Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Staying in the Flow


Poets and philosophers have long used the analogy that life is a river;
as well they should, owing to the many similarities between the two.
Water is life, after all, and our sojourn between birth & death
is a river thru time, which we explore with our bodies.

Life can be a wet, twisting, wild ride in times such as these,
where the scenery speeds by too fast to see clearly;
and the dangers & threats grow out of control,
leaving us longing for the backwater eddy of the bottomlands.

Life can also mimic the stale & stagnant waters of swampland
where the sickly waters never flow for
the reptiles & flying insect vampires living there ...
laying in wait to prey upon those unlucky enough to be lost there.

Somewhere between the extremes there is a tranquil place
where the gurgling waters of a clear meadow brook
become a welcome reprieve for the weary feet
of those who have long been on this sojourn.

The waters of rapid change leave us clinging to shore,
lest we be swept downstream,
like so much flotsam or jetsam 
but the current just beats us to death the more we try to hang on.

To survive these turbulent times
We must let go the tattered roots we cling to
at the rivers edge...just let go
and trust the flow.

The energies of life also flow very much like a river
and will treat you quite differently
depending upon where you are located
within the flow of that energy.

Somewhere between the extremes there is a place
the athletes & performers call "the zone."
It is the eye of the hurricane where life's energies
become an elegant flow in which all things are possible.

For a great many of us on the spiritual path, the journey becomes
one of being in the flow of life's energies as much as possible;
but it becomes hard, because the flow doesn't race around making us chase it,
We let the pace of life & politics pull us away from the flow.

The flow is like a gentile, spring rain shower...
you know when you're in it - no guesswork involved
Conversely, you could be standing just outside the flow
never knowing how close you were. 

Intuition is your compass for finding the flow
It is felt rather than seen
and nobody can lead you there,
you must find it on your own.

When we are in the flow of life's energies
things just become easier.
There is just less resistance in everything we do,
and a feeling we can accomplish anything.

Our spirit thrives on being in the flow,
and can grow bitter if deprived of it too long.
It's almost as if being in the flow
is our natural state of being.

Being in the flow is never to be confused with
"Going with the flow" which is only
the modern doublespeak catch phrase
for total conformity.

If you follow your bliss,
it can lead you to the flow,
but bliss cannot keep you there,
Only intent & focus can do that.

Ignoring the chaotic world around us
won't get us back into the grace of the flow;
any more than it would bring peace,
but putting chaos in perspective can help.

I have never known anyone
who found the flow by accident.
You must first have the intention,
and then the desire to find such peace.

Sometimes the flow can be a physical location
where life seems to magically prefer your success;
but most often however it's where you are mentally
that determines if you are in the flow.

I once saw a painting of the Buddha
sitting, and smiling peacefully while
all around him was burning in chaos.
That is being in the flow!

© 2017 full re-post with permission only 




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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

America Has PTSD


I had this dream the other night, which began normally enough I suppose.  I was in a nightclub sitting at a table, waiting for George Carlin to come onstage for a show.  I saw him once in Seattle, so again, normal enough.

With a few minutes to go I was joined by my late friend Mike who was also an avid Carlin fan.  We sure saw a lot of Grateful Dead shows together, so everything still felt pretty normal.  He grinned that big toothy grin of his, saying "It figures I'd find you here."
We had just finished ordering drinks when we are joined unexpectedly by another late friend, Daniel, who remarked about how good I was looking.  You could say I was starting to see a pattern emerging when a third recently departed friend; Victor grabbed the remaining chair. He looks at me with those smiling eyes of his and says, "I wasn't sure you'd make it for the show..." and with that the curtain goes up, the footlights come on and George Carlin saunters onto a stage made to look like a courtroom for his one night only performance of "The Case Against Trump."

As much as I would dearly love to see that performance, I'm not so eager to fulfill the prerequisite for attendance, so I can only hope there is Netflix in the hereafter.  Of course when I woke up, Carlin's wit and wisdom were not among the memories of the dream, just seeing my friends again was enough as I was able to tell them all how good it was to see them again.  The dream was a kindness from my subconscious, a kind of reprieve from the increasing restlessness and chaos now surging across the country.

