A Barn Razing

For 100 years, this barn looked over a field in Kent, Washington.

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It was a proud barn, a working barn, for much of its life. Before its retirement, it was home to two horses, lovingly referred to as “Mr. Ed” and “Mr. Red”, along with a crazy four-horned Jacob Sheep (“Jake”), a small goat named “Billy”, and an aggressive goat called “Beavis” (because “Butt-Head” seemed too rude.) The barn kept them warm, and sheltered them from storms.

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And then, one day, just like that, the farmer and his animals went away. The land was sold to the city with the stipulation that it remain an undeveloped public park, and the barn stood alone and abandoned for the next 9 years. But its neighbors still loved it, despite the meter-high mounds of pigeon poop that had accumulated inside over time.

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The city was not nearly as in love with the barn as its residents. They feared squatters and arsonists. They feared liability if anyone were to break in and get hurt. So they scheduled it for demolition.

As the clock wound down toward its demise, someone removed the upper barn door. For many months the barn looked as if it was cold, wounded and crying out. Save me. I don’t want to go.

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Winter barn with no door

Soon, some of the wood on the side was stolen, and graffiti artists moved in. It was an undignified end for such a grand structure. Some people have no respect, and no sense of history.

Barn graffiti

And then, on the thirteenth day of March, 2019, it happened. The barn was torn down, piece by piece. Here’s a time lapse of it.

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It was a sad day. It was strange to see how quickly it all ended after such a long-standing legacy. Things fall apart. The center does not hold.

The one bright light in all of this is that the wood and the rusty metal roof were salvaged and will be used to build yet another barn somewhere in Eastern Washington. So in a way, our beloved barn lives on. There will be animals for it to shelter once again.

Some day, years from now, people will walk their dogs across this field and not even realize what came before. But some of us will always see this as the place where a beautiful barn once proudly stood. And, oh, it will be missed.

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The Sun Will Still Rise When the World Ends

It baffles me that wanting to save the planet is even the slightest bit controversial. What are the down sides to it? It may take time and money, yes, but those are things we won’t have anyway, if we continue to destroy the environment.

It seems that the most primal motivator for humanity is, unfortunately, greed. The worst perpetrators of global destruction are those who are exploiting resources to get every single penny out of them while they still can. To hell with the future. They are only concerned with instant gratification. They think trees were put on this earth to provide the wood to build their three-car garages.

Perhaps those of us who are ringing environmental alarm bells are going about this all wrong. Selfish people, by definition, care only about themselves. They are incapable of the concept that we need to put the planet first. To get them to hop on this life-or-death bandwagon, we need to make the issue about them.

Here’s what these selfish people need to know. We don’t need to save the planet. The planet is, basically, a rock that’s hurtling through space. There’s not much that we can do that is going to mess with that rock. We can burn the entire world to the ground, blow everything up, kill every living creature and leave not one drop of drinkable water on the earth’s surface, and that rock will continue on its path around the sun. The sun will rise and set, and the earth will spin, with or without us.

What we need to save is ourselves.

For humans to survive, we have to maintain the environment in a state that is conducive to humans. It behooves us to keep it from getting much hotter. It’s a good idea to make sure we can grow the food we need to eat. We may also want to think about the fact that we need air to breathe and water to drink. And maintaining this system is rather complex. It means that we need bees to pollinate, and a diverse web of flora and fauna, or the whole project will fall like a house of cards, and that, dear readers, will be the end of us.

So if you can’t be bothered to care about the planet, think about saving yourself.

Environment conflict

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Stupid, Stupid Boy

So, it’s fairly certain that one of the biggest fires in Oregon at the moment was started by a 15-year-old boy playfully throwing a smoke bomb into a ravine while hiking in the woods. To hell with burn bans. The world is one big video game! Woo hoo! If we destroy everything, we just hit the reset button, right?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The vast majority of the crime and destruction in this world is perpetrated by boys between the ages of 15 and 24, regardless of race or religion. It’s like they take out their brains and set them on a dusty shelf in the back of their closets for a decade.

I know that’s a sweeping generalization. I’m sure there are plenty of good kids wandering around. But from a statistical standpoint, I wouldn’t bet the farm on any of them. When it comes to violence, theft, graffiti, traffic accidents, bar fights, rape, DUI, and general stupidity, the numbers bear me out.

I hope there are consequences for this kid. I hope he has to help fight this fire. I hope he has to walk through the devastated landscape afterwards and see what he’s done. Somehow, someone has to get through to him.

He won’t be in the stupid stage forever. How will he feel in his 30’s about what he did? This may sound strange, but I hope he regrets it quite a lot. Because that will show that he has developed some sort of a moral compass, as painful as it will be for him. If, on the other hand, he laughs it off, is allowed to get over it, or becomes angry and bitter and stays stuck in his stupidity, then heaven help us all.

forest-fire

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Water Clarity

The other day I wrote Epiphanies of the Obvious, and today I had one. I was looking at an artist’s rendering of some sort of ocean-based dinosaur, and I noticed that the water was crystal clear. And then I thought, “Yes, I bet the water was crystal clear for the dinosaurs. We weren’t around to eff it up yet.”

Yeah, I know. That’s obvious. But I swear to you that it was the first time I had really thought of this on a grand, all encompassing scale. Pollution is us. It’s all because of us. Those islands of floating plastic in the middle of the Pacific weren’t caused by the lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my.

