KingMidget's Ramblings

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I remember a movie that came out a few years ago. It was about Helen of Troy and the Trojan war and all that stuff. In the climactic battle, thousands of troops stand on a beach as the invading army storms ashore. Those soldiers bracing for the assault stood their ground and were slaughtered.

Although it was a movie, I marveled at what it must take to train men to stand and fight in such situations. Me? I’d be running.

Whether it was that war or the many others that have been fought throughout human history, it’s pretty amazing. I think about the Civil War and how hundreds of thousands of soldiers would charge the other side under a fusillade of gun fire and cannon fire and keep going as the soldiers around them were hit and fell to the ground. World War I with its trench warfare and chemical warfare and days and weeks and months of stalemate across muddy, miserable battlefields. The patrols in the Vietnam countryside. IEDs in Iraq. It’s a mystery to me how soldiers can be trained to do this.

And so it goes also with first responders. The men and women who rush into our nation’s disasters without concern for their own safety.

Camp Fire Firefighter

I marvel at how they can do it. These people truly are heroes.

The police officers, firefighters, and health care professionals who lost their homes in Paradise but who are still working to help others. The first responders who think nothing of any of this and risk their own lives to save people and stop the fires and do all of the things they do. They are heroes, just as our soldiers are.

When our neighborhoods are threatened, when our communities are at risk, when entire towns, cities, states, and more are threatened by fire, hurricanes, floods, and more, first responders do what many of us cannot. They stand their ground, they rush in, they … they are heroes.

I made a donation today to the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. My son volunteered there on Wednesday. They are caring for 800 animals that had to be abandoned by their owners.

Next up is a donation to an organization that is helping the disabled who have been impacted by the Camp Fire.

After that, there is a fundraising effort set up to help Chico State students who have been impacted by the Camp Fire.

And finally, I hope to find an organization that is set up specifically to help the first responders in the Paradise area who rushed in and are still working hard to protect their community while losing everything they had. Our heroes need our help.

And then maybe I’ll be done.

But what about you? Do One Thing. Find the reason you want to help, the special group or purpose that speaks to you and make a donation. I guarantee that where a town of almost 27,000 was wiped out there are people in every demographic, every type, every identity, every everything that needs your help.

So …

Do One Thing.


Do One Thing

It’s been a week since the Camp Fire exploded.

  • In 24 hours, the fire went from 0 to 80,000 acres burned.
  • In that acreage was the town of Paradise, a community of almost 27,000 people scattered in the foothills east of Chico, and about 90 miles north of Sacramento.
  • The fire has now burned over 135,000 acres and destroyed more than 10,000 structures, including more than 8,000 homes.
  • In its first few hours it leveled Paradise.
  • Estimates are that 80-90% of the town was destroyed by the Camp Fire.
  • The town’s mayor lost his home.
  • All city council members lost their homes.
  • Many of the police, firefighters and health care professionals who are dealing with the disaster also lost their homes.
  • The fire destroyed five out of nine public schools in the community and the Feather River Hospital.
  • Many of the people who live in Paradise are not wealthy. In reading about the devastation over the last week, I get the sense that it is a place where people go to retire. Almost every published story that has talked about the destruction seems to focus on another mobile home park. It seems as though Paradise had an abundance of them – which suggests that Paradise is, again, not the wealthiest of communities. So, people who already didn’t have much have now lost everything they have.
  • Approximately 2,000 of the evacuated have reportedly been left with no other option but to live in tent “cities” that have popped up in various places in the college town of Chico.
  • One such tent city is in a Walmart parking lot.
  • The people in these locations literally have nothing of their own.
  • I listen to a local sports talk radio show and have followed the host on Twitter. His radio name is Carmichael Dave. He began to share information about one such individual.
  • The man’s name is Dan. He is 6’8” tall and he had no pants because he escaped with nothing and people don’t tend to donate pants for somebody as tall as he is. He is living in a tent in that parking lot. The first night, all he had was the tent (I think) and he was cold.
  • We’re getting down to the 45 degree range at night this time of year.
  • He eventually got a sleeping bag and a few other things.
  • Carmichael Dave announced on his radio show that his truck was in the radio station’s parking lot and people could stop and throw supplies in the back and he would take them up to Chico. They did. His truck was full.
  • Carmichael Dave is almost as tall as  Dan. He made sure Dan got some pants when he drove up to Chico.
  • Since then Carmichael Dave’s truck has turned into a caravan. Members of the Sacramento community have joined in.
  • Somewhere along the way, a hashtag has gone viral. #DoOneThing. And it’s simple, do one thing to help the victims of this catastrophe.
  • Or the Woolsey Fire or any of the other natural disasters that seem to be happening more and more frequently.