In a recent post I wrote about the condition known as PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it isn't just for combat veterans anymore.  Survivors of the California wildfires and Las Vegas sniper have it, as do survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and those who survive childhood horrors.  Basically any experienced traumatic event can leave behind a list of symptoms not to be envied.  Survivors of trauma also very often acquire a type of PTSD called survivor guilt.  We recently saw a great deal of this kind after the wildfires; where entire neighborhoods burned, but only on one side of a street...leaving some homes undamaged with neighbors reduced to ash.  Many who survived the fires whole and intact are now dealing with the unjustified and illogical guilt over having survived.  The same applies to survivors of the Las Vegas sniper who lived while those right next to them were cut down, there's a ton of survivor guilt there as well, and the list goes on and on.

The symptoms can vary depending on the person and the endured trauma; basically the longer the trauma continued, the more severe the symptoms of PTSD will be.  Those affected will have strong aversions to sudden loud noises, and large crowds of people.  They become hyper-vigilant and hyper-alert; needing to know the exact source of unknown sounds or noises.  There are invariably sleep disorders and full scale nightmares.  Any sound, smell, or grouping of specific words can trigger the symptoms.  It becomes all about the fear of the unknown.  The fear of what will happen next.

America has PTSD, President Trump Stress Disorder and it gets worse every day he remains in power.  The explanations offered to 'explain' Trump's erratic and troubling words, tweets & behavior are actually put forth for another, darker reason: to conceal his dessert tray of mental disorders.  Every day that passes brings us all closer to the inevitable showdown resulting in Trumps impeachment, or removal under the auspices of the 25th amendment.

Duty to Warn
Beneath the 24-7 Trump news cycle of absurdity there exists the fact that Donald Trump has a rather nasty collection of mental disorders; which accredited psychologists around the country are now openly discussing in public for those who have eyes to read and ears to hear, that is if you aren't inside a 'news bubble' of your own design. 


Psychologist Dr. John Gartner is the founder for a governmental watchdog group called Duty to Warn whose objective is to get Trump removed from power in accordance with the 25th amendment to the US constitution; which lays out the groundwork and pre-requisites for removing a president who is proven to be mentally incapable of performing the job of our president.

Trump favors Twitter for communications because with his mental disorders; complete, understandable sentences are not required.  Just an impulse.  Twitter also appeals to his hyperplasic ego which cannot seem to ever get enough praise: even if it has to come from him.  Perhaps this is why he gets a daily briefing of positive press stories & video about him from his staff, to placate him.  This is what Senator Bob Corker meant last week when he said. "The white house has been relegated to being an adult day care center."

Do you remember listening to President Obama delivering a speech?  I recall how he frequently would pause briefly in mid-sentence: I like a president who considers the impact his words may have, before he speaks them.  Not Trump.  With him we just get the unfiltered gibberish as it passes through his brain.


Trump has proven repeatedly that he has no regard whatsoever for the feelings of others, like when he referred to slain soldier Sgt. La David Johnson as "Your guy" during a condolence call to his grieving widow.  Any sane, decent man would admit his errors and apologize.  Not Trump; he not only denies ever saying that, he then engaged in a twitter feud with the widow, and congresswoman Frederick Wilson who heard the call in question. 


How convenient is it that the white house now says there is no transcript or recording of that condolence call?  Trump has a long established record of denying facts which are there for all to see and hear, starting with his inauguration crowd size.  He has also proven himself to be a pathological liar in almost every single thing he says.

Trump takes credit for things that were a done deal before he ever ran for office, like keeping jobs at a car plant, and releasing the classified files on the JFK assassination.  Trump blatantly claims the glory for things he never touched or had anything to do with; like last week when he claimed ISIS was surrendering because he is president! Theater of the absurd.  When faced, and challenged with the true facts in such cases, Trump doubles down on his own stupidity, insists he is right, then viciously attacks.  His behavior is childish in basic nature, and is only being tolerated because Putin bought our election last year. 

Sugar, Coffee, Tobacco & Bananas
A full month after Puerto Rico was totally wiped off the map by hurricane Maria on September 20th*, and Trump still won't sign the waiver allowing non-military ships to deliver goods to the island, which exponentially increases the amount of life-giving aid already rotting away in warehouses waiting for someone somewhere to give a fuck.  Meanwhile, the repair contract for $300 million dollars to restore all electric services to the entire island was awarded to a Montana company named Whitefish Energy; a company with just two (2) employees.  Smells like rotten bananas to me.

