Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

The moving finger writes and then moves on: NM Floodplain Managers Association

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Fairly weird.  I was websearching for Mike Czosnek, a guy I used to do some Lost Adams Diggings searching with, and came across something that rocked me back on my heels. 

New Mexico Floodplain Managers Association http://www.nmfma.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=920799

An egg I laid, nurtured, hatched, and promptly forgot as soon as my career ended in 1999.

When I assumed the job of State Floodplain Manager for the State of New Mexico in 1992 the state had a law on the books to allow localities to adopt ordinances regulating building in designated floodplain areas, and for the residents of those to buy federally sponsored flood insurance to cover their damages when the creek did what it would inevitably do.

Someone had screwed up when the law was passed and left in language that could be construed [by me] requiring that the locally designated floodplain managers be trained and registered or licensed by the State Floodplain Manager or Administrator.  All that happened 15 years before my arrival, and had lain dormant and unnoticed.  Nobody in New Mexico had a clue what they’d agreed to, what they were supposed to be doing. 

The reason I was hired for the job was that FEMA was losing patience.  I was mandated by my grant to audit the local programs, report to FEMA what they weren’t doing according to their federal agreement, and hassle them to death until they did it.

Lousy, lousy, lousy job I had for a while travelling around the state being ignored and tolerated barely.  Then I happened to study the statute and came up with the idea.  Started hassling the hell out of local governments about not having registered or licensed [by me] floodplain managers whom I could lay some heavy crap on if they didn’t do their jobs.

“How do they become licensed?”

“They have to go through training.  Take a test.  I do the training at the [non-existent Floodplain Managers Association meetings.  Your people will have to join."

The cage took a lot of rattling, but 1993, 1994, I put together an organizational meeting in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Almost every participating community in New Mexico was represented.  Did some rudimentary training, had them adopt a constitution and by-laws, create officers [of which I refused to be one].

NM Floodplain Managers Association made my life a lot easier, reduced the amount of heckling and hassling I had to take from FEMA.  And became my primary training tool for the local communities.  Gradually got them training one another.

And my old buddy Mike Czosnek is still out there, treasurer of the damned thing.  Might have to stop in and see him when I get out that way.

Old Jules

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking

geiger counter

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Tom, the retired USAF colonel who occupied the office next to me in the bomb shelter of the old National Guard HQ in Santa Fe, NM, should have known a lot about radioactivity.   He spent the entire Cuban Missile Crisis camped under the wing of his B-47 bomber.  Had all kinds of tales about the flight maneuvers a pilot had to perform to drop a hydrogen bomb and come away in one piece.

The New Mexico Emergency Planning and Management Bureau [EMPAC] was all housed in that bomb shelter.  Most of the section chiefs were retired colonels, except my humble self, and Louis, head of Radiation Control.  When nothing was going on there’d always be a few of us gathered in one office or another telling and listening to interesting experiences in our varied pasts.

So when Tom found his travel schedule was going to coincide with the one-day-per-year the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated allowed visitors, we all envied him.  He was gone a week travelling all over the State, and a few days after he returned several of us gathered in his office to hear all about it.

Naturally there’d been a nice dog and pony show at an old ranch house from the time a mile or so away, now converted to oversight center.  Then, off to ground zero.

Tom described how it was all bare sand and soil, how they’d scraped away all the green glass that used to cover the spot.  How visitors were warned not to pick up any of that green glass if they should find a piece. 

So when his glance downward showed him a piece of that green glass peeking out of the sand near his foot, of course he had to tie his shoe.  Slipped it into his pocket.  Gave us all a sly smile when he pulled it out and held it in his palm.

Wow!  A piece of green glass from the first nuclear detonation on earth!  We all wanted to hold it.  Passed it around, all except Louis.  Our Rad Control section head.  He stepped back a pace when his turn came to hold it.

I’d like to put an instrument on that.”  Louis had access to plenty of instruments, had more than a thousand of them spotted all over New Mexico.  Part of the mission of his section was going around changing the batteries on those Geiger Counters regularly.

He was out the door and back while the rest of us waited in mild curiosity.  The glass was back on Tom’s desk and Louis clicked the power switch.  Didn’t actually have to get too near with the probe to peg the needle.  Didn’t have to put on the headset to hear the buzz.  We all heard it.

Louis had a straight shot at the doorway and he was first out.  Followed closely by everyone but Tom.  He just sat staring at that piece of green glass.  Probably wondering what the hell to do with it.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Trinity Site, but I never got around to it.  Even when I was living several years just up the road from it.

