a 30-minute warning that is the bare minimum of courtesy.) He didn’t let the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Washington know. He just had pictures of himself taken while standing in front of the church holding a Bible.

Let’s talk about all the things wrong with this picture.

1.) He is holding the Bible upside down and backwards. If it was actually a holy book to him and not just a prop to make him look like a defender of Christianity, he would hold it more reverently. When asked if it was a family Bible, he replied that it was “A Bible”. That says to me that the thing he is holding has no importance to him. It does, however, have importance to me. The teachings in it govern how I live my life. The teachings in it are about loving one’s neighbor as much as one loves oneself. Those teachings are antithetical to Trump’s actions. I feel like the Bible was desecrated by him holding it that way.

2.) Him standing in front of the church gives the impression that the church backs him. It is an Episcopal church. I am an Episcopalian. We do *NOT agree with his actions, his words, or most of the things he has done during his time in the White House. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, made this ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. She found out about his visit while watching the news and seeing a scene out of a war movie taking place in front of one of her churches. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, weighed in on this as well.

(Side note: I had the displeasure of seeing a bunch of Trump followers taking the Presiding Bishop to task for his words, and my act of charity for the week was responding to their idiocy kindly and explaining to them why they were wrong. I also had to inform them that the Presiding Bishop told us after Trump’s election that we need to pray for him… and we do it in some form EVERY Sunday. It’s written into our liturgy.)

3.) HE TEAR-GASSED PEACEFUL PROTESTORS FOR A ******* PHOTO OP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I wish WordPress would let me use 72-point font for that one.) People were peacefully protesting the murder of an innocent man, and he put his selfish desires above listening to what people were saying. It was the cherry on a feces sundae. We are in a horrible situation in this country, we have a horrible history, and the person who is supposed to be our leader is taking selfies with a holy book to pander to his followers instead of listening to people and acting like someone deserving of the leadership role he has. I am sitting here at a loss for words at how utterly inappropriate this was.

This image from Twitter actually sums it up well:

A summary of Trump's photo-op.

Fear not, Catholic readers. He went and took selfies at the St. John Paul II National Shrine. It was supposed to be to sign an executive order on religious freedom and he laid a wreath, but the Archbishop of Washington was not amused, given Trump’s actions in the previous 24 hours.

The pictures taken at St. John’s Church and the shrine will undoubtedly be used for campaign propaganda to make him look like a defender of Christianity, but he is the farthest thing from a defender of Christianity. His actions represent everything Jesus preached against in the Gospels, and I am angry beyond words that he decided to pander to his base rather than listen and learn during a time when our nation really needed it. I saw it way before he ran in 2016, and I cannot understand why people don’t see it:

HE IS A FUNDAMENTALLY SELFISH PERSON WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE’S NEEDS BUT HIS OWN. HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE COUNTRY. HE CARES ONLY ABOUT WHAT MAKES HIM LOOK GOOD.

I feel like the 5th chapter of the Book of Amos speaks to all of this beautifully:

Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:

2 “Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”

3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:

“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”

4 This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
5 do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
6 Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.

7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.

8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.

11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.

14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:

“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.

The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

C/S

I’m Tired

Apologies that this is all over the place. I’m dealing with an allergy migraine and Daniel is having a hard night.

I was all prepared to do some blogging this weekend on an article a friend sent about Betsy DeVos vowing to make sure that public schools shared any funds they go for COVID-19 relief with private schools.

Then, the riots started happening. There was only so much I could read about what was going on before I had to shut down Facebook and Twitter to go watch bullet-journaling videos on YouTube because all of this is making me tired.

Why am I so tired?

[+] Because yet again, police officers violated someone’s civil rights and the person died in the process. Before anyone starts going off on how I should be supporting law enforcement, my family members who have actually WORKED in law enforcement have all condemned what happened to George Floyd as excessive use of force. All the statements I’ve read of those at the scene state that he wasn’t resisting. Off-duty medical professionals tried to get the police officer with his knee on George’s neck to remove it because he was showing all the signs of asphyxiation such as his nose bleeding and him losing control of his bodily functions. I’m sure that the officer’s lawyer is going to say that it was a lapse in judgment, and I’d argue that it was an egregious one, considering that the Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide.