There is a reason why Trump and his republican businessmen henchmen are doing nothing about the disaster in Puerto Rico and it can be found by even the most casual glance thru the pages of history.  Puerto Rico was the last Spanish outpost for their colonization of the Americas, that is until in 1898 when the Americans invaded the island during the Spanish-American war, and just kept it. American businessmen saw the perfect climate for agriculture with a self replicating workforce of the poverty stricken; and wasted very little time in dividing the island up amongst themselves. 


 In 1917 all island residents became United States citizens upon passing of The Jones Act, which also ironically forbade any non-us government ships from delivering food and goods to the island.  This bill is why Trump claims he cannot save the island.  All he has to do is sign a temporary waiver for disaster relief.  He loves those photo ops of him signing new executive orders; but not this time.  He'll have none of that!  He has repeatedly refused to sign a waiver.  It's almost like he derives some perverse pleasure in knowing he is keeping life saving aid from that devastated island.

By 1930 industry and commerce had dropped and the island became less and less profitable for U.S. businesses.  Then on Sept 27th* 1932 Puerto Rico was devastated by hurricane San Ciprein; killing over 300 and causing 900 million in damage in todays dollars. * (Category 5 Hurricanes 85 years apart to the week.)  The American government ended up shelling out a small fortune to rebuild after the hurricane, a debt they passed on to the government and citizens of the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a debt they can never repay, by design and intent. 

Puerto Rico became our very own Banana Republic, and home to thousands of ex-pat American citizens as well.  We still don't have an accurate death toll from Puerto Rico, or even a date for when those supplies are to be delivered.  Now that history has repeated itself, Trump & associates don't want it to repeat again, so they're taking a pass on the rebuilding this time.  Eventually it will be bulldozed over and become something else once the land is bought at prices rivaling outright theft. 


How do we go about treating a nation with President Trump Stress Disorder?  What can be done about lessening its effects?  A good start might be a group of politicians showing enough spine to confront emperor Trump the first.  Remove now, replace later. 

The trouble is we are in a race against time.  With unwanted legal action pending on everything including Russian collusion; the chances increase for Trump doing something horrific to divert world attention from his legal future.  Why should he worry about the effect of his inflammatory remarks when he has a nuke proof bomb shelter to ride it out in?

When you corner someone with PTSD, or inundate them with more chaos than they can process, they often fight back by lashing out, sometimes violently.  Sometimes they just have a total emotional breakdown and go a bit berserk.  As more and more American citizens succumb to the symptoms of having PTSD, the more we may see such random acts of violence.  Was it President Trump Stress Disorder that sent the Las Vegas sniper over the edge.  How about the Florida man police caught with an arsenal similar to the Vegas sniper's collection?  Or the Florida serial killer terrorizing Tampa. Do they also have President Trump Stress Disorder, and what is it about Florida??


"I rise to say...ENOUGH!"
There is no doubt about it, America has President Trump Stress Disorder, and to see it you have to look no further than the US senate.  On Tuesday Arizona Senator Jeff Flake took the floor to speak to the Senate about Trump.  He said "I rise to say...ENOUGH..."  Calling Trump "Undignified, reckless and outrageous.  The republican senator announced he would not seek re-election; citing among other things Trump's "personal attacks, threats against our principals, freedoms and institutions.  He emphasized "Trump's flagrant disregard for the truth," and even the most basic decency. Flake went on about "The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal of reasons.  To his peers, Flake added a warning, that "their silence would equal complicity."  [full video below]

"People like to say that the conflict is between good and evil
when the real conflict is between truth and lies."
                                                            ~ Don Miguel Luis~

Senator Bob Corker who said last week that the white house was "little more than an adult day care center" smelled the blood in the water and renewed his attack Tuesday, calling Trump "An utterly un-truthful president."  Senators Flake and Corker are spearheading a growing cadre of republicans to throw the gauntlet down on Trump.  Blood in the water, feeding time in the swamp.

Is this the beginning of the end for Trump; perhaps setting the ground work and mood to enact the 25th amendment to have him de-throned due to mental incapacity?  We can only hope for that or full-on impeachment: whatever process removes him from power the quickest...the 25th amendment, Impeachment, or (using his own words) "those 2nd amendment folks.


