We are all tired right now. Pandemic fatigue. Election fatigue. 2020 fatigue.

Too many things have happened this year to bring the collective human spirit either together or apart. Over 250,000 of us have died. Every one of those people had family and friends. How those people left behind manage on now is questionable.

Some have chosen to be angry and be selfish. Something that is simply meant to save lives has been made political. Especially here in the USA I think humans have lost track of what it means to be part of family and friends because we are too close together.

Some of us may live in a rural area, but it is too easy to reach out on technology at the touch of a finger; so we are still figuratively close. There are still areas in our world where humans don’t have technology. It isn’t just a quit pop of thought to grab the device in our pocket or purse.

Less than 100 years ago the idea of going over to see the neighbor took planning. A person’s day was full of doing things necessary for staying close to home and going away from home took time and miles. The use of horses, taking food with you, and maybe not even calling ahead to let them know you were coming. Yet you were welcomed upon arrival.

We honestly take it for granted now that we can reach out in a split second and talk to anyone anywhere. Even the most remote of places can, at times, be reached via 5G or satellite. We want it all and we want it now.

Humans, especially Americans, have grown accustomed to instant gratification and entitlement.

Enter a global pandemic.

Demands for an entire world to not just slow down, but . . .stop. Stay in one place. Don’t see family and friends for days, weeks, months. Figure out out to work a job from home. How to BE with each other, stuck, and falling over each other in a confined space instead of constantly being in motion away from the home.

It may feel like going backwards. We used to not leave our home base for long periods. We grew, cooked, and ate our food at home at a table. We did our schooling at home, often with anything in our surroundings being the stuff of teachable moments. Maybe one day a week a special trip was made into the nearest town for shopping, visiting, or religious escape. This was the life of our grandparents.

Life leading up to 2020 was full of not growing our food, but shopping, sometimes daily for whatever to make for supper or for fast food. Education was supplied, most often, away from home at schools. Our children spent time at daycare while we worked. Families complained of not having enough time to be together.

Suddenly 2020 says now you must all stay together constantly in one building for long periods. Children are in the way. Our jobs either figured out how to work from home or we now don’t have a job. Shopping was done by buying in bulk on one trip. Families now want time away from each other.

We have forgotten how to be. Be still. Be together. Breathe. Relax.

We are angry, sad, frustrated.

That doesn’t mean we should forget about keeping each other safe. Yes, was want to go out. Get away. See people we haven’t seen in months.

Too bad.

Because so many refused to care for how our actions affect others in the first place is why we are having to close down even more now. It’s the holiday season and as American we expect, we demand, we need to celebrate with family and friends. Yet it is that feeling of entitlement that has lead so many to not social distance.

And why so many of us have lost loved ones.

We want to get together with family this holiday season, too. We need to be close. We need to grieve. The virus doesn’t care.

I KNOW we’re used to getting what we want, but right now we MUST think of everyone and not be selfish. I want to see my family, too, but I also don’t want to possibly make them sick. I don’t want to get this.

All I can say is: I miss my brother. A holiday is only a day on the calendar and it only has as much meaning as we give it. Family CAN get together later. We can live video visit. We can use cell phones any time of any day.

Stay home. Mask up.

Please.

Don’t judge family members that fear the virus and don’t want to get together. It’s because we love you that we are staying home.

Stay safe out there.

Mommy Advocate General

A Parent Advocate Sued Anywhere Is A Parent Advocate Sued Everywhere –  Volume & Light Nashville

It doesn’t stop when I’m tired. It doesn’t stop when I’m sick. It doesn’t stop when I’m broken. It never stops. Once you are a mother of a child with special needs; you are their advocate for life.

You are their lifeline. Their voice.

I knew he would be born with the same degenerative rare connective tissue disease that I have. My genes would give that to him. I didn’t know I would never have my own life. Even after he’s legally an adult. He and I got so much more than just the one disease.

Challenges and Issues for Special Needs Children

From birth it began; paperwork. It. Has. Never. Stopped. How do you layer-down a human life to reams and reams of paperwork. It started with a simple printout: FRAGILE, Handle With Care. It didn’t matter that I was lying there in pain, not only from childbirth but from my own medical difficulties with the disease we’d share. I had to forget about me and yell at a nurse for the way she was yanking on my son’s legs.

Then we began Early Head Start, a preschool program, with more paperwork. Medical proof that my child would be full of bruises because that’s part of our symptoms. I had to prove that I wasn’t harming my child and the bruises weren’t abuse. His first broken leg at 10 months old wasn’t abuse. Start the paper trail. Keep all the medical files.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta: Brittle Bone Disease - Creative Med Doses

OH but if that would have been all of it! No, not for me. I had to hit the jackpot and my kid would also have ADHD, tons of anxiety, and years of depression. Anger management over not being “normal,” more broken bones thanks to hyperactivity, and a fear of playing; because when he plays he fractures.

Public school begins with more paperwork. We instututed a 504 Plan for my medically fragile child. That wasn’t enough. It didn’t take long before the school was “suggesting” medication for the ADHD. So educational assessments were done and the 504 Plan was changed to and IEP: Individual Education Plan. I was a Licensed professional therapist, a social worker, but who was there for me? Who helped me with all this new paperwork, assessments, tests, etc?

No one.

Cuz I’m also a single mom. A single mom with my own disabilities. On my own.

Then when he was in 4th grade he fell 10 feet off a garage. He broke his back in 2 places and punctured a lung. Try watching your heart being flown on a helecopter 4 hours away from you to an emergency Children’s Hospital! My heart, my child, unconscious flying away.

DSM-5 Criteria for Diagnosing Generalized Anxiety Disorder

After those 6 frantic days ensued a year of medical appointments and me, alone, lifting him, turning him, carrying him; while I had 5 herniated discs of my own. Driving 8 hours once a month to see the specialist. Dealing with his pain, and the school being an unnecessary extra pain in my back side.

By 6th grade the school decided they didn’t know how to deal with him. Do what schools do: label the child difficult. His grades were failing even though his intelligence is above average. I made the plans for his IEP because his special education “teacher” didn’t know how to do it right. They sent him to In-School Suspension when he was having an anxiety attack for Pete’s sake! So many things were going wrong, so I threatened to sue the school.

So Much Paperwork for New Professional Job Fields — Steemit

It shouldn’t take threats to get what you need for your child. I took him out of public school and enrolled him in a Charter school. Low-and-behold he became a person. He was no longer just a number and some labelled terms on forms. OH, it wasn’t easy. He still made our lives a challenge, but what the public school labeled as failing he was now getting good grades and making friends.

Not perfect A’s. He still needed a LOT of special education assistance, but he had happy moments for a change. In 10th grade he even had a girlfriend! I had a bubbling busy house full of teen boys that made me laugh for days. Ah, could he possibly see a future on the horizon?

