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Freedom Isn’t Free

Thank you veterans.

Vehicular Narcissism

Rage Angry Explosion - Free image on Pixabay

Inflated sense of their own importance.

Lack of empathy.

Sense of entitlement.

Expect special treatment.

Believe they are superior.

Problems regulating stress.

Expect unquestioning compliance with their desires.

The rules don’t apply to them.

Their time is more important.

They must be first. They absolutely, positively MUST be first, regardless of the inconveniences or risks they create for others.

Most of us are familiar with these common traits of narcissists. We all know someone who has these issues– an ex-boyfriend, a coworker, a relative. We talk about narcissists easily, highlighting individuals in our own experience and bantering about how horrible they are to deal with.

But what is it called when the large part of a population starts to behave this way? And these many thousands of people carelessly careen around in one- or two- or five-ton weapons on wheels? They must be first. Laws don’t apply to them. They are not concerned with the safety or well-being of others.

I’ve previously used the term vehicular narcissism to describe the way many people in the Seattle area drive. While the term itself may imply narcissism on the part of the vehicles, it’s those who operate the vehicles whose prefrontal cortexes seem to go dark when they get behind the wheel.

In older posts I’ve made lists of the most prevalent Seattle driving behaviors. Some of the people were doing this some of the time. But since the age of COVID hit in early 2020 and police presence seemed to take a few steps back, an insidious mass illness has flooded our roadways like toxic sludge.

At first traffic was light but commutes were punctuated by too cool for school types blowing by at 90 or more in the toll or HOV lanes. Motorcyclists seemed to think we were in a Mad Max movie. People started to roll through stop signs and stop lights. Ten over was a common speed. Gradually traffic volumes returned to normal and my hope was that this behavior would calm down.

But it’s gotten so much WORSE. It seems impossible to leave home without encountering multiple angst-filled, entitled motorists who scream at and road rage others– often for obeying traffic laws!

Have you encountered any of the following behaviors lately?

  • You’re honked at for coming to a complete stop
  • You’re screamed at for leaving a safe following distance
  • You’re road raged for doing the speed limit
  • You have to slam on the brakes because someone from an adjoining street ignored a traffic signal
  • You see a car fly past a pedestrian already in the crosswalk, often people with dogs and children

Yes, these behaviors are routine nowadays. Don’t tell me “welcome to the new normal” because this shouldn’t be normal. People are injured, disabled, and killed by vehicular narcissism, aka drivers who need to better self-regulate.

One of the most amazing parts about this phenomenon is that if you honk or yell or reflexively throw up your hands, the bad drivers will flip you the bird or scream or aggressively jerk their vehicle towards you in some juvenile display of supposed dominance. There is no remorse.

They are most important.

They should be first.

Their time is more important than yours.

There are various takes on what kind of drivers are the worst. The Seattle area does have a lot of high performance vehicles on the roads, especially expensive SUVs. Two weeks ago I saw a Land Rover accessorized to the point of ridiculousness. It looked like something the last man on earth would make if he were going on a cross country zombie-killing trip and didn’t care what any last woman on earth might think. It had a noticeable sign on the back that said, “Enjoy your Jeep, peasants.”

I’ve heard “Teslas are the new BMWs.” Teslas are a trendy new item that accelerate quickly. This is one of the most common types of cars I see blasting down the road as if speed limits are merely a suggestion for the commoners. In the ’80s and ’90s, we had an influx of BMWs that were often blamed on those who escaped LA. Now these silent but deadly electric cars fly over our roads with their kin, joining the hoardes of other wheeled terrors that continually scoff at traffic laws.

A common topic of discussion when complaining about motor vehicle operator behavior is Big Truck Drivers. These are the jacked up full-sized pickups often sporting an illegal lack of mud flaps and wide wheel base. They like to show everyone how awesome the sound of their engine is and how much smoke they can belch as they floor it to pass the unworthy peons who obstruct their need to go 85.

Just tonight I was road raged by one of these. Angry that I was going slightly over the speed limit and not 120, he kept gunning it to ride up on my bumper, flash his lights, and bellow The Indignant Roar of the Entitled Big Truck Driver. He swerved around me in a turn lane and then cut me off. Thanks to his smooth handling skills and mature adult behavior, he was able to get that much closer to the vehicle in front of me. Then he made it to the next traffic signal before I did, where he was subsequently caught in the same five mile per hour traffic jam as the rest of us.