Old Jules

Climate Change – A matter of perspective

Morning to you, readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Now that the planet’s finally recovering from that last ice age, all the glaciers and permafrost finally melting, maybe things can get back to normal, the way things used to be in the good old days.  All that ice covering things up has been one hell of an inconvenience.

We’re lucky to live now instead of a while back when the Great Lakes were covered by half-mile of ice.  But things are getting better, just as they’ve been getting better all along as the ice receded.  Imagine how tough it would have been for all those automotive manufacturers to turn out cars if Detroit had been under half-mile of ice.  And those super-highways?  Heck, how do you build an Interstate on top of melting ice?  Same with all sorts of other things we spent the past few centuries doing.

Sure, things are going to change when things get back to normal.  And nobody can guess what those changes are going to be, how a normal climate’s going to manifest itself.  Nobody who lived during normal times was writing anything much down about the situation at the time. 

But the good news is that the planet goes a longish while between ice ages usually.  So once things are back to normal folks living then will have all kinds of time to get used to it.  Besides, they’ll be busy as hell working to pay off the debts the people living today are promising they’ll pay.  Maybe they’ll find some new ways of doing it in places where the ground’s covered with ice.

Running around screaming and setting our hair on fire isn’t going to keep this planet from doing what it’s going to do.  Those glaciers are going to keep receding.  No stopping it.

And there aren’t any laws, any human behaviors anyone’s going to change to keep it from doing it.  Any more than humans before this ice age came along could have done anything to keep it from happening.

Might as well relax and enjoy it.  The forward thinkers will find ways to make money from it, get rich off it one way or another.  The stainless steel agers will find ways to exploit whatever’s been hidden under all that ice.

Cultures, religions and civilizations will rise and fall, same as they always have.  Everyone will think it’s perfectly normal.

Nothing to get excited about.

Old Jules

Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank – sculpting post-1959 culture

Before Alas Babylon hit the bookstores and was made a movie the US population hadn’t yet done any heavy thinking about the implications of Sputnik 1 and hydrogen bomb arsenals capable of being delivered to the US heartland.  Strategic Air Command was centered in Omaha, NE, and B47 bombers filled the skies.  Civil Defense was mostly the local mortuary because they owned the ambulances.  Complacency with having been victors of WWII, affluence, abundance and confidence in the future were the rule of the day.

Then along came Alas Babylon.   The story of a small piece of Florida spared the bombs and fallout from an attack by the USSR and a prolonged nuclear war.   Because it was early in the day the post-nuclear-holocaust genre hadn’t yet decided everyone had to die or turn into mutant barbarians.

The story was subdued enough to be believed.  And Americans believed it.  Beefed up Civil Defense, began the individual preparedness planning that would be required if they were to survive.

The first 20 pages of Alas Babylon describes the days leading to the war, all the usual suspects you’d hear tonight if you watched the evening news, minus the USSR.  A buildup of tensions, a US Navy fighter-bomber pilot mistakenly releases a bomb over a port in Syria destroying an ammunition train.  Secondary explosions and the beginning of mutual destruction for the US and USSR.

The book is a microscope look at the minds of the US citizenry as they existed in 1959, before ICBMs, before the moon launch, before the oceans were filled with attack and missile launching submarines.  Martin Luther King was still in the future, along with the Vietnam War, race riots in US cities, Kennedy assassinations. automobile seat belts, gas mileage and foreign cars.  Women were there to be protected, first into the lifeboats of whatever safety could be constructed during and after a nuclear war.

Alas Babylon is a good read, a great study in sociology and a particular slice of history frozen in time. 

Old Jules

 

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Tags:  alas babylon, pat frank, nuclear war, books, book reviews, reviews, history, society, sociology, human behavior, movies, psychology

Smug Self-Congratulation and Slow Rapid Advancement

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

When I brought up the screen to post I noticed it’s November 18.  Old Sol’s muttering to me that he’s becoming bored with all my scurryings and goings on every time I go around him again without becoming a bit wiser in any way discernable by alert human beings.

But tomorrow I’ll have gotten by with it 70 times despite a persistent, continuing foolishness and determination to smack head-on into heavy, solid objects.  One such object I’ll be telling you about here, but that’s later on in the post.  But first, a few other matters. 

