“And I know I’m damned if I never get out, And maybe I’m damned if I do, But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart, You know I’d rather be damned with you.”
-Meatloaf- “Bat out of Hell”

Once again, people are looking for the next great plague to trigger the apocalypse to end it all despite how much they truly want to continue on. All a bunch of squawkers, or should I say screechers. Viruses come back full circle when others didn’t pan out as the media would have hoped; kind of like cults. Ebola, the fruit bat virus is back, and you probably originally thought it derived from monkeys for some odd reason.

Outbreak geek com
Photo courtesy of geek.com

Thomas Eric Duncan has become the first individual to die from the Ebola virus on United States soil. The forty-two-year-old Liberian worker set out to visit family in the United States in mid-September, but came in contact with a girl dying of the virus while trying to get her to the hospital where she was denied access and later passed away. He showed no symptoms upon arrival in Dallas, but later began feeling the effects of the deadly virus. He was initially sent home from the hospital, and then returned three days later; doctors then verified his blood was contaminated with Ebola. Duncan was living with a woman and three children who were moved from the apartment for precautionary measures days before he passed away from the illness (Buchanan, 2014). Two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who worked on Duncan have now contracted the disease, and forty-eight other people who have been in contact with the man are being monitored (Shoichet, 2014). Not to mention, Vinson flew on a commercial jet carrying the virus before symptoms started to show.

This is how things spread, people. If you’re not careful, you can pass the flu around the office, or wipe out the entire population of a country. Since 1976, about 1,600 people have passed away from the Ebola virus, all being on African soil (WHO, 2014). 20,000 people die each year from influenza (Bhoolsuwan, 2014). It really puts the virus in perspective, but without proper treatment anything can happen. Well, I guess anything can happen anyway. I mean, autoerotic asphyxiation alone kills six-hundred people a year (Jenkins, 2011).

Caradine disney wikia com
Photo courtesy of disney.wikia.com

There have actually been claims that the Ebola virus was created by the CIA in order to exterminate the black man. There’s no conspiracy to wipe out a race, it’s not the 1940’s. In fact, people are trying to over-populate this world (especially the youth with their irresponsibility) and finding ways for everyone to live forever. Harvey Danger thinks so; just listen to the whole song and you will hear they lyric I’m subtly referencing.

You know, you exchange bodily fluids that way (gross). We keep looking for the apocalyptic plague that was predicted, but influenza has been it for as long as we’ve known it to be. Just because we can’t find a cure, it doesn’t mean we should target another virus so scientists and doctors can be heroes when they boost their confidence by curing Ebola. HIV/AIDS kills around 1.5 million people a year and Cancer takes the lives of 7.6 million worldwide. Pick any plague, any plague at all. I don’t want to sound cryptic, but we’re all damned.

Now, because of a slight scare that may lead to the end of civilization, and some slow media days, we must beware of fatal possibilities. Even more reason not to trust people or communicate with them. Finally, a break from this social madness. Just don’t shake a stranger’s hand, no matter how much candy they’re offering you, and don’t play with bats no matter how much you want to become a superhero.

In all seriousness though, think about the ones who have suffered, and don’t be stubborn if you’re not feeling well, get checked out.

Bhoolsuwan, P. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.8newsnow.com/story/26798114/doctors-people-more-likely-to-contract-die-from-flu-not-ebola on October 17, 2014

Buchanan, L. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/01/us/retracing-the-steps-of-the-dallas-ebola-patient.html on October 15, 2014

Jenkins, B. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.oddee.com/item_98002.aspx on October 17, 2014

Shoichet, C. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/15/health/texas-ebola-outbreak/index.html on October 15, 2014

World Health Organization (WHO) (2014). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ on October 17, 2014


“Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got, Set them free at the break of dawn. ‘Til one by one they were gone.”
-Nena, “99 Luftballoons”

Every city has something annual that they’re known for (don’t research that), even if the event is only familiar to the locals. Albuquerque holds a yearly affair opened to international competitors, displayers, and tourists. It’s known as the Balloon Fiesta, and it’s a beautiful, yet bittersweet baker’s week (think baker’s dozen, I was trying to be clever). The clear blue sky becomes a colorful array of floating shapes that are amazing in person and more than adequate for a Facebook cover photo after a plethora of snapped memories are captured; many many memories from many many people.

