Saturday, April 08, 2006

One Step Before The Other

Photo: Decaying Steps - North East Side Of Illinois State Capitol

It's the little things that speak most honestly about the state of a society. While the United States spends one hundred billion dollars a year on the occupation of Iraq badly needed improvements to U.S. infrastructure remain unaddressed.

Fear was used to manipulate a good society. Peace has now become a state of constant war. A surplus budget has now been transformed into only a memory. Osama Bin Laden was replaced by Sadam Hussein. Iraq was substituted for a real homeland defense.

Photo: State Capitol Building In Springfield, Illinois

For every pothole allowed to languish, for every school with a leaky roof, for every bridge rusted beyond repair, and for every uninspected cargo container that reaches this nation we must ask ourselves just how long will we as a nation remain trapped servicing a nightmare which the Bush Administration has created for us?

Photo: The top photograph portrays decaying steps on the northeast corner of the Illinois State Capitol building. While there is a beauty to be found in these decaying steps, they represent just one small indicator that something is wrong with the state of the state, and the state of the nation.

When a society cannot afford to repair its own decaying infrastructure it should not be waging avoidable, and costly wars overseas.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm Just So Tired

Photo: Tree Limbs Torn By Tornado - Jerome, Illinois 4.4.6

Tonight was one of those nights where I would have gladly cut a deal with the Devil. If I could have just had a little longer nap life would have become tolerable. Last night's thunderstorms managed to wake me up several times. I'm still a little on edge, more so than I rationally believe that I should be.

For years I never really took a late night thunderstorm seriously - except for the booms of thunder I never really cared - I'd simply roll back to sleep. Then over the course of four weeks the metro area I live in was visited by at least four official tornados - with "unofficial" eyewitness reports of several more.

And so I listen.

Listen to the thunder.
Listen to the wind.
Listen for the cracking of tree limbs.

Listen for the sirens.

Listen for the swirling of the tornado dropping out of the sky upon my little piece of the Earth.

Listening instead of sleeping has consequences - mainly sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep is neither new, nor is it rare for me. I have lived with it on a day to day basis for most of my adult life. So many of us live in a semi zombi state in this modern world.

Sleep Deprivation is the consequence of getting wrapped up in work, rushing home and paying your dues to the family. And then, only at that last moment just before you should actually be going to bed realizing that you have spent too little time decompressing.

Too little time spent on just being yourself - without a manager, a spouse, a child, or a clock telling you what you should be doing.

Exhaustion vs. Recreation at Midnight?

Wife: What are you doing?
Me: Just taking a nap.
Wife: Well alright, but only for twenty minutes.
Me: How about a half hour?
Wife: O.K., but you're pushing it.
Me: Just let me sleep.
Wife: You know you have to get up, and run out to Walmart!
Me: Yes, I know.
Wife: You have to get a basketball stand for your daughter, did you forget?
Me: No, just let me sleep.

But a half hour nap isn't always enough some evenings, and so here I am now late into the evening at this computer typing away, and for God only knows what purpose - because one has not come to me yet.

I'm writing for the attainment of sheer exhaustion.

Blogging it's the new sensation.
Blogging it's the new sedation.

And I had so much to say, but sleep seems just so nice.
Yes, blogging is the new sedation - indeed.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Jerome, Illinois 2006 Tornado - Alberta Lane

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Photo: Jerome, Illinois Tornado Aftermath - Alberta & Park

Pictured above is one of my favorite homes in Jerome. Until recently this house was home to a most wonderful family who recently moved to the east coast. We Miss you!

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Photo: Jerome, Illinois Tornado Aftermath - Alberta Lane

This car was crushed, but a new one has replaced it. It always pays to keep up your insurance.

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Photo: Jerome, Illinois Tornado Aftermath - Car Crushed

It took days before this automobile was freed, and hauled off to car heaven.

Alberta Lane In Jerome - It's 1950 All Over Again!

Within the Village of Jerome exist a little lane called Alberta. The lane is lined with post World War II bungalows, all of similar design, and size. An older resident of the village explained to me that a farmer had owned the land, and had all the homes built at about the same time.

The homes along Alberta Lane are small, and the front yards are large enough to park a car upon - which no one ever does.
Most of the people who live on Alberta Lane are retirees.

Few front yards along Alberta Lane have trees, but one of the few that did wasn't spared from the effects of the tornado. Actually, it was a car that paid the greatest price as the photographs above illustrate. An automobile is parked in its little driveway, and has been crushed under the weight of a fallen tree which was struck down by the tornado of March 12, 2006.

The photograph (top) of the farm house at the corner of Park Street, and Alberta Lane has one of the oldest trees in the village in its front yard. The tree was damaged from the tornado. Something odd about the tree is that a second tree is actually living within the first tree.

A few years ago a group of tree enthusiast came to study this tree, and another tree in the same yard which was even older than the one pictured. Sadly, it was not possible to save the older tree from disease, and it was cut down to protect the many children who played in the front yard.

I hope that somehow the tree pictured above manages to hang on. I doubt the new owners are aware of this trees history, and will see it only as an eyesore.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Marmaduke Arkansas Destroyed

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Photo: Springfield, Illinois - Tornado Destruction

I spoke with a woman today on the phone. She seemed like such a nice woman. She needed for me to help her, and so I did.

We had something in common. She was without electricity, and was living on the edge - the edge of civilization.

She was in the same situation I had been in three weeks ago, and for the same reason.

A tornado had payed a little visit to her home town of Marmaduke, Arkansas.

The following excerpt obtained from The Statesman:

About a half-dozen tornadoes struck Arkansas and one destroyed nearly half of the town of Marmaduke, Arkansas, according to a fire department official.
Officials limited access to the town in northeastern Arkansas because of a ruptured natural gas line. Almost every single structure in Marmaduke has minor to moderate damage but almost 50 per cent of it is totally destroyed. Much of the town also was damaged by a tornado in 1997.
I began to wonder what it would have taken for the small village of Jerome, Illinois to have suffered a similar fate. Not much I suspect.

Tonight on a walk with my daughter I noticed the small piles of debris stacked neatly in front of home after home, the damaged tree branches, the damaged roofs, broken walls, broken windows = all caused by the tornado. Work progresses to restore our sense of invulnerability - our sense of order here in Jerome.

Each pile of debris is slowly being picked through, to bring order to the madness. Branches in one pile, roof tiles in another, pieces of garage in yet another. A place for everything.

As I walked tonight my mind flashed to Sunday night's tornados. The sound of sirens filled the air once again. Gus Gordon shrilled voice warning of tornados on the march at the corner of Wabash and Veterans again! I began to feel as if I was in an episode of the Matrix - this surely must be some sort of simulation, a hologram - or are we just cursed?

My daughter had trouble sleeping last night. Three weeks ago she had to take cover from the tornado which struck Jerome, and last night she found herself in the same situation in Auburn. The home she was visiting had sustained roof damage from a large tree branch that fell as a result of the storm. She no longer trust in the calm mundane world in which she lived prior to March 12th, 2006.

She ask me almost daily if I think the world is coming to an end - that is a rumor which floats around her high school. The world is to end on June 6th, 2006. I tell her no.

But I fear that with global warming we may need to brace ourselves for a new era of intensified storms, and I wonder how wise it is that we have built such fragile structures when maybe we should all be living in bunkers.

Still hearing about Marmaduke made me realize how terribly lucky we were here in Jerome, Illinois.

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