How many times does this have to happen before things DO actually change and law enforcement officers stop this crap?

BECAUSE BLACK LIVES MATTER.

[+] Because there are idiots claiming that “if you can talk, you can breathe.” Apparently, they’ve never had someone sitting on their chest and refusing to get off or crushing their larynx. I have. You can beg them to get off of you for so long. (There was a kid that used to push me down and sit on my chest when I was in preschool. I still remember the feeling more than 35 years later and I’m still pissed that the teacher just told him to get off and made no effort to actually HELP me.) I’m also asthmatic and have spent time in the ER in respiratory distress. You can still talk up to a point.

[+] Because I’m sick of the double standard that exists in our society where white men can walk into state capital buildings armed to the teeth, but African-American protestors are pepper-sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, and tear gassed. I’m a heck of a lot more unnerved by the protestors with automatic weapons walking around a few weeks ago than the peaceful protestors this weekend. The people smashing windows and looting stores were not part of the groups marching and protesting. If you look at close pictures, they’re decked all in black with gas masks, goggles, and their skin is the same color as mine. Were there African-American people who participated in looting? Yes, and the organizers of the protests can be seen pulling them aside and telling them to stop.

The reaction of police in many major cities this weekend shows that not much has changed since the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago.

BECAUSE BLACK LIVES MATTER.

[+] Because I’m feeling so much pain for friends of mine who legitimately have to worry about their sons encountering police officers. While Daniel’s autism could mean an adverse police experience, it’s unlikely that he’ll encounter a police officer who will assume that he’s a robbery suspect or that he is in a place to cause trouble. Journalist Robin Roberts spoke of her fear about her son being mistaken for a criminal if he wears a black surgical mask in public instead of one with a colorful pattern on it some weeks ago on one of the morning shows, and it was striking to me as it’s not something I even think about. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered for just jogging in a white neighborhood while being black. Breonna Taylor was swatted by police. None of those things are even remotely on my mind as something that could happen to me.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

[+] Because I’m sick of having a president who incites racism. The jerks protesting in Charlottesville and marching with tiki torches to incite fear are not “fine people”. There were not “good people on both sides” of that protest. His tweet about “thugs” in Minneapolis and how “the shooting starts when the looting starts” a few days ago was taken down by Twitter as a violation of their community policies. He hires people with ties to white nationalism as his advisors and his current press secretary. The sad thing is that this is just scratching the surface.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

[+] Because I’m sick of feeling so helpless when this happens. I’m speaking out, signing petitions, calling my legislators, reading news from sources like The Root and The Grio, and calling out racism when I see it. I encourage my students to tell their stories because we need to hear the perspectives of people from different cultures. I read books with diverse characters, and take that into consideration when buying books for the children of my friends and for my nephews. I’m cognizant of what companies I support, and I am aware of my privilege as a white woman. I ask questions, and I listen to my friends when they tell me that what I said innocently actually has other connotations when said about someone who happens to be African-American. (I’m also not saying any of this to trumpet my virtue and prove that I’m not a racist.) I’m really trying to do what I can to understand the world of my friends from different cultures than my own.

Yet, I’m aware that there has to be a cultural change, and that every piece of this change is going to involve people losing their lives. I hate this. I really do. I can scream that BLACK LIVES MATTER until I’m blue in the face, and people are going to keep dying until we start listening to Colin Kaepernick and others who have been taking a knee and protesting the horrible treatment of blacks in this country.

BECAUSE ALL LIFE IS SACRED AND BLACK LIVES MATTER.

