Listening to the World Go By

Dear Friend and Reader:

One of my journalistic hobbies is listening to the scanner. All I have to do is unmute Channel 1 on my soundboard, and it comes through my speakers. I can then eavesdrop on the chatter of government. I hear some law enforcement, but mainly what comes across are medical calls, fire calls and stuff like road maintenance.

My basic audio setup includes a Uniden scanner (device right under the candle, made in Sugarloaf), so I can listen to public service activity in my community. I make no secret of the fact that I monitor; I discuss events and procedures with local leaders. Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

For me this is like a civics meditation. I don’t actively cover local news. When I hear something newsworthy, I will text the city editor at the Daily Freeman, which does not have the time to monitor. But that’s not my main reason for listening. I just find it interesting, and also, I feel reassured to hear that society is functioning.

One of my favorite items happens on the hour, when the toll plazas along the New York State Thruway check in with the temperature and road conditions.

I can hear this because they’re on a relay system that broadcasts all the interchanges on one local channel. There is nothing special about this; what I love is hearing routine business, and also the sense of space as the toll plazas announce the weather in their immediate area, spanning hundreds of miles.

It’s occurred to me many times that we have one image of government from the news: supposedly big important stuff, controversial issues, and these days, bribery, extortion, high crimes and misdemeanors. But most of what the government does is take sick people to the hospital, plow highways during snowstorms, and do welfare checks when (for example) someone dials 9-1-1 sounding distressed and then hangs up.

I take actual comfort in this: things going normally. Then when lightning strikes or there is a multi-alarm fire, the responders go into high gear, and anyone listening gets to hear them getting organized and into action. I’m grateful that all of these competent, friendly seeming people are taking care of the world.

Simply said, listening is part of how I keep my sanity.

And in Other News

On some level, many people take solace from knowing that society is functioning. For those locales where basic services are stressed, nonexistent or not trusted, there is no such comfort, no such feeling of assurance — and there can be a lot of struggle.

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), Maryland, on April 2, 2019. Cummings died overnight Wednesday. Photo by Scott J. Applewhite.

Right now, we’re witnessing serious problems manifesting on the federal level. It’s unnerving to hear the world unraveling like it is. Just from the news of the past two weeks, it’s possible to connect the dots and figure out that the president of the United States is a viceroy to the president of the Russian Federation.

Candidate and then President Trump was accused of being in the service of Vladimir Putin, and every day does several things which emphasize the point.

The Executive Branch is refusing to release any documents to the impeachment investigation. In other words, Trump has ordered everyone into lockdown.

This violates the principle of three co-equal branches of government, and the well-understood and usually respected idea that Congress must oversee the White House. Trump is pretending that his branch of government cannot be supervised by the people and their representatives.

Speaking of oversight, Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, died overnight Wednesday. He was one of the people bold enough to speak up and to do his job. He understood his role in the system and “acted as if to hold the world together.” He was a sane voice in the midst of all this insanity, and someone nobody would ever accuse of being bought and sold by corporate lobbyists. Others will need to step up to the role of holding the president accountable.

The Executive Branch or the Mafia? 

When the president of a country acts as if he or she is not subject to the law, that is a dictatorship. The federal government often plays fast and loose with the law, but usually not like this. The Executive Branch is being run like the mafia, right down to treating the FBI (which it oversees) as if it’s an enemy. One by one, people around the presidency are being charged with federal crimes. That itself is a sign of the system functioning to some degree, but we don’t know the extent of the problem.

Are me fucking you kidding?

It’s both amusing and disgusting to see previously law-and-order Republicans going along with this, without a trace of irony. Many gloated that there was “no collusion” and “no obstruction” found in the Mueller report (neither is a true fact), and then Trump openly invites collusion and obstructs justice and Congress right in front of everyone, on live television.

And remember, in a worst-case scenario, there has been a putsch, and Putin has placed his lackey Trump in charge of the United States. The preponderance of the evidence leans heavily in that direction. Some will say this is an extreme statement, though we must factor in the power of denial. And if such a thing did happen, most people would not wake up until it was too late. In fact it may be too late to reverse the damage to our government structure — and this is not a method of “fixing” it.

