This is awesome, but don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself.
According to the narrative on Fuzzysnail.com…
“Mobula rays aka flying rays are also known as the devil fish of the ocean. They are similar in appearance to manta rays and they fall under the family of eagle rays. They can attain a disc width of up to 5.2m (17 ft). They can weight over a ton and are known as the second largest Manta species in size. But other than this, not much is known about them. That is why this video is extra special.
NatGeo managed to capture this beautiful event where a record-breaking school of mobula rays arrived off the coast of Baja. Thousands of mobula rays are gathered in the ocean and it is really mind-blowing to see them fly….”
Everyone else has been getting snow days–we’re at what is hopefully the bitter end to an uncharacteristic late winter cold and snow snap. Temperatures have been up and down for weeks, hitting well below 0 degrees Farenheit zero (-18 C) on multiple occasions and, until the past weekend, ascending above freezing for just two days out the the past month or so. Unfortunately, it rained like hell both of those days, in between snow storms, accumulating inches of slush that turned to the ice that lay beneath everything that hasn’t been constantly shoveled, scraped, and salted. My wife is a teacher, and her school has cancelled at least 6 days, with at least that many late openings and early dismissals, combined.
I grew accustomed to my kids are sleeping in morning after morning, classes on what seemd like a perpetual 2-hour delay, due to cold. I sat at my desk one morning last week and guzzled coffee: outside it was -4 F, which didn’t even feel that cold. It was not so long ago I was bundling up in wool sweater, parka, gloves, scarf, and cap to go out to our community’s annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” light-up night back in November. I remember the gentle winter breeze felt like it was cutting like a dagger.
It was 29 degrees.
If it had been 29 degrees last week I’d have gone outside without a jacket and washed the truck.
No precipitation right now, but it’s supposed to hit 50 degrees–we’ve been above freezing, with highs in the upper 30s and 40s for the past 3 days as well, and not a moment too soon. If the meteorologists are to be believed (and they aren’t) things look good, and above averages, through the weekend. Sweet. I’ve got yard work to do. Apple trees and shrubbery to prune, fallen sticks and branches to pick up, and who knows what else is hidden beneath the foot or so of crystalized mess in the backyard.
It will be a treat. I’ve got this little property maintenance gig, and one of the things I do is clear sidewalks for a local landlord whose student tenants are too lazy and indifferent (as I was when I was a student) to do it for themselves. It’s always been fun, invigorating, especially since I stopped trying to wrestle a snowblower in and out of the truck and opted to do as much as I could by hand. It’s good, clean work. The sound of the shovel scraping concrete pleases me, and despite all those mothers in the world urging us to bundle up I think the cold, fresh air is good for me. I know getting outside, even under cloudy skies, is a good thing–no seasonal depression disorder for me. I’m the same level of grumpy as always.
But the level of weather has been bullshit. I said that the other morning, when I woke to find three new inches when the forecast had called for “a dusting.”
“This is bullshit.” I said. It didn’t help.
Normally, I expect to shovel 17 times, give or take. Last year was high with 24 trips around town spread between early December and March. This year there was one day of work in December, nothing even in early January, but I’ve been out 37 times in slightly less than 2 months. Some of those are two trips on the same day, and some of them were easy–a few inches of powder. The heavy snow and slush of the past two weeks, on the other hand, has been a mess–impossible to clear without hundreds of pounds of salt, and hell on my arms. I’ve got what I think is tendonitis in my left elbow. Tendonitis! From shoveling!
On the bright side: I’ve been planting. My package from Fedco Seeds arrived a few weeks back, and I’ve got my onions growing in flats under lights, and the leeks are germinating and should sprout within the next few days. We joke around here about “clinging to our guns and religion,” thanks to a certain President’s unfortunate, but astute observations of our regional mores, but at this point it is those little green blades of onion starts that are keeping me sane.
Remind me of this when I’m moaning about the heat.
I’ve been hit from several sources with Instagram pictures of famous folks clutching hashtag placards, earnest twitter tweets, petitions to “bring back our girls”–all in reference to the horrific kidnappings in Nigeria, and it just strikes me that neither petitions –nor the President’s team of negotiators, nor even the signatures of a few thousand really sincerely sympathetic suburbanites aren’t going to have a lot of weight with sociopaths who kidnap schoolchildren and pledge to sell them in the name of their god. Their merciful, loving god. Something tells me they’re going to have some explaining to do.
It strikes me that what we need instead are bounties and mercenaries. Plenty of mercenaries in the world–lets’ get all Blood Meridian on the bastards, pay rewards per returned girls + bonuses for for the confirmed pelts of religious whack-jobs. Hell, for the right reward I’m betting that some of the locals who are hiding these people might very well slit a throat or two in the night, in exchange for a little bling. Or some clean water. Yep, I’m sliding right on this one–asking myself, what would Teddy Roosevelt do? He’d swing that stick. I mean, we invaded Iraq over a simple Bush family vendetta–the very least we can do is unleash a little hell on some sick stone age sumbitches.
