All posts by Melissa Genson

My husband Steve and I raised four children in Thurston County. In addition to South Thurston Journal, we also own Thornfield Acres, a small organic farm, and Mason Dixon Line, a small restaurant in Rochester. I'm also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor.

PSCAA: Harsh wood stove laws hurt “heat-or-eat” rural poor

Wood Stove “Mobile Apps” for Rural Poor and Elderly?

Forty percent of low-income Americans reported that they have had to choose between paying for food and utilities in the past year.

Should local governments have sweeping power to change how we live–especially when those changes would hurt our neediest citizens the most?

Should a government’s decision making process be more accessible to those who are affected the most?

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) is an unelected, little known, and powerful agency that has created strict and confusing regulations over wood burning, that have a great impact on low income citizens in King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

In an apparent attempt to share their draconian wood stove laws with folks who are trying hard not to freeze in their homes, PSCAA came up with some really cool mobile apps.

If you have any problems with PSCAA’s apps, they’ll try their best to get back to you within two business days.  Of course, that doesn’t stop you from getting hit with massive fines if you go ahead and light your wood stove because it’s cold and you can’t reach them for days. Continue reading PSCAA: Harsh wood stove laws hurt “heat-or-eat” rural poor

Mt. St. Helens Erupts–A Look Back at Spring 1980

Mt. St. Helens was once one of the most beautiful, pristine, symmetrical mountains in the world.   For thousands of years, it had reflected its grandeur in the huge, deep, crystal pure Spirit Lake.

Spirit Lake and Mt. St. Helens, pre-eruption. Photo from U.S. Forest Service.
Spirit Lake and Mt. St. Helens, pre-eruption. Photo from U.S. Forest Service.

Then in March 1980, Mt. St. Helens started to have earthquakes–“harmonic tremors”–the signaled the movement of magma.  The mountain started to puff up ash.

Mt. St. Helens initial ash plumes began in March 1980. Mt. Rainier is in background. Photo by C. Dan Miller
Mt. St. Helens initial ash plumes began in March 1980. Mt. Rainier is in background. Photo by C. Dan Miller

After the initial surprise, western Washington residents mostly saw it as a curiosity.  It became a day trip for people to drive to watch it billow dark ash.

Photo by Peter Lipman
Photo by Peter Lipman

People joked about the volcano, and radio stations played Jimmy Buffet’s song, “Volcano,” the title track from his new album at the time.  What an eery coincidence!

buffett volcano 2jimmy buffett volcano

 

 

 

 

We didn’t understand what was coming, although brave geologist Dave Johnston, 30, tried to warn us.   We mostly thought that the lava would pour out of the volcano top and leisurely roll down the side.  We didn’t understand that our volcanoes had thick magma, and would simply explode when they erupted.  Dave tried to tell us otherwise. Continue reading Mt. St. Helens Erupts–A Look Back at Spring 1980

Ten Year Old Lydia England Recites “Things of the Spirit”

Things of the Spirit – President Coolidge’s timeless speech from 1926

In 2013,  Lydia England recited a portion of President Coolidge’s “Things of the Spirit” speech, which he gave in 1926 on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Lydia was ten years old at the time she recited Coolidge’s speech.

It is a timeless speech, and Lydia delivers it beautifully.

In many ways, our country faces the same challenges today!