Sunday, October 18, 2015
I kept a journal on facebook when the government "shut down" in October of 2013. I had a few requests to put it together in one location, and this was the easiest place, so here it is.
Government Shutdown, 2013
Rex Bell’s Journal
Update, day 5 of shutdown.
Found a small group of citizens huddled around table at Early Bird Cafe. Some seemed sleepy and confused, as if they didn't know what to order for breakfast. Ben the waiter snapped at Larry when he tried to order blueberry crepes`. Coffee and bacon still in supply, but who knows for how long.
Road back to Hagerstown still open, but noticed some leaves are starting to turn different colors, and some are even falling on ground. Rain continues, and birds seem to be gathering on light wires.
Can't help but wonder what fresh hell the day will bring.
Shutdown Journal, day 8:
Entering second week of shutdown. Amazed at the number of people who go on like they don't know what's happening. Don't know if they are just being brave, or if they really don't know. I'll try to warn them.
Our table was down to nothing but apple jelly at the diner this morning. Evelyn looked around for grape but couldn't find any. A stranger came in. Nobody knew who he was, but he seemed awfully interested in what was on the menu. Maybe too interested.
Heard from Rick Culberson yesterday that a couple of guys were taking his trash and throwing it in a big truck in Hagerstown. Someone got ours last night. Need to be more careful what we put in it.
Hoping to start room addition today if delivery truck can get through.
Will try to change oil in truck today, although it now seems pointless, much like haircuts.
Stranger found grape jelly. How?
Shutdown Journal, Day 12:
Conditions worsening. Tried to show people pictures of the difference in Susan's flowers before the shutdown and after the shutdown. They look at me in disbelief, almost like they are in denial.
Crops appear to be dying in the fields. Many are turning brown. Some farmers have already given up on them and are mowing them down with giant machines. Heartbreaking.
Desolation everywhere. Trees appear to be dying even in town, as more and more leaves continue to fall. Saw people trying to save them by gathering them up with giant rakes. I wanted to tell them to just give up, that the leaves are already dead, that there was nothing they could do for them, and that they might as well just burn them. Decided it was maybe better to just let them have their fantasies in these last few days.
Going to look for coffee and jelly. Grape I hope.
Shutdown Journal, day 14, or maybe not.
Nights seem to be getting longer. Awakened by a distant train whistle at 3:00 A.M. Possibly it might be bringing in supplies. Jelly maybe. Grape.
As the train passes, coyotes are howling in the field behind our house. They sound hungry. Relieved that I parked close to the door last night.
Made it to the truck and went to the diner. Parking lot was dark, and none of the regulars were there. Nobody was there, not even Linda. Feared the worst. Maybe coyotes had been here. Realized it was 3:30. Never mind. Went back home and parked close to the door.
No rain for 5 days now. Constant worry about how long the water will hold out. Skipped bath last two days just in case.
School in Hagerstown has been strangely quiet this week. No sign of children. Not sure why. Drove by another school yesterday afternoon about 3:00. Children were being loaded onto big yellow buses. Don't know where they were being taken, or what will be there when they come back. If they come back. Wonder how much people will take before they cry out.
Susan made me sleep on the couch.
May have to take bath today.
Shutdown journal, day 13 or 15:
Coyotes in field eerily quiet this morning, like maybe their bellies are full. Probably full of raccoon and grape jelly. Despicable creatures. I hate coyotes.
Waited over an hour for Sunday School and Church to start this morning. Nobody showed up, not even preacher. Afraid people have given up because of this shutdown. Found really nice coat on coat rack.
Cars are still driving back and forth in front of house. Even saw trains going both directions on Hagerstown track this morning. Seems like people just don't know where to go. Stood in front yard and yelled encouragement.
Still no rain, but heavy dew this morning. Afraid not enough to save dying leaves, though.
Someone just yelled something back at me from the road. That was uncalled for. Tempers must be getting short.
Shutdown journal, somewhere in central Indiana:
More dark, more fog. Things even seem blurry inside this morning. Worst part is not knowing what might happen next.
Grandkids won 2 goldfish at fall festival yesterday. One didn't make it through the night. Second holding on, but doesn't smell very good.
Found glasses. Things looking a little better.
Went to a bacon party last. Quite a bit of bacon, but some people brought salads. Some people were even eating salads. Wondered to myself what would cause people to eat salad when there was bacon on the table. Must have been scared and confused.
Saw several people at party off to the side talking privately. Wonder what they were talking about. Probably about the people eating salad.
Surviving fish looks confused also.
So much confusion. When will it end?
Shutdown journal, sometime in week 3:
Losing track of days as shutdown continues and conditions continue to deteriorate.
Last goldfish passed. Would like to believe by natural causes, but seems odd that 2 would die in 2 days. Did they know something?
Coyotes are getting closer to the house. Found signs in yard this morning.
Delivery truck managed to get through with load of material for room addition. 2 x 4's only measure 1 1/2 x 3 1/2. Wonder what happened to the rest of them.
House smells of dead fish.
Tomato plants completely dead now. Eating plain peanut butter sandwiches now. Hope to make contact with Rick Culberson or Jeremiah Morrell sometime today about grape jelly.
Shutdown journal, still third week, Tuesday maybe:
Shutdown seems to be spreading. Two days in a row without mail. Even banks closed yesterday.
Awakened early by sound of people rummaging through trash again. Seems like it is becoming a weekly thing. Slim pickings this week, I'm afraid. Poor bastards. Looks like they took it all. I'll try to leave a sandwich next week.
Leaves and crops continue to turn brown. Hard to stay optimistic that any will survive. Try not to look, but seems like I'm surrounded by them.
Accidently tore tag off of mattress while making bed. At least I'm safe for now.
Found rebate check from Betty Crocker while looking for tomatoes in refrigerator. Hope bank reopens soon.
Neighbor Liz brought by some grape jelly. smile emoticon Tried to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but couldn't find the peanut butter. Or bread.
Looks bad for the trash guys.
Shutdown journal, October 2013:
Rained last night. Not a warm, nurturing rain. A cold, heartless rain. The kind of rain you get when the government shuts down.
Mail beginning to trickle in. Received advertising ink pen and gift certificate for Bath and Body Works yesterday. Good start on Christmas.
Drove by Amish market yesterday. Still had a lot of tomatoes. Must not know about shutdown. Somebody needs to tell them. Just can't bring myself to do it.
Somebody at coffee said tomorrow was final day. Might as well eat that jar of grape jelly, I guess.
Ink pen doesn't work. Drat.
A couple of women in my literature class seemed particularly testy last night. Probably didn't get any mail. May stop today and get them some tomatoes.
Shutdown journal, final entry:
As best I can tell, this is October 17th, the day the shutdown becomes complete. Could hardly force myself to get out of bed.
Sad to see everything end, but it was getting harder and harder to go on knowing total collapse was inevitable.
A car just drove by. Where could anybody be going now? Poor fool.
Finishing off last of grape jelly today, and then nailing plywood over windows.
Hope to see most of my family and some of my friends on the other side when
Huh? What? They did what? Oh.
Sunday, October 04, 2015
Any way you look at it....
I’ve never really been a big fan of “last chance” or “going out of business” sales. Even after the last chance ends, there’s a good chance you’ll have another chance to get the same item at another store the next time you’re in town. And most of the time, if a store that has something people really want goes out of business, another business will start handling that item. Barring that, I can always have one of my grandchildren get on the computer and order it online.
Last week there was an event they called a “blood moon eclipse”, where the moon was supposed to glow red and have an eclipse at the same time. While blood moons and eclipses are fairly common, the conditions for both to occur at the same time hadn’t happened for 33 years, and according to some reports won’t happen again for another 18. I did a little figuring in my head, and decided that if I wanted to see a blood moon eclipse for myself, this might very well be a real last chance, so I made a conscious effort to stay awake long enough to go outside after it got dark and check it out for myself.
As luck would have it, it was pretty cloudy over our house that night, and while I could see the outline of the moon and the eclipse as it moved across it, it didn’t really look any more red to me than it did on any other night. I did see some pictures people had taken from other locations, and the moon looked a lot bigger and redder, and the eclipse looked a lot sharper than it did from Hagerstown. I guess it all depended on where you were standing when you looked at it.
Of course, when it comes right down to it, the moon didn’t really change at all. It’s still just a big ball of dirt and rocks orbiting around the earth, and it doesn’t change color or shape, unless a meteor slams into it and shoves some dirt and rocks around a little bit. But people have been watching it for a long time, and even staying up past their bedtime to check it out when the light and the shadows hit it just right, and make it look different than it looked the last time they looked at it.
I suppose where you are has a lot of bearing on how you look at a lot of things. I’m sure the 18 years until the next blood moon eclipse looks a lot longer to my grandchildren than it does to me. I think where you are has a lot of bearing on how you look at government, also.
George Washington said that “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” While a lot of things have changed since George made that observation, the fact that government uses force, or the threat of force, to carry out its policies, hasn’t.
Part of that government force is used for transfer payments, where it takes money from one group of people and gives it to another group of people without any goods or services changing hands. That practice now consumes the bulk of the federal budget. If a person is on the receiving end of the transfer, they tend to see government a little differently than if they are on the paying end of the transfer. And no doubt a lot of people who are standing in the paying line are looking forward to the day they will be standing in the receiving line.
It might be a good time to start looking at ways to involve government a little less in our daily lives, because the more people we have in the receiving line, the more force will be required to keep everyone else in line.
That’s how it works, no matter how you look at it.