Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

The Vampyre by John Stagg

Nosferatu

The Vampyre

by John Stagg, 1810

~

“Why looks my lord so deadly pale?

Why fades the crimson from his cheek?

What can my dearest husband ail?

Thy heartfelt cares, O Herman, speak!

~

“Why, at the silent hour of rest,

Dost thou in sleep so sadly mourn?

As tho’ with heaviest grief oppres’d,

Griefs too distressful to be borne.

~

“Why heaves thy breast? — why throb thy heart?

O Speak! and if there be relief

Thy Gertrude solace shall impart,

If not, at least shall share thy grief.

~

“Wan is that cheek, which once the bloom

Of manly beauty sparkling shew’d;

Dim are those eyes, in pensive gloom,

That late with keenest lustre glow’d.

~

“Say why, too, at the midnight hour,

You sadly pant and tug for breath,

As if some supernat’ral pow’r

Were pulling you away to death?

~

“Restless, tho’ sleeping, still you groan,

And with convulsive horror start;

O Herman! to thy wife make known

That grief which preys upon thy heart.”

~

“O Gertrude! how shall I relate

Th’ uncommon anguish that I feel;

Strange as severe is this my fate, —

A fate I cannot long conceal.

~

“In spite of all my wonted strength,

Stern destiny has seal’d my doom;

The dreadful malady at length

Will drag me to the silent tomb!”

~

“But say, my Herman, what’s the cause

Of this distress, and all thy care.

That, vulture-like, thy vitals gnaws,

And galls thy bosom with despair?

~

“Sure this can be no common grief,

Sure this can be no common pain?

Speak, if this world contain relief,

That soon thy Gertrude shall obtain.”

~

“O Gertrude, ’tis a horrid cause,

O Gertrude, ’tis unusual care,

That, vulture-like, my vitals gnaws,

And galls my bosom with despair.

~

“Young Sigismund, my once dear friend,

But lately he resign’d his breath;

With others I did him attend

Unto the silent house of death.

~

“For him I wept, for him I mourn’d,

Paid all to friendship that was due;

But sadly friendship is return’d,

Thy Herman he must follow too!

~

“Must follow to the gloomy grave,

In spite of human art or skill;

No pow’r on earth my life can save,

“Tis fate’s unalterable will!

~

“Young Sigismund, my once dear friend,

But now my persecutor foul,

Doth his malevolence extend

E’en to the torture of my soul.

~

“By night, when, wrapt in soundest sleep,

All mortals share a soft repose,

My soul doth dreadful vigils keep,

More keen than which hell scarcely knows.

~

“From the drear mansion of the tomb,

From the low regions of the dead,

The ghost of Sigismund doth roam,

And dreadful haunts me in my bed!

~

“There, vested in infernal guise,

(By means to me not understood),

Close to my side the goblin lies,

And drinks away my vital blood!

~

“Sucks from my veins the streaming life,

And drains the fountain of my heart!

O Gertrude, Gertrude! dearest wife!

Unutterable is my smart.

~

“When surfeited, the goblin dire,

With banqueting by suckled gore,

Will to his sepulchre retire,

Till night invites him forth once more.

~

“Then will he dreadfully return,

And from my veins life’s juices drain;

Whilst, slumb’ring, I with anguish mourn,

And toss with agonizing pain!

~

“Already I’m exhausted, spent;

His carnival is nearly o’er,

My soul with agony is rent,

Tomorrow I shall be no more!

~

“But, O my Gertrude! dearest wife!

The keenest pangs hath last remain’d —

When dead, I too shall seek thy life,

Thy blood by Herman shall be drain’d!

~

“But to avoid this horrid fate,

Soon as I’m dead and laid in earth,

Drive thro’ my corpse a jav’lin straight; —

This shall prevent my coming forth.

~

“O watch with me, this last sad night,

Watch in your chamber here alone,

But carefully conceal the light

Until you hear my parting groan.

~

“Then at what time the vesper-bell

Of yonder convent shall be toll’d,

That peal shall ring my passing knell,

And Herman’s body shall be cold!

~

“Then, and just then, thy lamp make bare,

The starting ray, the bursting light,

Shall from my side the goblin scare,

And shew him visible to sight!”

~

The live-long night poor Gertrude sate,

Watch’d by her sleeping, dying lord;

The live-long night she mourn’d his fate,

The object whom her soul ador’d.

~

Then at what time the vesper-bell

Of yonder convent sadly toll’d,

Then, then was peal’d his passing knell,

The hapless Herman he was cold!

~

Just at that moment Gertrude drew

From ‘neath her cloak the hidden light;

When, dreadful! She beheld in view

The shade of Sigismund! — sad sight!

~

Indignant roll’d his ireful eyes,

That gleam’d with wild horrific stare;

And fix’d a moment with surprise,

Beheld aghast th’ enlight’nin glare.

~

His jaws cadaverous were besmear’d

With clott’d carnage o’er and o’er,

And all his horrid whole appear’d

Distent, and fill’d with human gore!