A young man is supposed to start his independent life at age 18, after graduation. My son was headed in the right direction. He had a part time job working with computers, his love. He had a good bicycle and friends. He will never drive a car, but he was on his way!

Then the real world decided it needed to stomp us down again. The disease roared to life and he suddenly became a shell of himself. Living his days in extreme pain and inability to be mobile, he lost his job. He tried this that and the next thing to get better, but he’s not going to get better.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Without me he would be living in a box on the street, but I will never allow that. His depression and anxiety is now through the roof, as is his daily levels of physical pain. I’m trying to get him on SS Disability, but the “system” seems to think that due to his age he should be able to work. How can they not SEE the boy who so wants to be a man, but he can’t catch a break?

22 years old and I’m still in charge of his life. I have my SSDisability and my own difficulties, but being his advocate is never going to end. I love him to the ends of the universe and back, but how much do I give of myself and never get help for?

Mom’s never stop.

Fu*king Hackers!

Really? Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and  Twitter

In mid-September ALL of my bank accounts were hacked, including those for my minor son. Savings, checking, debit card were all hacked and they took $3,000.

Month and a half later I am STILL waiting for the bank’s fraud department to get it all figured out AND the same fucking hackers tried to get me again on Monday.

These “guys” are good. The bank can’t even figure out if they hacked my debit card first or went straight to my actual accounts. They called me using an actual number the bank uses so there was no way for me to know it wasn’t a call from the actual bank. They then sent me texts to confirm by sending me a code. So this all seemed like my bank. This is phishing.

6 sure signs someone is phishing you—besides email - Malwarebytes Labs |  Malwarebytes Labs

Now the bank thinks they probably hacked into my gmail account, so that’s how they knew the last 4 digits of my checking account and the exact amount of a recurring payment that I get from Social Security Disability each month on the same day. I have my bank accounts set to send me an email for any deposits, use of my account, transfers, etc. So they probably read those emails.

Can 'Hacking Back' Be An Effective Cyber Answer?

For how long? How long ago did they start watching me? They must have hacked my passwords, too. I really feel violated. I have no idea IF they got my social security number or not. Identity theft really sucks.

In the last month and a half I’ve had to change my username and passwords for any online sites, accounts, etc where I ever used any banking 3 times! I am really very tired of coming up with passwords. Getting inventive, though.

How To Hack A Bank Account - INVESTMENT GRAFFITI

It must be a nice career using all your time illegally taking money from others. Being low-income, why would they take MY money?! It was all I had. Yes, $3,000 was all my money. Why don’t they take money from those who can afford it? Ya, I know, that’s harsh, but I’m on disability because I have chronic pain and medical issues. All this stress had made my pain worse.

I don’t think hackers care about the people they hack at all. They have no humanity.

Go out and get a real f’ing job, assholes. Or go to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect anyone else’s $200.

FAQ: What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison? - Prison Fellowship
Go To Jail Monopoly Mixed Media by Jas Stem

8 years of suffering under Barack Obama

Teri Carter's Library

andersonlogo

3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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Now

The thing to do these days is to try to “be in the moment.”

Is this difficult for others? Maybe it’s just a single mom thing, but I seem to constantly be thinking in terms of the future. What’s for breakfast, lunch, or supper? If I don’t do laundry today, will there be enough “?” for tomorrow? What needs to go on the shopping list? Do I have enough cat food and cat litter to get through the week? The PLANNING of life doesn’t seem to coincide with being in “the moment.”

How do others LIVE their life and stay in the moment at the same time?

I guess the Mindfulness Movement isn’t so much about not thinking ahead, but being thoughtful about WHAT you are thinking. I can think and do things at the same time. I think.

It really is difficult to think about what you’re thinking. Our world is full of distractions (did I mention the cats?) I know I am bombarded with self-consciousness about almost everything I do. That may stem from being raised by a narcissist who always made me feel like crap, but I want to give this a good try. I believe I CAN push out the buzzing thoughts that keep me awake at night, but how?

That “monkey mind” seems to be creeping into the background more often than not. I’ve been told to “just stop, and breathe.” Listen to what I’m thinking. Do I really need to think about that or allow it to control my emotions? So I’ve been trying to greet my onslaught of thoughts with “hello, I hear you, but I don’t need you.”

Wanna know who my best teacher for this is? My cat, Ninja. No matter what I am doing, when he needs his Ninja Time he needs it right in THAT moment. I used to push him aside and think he was being obnoxious. Currently, when he jumps up on my lap and I’m mid-search on the computer, reading a book, or whatever I may be doing he continues to head-butt me or the object until I empty my lap and focus only on him. Ninja Time can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10, but during that time I MUST pet and scratch him and do nothing else. He jumps away when he’s done.

So during that time I decided it was also a good time for me to do this be in the moment stuff. I think of how freaking soft his fur is, how loud can I get his purr to go, and wonder what he’s thinking? If thoughts about not finishing what I’d been doing prior sneak into consciousness, I recognize that thought, then try to get back to how calming it is to simply pet my cat. Sometimes he will let me give him an actual cat massage, but he’s not as big on that as my cat, Blizzard, is.

Resting on stillness, simply noticing my breathing is easy when I’m petting the cats. What about at other times, though. Meditating doesn’t come easy when I’m in pain. I like to do walking meditation when walking doesn’t hurt. Enjoy the singing birds. Try to discern the different bird sounds. Hear how the wind makes different sounds depending on where I am on the walk. Breathe in sync with every other step. I wish I could do this stuff without sensory input. I need to visualize, listen, touch, etc, or that monkey mind takes over.

I’ve been told “Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away.” Awaken to experience. Sure, except when I have insomnia. Having a nonjudgmental presence in my awareness just doesn’t work then. My mind is screaming “why can’t I sleep?!” Same thing when I want to snack, but know I don’t need to eat. “Mindful people can hear negative thoughts and feedback without feeling threatened.” I hope to get to that place.

It’s in our culture to shame over eaters, people who are tired at work, nag about things not getting done, and multi-task. It’s near impossible to focus on what’s going on in the room around you when you’re thinking of what you think everyone else’s expectations are for you.

Personally, I think I also have a hand-up to not “hear” all that droning and mumbling in my head. I can shut off my hearing aides! It’s a great pro about being mostly deaf. You really CAN hear yourself think better. I LOVE taking off the aides when I do art or read. The distractions of the room around me just don’t exist, because I can’t hear them. It’s easier for me to get lost in what I’m doing. Suddenly it’s been hours and, wow, look how much I got done!

Maaaaybe that’s not quite what being in the moment means, but I like it. It’s a sudden awareness of how cold or hot the room is, how thirsty I feel because I let my coffee go cold, how sore my hand suddenly feels from doing the art for so long. Instead of thinking ahead of time that my body will get sore, I’ll forget to stay hydrated, and oh ya – the sun goes down when you’re not thinking. Just doing.