7 Quick Takes: Lessons from Live PD Edition

7 Quick Takes

I’ve been dealing with utter stupidity on the part of various people on Facebook today (so much so that I finally started reporting posts and photos for hate speech, anti-vaxx information, and COVID-19 misinformation) as well as a child who woke up in an exceedingly vile mood, so I’m foregoing posting about politics this week for my Quick Takes. Fear not! The political posts will probably happen this weekend, and I’m sufficiently irritated enough to need to work my nerves.

And for my trolls, I have a new policy for this election year. Every time you troll me, I will make a donation to various political campaigns in order to make sure your House districts are controlled by Democrats, flip the Senate, and elect Joe Biden. So please, keep being horrible human beings and help me to kick out the Republican swamp creatures in DC that you so love! (It’s even better right now because there are 450% matches going on for various Democrat campaigns.) Don’t worry–I’ll email homemade honor cards to all the email addresses y’all are using to try and push comments through. 😀

Because my life involves a lot of focus and concentration these days, I’ve been watching “Live PD” to give my brain a break. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from bingeing it on YouTube.

— 1 —

If you’re going to traffic in illegal substances, you shouldn’t commit any traffic infractions. Seriously, it seems like one of the police officers pulls someone over for an illegal turn/speeding/broken tail light, and whoever they pull over has a meth pipe or their car smells like marijuana. Had the person not sped or made that illegal turn, they never would have gotten caught.

— 2 —

If you’re drunk, the officer will be able to tell. I don’t care how well you think you do at looking sober–you WILL fail the nystagmus test among the other “sobriety” tests. People invariably also seem to reek of alcohol in all of those cases.

I have nystagmus and balance issues from two bad ankles and some other medical issues, which is one of the reasons I don’t ever drink alcohol–it exacerbates them. (Any of you who have ever seen me on Zoom can tell this immediately. My sleep medicine specialist picked up on it within a second of meeting me.) If it is ever called into question, not drinking means that I can probably pass those tests with flying colors, which would *NOT* be the case after even a small glass of wine in my case.

— 3 —

Nobody ever does the walk-and-turn test as well as they think they did in the above situation. It would be comical if it wasn’t so infuriating that they were putting others at risk by driving drunk or high. People either stumble like mad, don’t take the correct number of heel-to-toe steps, fail to turn 180 degrees (usually just 90 degrees), or they fall while turning. Then, they act completely shocked when the officer tells them to put their hands behind their back and arrests them for DUI/DWI (depending on the jurisdiction).

— 4 —

You are responsible for whatever is in your car. This means that you probably shouldn’t be dating a heroin addict because any heroin in the car is your problem unless your addict partner fesses up. It is kind of interesting how many people express complete shock that they have heroin or weed in their car, especially in their glove compartment or in their back seat. Ditto with people riding with you drinking open cans/bottles of beer. You can’t have any open containers in the car, even if you aren’t the one drinking them.

Also? It’s a bad idea to dump your crack into your open soda can because it means that instead of just being liable for the weight of the actual crack, you are now liable for the weight of the crack AND the weight of the soda can (can + liquid). What was only a jail felony is now prison-worthy.

— 5 —

Narcan does not feel good to receive. Of the 500+ YouTube videos I’ve seen of “Live PD” on YouTube as well as the episodes I’ve watched live on TV, a couple of them have incidents where someone overdoses on heroin and has to be given Narcan to reverse it. It doesn’t seem pleasant, and I looked up what it feels like. Apparently, it’s true. It makes people feel really agitated, which is something they are using opiates to prevent.

— 6 —

There are people dumb enough to believe there is a difference between “driving” and “traveling”. Sovereign citizens are funny to watch because they are so convinced that they are above any U.S. laws… kind of like those idiots who stormed state capital buildings with AR-15’s to protest for their “rights”… which are more their rights to be stupid twits. (Also, those idiots with guns on their backs are not funny to watch–they make me want to reach through the computer screen and slap them upside the head a few times because their stupidity knows no bounds.)

Anyway, it’s fun to watch SovCits because you can just imagine them with aluminum foil wrapped around their heads to prevent the government from reading their thoughts.