~

With hideous scowl the spectre fled;

She shriek’d aloud; — then swoon’d away!

The hapless Herman in his bed,

All pale, a lifeless body lay!

~

Next day in council ’twas decree,

(Urg’d at the instance of the state),

That shudd’ring nature should be freed

From pests like these ere ’twas too late.

~

The choir then burst the fun’ral dome

Where Sigismund was lately laid,

And found him, tho’ within the tomb,

Still warm as life, and undecay’d.

~

With blood his visage was distain’d,

Ensanguin’d were his frightful eyes,

Each sign of former life remain’d,

Save that all motionless he lies.

~

The corpse of Herman they contrive

To the same sepulchre to take,

And thro’ both carcasses they drive,

Deep in the earth, a sharpen’d stake!

~

By this was finish’d their career,

Thro’ this no longer they can roam;

From them their friends have nought to fear,

Both quiet keep the slumb’ring tomb.

~

John Stagg (1770-1823) was an English poet known as the “blind bard.” He is now remembered for his Gothic poem, “The Vampyre.” While young, he became blind from an accident. He, nonetheless, married and had seven children. He found a patron for his works in Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk and other members of the gentry. He died in Manchester.

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Jobs at ExxonMobil and Chevron

Richmond, California facility

Gas companies like ExxonMobil (https://jobs.exxonmobil.com) and Chevron (https://careers.chevron.com) rely on experienced professionals to maximize company operations and to develop new forms of existing and alternative energy for the future.

ExxonMobil currently lists 165 jobs for their operations around the world. Experienced engineers, from all backgrounds and specialties, are in great demand: electrical, piping, technical, operations, instrumentation, safety, quality, etc. In addition, ExxonMobil is actively seeking lab technicians and chemists; IT professionals and software developers; people from the financial sector; health professionals; firefighting and emergency response personnel; salespeople; and transportation, maintenance, and supply chain workers. Some of these jobs require German and French as a primary or secondary language. U.S. citizenship is not required.

ExxonMobil also offers internships to qualified students working on their master’s or doctorate, particularly in the fields of geology, geophysics, and all the earth sciences.

Chevron is seeking the same kind of expert professionals and offers internships to students. Chevron also offers jobs at facilities around the world.

Both companies emphasize diversity, experienced professionals, and innovation. People working for these companies need strong STEM skills: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They need strong computer skills; the ability to gather, analyze, and interpret data; and a working knowledge of how business operates.

While the ExxonMobil website was straight-forward and business-like, the Chevron website was exciting, future-oriented, and enticing. If I were seeking a job with one of these companies, I would start with Chevron.

Dawn Pisturino

October 8, 2020

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Jesus and Moses and the Qur’an

Artists’ Renderings of Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses

While Jews and Christians would recognize the story of Moses in the Qur’an as similar to the story in the Old Testament, the same cannot be said about Jesus. Stark theological differences between Christians and Muslims are clearly reflected in how Jesus is viewed in the Qur’an and the Islamic belief system.

“Moses is known as both a religious leader and a lawgiver.” All three Abrahamic religions portray him in this light. For Muslims, it goes a little farther. Moses (Musa) is regarded as both a Prophet (someone who spreads news from God to the people) and a Messenger (someone with a special mission from God).

The Qur’an mentions Moses more than 120 times because the story of his life and actions holds many lessons for humanity. Pharaoh represents an all-powerful ruler who enslaves people, worships many gods and goddesses, and sets himself up as a god. In Surah 28:38 he says, “O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me. So kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarhan (a lofty tower or palace) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilah (God) of Musa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Musa (Moses)] is one of the liars.”

When Pharaoh has a dream that a challenger will rise up from the people of Israel and defeat him, Pharaoh embarks on a campaign to kill all the male children of the Israelites. Moses’ mother is inspired by God to build a waterproof basket and throw him into the river. The basket is found by the wife of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh agrees to raise the child as his own (this version differs from the Old Testament story). Moses’ sister steers Pharaoh into accepting Moses’ mother as the child’s wet nurse. Moses grows up as a Prince of Egypt with all the luxury and power that position entails. But he is different from Pharaoh.

While Pharaoh is arrogant and cruel, Moses is sensitive to oppression and suffering. In the Qur’an, Prophethood is conferred upon Moses when he attains adulthood. He grows up knowing about monotheism. When Moses kills one of the Egyptians (polytheists), he is horrified and vows to never help the polytheists again. He cries out in Surah 28:17: “My Lord! For that with which You have favored me, I will never more be a helper of the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners).” He escapes to the land of Midian, where he marries a chief’s daughter and starts a family of his own.

One day he sees a fire, and when he investigates, Allah (God) speaks to him: “Verily, I am Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists).” Allah tells him to throw down his stick, and it turns into a snake. Allah tells him to take out his hand from behind his cloak, and it turns white. Allah explains: “These are two Burhan (signs, miracles, evidences, proofs) from your Lord to Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs. Verily, they are the people who are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” Moses asks Allah to give him his brother Aaron (Harun) as a helper, and Allah agrees.

When Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and his chiefs and perform the signs, they mock them, saying, “This is nothing but invented magic. Never did we hear of this among our fathers of old.” Allah eventually drowns Pharaoh and his chiefs, and this teaches that God will overcome and defeat “the Zalimun (wrongdoers, polytheists and those who disbelieved in the Oneness of the Lord (Allah), or rejected the advice of His Messenger Musa (Moses).”

After this, Moses receives the Torah (Taurat) from Allah “as an enlightenment for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy, that they might remember (or receive admonition).” Later on, Aaron watches over the followers of Moses in the desert while Moses goes up to Mount Sinai. Allah reaffirms his commitment to Moses and his mission. Then he gives Moses the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. (The lesson here is that Moses brought the law from God, and the Israelites were meant to follow it.)

While Moses is gone, the people make a golden calf out of gold ornaments. Then they regret what they have done. When Moses comes back, he angrily chides his brother and the people and asks for God’s forgiveness. Allah forgives them and divides the people into twelve tribes. He shows them where to find water and food. But the people who were committed to doing wrong “changed the word that had been told to them. So we sent a torment from the heaven in return for their wrong-doings.” The Qur’an repeatedly chides the Jews for not trusting in God and His mercy, committing polytheism, and changing the Torah and the word of God. Then the Qur’an exhorts the Jews and all people to accept Muhammad as the Prophet and Messenger from God and to follow his will.

Moses is presented as an historic figure and a real human person in the Qur’an. He is one of the special Messengers from God, along with Abraham and Joseph (who was kidnapped and sent to Egypt). On the other hand, “Jesus is a controversial prophet.” The Qur’an insists that Christians have perverted the message of Jesus, and therefore, God must cleanse him and raise him above the Christian heresy. Surah 3:55 says, “And (remember) when Allah said: ‘O Isa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that Isa (Jesus) is Allah’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad, Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), or in His Holy books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Qur’an] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.'”

“In Islam, Mary’s purity and sinlessness highlight Isa (Jesus) as an important prophet. Islam considers Jesus to be one of Islam’s four main messengers, along with Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad.” But the prohibition against polytheism has led Muslims to reject altogether the divine side of Jesus Christ. He is regarded as no more special than any other prophet. He is always referred to as Jesus, Son of Mary, to highlight his humanness.

Muslims believe in the power of God to perform miracles. They have no problem believing in Jesus’ virgin birth. Just like God created the world with a word, “Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus was created by a word from God and this word was ‘Be!'” In this context, Jesus is also called “the word of God.” Mary, Jesus’ mother, is highly revered by Muslims as someone blessed by God. And yet, Muslims completely reject that Jesus — who was born by the power of God — had any special relationship to God. They regard the creation of Jesus as similar to the creation of Adam. God spoke the word “Be!” and Adam was created. God spoke the word “Be!” and Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb.

While Christians believe that Jesus received divine spirit from God and was, therefore, the Son of God, Muslims reject this idea as polytheistic. They also reject Christ’s crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven after forty days. The Qur’an does recognize that Jesus performed miracles and was sent by God to reaffirm the belief in Abrahamic monotheism. They also believe that the New Testament Gospels were revealed to Jesus, even though he did not write them down. Part of his mission was to amend Jewish law and to make “some things lawful which were otherwise forbidden.” He relaxed the burden of the law on the Jewish people. “God sent Prophet Jesus with the Injeel (Gospel) to correct and restore the divine law” which had been corrupted by Jewish leaders.

Muslims also believe that the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus out of pride “with full knowledge that he was the Christ.” Then, God lifted Jesus up to heaven before any harm could come to him. Everything the Christians believe about the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is an illusion. The Qur’an addresses this issue in Surah 4:157: “And, because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary).”

In Surah 4:158, the story goes on: “But Allah raised him [Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” An unfortunate effect of these beliefs is that Muslims view Christians as superior to Jews “because of Jewish rejection and crucifixion of Prophet Jesus.” But they also view themselves as superior to both groups because of their acceptance of the Oneness of God and Muhammad as the Messenger of God. They also reject the Gospels of the New Testament as evolving over hundreds of years and not existing in their original forms.

The biggest point of contention between Muslims and Christians is the concept of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it is a point that can never be resolved without Muslims converting to Christianity or Christians converting to Islam.

Abrahamic monotheism recognizes the Oneness of God and rejects polytheism. This is the major theme running through the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Christians have invented an all-new “conceptualization of the nature of God that contradicts the Jewish and Muslim notions of oneness.”

After Jesus’ death (or disappearance for Muslims), there was much debate over the person and nature of Jesus. Some people believed in his divine nature. Other people saw him as strictly human. Emperor Constantine intervened and called for the Council of Nicea. The Arian notion of Jesus as human was discredited. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity and eternity of Jesus Christ. The trinity was accepted based on the Old Testament concept of “the one Godhead.” The Second Nicene Council affirmed the divinity of Jesus Christ, once again. Anybody spreading Arianism was condemned and persecuted. Later on, people who supported Arianism were easily converted to Islam because of their belief in his humanness.