Not to say I don’t fear the pain that I know will come, but maybe I don’t notice it as much? I’m not focusing on belittling myself for fearing the coming pain. I’m not avoiding things I “should be” doing. I’m actually enjoying the process. I didn’t think about the drama feelings of what others will think of my art. I’m not stuck on how long it’s taking to get done and will others feel it was worth the time. It really works for me to not hear all those evaluations and/or rejections when I turn off my hearing aides.

I have to admit, too, that I really savor my eating. I think THAT is another area where I am in the moment. I love food. I’m about forty pounds overweight. I KNOW I should eat more healthy. However, I love the taste of good food! I enjoy swishing something really nummy around my tongue and use all the tongue’s different tasting spots to really think about what I’m eating tastes like.

I also savor music. Ironic I know, since I can’t hear all the nuances that someone else might hear due to me hearing loss. I absolutely love good live music. I can close my eyes and see it. Feel it. I can’t go a day without listening to music. It’s often on in the background while I’m doing other things, but when a great song comes on I have to just stop what I’m doing, turn it up, and REALLY listen and enjoy.

I guess it’s all about how you interpret and react to what’s in your mind. It’s self-control.

Oops, had to do a 5 minute Ninja Time there. I’m back. Damn his little face is so beautiful.

I’ve noticed that the more I try doing this Mindfulness the less often I get upset about things that used to get to me. Hmmm, maybe I AM doing it right? I guess I am feeling less bad about having emotions. I’ve been told throughout my life that I was “too sensitive.” Now, I’m getting to be OK with the knowledge that feelings are normal and natural. It’s OK to feel, just not get into all that “wishing” about not feeling an emotion.

No, I’m not resigned to feelings. For example, my pain, I used to get angry at the pain. Angry at my body. I wish…blah blah blah. I can now think it’s OK to be angry, but know that the anger isn’t going to help.

Right now I started to think about what if what I’m writing is rambling nonsense and no one cares?

Guess it’s time to take some Ninja Time.

 

Goodbye Dear Brother

Monday, April 27th, 2020 around Noon Central Time my brother left this world. Covid-19 proved to be too much for him.

At 53 years old a blood clot in his lung caused a massive heart attack after a 3-week battle with the virus in the ICU.

I can’t put into words how much I loved him and will miss him.

His life was not an easy one. He took the brunt of abuse by my father and mother that created life-long mental illnesses. His path was full of hills and setbacks, but if asked he might say he “lived.” Some people just coast through life. My brother had many wonderful experiences mixed in with the bad.

He was one hell of a cook and a master Gardener. He thought about chef school. He could grow anything. He told me of times when he went camping and prepared four-course meals over the open fire. People from all over the campground would wander into their spot, brought in by the intriguing smells, with mouths watering.

He loved to walk with his dogs. He loved dogs. I didn’t like his dogs, LOL! He didn’t discipline them at all. They were his babies.

If you ever thought to hear what an angel sounded like; it would be my brother singing. I cried while he sang a choir solo in the Cathedral in St. Paul, MN. I had the honor to sing many duets with him in choirs, at weddings, at funerals.

My brother loved beauty. That IS OK for a man to do. He loved all his beautiful houseplants and yard and garden plants. He enjoyed art and music and the people who created those. He was learning to paint. He loved being outdoors. He loved the beauty in a person’s soul, not only what/who a person is on the outside. He loved to watch his dogs run and play. Simple beauty.

He put passion into everything he did. He did everything the best he could do. He loved hard, was hurt hard.

He enjoyed a damn good party! I will miss his laughter ringing out over the skies at a bonfire. He looked ridiculous when he danced, but … he…danced. He would throw caution to the wind, and dance. OK, liquid inebriation helped.

He knew MANY people in his life. People of all colors and creeds and customs and cultures. There were times when people were mean or abusive to him, but he gave them second chances. Often third or fourth.

He was my protector and playmate as a child, my driver and roommate in college, my friend and mentor as adults. We had conversations that lasted for hours and went into the long hours of the night. We could talk about ANYTHING. Of course, we didn’t always agree, but usually we did. Often, it seemed like he and I against the world. We understood each other.

I could write about the bad stuff. The prejudice against his being Gay. The times he was bullied and beaten for being fat or for having the rare disease we both have. His suicide attempt. His abuse by others. His HIV status. His diabetes. The last few years of his life which were very bad.

I’d rather talk about how intelligent he was. How much he loved animals. How much he lived a good life. How he chose to go back to college when he lost a job he’d had for 25 years and try again. How he tried every day to not let depression lead his life. His creativity, his passion, his bright aura.

That smile. His hugs. His deep bellied laughter. The way he could just do what he wanted despite those who might judge. The way he was…him. The entire body of stubborn and wonderful him.

He believed in God. Where he is now may he be at peace. May he be with all his dogs walking through a field at sunset and singing.

Covid-19

The government is already breaking in the the stockpiled items. Blood is at a critical shortage. Medical workers don’t have the protection they need: masks, gowns, gloves. This is in the US AND WORLDWIDE.

The US so-called “President” is a joke during all of this.

Whether or not you follow the CDC guidelines, YOU CAN STILL GET SICK. Some hospitals are having to make triage decisions about who can and who can’t get treatment.

Poor Italy.

I am one of the high risk. I have asthma. IF I get sick at any time of the year, it always turns into bronchitis. If I get this? I WILL get pneumonia. My mother has worse asthma than I do. I don’t want her to get pneumonia.

Yes. I am staying home. I usually stay home a lot anyway, but now? Most of the reasons and events I would have gone out for have been cancelled.

I am not a worry-wort type of person. I usually believe in taking risks. My son has extreme anxiety all the time. Right now he won’t leave the house. He even cancelled a doctor appointment I wish he would have gone to. He says he doesn’t want to bring anything home because of my asthma.

53% of Americans still don’t think this is an emergency situation. All of those people are not staying home. They don’t care about the high risk people. The fact that the number of people affected by this virus doubles and triples daily doesn’t get to them. It will when someone they know tests positive, but not before. They are selfish. Period.

It only took 3 months for this virus to become a pandemic. In comparison to other historic pandemics this IS a bad one; if only because the rest didn’t take place during our modern medicine capabilities. People like to compare it to the Sars, or other, epidemics, but it’s capability to effect millions has already surpassed them.

Am I sitting at home worrying about it? Not yet. Not for myself. However I do worry about people I know who are at high risk. So few numbers of people are actually getting tested WHEN they are sick. People are told to stay at home even if they’re sick and they are NOT getting tested. So the numbers of affected people really is a larger number than what the news says.

For now we’re OK here in my house. We have a lot to keep us busy. I have a house full of books. We have ample food for humans and cats. Possibly not enough cat litter and TP. I didn’t go out an hoard ANYTHING when others were, so now I can’t find TP anywhere.

I don’t care what other people say. I think this is a historic time. Life as we know it is changing before our eyes. What side of history will you be on?

Now. Remember to tip the deliver people. Wash your hands with SOAP.

