HOT, HOTTER, HOTTEST – FICTION BY RICH PASCHALL

The Greenhouse, by Rich Paschall

It was another hot February day in the nation’s capital.  Many people had flooded the city’s cooling centers to get away from the unusual heat, as well as the “rolling black-outs.”  Even some of these air-conditioned locations would go without power for a few hours a day. It was unavoidable.  Just a few structures, as well as most government buildings, were exempt from the power outages.  There were a variety of factors straining the power supply in many regions of the country.  Heat seemed to be the main one.

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When the 21st Century was coming to a close, the President at that time had to admit the impact on the earth that was caused by human factors.  When elected, he continued to insist that climate change was a hoax, just as many Presidents had done before him.  The 45th President eliminated the Environmental Protection Agency  The 46th left the United Nations in order to stop hearing worldwide complaints about the nation’s lack of action.  The 47th President demanded that the space agency stop commenting on the climate and stop posting pictures of the earth that were taken from space.  Despite all of these actions, it became inevitable that the nation should face the truth.  Everyone was living in a greenhouse and the heat was on the rise.

The average temperature of the earth had risen ten degrees in the 100 years leading up to the overheated dawn of the 22nd Century. Some areas of the world had seen an even higher increase and were suffering greatly from it.  This caused a great migration away from the center of the earth and toward cooler climates.  This crowding of certain cities and towns lead to a crisis of jobs, housing, education and electrical power.  The final president of the century had no answers.  He had spent too many years denying the problem.  Now his best advice to the nation was to “Conserve and Optimize 2 preserve energy.”  The slogan resonated with no one.

Campaign 2100 brought a demand by the people for action on all the problems caused by the weather.  A rise in sea levels had flooded many coastal cities and one city on the Gulf was declared a complete loss.  Former President Tower had seen his beach front home disappear, which many thought was poetic justice.  Much of the southwest was completely unlivable due to heat.  Severe storms and tornadoes had destroyed much of the middle section of the country.  And while heat had dried up some areas, increased rainfall flooded others.

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A weary populace seemed to turn against traditional candidates while giving hope to independents and other parties.  The Green Party candidate, Arthur Klima, gathered the most interest in 2100.  The former chief scientist for the space agency had been fired by a previous administration for his comments on global warming.  His supporters counted on that very fact to propel him forward in the race for President.

Klima had little political experience and had never run for office.  Green Party officials convinced the scientist that the nation not only was ready for a drastic change, but needed a climate change expert in charge.  So off Arthur went on the long campaign that was ironically well-funded by billionaires hurt by the climate and entertainment luminaries sick of “politics as usual.”

Arthur started in the southeast to explain how the melting of the polar ice caps so far away brought flooding to them.  Then it was to the southwest where he stood in 110 degree temperatures to review how greenhouse gases radiated the heat of the sun back down to the earth, rather than escape the atmosphere.  In the middle of the country, he told the followers how heating the planet caused a rise in water vapor, which meant more clouds and more storms.  In the far north, Arthur was dressed in a short sleeve shirt and summer time shorts when he told the crowd they should all be wearing winter wear at that time of year.  The wildlife they loved, he explained to deathly quiet crowds, were surely going to die off due to loss of habitat.

Klima won Campaign 2100 by what many would consider a landslide.  The favored topics of the main party candidates were of little interest to those without power or water.  Now the people were going to rely on a scientist rather than a politician to bring them answers.  There was only one problem with that.  While Klima could define the problem for them, he did not know how to solve it at this late stage in the earth’s life.

At 30 days into his administration, Klima was preparing to address the nation with an action plan as he had promised throughout the campaign.  It was just a few hours before he was to go live from the Presidential office when Vice President Colton was reading the final draft.  She was a lifelong politician and she knew a smokescreen when she saw one.  She decided to tell Klima as much.

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“What is this?” she asked in their private meeting.  “You call for increased use of wind power and solar energy, with less reliance on fossil fuels.  Decreased emission from cars and factories!  These are minor improvements and will have minimal impact.  It will take years for this to mean anything.”