Bill O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein were each forced out of their careers after multiple accusations of sexual harassment: but Trump with his list of 15 such accusations gets to play president.  Yeah, that'll give a country some President Trump Stress Disorder, and most likely some anger as well.  Too much raw input, too much planned chaos; all happening at a time when most Americans are more afraid of their government than terrorism.

Yes, America has a rousing case of President Trump Stress Disorder, and if we do not remove him from office like cutting out a malignant growth; it will soon spread across the planet like Fukushima fallout.  Other countries with whom America has always had good relations are now looking elsewhere for leadership and respect.  Those dominoes will continue to fall as long as the malignant growth remains in power. 

So now my Vietnam PTSD has President Trump Stress Disorder, like a pet from hell.  They romp around together playing merry hob with my head and dreams, but that's OK because no matter how much more insane things get, before the insane emperor is removed from office; I hold firm in the belief that when I'm done here, George Carlin will be doing his Case Against Trump show, and Mike will have tickets waiting at the will call window.

© 2017 full re-post with permission only



"I stand to say ... ENOUGH!"  ~ Sen. Jeff Flake

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Flare ups of Fear


Friday, October 13, 2017

California Firestorm


I was awakened abruptly last Monday morning by the frantic ringing of my doorbell.  It was my friend & neighbor Ivan rousing me to 'answer the bell' so to speak; I could already smell the smoke before he told me there was a raging firestorm just ten miles away.  I live in wine country, Sonoma county where much of the terrain is heavily wooded canyons, many peppered with residential neighborhoods; so dealing with a potential wild fire is always in the back of our minds.  Now it was foremost on our minds.

Little did I know that the day I was waking into would see the worst firestorm in California history.  Beginning just before midnight on Oct. 8th, fires sprang up in several different Sonoma and Napa county locations.  The weather was zero humidity, no moisture in the air, with winds gusting 50 to 60 mph.  Before Daybreak there were a total of 14 fires racing primarily north, and eastward, away from my hillside canyon home...for now.

Wildfires such as this actually create their own weather.  As the flames grow higher into the air it creates a vortex, a sort of fire tornado which in turn draws in all the air around it.  Add to this devil's mix a 50 mph easterly wind and you get a self feeding, self sustaining firestorm with a halo of burning airborne embers falling to earth setting new fires, which then join with the parent fire.  Maybe a case could be made for fire being a kind of life form: It breathes air, consumes food which strengthens it, and it reproduces itself.   Fire spirits, Hmmm.  More on this in a bit.


You don't have to be a prepper to be ready ahead of time for such natural disasters; all it takes is having been a boy scout, and later a combat veteran, to see the sense in being ready to bug out with a Go-Bag full of emergency survival needs already to load in the car.  If you don't have them pre-packed and ready to load in the car, you won't have time when you are watching the flames advance on your home as floating embers ignite your roof.

Watching three hurricanes in a row wreck death and devastation on parts of the country should have motivated a lot of people to prepare, including making detailed evacuation plans for the family.  It sure motivated me to drag my go-bags out and double check them in the days before the firestorm. 

Brewing up some coffee was the first order of business, and as it was perking away, the second was to check communications status.  Had electricity but not much more.  No television, no internet, no text.  All gone, and with no word on for how long.  Time to dig out the hand crank, portable emergency radio.  I hooked it up and before long found what I was looking for, all day coverage of the firestorm in my back yard.
 
"We face the potential for this kind of firestorm every year,
and we've been lucky for a long time.  Our luck just ran out."
                                                                                ~Cal-Fire Official

It's kind of funny, the difference in perspective you have when packing a bug out bag in the calm before the storm; and re-packing it when faced with the possibility of everything you own turned to ash.  With no immediate threat to my residence it gave me the luxury of doing a kind of triage on my go bags.  There is no way you can take everything which is special to you, so hard choices must be made.  Sometimes the practical gives way to the emotional as some things are removed from the bags to make room for something of a more emotional value.


When you walk thru your home with the idea it might all burn you begin to see with new eyes.  As long as the wind is our friend and blowing the fire away from us this hopefully becomes just a dress rehearsal this time.

So as I listened to the reports flowing in on the radio, I found I couldn't sit still, I had to be doing something even if it was pacing about trying to think of the next thing I forgot to pack.  Hearing odd noises I quickly checked outside to see what was up.  It was my 70 year old next door neighbor, up on his roof with a rake and water hose, courting a broken leg if he fell.