In short, the rejection by Muslims of Jesus Christ as a divine, eternal being can be summed up in three points: “Jesus Christ is not divine because he was a created being; he was not divine because his rank and status was not coequal to God; and Jesus Christ exhibited limitations and dependence which go against the Abrahamic concept of God.”

“Muslims believe that Prophethood is the highest honor that any being can be bestowed by God.” God can have no partner, children, or siblings. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot be divine or the Son of God according to the Qur’an and the Islamic view of God.

Dawn Pisturino

February 17, 2019

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the author for sources.

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Remembering the California Camp Fire 2018

Huffington Post Photo

Around 6:30 a.m. on November 8, 2018, the deadliest fire in California history broke out near Pulga, Butte County, California after a Pacific Gas & Electric high tension power line fell to the ground. Strong winds spread the fire to Concow, Paradise, Magalia, Chico, and Centerville.

Thousands of people, pets, and livestock were forced to evacuate. Towns not touched by the fire were overwhelmed with evacuees. Community organizers set up shelters and tent cities. Representatives from insurance companies and FEMA erected stations to help people affected by the fire.

By the time the fire was extinguished three weeks later, 153,336 acres and over 18,800 structures had been destroyed. At least 86 people perished.

Pacific Gas & Electric took responsibility for the fire and immediately began the cleanup process. But the costs of the damage forced PG&E to file for bankruptcy and cleanup efforts were delayed.

The cleanup has been estimated to take two or three years. Over 1,500 people were hired to remove debris. They must be certified in Hazmat cleanup due to concerns about asbestos. PG&E moved forward with its tree removal program to help prevent future wildfires.

A major hazard after the fire was the contamination of the water supplies. Benzene, a known carcinogenic, was released into the water when water pipes melted. People were forced to drink bottled water or install huge water tanks and have water delivered by truck. This hit surviving businesses particularly hard.

Many people who lost their homes and jobs moved away to start fresh someplace else. Six months after the fire, only 1,500 residents had returned to Paradise out of a population of 27,000. Businesses supplying basic goods re-opened with limited hours. Internet, telephone, and electricity services were restored.

More than 1,000 animals were rescued and taken to shelters, an overwhelming number. Six months later, all but 200 had been placed with new or recovered families.

On August 6, 2019, the Butte County Public Health Department issued a press release indicating that many locations in the Camp Fire burn area remain under the do-not-drink water advisory. Water quality is monitored by the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Agencies which have cooperated with response and recovery include: the California Department of Fire, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, California Office of Emergency Services, National Weather Service, California Conservation Corps, Butte County, and the City of Chico, California.

Dawn Pisturino

September 10, 2019

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

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DHS, FEMA, and the National Incident Management System

9

Introduction

After the end of the Cold War, America faced new challenges as the world’s leading military power. The failure of the old Soviet Union left a leadership vacuum which created new opportunities for terrorist organizations, petty dictators, and rogue countries to asset their influence and power. The end result was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001 by an Islamic group known as Al Qaeda.

Amid all the post-attack horror and shock, two questions stood out: what did the U.S. government know — and why wasn’t the threat taken more seriously? Congress created the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States on November 27, 2002 to answer those questions and to address the need for a more comprehensive national preparedness system.

A Discussion of the Origins of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Al Qaeda was organized by Osama bin Laden in 1988 after the Soviet Union abandoned Afghanistan. After the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and several attacks on foreign soil, the CIA concluded in 1995 that there would be increasing terrorist attacks against and in the United States but attributed these attacks to loosely-affiliated individuals with special training who could disappear underground. It wasn’t until 1996-1997 that the CIA became aware of Bin Laden’s terrorist organization. In spite of this knowledge, officials failed to share the complete information about Bid Laden and his activities in their updated reports.

Between 1998 and 2001, more information was compiled about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but the CIA failed to comprehend the importance or urgency of the information. Even when select individuals tried to point out the threat and devised plans of action, those plans were usually shot down by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats as too expensive, too unrealistic, or too inadequate.

Part of the problem was the expectation that a major terrorist attack would be achieved through chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons. And since Al Qaeda possessed none of these, the threat it posed was minimized. The few small-scale attacks the group had achieved overseas, such as the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000, were not considered important enough to beef up national security. And the idea of using airplanes for suicide bombings was not considered a credible scenario for most Washington bureaucrats — including Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

It’s no surprise, then, that the American people were horrified to learn that a small group of radical Islamic terrorists — armed only with simple box cutters — were able to hijack American commercial jets and slam into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The federal government was compelled to act.

The Department of Homeland Security was created by President George W. Bush with Executive Order 13228 on October 8, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The mission of the new department was “to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks.” It was specifically mandated “to coordinate the executive branch’s efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States.”

President Bush’s order covers the five basic elements of emergency management: preparedness, prevention (mitigation), protection, response, and recovery in coordination with federal, state, and local agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. But one of the most important features of the order is the gathering and dissemination of information relating to homeland security with “state and local governments and private entities.” The order establishes the Homeland Security Council, with members representing the most important departments in the federal government.