“Yes, I know,” Arthur said quietly.  “We should have been doing these things over 100 years ago.  The reports and studies we have reviewed  in the past month show we may not be able to save the planet after all.”

“Then what are you saying to the people with this speech about water vapor and nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane gases.  What are you offering with more solar panels in the southwest?”

“Hope,” Arthur replied.  “It is the only thing we can offer.”

 

See also:
Arid – Where There’s Not Enough Rain

SHARING MY WORLD AS FEBRUARY DEPARTS

Share Your World – February 20, 2017


When you cut something with scissors, do you move your jaw (as if you were about to chew)?

I don’t think so. I admit this upfront — I never thought about it.

Do you chew your pens and pencils?

I used to chew pencils, but I have given up pencils. I have given up pens (mostly) in favor of keyboards. So … I don’t seem to chew anything that isn’t food. But I did, when I was younger.

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History and movie dolls

History and movie dolls

Are you a collector of anything?  If so what?

Ah. Collections. I used to collect everything. Now … well … maybe a few things.

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I collect tee-shirts for books — the tours for new books. I have maybe a dozen of them for a couple of books I dearly love. I collect weird tee-shirts for NCIS and occasionally, stuff that just happens to have a movie quote on it that makes me laugh. Not just tee shirts. Actually sweat shirts too.

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I do not collect pottery . Or dolls. I still have many dolls remaining from when I did collect them. Not as many as I had, but plenty. I’m down from many hundreds to a few hundred. Now, though, we collect dog toys. There’s always something.

To keep the collecting thing in check, we:

  • Do not go to book stores
  • Do not go to video stores (even the used ones)
  • I never ever look on line at old dolls or ancient Chinese pottery.
  • Unfortunately, we do seem to gravitate to museum stores.

Oh, and widgets, gadgets, dongles, and doo-dads. All of them. Because you never know when you’ll need one of them, right? Of course I’m right. And gadget/camera bags. But not so many these days.

Some things, there’s no escaping.

What size is your bed? 

Queen size. We would have gotten a king, if only for the gigantic hugeness of it. But — the room is too small. We could have had the bed, but then we’d have had to put our clothing in another room … which, all things considered, we could have done. Who knew how our world would change?

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Still, I’m not the least bit unhappy with our bed. It’s the most comfortable bed in 12 universes and sometimes, just lying down for the night produces joyous moans of satisfaction.

share your world cee banner

ARID — WHERE THERE’S NOT ENOUGH RAIN

This post  is about arid. It turns out, this is something about which I know a little bit.

Arid isn’t a place. It isn’t a special piece of ground. It isn’t always flat or sandy. Arid means just one thing:  the annual amount of rain the area gets is minimal. Everything else is tangential. An area can be arid yet support significant amounts of wildlife including trees and animals. The Sahara was not always a dry wasteland — it was made that way by human farmers a very long ago time.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Aruba, for example, doesn’t have any aquifer. No “running water.” But it does get rain and it has always been part of the Island’s culture to catch all the rain and save it against the days when the rain does not fall. Now, I think, they have desalinization and I have had it for a long time.

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I spent nearly five years at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. One of the most important projects was trying to convince farmers in the northern part of Israel to not use chemical fertilizer. Almost all of Israel gets at least some rain (a few spots, like Eilat, do not), but it is an arid region. The amount of rain expected is typically less than the amount needed to wash away pesticides and fertilizers. To this end, our crew of experts in air, water, earth went out to convince (okay, beg) the farmers to please not use those fertilizers. We offered them alternatives. Insects that would kill the weevils and stuff they could add to the soil to make it more fertile.

They didn’t listen. Before the mid 1980s, the aquifer in Israel died.

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A dead aquifer does not revive. Once gone, it stays gone. After that time, Israel went along using solely the water in the Sea of Galilee for drinking. As the population increased, water use got increasingly dodgy. Finally, many years after they should have been built, desalinization plants arrived and now there is water. It’s a small country, so sending water from one place to another isn’t so difficult. Not like it would be here, in this big half of a continent. Their pipes don’t have to run from the Great Lakes to the center of the hottest part of the south.