It occurred to me I was darting around like a ferret chasing a meal it can't see.  I sat and thought about that a moment and then it dawned on me, PTSD awakes from it's slumber, given enough stressors.  I'm sitting in a bone dry old house on a wooded hillside in a firestorm, and no information save for the radio which was mostly helpful but not terribly useful.  I'm hearing about places I liked going to, burned to the ground, along with area landmarks like the Hilton hotel. Entire subdivisions are going up in flames. People are dying out there in my back yard.

"The World Has Changed"
                     ~Sonoma County Sheriff

 With no internet access all; transactions were cash only, and the roadways were choked with evacuees and those seeking emergency supplies.  I am suddenly feeling pretty smart for having bought two flats of Aquafina bottled water last week.  You could say a hurricane inspired me to prepare for a firestorm.  My friend Ivan has the day off work due to the firestorm so we spend it pre-loading stuff into the car, just in case.  Tomorrow I'm buying a chain saw because no damned down tree is gonna prevent me from bugging out if the need arises.  Boy scout, gotta be prepared!


People are calling reports into the radio station all day, one man reporting that eight water trucks showed up, without water in their tanks.  Maybe it's a cost effectiveness thing, why haul all that water any farther than you have to?  Intended to fill up at a local hydrant??  Another man called in saying there were no Cal-Fire aircraft working in his area.  He didn't understand they have to be able to see where to drop their load of fire retardant.
 
Day 2~October 10
 Day two sees the number of uncontrolled fires at 17, with 20 dead and over 1500 structures destroyed.  Nobody was prepared for how fast the flames raced over the land, it's like some kind of surrealistic nightmare.  I am stressed and frustrated that all data lines are down, except for my wonderful radio.  I'm just feeling a need to see this monster on satellite view, so I can properly engage it.  I spent several years on radio in Alaska, so I know well the idea of words painting pictures, and the scenes coming from my emergency disaster radio are horrific.

Smoke from the firestorm can be smelled at San Francisco airport 60 miles distant.  It covers more than 115 thousand acres of land, over 65 square miles, in eight counties! 


There are now more than 4400 firefighters working over 40 hours straight.  Twenty thousand people have been evacuated to shelters, churches & high schools as just dealing with the displaced becomes a storm itself.  The early estimate of 180 missing people has now become 660 missing people, a number certain to keep rising.  The firestorm remains at zero containment.  And it is still growing.

"It looks like a war zone, without the bomb craters"
                                                             ~TV news reporter

Firemen and first responders are often "lost" and  not knowing exactly where they are because all the street signs melted.  Steel melts at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some cars exploded when their gas tanks ignited, leaving charred upside down slag heaps, each with puddles of melted aluminum beneath them.


Human  nature sure comes out fast at times like these, there have been very few incidents of looting so far, but volunteers by the hundreds are calling local officials wanting to help.  I've heard of three 'hubs' where volunteers can go to register & then be dispatched somewhere to render aid. 

I like that.  Shows that hope maybe has a fighting chance after all.

Late afternoon I get the sweet sound of a text notification from my cell phone. Minutes later internet was restored, and an hour later TV service came back.  I was quite pleasantly surprised; anticipating a much longer outage lasting several days.

"The firestorm turned our neighborhood into a sea of nothing"
                                                                        ~Unknown Evacuee

Seeing the images of this monster firestorm came with a case of cognitive dissonance at the sheer size of the thing, and how incredibly fast it was consuming everything in its path.  If the recent string of hurricanes was a wake up call, this then was indeed waking up to a nightmare literally on my back door.  The same conditions that birthed this inferno exist in the canyon I reside in.  It would only take a spark, and I could be among the homeless victims of this wildfire.

Aerial views of the devastation are truly like something from a war zone, specifically Hiroshima after the bombing.  Watching these images as I fine tuned my evacuation luggage, was just feeding my awakened PTSD; it never really goes away, hibernation is the best you can hope for.  The good part of it is that the awakening PTSD also brushes off the skill-set needed to deal with the stressors, and the emergency.  They never go away either.  As I move through the house; I take the time to bless, thank & release a lifetime worth of possessions I have managed to hold onto until now.  Some things are more difficult to let go of than others.  There is a reason they're called possessions.


