Tag Archives: Zach

Repeat, Repeat

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Photograph by Phelan M. Ebenhack

While reading Michelle Cliff’s Abeng, one of the most prominent moments in the piece is the death of 100 slaves by Judge Savage’s hands. After reading the recollection of this occurrence, I actually stopped reading the book for a while because the thought of this ghastly act is so disturbing. How could someone kill so many people? Many times we could never imagine how such a deed could ever happen, and how this act would not be considered downright macabre. How was this terrible man justified in such ways?

Savage burned his slaves to death because they were his property, and he felt that he could do with them as he pleased. These people, slaves, stood at the eve of their freedom, and they were gruesomely silenced before they could see that dream become a reality. Now, we would consider this appalling act as blatant murder or even an act of terror; however, at the same time we can also look back and see that slavery itself was morally wrong. In our hindsight, we know both of these acts could never be justified properly, so we view them as terrible mistakes.

This separation, the slavery from the killing, is significant. At the time of the occurrence, holding slaves was legal, so I do not believe many would have opposed that act at all. Though morally we know killing other people is wrong (especially burning them to death), the Africans were viewed as Savage’s property. These “people” were looked down upon, so much that they were not even recognized as human. They were seen as lowly objects just because of the circumstance of their birth, something that they could not help. We see now that the slavery and oppression of these people was wrong, but we also view the murder as a terrible unjust thing. We do not stand for either of these two separate acts now, nor do we see either as justification for the other. During this time, the act of enslavement was not seen as breaking the law, nor was the desecration of one’s own property, even if it meant the death of 100 people.

Now, let us fast forward to our modern times. We face another striking, yet terrible occurrence with the assault on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Here, there was a gunman, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, who targeted a specific group of people: homosexuals. Again, this massacre takes the lives needlessly of the oppressed, who number 49 dead and 53 wounded at the time of this commentary being written (New York Times).

In the same way as Judge Savage killed the slaves of his plantation, we see that the oppressed continue to take massive blows on the eve of their freedom. The next evening after the shooting, a person called in to a radio station that I listen to. In tears, this person said “just as it seemed safe to come out, something like this happens”. This was a clear reminder to me, having just read Abeng, how some people cannot stand to see the oppressed gain their freedom or identity, and how the misunderstanding of other groups can lead to such appalling occurrences.

Again, there is a separation from the oppression and the killing, yet we view the circumstances differently right now. We know that the oppression of people is wrong, and we acknowledge that legally in many different areas (the Emancipation Proclamation, the creation of the NAACP and ACLU, etc.); however many people still attempt to justify their negative views. In turn, these people believe that this gives them a purpose to claim their hatred towards these people, enough so to kill them. It gives them a reason to spread their hate, and they feel justified in their ways.

Furthermore, I have seen some Facebook posts that have a similar mixed reaction about the killings. The majority of people see the act of murder as appalling, yet others have been quite vocal on the circumstances of this event. They believe that the murder of homosexuals is justified because the people were gay, and that they had it coming because of their sexual orientation. They view this group of people as being lowly immoral objects who are not yet fully human, and this seemingly justifies their views.

Right now, most people know that neither of these acts are morally rationalized, yet some people continue to believe these occurrences are not a problem. They think in the mindset of pre-1863 logic, that because a people can be oppressed, they should be oppressed, and in their oppression the slaughter of this people can be defended. I absolutely believe that 150+ years from now all of humanity will look back at events like this and see these people, who do not support their fellow man, as being on the wrong side of the argument.

Just as today, we look back and think of the horrors of slavery, all of the pain, suffering, and heartbreak the Africans went through, people will look back on this era and see the error of their ways in thinking that homosexuals can be reprimanded for the circumstances of their birth. People will not just show sympathy, but also empathy towards this group of people and the evils that they faced along the way. One day humans will finally understand that the persecution of one group, only because they are different, cannot hold to a logical, moral, or even religious argument.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the Pulse Nightclub event has quickly become synonymous with firearm issues and gun control. However, I believe in the same way that Judge Savage used a tool, fire, to kill his slaves, we cannot hold the item accountable for the act. People would like to focus on how such a terrible tool, a firearm, allowed Mateen to inflict such massive casualties. Instead, we should focus on how morally this same attitude has prevailed for hundreds of years. Our focus should not be on how either of these murderers committed their terrible deeds, but why they acted the way they did. What made them feel justified and validated in their views to kill 49 and injure 53 more, or destroy 100 human lives, all on the eve of their freedom?