But these behaviors can come from any type of vehicle, like the mini van that backed into me in a parking lot and then told his insurance company I backed into him. Or the sneering woman who refused to let me merge onto the freeway and ran me onto the shoulder at 60. Then there was the SUV driver with a two-handed death grip on a giant sub sandwich who forced me off an arterial recently. The blank look in her eyes told me it probably didn’t register that she could have killed someone because SANDWICH. On it goes. All the time.

Seattle, we need to collectively get a grip. It’s gotten so much worse the past couple of years. Civilized behavior on the roads will continue to disintegrate unless we all ask take an inventory of our own behavior. Let’s take a check-up.

1. Are you STOPPING at stop signs and traffic signals?

This means, as my driver’s ed teacher would say, you actually stop and feel your own body’s counter motion when you do. Your wheels actually stop moving.

This does not include tapping the brakes then rolling through. This does not include looking before you roll through. This does not include blowing the sign or signal without even slowing, or driving through a red because you don’t see anyone coming the other way.

Stop means STOP. Stopping allows your brain a moment to reset and adequately scan for pedestrians and other vehicles in both directions.

2. Are you driving a reasonable speed?

Every day I see people driving 55 in a 35, 35 when the 20 mph school zone light is flashing, ludicrous speeds on the freeways.

Consider how much less able you are to stop for hazards or other living beings when your speed is increased. The news always touts that factoid in snow storms, but it’s true all of the time.

One ironic thing I’ve noticed is that most of the time, when someone is tailgating me in a residential neighborhood or near a school, they turn off in that neighborhood or at the school. Yet I’ll bet they complain about people driving too fast through their neighborhood.

It is also dangerous to drive at low speeds on the freeway, and it’s actually illegal to do that in the passing (left) lane. Keep to the right, maintain freeway speed, and stop blocking travel lanes.

3. Are you yielding to pedestrians?

Pedestrians have been getting missed a lot as drivers blow through signs and signals. Just tonight I saw a poor guy with a Golden Retriever waiting patiently at a crosswalk. He was highly visible but cars from three different directions decided to go through the intersection without waiting for him to cross. When he did cross, other vehicles impatiently started to cross before he was out of the crosswalk.

It is the law that you leave a lane’s width for those pedestrians. Waiting a few extra seconds won’t hurt you.

4. Are you following too closely?

A majority of drivers follow too closely. You should be able to see the rear wheels of the vehicle in front of you at all times. At freeway speeds, you should be able to count a “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand” between you and the vehicle you’re following.

Crashes happen all day every day because people choose to follow too closely. Freeways back up for miles because people can’t stay off of each others’ tails. This is so very avoidable but seldom done.

5. Are you racing between traffic signals, aka stoplights?

This is another bizarre trend in this area. People gun it to get ahead of others in traffic only to make it to the next red traffic signal before them.

It’s been proven that this antsy, reckless technique doesn’t really save you time. It does make you look like a jerk. Calm down, drive something resembling the speed limit, and we’ll all get there.

6. Are you a Frogger driver?

A coworker said the other day, “People drive like they’re in a video game!” This is so very true. Drivers weave in and out of lanes to get ahead of others. If one lane is going the speed limit, they’ll veer into the other to get ahead. They ping pong back and forth, usually without a turn signal. It’s critically important to them that they be first in line, and chances are no one in their car is in labor on the way to the hospital.

7. Are you using your turn signal?

Yes, for real. Signaling before turns, merges, or lane changes seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

IT’S THE LAW. USE YOUR SIGNAL. To do otherwise is pure laziness.

8. Are you braking to change lanes or because you see a freeway exit?

This ridiculous but very normal practice has a butterfly effect on our highways in particular. Drivers brake or slow down considerably to make lane changes. This can be very dangerous in wet weather. Maintain your speed, use your signal, look for an opening. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to use your brakes at all.

If you don’t know what I’m saying about freeway exits, watch and it will become obvious. People in the right lane inexplicably slow at exits, often following the fog line as if they are going to exit, then swerving back onto the freeway while doing 40 or 50.

9. Are you paying attention to your surroundings?

People in our area seem to have poor situational awareness. Mothers push their children in strollers with ear buds in or while on the phone, oblivious to threats around them. People reach right in front of you at the grocery store as if they were never taught the words “excuse me.” People drive as if completely oblivious to any signage or other lives.

What was the name of the last house address or cross street you passed? What was the last mile marker on the freeway? Do you know if you’re traveling east or west? Could you describe what the last jogger you saw was wearing?