Day 3~October 11
By Wednesday the 11th, the firestorm is now 22 separate fires and has become twice the size of Washington DC and continues to grow, it's appetite unabated.  Throughout the devastated area only chimneys remain standing, like gravestones marking where over 2000 homes died.  They say the winds are going to pick up again tonight.

"This is a critical, catastrophic event, and
things will get worse before they get better"
                                         ~Cal-Fire Spokesman

Late in the afternoon authorities announce the mandatory evacuation of Calistoga as the fire marched over the hillside overlooking the tourist town, and the rolling smoke moved into the valley like a massive ghost.  A pocket fire sprang up near Geyserville causing even more evacuations, eating still more land. 



There are now over 8000 exhausted firemen (Heroes) battling the firestorm and saving lives.  More than 30,000 people have been evacuated and there are 3500 homes and businesses burned to the ground.  There have been 0ver 50 helicopter rescues, as the state amasses the largest aerial bombing campaign in American history to fight the firestorm.  They have 73 helicopters, 30 air tankers; including a DC-10 and a brand new 747 jumbo tanker being used for the first time.

As darkness comes to day three there are 26 known dead, and some 700 missing with over 265 square miles burned; and 80 cell towers destroyed.  In their evening press conference authorities stress that people should avoid the evacuated zones or face arrest.  They also advise that this emergency event is far from over, saying it could be two weeks or longer to get containment & control over the inferno. 

Fire Spirits?


Many years back during the practice burning of an old dilapidated building in Nixa Missouri; one of the firefighters took a snapshot of the blaze and was astounded to clearly see what many say is an Indian chief on horseback.  I've been intrigued by such fire images ever since, and was quite surprised to see one show up in the growing collection of images from this firestorm event.  Look closely at pictures of raging fires, you may find some yourself.



Day 4~October 12
What caused the firestorm?
Daybreak on day 4 came after an overnight respite as the winds did not pick up as feared they would.  Even though, it continued to consume thru the night while the air armada was grounded.  It is now thought that downed power lines and blown transformers started the wildfires around 11:45 pm, last Sunday night.  There is also some lingering doubt surrounding the strangeness of 14 fires all starting at more or less the same time.  Some of course are thinking this is a new kind of terror attack; while others speak in terms of meteorites being the cause.  The Realistic Observer Blog has posted that Illegal Mexican marijuana cartels set the fires in retaliation for recent busts.  Much of the areas burned are where legal medical marijuana clubs grow their legal pot.  As with so many things these days, we may never learn the whole, complete truth.

There were over 1000 people missing, of them 485 have been located alive.  So far the firestorm has destroyed 2834 private residences and killed 30 people.  Ironically there is a movie due to be released on October 20th called "Only the Brave" which is an action yarn about "Smoke Eaters" otherwise known as firefighters.  Not wanting to disrespect the real life heroes fighting this inferno, but maybe they could push back the release date for this whole area, it might be too much too soon for those who have lost homes and entire families.  Just sayin, A little compassion goes a long way.


Tonight I am grateful for having a place to live and food to eat, and yet this event has already affected my future.  I've been trying to find another place to live, closer to town and wheelchair accessible to things I'm interested in doing for two years now and I've learned one thing for sure and that is the housing market is depressed.  There has been a drop-off in new construction.  There is a severe shortage of family residential housing and apartments throughout the region; and way too many people looking to buy or rent.  Those numbers just got mega-skewed for maybe a decade or more with almost 3000 homes destroyed so far. Not only that, but I can almost feel my rent increasing as I write this.  Leverage and taking advantage; purely human traits.

 My PTSD is getting a case of disaster fatigue; not sure how much more I can handle.  We're 226 days into the disaster called the Trump inauguration, and the hits just keep on coming faster than we can process.  Soon psychic numbing sets in with the first symptoms of PTSD, as you become hyper alert to your surroundings, & do threat assessments on every new sound or noise.  Welcome to my nightmare.

Whether or not you get help or rescue in the next disaster depends entirely upon whether you voted for Trump.  If you voted blue or are a banana republic, know that you'll be on your own once you catch your allotment of paper towels.

Nixle~ Text your zip code to 888-777 to get emergency notifications in your area.