In the same way the families of all of these people, separated from one another by hundred of years of grief, will never find the answers or closure they need, we cannot look at these events and find a single answer to a moral deficit. This is not a single group’s problem, this is not a gun control problem, this is a human problem. Why have individuals believed they are justified in their ways, enough so to take the lives of people, and why has this attitude persisted for so long?

There is no simple one answer to this issue, and what is even more terrible, there may very well never be.

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It Doesn’t Average Out

In the past few years, I have noticed something while driving. It has become quite more more prominent now than in my past few years of experience. Perhaps I pay more attention to it or I purposefully notice it occur more, but either way it’s happening. People will drive 40 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, and when we reach a 55 MPH zone they suddenly speed up to 60 MPH. This irritates me to no end because I will pass them in the 45 zone for going so slow, only to be passed by them in the 55 because they’re suddenly going so fast.

This happens to me without fail every single time I drive home. A car will be going slower causing a bit of traffic behind them. As soon as all those cars (myself included) pass them, they’ll buzz by a few minutes later, speeding past everyone so they can lead the pack. Of course, they almost always subsequently slow down again, and the process repeats over and over again. I don’t quite understand why this keeps happening. It’s also not really limited to one demographic, because I constantly seen men, women, young, and old do this. The icing on the cake is when these same people pass everyone and then slam on their brakes to turn.

Am I the only one who experiences this issue? It would to happen to me every once in a while a few years ago, but now it seems like it happens way too often to be just a coincidence. Perhaps I’m a magnet for this type of behavior? Maybe I’m just attracting the slow down speed up, pass then get passed kind of people on my drive home each day? Are they teaching this averaged out tactic in driver’s education classes? How is this explained in Common Core?

Everything is a Problem

For quite some time now my friends and I have been saying “everything is a problem”. It’s kind of like our catch phrase or slogan. Why? Because we usually (and typically) encounter a problem with just about everything we do. From minor choices to important tasks, I experience issues on a daily basis and I’m not really for sure why.

Recently, I considered taking count of these issues. I would not add any weight to the problems, I would simply count how many disagreements, issues, or troublesome events I encounter on a daily basis. Car trouble? 1 point. Disagreement? 1 point. People standing still while an automatic door waits for someone to make a move and no one will take initiative to walk forward as humans naturally do ? 1 point. And yes, that did in fact happen.

I didn’t really have the ambition to do this just yet, as I was still kind of contemplating the whole topic overall. I was also partially nervous to find out how many problems happen to me on a daily basis. This subject did get me thinking though. Why do I have so many problems each day? Why can’t things go off without a hitch? And why am I asking so many questions in this blog? Well, another question I had, was how many problems on average do people encounter each day. I had assumed it would be around 20. I think this is about how many I have on a normal day, and that’s reasonable, I think.

The answer, which surprised me, is a measly 9. I learned this in one of my first classes this semester, Conflict and Communication (take a stab at why I chose to take that course). Surprisingly, within this class, one of the assignments is to log each time we encounter conflict in our lives. Here is my opportunity to commit to my problem log, it has presented itself! I’ve already been considering doing this very thing, and now I have a purpose to do so.

After leaving the class, I began to consider the topic again. How long would it take to encounter the next issue? What would it be? Why are there more questions in this blog? Well, I got my answer fairly quickly. Upon arrival at Dierberg’s, just 35 minutes after leaving class, and despite having done this very thing several times, the woman at the deli wouldn’t let me chose chicken bites as a side dish.

Costumes: Sweeney Todd

A2Z Selfie Photography
A2Z Selfie Photography

Sometimes I consider costumes for a while before I actually do them, and some other times they just so happen to fall in my lap. Both of these circumstances occurred with my Sweeney Todd costume, as I had wanted to do it for a while, but also didn’t want to pay a ton for the outfit. Thankfully, someone on a website I frequent messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in most of his outfit for like $30.