Not like the United States.

The first time we were in Arizona, I remember hearing people saying no one needed to worry about the lack of water because “they” would send water down from the Great Lakes.

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How did that go? Anyone start those pipes yet? I was glad to see, when we were back last year that the state had done a lot to protect the land. The big cacti are protected and grow everywhere. Arizona is working hard to keep the water they have and use it effectively. A lot of the “fancy gardens” I remembered were gone. Home gardens grow sensible plants — mostly cactus. The air is better, too.

Someone listened and something good was done.

This year has been a good for water. Too good, with a lot of flooding. Still, there has been plenty of rain and the big lakes where water is held for drinking are full.

Until the next drought.

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The American southwest including California and Utah is arid. It isn’t arid because “nothing grows there.” Things will grow there if you give the land a little more water. But reality doesn’t change. You can’t keep sending in more and more people to an area with severely limited water resources. Arizona doesn’t even have an ocean from which to draw water via desalinization.

There is a limit to how many people the area can support and I’m pretty sure it has already been breached. This year, there is water. What about next year and the year after that?

ARID | THE DAILY POST

WHEN STARS WERE STARS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It’s Academy Awards weekend and the buzz is on about the contenders. Who’ll win, who should win, who’s been snubbed, who’ll be wearing what, etc ad nauseam. It used to be an exciting period for me as a life long movie lover. Not any more!

We haven’t seen any of the nominated films this year. I can only judge by word of mouth. I know “La La Land” is everyone’s favorite, with 14 nominations. It’s a hot ticket with Hollywood heavyweights because it pays tribute to the golden age of movies. We should go see it.

Yet, therein lies the rub.

I grew up watching movies from the golden age. Almost all the legends were live and working. I read fan magazines about John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and other iconic figures. Stuff about their home life and upcoming projects. Lux Radio Theater carried adaptations of film hits featuring the likes of Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd and Myrna Loy. Billboards featured Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Clark Gable.

New kids on the Hollywood block included Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman. Sid Caesar made fun of Brando’s method school mumbling on his “Show of Shows” skits. Grownups snickered at Brando, saying “his kind” would never replace greats like Ronald Coleman and Leslie Howard.

My parents refused to buy me the motorcycle jacket and cap Brando wore in “The Wild One”. Geez, they were so cool and I desperately wanted to look cool. I copied John Wayne’s laconic walk and measured speech pattern. It made me feel 6-inches taller.

Movie stars were truly larger than life in those days. You didn’t see them often. Guest appearances on radio and television were special. I recall watching one Oscar telecast. It might have been 1953. The black and white images sparkled with shots of stars in the audience. Everywhere the camera turned, there were famous faces. It was wonderful to see “old” stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Lillian Gish and Mae West. There were the veterans like Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Fredric March, to name a few.

I got a kick when they focused on the newer, more “hip” stars like  Newman, Dean, Brando, Poitier, James Garner, Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron.  My jeans stiffened when I saw closeups of Mamie Van Doren, Edie Williams and Rhonda Fleming. Lordy! Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas did a song and dance act that stole the show. The applause was long and deafening. The smiles from Kirk and Burt could’ve lit up a dozen cities. Bob Hope was funny as usual, joking about being snubbed by Oscar. It never occurred to me that someone other than Bob Hope could host the Academy Awards show.

Mom, my frequent movie date, smiled widely as she watched the stars. I think she was recalling her youth. I might’ve noticed a tinge of sadness but it was fleeting.

All those images are filed away in my sense memory this Oscar awards weekend. I don’t know many of the stars. George Clooney, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio are now veterans.

Dare I mention that so many of the “new” celebrities all look alike? My wife says it’s all about plastic surgery. Yet there are plenty of serious  stars. The Streeps, Washingtons, Berrys. The new old timers — Pacino and DeNiro. They’re no younger than we are. Some are older. They aren’t getting big roles, either.

