Monday Musings…31 August 2015

This weekend has been quite eventful, weatherwise! From the Pacific Northwest, to Hawai’i and the Gulf states; from the Bahamas, to the ‘Greater Antilles’ and the ‘West Indies’ …it has been windy, wet, wild and deadly. We didn’t lose power here on the coast, but some of the cities near Puget Sound did.

President Obama is in my home state of Alaska on a 3-day trip, and this part of it makes my heart sing – he plans to restore the name of Mount Denali. From Al-Jazeera:

President Barack Obama will change the name of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White House said Sunday, bestowing the traditional Alaska Native name on the eve of a historic presidential visit to Alaska.

By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,” Obama is wading into a sensitive and decades-old conflict between residents of Alaska and Ohio. Alaskans have informally called the 20,320-foot mountain Denali for years, but the federal government recognizes its name evoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second term.

“With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The announcement came as Obama prepared to depart early Monday on a three-day visit to Alaska, becoming the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle. As part of his visit, Obama is attempting to show solidarity with Alaska Natives, and planned to hold a round-table session with a group of Alaska Natives just after arriving Monday in Anchorage.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who had pushed legislation for years to change the name, said Alaskans were “honored” to recognize the mountain as Denali — a change in tone for the Alaska Republican, who had spoken out against Obama’s energy policies in anticipation of his visit to her state.

I was born in the state of Washington, where I currently reside, but I consider myself an Alaskan. My family moved there when I was 3 years of age, and my schooling and formative years were spent there – I moved to the “lower 48” in my 20s. So many memories, though – good, bad, ugly and indifferent. I met my first husband there. My son was born there. I’ve “driven” the Alaska Marine Highway. We’ve been through Yukon Territory, driving along the Al-Can (Alaska / Canada) Highway. Moose and mosquitoes, wolves and bear, salmon and sea lions. Living on a boat. Deer carcass hanging in a smokehouse…fresh venison on the table. Totem poles. Dancing and singing in a longhouse.

I know that climate change exists. The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau looked vastly changed in July of 2012, horribly shrunken and dirty-looking compared to its gleaming splendor when I first saw it on a trip with the Girl Scouts in August of 1978. Back then, it was huge…the cold air that blew from it was amazing to feel. Massive, icy edifice. There were no chunks of it floating in the waters nearby, then. The pictures I took of it in 2012 clearly show how much recession has occurred…and that saddens me.

I’ll close with the song that always played on the radio during the midnight sign-off – “Alaska’s Flag,” the state song. Here are the lyrics, if you want to sing along.

🙂

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue – Alaska’s flag, may it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky – the mountain lakes and the flow’rs nearby
The gold of the early sourdough’s dream – the precious gold of the hills and streams
The gleam of the stars in the northern sky – The Bear, The Dipper, and shining high
The great North Star with its steady light, o’er land and sea a beacon bright
Alaska’s Flag to Alaskans dear…the symbol flag of the Last Frontier.

 

ESO Fan Fiction: The Note

Tur’a sits near the water’s edge, lost in thought as she inspects her gear and provisions. Ildris, her sister, had given her the directions to this quiet sanctuary away from the battlefield – it is welcomed during this rare lull in the fighting. It is a tiny, one-story shack near a pond, which appears abandoned and derelict from the outside. It is merely a magical illusion: the interior belies its humble exterior, and those who are unaware of the place would pass it by, thinking it to be nothing more than just another burnt-out building, long-deserted by those who used to dwell within.

Her panther lolls lazily nearby, fat and happy from his most recent kill and subsequent gorging. He lays flat on his back, forepaws in air and hindquarters splayed, purring loudly with closed eyes. Tur’a chuckles at the big cat’s undignified pose, and relaxes as well. When he is that carefree, she knows that danger is far away and she need not worry of an ambush. Because of this, she has removed the heavy armour that she is usually clad in. The afternoon sun feels delicious on Tur’a’s exposed skin: she wears a corseted shirt with short sleeves; elbow-length, fingerless gloves, loose-fitting linen trousers, and light sandals on her feet. A light meal of bread, cheese, and smoked fish fills her belly. Her lute and journal are at her right side as she relaxes at the base of an oak tree.