Camp Fire Destruction

Do One Thing to help the people who have lost everything.

I simply cannot imagine how a town of almost 27,000 can just be wiped off the face of the earth. I cannot imagine how the survivors will rebuild and go on. I can’t imagine the pain and fright of those thousands as they fled the flames. Many of them took videos with their phones as they escaped. Driving down two lane roads with flames on both sides as they cried and prayed and could only hope they made it through. Those videos are heartwrenching and terrifying.

So far the death toll is in the 50s, but there remain many who are missing. Depending on the source, it is somewhere between 100 and 200 who remain missing. Given the swiftness of the fire, it’s amazing the number is as small as it is. (Edited to add: the latest estimate I saw is that the confirmed dead now exceed 60 and the number of missing now exceed 600.)

But still …

Those who survived have their lives and nothing else. The town of Paradise is gone. Their homes are gone. Everything.

So …

Do One Thing.

Here’s a list of some resources where you can make a donation.

Here is a list of resources not just for the Camp Fire but also for the Woolsey Fire and for others in Southern California harmed by the fires down there.

Or just google “Help for the California Fire victims” and find your own way to help.

Do One Thing. It’s simple. Will you do one thing?


A Picture

Somewhere around eight years ago, we took the boys back east. We landed in Chicago, visited family, then drove through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. There we visited the Queen’s childhood town (well, one of them anyway, she moved quite a bit) in Ilion, and then old friends of hers in Northville.

From there we hit New York City (a place I’d never been to and don’t need to go back to), Gettysburg (a place I had been to when I was seven and a place I need to go back to), before spending the final few days of our vacation in Washington, D.C.

There, we did the things tourists do. The highlight for me will always be seeing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Such a moving, emotional ceremony.

But one afternoon, we walked among the various monuments and I took this picture. It will always be at the top of the list for my favorite photos I managed to take.

vietnam war memorial (2)

A Song For Today

So, I’m wallowing in Queen music this week. I re-discovered the beauty that is their A Day At the Races album. It’s the one that has Somebody to Love, Millionaire Waltz, Good Old-Fashioned Loverboy, and Teo Torriatte. And then there’s this one. There’s a lyric in this song about a “shiver deep inside.”

This is one of those songs that makes me shiver. So beautiful and the final lines. This song truly makes me shiver deep inside.

Say No To Hillary

I seriously can’t believe I’m writing on this topic again.

This morning I saw a brief excerpt of Mark Penn on some talking head show that aired this weekend. For the uninitiated, Penn is a long time advisor to the Clintons. In the clip I saw, he was predicting that Hillary Clinton would run for President again, thereby setting up the inevitable rematch with Donald Trump. “And wouldn’t it be great,” was what he essentially ended his statement with. (That’s a paraphrase of his words, but he seemed positively giddy at the idea.)

No, actually, it wouldn’t be great.

I was a reluctant voter for Clinton in 1992, became an ardent supporter of his Presidency over the next eight years, and then became an anti-Clinton as 2001 dawned. As I have said,, rightly or wrongly, the Clintons … no, let me change that, Hillary Clinton is one of the most divisive figures in modern American politics. That phrase .. rightly or wrongly … is critical here. I don’t dispute that much of the criticism of her is misguided and just plain wrong. But, there is dealing with reality and there is living in a fantasy world. When it comes to politics and leading this country, I prefer the world of reality.

There is a portion of this country that will simply never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton. They won’t and it goes beyond that she’s a Democrat. It’s a visceral thing for a lot of people. Again … rightly or wrongly. I’m not here to judge the validity of those people’s feelings. It’s just a reality.

Hillary may be very well-suited to win an election in a blue state, but she is uniquely not capable of such a thing in a national election.

Yes, I know … she won a majority of the vote in 2016. But, if you throw out California, she didn’t. And it’s not the actual votes cast that matter in the American system. You have to win the right combination of states to win the electoral college. Hillary utterly failed at that effort, through either hubris or stupidity, she failed to campaign in a few states that were critical for the electoral math.

And that’s part of the problem with Hillary. She reeks of … arrogance? Of an unjustified sense of … it’s her time. As though if she just keeps grinding, finally the ultimate prize in American politics will be hers.

Her insistence and that of the people who keep enabling her that this is a good idea engenders a sense that it isn’t about America and what is best for this country, it is about her and only her.

So … I say this … Say No To Hillary. If she runs again, she will destroy the Democratic Party. It is time for her to move on and to allow the rest of us to see an election that doesn’t involve her or her husband. The Democratic Party has given her everything they can. It didn’t work.

Hillary Clinton … it’s time for you to leave the electoral stage. Put your never-ending, overwhelming personal ambitions to rest and … MOVE ON!

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