Not long ago I was near an intersection where the power was out. While I don’t advise that others do this, I stood on the sidewalk and motioned at people to slow down.

As usual, many people didn’t notice me at all. Most eyes were fixed straight ahead. Some heads were bouncing around as they talked to others. These folks blew right through this dark intersection at the speed limit, or in some cases, far above it.

State law says to treat dark intersections as a four-way stop. But how many even notice that it’s dark? And how many people do you see stop or kind of stop, then follow other cars through the intersection without waiting their turn?

10. Are you taking out your rage on others who have nothing to do with it?

It is unfortunately normal to be road raged and threatened for being a careful driver. Careful does not mean stopping two car lengths from an intersection or driving 15 under. Careful means that you are driving something resembling the speed limit and you’re actively aware of your surroundings.

I came to a complete stop at a stop sign next to a school this summer. The guy behind me completely lost his crap. He started squirreling around in his big truck and screaming like an overgrown baby, then slowed down to yell threats as I signaled and made a sharp turn further up.

Because of behavior like this, many of us don’t want to be “the one who actually stops at the stop sign” or “the freak who goes the speed limit.”

Try going the posted 25 mph speed limit on East Marginal Way in Seattle. You will be mercilessly tailgated, then aggressively swerved around for daring to inconvenience others by obeying the law. They can’t just tailgate and change lanes. To prove whatever their point is, they have to ride your bumper, then make themselves known by scraping past you and swiftly cutting in front of you. It’s a rush, a power trip.

So we conform. We’re sheep. We become the thing we hate, making excuses to ourselves as to why we’re the exception to the rule.

Why our time is more important.

Why we’re entitled to live outside the lines.

Like middle schoolers who don’t want to be uncool, we do what the bullies do and speed and swerve and scream and swear.

11. Do you have super powers?

Comedian Dave Barry has pointed out that we all think we’re above average drivers.

Our collective driving habits seem to reveal that we do, in fact, think we’re above average drivers. We think, “I can glide through this light, I’ll see if there are pedestrians there.” Or, “I know how to handle a car like this. None of these other morons know how to drive.”

We tell ourselves lies to justify our reckless endangerment of others’ lives. Who cares that there might be a baby or a pet we can’t see in that other vehicle. Who cares that we might kill someone’s brother or daughter or grandmother as we blast from Point A to Point B with our eyes fixed straight ahead. It’s not our brother or daughter or grandmother. Our insurance will cover it.

Besides taking stock of our own behaviors and determining if we too have turned zombie and conformed to the sociopathic driving practices of the COVID era, I have one other piece of advice.

CALL THE POLICE.

Report this stuff. Don’t stand for it. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t allow it to become normal.

911 is available from any phone any time. Even if they can’t catch the aggressive driver, if you give them that license plate, it’s in the record now.

Bullies win if you let them win. Bullying becomes normal if you participate and/or look the other way.

We are all important.

It is important to practice empathy.

You are not entitled to endanger others’ safety and lives.

On the road you should not expect special treatment unless you’re an oversized load.

You are not superior to other human beings.

We all need to restrain from taking our stress out on those who have nothing to do with it.

Others don’t have to conform to your special demands.

The rules DO apply to you.

Everyone’s time is important.

And unless you’re in labor or bleeding to death, you don’t NEED to be first.

Just say no to vehicular narcissism.


I become the incarnation of what I express.

Selwyn Hughes

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Wow.

I just watched this video by Fabio D’Andrea and Mel B. It says everything without saying a word.

This is four minutes of truth that showcases the horrifying ebb and flow of an abusive relationship.

Abusive relationships don’t start this way. The abuser may sweep the victim off their feet, seeming like a long-awaited soul mate. They may be charming, be well-liked, seem vulnerable. They may be that “great guy” or the “perfect woman.” They may convince you they’re the only one who really understands.

They start to test you, start to push your boundaries. Drop by drop, before you have any idea what’s happening, they suck your sense of self away. You begin to lose control over small decisions. Your friends aren’t quite up to their standards, so you start spending more time with theirs. They want to know where you are and who you’re with. If you deny them anything, the guilt trips will fall like hail until they win.

Seeing that you have been conditioned not to stand up for yourself, you’re screamed at. Accused of cheating. Pushed down. Spat upon. Slapped across the face. Fearing more, and in many cases being at a size disadvantage, you don’t fight back. When it’s over, and the sullen silence finally breaks, they’re sorry. They buy you something. They make you dinner. And the cycle of violence begins all over as you think or they promise it will never happen again. Some never make it out of that cycle alive.