My friend Rich and his wife Lisa came to visit a few days recently.  We spent a lot of time just savoring the company, hours and days flashing by in such rapid sequence I’m reminded of those strobes a person used to have a to deal with on dance floors during the 1980s when I try to remember the details.

All I can say for certain is the time passed more as a pleasant dream than some feet-on-the-ground experience anchored in reality.

But somewhere during all that Rich fixed my computer so’s it connected online through WIFI.  When I left one evening he was downloading several years of updates to Windows Vista and AVG, which turned out to be a considerable task.

Rich has an amazing music collection and he brought along an 8gb flash drive loaded with some I didn’t have.  Took a T-drive back with him I’d freed up 600 gb from and he’ll be sending me the rest of what he has.

Amazing times we live in, where a thing such as that can happen.

Reality did rear up and whinny, however.

The second night I was driving home, moderate speed, and saw a dim shape in the oncoming lane ahead.  Thought it might be a deer and moved my foot to the brake, but before I could press the pedal it became a frightened, full grown buck.

I stood the RV on its nose while the deer ran in front, reversed himself, ran back, then back again before the WHACK.  A catastrophy for the deer, but a wild stroke of luck for me.

The incident revealed all the cabinet doors in the RV suffered from metal fatigue.  Every item I’d carefully arranged in those cabinets, securely stored, came down, forward, cans of cat food hitting the back of my head, all manner of articles filling the floorboard underfoot.  A crucial piece of knowledge I’d hate to have learned under different circumstances.

So the past few days have been spent scratching my head about the best ways for securing belongings in a vehicle destined to travel at highway speeds with the potential for sudden stops.  Studying those cabinet doors for ways to lock them shut. 

Trying out cargo nets as an option.

Installing recycled refrigerator shelves and ways to secure what’s on them, along with a platform from a grader-ditch cooler-top for the comp to sit on when I need it as a GPS, a place for incidentals the rest of the time.

Which is all to say, these are things I needed to know, bought at the price of minimal damage to the RV, the life of a buck deer, and enough expense making repairs to cut into the gas money I’d been hoarding.

Well worth the cost of setting back departure clock enough to accomodate it.

I’ve been waiting almost 70 years for this trip and the cats assure me a few more days won’t matter.

Old Jules

Institutionalized Crisis, Illusion and Hate Management

Hi readers.  Thanks for the visit.

I dunno.  It seems to me we’ve been had fairly badly, and we cooperated every step of the way, loving getting our buttons pushed.  It probably began during the Vietnam War.  Maybe further back than that.  But when US National Guardsmen opened fire on protesting students [who might have been threatening them with injury, but certainly not their lives] at Kent State University it seems a turning point, to me.

LBJ and Nixon both loved their military adventure in Vietnam and both spent their terms in office doing everything in their power to polarize opinions about it, to stifle dissent by encouraging and inciting supporters for the war.  Kent State was the first major manifestation of the one side enforcing their views with gunfire directed at the other.

A few years later during the latter years of the Carter Administration it’s been clearly established that the Reagan Campaign lackeys bargained with Iran to keep the Embassy hostage crisis going until after the election.  Kept the daily news full of it.  And bargained with the promise of weaponry that eventually became the Iran/Contra debacle.

Then came the War on Drugs because Reagan [whom I'd voted for] decided there was a drug crisis in the US, started the ball rolling for billions to be spent on new layers of law enforcement, prisons to fill up, a welfare program for lawyers, judges, cops, and private prisons invented to hold the perpetrators of victimless crimes.  Buzzillions of bucks spent to prevent traffic in drugs still available even in prisons, on any street corner in a major city.

Ah.  Then a new crisis.  Militia!  So scary Bill Clinton’s attorney general was sending federal troops to burn down and roast a hundred-or-so religious fanatics in Waco, sneaking up on Danny Weaver’s family at Ruby Ridge killing his teenage son, his wife and her baby.  And various other such.  Because the fear tactic for polarizing the population was that those silly-assed militia might take over this country, might overthrow the entire giant military establishment.

Then came 9/11 and it was Muslims we needed to hate, ‘terrorists’ we needed to spend billions to keep from potentially thousands of dollars worth of damage.  While still keeping up the long-failed War on Drugs.  More layers of law enforcement.  Homeland Security.  Fear and moneymoneymoneymoney.  A new war in Iraq.  Afghanistan.  Moneymoneymoneymoney.

So now we’re down to pretending two identical political parties are at war with one another, got both sides believing the world’s going to end if the other wins the next election.