 

Chasing The Rush

I dedicate this article to all those kids looking to the summer sky and searching for the why, what, where, and when.

A tornado outbreak with cape at 5,000 feet is incredible. Give it huge inflow bands of warm air. The “fingers of God” will reach down.

You start early in the morning. The temperature and humidity are already egging you on. You could have 7 to 12 hours to wait to find the beast of a wall cloud, follow it both in the sky and on radar. The sky begins to turn green and your mind spins. The air steadies at ground level. You can feel the damp air on your skin and smell the storm ready to explode. When the funnel lowers, get those cameras ready. Goosebumps arrive on every cell of skin on my body and my spine is raging with electricity of my own. You can feel the presence of ethereal power in the air.

When you can see the cone circulating from above and the radar is pink and extreme warned is MY adrenaline rush.

There are hundreds, or maybe thousands, of people who feel this way and call themselves Tornado Chasers. As kids we watched the sky and loved the beauty of clouds. Some of us as children were involved in tornadoes and instead of developing fear developed fascination. Some are highly trained meteorologists driving for that scientific knowledge equipped with weather machines and computers to collect data. Some chasers are simple hobbyists who only chase on a Sunday in their own locations, and some of us will travel hundreds of miles to find the right circumstances that stir the gods to throw up a tornado. ALL of us should, and most do, have the respect for Mother Nature to learn how to spot and chase safely.

Sometimes storms can be predicted days before an outbreak, but when you’re standing outside and your skin begins to prick up, is when you “know” it’s time. The humidity, the temperature, the darkening skies; if they don’t get your motor running then you’re not a lover of storms. You can have all the “should be” information telling you one is coming, but that is why tornadoes are studied. We still can’t tell when, why, or where. The time spent anticipating the storm can be quite a build-up. You watch the radar and you do the math with the mesoscale, but there is never a guarantee that a tornado will show up.

Despite the unknown, we chase. We love it; every step of the day. I recommend any reputable chaser to attend the NWS SKYWARN Storm Spotter Program. … SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with between 350,000 and 400,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Our priority is to keep people safe, especially in our “own back yard,” our communities that we live in. Storms are beauty in motion, but a tornado can rip apart lives. There is knowledge you should know BEFORE you set out on the road.

The pros of having the home-court advantage are knowing the local terrain and roads. If you don’t have a team of at least 3 people – ideally 4, you may put yourself into a dangerous situation. Your teammates need to trust each other. I mean Trust with a capital T, because you are putting your lives into each other’s hands. The driver needs to trust the navigator to find the safest roads while at the same time putting you on the track of your target. The cameraperson needs to trust the driver, so they don’t have to watch the road at all, but only concentrate on getting the best shots of the storm/tornado. Everyone needs to trust that the goal might be getting a good picture or video, but everyone’s lives and safety come before ANY picture.

The entire team might have differing ideas of where to go during a large storm system. Some team members like to stay safer than others. Meaning they want to stay at a longer distance away from the actual tornado. Others follow their adrenaline and their gut or depend on years of meteorological knowledge to find the best path and know they can get close and still stay safe. I can guarantee there will be disagreements among the team. Try to keep team camaraderie up, get enough sleep, bring your snacks, and know each other well.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature

Which team member is best at judging how fast a tornado is moving and usually determines from the storm’s wind speed, the wind’s direction, and the other involved winds about where to go? Which member actually understands the science of the meteorology and can decide if conditions are right? Who is best at reading a radar AND reading local maps? Who has the eyes that can shift quickly to catch many motions at a time? All this and more is necessary to put together a safe team. Yes, you need to be able to “read” the clouds, but you need to read each other, too. Decisions often need to be made in seconds: here’s a road to turn on, a hill will be coming up, that area has too many trees and little visibility, the base of the tornado just turned, where’s our safe route and other types of questions need fast determinations with little to no argument.

Does your team have a team leader or is every question up for debate? Often this is up to who’s car are you in or who has spent the most money on the trip, and those shouldn’t be determining factors if you make a few guidelines and rules before ever starting to chase. Hopefully you have someone, or two, on the team experienced and trained for medical emergencies. Not only may one of you become injured, but if you are the first people on the scene in a town or at a home after a storm has passed it simply isn’t up for debate; stop to help. The adrenaline turns sober as you find destroyed places and possibly dead bodies. It is part of the job. Staying psychologically healthy after such incidents is also important to the team.

You just can’t make decisions based on emotions while you’re out there. While some say the adrenaline rush can cause you to make hasty and ill-thought choices, the best decisions are based on facts and not on “I’ve got to have that picture” or “Oh my god I’m so afraid.” Someone has to be the calm in the storm person; the type of person who could run a busy ER during a mass casualty. Fear is not a good decision maker, but you also need to acknowledge your feelings and be able to set them aside. Yelling only gets you so far to be heard and you can’t hold a grudge against a decision made and voted for. Personally, I think the best way to be able to make informed decisions is by being prepared.

Of course you need wi-fi capable electronics. Chasing takes money. No, you don’t need to trick-out your vehicle with all the latest in meteorological equipment, but you need gas money and you need capable radar. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with an aged cell phone isn’t ideal. A proper, if not the latest, level of smart phone, iPad, or even a good laptop is often your guide. If the radar you’re watching has a lag in time, that’s no good. If you have to keep re-logging on or restarting your electronics you could put the team in danger. You ARE going to go to places where wi-fi is sketchy, cell towers may be downed, and at times there’s a hundred miles or more between towns. Where I spot, the towers are far away and only service one phone company or the other. When your radar is down you depend on training, preparation, and each other.

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It’s a LOT of driving. Being cramped together in a hot muggy vehicle for hours or days can drive the best of us nuts. The atmosphere inside the car can get sketchy, too. Hot, hungry, and tired chasers can turn on each other if you’re not prepared. This means spending more money. Make sure you have enough liquids for everyone to stay hydrated, yet don’t argue about “potty” stops. If you have cigarette smokers on your team you need to make some sort of deal about how often to stop for a cig break BEFORE you leave. Cranky smokers are no fun, but if you have a destination to get to the non-smokers don’t want to stop. It also sucks up more gas if you use the air conditioner in the car. You simply can NOT try to be a beauty queen and a chaser. You’re going to want to wear clothes that can get wet, muddy, or even torn. If you wear make-up it’s going to smear, smudge, and sweat off. Bring along “small” warm weather clothes, such as just a T-shirt or tank top to wear when it’s hot and humid, but you need warmer clothes for after the storms and during the chilly evenings. I also recommend agreeing to buy your own meals on the road so there’s no argument over who owes how much. Bring sturdy and sustainable snacks.