In this video, you see the seething sense of entitlement the man has. She is his property. She is his prize. He’s charming, attractive, masculine, and tender in public. He has the crowd’s approval. They appear to be a wealthy, successful, well-matched couple. In private he terrorizes her, surveils her, beats on her to show her she’s not worthy of a man like him. He takes her money out of her wallet. He demands she wear something sexier to their party.

The ending scene is eerily familiar to survivors of abuse. The aerial view, like at the beginning, shows how truly isolated she was. You might leave with nothing. You might not know where you’re going. You hope he doesn’t chase you down while you’re running. But you took that step. And you’ll take the next step, and the next step, and get farther and farther away from your former life.

The farther away you get, the more you’ll detoxify. You’ll realize some people you thought were friends were enabling the abuse because they didn’t want to deal with the reality of your situation. It will dawn on you how much you were brainwashed. You’ll wonder why you ever laughed at those crude jokes, why you compromised yourself in a losing effort to please someone who took pleasure in the misery of others. You’ll be surprised to find yourself again.

If you are in a relationship like this, please know that nothing you do will ever be good enough for the person who is hurting you. They are a bottomless pit that no amount of your love can fill. You can’t fix them. It is not God’s will that you learn obedience, humility, or how to be a better spouse through their violence. God wants you to be healthy, unhurt, strong. You need an escape plan so that you, and possibly your children and pets, can exit the relationship safely. Talk to an expert, call a hotline when it’s safe to do so.

In the United States, we have The Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can talk, text, or chat from the website.

There’s also a tool that can help you Document the Abuse.

No, you don’t deserve this. You never did. You might be a man. You might be a woman. You might be gay, straight, asexual, rich, poor, introverted, extroverted, unemployed, a CEO. This affects human beings from all walks. All.

And it must stop.

You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.

Alex Elle

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Looking to the Sky

The skies this time of year amaze me. When going about everyday tasks, I’ll turn around and say, “wow!” Somehow the blue seems bluer and the white seems whiter, and colors we don’t see at other times of the year dance furiously as the sun rises and sets.

Squirrel!

This was just a few hours ago. I got out of my car, saw this, and went back to grab my camera. Just last night I was listening to a lecture which mentioned God guiding the Israelites in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

It amazes me how many others don’t ever look up or pause for a moment to enjoy spectacles like this. We just ping-pong from one place to another and rarely lift our eyes. Humanity could benefit from lying on the grass and watching the clouds go by.

It occurred to me that this started to look like an animal…

Is it a reindeer tossing snow with its antlers? We did get a little slushy snow in Seattle this morning. Or…

Is it an elephant? Now it looks like an elephant spraying something with its trunk.

The light coming from behind the tall cloud was blinding. You can see how abysmally dark that tall cloud had become, and somewhere behind it the sun was fighting back, all 27 million degrees in its core fueling the furious blaze.

כא  וַיהוָה הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן, לַנְחֹתָם הַדֶּרֶךְ, וְלַיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ, לְהָאִיר

לָהֶם–לָלֶכֶת, יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה.

כב  לֹא-יָמִישׁ עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן, יוֹמָם, וְעַמּוּד הָאֵשׁ, לָיְלָה–לִפְנֵי, הָעָם.

21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night:

22 the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.

Exodus 13:21-22

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

2021 A.D.

Oh, for more time to blog. 2020 was, in the words of a 9 year-old quoted in the media, like looking both ways before you cross the road and getting hit by a submarine. There were many blessings; for those I am grateful. I also feel like 2020 added on an extra 10 years.

But it’s 2021 now! God is in control and I believe we will see mighty miracles, miracles we’ve waited a lifetime for. To those who pray, keep praying. Even if it seems like your prayers are having no effect, each one is a shock wave sent into the spiritual realm. Deliverance and healing are coming. Soon.

People are still so angry about 2020 that I feel compelled to post a few photos expressing gratitude. Above is one of the murder of crows who waits for me at certain times of day. They know I carry treats.

If you haven’t seen the NOVA special Bird Brain, it’s worth 53 minutes of your time. Corvids are astoundingly smart. They continually crack me up with their politics and personalities.