Her freshly-washed tabard hangs on the clothesline nearby, gleaming wetly in the light of the afternoon sun. Each piece of her armour is laid out in proper order, as she was taught from childhood. The heavy helm that usually covers her face is in her lap as she sits with legs crossed. Her thoughts are deep at the moment, and she needs to be away from everyone – family, friends, and guild-mates – to sort them properly. She is happy that Mother, Sister Ildris, and Brother’s wife, Sonja, understand her need for solitude during these times. For some reason, the men-folk are unable to respect those basic needs, so none of them have been told of this place.

Tur’a looks down at the helm, lightly touching the massive, curved horns and the small row of spikes leading from brow to nape. A smile softens her features as she thinks of the one who crafted it for her. “Where have you gone?” she whispers to herself. “It’s been too long, my love…” Her vision blurs and she wipes tears away. Confusion – she hates being hurt and tries not to show her feelings. Other than her family, he was there for her after she was disgraced by the necromancer. He was tender, and seemed to care, then vanished without a word. Tur’a wonders if he met with some ill fate when he returned to his homeland of swamps, or if he met a scaled female of his own kind and is tending to a clutch of leathery eggs with her. If he is, she wishes him the best…but it still stings. She didn’t expect to have any deep feelings for anyone after her ordeal.

She sets the helm aside and picks up her journal, which has an iridescent quill marking her page, and prepares to jot down some notes for the fourth-in-command of her guild. Chunga the Great has expressed a desire for promotion, and wants to recruit more to the guild, so Tur’a needs to ask him some pertinent questions beforehand. She likes the small, familial feel of the guild as it is, and doesn’t want to disturb it; however, a larger guild would help her achieve a goal she had never considered before: being crowned the Empress of these besieged lands.

She stares at the pages, her mind drifting…it is difficult to focus her thoughts, when they keep turning to him. Water dripping from scales. Swimming under the light of the twin moons. A thick tail slapping her bottom as they writhe in the light of a campfire…

“Bah!” she exclaims, putting the journal aside. She grabs her flask of mead and drinks deeply, then gazes morosely at the sun’s reflection on the water. Concentration is impossible at the moment. The panther rolls lazily over, mildly startled at her outburst. He wanders over, butting her in the shoulder with his head and sitting at her left side. She scratches his ears and under his chin. “It’s funny,” she murmurs, “If the moons were in different phases, you would be able to walk upright and talk…you would be like Sister’s Dar.” The big cat chuffs and grumbles as if he were laughing at her. “I know – I’m silly, aren’t I?” she asks. A swat of his tail on her face is the answer. “Understood!” Tur’a says, laughing as well. “Fair enough. Still, it would be nice if I had some sort of sign from the gods and goddesses. Do I wait for him, or do I take what I’ve been offered?” She thinks of Baragon, the red-haired elf with the gunmetal skin. He is pleasant to be around, but her feelings for him are purely platonic – he is more like a sibling or a good friend, not one she wants to share her bedroll with. She stares at the water as the panther wanders to the edge of the pond to drink.

Screeee…Tur’a looks up as a falcon circles overhead. She watches it curiously as it glides lower. It alights on a branch of the oak, looks at her for a moment, then drops a small parcel. Tur’a picks up the remaining bits of fish and slowly creeps over to pick up the parcel, carefully replacing it with the fish. The falcon glides down and attacks the meat, eyeing Tur’a and the panther warily as it re-settles itself on the branch.