You need gas, liquids, various layers of clothes, snacks, good electronics, emergency medical supplies, and possibly bathroom items if you’re chasing for more than a day. This all needs to be packed tightly in small packs, because it’s going to take up space. You definitely learn how to live sparsely. Bring the basics of the necessities.  Bring spending money for hotels, more snacks and liquids, etc. A cooler takes up room. Get used to warm liquids. If you’re addicted to caffeine your soda will be warm and your coffee will be room temp. Seriously, deal with it. If you’re used to looking good, get used to looking rough. Bring a hat. It holds your hair out of your face and rain out of the way.

Oh let’s see, what else to bring? Wear a pair of shoes and bring a dry pair. Same with clothes. Bring rain gear if you have it. Long hair needs scrunchies. Sun glasses. Tylenol. Tools come in handy for car breakdowns. Orange cones, road flares, or other auto emergency supplies are nice, but not necessary. Gloves, orange vests, eye goggles for protection, and possibly even a helmet (in case of hail) are all included in MY personal kit. It is safest to use cones or flashing lights to warn other drivers that your vehicle has pulled over and people are milling around. I can’t stress enough how important batteries for flashlights, NOAA radios, etc are. Remember all your electronics’ cords and charging supplies. If you’re using a video camera bring extra batteries, lenses, extra of anything that could possibly be needed plus dry rags to wipe screens, lenses, etc.

You NEED a good driver. You don’t want someone driving who has only been driving for a couple years ever or has no experience driving in adverse weather conditions. It’s easy for the most experienced driver to hydroplane on standing water or not know whether to drive into or away from certain wind variables. You’re going to want to speed. You may HAVE to drive at high speeds to get away from danger. The driver needs to know what conditions are safe and when to pull over to let hail or torrential rain go by. Your driver needs to be able to drive on dirt or mud. Your driver should also know the feel of the vehicle they’re driving. If they aren’t driving their own vehicle you need to give them time to drive the one they will be several times prior to any chase. Do the brakes need to be stomped on or just a soft touch? Does the steering wheel tend to pull? Does this person know the engine and its knocks and quirks?

The navigator needs to know how to give directions that are coming up before the need to do them in a calm manner. This person is often watching road signs zoom by, so you always know your location, while they are simultaneously watching a radar and watching funnels outside the window.

In my opinion this is too much for one person and I like having a team of three or four to break up roles. Good eyes need to watch equipment and tornadoes. The navigators need to be able to make those quick decisions about what direction to drive. Knowing your GPS coordinates is great, but second to that you need to know your physical location to a town so you can notify the authorities of tornadoes on the ground. What’s near to you; a farm building, a nestle of birch trees, what can you see to tell someone else who isn’t with you? I am not the type of person that can look and know what direction North is, South, or whatever. I’m not the main navigator, but I am good at reading the radar and maps. I can tell you where the storm is going to be at any given time or where we need to be safe, but I can’t tell you what that last road sign said. I’m too excited about the radar and I have eye problems. The Main Navigator always needs to have a safe route in mind .

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The person with the camera needs to know the camera. This sounds like, duh, but sometimes you just can’t see out your window and need to pass the camera to someone with a better vantage point. Having everyone on the team know the camera is great, but The Cameraman gets the best shots. They understand how to operate the camera in low or high light, what speeds or pixels, in wet conditions, and all that technical stuff. Some chasers use a simple phone camera, and some have expensive high-tech models. Some chaser teams have cameras hooked to the vehicles sending information to the team via computer. Some teams live-stream video to social media and send pictures to news outlets or the National Weather Service. So, the videographer needs a calm strong voice and a steady hand. I’d like to mention that you are often wiggling around in the compact and confined space of the interior of the vehicle. Being in good physical shape so you’re not getting sore from wiggling, twisting, etc, is a bonus. Sometimes team members will work-out together to stay in shape.

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The most dangerous part of chasing is getting into traffic. Who makes the worst traffic during a tornado? Other storm chasers. There are times in the Midwest Plains of the US when there are hundreds of storms chasers on the road for the same outbreak. Those who just want a nice picture should be considerate of the scientific crews. GET OFF THE ROAD AND LET THEM THROUGH! Yes, I am yelling that, because getting caught in a line of chasers going 25 mph because they’re “close enough” isn’t just frustrating it’s dangerous. When you see the trucks and vans outfitted with scientific gear, they know there is a tornado nearby and you are putting everyone in harm’s way, and they need to get to where they’re going. They are getting science data to prevent future storm deaths. If you don’t pull over and let them through, you are directly interfering with the saving of lives. THE question is; why do some supercells form tornadoes and some don’t.

In the past there has been the TIV: Tornado Intercept Vehicle run by people filming for an Imax movie, and they were also carrying science equipment for the TWISTEX team: a 40 to sometimes 80 vehicle team of tornado scientists. Reed Timmer and the TVN: Tornado Video Nation team has also done incredible work carrying scientific equipment on his Dominator tornado intercept vehicle. The weather engineer, Tim Samaras, and his team did nonstop research until they were killed in a tornado. Let teams like this through.

Those teams were professionals. They had been chasing for dozens of years or decades. We still lost the TWISTEX team. This IS dangerous. There is a distinction between spotters and chasers. Spotters are watching the storms and reporting to local authorities and the National Weather Service about local extreme weather. Chasers are also spotters, but often the chasing is a weekend hobby. Some chasers do it as extra income from the documentation or even run Tornado Chasing bus tours. Spotters usually see the tornado, call it in, and leave the area for safety. Chasers stay in the danger zone often only 100 yards or so from the core or in the RFD winds. Spotters can be in danger too, though. Downbursts, multiple-vortex tornadoes, microbursts, intense damaging hail cores, flash flooding, bow echoes or derechoes with straight-line winds, lightning, debris, fog banks, high-precipitation or rain-wrapped storms, and tornadoes at night can all put spotters in danger if they’re not trained.

Most chasers and spotters are not professional meteorologists. Knowing a bit about weather can only enhance your experience. Being able to report certain aspects of a storm at its location is something the weatherman back at the newsroom needs. Reporting factual weather details to the NWS so they can put out watches and warnings and local cities can turn on the sirens is part of being a Certified NSW Skywarn Storm Spotter. If you want to be a reputable spotter, you need to know certain terminology; the basics at least.

There are a lot of good reputable ways to learn about extreme weather. Pick up used meteorology textbooks, study mesoscale discussions on the NWS website, attend workshops and conventions. The National Weather Service and NOAA both have a plethora of websites and links to learn from. National Public Radio hosts informational discussions. There is no reason for anyone to not be educated before spotting or chasing. I highly recommend the NWS Skywarn Spotter training and certification, but don’t ONLY depend on that one training then head out into a storm. Avoid mayhem. Get trained.

Good Tornado Chasers don’t need drugs or alcohol. Our “high” is chasing. It’s ecstasy. Other times of the year we watch TV shows about chasing, gear up ourselves and our vehicles, and even chase other types of severe weather such as blizzards and hurricanes. Some people want to jump off a building with a bungee rope. Just put a radar screen full of extreme weather in front of us. We can’t only see it; we can smell it. It’s in our blood. We must watch. If we can’t watch from our cars, we watch from our living rooms on laptops. Some of us have expensive computers to help organize data and talk with other chasers and weather networks. You may call it an addiction, but for us it’s pure fascination and reverence. When day turns black and all light is gone; Stay safe out there! The power is incredible.