Okay, so because I couldn’t go grab the tripod before Jupiter and Saturn went beyond the horizon, this (hilariously) is the best photo I got of the Great Conjunction. Here in the Seattle area we experienced the Solstice Storm on the day Jupiter and Saturn were closest– sun, then wind, then torrential rain and flooding, then snow (!). So we didn’t get to see the main event except online. We had to go out and look the next day.

I was very blessed to actually witness these two monster planets so close together before Saturn was obscured by a band of clouds a few minutes later. In this shot, they are aligned with the towers on Queen Anne.

At the same time, Mars could clearly be seen to the left of the moon.

This time of year, I am thrilled to see sunrises like this. An ordinary morning can suddenly light up in a multitude of colors.

Christmas Eve, I was treated to a bonfire under the only clear skies that week. I ran by the store on my way there, and when the cashier asked what I was doing, she said, “I’m going to a bonfire too!” This year we had to get creative with our tiny gatherings, and I hope this becomes an annual tradition. There is something primeval about sitting around a campfire telling old stories and sharing future plans. For thousands of years our ancestors did the same.

The moon was out that night too, gazing down over a horizon of conifers.

So happy new year all! I hope to find more time and energy to post here. There is much value in service yet we can neglect ourselves and our personal interests when our jobs, paid and unpaid, take up the majority of what we have to offer.

In 2021, I want people to feel empowered to be themselves, to know why they’re here, to break free from whatever is holding them back. The world is changing and it’s time for all of us to fully become what our Creator intends for us to be.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again.

Psalm 71:20

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

The Eyes of the Forest

Ambling along this damp morning, I was stunned to see two beautiful spiderwebs quivering between their anchor trees. This one looked like an extravagant theater curtain slowly being unfurled.

This arachnid architect is sure to catch breakfast, lunch, and dinner in its net. The water clinging to its many strands made this look like a glistening chandelier. But linger longer. The more you stare, the further in you go, its geometry pulling you to the center of the web and beyond.

This second web was above the first and to the left. Looking at it, I felt like I was being looked back at. Yet no one else was around save a distant Steller’s Jay and some Dark-Eyed Juncos.

Rotating the next photo, I realized that, yes, not only was I watching the forest, but the forest was watching me as well.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Luna Y Marte

Here in the Northwest, we don’t yet know if our intermittent clouds will allow us to see Mars’ closest approach to our planet for the next 15 years. This occurs before sunrise on October 6th, 2020. Mars has been blazing in the night sky and will continue to do so for weeks, but Tuesday is when the red planet and our home marble meet to shake hands.

It is difficult to find clear patches of night sky without light pollution so I have learned to embrace the trees. If you’re not near trees, you’re probably near a building or city.

There was nothing else shining near the moon and Mars at this time on this night, making this all the more dramatic. Since the weather may or may not cooperate Tuesday, I figured I’d snap some photos in the absence of clouds.

This last photo deserved some FX. Mars was far bigger and brighter than it appears here. Tuesday it will be a mere 38.6 million miles away. Be sure to look up on October 13th, 2020 as well, when Mars is at opposition to the sun.

The planet Mars — crimson and bright, filling our telescopes with vague intimations of almost-familiar landforms– has long formed a celestial tabula rasa on which we have inscribed our planeto-logical theories, utopian fantasies, and fears of alien invasion or ecological ruin.

David Grinspoon

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Smoke On The Water

Driving home from a friend’s house late the weekend before, I had to stop to get photos of a toasted cheddar moon and blazing red telluric Mars just above it. Little did I know that, courtesy of the fires raging in Washington, Oregon, and California, we soon wouldn’t be able to see the sky for a week or more.

The smoke began to funnel northward through the I5 corridor late in the week. At first it looked like fog. Then, on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, we woke up on an alien planet. It looked like Mars outside– yellow, hazy, dark, and foreboding.

This is the Edmonds ferry dock at Brackett’s Landing. The whole world looked like pea soup. You could barely see the ferry that had just left.

The ferry loomed like a ghost ship and was then sucked into a void. Normally you see an opposite shore. Today, there was nothing, just the edge of the world.

I zoomed in as the ferry plowed westward, but at best it seemed like an apparition in a sandstorm.

These photos have not been edited at all. This is how the beach actually looked that Saturday. You can see scuba divers coming in. I found it odd that people were still out diving, but does hazardous air quality affect visibility in the water enough for them to care?

Even the plants’ colors seemed off. Everything was saturated in this weird, otherworldly glow, like we had survived some nuclear horror and were slowly crawling out of our shelters afterwards.

