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Much of this past week was just plain hard to believe.

We have tried to open our minds to what so many are calling the “New Normal,” but sometimes the collision of bad behavior, illogical thinking, and the very American habit of ignoring most things and then going absolutely Viking on someone for a  seemingly insignificant slight can be startling.

Some of you may have noticed that our air is so heavy with bad things it bounces in places, with officials declaring all manner of preventative measures to prevent us from contributing even more gunk to the air we breathe.

We thought that would be a pretty straightforward process. Everyone thinks about what’s happening to our neighbors in Butte County and pledges not to contribute to the traveling smog blanket currently settled over the states midsection – where we live. Simple, right?

Nope. Not here in the New ‘Merica, where it’s cool to discount all empirical argument and, well, just do what the frack you want. So, while we’re running around stuffing wet towels around all windows and doors and bumping up the HEPA rating on our air filters – our fellow Americans are out there sending up even more clouds of dust, smoke, and particulates into the collective atmosphere.

Tire smoke, wood smoke, trash smoke, smoke from grass fires (3 in our immediate area last week alone), bluish gas haze from “landscapers” for whom “Spare the Air” is a quaint but not pertinent bit of governmental fluff issued for the benefit of others – not them. Conversations with these folks (it’s best, we have learned, not to confront them directly) is as illuminating as it is often brow-furrowingly illogical.

During a couple of recent conversations with Those Dedicated to Bringing Us All Down With Them a Bill Maher line about how preternaturally stupid some of our countrypeople seem to be kept running through our heads, with folks bridling at any suggestion of temperance before uttering: “First of all, don’t tell us how stupid we can be.”

We ‘mericans can be a curious breed.

I’m making the area look nice. Don’t you want Moraga to look nice?” – leaf blower dude, covered in dust and deafened by his own machine

What’s it going to hurt? There’s already a ton of smoke in the air…” – guy stirring his trash pile (the fire department did eventually come by and make him put it out).

Eff you, buddy… I’ll do what I want, and get the eff off my property…” – another “landscaper,” standing on a public street.

So, how stupid can we be? Pretty stupid, apparently. So much so in fact that when we’re watching the Wannabe Consoler In Chief lecture survivors who have lost everything they have in the world about raking the forest floor to keep what happened to them from happening again we’re looking around the room to see if anyone else is saying: “Wait, what? What did this jackhat just say?”

We know, we know, he’s supposed to be our president – but we’re getting real picky about who’s leading us lately.

You should all know we’re not psychologists or trained in those disciplines in any way, but judging by the actions of our fellow residents in recent days we have to wonder if there isn’t some sort of collective madness going on – perhaps related to the smokescreen floating over our heads. We don’t know.

But we continue to get word of our fellow 24/680 People – whom we believe to be well-educated, reasonable people – absolutely losing their stuff and doing the darndest things.

We’re hoping that as our winds gear up and we get this Charlie Brown Cloud off our heads and promises of rain for the middle of Thanksgiving Week really give us something to be thankful for – along with the roof over our heads – some sense of sanity prevails in our valleys once again.

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