bottom of the glass

Glühwein to calm the nerves.


What is there left to say about this election? With every piece of news we all become a little more worried, a little more stressed. I’m at the point where I want to ignore social media and not read one more piece of news, not one more video telling us who’s the next apprentice or the number of hate crimes appearing, or how Native Americans are being kicked off their land once again, or the continued ignorance on global warming, the list goes on. But we must stay vigilant. There’s a way to approach these dire times by settling into our thoughts and remaining intellectually active in this post-truth world, where few value history or science.

Sometimes we’ll be lucky to get some facts on social media, other times we have to search through the speculations about tweets of the day brought to you by the orange man. Despite everything, somehow we have to land on what’s important, finding out what’s actually happening in government, and not controversial tweets meant to arise anger and confusion. Rise above the anger, the meanness, the hate, and live. Try to talk to people who are not part of your circle, people who might not share the same political ideology. Right now it’s two sides screaming at each other, unwilling to listen to one another.

Still, it’s becoming frustrating  that even with facts some people continue to believe fake stories, despite being presented with a mountain of evidence. How did a man who lies so much become president? A sexist one at that. It’s the greatest downfall for America. I think Trevor Noah said it best: it’s because people try to throw facts at him, but it doesn’t stick.

Eddie Huang, writer and food personality, has a show on vice where he travels around the world, trying food and exploring different cultures. He interviewed a girl during the election, who didn’t know her facts from her conspiracy tales. Watch his reasonable approach to an onslaught of conspiracy theories. He isn’t condescending or overly dismissive. As the great Gwen Ifill once said, there’s a difference between skepticism and cynicism.

People voted for a salesman who will say anything depending on the crowd, but what matters is the kind of legislative action he’s planning to take, and from his rhetoric we clearly recognize a pattern. He’s the president of twitter trolls. Someone who probably never read the qualification section of a job, and is making up stuff on a whim.

Like many of my friends, that first night, I was speechless, sitting in a bar, in some western town, as the votes came in. “It’s turning red—don’t even look,” I told my friend, who had accompanied me that night. I turned around and I could see the gloom painted on everyone’s face. Some chose to leave abruptly not wanting to see the final moments on the screen. I still had fries left, and my Glühwein, a German drink, was still half full and warm. I wanted to lose myself at the bottom of the glass when it appeared that no one was saving the day, especially after Pennsylvania was gone. “Ugh man, did that just happen?” A girl near us had her hands over her face, in disbelief, covering her nose and mouth; I imagine wanting to scream. I finished my drink, and we stepped outside. My friend was finishing his cigarette, when I saw two guys stepping out of the bar. “Why does this feel like a match? And my team just lost,” one of them said. When did our democratic election turn into a match? This was a farce, evident months ago when Bernie Sanders lost. The only one, who stuck to the issues and had a responsible plan to fix them.

Some people are hoping the Electoral College will save us, or by some miracle Hill will have more votes after the recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Perhaps it’s a waste of time, but at least people are speaking out, protesting, calling their representatives, remaining active. I wrote a poem to the Electoral College to express my views on why they should vote against their state, and vote for Hill instead. You can write electors a letter through The count is almost at 100,000 letters last time I checked. Maybe it’s naive or silly to send a poem, but one founding father, if not all, would agree going against the votes in those states is probably the best way to avoid legislative casualties that will weaken our environment and the economy.



a moral choice

the trees
the trees
sitting on the grass and not seeing an oil rig
or birds swimming in oily mud

what is most valuable in our society?

our dignity, our sense of well-being, the future of our kids.

the 45th president is….do you imagine saying that name?

“take back our country”
from what? from who?
from our founders?

you know those jobs are not coming back
why contaminate our lands
when you can have
clean energy, furtive lands, tech innovations
that will be around for generations
and will allow people to move back to small towns
where our families don’t get sick from dirty water

he’s a con artist, a celebrity,
who has never read a book
once asked what he thought about his life
he said: I don’t like to reflect.

drain the swamp
he’s bringing the swamp with him
people who are not qualified
it’s for this reason the founders
thought it was important to have a group of
to make a moral choice



Update: rain, flood, thoughts

That time there was a giant puddle in the park.

The last two weeks have been consumed by rain with intervals of frustrating heat. It was strange for me, especially knowing that a few miles away a flood had devastated parts of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes (20 Louisiana parishes were designated as federal disaster areas by FEMA), while my house was sitting untouched in New Orleans. There was ongoing rain and large puddles nearby but nothing serious. My parents were worried about me after seeing reports of homes under water and people rowing boats. I had missed their calls during that weekend, making them more worried, but I eventually called them back to tell them I was safe. They were under the impression that New Orleans had also flooded. I would not know what to do if that was the case. I guess my desk would float or we would be evacuated (this is probably the best scenario).

During the week I did have some troubling dreams, including me wandering around with my dad and sister during a flood, wondering why we didn’t have boats when everyone else seemed prepared. We managed to climb our way out of the flood through a solid ladder that later turned into a cloth ladder and almost ripped when I was climbing. We made our way up to the balcony of a marble building. Days later, my sister texted me: you need to get a boat.

The damage in Louisiana wasn’t a result of heavy winds like Hurricane Katrina, but record rainfall. Also outdated infrastructure couldn’t hold the heavy amounts of rain, and failed to drain water out of the streets. The storm brought 7.1 trillion gallons of rain to Louisiana, three times more than during Katrina. Local rivers like Amite and Comite had record water levels causing the biggest flood since Sandy. Some 20,000 people were rescued and about 110,000 homes were damaged. The Advocate investigated the deaths of 13 people who lost their lives; some swept by the storm while in their cars, others swam for safety, but didn’t make it.

I imagine the disarray.
I imagine the disarray.

Days after the flood, everyone was trying to out figure how to respond; whether to donate to bigger non-profits like the Red Cross or to local businesses and residents who could easily navigate the area and get resources to BR and surrounding areas quicker than national organizations. On Facebook and twitter, people posted photos and videos of how they were helping to evacuate folks with their boats. Some had cookouts or donated food. I saw a video on twitter of trucks hurrying along i10 to get to BR. Even a basketball team showed up to help. People are amazing.

Questions arose about what kind of things to donate. What was appropriate during an emergency? Some local bars and art galleries also held fundraisers where they collected a list of goods and money to donate.

Supply vessels that trasport equipment and personnel to offshore oil and gas platforms passing along the Mississippi River.
Supply vessels that transport equipment and personnel to offshore oil and gas platforms passing along the Mississippi River.

By now most of the water has receded, but up until a day or two there were areas still submerged. At this point affected parishes are in recovery mode, as people try to rebuild their homes, try to get back to normalcy which won’t be for a while. If you’re in the area, and want to lend a hand, there are many local organizations setting up volunteers. This is something I want to be doing in the next couple of weeks. Natural disasters get a lot of attention at first then fade from the news cycle, but the people of Louisiana are still in need: check out these organizations accepting donations.

The conversation surrounding the floods has expanded to infrastructure problems. Scientific American explores how BR and other cities need to modernize their drainage system in order to face future storms that will be exasperated by global warming. As the earth heats up, more moisture is produced which increases average rainfall, making future floods more likely. The occurrence of floods also become more likely when coastlines erode and wetlands that normally mitigate floods and soak rainfall disappear. As Louisiana continues to allow offshore oil drilling, these natural buffers zones will disappear making it hard for residents to continue living near the gulf, as the The Times-Picayune reports.


Ariel views of the damage in Louisiana.