As I snapped the photo of the famous orca, I mused how it appeared to be swimming in pollution. Then it hit me– how similar this is to the disgusting pollution our resident orcas live in. This is what we do to their world. This is a constant for them. Because we so callously pollute the water, each local orca could be considered a floating superfund site.

We used to rejoice when their babies were born. Now we just pray they survive the lack of traditional food sources and the industrial waste. They often don’t, and humanity goes on complaining about lack of entertainment during COVID, or rioting, or obsessing over the latest cosmetics, ignoring their cries.

I have stood here many times, but I’d never seen it look so foreign.

All day, no matter where I went in two counties, I noted an absence of birds. Far fewer birds than normal braved the rancid, tar-filled air. This crow and his seagull buddy foraged along the beach in tandem with few others in sight.

Yep. It was definitely Smoke Time.

Arriving at the north end of Lake Washington, this panorama seemed straight out of a sci fi movie. We were supposed to have temperatures nearing 80 degrees with near full sun, but last time I’d checked the temperature it was 58.

Walking out on the dock felt like walking out to the edge of a flat earth. You usually see land on all sides. Seattle, however, had disappeared. The middle of this scene had simply vanished. There was smoke, and then there was nothing.

Gazing down into the lake’s milfoil mass, I imagined one of those menacing merpeople from Harry Potter reaching up and grabbing me. No thanks.

These logs, although fixed, appeared to be swimming away from the yawing nothingness in the middle of the lake.

A gaggle of geese bobbed around like nothing was happening, the lighting exactly like the filters used to portray Mexico City in the movies. Ever notice that, that Mexico City always shows up in hazy brown or sepia tones on the big screen?

These old pilings looked like a pathway into another place or time.

Zooming in, no birds roosted here today. None flew through the air either. Aside from traffic noise, there was an eerie stillness.

One rebel Canada goose floated leisurely through the soup apart from the others.

As I was chatting with a local, we looked up and said, “what’s that?” It was the first time we’d seen the sun in a couple of days. It was a grapefruit-hued pinhole in the sky, barely piercing the blanketed glop of destruction.

The sun’s reflection in the water was just as bizarre.

At times there was a blush or rose color playing upon the undulating mocha of the lake.

While forecasters had originally said the smoke would start moving out earlier this week, that didn’t happen. The Seattle area was enveloped in a dense yellow fog again this morning… except it wasn’t fog. By afternoon we saw a bit of sunlight, prompting me to go to Juanita Beach in Kirkland to see what I could see.

Sure enough, there was the sun, sparkling down upon the latte-like lake. Yet it seemed to be a sun from John Carter, Pelelandra, or Tatooine.

The ducks were happy enough. But there were still no birds in the air.

It seemed like dusk, not afternoon.

Beyond the boardwalk there was just a fisherman and faux fog. No Seattle. No 520 bridge. Just empty space, because the west is on fire and we continue to pray for rain when there otherwise would have been summer through the end of September.

Smoke veils the air like souls in drifting suspension, declining the war’s insistence everyone move on.

Jayne Anne Phillips

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Part 6: Church Security

How does your church respond to domestic violence– and are they prepared for when it affects the congregation and church property?

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

In February we began a series of articles regarding What The Church Can Do. In Part 1, we defined domestic violence. Part 2 advised churches to start by believing when they learn of abuse. Part 3 contained pointers on communicating with victims, and Part 4 discussed how churches can network with advocates and authorities so they are able to respond to domestic violence efficiently. In Part 5, we touched on training your staff and volunteers plus having a list of resources available that you can safely give to victims.

That’s where most advice to churches stops when it comes to this scourge that affects a significant part of your congregation. We want churches to understand what domestic violence is and who to go to, but it’s still commonly treated like a private matter between the victim, suspect, and maybe a church…

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Part 5 in the What the Church Can Do series has been published. Find out more about what your church can do to respond to domestic violence.

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

In Part 5 of our What the Church Can Do series we will tie together some concepts presented in previous articles to ensure that your church is ready to act when you hear of domestic violence. It is important to ensure that your staff is trained to respond and has appropriate resources at the ready. Without some basic training and preparedness, critical opportunities to help victims can be missed. Lives can be shattered and lost.

Many churches require their staff and volunteers to complete CPR and first aid training. Some mandate child protection training, some have their ushers and greeters meet certain standards before they can serve. But only a few invite a local domestic violence advocacy agency or law enforcement officials to speak at their meetings or training sessions, and even fewer do this regularly. Ironically, given that one in five American families…

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