Tur’a turns the parcel over in her hands slowly, curiously, wondering what it could be. She unties the knot – the parcel unrolls, and a small chunk of stone falls. She snatches it out of the air before it hits the ground and clutches it tightly, looking at the words scrawled on the bit of parchment: “My dear Tur’a – I apologize for not communicating sooner. I erect the spines of shame and consternation if you have been worried, but I took it upon myself to avenge your outrage. I know that you would have tried to stop me if I told you of my intent. Enclosed you will find the last piece of the crystal that was used to bind you to the necromancer’s will. Fear no longer – he shall not haunt your dreams again. If you are well, send the bird back to me with your token and I will find you. Know that you have not left my thoughts, and my scales will be forever dry if you have met with some ill fate. Our roots are forever entwined. Yours in this world and beyond – Gor.”

“Oh…” Tura’s tears of joy flow unbidden…she can barely see the dark, heavy hunk of obsidian that she still clutches in her hand. The big cat runs back to her side, sniffing at the parchment and the stone, gazing at his mistress with feral concern and intensity. “He returned,” she whispers hoarsely. “He came back…” She rips a page from her journal and quickly scribbles a reply, then rummages through her pack for a trinket to send. Her hand closes on a small, round object adorned with feathers – it is the token he speaks of. Carefully and lovingly, she wraps it in the page and ties it with a fresh string of spun ironweed. As the falcon finishes its feeding, Tur’a tunes up her lute and begins to play a song:

“My love, my love, he waits for me

Across hostile land and stormy sea

I run to him and together we

Sway as we kiss, sway as we kiss…”

Full Moon: 3 Songs

There’s a big, beautiful moon out there…so here are three songs to get everybody dancing in the moonlight! Enjoy…

😀

Katrina’s Aftermath: 10 Years On

On 29 August, 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, flooding the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Katrina has been called the costliest hurricane in American history. From Al-Jazeera:

Katrina, which made landfall with 127 mph winds as a Category 3 hurricane Aug. 29, 2005, inundated residential neighborhoods above the height of basketball hoops in New Orleans while largely sparing the central business district and tourist areas.

With 1 million Gulf residents displaced during the storm, the city ultimately lost some 100,000 people, going from a prestorm population of 484,674 to a rebounded 384,320 by July of last year. Subsequent storms Rita, Ike, Gustav and Isaac, which also caused extensive water and wind damage, did not help.

According to the “New Orleans Index at 10,” published by southeastern Louisiana nonprofit the Data Center, over the last decade the city has experienced more investment, less crime and a crackdown on corruption since the storm. Many neighborhoods continue to bounce back from the disaster, but Katrina’s huge toll has had a lasting impact.

But officials and residents still grapple with the scale of what Marlon Defillo, the New Orleans Police Department’s assistant superintendent at that time, described as “mass chaos” and “total distress,” with water in some areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward rising “up to 14 feet in 20 minutes.”

How has the recovery gone there, over the past decade? I suppose it depends on who you ask.

Me, I’ll just let this article speak for itself. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a fan of Kanye West and his self-absorbed little family, but he was actually articulate and intelligent when he said those seven words: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

Good ole boy Dubya says that was the worst part of his presidency – not declaring war on Iraq; not 9/11, not his silly “Mission Accomplished” photo-op. No, his widdle fee-fees were hurt by big, bad, Kanye’s true words. I guess that’s why he felt the need to carefully orchestrate some feel-good moments when he visited NOLA earlier this week, making sure to surround himself with Black children and get some ‘selfies’ taken. That’s all it takes, ya know? Now everyone can hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” while unicorns prance about, pissing sunshine and farting rainbows.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has his panties in a twist over a speech that President Obama gave on Thursday. From Al-Jazeera:

President Barack Obama commemorated the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Thursday in New Orleans with a speech that made special mention of building resilience against climate change, despite earlier criticism by the state’s conservative governor for his planned remarks.

“We are going to see more extreme weather events as a result of climate change — deeper droughts, deadlier wildfires, stronger storms,” Obama said, adding that the government has been preparing for the change by investing in stronger levies, as well as restoring wetlands and other natural systems that are critical for storm protection.

Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, unleashed floods that killed nearly 2,000 people, left thousands of others homeless and caused an estimated $250 billion in damage. It was the costliest and most damaging storm in U.S. history.

Prior to Obama’s speech, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a long shot Republican presidential candidate who has expressed doubt about man-made climate change, told the president in a letter to reconsider his message.

The anniversary, Jindal wrote, is a time to mourn the dead, not bring up a topic that’s part of the “divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.”

“A lecture on climate change would do nothing to improve upon what we are already doing,” Jindal said in the letter.

As the Earth’s temperature rises, warmer weather adds energy to storms, increasing their severity. At the same time, rising sea levels make storm surges more destructive. This combination increases the likelihood of events like Hurricane Katrina for locations across the globe. In his speech on Thursday, Obama said U.S. cities ought to be prepared.

Yes – how horrible to make sense and speak facts…the nerve! The audacity! How dare he tell those of us who live in coastal communities what to do! Because, you know, hiding one’s head in the sand and living in blissful ignorance solves everything. Right? Of course it does.

Final Friday Free-for-all!

It’s the final Friday of August, 2015, and a full moon is brewing on Saturday (18:35 UT). I have gained some new followers – welcome! I’m glad that you came to visit and decided to stay awhile. Some have passed through and decided that I wasn’t their cup o’ tea, which is fine…I figure that if they followed me for at least a day, I struck a chord or a nerve somewhere and somehow. Those people figured that I was a “Nervytwerp” and went on their way. I know that there is at least one individual who has been here from the get-go: I still see you, Hernie!     😛

To all of you newbies, thanks for stopping in and sitting for a spell; for those who have been here since the beginning of 2015, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, such as it is! Check out my ‘About’ page, read my older posts, and take a look-see at my gaming guild-site if you can find it – I tend to hide things in plain sight, LOL

Here are five songs for my enjoyment…if you like them as well, so much the better!

R.I.P., Ameila Boynton Robinson

Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson: 18 August 1911 – 26 August 2015

One of the matriarchs of the civil rights movement, Amelia Boynton Robinson, passed away early yesterday morning at the age of 104. She was the first Black woman to run for congress in Alabama, and a survivor of “Bloody Sunday.” That was the day that she and many others marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Peaceful protestors were met with armed state troopers, who beat them mercilessly and tear-gassed them – Amelia was beaten unconscious. From Al-Jazeera:

Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist who nearly died while helping lead the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in 1965, championed voting rights for blacks and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama, died early Wednesday at age 104, her son Bruce Boynton said.

Boynton Robinson was among those beaten during the voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965 that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” State troopers teargassed and clubbed the marchers as they tried to cross the bridge. A newspaper photo showing Boynton Robinson, who had been beaten unconscious, drew wide attention to the movement.

Fifty years later, Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, pushed her across the span in a wheelchair during a commemoration.

Boynton Robinson, who was hospitalized in July after having a major stroke, turned 104 on Aug. 18. Her son said she had been living in Tuskegee and was hospitalized in Montgomery. Boynton Robinson’s family said in a written statement that she was surrounded by relatives and friends when she died around 2:20 a.m.

In January, Boynton Robinson attended the State of the Union address as a special guest of Democratic Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, who said Boynton’s 1964 run for Congress paved the way for her. Sewell is Alabama’s first elected black congresswoman. Boynton was the first woman to run on a Democratic ticket in Alabama and the first black woman to run for Congress in the state, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

“Mrs. Boynton Robinson suffered grave injustices on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma at the hands of state troopers on Bloody Sunday, yet she refused to be intimidated,” Sewell said in January. “She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, my colleague Rep. John Lewis and thousands of others from Selma to Montgomery and ultimately witnessed the day when their work led to the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

A lady of immense courage and strength – a true warrior. Rest easy now, Amelia…you join a pantheon of true heroes. Your accomplishments should be an inspiration for youth of today, and generations to come.

