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  • Andrew Casteel

Naps Are Like Golf Balls


Finally got the kid out on my bike again since I got the OK from my doctor to try some low impact exercise out on my torn meniscus. It seemed like the universe was just waiting for him to give me that news to have fire season kick in all around us. The smoke from the fires cleared up last Tuesday so I was able to take my son to Golden Gate Park for the first time in weeks. It was great. After being stuck inside from all the smoke, we both were so happy to be out. We played frisbee (his technique is getting much better). He ran through the sprinklers. We ate sushi (his request). We drew in our sketchbooks. All it takes to really enjoy the little things is to have them taken away from you for a while. When you've been hiding from the smoke all week, the smell of fresh grass and flowers assaults the senses with the vigor of an elevator fart.


I've finally started to understand the plight of the frog in the pot on a stove. When the fires and the smoke started again, I just went down to the garage to get the air purifiers we got in the last record fire season that kept us and the in-laws inside for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Then I put my mask for the smoke on under my mask for the pandemic and ventured out into the wasteland to scrounge for supplies. I think next season will probably add a full hazmat suit for the next novel pandemic that will hopefully come after a pause long enough for there to be baseball and skiing next year.


It's tough to know how to effectively respond. We don't need to raise awareness, at least not in my social feeds. Everyone knows that climate change is causing this, even if the people outside my social feeds choose to deny it. The more the average temperature increases, the more volatile the weather system gets. The fire seasons get longer. The hurricanes get bigger. The droughts last longer, which makes the floods more devastating.


We don't need to sound the alarm anymore, because it's been going off for some time now and people have gotten used to that background noise. Once again, the algorithms have ensured that everyone in my feed agrees with me on which party wants solutions and which party wants their stock portfolios to remain intact. No need to convince anyone there.


What we do need is action. I've stepped way back on my social media lately as it was just an echo chamber of frustrated agreement. A sea of memes cataloging all of the ignorance, hate and failure of the current kleptocracy. I agree with most everything one of these I've seen on my feed, but there's one very big piece missing: what to do about it.


Whenever my wife and I are talking and one of us brings up a problem we had during the day, we have learned to preface it with "I need to vent" or "I'm looking for solutions". As both of us are engineers, we default to solutions. So we really only have to tell the other if we need to vent, so that the other person knows not to interrupt with suggestions this time.


Venting is sometimes a necessary process for letting off steam, but if all you do is vent, you'll never reach a solution. If everyone you see in your feed is just venting about how bad it is and no one is sharing how they're working to solve the problem, you might start to feel there is no solution. And that is not the case.


Here are some questions you might try asking yourself before you post:

  1. Am I venting or looking for solutions to the problem?

  2. If someone agrees with my post, have I offered them any suggestions for what to do about it?

  3. How do I feel after reading what I shared? Fired up? Deflated? Hopeful? Defeated?

Here are some ideas for turning venting into seeking solutions:

  1. Each time you vent about something: Donate $1 to a candidate you agree with or just straight to the DNC at https://rb.gy/v2ejxd .

  2. Take the same time you spend posting about how bad things have become and use it to volunteer to write letters or phone bank for the democrats at https://demvolctr.org/volunteer/ .

The people in your feed may all agree with you as to what the problem is, but if all they see is you venting about those problems, they might feel that's all that they need to do too. Take this opportunity to lead by example. Show people that there's something you're doing about it. Maybe they'll be inspired to do something about it too.


I've signed up to do some letter writing for the democrats. Looking forward to getting my first pack of postcards to send. You can help too. Just sign up at: https://demvolctr.org/volunteer/.

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© 2019 Andrew Casteel