So, rather than disparage the youngest group of stars, I shall simply admit time has left me in the dust.

How did this happen?

IF THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO SAY

This morning. I got up. Grabbed the door knob. It came off in my hand. It was just another one of those things.

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After the election, I spent November in shock. Literally. Shock. Waiting for someone to tell me this couldn’t possibly be true. When December came, I tried to ignore it. If I didn’t believe it, it couldn’t be true, right? I failed. Although almost half the people in this country do not believe in facts, I am not one of them. My not believing simply didn’t work. For me. This year. There are a lot more years to come and you never know. I may discover that simple denial will do the job. Anything is possible, isn’t it?

In January, I thought I was going to explode. I have a heart with a replaced valve and other stuff. I was sure I was going to expire. I didn’t die, so I wrote more. Everyone wrote more. When February came. I continued to write stuff, until the other day, I woke up and realized my brain had died.

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Completely.  Absolutely.  Dead. As a door nail, though why a door nail should be deader than, say a chair leg, I have no idea.

The weather turned delicious yesterday and we went out with cameras and took pictures. I came home, looked at Serendipity and realized I was very glad I take pictures. Until my brain wakes up, there are going to be a lot of pictures.

So here I am, telling everyone I don’t have anything to say. All I want is a lovely spring that doesn’t include several million caterpillars. Except I know about the caterpillars. They will be back and somehow, I will deal with them, though I am sure I don’t know how. But isn’t that what life is all about these days?

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We are living in a world that makes no sense. It’s full of things so horrible, I feel like I should cry while I laugh. So as if Scrotus isn’t bad enough, I’m going to have to deal with Scrotus and a zillion hideous, hairy caterpillars eating every last leaf on about a thousand oak trees.

Is there no justice in life?

EVERY WHICH WAY BY THE CANAL & RIVER

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – February 24, 2017


PICTURES BY  MARILYN & GARRY ARMSTRONG

It was a good day to take some path pictures. First time in a while that you could actually see the steps without the snow mostly blocking everything.

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These little steps lead up to the top of the passage. You can't see them well in the summer because of all the brush, but it was visible yesterday. The true sign of an old dam.

These little steps lead up to the top of the dam. They are no longer used. You can’t see them in the summer because of the brush, but it was visible yesterday. A true sign of an old dam.


AND FROM GARRY:

In case you aren't sure, follow the sign. There's a river there!

In case you aren’t sure, follow the sign. There’s a river there!

Everyone was out walking on such a nice day.

Everyone was out walking on such a nice day.

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YOU DON’T HAVE TO JOIN THEM

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It was the end of the movie. A man was undergoing a court-martial. It was unjust and Robert Mitchum, as his defense attorney, was having a difficult time securing justice. Just post World War II, there were a lot of highly placed and well-connected Army brass who needed the accused to be found guilty. Why? Because a guilty verdict would stop any further investigation of what really happened and who was truly involved.

If the story sounds familiar, it is. When important people, movers and shakers — no matter whether they are government, military, or major corporate players, “the truth” is, as often as not, one of the casualties of whatever is going down. Truth, honesty, justice, fairness … mere collateral damage in an endless war in which we are all pawns and the power is in the hands of the rich, powerful, and well-connected.

man-in-the-middle-the-winston-affair-poster-1964Justice is not done in this case, though the outcome could be worse, depending on how you choose to look at it. It’s a British production and there is a sense of frustration and futility that even after fighting and dying, regular people are still taking the hit for those in power.


Thus, at the end of movie, when it is pointed out to Mitchum that they didn’t win, he agrees.

——

But then he says: “Just because you can’t lick’em, doesn’t mean you have to join’em, either.”

——

Maybe, in the final analysis, that’s what it’s all about. Sometimes, we lose, but we don’t have to give up our sense of purpose, our honesty, or throw away the things in which we believe. We don’t have to join them.

My team, my beliefs, my principles took a major hit. But don’t think for a minute this means I’m about to passively join the mob of sycophants and “true believers.”

I do not have to join them.

Neither do you.