Pictures via my own or another well-written article about chasing:

14 unbelievable photos that capture the chaos of storm chasing

https://www.weather.gov/SKYWARN

https://www.weather.gov/oun/spotterglossary#Introduction

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-storm-chaser-changed-face-tornado-science-180968688/

For the Men

“Eleven states have passed laws restricting a woman’s access to abortion, with some states approving near-total bans of the procedure altogether. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Utah have all passed abortion-related legislation that has been signed by their Republican governors. Lousiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards also signed a bill restricting abortions.

Alabama’s law, signed by Governor Kay Ivey, is likely the strictest in the nation as it makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions even in cases of rape and incest. Laws passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy (before many women are even aware they are pregnant). Less severe laws like those in Indiana and North Dakota ban the use of clamps and forceps during second-trimester abortions.

According to a new FiveThirtyEight analysis, which examined all 50 state of the state speeches given by governors in 2019, the term “reproductive health” was not uttered once by a Republican. Meanwhile, the term appeared in approximately 21.7 percent of Democratic speeches.

https://www.newsweek.com/republican-governors-reproductive-health-abortion-laws-1443902

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, made it clear that states may not ban abortion outright before the fetus is determined to be viable, recognized by the medical community as around 24 weeks’ gestation. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that states may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Like laws that attempt to ban abortion at 20 weeks’ gestation, bills banning abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat are intended as a direct challenge to these U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Let me be razor clear why all these states are even proposing abortion bans right now, even if they don’t get passed or they remain being argued over in session for long periods. They WANT to be taken to the Supreme Court. Their target IS Roe-vs-Wade. They want people to think that their are a lot of people who want to overturn it.

THERE ARE NOT.

Polls being done put Americans in total at about 50% in favor of keeping Roe just where it’s at and another 30% in favor of keeping it but tweaking it just a bit, and the last 20 % being unsure OR for overturning. Even polls among republicans show 1/3 in favor of keeping Roe and another 1/3 in favor of keeping it but tweaking it, with only the last 1/3 being the radical fundamentalists who want it overturned.

Many of these abortion bills are called “heartbeat” bills. How do you detect a heartbeat in an unborn fetus? (I’ll explain later that at the gestational stage these bills cover it is not a fetus, it is still an embryo.) By using a VERY INTRUSIVE and embarrassing measure at 6 weeks:

Ohio required an abortion provider to use an abdominal ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat and banned abortion when the pregnancy has progressed to 12 weeks and a fetal heartbeat is detected. North Dakota went even further, passing the most stringent anti-choice legislation in the country—a bill that bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected using “acceptable medical practice,” which is approximately six weeks through the use of a transvaginal ultrasound.

At least sixteen states (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, LouisianaMaryland, MichiganMinnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) have introduced measures to ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

MN, where I live, is what concerns me. I am 50 years old and Peri-menopausal. No I don’t plan on getting pregnant any time soon, but this is where I live and as long as I do it is no one’s business to tell me or any other woman what to do with my/her health, rights, or body. I will fight for my fellow women.

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (HF 271)  , proposed  Jan 22, 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (SF 869) , proposed Feb 7, 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (HF 2101) , proposed March 7 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (SF 2245) , proposed March 11 2019

Some reproductive rights groups argue that the term “heartbeat” bill is a misnomer, since the fetus does not yet have a heart at six weeks’ gestation — the cardiac activity detectable at that time comes from tissue called the fetal pole. Up to the 10th week after fertilization the pregnancy is called an embryo and it still has no brain or spinal cord. Most malformations (birth defects) occur during this period when organs are forming. During this period, the embryo is most vulnerable to the effects of drugs, radiation, and viruses. Not until after 10 weeks is it called a fetus. It is still not viable, it can NOT live outside the uterus.

At about 14 weeks the sex of the fetus can be identified. Between 16 to 20 weeks the mother can finally feel the fetus move. Sometimes for women who don’t have regular periods, are overweight or don’t know why they are gaining weight – this is the first sign that they are pregnant. Not until after 24 weeks does the fetus have a chance of survival outside the uterus. The lungs continue to mature until near the time of delivery. The brain accumulates new cells throughout pregnancy and the first year of life after birth, but the people who want ALL fetuses born no matter what don’t care about their health care after they are born. Even if they need extreme medical care for underdeveloped lung and brain problems.

Nor do they care if the mother has medical issues during pregnancy. Make her suffer through it, no matter what, and deliver that fetus. Even if she KNOWS her body isn’t doing its job to give the fetus the required nutrients or safety/cushioning or whatever. Even if that mother feels like shit knowing her body is harming her child from her own medical issues. It takes two people to GET pregnant, even IF the pregnancy was a “mistake.” However, now what she’s going through is all on her. REMEMBER, THE ACTUAL TERM, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, NEVER GETS MENTIONED!

This issue is all about being educated and informed. It is NOT about being pro or anti birth or children or about killing. Those words are for the fanatics and lunatics and the super-religious. In NO way do politics and religion belong in the same debate for ANY topic. THIS is a medical and personal topic.

When it comes to abortion some people have morals and some people don’t. I have known women who use it as birth control. Got pregnant? Oh, go get an abortion. Got pregnant again? Just go have another abortion. Never feeling any emotion about it. Oh, had too many so that there’s so much scar tissue that you can’t get pregnant any more? Oh well, never wanted kids anyway. I have also known SO many more women that have had abortions that have felt the weight of the world on their shoulders at having had to get an abortion that they thought it would emotionally kill them to do it. The levels of guilt and self-hatred, shame, and disgust and depression left them in despair for years, but they had such heart-wrenching reasons for having to do it: usually being in violently abusive relationships, being molested by family members, being gang-raped, other rape, severe medical issues, or severe poverty or no medical or health care.

People of color, queer, and low-income people are who are disproportionately likely to seek abortion care. Then add in people with cognitive or physical/medical disabilities. And now these new laws could allow women who terminate pregnancies to be charged with murder!

Think about the barely mobile disabled person with cognitive disabilities who says yes to sex, but doesn’t really even know what sex is. That person can in no way raise a child, but will be forced to go through the pregnancy not understanding what is going on with her body, often doing things that put the fetus at risk. If she does, she will be arrested for causing the fetus harm? Many LGTBQ+ are beaten/raped just to “show them what they’re ‘supposed’ to be,” by ignorant assholes. Now they must carry a baby even though they look like a man? I could go on with the horrible stories. The fanatics don’t care who got pregnant or how or what will happen to the child after it is born. All they want to do is toss around scare-words without real facts.