An Examination of the Relationship between the DHS and FEMA

With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, President Bush focused the nation’s attention on terrorism and potential terrorist threats and attacks. Executive Order 13228 orders the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to “assist in the implementation of national security emergency preparedness policy by coordinating with the other federal departments and agencies and with state and local governments, and by providing periodic reports to the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council on implementation of national security emergency preparedness policy.”

Section 503 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 transfers accountability and responsibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency — including its Director — to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as part of the department’s overall goal of building a comprehensive National Incident Management System (NIMS). “NIMS was [ultimately] created to integrate effective practices in emergency preparedness and response into a comprehensive national framework for incident management. NIMS enables responders at all levels to work together more effectively and efficiently to manage domestic incidents no matter what the cause, size, or complexity, including catastrophic acts of terrorism and disasters.” By making NIMS “a requirement for many federal grant programs,” the federal government has been able to promote a formalized, centralized, and coordinated national response plan which “provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government” in the event of disaster. “NIMS provides the template for the management of incidents, while the NRF [National Response Framework] provides the structure and mechanisms for national-level policy for incident management.”

Section 507 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 outlines the role and functions of FEMA and mandates that the agency follow a comprehensive emergency management program (NIMS) which includes mitigation, planning, preparedness, response, and recovery. The act designates FEMA as the leading agency for implementing the national emergency response plan.

FEMA successfully responded to the Midwest Floods of 1993, the Northridge, California earthquake, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Seattle earthquake, and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. But, once FEMA was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security, its effectiveness declined. The agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush, for example, was considered a failure.

FEMA’s failure has been attributed to loss of autonomy and access to the White House, loss of power and status, redistribution of funds and personnel to projects given higher priority (such as terrorism), excess bureaucracy in the upper levels of the Department of Homeland Security, and a lack of coordination with state and local governments. Congress passed several reform bills to help resolve these issues.

Discussion of HSPD-5 and HSPD-8

Although the Homeland Security Act of 2002 ordered the development and implementation of a comprehensive national response plan, it was Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5 (February 28, 2003) which formally called for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a national incident management system and national response plan that would improve coordination between departments, states, and local governments in the event of a major incident.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 (December 17, 2003) proposed policies that would strengthen domestic preparedness to deal with major disasters (including terrorist attacks). Once again, coordination responsibility fell onto the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security with the goal of keeping the country ready at all times. This directive was aimed particularly at first responders by providing training programs and offering incentive rewards to the states.

With the Department of Homeland Security in control of devising and implementing a well-coordinated national response plan, it is ironic that the department failed so miserably in the face of Hurricane Katrina.

Conclusion

With the continued threats facing America, it is more important then ever for the country to avoid complacency and stay alert in order to recognize, prevent, and respond effectively to potential and actual disasters. We must learn from both our successes and our failures as we move forward into the future.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University, 2019

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

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unSUNg “Perceptual Mishmash” video benefit concert

My daughter, Ariel Pisturino, is the Artistic Director, as well as a performer, in the new unSUNg video benefit concert series. Click on the link to listen to this amazing group of musical artists, performing new and forgotten musical masterpieces.

All donations benefit Water Warriors United, a group of dedicated Navajos who transport water supplies to the disabled and elderly on the Navajo reservation in Arizona and New Mexico. Visit their website at:

http://www.collectivemedicine.net

Enjoy!

Dawn Pisturino

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An Open Letter to my Niece and Nephew

Black Lives Matter image

Dear Niece and Nephew,

I am much older than you, and what you don’t realize is that the Democrats have been spouting the same rhetoric for 50 years. It never changes, it just gets worse. I have been hearing the same crap for 50 years, only it’s gotten more extreme and insane. I don’t blame you for that because you don’t know any better. The younger generation doesn’t know any better. Especially since they don’t do any research to figure it out. Racism has become a buzz word for the Democrats and the Left which they use when they have nothing else. It’s turned into a form of extortion, which I have pointed out to you in the past. Reverse racism is still racism, no matter who or what color or nationality is involved. Barack Obama is a racist. Rev. Al Sharpton is a racist. John Lewis was a racist. They don’t preach equality, they preach reverse racism and historic hatred. They use the past to promote hatred and racism in the present. They promote racism to gain power and to enrich themselves. Joe Biden – whom I assume you support – voted against every piece of Civil Rights legislation. He supported segregation. He campaigned with Senator Robert Byrd, a well-known member of the KKK. He continues to make racist remarks against blacks and other minority groups. And this is the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party????????? The whole history of the Democratic Party is racist and bloody. The KKK was founded by Southern Democrats to terrorize blacks. It was the NRA which provided guns to former slaves to protect themselves from the KKK. It was Southern Democrats who lynched blacks and tried to suppress the black vote. The Democratic Party continues to exploit black Americans. This is real history. Look it up yourselves. It’s also the reason many blacks are leaving the Democratic Party.

  1. Enforcing immigration laws is not racist. It’s following the law. The plain and simple truth is that our immigration laws have not been enforced by various politicians for various reasons, mostly to get cheap labor. Both parties are guilty of this. Putting American workers first is not racist. It’s common sense. Calling President Trump a racist does not make him one. Enforcing our immigration laws – which a majority of Americans support – is not racist. It’s a matter of national security. The countries which have not secured their borders are now suffering the consequences. In fact, the whole COVID-19 thing has highlighted the importance of controlling immigration and securing our borders.
  2. People who hate America – for whatever reason – should do us all a favor and leave. It’s that simple. No matter what changes are made, they will always hate America. That was true in the 1960s, and it’s true now. So leave. Most Americans just want to go to work, give their kids a good education, enjoy a certain amount of prosperity, and be happy. They don’t want to be bothered with this constant political nonsense 24/7. People are turning off the news, turning off sports, and tuning out Hollywood because of it. The Silent Majority rules – not the people who are always running their mouths.
  3. Denying the violence in Seattle, Portland, and other liberal cities is astounding, at best, and ignorant, at worst. To say that President Trump and the media made all that up is sheer nonsense. For someone like Rep. Jerry Nadler to call it a myth just proves how completely out of touch the Democrats are with reality. Their silence and inability to publicly recognize what’s really going on will hurt them in November and beyond. To put it plainly, average Americans are sick of it. And Antifa and the radical Left have no loyalty to any party. They don’t give a fig about the Democrats or Republicans. Their entire goal is destruction, and they will ultimately destroy the Democratic Party, which tries to exploit them for their own ends. Sorry, but that’s not how these groups operate.
  4. Black Lives Matter started out as a terrorist group that called for the killing of police, and it hasn’t changed. It’s just gotten wealthier as corporations – afraid of being branded racist, and fearful that their facilities will be burned down – donate money and give public lip service to their cause. Defunding the police is the dumbest idea yet, and in high crime areas, that is the last thing people want. They want the bad cops to go, yes, but they rely on the police for protection. In the end, however, there aren’t enough police to protect everyone. That’s why the police tell people to learn how to protect and defend themselves. That’s why gun and ammunition sales are up. Not because “they use any excuse to buy guns,” but because people are afraid.
  5. There’s absolutely nothing you could say to me that I haven’t heard a hundred times before over the last 50 years. It’s not because I think I’m smarter than you or anyone else. It’s because I’ve already lived through it and heard it.
  6. People change as their knowledge and experience change. If I want too know what’s going on and what people think and want, I talk to real people. I don’t listen to Fox, CNN, or any of the other media. I knew Hillary was going to lose just from talking to real everyday people. And the first thing you learn in Sociology 101 is that polls are easily manipulated. I don’t pay attention to polls or political pundits.
  7. “Systemic racism,” “white guilt,” and “white privilege” are all liberal bullshit, created by liberal professors, sociologists, and activists. Systemic racism no longer exists on a wide scale. You will never completely eliminate racism because it’s part of the human condition. Many people become racists based on negative experiences they’ve had, even if they were taught otherwise. Making all white people feel guilty for being white, when they haven’t done anything wrong, just makes people angry and creates a backlash and more racism. And groups like the Nation of Islam promote the misguided belief that all white people are inherently racist, while being racist themselves. As far as white privilege goes, do you two feel guilty for being white, comfortable, and successful? If that’s the case, you should sign over the deeds to your houses to the next black family you meet, and voluntarily give up your jobs to a black person. For myself, I worked for what I have, and nobody is going to take it from me.
  8. American history is an extension of British history. The British, French, and other groups brought slavery to America. Blaming America for slavery is ludicrous when the country didn’t even exist then. Blaming the Founding Fathers is ludicrous because it was an accepted practice AT THAT TIME. And we fought a Civil War to end it, so this constant narrative, destroying statues, and trying to erase history, is harmful, stupid, and a waste of time. YOU CAN’T ERASE HISTORY, no matter how hard you try. My British and German ancestors have been on this continent since the 1600s, and I haven’t found any evidence that any of them owned slaves. Barack Obama’s direct ancestor, Samuel Dunham, who lived in Virginia, owned 2 slaves, and that’s in the census records. Is Barack Obama to blame because he’s half white? Of course not. You can’t judge history by the standards of today.

I love both of you, and regret that our disagreements have turned into such a terrible mess. It’s a reflection of the times in which we live. People have a right to believe what they want and to vote for whomever they want. And to condemn people for exercising their constitutional rights is wrong. That’s what makes America unique and great as a country.

Love,

Your Aunt Dawn

***

Dawn Pisturino

August 9, 2020

Copyright 2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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My Alzheimer’s Nightmare

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Today is Mother’s Day – and I salute all of the Mothers of the world! But, I’m glad that my own mother is dead and not dealing with my father’s Alzheimer’s.

My mother died in 2002. A couple of years before she died, my father began exhibiting signs of dementia: confusion, getting lost, argumentative behavior, etc. He did not handle her death very well. In fact, it sent him into a downward spiral. His behavior became more erratic and irrational. His sister talked him into moving near her so they could spend time together.

A couple of months later, my father met – and married – an elderly woman who had a reputation around town for being crazy. The marriage caused an uproar in the family. As people got to know my new stepmother, they began to realize just how crazy she really was. She threw temper fits when she didn’t get her own way. She swore like a sailor, while pretending to be a devout Christian on Sundays. She refused to contribute any of her own money to the household bills. She harassed my father constantly for money. Eventually, the word DIVORCE came up, and we all prayed it would happen.

It didn’t. My father stayed with this crazy woman, getting quieter, more depressed, and more confused. The police were called on more than one occasion because of her temper fits. Finally, against her better judgment, my aunt got involved.

In 2016, it became increasingly clear that my father needed to be evaluated by a neurologist. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s!!!!! Nobody in our family had ever been diagnosed with dementia, let alone Alzheimer’s. The prospects were frightening.

My father refused to take his medications, and my stepmother refused to help him. She refused to let home health into the house to help him. My aunt became ever more involved, checking up on him to make sure he was okay, and coaxing him to take his medications. She got into terrible fights with my stepmother over his lack of care.

Adult Protective Services were called. But they were limited in what they could do. They could not FORCE my stepmother to take care of my Dad or FORCE my father into a nursing home. My aunt and I became more and more frustrated. We knew it was an unsafe situation, and there wasn’t anything we could do.

When my father drove off one day in his van and disappeared for three days, a nation-wide Silver Alert was announced. My stepmother knew he had disappeared and never bothered to call the police. It was my aunt who called them when she discovered he was gone. My Dad saw himself on TV in a convenience store hundreds of miles away, and the cashier called the police. Thank God!

My aunt and I hounded APS after that because my father absolutely refused to go into a nursing home. And my stepmother continued to neglect him and leave him alone for hours at a time, even though she was told not to do that.

Finally, when I was visiting with my father and asking him questions, I began to wonder if my stepmother was even feeding him. He had lost a lot of weight and couldn’t seem to remember when or what he was eating. When I began snooping through the cupboards and refrigerator, I didn’t find much food. I made another report to APS.

By this time, the APS worker had had several run-ins with my stepmother and developed a distinct dislike for her. She decided to act. She spoke to her supervisor, and they made a point of investigating the food situation in the house. After finding little food, and compiling a report on my stepmother’s neglect, they approached a judge, who court-ordered my father into a nursing home. When the case came up for review a few months later, the order was upheld by the judge. The relief we all felt was overwhelming.

Once my father was safe, it became clear that my stepmother could not take care of herself. She refused to pay any bills, and raided as much money as she could from my father’s funds. It took a while, but my aunt finally convinced my stepmother’s children to come and get her and take her home with them to a neighboring state. We were glad to be rid of her!

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that robs a person of their identity, their dignity, and their self-respect. It does not kill quickly like cancer. It drags on for years, draining family finances and resolve. My father’s condition has caused a big split in our family over legal and financial matters. And then there’s the guilt – for, no matter how much or how little you do, it will never be enough or the right thing or the thing that satisfies other people.

If you’re struggling with a family member who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We are all in this together.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

May 10, 2020

Copyright 2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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A Butterfly Birthday

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Amy leaned over and smelled the sweet, honey-like fragrance of the tiny white flowers on a leafy green bush. It was spring — her most favorite time of year — and the big backyard was alive with blooming flowers, buzzing bees, and orange-and-black butterflies playing among the wild dandelions growing in the grass.

The butterflies were called monarchs, and Amy looked forward to their arrival every spring.

As she peered deeper into the bush, Amy spied a small green object hanging from a slender brown twig. She reached into the bush and broke off the little twig. She held the object gently in her hand, admiring the delicate green color. Near the top was a hard ridge tinted with yellow that seemed to sparkle like gold in the warm spring sunlight.

Amy had found a butterfly chrysalis. Some people call them cocoons. They are also called pupas.

Amy had learned a lot about butterflies from her teacher at school. She knew that female butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves. After a few days small caterpillars, called larvae, eat their way out of the eggs. They finish eating the eggshells — their very first meal! After that, they attach themselves to a leaf and eat and eat and eat until they become too big for their skin. They shed their old skin, a process called molting, and then gobble it up to get important nutrients. Mmm — delicious!

Caterpillars continue to eat and grow and shed their skin until they have done this four times. Now, they are about 2 inches long. But they still have a long way to go before they turn into beautiful butterflies.

The caterpillars take long walks in search of the perfect place to rest. When they find it, they weave a sticky, silky attachment called a silk button. This allows the caterpillars to hang upside down and begin a process called metamorphosis.

For the last time, the caterpillars shed their skin and emerge as a small, oval object called a pupa, chrysalis, or cocoon. This is the third stage in the butterfly life cycle.

Amy realized what a precious treasure she held in her hand. She gathered a handful of grass and leaves and covered the bottom of a large glass jar. She carefully laid the little green cocoon to rest in the soft little nest. Then she punched air holes in the lid with a nail and screwed it on top of the jar.

She placed the jar on a table next to her bed, where the warm spring sunshine would shine through the bedroom window and warm the little green cocoon.

Every day, she looked at the little cocoon in the jar, and waited. Amy knew that the caterpillar’s body inside the chrysalis would dissolve into a liquid and the cells of the adult butterfly begin to grow. The little cocoon became more and more transparent as the immature cells developed into a full-fledged butterfly. Pretty soon, she could see the orange-and-black wings of an adult monarch inside the chrysalis.

One morning, Amy woke up and glanced at the big glass jar next to her bed. But something was different. The little cocoon was broken and empty. Sitting next to it was a brand new orange-and-black butterfly with white markings on its wings. It was the most beautiful monarch butterfly she had ever seen.

The butterfly sat on a dry leaf, slowly moving its wings up and down. Amy watched in fascination, amazed by the miracle of nature she had witnessed in the big glass jar.

But the glass jar was no place to keep such a delicate and fragile creature. She took the jar outside, unscrewed the lid, and watched the beautiful butterfly flutter away.

Dawn Pisturino

Spring 2008

Copyright 2008-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Contact author for sources

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The Hoover Dam – What if it Broke?

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The Hoover Dam – What if it Broke?

I.

At any given time, Lake Mead – which is held back by the Hoover Dam — can supply water to 29 million households in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Turbines and generators at Hoover Dam turn water energy into electrical energy. A failure at Hoover Dam would cut off both water and power to all of these seven states, and especially, to all the communities located in the Colorado River Basin.

A breach in the Hoover Dam wall would cause 10 trillion gallons of water from Lake Mead to form a tsunami wave that would travel down the Colorado River, destroying Davis Dam, Parker Dam, and several bridges, and wiping out Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu. Communities located on the Colorado River would be flooded.

There would be an immediate loss of hydroelectric power, irrigation water, and drinking water that millions of people in all seven states depend on. The economic losses would be devastating.

Bullhead City, Arizona is one of the cities located on the Colorado River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would immediately notify Bullhead City and Mohave County [in Arizona] of the impending catastrophe. The Mohave County Disaster Plan for uncontrolled releases from dams would be activated, involving the Mohave County Department of Risk and Emergency Management and multiple other departments in Bullhead City and Mohave County. The Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona State Parks Department, and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area [in Nevada] would also be involved.

It would require expert and efficient coordination and excellent communication capabilities to evacuate 30,000 people (the ones in Bullhead City, Arizona living closest to the river) in 90 minutes, before the water held back by Hoover Dam and then Davis Dam, hit Bullhead City. In spite of all evacuation plans to move people to Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona, people would greet the news of a Hoover Dam failure with disbelief and then panic. Highway 95 is the only main route through Bullhead City. It would be jammed with traffic. People on higher ground might be safe from flooding, but they would be trapped by lack of alternate roads out of the city. Law enforcement would be essential to keeping the traffic moving.

It is my estimate that if 10,000 people managed to get out of town in 90 minutes, 10,000 residents would be trapped on higher ground, and 20,000 fatalities would result from drowning and injuries. Thirty miles of Highway 95 would be flooded by water. At least 16,000 homes and businesses would be flooded or destroyed. The local hospital, which sits on a hill, could only be accessed by helicopter. The sewer systems would be flooded, contaminating the environment. Remaining residents would be without power and water. They would have to walk through the hills to highway 68 or be flown out by helicopter. The American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations would have to set up emergency shelters in Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona within two hours to help the survivors.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors would ask the Governor of Arizona to declare an emergency situation. He, in turn, would ask the President of the United States to declare Bullhead City [and all other cities along the Colorado River] a disaster area. Bullhead City and Mohave County would be overwhelmed. FEMA would be mobilized.

II.

If an unknown terrorist group launched a nuclear device at Hoover Dam and caused a rupture in the concrete wall, the scenario would be the same as described above. In addition to physical and environmental damage and loss of human life, the air and water would be contaminated with radiation and debris. The 10,000 people who managed to stay behind on dry land would have to be rescued and evacuated over 24 hours due to exposure to radiation.

Emergency shelters would need to be set up within two hours by the American Red Cross and other volunteer organizations in Golden Valley and Kingman, Arizona to supply food, water, and other basic needs to survivors. But over the next day, wind currents would bring the radiation over the mountains and into Golden Valley and Kingman. Local law enforcement would pass out gas masks and be on patrol to control panic, looting, and general disorder while State and County emergency workers evacuated the area.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors would ask the Governor of Arizona to declare an emergency situation. He, in turn, would ask the President of the United States to declare the area a disaster zone. FEMA would be mobilized to the area.

Conclusion: When President Trump talks about our deteriorating infrastructure, We the People need to take it more seriously. There are a number of dams across the country which need much-needed repairs and reinforcement. Waiting for a disaster to occur is unacceptable. When he talks about preventing terrorists from entering the country, he knows what he’s talking about. Our deteriorating infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

Dawn Pisturino

September 2019 and April 23, 2020

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Contact author for sources.

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