Lest we forget…

*** SIGH ***

Unreal. Absolutely unreal. I sat down with my coffee in hand, ready to write about the meaning of Women’s Equality Day. I had a post planned about Hurricane Katrina, and how the city of New Orleans still feels the effects of that massive natural disaster a decade later – but this happened. From Al-Jazeera:

The man suspected of shooting and killing two local Virginia journalists as they conducted a live television interview has shot himself and is in critical condition, according to local news reports.

WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were killed Wednesday morning by gunman at the Bridgewater Plaza mall in Moneta, Virginia, which is about 150 miles west of the state capital Richmond.

The suspected shooter was identified by authorities as Vester Flanagan. WDBJ7 said Flanagan is a former employee who is also known as Bryce Williams.

The station reported that state police confirmed that Flanigan shot himself on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier said that authorities were pursuing Flanigan along a major highway. 

A Twitter and Facebook account under the name Bryce Williams appeared to show first-person video of the shooting. Both accounts have since been suspended. 

At about 6:45 a.m., Parker and the person she was interviewing heard shots, sending them screaming and ducking for cover, according to live video of the event. The camera appears to drop to the ground and captures what seems to be a fleeting image of the gunman. The person is wearing black pants and a blue top and appears to be holding a handgun. The station then cut away from the live video of the scene and back into its studio.

The Roanoke Times reported that the person interviewed in the video was Vicki Gardner, the head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. The paper’s website reported that Gardner was shot in the back and was undergoing surgery. WDBJ7 later confirmed that Gardner was injured in the shooting.

From the Huffington Post:

A man believed to have shot and killed two journalists during a live broadcast on Wednesday morning is in critical condition at a Virginia hospital. Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, allegedly opened fire at reporters from Roanoke-based news station WDBJ and an interviewee around 6:45 a.m. during a broadcast from Smith Mountain Lake in the community of Moneta. Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, died shortly after the shooting.

At around 11:30 a.m. Flanagan’s vehicle went off the road and crashed while he was fleeing law enforcement on the highway, Virginia State Police told The Huffington Post. Troopers found Flanagan in the vehicle with a gunshot wound. He was taken to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. Flanagan previously worked as a reporter for WDBJ and went by the name Bryce Williams on air. Around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, a Twitter account linked to that name tweeted out two videos of the shooting, shot from the perspective of the gunman. One video cuts off just as he aims the gun at Parker. A second video shows him opening fire. Other tweets sent around the same time stated “Parker made racist comments” and asked “They hired her after that???” The account has since been suspended. Someone claiming to be Williams sent a 23-page fax to ABC News on Tuesday night, the network reported. ABC turned it over to law enforcement.
Vicki Gardner, the woman Parker was interviewing, was shot in the back and is undergoing surgery, CNN reports. Gardner is the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
I don’t know what to say…I really don’t. NRA asshats are already flooding the comment sections of news outlets with their usual, outdated, histrionic tripe and vitriol. Sick, sick, sick…

3 Songs: AfroPunk 2015 Tribute

I just have to post these three songs, as a tribute to some of the notable headliners who I would have loved to have seen! One of the best signatures in my frosh yearbook is this:

“You are a very weird person, and you look like Grace Jones.”

Best freakin’ compliment, ever!

😀

 

Tuesday Tidbits

 

Sailing around the world via the Interwebs, looking at the goings-on. I’ll start at home and meander outwards…

The wildfires here in Washington state are the worst in recorded history. The fire near Twisp amazed even seasoned veterans in its fury – one minute, the brush was ablaze…just a couple of hours later, three young men were dead and a fourth is fighting for his life with burns over 60% of his body. I believe that he has been upgraded from “critical” to “stable,” at last report – he has a long road of painful healing ahead. Burns are among the worst trauma the body can suffer, because the largest organ, the skin, is compromised. I found a website that has regular updates of the fires, the smoke path, air quality conditions, and other details. The link is below:

Wildfire Today | News & opinions about wildland fire

On the economy: it is no surprise that, mere days after the stock market in China collapsed, global markets tumbled as well. From Al-Jazeera:

Global markets rebounded Tuesday after China’s central bank cut its key interest rate to support growth in the world’s second-largest economy. Earlier, China’s main stock index closed sharply lower for a fourth day.