The PCBs and the Mercury and all the other nastiness in the food chain, that’s us. The deformed fish? Us. Oil spills? Us, us, us. No other creature on the planet is even 1/10th as destructive. And yet we think we’re superior.

And in that superiority, we’ve given ourselves a free pass to avoid taking any sort of responsibility for our actions. Many of us even try to push legislation to sidestep cleaning up after ourselves. Many others refuse to even see that there’s a problem.

That meteor that wiped out all the dinosaurs may have been the worst thing that could have happened to this planet. But I say that only because it paved the way for us and the selfish choices that we make. Shame on us.

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The Urge Toward Destruction

There was this paint bubble on the wall at work. I sat there for 8 hours, resisting the urge to pop and peel. But I wondered how long that bubble would remain intact. Sure enough, when I came back after a few days off, I discovered that one of my coworkers had gotten to it. Now this patch of white is peeking through the institutional green. That didn’t take long. I have no doubt that that patch will increase in size over time.

What is this impulse that humans have to destroy everything? Is it our way of marking our territory, like a dog peeing on a lamp post? Does our existence really need any more validation? You can already see our planetary destruction from outer space. I bet we could fill the Grand Canyon with the number of cigarette butts people leave lying about. It’s truly disgusting.

There is a crew in the City of Seattle that does nothing but remove graffiti. It’s a full time job. They have to come to my drawbridge quite often. People also like to put stickers everywhere, and deface signs.

And is there some reason we feel the need to carve our initials on trees? Thank goodness most of us don’t think we can carve our initials on other people as well, even though, as I see it, trees have every bit as much value.

What really gets to me is when historical things get defaced. I once saw some graffiti painted on a wall over an ancient pictograph, and it moved me to tears. Why do I not consider the pictograph to be destruction, too? Just as with modern murals, it was not placed there to destroy what had gone before. It had a higher purpose than simply to say, “Look what I can do, whether you like it or not!” It was an act of creation, not one of defiance, disrespect, youth and too much beer.

Why does respect have to be taught? This would be a much better world if it were instinctual. But since it does have to be taught, here’s an idea: let’s teach it.

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Ace, you’re a douchebag.

Our Thoughts on Dog Shaming

Let me start off by saying that I write this confession under duress. My dogs are standing over me, giving me the hairy eyeball. If they could cross their arms, they would, but at least they have managed to perfect their glares of disdain.

They see me visit the dog shaming website all the time, and watch me laugh at the various pictures of dogs being forced to pose with signs explaining what they’ve done, such as destroying things and peeing on stuff. They’ve long maintained that this dog shaming is passive aggressive on the part of humans, because dogs were put on this earth to destroy things and pee on stuff, so they shouldn’t have to be humiliated for acting true to type.

They also feel that this website perpetuates an unfair, unspoken rule: When it doubt, blame the dog. This gets dogs the world over accused of things that they very likely did not do. They are found guilty with no proof at all. Just because there’s shredded toilet paper throughout the house, blaming the dog with no further evidence would not hold up in a court of law (say my dogs). And yet the shaming continues, and I continue to laugh.

So the other day when I lost my $250 dental night guard and tore the house apart looking for it, I must confess I turned to my dogs and said, “Did you eat my night guard? I swear to God if I find parts of it lying around, I’m going to turn you into furry little toilet seat covers!”

Later that day when I found my night guard in its case in the bathroom, right where it should have been all along, I didn’t even apologize for threatening their lives. And this wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. I really do have a lot of nerve.

So in the spirit of turnabout being fair play, and in order to avoid having a little present left in my shoe, I submit this picture as exhibit A.

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Ping Pong and Paris

I was in my car when I first heard of the horrifying, senseless, heartbreaking series of events that occurred in Paris on Friday the 13th. I had to pull over to process the many thoughts that I was having. Concern for all my friends and family who live in the area competed with sadness that anyone should have to experience such tragedy. I also felt anger that there is still so much ignorance in this world.

But the most unpleasant thought of all probably won’t make sense to anyone but me. Ping pong balls and mousetraps.

If you’ve ever seen video footage of a ping pong ball being dropped into a room full of mousetraps with still more ping pong balls quietly poised on top of them, you know how quickly the scene becomes chaotic and unpredictable. The chain reaction is rapidly out of control.

This is the effect that terrorists count on. All they have to be is the first, destructive ping pong ball. Then they get to sit back and watch without expending any further energy of their own as all hell breaks loose.

A gunman opens fire in a Paris bar, and before you know it, a gentle and loving high school student who just happens to wear a hijab is getting beaten up in the school yard in some small town in Canada. People are slaughtered while enjoying a concert in France, and someone is pulled over by a cop in Oakland simply because he has dark hair and olive skin. One destructive group decides to make a murderous point, and hundreds of thousands of immigrants throughout the world, who are simply trying to improve their lives, are viewed with hatred and suspicion. These reactions divide us. Terrorists thrive on division.

Every time you react randomly to a very specific event, the terrorists win. Don’t hate all Muslims for what one group of very specific crazy people decided to do. Don’t hate all immigrants. Definitely do not hate everyone who is different from you. If you have to react to these awful events, make your reaction specific, not random. Focus on the actual individuals who perpetrated this crime. If we all point our energy toward them, we will be more like a spear that finds its well-deserved target, instead of a room full of ping pong balls that are bouncing willy nilly, accomplishing nothing but more destruction. The terrorists would fear that spear, as well they should.

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