We now have two NATO allies facing off with one another. Military leaders are wondering what to do about American atomic bombs that are currently in Turkey. On Wednesday, the United States bombed one of its own military bases so that it would not fall into the hands of ISIS or the Syrians.

Keeping One’s Sanity

We all face the question of how to keep our sanity in the midst of this. Many people take the option of cutting off. This might manifest as pretending that it does not matter or is out of our control. This is not a solution, personally or collectively. It takes much energy to hold down that kind of grief and worry, and to lie to oneself. These events matter whether someone admits it or not.

The modern bomb/disaster shelter is stylish and well equipped.

But then, tuning in can have a sense of frustration and futility. You can watch one hour of Chris Hayes on MSNBC and decide there is absolutely nothing you can do. Many people feel this way. I would point out, however, that this is a posture. It’s a position of convenience.

There is plenty you can do, starting with staying informed. Under the current scenario, ignorance is like immune deficiency. So you need a way to maintain your awareness without cutting off.

It’s more interesting, anyway, and true awareness often abates anxiety rather than provokes it. Tuning out and turning off only suppress grief. I suggest you not read the news on the go, but rather sit at your desk, where you can take an hour and do a little comparative literature study between and among news sources. If you can’t stand them, you can count on our little crew at Planet Waves to make the news palatable and comprehensible — and relevant.

Nobody seems ready to declare an emergency, or to admit that our system of government has failed. People who do that are more like “preppers” — people who dig bomb shelters and stock them with a million cans of tuna fish, bottled water and toilet paper. That’s not my style, and it’s probably not yours.

I try to keep my life and my finances in order. I make sure I have groceries in the house and that I eat the right foods, including foods that I like. My gear all works and I keep my home organized. There is comfort and dharma in taking care of business, and taking care of the physical world around you, including the people and the animals in your environment.

My ideas for saving the world include potluck dinners. Each needs a food coordinator. Remember to label your dishes with gluten and meat status and preferred pronouns. Here’s a super exciting one from the Hudson Valley!

I am fortunate in that my work is my dharma, and I suggest everyone find some way into that, no matter how small it may seem. Dharma must not be special; that is the whole point. It’s about the “ritual de lo habitual” and expressing meaning in the most mundane of activities.

Expand your concept of your immediate environment and you will notice that there is plenty that needs taking care of. The other night I was walking my dogs when someone said that his dog had escaped and was on the run. He didn’t want to call the police for help; I texted the shift supervisor, which got things in motion, and his dog was found safely (and not taken to the pound).

Small things count for a lot right now. Help your friends and neighbors any way you can. Get involved in your local elections and help the right candidate get elected. This can be in small and modest ways; at least get to know some of the candidates in your town or district. If we’re going to fix this mess, it will be one small step at a time.

One last thought, if I may. Get in touch with old friends. By that I mean pick up the phone and call them, or send them a letter. We don’t need to be “liking” one another on Facebook. I think we need to be making contact with the actual people in our lives, through contact that has some warmth to it. Get together with people you care about, preferably away from an environment where money is exchanged.

You might discover what you’ve been missing.

With love,

Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 (#1265) | By Victoria Emory

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Mars, the cosmic warrior and your ruling planet, will continue to rouse relationship issues for weeks to come. Together with other dynamics impacting your chart, this points to a need to address tension between partnerships of whatever sort, and mounting pressure you’ve felt to realize over-arching professional goals. An important opportunity window is opening to release some emotional backlog, and quite possibly advance professional aspirations as well. Take time for an honest personal inventory, and let yourself actually feel what you may have been holding in. You’re able to tap into deeper psychic strata than usual these days, and the more you respect messages arising from your emotional body, the more you’ll align with optimal trajectories. Channels are wide open for communications with those in a position to assist, perhaps regarding resources to help further your ambitions. Keep your inner ears open and your dream memory on. Your intuition and career path are moving into beautiful, synched-up harmony. — By Victoria Emory

