The problem with Ebola stories

It seems like most of the Ebola stories I’ve read recently have begun with some variation upon, “The Ebola strain that has now killed hundreds of Africans has now sickened several Americans so we should really start taking it seriously.”

Because clearly only once an illness affects Westerners, that’s the best sign that this is something we should all worry about. Like The Hot Zone.

Sigh.

Examples:

The Washington Post

USA Today

FOX News

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Just when I’m done with Keith Olbermann…

… he proves why I liked him in the first place. “Keith Olbermann Wonders Why the NFL Doesn’t Think Women Are Worthy of ‘Basic Human Respect'”

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But, life, what if you don’t like lemonade?

So, it’s been a rough six weeks here. There have been professional setbacks/layoffs. There has been a family emergency and some necessary, open-ended rescheduling of two major trips to which we were all looking forward.

Also, I’ve been working. This was going to be an easy term because 2 of my scheduled classes were canceled. I kept thinking this was going to be so easy, but now, I realize, I can say this term was hard. I taught 4 classes in three different subjects (English-Poetry, Writing-Comp, and Study Skills) on three different campuses in three different towns for two different schools. I traveled two days a week and taught my first night class since my daughter was born. I kept telling myself I wasn’t that busy, but you know what? Screw that, I was busy. I also made about 80 percent of the meals we ate at home, participated in two readings (with different work each time), and, oh yeah, I have an almost two-year-old girl at home who has never been to daycare and spent a sum total of 10 hours out of the presence of either parent in the last there months.

Anyway. So I was busy, and I was stressed out, and I kept feeling bad for being stressed out because this was going to be an easy term. Great combination.

Now, there are two things I do when I’m stressed out, and as to the first, I baked many, many things and ate many, many of these things. The second thing I do? I write.

So today, one month and one day after starting this new project inspired from all of that old writing, I hit my goal. You know why? Because it’s been a bad month. I don’t know that this is, yet, a good novel, but it’s nearly done, and I’m actually happy about that.

Screenshot 2014 06 21 15 55 43

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500,000 Found Words

This week, I found roughly 500,000 lost words that I wrote over a 6 year period.

Backstory: In 2007-2008, I had two catastrophic computer crashes on two separate machines. Shortly before my thesis was due to my adviser, my iBook had a catastrophic crash. I had it programmed for automatic back-ups, so I didn’t lose anything, but the restore process left most of my files scattered over multiple .zip files, and I didn’t have time to untangle things then. (If you don’t speak computer: A zip file is like one of those space-aged storage bags, the ones where you stack up all of your winter sweaters and then suck out all of the air so it compresses. It’s great for saving room; it’s less great, sometimes, when you just want the one sweater in the middle of the bag). The next year, I bought a new computer (a MacBook) when that computer’s case cracked, and I transferred everything over in another big .zip hunk.

Then, two years after that, my new MacBook was stolen. Again, automatic backups saved me, and I didn’t lose anything, but now I had a .zip restore of .zip transfers of .zip backups. (Translation: A Space Bag holding another Space Bag holding another Space Bag, in which all of my files were sealed into individual Ziplocs). I restored everything to a temporary computer, an iMac. When I moved to yet another new computer, I left most of these files sitting on my old iMac because they looked like big piles of crap. The new computer was lean, clean, a fresh start.

About two weeks ago, we resurrected the old iMac for use in the kitchen. When I was searching for something completely unrelated (barbecue tools), I came upon a cache of these old files. Everything I wrote between, say, 2001 and 2008 is sitting on this computer, zipped into neat little packages.  It was the work of about an hour to get everything unpacked and uploaded to Dropbox and backed up to Mozy.com once again.

And now I’m digging through things. It’s — awesome. I don’t mean the quality. I mean the finding. I haven’t seen some of these stories in years; I don’t remember even writing some of them. There’s enough time separating me from most of the work that I’m not even (too) embarrassed by it. I found roughly 500,000 old words of mine this week, and they all make me want to write many, many more new ones. It’s the best unpacking I’ve done in years.

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Would You Have a Beer with Chris Christie?

All of this talk about Gov. Chris Christie misses the point — and the point isn’t what he weighs, how much he won by in New Jersey, how cooperative he was, or how mean he can be. The point is that he can’t win. The last three Republicans to win national office have done so on a “nicer than the other guy” character platform that has created the modern entanglement that we consider a Compassionate Conservative. Ronald Reagan was folksy, a silver-screen cowboy with a sharp wit; George H. W. Bush, even in his first run, appeared kindly and competent; George W. Bush ran on the written-about “would you have a beer with him?” platform of good times in bygone days.

Would you have a beer with Chris Christie?

For much of the middle of the country — and for their majorities that bleed and vote red every year — the answer seems like an obvious no. Christie has a resume that reads like the greatest hits of the Midwestern inferiority complex soundtrack. Governor of a tiny East Coast state? Check. Accent like something off of television? Check. Blunt? Yup. Well-versed in urban politics? Uh-uh. Outsized personality from a teeny-tiny spec on the map? And on and on.

Of course there’s going to be work done to blunt these effects. Christie’s new chairmanship of the Republican Governor’s Association will help. He may not be a friendly face, but he can be a familiar one in many of the on-the-border reddish rust-belt states. Maybe his

Look, Mitt Romney collected the usual run of red states because that’s what red states do. However, I think it goes beyond the evidence to say that Romney earned their enthusiastic support. Throwing an East Coast governor at the middle states again is going to cause some dissent in the ranks — maybe enough to get a noisy Rand Paul candidacy noticed at the Iowa State Fair.

So far, it’s hard to picture Christie in comfortable campaign mode in the warm western states. The first time he puts on a pair of cowboy boots or gets snuck into a sweaty high school gym and propped up in front of carefully selected folks in overalls, he’s going to look every bit like the Garden State candidate.

I say this knowing full well that the Democrats’ best chance candidate has exactly the same problems — but no one expects Hillary to win Kansas.

Photo Credit: Beer by HeadCRasher on Flickr via CC By-NC-SA)

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No knead green olive baguettes

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This weekend I discovered that you can grind your own whole wheat flour at our grocery store. Combine that with last weekend’s discovery off the tastiness of these vegan no-knead baguettes and you can imagine how strangely yeasty and righteous my kitchen is this morning.

I’ve been reading the newest Michael Pollan book, Cooked, and the newest Mark Bittman book, Vegan before 6, and I just got the newest Martha Stewart cookbook (Martha’s American Food) for mother’s day, so it’s shaping up to be a fascinating food summer around here.

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Another site change. Sorry, folks

OK, last move ever, I hope. Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeders and whatnots: This entire show has moved to just plain old Kepkanation.com. Same WordPress taste, fewer WordPress restrictions. Not that I really found WordPress that restrictive, but — it was time to own this place. The American Dream: Web site ownership.

I’ll be updating the links and all of that very shortly, so eventually, it’s going to look absolutely identical to here. Everything posted there still transfers to OpenSalon, too, so — there are just so many ways to read me.

There will be no new content here after this message. And eventually, I’ll erase it all together. All old posts have been imported to the new blog.

Huzzah.

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