Pack Your Bags
It is always a wise precaution to have a few crucial items kept in the trunk of your car: such as a few gallons of water, some canned food, blankets & clothes etc. and some basic tools.  Add a small chain saw if you face the possibility of fallen trees across critical escape roadways.  I always keep a tent, rope, duct tape & giant green poly tarp in my trunk as well, because I don't like roughing it.  You should already have a Thomas guide book of the entire roadway system in your state or area.  If not, perhaps you should consider getting one because knowing where to go and how to get there can literally save your bacon.

Stored somewhere like an entry closet you should also have your "Bug-Out-Bag" pre-packed, loaded and ready to go at a moments notice.  The question arises, what to include?  First & foremost are all needed medications, reading glasses, money and your important personal/family papers.  Next, backup important computer files & documents to a mass storage device like 64GB flash drive.  You will want to pack headlamps, flashlights, [with xtra batteries] - candles and perhaps even a small alpine single burner camp stove for cooking.  That's the thing about mass evacuations; you have no idea where you will end up, or if you'll ever see your home again, so the ability to cook might be a game changer.

You will want some spare clothing, how much depends on how high maintenance you are I suppose.  At some point extra space in your Go Bag becomes very valuable indeed, so you'll know if you packed too many clothes.  Ideally you should limit your bug out luggage to what you'd feel comfortable carrying, on foot, over unknown terrain conditions.  Assume the worst case scenario, everything less will seem like good luck.

"Chance Favors Only the Prepared Mind"
                                     ~Louis Pasteur~

Next include a decent first aid kit, and a multi-power source emergency radio.  Be sure to pack cell phone chargers, and extra batteries or power bank devices.   It should be a no-brainer but if you own firearms, pack them as well.  Not that you're gonna be going road warrior, you just don't wanna leave them for looters.   Plus you may need a little Mad Max now & then.  You'll need a supply of breathing respirators: 3M makes their N95 which is rated to defeat the smallest particles of smoke, its the mask you want, period.


People aren't all the same and neither are bug out bags, yours will eventually contain the items you deem crucial to have in a very uncertain future following some unknown disaster.  It's a work in progress, start today.

Got children? They each get their own bug out bag as well.  A few clothes & a lot of toys/games to hold their attention and give a semblance of normal even in crisis.  Fail to do this; and risk being taken to the limits of parental sanity.  For child mood emergencies, have a couple of Hershey bars tucked away for emotional bribery.  Works every time!

Watch the news footage of any disaster and you'll see literally hundreds of refugees carrying plastic garbage bags and pillow cases holding their worldly possessions.  Every one of them thought there would be time to pack.  Sometimes...there just isn't.

 Officials with Cal-Fire are saying this is nowhere near under control, and that it could be weeks before the fire is out.

Stay Tuned for updates...

© 2017 full re-post with permission only 










Day 6 ~ Saturday 
When overnight winds picked up early Saturday; a new round of mandatory evacuations was ordered for Lake county, Sonoma, and east Santa Rosa as fires continued to march east and south.   Hours after sunrise the winds continue to be a problem, even though they helped dissipate some of the smoke pollution.

An additional 20 helicopters have joined the air armada, and over a hundred fire trucks and tankers.  over 11000 firefighters are working 24 on/24 off shifts as containment on two of the largest fires is now over 40% on each.   

There are over 600 national guardsmen, and an unknown number of prison firefighters adding to the manpower on the ground.  Many of these firemen are local to this area, and have lost their own homes while tirelessly working insane hours to save others and their homes from destruction.


 The air quality remains listed as unhealthy in most of the affected counties as our evening sunsets take on an eerily beautiful appeal as seen through the haze from the smoke.  If you start having slight headaches, wheezing, or heavy coughing; you may need to be using a respirator mask.  Long term inhalation of smoke particles can have some bad effects, especially with existing breathing issues.

Imagine that fire took your home and all your possessions.  You lost all your ID in the chaos, don't know how to get your mail, or where you're going to sleep tonight.  Imagine being in a shelter, not knowing where other family members are.  Wondering if you even still have a job to go to.  Even worse; all important personal & family papers are now ash.  Take all that and multiply it by 6000, the number of people who just lost their entire home. 

Over 100,000 people have now been evacuated 
as the official death toll reaches 40 today
Making this the largest and most deadly wildfire in state history.