— 7 —

K-9 officers are the coolest. It’s fun watching them work their dogs, and it’s always fun to watch how fast people give up once the dog appears. I have learned some cool German dog-handling commands, and the best episodes are when the dogs are let loose to go find the people.

Also? Dogs are trained to sniff out your contraband, so just give it up to the nice police officer already. It astounds me when I see people who are *SHOCKED* that the dog alerted to the weed in the glove compartment. I mean, dogs have hypersensitive senses of smell–it’s why they use them instead of cats!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

On Mask-Wearing…

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook, and it was too good not to share here.

From the Saints at Holy Comforter, Charlotte.
A reading from 1 Covidians 12:1-11

Now concerning the wearing of masks, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that in the time before Covid, we were enticed and led astray thinking that we were not responsible for one another’s health. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the spirit of love ever says ‘masks be cursed!’; and no one can say ‘masks are a really good idea for everybody!’ except through a spirit of love.

Now there are varieties of masks, but the same spirit of wearing them; and there are varieties of mask wearers, but the same virus; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same precautions that must be shown to everyone.

To each is given a manifestation of a mask for the common good. To one a mask is given through our mask makers, and to another a purchased one online, or in a store according to the same spirit of protection. Some fashion one after watching a video on YouTube, to another… they already had some. The knowledge of needing to wear one according to the same spirit, to another faith that the same spirit will improve health and save lives.

Another receives the gifts of healing by this generous spirit, to another this seems no less than the working of a miracle, another prophesies that we’ll get through all of this sooner by observing these loving precautions, to another the discernment of figuring out how all can get one, to another the knowledge that a mask hides all kinds of mouths and tongues, to another the understanding that those mouths and tongues are still there, behind those masks.

All these are activated by one and the same spirit, and we hope to allot to each one individually just as they choose.

In other words, wear a mask!…

Because loving our neighbor as ourselves is the crux of it. When we wear a mask we are saying that we love and care for ourselves, and that we love and care for our neighbors. If our neighbor is sick (and perhaps doesn’t even know it yet) our masks help protect US. If WE are sick (and perhaps don’t even know it yet) our masks help protect OUR NEIGHBOR…

… it is a tangible and visible manifestation and practice of our LOVE.

Thanks to the Rev. Greg and the Rev. Gene, Deacon of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church Charlotte, NC

–Rob Voyle

7 Quick Takes: Mount St. Helens Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

The source of these Quick Takes. On Saturday afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this picture:

The Mount St. Helens eruption had idiots too!

I generally don’t share stuff from Occupy Democrats because while I agree with them a lot of the time and they are mostly accurate, they get really mean-spirited about things. (I will admit that my first thought when I saw the wording was that the way they worded it was a bit catty.)

However, this piqued my interest enough to fact-check it. I mean, did people *REALLY* want to do something as stupid as go near an active volcano?

— 2 —

Did it check out? Surprisingly, it actually did! I found a newspaper article talking about cabin owners being salty about the ban on people coming near the mountain. There was also this one reflecting on it 40 years later. I found a Twitter thread from Washington Emergency Management (basically the Washington National Guard) that provided a basis for the text in the Occupy Democrats picture and another one from USGS Volcanoes that provided information that backed up the text in the image with the name of a book containing eyewitness accounts of this.

This episode of the old A&E series “Minute by Minute” even has interviews with at least one person who professes anger at not being allowed into the area:

— 3 —

Fabulous webinar. This is the webinar that I watched on the night of May 18th that I *REALLY* recommend watching. They have professors from Oregon and Washington talking about volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, and the Cascade range, including the seismologist who was tracking Mount St. Helens at the time as well as the current seismologist/scientist-in-charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory.

— 4 —

A couple of important things to take away from the webinar. Steve Malone (the seismologist tracking Mount St. Helens at the time) made some points that were worth sharing.

Parallels with today.