What fools we mortals be!

Old Jules

Protecting the Aristocracy From Mutants, Muslims, Mormons and Malcontents

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

During almost a decade when most of my salary was paid by FEMA I used to have to go to FEMA Regional Headquarters every quarter for meetings with people doing the same job I was doing in New Mexico, but from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and hmm if there’s another state in this FEMA Region I can’t recall it at the moment.  But you get the idea. 

Fairly dreadful meetings and nowhere near as interesting as the weeks spent in the training center at Emmitsburg, MD, or the various other meetings in places where there were Civil War battlegrounds to drift off and walk around on studying how those poor bastards delt with their differences of opinion.

But that’s another story for another time.

The Regional meetings for Emergency Management people and Flood Plain Management people were held on the top floor of an amazing bunker complex at FEMA Region 6 Headquarters outside Denton, Texas.  A venal, truly hidebound lot of bureaucrats we were, too.  Although the worst of us was nowhere near as anal, ugly, downright arrogant as the FEMA people.

And that was before 9/11 and FEMA becoming a part of Homeland Security.  I hate to think how it must be today.

But what I wanted to tell you about is that bunker complex.  Damnedest thing I’ve ever beheld this side of Carlsbad Caverns if it was set up for the US Congress, the 82nd Airborne Division and MD Anderson Hospital were all planned to be housed inside it.  For a long, long while.

Just the parts I was allowed to visit and mull over were several stories underground and probably several acres diameter.  Above ground under all the festooning of antenna, cable and concrete was a pillbox so the people underground could go up and peek out to shoot the occasional mutant, malcontent, or just enjoy the sight of all the devastation.

The first level entryway was a hallway with sprinklers to wash off the radioactivity lingering on anyone going inside, along with slots to allow shooting anyone who didn’t use soap or wash long enough.  And just beyond that was a huge freezer for dragging the carcasses into of people who either got shot or didn’t get clear of the radiation quickly enough to avoid the blind staggers.

Nearby was a huge, amazing, pristine, empty hospital complex with supplies, stacked along the walls, equipment, tables, clean shining stainless steel waiting for some doctors to show up to treat any patients that might show up.

Next floor down was the ‘Continuity of Government’ facility.  A place designated for the Governors of all the Region 6 States, their staffs, their families to wait out whatever difficulties led to them being there.  Hallways with State Flags for each of the member States hung in front of entranceways to avoid Louisiana confusing itself with New Mexico.

An entire floor was devoted to warehousing food, water, all manner of supplies the people living down there would be consuming.  Another floor devoted to Security and Military personnel, along with their equipment and ammunition.  That floor also contained the communications equipment so’s they could talk to anyone who still was alive outside and able to speak English.  Or to whomever else was left out there with radio equipment still working.

And those were just the floors I was allowed to visit.  The FEMA folk hinted there was a lot more, winked knowingly, but wouldn’t discuss what was there.

Soothing thought, I found it, knowing the government had arranged for a place for all those folks I considered more important than regular people to get in out of the rain and keep doing whatever needed doing for the people outside with their eyeballs running down their faces and their flesh sloughing off.

I surely hope they’re still maintaining those bunkers.  I’d hate to think the politicos aren’t being looked after if something happens.

Old Jules

The Illusion of Survival

Several years ago during that pesky time when the publishing house had accepted Desert Emergency Survival Basics for publication, but I hadn’t yet seen the contract they were proposing, the editor was asking for re-writes and a number of changes in the final draft. We discussed it on the phone a number of times and I was pecking away at it, but holding back until I’d seen what they were bringing to the table. 

But before I got too far along I got a call from him because of a news event.  A family in Oregon, or Washington had taken a back road in the National Forest, gotten snowed in, and died because they didn’t apply some of the basics suggested in the Survival Book.

Him:  The scope of the book is broader than the name suggests.  It shouldn’t require a lot of work to make it a general survival manual.

Me: A lot of work’s already gone into it.  And I’ve already re-written it the way you suggest earlier.  You’ve got it in front of you.  Before I do any more work on it you and I need to talk about money.  Every time I’ve asked about what you’re offering as an advance you’ve hedged.  Said you needed to discuss it with the boss.

Him:  We don’t usually offer much in the way of advances.  We’re not that big, even though we offer a lot of titles.