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — The rock ‘n’ rollers at the vanguard of current astrology are pulling you up on stage to dance. I’m speaking about Uranus’ passage through your sign and the tightening Saturn-Pluto conjunction. Dancing requires a flexibility and freedom that might feel liberating and exciting, or intimidating and awkward, depending on your self-image. That is, what you’re conditioned to believe — about yourself and the world ‘out there’. Focusing these long-term influences right now is a concentration of energy in your relationship sphere. Whatever jolts you may have experienced in that department recently, R.S.V.P. to invitations arriving this week. You might need to look for them stuck in a corner of your mailbox, but you’ll be glad you followed through. A significant meeting of minds is possible, which strengthens important ties while expanding your worldview in some way. Take advantage of occasions to get together while you can. Pressing demands on your time will take over soon enough. — By Victoria Emory

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Activity in your chart points to opportunities to get out ahead of work issues that Mercury’s upcoming retrograde will bring to the fore. Talent is one thing; craft is another. Inspiration could be pouring out of your ears, but to bring whatever gifts you have out to the world in a meaningful way, you need technique: skills you can depend on. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an artist or not, keep that image in mind this week. The more disciplined your approach to job-related activities, the more you’ll be able to seize openings over the coming days to negotiate financial and professional channels to your advantage. Keep your antennae up, as significant advancement is possible. Doing so now will help mitigate potential challenges that may soon arise between your need for personal freedom and self-expression on the one hand, and security-related partnership matters on the other. — By Victoria Emory

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Pressures that emerged over last weekend’s Full Moon signify the need for both courageous changes and the healing that makes them possible. This is the week to express some of what’s built up, with significant others and/or with one whose counsel you trust. Conditions are right for constructive encounters that get to the nitty-gritty heart of what matters. Your need for self-expression and creative thinking will be emphasized for many weeks to come; but regardless of who you’re in dialogue with, remember to listen, as well as hold forth. It’s conceivable you’ve grown so accustomed to grinding stress that you aren’t entirely conscious of what you’ve been sitting on. Make space available and encourage emotional movement. Often simply feeling received with compassion will open those gates. If initiating communications feels too intimidating, understand that opportunities taken now will help minimize potential tension down the road. — By Victoria Emory

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your tribe is known for its charismatic flair, expressive talents and capacity to lead others. What’s rarely mentioned is the well of emotional intensity at the root of your being. A natural deep-sea diver, you’re able to recognize buried truths and bring treasures of insight and healing up from the past. Your perception has been heightened over the last few weeks; both internally and regarding the outer world. You’re now in an ideal position to take some of what’s recently come into focus, and tap available channels of communication to move toward resolution on pressing, key issues. These could be work or health related, or some combination of both. Matters concerning your home, family or personal history may be involved. Whatever your specifics might be, the lines are open, so dial in. The more you reach out to connect this week, the easier the next few months are likely to go. — By Victoria Emory

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — We tend to think of ‘conscience’ as our duties or allegiance toward others. On the collective level of society, the need for personal accountability is one (enormous and critical) thing. But a form of conscience often overlooked is the haunting weight that results from denying one’s need for personal fulfillment. Keeping food on the table pulls rank in terms of priority, and financial security has been on your radar, no doubt. But when creative aspirations feel urgent enough, the will finds a way. Self-expression is on your agenda — projects that have simmered on a back burner might be occupying more of your thoughts. Chances are you’ve got a backlog of unexpressed impulses straining at the bit to be set free. Your ruling planet Mercury’s upcoming retrograde has an advanced message for you: it’s time. You have something to say. Alignments this week are perfect for getting thoughts onto paper or into appropriate ears. — By Victoria Emory

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — The high-voltage Full Moon last weekend likely stirred deep-seated material that left you more consciously aware of what you must let go of, and what you require to feel safe on a fundamental level. How to bring those needs forward may be the question, but your evolutionary path demands that you overcome indecision and hesitation to act on your own behalf. The alternative is festering frustration and exacerbated, mounting pressure — something’s gotta give. Resources and values factor largely in this scenario. Relationships with a financial component may well play a role. Fortunately, opportunities for fruitful communications are available over the coming days, which can help pave the way for changes you’ve probably wanted to make for a long time. Issues related to your home, your past, or your family are up for resolution, and will necessitate some work. But steps taken now can help steer you onto the most direct route to the inner security and stable environment so essential to your wellbeing. — By Victoria Emory