“Late-term” abortions are generally understood to take place during or after the 21st to 24th week of gestation, which is late in the second trimester. That gestational period roughly corresponds to the point of “fetal viability” or when a fetus might be able to survive outside the womb with or without medical assistance. However, there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading. They say “late-term” may imply that these abortions are taking place when a woman has reached or passed a full-term pregnancy, which is defined as starting in the 37th week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at or greater than 21 weeks of gestation in 2015. In contrast, 91.1 percent were performed at or before 13 weeks and 7.6 percent at 14 to 20 weeks.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a statement released this week that pregnant women may experience conditions such as “premature rupture of membranes and infection, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and placenta accreta” late in pregnancy that may endanger their lives.

 

“Women in these circumstances may risk extensive blood loss, stroke, and septic shock that could lead to maternal death. Politicians must never require a doctor to wait for a medical condition to worsen and become life-threatening before being able to provide evidence-based care to their patients, including an abortion,” the ACOG said.

In a paper published in 2013 by Foster and Katrina Kimport on women who got abortions for reasons other than a danger to life or health or a fetal anomaly, they cited logistical delays such as difficulty finding a provider, raising funds for the procedure and travel costs.

Foster and Kimport described five “profiles” of women in the study: “They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and [experiencing their first pregnancy].”

“one woman was told by her doctors that something in her 20-week scan looked suspicious but it wasn’t until 24 weeks that it was clear the fetus had significant abnormalities.”

(Oops, I forgot to add what the article was that I took the above quotes from. My bad.)

Humiliation, agony, and the risk of sterility or death. Is that what we want to go back to? That’s what women went through before Roe-vs-Wade in the 50’s and 60’s. Back room abortions with dirty medical instruments or at home do-it-yourself by a coat hanger. Just because they want to make it illegal doesn’t mean women will stop doing it. Women will still want to keep their fortune 500 jobs. They can’t do that if they get pregnant. Ah-ha!

There it is. The Ah Ha moment. That’s what this is all about! Men trying to put women in our place. Take away our power. Get us out of the business and other work-places so men can be back in charge. They want to go back to the 50’s when women met them at the front door with their evening drink and dinner on the table.

That will actually be impossible to do. No one in the middle class down can live like that. It’s mandatory for family’s to have both parents working just to pay the bills. Think about having kids? You’d better not have a part time or a low-income job if you have a kid or two. Need to dish out $5,000 for an abortion? Insurance will only pay for it if it’s medically necessary.

I would really like to see someone do a poll/survey on the middle class to upper class to find out how many of them have abortions -vs- the middle to lower class, where most surveys are usually done via social services or Planned Parenthood. They wouldn’t have to scrape and scrimp and save every penny for months just to afford the abortion. They could just think, “oh shit I’m pregnant, oops! Better get an abortion before mommy and daddy find out. Boom. Done.”  Plus, the family doc of rich people isn’t going to rat out some little rich kid. He knows who pays for his “coke.”

OK, sorry, there’s MY “ism,” richism. I know, that’s not a word. There’s racism, sexism, I have richism. I’m rich-ist. I have issues with rich people. Rich people who don’t use their wealth to help society in any way, or only to make themselves “look” good.

Back to the issue at hand: abortion IS an elitist issue. It is one more way for those with to push down those without. You think rich people are going to be going to jail for having illegal abortions? Of course not.

It’s also a sexist issue for sure. Rapists even get rights to the kids they spawn from their rapes these days. You can NOT convince me that’s OK. It is NOT OK to force a woman to have the child from being raped. This is one more thing that a man truly can not in any way possible remotely begin to understand. A man can be raped, but a man can not become pregnant from being raped. Have to live with it growing inside you, like the rapist is again inside you, but not for minutes this time – this time he is inside you for 9 MONTHS! Then, if you don’t give it up for adoption, you live with this child possibly for the rest of your life; remembering. If you are unlucky enough to live in one of THOSE states, you might also be FORCED to have your rapist in your life, have to see him, talk to him, etc, forever, as he is allowed to be the rightful father of your child and receive parental rights and visits. You will never be allowed to forget your pain, humiliation, and how he broke your will and spirit as the state you live in goes on to do so day after day.

Mind you, I am pro-life for myself, but pro-choice for all other women. I would never tell anyone what to do in any situation and no one else has that right either. I have never been faced with that particular scenario, and I have no idea what I’d do. Thankfully, MN would never make me deal with the father of a child from rape.

I did, however, have to make the abortion decision. Being a social worker, I knew that fetal alcohol syndrome gets part of its parts from the man’s sperm, and I became pregnant by an alcoholic. I was a pretty bad social drinker myself at the time. I had also just been in an auto accident and I was in a pretty bad amount of pain. Being born with a rare genetic disease, I also had that to consider. So, given all of that what was I about to pass on to my child? Should I or not take pain medicine? How much had I drank before I learned I was pregnant? How badly did the auto accident damage the embryo? I had several x-rays in the ER, did they do any damage?

Of course as soon as I told my boyfriend, he dumped me and took off. I quote, “I don’t want a kid who’s a freak with your genetic disease.” I was hot enough to date, but…  So, now I was also alone, single again. Guess what? I also lost my job! The accident mixed with my disease had caused 5 problems in my spine and nerve damage in my shoulder. I was super depressed and in a LOT of pain. Things that are not good for developing fetuses. Since I couldn’t pay rent, you’d better believe I was thinking of abortion. I had no idea, but was thinking every minute of what kind of damage my injured body was doing to my child. I wasn’t taking anything for the pain since that would cause more damage. I began spotting and was afraid I might lose the baby. It was then that I knew for sure that I couldn’t have an abortion.

Despite everything that could be wrong with the baby I knew I would love him. It would be against everything I believe in as a nature based pagan who reveres life to abort this thing growing inside me. If my body didn’t naturally abort it for having something wrong with it, then it was meant to be my child. That is MY belief. I don’t expect anyone else to follow my belief or force it on anyone else.

I had a bad pregnancy. Many medical issues. I was in the hospital twice with infections. Due to my disease, my son’s kicks broke 3 of my ribs. I didn’t have enough amniotic fluid. My blood pressure was too high. I was constantly in pain from injuries. I was depressed. There are many reasons a woman thinks of abortion or a doctor suggests it.

He is 20 years old now. It’s been a rough ride from all of his medical needs, but I do love him with all of my soul. I will fight for women everywhere to have their rights though. NO ONE should ever tell another person what they can and can’t do unless it comes to harming life willfully and with evil intent and forethought. AND…yet with that; what defines life? Humans can’t even agree on that!

 

There are over 100 definitions of life have been proposed, with most focusing on a handful of key attributes such as replication and metabolism. Virologists: seven processes that supposedly define life: movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition. Chemists: polymers – namely nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA), proteins and polysaccharides – virtually the entire diversity of life is built. Astrobiologists: microorganisms capable of surviving in extreme environments. 