I jumped at the chance to purchase the outfit, as he included the shirt, vest, and neck scarf tie thing. Upon arrival I realized how clean and crisp everything looked, so I weathered the vest quite a bit, using paints, washes, and at one point even some makeup. It took a few days to complete, but I was pretty darn happy with the overall look, which matched reference pictures pretty well.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

For the shirt, I first did several dark washes on the shirt’s sleeves to make it look more worn. At the same time, my favorite part of the film is how much gore there is, and having never done a really gory costume before, I decided to follow through with the next stage of my plan. During Halloween a few months before receiving this, I had purchased fake blood for some reason. It came in a pump, so I decided to try it out on the costume. After just two days I had transformed the shirt into a murder sponge.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

One other purchase I made was black pin stripe pants (which I actually liked more than the screen used ones), as well as a brown leather belt, both from Goodwill. I used a pair of black leather shoes I already had, and before I knew it, I had a decently screen accurate costume for under $35!

The Old Lady Who Didn’t Believe In Dinosaurs

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

With Jurassic World coming out this week, and having watched Jurassic Park and The Lost World in the past few days, dinosaurs are on my mind (as usual). When I was kid that’s really all I could ever think about. I played with dinosaurs, I pretended I was dinosaurs, and I wanted to be a paleontologist so I could dig up dinosaurs. The memories centered around these lumbering giants are some the best I have; however one instance of confusion always stands out to me. When I was about 15 my family had a garage sale, and an older woman wanted to buy some of them.

At the time, I was selling a lot of my old toys. I was obviously keeping all the Jurassic Park stuff, but I was chucking all of my no-name brand toys. This old lady walked in and was browsing my table of toys, when she walked over, and like all people at a garage sale, wanted to negotiate my prices. In the course of our conversation she asked where this box of toys came from. I told her they were mine, because I liked to play with dinosaurs as a kid. She looked at me suspiciously and asked “but what are they from?” I took a look inside the box, and it was nothing but plastic and rubber dinosaurs, so I told her they were just dinosaurs, they weren’t from a specific movie, just toy dinosaurs. Then she scoffed at me, and I knew we had a problem.

Here was a 70 year old-ish woman who had no idea what she was talking about. I looked at her and told her they were real living animals from millions of years ago, to which she furrowed her brow and with as much old lady attitude as she could muster, responded “yeah, okay”. I could have punched her. I could have punched her right in her old lady face. I mean, you’re talking to a freaking expert here old lady. I know everything there is to know about these creatures, and that list starts with “they’re real”.

I went back and forth with her several times, telling her they existed millions of years ago, but she wouldn’t have it. Ever heard of the fossil record? Never! Ever think of “Not the mamma!”? Of course not! What to go to my backyard so I can kick some sense in to you old lady? Finally, my grandma jumped in and just flat-out asked, “have you never heard of dinosaurs?”. Her retort? “Are these acceptable for kids at the church to have? I don’t want to give them something violent.” Yes? Because they were real animals! More eye rolling. “The Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous? Uhhh?” Still nothing. This lady didn’t have a clue dinosaurs were real, and all she was worried about if they would create violent tendencies in church kids. I’m out, I’m done with life.

Eventually the old woman ended up buying a bag of small dinosaurs (not the entire box of sin-creatures); however I still don’t believe she accepted dinosaurs into her life. How in God’s green Earth do you not ever hear of dinosaurs? I mean, she had gone at least 70 years without ever once hearing about a fossil dig in the news, and that’s pretty difficult. And it’s not like I’m asking for much here. I didn’t ask her about what she thought on maiasaura mating patterns or how many eggs a freaking T-Rex would lay on average, I just wanted to point out they exist, and there are fossils, and it’s a pretty much accepted thing that they aren’t just rubber puppets in movies, and there’s entire museums dedicated to them.