2014-10-04 08.15.10
Photo courtesy of Me

That’s my Facebook cover photo by the way. The Fiesta brings a great deal of tourism to Albuquerque each year, and the popularity of the event continues to grow. There were a registered 550 balloons penciled in to partake in 2014 (Rayburn, 2014). In its inaugural 1972 launch, there were just 13 balloons floating away from the Coronado Mall parking lot (Rayburn, 2014). Now the participants take off from Balloon Fiesta Park, with 80 of the 360 acres dedicated to balloonists (Rayburn, 2014) and their huge inflatable contraptions.

It’s not only about these unusual operators and their hot air floating around, there are other attractions that draw people to the event: Chainsaw carving competitions even though fast-moving powered blades are probably the last thing someone wants around nylon fabric, educational presentations, activities for children (better tag those tots), concerts, fireworks, balloon rides, delicious food for way too high of a price, unfriendly locals, and volunteers that seemingly have no idea what they’re doing, but a smile and upbeat personality distracts the attendees just enough to hide the fact, and of course the balloon glows and the special shapes. Last year, an estimated 856,986 people (Rayburn, 2014) agreed: we spent a lot of money to see something up close.

2014-10-04 09.10.34
Photo courtesy of Me

New Mexico Autumns are one of the greatest seasons you could ask for. The temperature is a perfect mix of cold and mild and warm (couldn’t you just have said, ‘mild’?), the wind is usually calm, the rain is usually gone, the winter aromas of fireplaces and roasted chile fill the air, and warm New Mexican cuisine accompanied by dark and sweet local brews comforts even the pickiest of eaters. Yet, for some reason, half the early October week forces events to be cancelled. It’s either raining or too windy. Maybe it’s a ploy, a deal between the Duke City and Mother Nature, for tourists to stay longer because it seems to be the only event that generates revenue for the Land of Enchantment during the year. Whether or not that’s true (it obviously is), people seem to have a difficult time leaving, or more crowds filter in as others depart.

The commute to and from Balloon Fiesta Park should be a strong indicator of how many people actually attend the festival. The process seems disorganized, but sadly it’s the best option for drivers. What do you think they have been doing the last 42 years? Not developing a decent system on how to park one’s vehicle? As mentioned in Driving: An Unofficial Guide (you would know if you had purchased it; the link is below), the traffic created by tourism is frustrating to say the least. In addition, one of the busiest interchanges in Albuquerque is under construction. Colors fill the sky as orange clutters the ground. Sightseers park on the side of highways to take pictures, which is surprisingly better than tourists driving fifteen miles per hour under the speed limit and causing rear-end fender benders and delaying the stressed-out locals’ daily commutes because they’re staring at the sky and not the road.

2014-10-04 08.00.35
Photo courtesy of Me

Pedestrians tilt their heads upwards and completely disregard their location as they mosey into business’ parking lots, crosswalks, and yards belonging to grumpy old Mexicans. They don’t care though, and why should they? They just spent a large amount of money to come to a place they don’t know how to spell or even knew existed.

Oz idiotplayers org
Photo courtesy of idiotplayers.org

It’s madness. People lose all sense of safety to stare up in the sky; Albuquerque stuffs nearly double its population into city limits that can barely fit three-quarters of its current populace. Hotels are booked a year in advance and people flock to the Southwest and for what? A bunch of balloons? It’s much more than that though; it’s different, unique, quite extraordinary, and highly recommended. Even if you live here, through all the frustrations that the Balloon Fiesta brings to your daily routine, when you see the sky so colorful and the people so joyous, it’s worth losing common sense and becoming lost for a few days.

Rayburn, R. (2014, October 13). Breezing to a close. Albuquerque Journal. pp. A1-A2