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The word “learn” derives from an ancient root meaning “to follow or find the track.” That’s a pretty good metaphor for activity dominating your chart this week. Your entire conceptual framework has undergone major reconstruction for some time, courtesy of the heavy-hitting Saturn-Pluto conjunction in your sphere of ‘mind’. Mercury, planet of cognition and expression, is traversing your sign and will soon backtrack through it again. This will afford ample opportunity to trace aspects of your psyche, your past and your approach to the world in a way that refines your perspective yet further. A series of stimulating contacts between these two influences signal an educational journey ahead. First previews begin this week, so pay attention. Follow the trail of what piques your interest; you’re primed for serious encounters with respected sources of wisdom in one form or another. Places of study could offer social opportunities at just the right time. Revealing synchronicities, creative or even romantic inspiration, are possible. Heed the omens. — By Victoria Emory

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Perseverance is a fine art. To master it requires some technique. Your focus on future goals ties in with the radical, evolutionary changes you’ve gone through regarding your values, and how they impact self-worth and security. The situation is ripe with potential, but like the farmer so eager to reap his crop that he pulls growing shoots up from the soil, patience is your friend. Yet that doesn’t mean passivity, which is where skill enters in. Refine the essence of your desire: the feeling you’re after. If it’s financial freedom, that’s a sensation more than a number on your bank statement. From there, engage colleagues and proceed with projects in appreciation for ‘what is’. A gentle dual focus is involved. Your intuitive guidance is your best ally in getting from A to B right now, and those messages require a relaxed state of mind to get through. Just remember to stay present; all power flows from there. — By Victoria Emory

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Solitude and control are powerful strategies, and part of your natural skill-set. They come with a downside, however, that you’re also familiar with. Last week’s Full Moon triggered the high-pressure conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in your sign, and chances are there’s a lot built up inside that begs for release. You need human contact. A bit of warmth and communication with allies can go a long way toward helping you along the path of your highest purpose. Dynamics in your chart describe a productive overlap between worldly achievement, long-range objectives, and expressing ideas and feelings with others who share your ideals. These channels open wide over the next several days, but you may need to take the initiative. The upcoming Mercury retrograde looks like connections made now could lay groundwork for future endeavors. Social engagements this week can both strengthen existing relationships and spark inspired, creative vision. Take advantage of favorable winds and reach out. — By Victoria Emory

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Career-related strategies will continue to dominate your thoughts for some time. Integrating your work in the world with changes on the home front is an evolving project, so strive for flexibility and give it time. You’re entering a review process of sorts, and it’s important to listen for intuitive prompts that will steadily be delivered throughout. You’re probably out in a more active, visible public forum than you’ve been in a while, and that’s set to accelerate. So sensitivity to subtle guidance from within will require more intention than usual. A tremendous amount power in your chart is focused ‘behind closed doors’, in the deepest regions of your psyche, and that’s generating considerable pressure. The more honest you are with yourself, the more willing you are to feel what’s bubbling up from the depths, and the more you’ll be able to utilize all of your resources to make optimal choices. This is no time for rigid beliefs. — By Victoria Emory

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — How do your habitual beliefs dovetail with personal aspirations that can no longer be ignored? Goals you’ve cherished for years could feel intimidating, yet you’re compelled to achieve them. If only you felt secure enough; if only you knew how. Cosmic weather patterns moving in for the second half of the month suggest that to get a grip on limiting fears, some kind of vision quest is in order. Perspective is everything, and you need to widen your scope. Frustration around finances and related partnerships, strategic alliances and the direction you see for yourself presents a worthy evolutionary challenge. Your way through an apparent dilemma requires a tweak in worldview. It’s time to let your mind soar past confines you’ve grown accustomed to. That’s what Mercury’s upcoming retrograde can help you achieve. You’re primed for revelations. You may have something to teach that others need. Seize opportunities available this week to communicate with those in your circle, to open those doors. — By Victoria Emory

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