By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
In February Mr. Potato Head was ungendered.
In early March, several classic Dr. Seuss books were withdrawn from future publication because of their depiction of racial minorities.
Those same Dr. Seuss books, the ones you could find at Goodwill a few weeks ago for a dollar or so, were for sale online for hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
And, just to clarify, no Dr. Seuss books have been “banned;” a few have not been renewed for publication. Not bad for an author who died thirty years ago. His books have been (and will continue to be) hugely popular among children (of all ages) for many decades.
And if you think you had a rough month, consider Iceland – they had thousands of earthquakes – up to 3,000 in one day – finally culminating in a volcanic eruption. The first one at this particular mountain in over 6,000 years. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/europe/iceland-volcano-eruption.html
Not so happily ever after
On its first night of broadcast, Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, drew over 17 million viewers. It was broadcast the next night in the UK.
It was not your usual Royal family interview with talk of racism, isolation, depression, and suicide.
The Royal family went into full damage control, but you can bet that they will do what they have always done; “blame the American.” After all, it’s always worked for them before.
Hackers and security breaches
Many tech experts have been warning of hacking, ransomware and other tech intrusions from hospitals to schools to businesses and government agencies to individuals to Washington state’s Employment security for years.
You’d think that our technological infrastructure would have been armed against such attacks. I’m sure they have been, but obviously not as robust as they needed to be.
As we all know, our bank accounts, medical records, even many of our household appliances, even baby monitors, are vulnerable to malignant, even accidental disruption or control by unauthorized intruders.
An anniversary no one wants to celebrate
Mid-March is notable for being the one year mark for the serious impacts of COVID.
COVID was diagnosed before then of course, and we even had a few fatal cases, but the middle of March was when it claimed, and kept, even dominated our headlines, conversations and every aspect of our economy.
Schools closed, we assumed, for a month or two. Work arrangements were made, at first short term, and then, as the saying goes “for the duration.”
Zoom entered our lives and conversations shifted from wanting to return to “normal” to settling in for the long-term adjustment.
Few of us have schedules, obligations or travel possibilities even remotely similar to what we had a year before, and perhaps even less similar to what any of us will have a year from now.
To put it mildly, it’s been a year like no other. A year, in fact, that most of us will be gad to leave behind.
America’s terrible, no good, very bad day
On what should have been an exceptionally positive day, with stimulus checks hitting the economy, COVID numbers dropping and vaccination rates rising, we instead, experienced the worst mass shooting in a year.
The local Atlanta, Georgia, law enforcement could not have been more callous and clueless, as their spokesman expressed sympathy, if not outright support, for the admitted murderer rather than for the eight victims and their families.
With implicit, or even explicit, references to sex, guns, race, mental health and religion, this shooting was yet another example of America’s worst tendencies.
And, as if on cue, a second shooting, this one killing ten, in Boulder, Colorado, occurred within a week.
Tornadoes literal and metaphorical
On Friday, March 19th, just as I was pulling into my parking place, I heard an emergency alert for the first tornado to hit our coastline in 30 years.
That literal tornado was nothing compared to the storm that erupted over recently-elected Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Even though it happened in late January, Mr. Troyer’s ill-fated encounter with a man delivering newspapers went viral in March hitting both mainstream media (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/22/sheriff-911-call/) and the late night talk show circuit.
It’s rarely good news when Tacoma hits the national news cycle.
It came from outer space
A little after 9 pm on Thursday evening of March 25th, streaks of light pierced the sky over most of the Pacific Northwest. Visible from Salem, Oregon to Spokane, Washington to the Canadian border, these were reported to be debris from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (https://www.krem.com/article/news/local/what-was-that-lights-streak-across-night-sky-in-washington/281-7470aba0-5de8-45a8-8bbb-4e1a806147d8).
At least that’s what they tell us.
The return of the Condor
Also in our skies, for the first time in a century, we might be seeing the mighty condor, with a wing span of up to ten feet overhead in Washington and Oregon. https://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ref=for-the-first-time-in-a-century,-california-condors—will-take-flight-in-&_ID=36869
And in the Stupid Human category, the Oscar goes to….
You could also file this under “If anything can go wrong, it will.”
In mid-March one of the largest ships in the world became grounded and stuck – sideways – in the Suez Canal. Within hours, hundreds of container ships were stuck in line.
Those that could get out took another route which added at least ten days to their journey.
With about 10% of world shipping stalled, shortages of essentials (including toilet paper – https://thehill.com/homenews/news/544995-shipping-container-shortage-could-lead-to-next-toilet-paper-shortage) were expected around the world.
The costs of the shipping delays were expected to be $400,000,000 per hour (https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/middle-east/suez-canal-prolonged-closure-of-crucial-waterway-costs-approximately-400-dollars-million-an-hour.html)
These losses will certainly be reflected by increased consumer costs for the foreseeable future.
The earth keeps turning
No matter what we humans aspire to, worry about or get ourselves into, the seasons continue and spring returns.
The days get longer and warmer, flowers emerge and birds seem everywhere.
Gardening, inspired by a range of concerns, has been embraced by many who never imagined themselves gardeners.
Parents with children at home, and many others, are stepping into, or expanding their gardening adventure for 2021.
Fewer families are planning extended vacations, so home gardens and animals (like chickens) are taking a higher priority.
Pets have become appreciated as never before.
Say it ain’t so….
Washington state doesn’t have very many foods exclusive to our state. One of the very few is the set of fruit-based treats known as Aplets & Cotlets. Made of apples and apricots, these gooey treats, made only in Cashmere (outside of Wenatchee) have been part of Washington state lore since 1920.
They expect to cease production by June of 2021.
Steamers, a landmark for over 45 years on Tacoma’s “other waterfront,” is closing for good this spring.
Due to zoning restrictions, the building will be razed and, if anything, a single-family home will be built on the site.
The world of traditional retail can’t get any worse.
Or at least we keep thinking that.
J.C. Penney is closing 18 more stores nationwide. You can see the state-by-state breakdown here: https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/jc-penney-stores-closing-may-16/507-5cbb012d-b1b9-45b0-9729-4cbd0b625b20.
And, just what the world needs right now – a new noodle
Who knew that there were pasta logistics; texture, sauce adhesion and what could be called fork-ability.
And yes, plain old spaghetti or the familiar short and curved mac & cheese noodles just don’t inspire us – at least as much as they could.
Enter the “little waterfall” (https://www.npr.org/2021/03/22/978877878/for-pasta-lovers-bored-by-spaghetti-theres-a-new-short-wavy-sauce-holding-shape), the product of three years of research and much taste testing.
We will have to track it down to prove the theory, and yes, decide for ourselves, but who of us thought we’d see a new noodle in 2021?
And in a final act of “cancel culture,” in March we left winter behind, changed our clocks, and, in an ultimate act of “cancelling,” April came along and left March in the past.