Seriously, as the cost of searching for that mysteriously crashed airplane in the rises by millions every day–worldwide it’s hundreds of millions spent already, in a search for corpses.
In fact, it seems the modern, developed, “western” world is lagging far behind the pastoral, largely agrarian Nigerians themselves–a group of approximately 500 “traditional” hunters, armed to the teeth with homemade weapons and fortified with mystical talismans and super-righteous indignation, has gathered in the city of Maiduguri–they’re pissed, they’re impatient with the hesitant government response, they’re not afraid, and they’re out for blood. Right on.
The government would be fools not to let these bad-asses go about their business–I’m remembering that old Patrick Swayze movie, Next of Kin or something like that, where a southern kid gets killed by the Mafia in Chicago and all his scary cousins creep out of the swamps with their compound bows and hunting knives and go to the city to exact revenge. Multiply that by a few hundred hardcore hunters, from teenagers to septuagenarians, confident that God and Justice are behind them, and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with. Pair these guys up with some machine-gun toting mercenaries and Nigerian soldiers, then stand back and watch.
“We are seasoned hunters, the bush is our culture and we have the powers that defy guns and knives; we are real men of courage, we trust in Allah for protection, but we are not afraid of Boko Haram,” said one elderly hunter, Baban Kano.
I’m not a man of violence, because violence rarely provides a solution, but sometimes the enemy is so stubbornly unreasonable, it’s crimes so horrible, that force is required. These madmen deserve nothing more than to be hastened into the judging company of their God–where I suspect things aren’t going to go so well for them.
So, like the old man said, “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.”
I’ve been intending to write about two seemingly unrelated incidents in regional schools–both shocking, but in very different ways. Mr. Linko beat me to it. Look for more to follow.
Those of us who, as high school students, remember having to slog through the then-unappreciated prose of Charles Dickens, probably remember this one really long sentence:
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
What Dickens was describing…
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God bless America, Land that I love
Stand beside her And guide her
through the night with a light from above–
from the mountains to the prairies
to the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home.
My friend Laura shared a link on her facebook page that led to a copy of the photo above, and a small paragraph about Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old girl who was the first student to participate in the integration of the New Orleans, Louisiana School system. If you’re anything like me, you learned her name for a few moments in school–maybe not even her name, only glancing at the iconic photograph, recognizing that integration happened, and moving on.
What stuck with me–not her name, sadly–was that while several students volunteered, passed the requisite tests, and were permitted to transfer to the then all-white school, Ms. Bridges was the only one who actually went. I recall thinking, they let her go alone. Of course, she had the federal marshals to protect her–a six year old girl!–from the angry crowds, but what company is a marshal to a little girl? She would later say that she thought the crowds at the school were gathered there to celebrate mardi gras!
And what about these bitter, angry, terrified southern housewives and mothers who–I guess–in some unfathomable, deeply misguided, ignorant way looked at the arrival of this small child as the destruction of their good, Christian way of life? (note the chubby blond kid has a sign that says “All I want for Christmas is clean, white schools”–ironic, isn’t it, that the arrival of a small child–just before the holiday season–could throw everyone into such a tizzy?) Did they grow to understand they were on the wrong side of history, did they pray to their god for forgiveness of their hate and cruelty? Or did they live out their lives, poisoned by spite and fear, huddled in their shacks and mobile homes? Note the placard held by one of these pleasant ladies above–“states rights”–and its relevancy today; the Teabag Party is still using the same strategy to cloak their own angry, bile-soaked agendas.
The ignorant masses didn’t just reserve their spite for the black kids, mind you–white families who sent their children to school were harassed mercilessly as well, harangued as traitors and “communists”–a word the lunatic fringe still uses today to describe their adversaries, though I’ve convinced there isn’t a single one of them the actually knows what the word truly means–they employ it as a convenient catch-all, a synonym for “bad.”
The thing that sticks with me about this story–and the many more like it–is that apart from all the tales of individual and small group heroics–from little Rosa Parks to the Kennedys, from determined, defiant black sharecroppers demanding their right to vote to the young, ivory tower idealist freedom riders who joined them in risking their lives in a struggle to make this country what was meant to be, not what the smallest among us would have it be–the fight is so long, so drawn out, so utterly ridiculous. More than 50 years has passed since Ruby Bridges took that walk, and our nation still bears racism like a cross on our shoulders. And heck, we’re all about building a giant wall to keep out the tired, the poor,
the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, not to mention the wretched refuse of teeming shores, the homeless, tempest-tost…and so on. And then there is discrimination against folks whose definitions of love and attraction lie in the swift waters and eddies outside the mainstream persist, our squinting suspiciously at a world full of people whose skins come in countless shades of brown–as if every one of them has a bomb in his underwear.
Imagine what we could accomplish if that energy was directed elsewhere, at genuine problems, instead of all this static. The thing is: I can’t. I can’t imagine that better world, and doesn’t that just suck?
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