This event may have been the crowning point of my dinosaur career. When I met an old woman who didn’t believe in dinosaurs, denied dinosaurs, and then bought some dinosaurs probably just to spite my belief in dinosaurs, I couldn’t believe it. I often wonder if she ever had an intervention, or if she ever opened a book. I don’t think I’ll ever know. However, with this blog post, her immortal words will live on, trapped in the amber of the internet,to be used by scientist millions of year from now, trying to prove old ladies existed.

The Spuds Strike Back

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Well, it looks like I celebrated too early last week. The potato smell is still lingering on the cabinet door, so I am still fighting a continued battle with the stink; however I was able to move all the food back into the cabinet itself, which smells like nothing even happened now. The door on the other hand, still stinks like a moose in heat, that just so happen to let a bunch of potatoes go bad in its cabinet.

I looked up some more home remedies for curing the crud, and some lady said to use lemons to soak up the stench. Not having lemons, I opted to use oranges, because they’re both spherical fruits. I ended up juicing them, and then cut some zest from the rind. I then scrubbed it all over the surface area that still stinks, and let it set for twenty minutes or so, four FREAKING times.

Having no effect what-so-ever, I thought about what else I had in the house that I could use. I ended up going through my spices and decided cinnamon was going to be my new weapon of choice. I tossed a bunch on the door, and let it set for a while untill I washed it off. I thought it had worked, but over the past two days I have noticed the cinnamon has slowly faded, and the potato smell is still a lingering underlying scent, like Gollum crawling behind me in Moria.

While at Target (where I picked up Jurassic Park on Bluray for $9.99) I decided to try that one lady’s recommendation, so I picked up a 49 cent lemon. When I got home I cut it up, juiced it directly onto the door, and let it set for quite a while. As soon as I walked back into the kitchen I knew it hadn’t worked, because when I smelled the door, with the lemon juice still sitting on it, I could smell the potato death under it.

I thought that was my WMD. I thought I could end the war right then and there. I thought I’d use the various citrus fruits, cinnamon, and a fan, and then I’d be super happy to have my cabinet door back, but I was wrong. So it looks like I’m going to continue the fan therapy, where I let a fan blow on the door 24/7, and maybe get some more fruit. I’m getting real tired of this potato cabinet door, really tired of this.

I’ve Been Battling a Potato Cabinet For Six Weeks

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

A few months ago my grandma gave my girlfriend and I some potatoes, and I was much obliged to take them. Perhaps it’s the Irish heritage in me or my love for spuds, but either way I could not resist. They were in a thick plastic grocery bag, and we promptly stored them in one of our cabinets. Well, flash forward a few months and seemingly overnight the smell of death, vomit, and more death had inhabited the potato bearing vessel.

My girlfriend promptly tossed the tators out, however she sprayed some stuff in the cabinet which was holiday cookie scented. This in fact made the cabinet smell of death, vomit, more death and holiday cookies. At this point, I’m not going to lie. I ignored the problem for like two days and didn’t open that cabinet. On the third day I faced my fears. I took the contents of the cabinet out, washed what I could, and tossed the more scent soluble items, like flour, sugar, and salt. This was not a good sign.

I then bought some baking soda, poured it into a few plastic containers, and sat it on all the shelves. I left that for several days to soak up the scent. After those days had passed there wasn’t any change, and I mean at all. I then tossed a ton of loose baking soda in the cabinet, and after a few days, you guessed it, still no change. I then tossed more baking soda in there, and laid on the vinegar. I remembered from one episode of Mythbusters that this combination was a great cleaner. After like 5 rounds of cleaning with this concoction, there was still no cigar. And at this point, I would have taken the smell of cigars over dead potatoes.

Eventually I finally broke down and Googled my problem. A few people recommended some items from Walmart, so naturally I bought several types of sprays. With my household cleaners in hand I started to lay down fire on the cabinet. After a lengthy 2 week firefight, and a considerable amount of suppressive fire, I was getting kind of anxious. I had done like 8 phases of spraying, leaving to set, spraying, wiping, spraying, and more spaying. However, I think I have finally knocked the odor down. It’s been a horrible few weeks, but I believe I’m finally getting the edge on the potato scent. You can still smell it on a few places, but I hope that will be gone within the week. Of course, now I only need to get rid of the citrus cleaner smell…