Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Surviving the first 100 days

Anyone who checks on this blog occasionally might notice there hasn't been the usual number of posts in recent months. Frankly it's a question I have been asking myself lately. I've never had much of a problem finding subjects to write about, largely because I have a wide range of interests that at times even interrelate, but in the recent past nothing has seemed to pop out as noteworthy enough. Why would that be? Well, it has been slow evolving but I think I have found the answer, one that is simple yet complicated, easy to summarize more difficult to separate into parts and analyze.
     The simple answer? Donald Trump. The complications? It's like a crack in a windshield that starts as a chip and spreads like a spider web until it blocks all vision forward.
     Not that there isn't lots to write about, but so many people are doing it, very little original gets said anymore. Anything I might write about has already been analyzed to death. I don't need to add to the confusion and redundancy. Plus from this distance even given the accessibility the internet provides I don't feel like I am close enough to the subject to say anything meaningful. Of course, that never stopped me before.
     Yet the issue and its immensity along with the emotions it engenders fills the mind to the elimination of any other distraction. It has taken hold of my mind and even ideas that come up seem inconsequential in the face of the immensity of the crime that is being perpetrated against our country. What do the birds at my feeders matter when day by day safeguards in regulations that have improved our lives are whittled away allowing the robber barons to pollute, violate and destroy at the expense of the majority of American citizens.
    What does a reverie at the wood pile or a playlist of old rock and roll on facebook matter when we learn Russian intelligence played a part in electing the most unqualified president this nation has ever had. It calls to mind something painted on a fence surrounding the construction site of a controversial classroom at Syracuse University in 1960. "What does it mean in the infinite scheme?"
     Who cares about a clever turn of phrase in a headline or a grammatical gaff by a sports announcer when arch conservatives, racists, ignoramuses and other totally unqualified  people take over every department in the administration of our government.
     Moreover what does it matter if I add my two cents to the maelstrom?  The maelstrom is huge and it's full. I realized that during my last two ventures to the East Pole. I only get one radio station there, a function of geology, and it is a public radio station broadcasting from the nearest town. I keep it on for the noise, but I often catch interesting programs. However since this election it at least seems like every program is some pundit or other analyzing something that is going on with this president and his cohorts. Most of them don't say anything of any value, just struggle for different ways to put out the same old statements that I could have made myself without their input. Then one day, I had too much of it. I actually screamed across the cabin "shut the fuck up."  You can do that sort of thing in the woods; it's that old saw about if no one's around is there a sound.
     After that as soon as another program like that came on I hustled across the room and turned the radio off, and lived in the peaceful silence for a while.
    But even in silence, the feeling persisted that nothing seemed worth writing about given the situation in our country. I couldn't and still can't escape the thoughts churning in my mind.
   They range from the ridiculous to the sublime. For instance I have nothing against Milania, I see her as an innocent in this drama, dragged into it through no fault of her own. But I do not want her living in our White House, the household led in grace by the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, She just doesn't belong. Of course paying obscene  amounts of taxpayer money so she can live away from the White House in New York is unacceptable as well.
    Then there's the man whose company will profit greatly by one of the biggest oil deals ever, and with Russia no less, and is now the secretary of State.  Both of Alaska's senators voted for him too, despite what his company's ship the Exxon Valdez did to Alaska. An avowed racist is the Attorney General. A woman who never set foot in a public school or had any other experience with education outside being a student in an expensive private school is now the secretary of Education. That doesn't even begin to address the outrage now that a dangerous foe of the Environmental Protection Agency is now the head of it.
     And those are the things that have happened. What's coming is even worse. As a senior citizen almost entirely dependent on Medicare and Social Security (which I have paid into for more than 50 years) I am deathly afraid of losing those as are several million of my contemporaries. Twenty million others who now have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act face losing it as well. National Parks are threatened. The oceans, climate change and its deniers, the general attack on intelligence and knowledge, on science, even attempting to wipe out records gained through extensive research. Employees expecting to be terminated actually attempted to save precious scientific research as if an invading army were approaching. And then there's the outrage of denying people entry because of their religion at the same time rounding up residents and tearing families apart through deportations. When will they start coming for each one of us?
    It has been overwhelming at least to my small mind. I have been so consumed with the politics of our country and yet feeling insufficient in any way I might be able to do something about it or at least write about it. It's frustrating. In one moment of lucidity I donated $100 to the ACLU to at least help someone who is actually performing. I had another one today. My facebook feed is filled with news sites and political sites and I realized they are blocking out some of the other sites I like and that have often stimulated ideas. I might do some clearing out tomorrow.
   Over the years of fighting over one social issue or another I learned that you cannot fight them all; you pick the one most important to you and hope somebody else is going after the other ones. But this one is different. Like the crack in the windshield it has so many tendrils branching in so many directions you have to wonder if anybody can visualize the whole scenario. At that point when you feel alone in your fight, well, I always think of something Sam Huff said once. He was a linebacker for the New York Giants during the age of the greatest running back of all time Jim Brown. Brown was known as a punishing runner, the kind where when you tackle him you get hurt, not him. Asked how he tackles Jim Brown, Sam Huff, who was known as a brutalizing tackler, said, "I aim at his belt buckle and hope three other guys are doing the same thing."
     So, the upshot is I think I have figured out what has me slowing down in the writing department. A psychiatrist might say now that we know the problem we can build from there. By the looks of it I have a better chance of surviving this administration's first 100 days than at least a few people who are part of it. One down already. Watch this space.

How can anyone keep track?


  1. The White House has become a "little shop of horrors" and we're always waiting for another stiletto to drop. It ain't a purty picture.

  2. Here's what I'm doing: 5calls.org


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve