By Tom Walker
At last week’s checkup, my pulmonary specialist asked me why I'm depressed (he’s a good doctor; he worries about my whole person as well as my lungs.) Well, let me count some ways.
#1. The curse of Osgood
Packrat trap went off a couple nights ago with a great crash and commotion.
So our pest control guy went up in our crawl space to retrieve the body. He found that the trap definitely had been set off, but there was nothing in it.
So he re-baited and reset it.
And now we either have a rat that's wise to traps or one that's injured somewhere in our walls and dying. And we're waiting either for another crash of a trap or the stench of a dead rodent.
Linda, my wife, used to give the packrats that invaded our house cute little rat-sounding names, like Osgood. But after killing about a dozen Osgoods, the name has kind of lost its cuteness.
Now we just call our pest control tech and he comes and deals with the vermin. And so we wait to see what has become of our latest invader.
I'd call it the calm before the storm, but there are real storms out there that are much more important. My prayers are with those affected by them.
#2. Speaking of storms
First there was Harvey, swamping Houston. Now there’s Irma, howling up the west coast of the Florida peninsula, bringing 135 mph winds, tornadoes and storm surges.
Scientists say the higher temperature of the waters in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are the brew that makes the monster hurricanes possible. It is undeniable that an apocalyptic array of named storms are leaving large sections of our nation blown apart and flooded.
And yet the heart-hardened pharaohs of our age refuse to acknowledge that we killing our planet with our pollution. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, responding to questions about Harvey, Irma and Jose, said this was not the time to talk about global warming.
When, exactly is the right time? When Moses stretches out his rod, turning all the water in our country to blood? When the skies turn black with locusts? Would any of these cause the climate naysayers to change their tune?
Until then, I find it hard to shake off my depression.
#3. Hacks, hacks and more hacks
The Internet that was supposed to be our best friend forever has turned into a hacker’s paradise. Last week I discovered that I was among the 143 million consumers affected by the Equifax security breach.
Actually, “breach” is putting it mildly. Criminals made off with names, birthdates, addresses, Social Security numbers and in some cases, driver’s license numbers. The SSN, of course, is the crown jewel of this heist, since it can be used to open new accounts and gain access to other credit bureaus.
Equifax is on top of this problem, I was happy to see. The security breach occurred from mid-May through July 2017; we consumers finally learned about it in news stories last week. Why the delay? Equifax was working to fix the problem, they said.
The company is offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring to all U.S. consumers. So I tried to sign up for that. Unfortunately, I immediately ran into trouble. But there was a call center available “every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.”
I called at about 5 p.m. Eastern time. And got a message saying the call center was closed.
And that’s just another reason I’m depressed
#4. And furthermore
Some other people, places and things that depress me: Trump, Trump, fully and finally, Trump.
The fact that my old friend, Facebook, was used by the Russians to spread real “fake news” about the 2016 election campaign.
The fact that Joe Arpaio, a convict, got a presidential pardon, while the 800,000 dreamers, who just worked hard, paid taxes and obeyed the law, are facing deportation.
The continued failure of the GOP-controlled Congress to force the release of Trump’s income tax returns. How can they do anything about tax reform without that information? Of course, what they’re really interested in is tax cuts, not tax reform.
Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, and all the other denizens of Trump’s White House who are pulling down hefty salaries for doing … what? And we might as well add Steve Bannon, formerly Trump’s senior strategic adviser and now CEO of Breitbart news, to the list, since he seems to still carry considerable weight.
These are some of the things that wake me up at 3:30 in the morning. You think you’ll go back to sleep then, but you never do.