Technologists: artificial life can involve biologists creating new organisms in labs by stitching together parts of two or more existing life forms. But it can also be a little more abstract. There are even teams that are beginning to explore the creation of robots with life-like traits. Ever since the 1990s, when Thomas Ray’s Tierra computer software appeared to demonstrate the synthesis and evolution of digital “life forms”, researchers have been trying to create computer programs that truly simulate life.

Philosophers: Maybe the things we think are essential are really just peculiar to life on Earth. After all, everything from bacteria to lions is derived from a single common ancestor, meaning that on our chart of life in the Universe, we only really have one data point.

In the words of Sagan: “Man tends to define in terms of the familiar. But the fundamental truths may not be familiar.”

What a tragedy it would be if in the 2020s the new Mars rover trundles straight past a Martian, simply because it does not recognise it as being alive.

“The definition can actually hinder the search for novel life,” says Cleland. “We need to get away from our current concept, so that we are open to discovering life as we don’t know it.”

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170101-there-are-over-100-definitions-for-life-and-all-are-wrong

 

Put A Fork In Me

Um, ya. It’s supposedly the first day of Spring in 10 days. We got 6 more inches of snow up here in the Nort’land in the last 24 hours. Supposed to get more on Wednesday. Yup. This IS Spring for us. Mm hmm. We’ve all had about enough now, though. Really. We give up. This winter of the 2018-2019 season has been a doozy. We. Are. Done.

I live in Minnesota. This is not what you would call the normal winter for us, but it’s close. Yes, we always have snowy winters. Yes, we always have cold winters. However, this winter has been ridiculous. The usual would be some parts of MN getting a lot of snow and some parts getting the usual amounts and some parts less. Over the last 20 years or so, due to Climate Change, the norm has been less snow and MAYBE 5 or so days of minus 40 below zero degrees Fahrenheit temperatures without the wind chill.

Oh, SO not this year. THIS year decided to blow us for a loop. This year decided to remind us just what a MN winter used to be. This year decided to remind us what it means to be a hearty Minnesotan. This year decided we needed to remember why Babe the Blue Ox is Blue and why Paul Bunyan is so friggin tall.

Paul’s tall so he can see over the damned snow banks and Babe’s blue because it’s 55 degrees F BELOW F*CKING ZERO! That’s 75 F below zero with the wind chill for you warm people who never had the balls to step foot in this frozen hell. Yep. It really got that darn cold this winter. More. Than. Once. Consequences? Extreme cold blamed for 17 deaths in the Midwest thanks to the polar vortex. (www.weather.com) That was early on in December. We still had 2 more months of polar temps to go.

Aaaand just how much snow did we get this year, you ask? Well, I’m 5 feet 1 inch tall. The snow piled on the sides of my driveway is over my head. When I have to leave my driveway I inch my way out VERY carefully and very slowly to make sure no one is coming down the road that I can’t see, and who can’t see me hiding behind the snow pile. It’s like a game of hide and peek; to see all the cars doing the same thing coming out of the other driveways. There are places in MN where they got 6 1/2 feet of snow.

Of course we can’t JUST have the snow. We get freezing slushy icy slippery messes that cause wonderful driving conditions. We started the season in October with freezing rainstorms that left slick layers of ice covering everything. I had just paid $100 to ready my snow thrower for the season. I never got to use it. It remains out in the yard, frozen to the spot where I unloaded it the same day and we got hit by an ice storm that night. Heavy snow and slushy conditions were blamed for 3 fatal Midwestern accidents before December had ended. Now that MN body shops are breaking out the bubbly, we finally have warmer temps in sight. We should be celebrating, right?

With 40 degrees Fahrenheit expected within the week you would expect us to be celebrating. Not yet. With trepidation, now we must haul sump pumps down into our basements and lie in wait. It’s coming. Remember I said another storm is coming on Wednesday? It might be snow. It might be rain. Most likely it will be a mix of both, then freeze solid after the sun goes down. The Big Melt is coming. When you have this much snow and ice sitting on the frozen ground where is it going to go? They say 1 to 2 inches of rain is possible in places. Where is all this liquid moisture going to go? Exactly where is the glacier in my yard going to go?

Storm drains in the streets have snow and at LEAST an inch or two of ice covering them. Driveways? Even if you’ve been diligently shoveling or plowing them after each snow or ice storm, driveways are still covered with several inches of frozen tundra. Houses have snow packed up the outside walls several feet high. Except for the places smart people have hopefully dug out around the pipes and things that vent toxic fumes and things out of their houses. I know I can’t open my front door due to the snow comes up about 3 feet high. Ya, my boy was lazy and never shoveled the steps. So, ya, um…all this snow and ice so close to the houses is going to go…where? You guessed it! Right into your basement! Fun, right?

I don’t have a sump pump.

Here’s the latest report I’ve read and why I think I might be screwed: “The snowpack over the entire upper midwest remained in place or increased over the past two weeks. The amount of snow water equivalent in this snowpack is in the upper 10 percent of historical records over a widespread area…leading to high flood potential for many river basins in the area. At least half of our forecast points now indicate at least a 50% probability of reaching major flood stage.”

I don’t personally live ON the lake. I live about 4 to 5 blocks away from Lake Bemidji. I’m very happy that the lake is wayyyyy downhill. However, I have many family and friends who live on or near the 11,842 lakes and 92,000 miles of rivers, streams, and wetlands in MN. I’ve seen the Mighty Mississippi at flood stage. She IS mighty indeed. The town I live in, well the river flows through us. We are called “the first town on the Mississippi.” We are “sister” cities with New Orleans; the last city on the Mississippi. The headwaters of Ole Miss begins 35 1/2 miles from us. So, yes a lot of the snow and ice will go to feed her, along with all the water from 31 other states.

Right now though, I just don’t want all the frozen white stuff to go into my basement. I’m tired of “hide and peek.” I’m tired of sliding around on the ice, on my tires and on my feet. I’m SO very tired of being c’c’c’cold. My checking account is wondering where my money went. (All to heating costs!) Worst of all, though, my poor old body just wants to curl up into the fetal position and yell, “NO MORE, PLEASE?!” I live with a genetic disabling rare disease that causes chronic pain and the cold of this winter has exacerbated all that pain and increased it to monumental proportions. I’ve tried to help with shoveling and it hurts! I’ve fallen on the ice and it hurts! I can’t afford to turn up the heat and it hurts! I’ve been stuck in the snow so many times and have dug and slid and sug and slid and it hurts! Now flooding is coming? Ah, c’mon?!

Put a fork in me, I’m done!

 

Addendum as of 3/14/19: All this liquid has decided it wants to be inside my house via the basement. Spent 5 hours in the middle of the night using the wet/dry vac. I had just taken my folder of warranties/instruction manuals for various items out to look for something last week and just left it on the floor. MY bad. Now all those papers are spread out all over the place left to dry out. 6′ x 5′ area rug ruined. As things dry I’ll see what else is ruined.

NOT a happy camper.