He also made an interesting analogy with this picture here:

Malone's analogy

Scientists tend to have a lot of models and data types and inputs that they are using to try to figure out what is going on. Civil authorities who are having to make these decisions want a yes/no answer. It’s why governors who are putting their trust in scientists and medical authorities are not able to give a specific answer as to when things will go back to “normal”… especially since we are looking at an entirely new normal now!

— 5 —

Where I am seeing a parallel. Governor Dixy Lee Ray did sign an order to keep people out of the “red” and “blue” zones around the mountain, but she allowed Weyerhauser trucks in for logging purposes because logging was a big part of the economy. Among those killed in the eruption were members of at least one logging crew. Had it not been a Sunday when the mountain erupted, more logging crews would have been in the area, and the death toll would have been much higher. There was a volcanologist named David A. Johnston who was killed in one of the pyroclastic flows, and that was a bitter pill for the person for whom he was standing in and the UW researchers monitoring the volcano. (Johnston Ridge Observatory is named after him.)

There’s also kind of a sad story about a man named Harry R. Truman who refused to leave the lodge he owned on Spirit Lake. He became a folk hero of sorts because of it, and his body was never found. They think that he was killed in a pyroclastic flow and that his lodge and his body and his cats are all buried under something like 150 feet of ash. His attitude reminds me of some of the people protesting in states to get the economy reopened. I look at them and ask myself “why???” because what they’re doing is endangering themselves, but it’s their decision to put themselves in danger.

This kind of thing is why I’m getting so salty about those who are more concerned about the economy than actual human lives. We can take steps to put the economy back together, but we can’t bring people back from the dead. I’m hearing on my local news about states that have “reopened” reporting the highest COVID-19 case count ever for that specific day while I’m watching the curve flatten out in Washington and in my own county where we’re still sheltering-in-place. It’s a balancing act for sure, and it irritates me that some people are trying to make it into a simplistic issue because their situation is merely one of inconvenience.

— 6 —

A really cool story. There’s a photographer who goes to Goodwill and finds exposed film from old cameras to develop. She ended up finding some that had pictures of the Mount St. Helens eruption. Even cooler is that the grandson of the person who owned the camera now has pictures of himself with his parents and grandmother that he didn’t know existed.

Seriously, this is a happy story.

— 7 —

Why I have this fascination. Well…

1.) Both sides of my family are geology junkies. My maternal grandfather was a geology major before he had to leave college due to illness and World War II, and my paternal grandfather enjoyed the geology classes he took as general education credits. I have a cousin who majored in Geology and did graduate work in it (digging dinosaur bones in Montana and working with Jack Horner), and my parents both grew up getting roadside geology lectures from their fathers. As a result, we’re full of amateur geologists, especially on my mom’s side. (I think my mom’s family keeps the Roadside Geology publishers in business.)

2.) My entire family is from Oregon and Washington originally. This was a big deal.

3.) My mom went into labor with my twin brother and me as Mount St. Helens erupted. We were born 24 hours later. Twin births are often complicated, and mine was no exception. My brother was almost twice my size, and my heart stopped mid-birth. I required resuscitation and spent my first week of life at Stanford Children’s Hospital, 45 minutes away from my parents in San Jose, before being transferred back to Los Gatos Community Hospital for another two weeks to get bigger. My brother came home after three days. I came home after three weeks.

My family always makes jokes about Mount St. Helens and our birth. We have newspapers from Yakima from the day of our birth talking about all the ash falling. When we were 25 years old, my dad got some ash from the volcano and sent it to my brother and me. (Mine is sitting on the bookcase next to my desk.) My parents visited the volcanic monument that year and took a picture of themselves at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. My brother and I were photoshopped into the picture (along with their cats), and it was used as the Christmas picture that year. 🙂 Because of my connection to the mountain, I tend to geek out on documentaries on it at this time of year.

And yes, I did just turn 40 years old this week. 🙂 I had a quiet day, my dad made me one of my favorite meals, and my parents got me a carrot cake. We did candles and presents with my evil twin over Facebook messenger. It wasn’t what we usually do, but it was pretty fabulous.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.