Sunday, November 4, 2012

2 Weddings, 1 Super-Storm, 5 Days without Power, Plus Some Thoughts on Climate Change and the Election

A week ago today, Yuriko and I were in Fredericksburg, Virginia for a wedding. An old friend of hers, Mark, married his long-time partner, Brian. This was the first same-sex wedding I had been to, and it began just as the rains of Sandy began to fall. The ceremony was beautiful, but unfortunately, because it was a Sunday night with a hurricane on the way, many people seemed to make their exit from the reception a little early. For those, like Yuriko and I, who were staying the night on-site, the party carried on with all the best (and worst) songs to get you moving on the dance floor, like "Livin' on a Prayer" (and "The Electric Slide"...ugh).

Speaking of same-sex weddings, I just saw this video (below) on Facebook this morning, which a college-friend shared. It features a gay Vietnam veteran questioning Mitt Romney about his stance on same-sex marriage. I found it pretty compelling. As beautiful as Mark and Brian's wedding was, there was still a dark shadow cast by the fact that the state in which they live (Virginian)--not to mention their country--refuses to recognize their love and commitment as it does for heterosexual couples.

The day after Mark and Brian's wedding, we drove back home to Reading (with a brief stop in Bowie, Maryland) as the rains of Sandy poured down upon us, and as the winds pushed my little Nissan around in its lane. We took it slow and made it without any trouble, other than the expected fatigue of staring at low-visibility roads for five hours.

After we got home, the storm really picked up as it headed across Delaware and then up toward Harrisburg. A couple trees went down in our backyard, but luckily nothing hit the house. One electrical pole on our neighbor's yard went down, and it took out power for about 11 houses, including ours. 

Tuesday morning, I took a flashlight down to the basement to get out the diesel generator, which Yuriko's dad generously gave us earlier this year. After consulting with him over the phone about how to hook it up and get it going, we were able to get enough power for the heat, refrigerator, water, and some lights. 

By the time Saturday rolled around, we were still running on generator power, and it was time to go to another wedding. This one was in Morris Arboretum, near Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. The weather was ultra-brisk and the ceremony was outside, so we bundled up (or at least I did--Yuriko had exposed feet and legs in her fashionable dress and shoes). The reception followed in a semi-heated tent. We kept warm with wine and dancing. At one point, I ate some delicious pie (apple AND pumpkin). There were also FOUR great toasts, and you know how I love a good speech. All in all, it was another beautiful affair. 

When we returned home, excited for an extra hour of sleep (so long, Daylight Savings Time), the power was back on! Hooray! We disconnected the generator, switched all the right switches on the circuit breaker, and went to bed, where we dreamed electric dreams.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to chat about climate change with my morning and afternoon ENG 100 sections. There's been some discussion in the news lately about if and in what way Sandy was a product of global warming. That will hopefully give our discussion a sense of urgency--or at least a note of relevance. I've found students reluctant to engage this issue in the past for a variety of reasons (skepticism that global warming is real, cynicism that anything can be done about it). We'll see how it goes. The reading I used to set up the discussion was an excerpt from Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

I also want to say a couple words about the election, which is in 2 DAYS! First, I'm so glad it will be over. The way presidential campaigns drag on, consume the airwaves, and waste money is enough to make anyone sick. Second, I'm voting for Obama. He's not my ideal candidate--he is not even my favorite Obama (Michelle is #1 for me)--but I do think, despite his flaws, that he's the best president I've seen in my lifetime. I don't like that he escalated the war in Afghanistan; I don't like that he abandoned true universal healthcare in his pursuit of healthcare reform; I don't like that he extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. But he did what he could to save an economy in free fall and get it to start growing again (albeit slowly); he did what he could to regulate Wall Street; he repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; he's the only president to ever come out in support of same-sex marriage; he supports the Dream Act; he increased Pell Grants and reformed Direct Student Loans; and he got most of our troops out of harm's way in Iraq. His major weakness, I believe, has been trying to work with extremists in the House of Representatives who refused to compromise on any issue because they wanted Obama to fail more than they wanted to do what was right for the country. Is he perfect? No. But he's an intelligent, pragmatic, man with a conscience--and I'm not so sure I can say the same for the other guy.

I'm also voting for Manan Trivedi, who is running for Congress in my district. He's an Iraq War veteran and a physician from a town just a couple miles away from where I live. I got to meet him a couple months ago, and I think he shares President Obama's concern for the well-being of ordinary Americans.

Whether you see things the way I do or not, be sure to VOTE! An apathetic citizenry makes it that much easier for those in power to avoid accountability.

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