Me:  Then you and I probably don’t have much to talk about.  You know and I know I’m never going to see a penny beyond the advance.  I have a fair idea what’s contained in your standard contract.  I’m not going to lift another finger on this book until I see an advance, and if it’s not enough to pay for my time already, hearing you’re going to be flexible about changing the contract details.

Him:  I’ll talk to the boss.  But that book needs to be published.  That family might have survived if they’d read it.

Me:  I’ve got some survival issues of my own here.  Hypothetical people who might die won’t pay my rent.  I’ve already done the work.  But if you’re proposing to print that book and give it away so neither of us makes anything on it what you’re saying might make sense.  Appeal to my better nature.

Him:  I can’t do that.  We’re in business.

Ultimately they sent me the standard contract and offered a token advance.  The willingness to alter the details of the contract didn’t include changes that would have allowed me to eventually get paid for my labor by eliminating provisions for them to squirm out of paying.

I’ve thought about that a lot over the years and eventually concluded the entire concept of survival and survival books qualifies as a cruel hoax.  An ironic illusion.  Because human beings are going to experience death inevitably as a means of exiting the vehicle.  Some are going to die getting lost in the woods.  If they survive getting lost it’s almost certainly going to be luck, instinct, or common sense.

As an example, somewhere earlier on this blog I described a snowstorm Keith and I got caught in on Santa Rita mesa, and how the GPS seemed to be lying about where the truck was.  How we believed the GPS instead of what we knew to be true, and more-or-less quickly found the truck.

That same snowstorm, not too far away, a kid was lost.  The news was full of it, Search and Rescue eventually was ready to give him up for dead.  But the kid, clothed in a light jacket, used his brain, sheltered under a rock ledge, and made it out after five unlikely days.

Which isn’t at all the same as saying the kid survived.  He won’t.  Neither will anyone else.

Old Jules

Black Eye for Conventional Wisdom

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Back when  I was a real smart cookie I knew all manner of things needed doing to straighten out this country and this world.  I used to sit around with others whom I allowed to be real smart cookies, too, telling one another how stupid everyone who disagreed with us.  They thought they were real smart cookies, too, which proved how stupid they were.

During that general time period Their Majesties, Gerald Ford, then Jimmy Carter, were telling us we needed to turn down the thermostats, drive slower, become energy independent as a nation.  Find alternatives to the conventional energy sources.  I think my group of real smart cookies agreed with this, though I don’t recall anyone liking it much.

But one thing we did agree on.  Nuclear energy needed to be developed and used a lot more than was happening at the time.  Seemed the only thing that might fill the bill until something else was developed.  Gradually we got so hardened in our opinions about it we made excuses and apologized anytime anything happened suggesting we might re-examine our opinions and debate points.

Along came Three Mile Island, and naturally we didn’t need to know much about it to agree among ourselves it was just a shrill scare thing.  Hanoi Jane Fonda came out with a movie named “The China Syndrome” and a lot of monkey wrenches got thrown into the mix, people opposed to more nuclear plants. 

Then that plant in the Ukraine went sour.  Spewed all manner of radioactive crap into the sky for a longish while.  We real smart cookies saw that as an indictment, not of nuclear power, but rather of Soviet technical, engineering and construction skills.  Another indictment of Communism.

Somewhere back there I quit thinking about all that, didn’t bother knowing so much about it as I became less smart with the years.  I sort of lost track of the whole issue, had no idea whether they were still building, not building, using, not using nuclear power plants.

About a year ago my friend, Rich, started telling me about a tsunami hit Japan, did all manner of damage.  Some included nukes on the Japanese coast.  I suppose I didn’t think a lot about it.  Just another disaster somewhere for people to tell one another about while they waited for the coffee to perk.

But Rich kept updating me and the Japan nuclear part of the tsunami and earthquake began swelling into something trying to rattle how smart I used to be.  Japan was letting a lot of ugly into the Pacific and into the sky.  “Man, they need to do something about that crap!” I declared to Rich.  “I feed my cats a lot of fish that might be coming out of the north Pacific.”

Would you rather feed them fish out of the Gulf of Mexico?  Fish coming out of there are loaded with carcino-whatchallits from the emulsifiers they used from the BP oil spill.”

I thought about that a while and decided I didn’t need to track down an instrument to measure the gamma radiation in the cat food.  Trade a headache for an upset stomach, more-or-less.

But at least I don’t have to have all the answers anymore, don’t have to know what anyone ought to do about anything.  Takes a lot of weight off, me not having to do anything but concern myself about what to feed the cats and chickens.

Old Jules

 

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules