In a whimsical twist in my novel What’s Left, I placed the town along the Ohio River. Well, the navigable waterway is a defining element of southern Indiana.
Length of the Ohio River: 981 miles
Length along Indiana: 240 miles before adding twists. Drains all but the northernmost area of the state.
At its mouth: It is considerably larger than the Mississippi, making it the main hydrological stream of the whole river system.
Number of states feeding into the Ohio River: 15.
Largest tributary: Tennessee River, 652 miles long. Its watershed includes Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, a corner of Louisiana, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky.
Largest northern tributary: Wabash River, 503 miles long. It originates in Ohio and flows across Indiana before becoming part of the border with Illinois.
Average depth of Ohio River: 24 feet.
The biggest city along its way: Pittsburgh, metropolitan population of 3.5 million. The river begins with the confluence of the Allegheny, from upstate New York, and the Monongahela, which drains part of West Virginia and Maryland as well as Pennsylvania, at Point State Park in the Gold Triangle.
Next largest: Cincinnati, metropolitan area population of 2.2 million. Can be seen as the waterway’s hub.
Major hurdle: Louisville, Kentucky, sits at the Falls of the Ohio, which once presented a barrier to river traffic. The McAlpine Locks and Dam stand where the Louisville and Portland Canal was built in 1830 to allow vessels to bypass the falls. It was the first major engineering project on the river and, by some accounts, the first on an American waterway.
When it comes to election results in most of the locales I’ve lived in, I’ve awakened to find myself in the minority. Sometimes, discouraged, I’ve wondered if it’s even made sense to show up to cast my ballot.
On the other hand, believe me, being victorious can feel unbelievably vindicating.
That said, let me argue that casting your vote is not about winning. It’s about taking a stand.
Here are ten reasons you need to do it – especially if you live in the United States today.
It’s witness. The Bible presents a sequence of prophets and faithful individuals who have publicly done what’s right, no matter what. There’s good reason to have a multiparty system and its loyal opposition. Voting is one way of strengthening your own convictions.
It’s protest. In the current political climate, persecuted people and other nations need to know that not all Americans accept the tragic and reckless actions our government has been taking. History needs to know there have always been people of integrity, even when the current turns toward fascism.
You’re a reader. That means you’re better informed than the average Fox channel viewer. At the least, you cancel his vote. (Whew!) Better yet, you one-up him. (Yay!) Go for it.
As an informed voter, you can know who the big PAC money is supporting and cast your ballot against their candidates. Remember, in the end, the PACs want you to pay your taxes for their benefit. Defend yourself.
Some good people are running. Contrary to nihilistic conservative voices, not all candidates are crooks – in fact, that argument begins to sound like a mea culpa. Win or lose, honorable candidates need support in knowing they’ve done the right thing in campaigning. Otherwise, you’ve endorsed corruption and we’ll all pay dearly. You wouldn’t want that, would you?
Officeholders often feel alone when it comes to being true to their own moral values They need individuals to confirm their intuition. You can sway them in the direction events take, even into the next term.
Public policy decisions affect real actions for good or bad. You can back a candidate who’s going to solve problems rather than make more. And please, don’t settle on blank promises like “create new jobs” – ask what it actually means in detail. A job at Walmart won’t put much food on the table or pay the rent, not where I live, and will likely wipe out someone else in the process. Frankly, I’d rather have the someone else. Yada yada. Also listen for what they leave unsaid. Anyone remember hearing anything about taking over the Internet in our last national balloting?
Nurture future leaders. I’m encouraged to see talented fresh faces stepping up to the challenge across the nation. They need a boost. And we need theirs. Confirm their idealistic aspirations.
Screw the bastards. You can vote against incumbents and register your complaint, at the least. Rotten apples are destroying the barrel and need to be purged. This may be our last chance to trash them and wash the container. Don’t lose it. Let the good win out, please. Just look at what the partisan takeover of the Supreme Court is doing to the nation’s workers.
Defend your liberty. In essence, not voting is the same as not having the right to vote. Think about that. It’s time to come to the defense of your essential rights or else lose them. Democracy is being assaulted by reactionary forces.
In my new novel, What’s Left, her mother’s grandparents sail from Patras, Greece, to America in the years just before the First World War. In contrast, her father’s side appears to have farmed the Midwest in the oblivion of forever.
In observance of Independence Day, here are images from the Library of Congress in homage to those immigrants who arrived in that period by way of Ellis Island in New York Harbor.
Do I really have to define this? To be honest, until recently about all I knew about the topic came from overhearing someone who’s truly terrified about it, but then you have to realize he’s terrified by everything, including his own shadow. A little research, though, casts the possibility in a much calmer light. For instance:
It’s essentially a suburban phenomenon, should it erupt, starting at the malls. You don’t go there, do you?
That also means it’s afraid to venture into the ghetto – and anything close to center city.
It self-selects for Trump country, something like the plagues of Egypt. By the way, there’s no harm in sprinkling your doorposts with sheep’s blood, just in case. (You may want to keep some on hand.)
It also heads straight for Walmart. Think of the cockroach hotel ads, “They go in but they don’t come out.”
It runs in terror at the slightest whiff of high culture – paintings, fine literature, jazz, classical music, opera (especially) ward it off. Keep a good supply of Shakespeare quotes at the tip of your tongue. They’re better than any arcane spell you could cast.
There’s some debate about whether it’s spread by infected people or by an airborne virus. Here’s a hint: It has no sense of humor – it’s completely defenseless against laughter. Or really bad jokes. (“You hear the one about two zombies go in a bar?”)
As people? Traditional slow zombies will get in the way of the newer mutant fast zombies. They’ll start tripping over each other, which will lead to biting their rivals. New research indicates their blood types won’t match and that will be that. End of the show.
Or consider traffic gridlock. Major highways and bridges stop moving at a given volume – and many zombies will expire right there. You really didn’t expect them to be walking anywhere, did you?
And as a virus? Simple. Stockpile your vitamin C. And take it faithfully.
They won’t want your home-canned green beans. Or any other greens, for that matter. It’s too quiet where I live. Zombies would be looking for live action. I’m more worried about garden slugs.
So what potential global catastrophes are keeping you up nights? And how would you advise coping?
Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.
There’s no escaping food itself or American culinary trends in my new novel, What’s Left – not when the family’s livelihood and fortune are built around their landmark restaurant. What I did, however, escape is a story relating the day-to-day cartoon sequences of a kitchen demimonde of cooks, dishwashers, and wait staff, out of sight in the back, and the quirky demands of customers beyond the swinging service door and long countertop, out in front. My daughter, a pro in the hospitality industry, already has a fine draft of a novel addressing those, thank you. Besides, I touched on some of those incidents in the opening chapters of my novel, Promise.
Since my new work grows out of a template established at the ending of my first published novel, where her parents’ generation is already immersed in change, it seemed natural to have them look toward innovation and evolution rather than remain tradition-bound in hamburgers and fried chicken. For one thing, they were toying with Buddhism, with its vegetarian traditions.
Let me say simply that the possibilities have led to many heated discussions in our household, married as I am to a well-informed foodie and genius cook in her own right. And that’s before we get to the aforesaid daughter.
In the time since Cassia’s parents’ marriage, the awareness of food options and availability of ingredients in America has advanced by light years.