European markets recovered almost all their losses from Monday, with most rising at least 4 percent, while U.S. stocks were expected to open higher and oil prices rebounded.

Hours after China’s Shanghai stock index slumped to close 7.6 percent lower — adding to Monday’s 8.5 percent loss and taking the benchmark to its lowest level since Dec. 15 — the central bank swung into action.

China cut its interest rates for fifth time in nine months in a renewed effort to shore up economic growth in the world’s second-largest economy. The central bank said the benchmark rate for a one-year loan will be cut by 0.25 percentage points to 4.6 percent and the one-year rate for deposits will fall by a similar margin to 1.75 percent.

The bank also increased the amount of money available for lending by reducing the minimum reserves banks are required to hold by 0.5 percentage points.

The move came as Beijing appeared to be abandoning a strategy of having a state-owned company buy shares to stem the market slide. There have been no signs of large-scale purchases by the China Securities Finance Corp. during the past week.

“The fear is that the Chinese economy is slowing at an alarming pace and that the domestic policy makers have fallen well behind the curve,” said an analyst at Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

I have a modest 401k which rode out the last big drop a few years back – I keep an eye on my finances, believe it or not – so the only thing to do is sit back and let it ride…regardless of what that bogus hack Jim Cramer says!

I’m very glad that I don’t live in North or South Carolina – I guess I’m used to the subtle, insidious racism of the Pacific Northwest, not the blatant hatred on the East Coast and in the Deep South. It exists in every state, but some are clearly worse than others! Someone on another blog opined that things in the U.S. are better now, since “strange fruit” isn’t swinging from trees anymore. I beg to differ, as would Lennon Lacy’s family, but hey – I’m not going to burst anyone’s bubble. People are free to believe what they wish…

Besides, who needs lynch mobs when so-called “peace officers” can shoot unarmed Black people with impunity?

The young ladies abducted from the school in Chibok, Nigeria, have been away from their families and loved ones for 498 days, now – that is 54 days longer than the American hostages were held in Iran…very sad. Gut-wrenching. Maddening. Tomorrow marks “Women’s Equality Day,” but to most men (and a lot of women), that simply means that females should have the right to walk topless in Times Square.

Indigenous Canadians face the same voting issues that Black people here in the U.S. do – the gutting of voting rights.

The NRA is royally pissed off at the City of Seattle over a ‘gun violence’ tax.

People who thought that being a cheating douchebag is a good thing, found out the hard way that it really isn’t…in their case, life really WAS “too short!” It’s hard for me not to laugh over that whole thing – yes, schadenfreude is something that I feel from time to time. I must be human, after all…contrary to popular belief!

Seriously, though, if marriage isn’t for you – then don’t get married! It seems so simple…

I’ll close with something positive – AfroPunk Festival 2015! I wanted to be there, but I attended in spirit. It has to be refreshing! Just once, to go someplace and just be myself without feeling scrutinized, degraded, and under a microscope simply for having dreadlocks. To be able to walk around in Levi’s, a leather vest, a big-ass hat and my motorcycle boots…and nobody would bat an eyelash. To thrash around wildly and fling my dreads in head-banging glee, and not stand out like a sore thumb. I would love to just feel free.

I’ve been wanting to attend it since 2010, and the closest I got was in 2012…but the motorcycle had other ideas, and the timing just wasn’t right. I’ll get there one of these days…sooner than later, for sure!

Closing with a song…enjoy.

 

Musical Monday

Some music for Monday, while I work on a couple of long posts for later on in the week: the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, for one. Still working on the game-streaming thing, too…if it works the way I hope, it will be freakin’ awesome!

Enjoy the tunes…

🙂

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