There are still a few reports of lootings and arrests. When approached while going thru the wreckage of his home, one man drew a pistol.  Elsewhere there are many reports in the local news of people encountering angry, belligerent and generally edgy people while gathering food and necessary supplies. We must strive to remember that in times such as these some will bloom while others wither.  Not everyone has the coping skills needed for when your whole life just goes up in smoke.  A good time to be extra polite to everyone.

Most natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes smack you a good one then it's over.  Wildfires are different, and can defy even the most stalwart resistance as they  just keep burning everything in their way without a shred of mercy.  One couple tried to survive in the middle of a neighbors swimming pool, with the wife dying in her husbands arms,  People everywhere are disaster weary after three deadly hurricanes, then the Vegas sniper.  Not a good time to be wondering if your neighborhood will be the next to disappear in smoke.  The visual scars from this disaster will be with us for quite a while and recovery will be slow, too much so for the majority I suspect.  We silently brace ourselves because we know the death count will not stay at just 40 souls lost, not with many hundreds still missing, unaccounted for.

"Santa Rosa Strong"
Driving thru the affected parts of Santa Rosa it looks to many like an alien landscape, devoid of the familiar landmarks.  Everywhere from fences to overpass bridges the emotion of the people pours out in handmade signs of gratitude to the firemen, first responders and Sheriff's department.  We keep hearing that recovery will take at least ten years.  Meanwhile the fires continue to burn, causing new evacuations on day number nine of the firestorm. It's not over, not even close.

We got hit hard.

We are down, but not out.









Thursday ~ Day 11

As the setting sun disappears on day eleven of the northern California wildfires, everywhere there is the ominous sense of having turned the corner.  The only good news is that it will rain overnight; between 1/4 and 1/2 inch as a small class one weather event passes from north to south.  This is going to be a sprinkle, when what we need is a deluge.  It'll be just enough to give us some ash runoff to deal with along with everything else. 

Currently there remain just 9 large fires which are from 73% to 90% contained.  Cal-Fire officials say they expect to have full containment by next Tuesday.  That isn't saying the fires will be out by then, just contained.  The official death toll stands at 42, with 53 still missing; and 11 heroic firemen injured.  Over 7000 structures are gone, 6000 of them were homes, completely destroyed.  15000 are still evacuated.


Today we received much needed help from Montana as the famous Chief Mountain Hotshots from the Blackfeet Nation arrived to lend their expertise, as they're considered the marines of firefighting. 

As we gradually regain our senses in the aftermath of this firestorm, local people are starting to ask questions about how the fires really started, and a few other things which don't quite add up.  At the center of things at the moment, is the confusing mess surrounding the alleged arrest of an arsonist, and two agencies battling it out in public. An undocumented homeless man who is known to local cops was brought in for questioning on a different matter; but isn't a suspect and is not charged with arson.  ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) officials immediately released a statement condemning the Sheriffs for endangering the public.  The sheriffs of course responded in kind saying something to the effect it was bad form to accuse them of that in the middle of everything going on.  Not what we want to see from our state and federal officials!


Then there is the matter of the evacuations that have many in a furor.  Some areas have been cleared and re-opened for landowners to return to their home sites; but a great many have not.  The number of disgruntled homeless voices grew until the authorities had to hold a press conference; where when asked why they cannot return to their homes, angry citizens were told about a tree that almost injured 3 firemen when it suddenly fell; and the video clip of that was on all three local network TV stations.  They are not allowing people back into many areas, and offer only reasons that insult our intelligence.

"We're from the Government, we're here to help you"
Enter FEMA: The folks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are here, going thru the motions of helping people; from a bureaucratic perspective.  Mostly what they are doing here is offering (demanding) that ALL those who lost homes go online and sign up for FEMA to remove all the toxic stuff from their property, stressing that civilians are not allowed to do that dangerous job themselves. 

Maybe I've been at this too long, but to me that sounds a whole lot like "you can't go home until FEMA cleans up all the evidence."  Once FEMA is finished removing hazardous materials from the scorched neighborhoods the plan is to bulldoze them back to bare earth so the rebuilding can begin.  There is a fly in this ointment, and it's the certainty that somebody somewhere has an eye on all that barren smoking real estate in Sonoma and Napa counties.  


"(Earth is)" Not OK ~ by Ingrid Michaelson


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