2020: Apocalypse Slow or the derecho and the damage done

I thought the apocalypse would be faster.
The Death Star shows up in orbit and “BOOM.”
The deity returns. The faithful rapture. The sinners burn.
Thanos collects the infinity stones. Snap. Half the universe turns to dust.

But 2020 indicates an apocalypse is merely a steadily increasing series of indignities ultimately ending in madness.

The latest example of this ill-fated year came earlier this week when something called a derecho decimated the Midwest with a trail of death and destruction across a 770-mile, 14-hour trek from South Dakota to Ohio.

Wind gusts measured at 122 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane.

The storm snapped power poles, uprooted trees, rended corrugated metal buildings and stripped roofs and generally smashed around like the Incredible Hulk in a particularly foul mood.

Many Iowans are well into their fourth day without power. Some utility companies say it may be up to three weeks in especially decimated areas such as Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

This is another below-the-belt punch in a year that has battered our collective groins like the men in “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

We Iowans can take harsh weather.

Blizzards? Meh.

Century floods? Been there, done that.

Tornados? Scary, but we cope.

But a derecho?

It’s rare for Iowans to have to learn a new word for weather. Most of us think “thunder snow” is made up.

2020 was already the year of COVID-19, the global pandemic that cancelled everything.

Adults worked from home which, after six months, feels like living at work.

The pandemic put more than 30 million people out of work, including your friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker.

This led Congress and the president to engage in fruitful talks to come up with a stimulus plan that benefited struggling America.

Nah, I’m totally kidding.

They did what they always do: Lock down in partisan bickering that accomplished nothing except give politicians a chance for demagogic bloviation in front of the flaccid press corps.

Racial unrest spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody forced our nation to take a long, hard look at itself and a lot of people found our guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be empty platitudes.

We can’t visit our elders, who are the most vulnerable to catch and die from the virus.

Our go-to distractions from national misery are cancelled or jumbled up.

Some college football conferences are playing in the spring. Some are playing in the fall. Some aren’t playing at all.

The NFL is busy trying to figure out how to make more money off of all it.

They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

I’ll type that again for clarity: They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

There is no greater sign of the apocalypse.

My fellow East High School alumni were so discombobulated by the disruption in their annual gathering at the Bud Tent that they scheduled a series of alternative East Side Nights just to make sure they kept their Busch Light-to-blood ratio at proper levels.

Nobody wants to detox in a pandemic.

I don’t really believe the world is ending.

But this is a one thing after another after another after another.

A week or so ago, I went to make a deposit in an ATM. The first one I hit was out of order. The second ATM didn’t take deposits. The third one, the one closest to my home, had been hit by a truck and would be out of service all summer.

That feels very 2020.

At this point, if it started to rain fire and locusts devoured the fields, I would shrug and say, “Well, that’s 2020.”

The year shows no signs of improvement. The virus marches on and deaths are on the rise. Congress remains impotent.

And, oh yeah, the presidential election is in November.

The current president has suggested he might not leave office if he is defeated.

Maybe that’s more empty banter.

Or maybe that’s for real.

If nothing else, we’ve learned that our government basically runs on the honor system and we, as citizens, have foolishly entrusted its function to dishonorable people.

Regardless, the lead up to the election is sure to be filled with bile, lies, fear and loathing. And those are just the campaign ads.

A friend suggests Nov. 4 through Dec. 31 could be the most frightening period of the year.

I don’t think he was kidding.

In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s right.

And that really does scare me.

Daniel P. Finney, area bald man

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

How a restless girl from Eldridge became a star athletics administrator at Grand View University

Britt Erps was a restless toddler as she grew up in Eldridge. She ran and yelled and struggled to sit down.
“Even today, I can only sit and chill for about 20 minutes before I have to get up,” Britt, who now goes by Britt Einerson, said. “I can’t sit and watch a movie or TV.”

Britt’s parents signed her up for soccer at age 3 “just to get some energy out of me.”

Britt directed her energy into soccer, volleyball and dance.

Soccer quickly consumed her focus. She played defense. She thrilled at stopping people attempting to drive up the field and score.

Britt was often her own worst opponent. She got down on herself when she got beat on a play. She got angry with herself.

“There was definitely a different side of me competing that I wouldn’t say I was too proud of,” Britt said.

Her internal turmoil settled in high school. She made the varsity team as an eighth grader. The coach named her co-captain her junior year. She evolved into a leader.

She wanted to play soccer in college. She considered Cornell College in Mount Vernon. But Grand View University in Des Moines called.

“I had never even heard of Grand View before they recruited me,” Britt said.

Britt visited. She really liked her future teammates and her coach, Ventsi Stoimirov.

She picked Grand View. The move to Des Moines from Eldridge enriched her.

She would have done well at Cornell, but Mount Vernon was too similar to Eldridge. The added challenge of living in Iowa’s largest city thrilled the once-restless girl.

“Soccer was the focus at that point in my life, but Grand View wasn’t just a soccer team,” Britt said. “I remember walking on campus and just being around the university and thinking about how big Des Moines was and how much there was to experience here.”

Britt continued to excel in soccer. The team stayed in the top three of the conference throughout her playing days.

She studied business administration with a focus on health promotion but eventually shifted to sports management. She took 18 credit hours her senior year so she could finish in four years.

Britt graduated and went to Illinois State for graduate school. She worked as a graduate assistant in the event management department. She worked with the campus facilities.

She graduated from Illinois State and earned an internship with the University of Minnesota football stadium.

Britt got a call from the Grand View athletic director. They had an assistant coaching opening with the women’s soccer team.

“I was like, ‘Why are you calling me? You know I don’t want to be a coach,’” Britt recalled.

The athletic director pitched the job as an experience. She wanted to be an athletic director and she had lots of facilities and management experience. Coaching would add another line to her resume.

Britt applied for the job. She thought it would be a way for her to give back to the soccer program that had given her so much.

She worked with the Vikings’ defenders. She installed a little of her boundless energy into them.

“I taught them about work ethic and not being soft and being motivated,” Britt said. “I got them to grind a little bit.”

Britt was giving back, but she was getting some more too. She loved the women she coached. She worked at the career center to help athletes connect with jobs. She felt as fulfilled when one of her players found work as when one of them made a sliding kick save.

About two and a half years into her coaching gig, the administrative assistant for the athletic department left. Britt offered to take on the role in addition to her coaching duties.

Finally, Britt found a limit to her boundless energy. For six months, she handled her athletic department duties and then her soccer duties at night. She took a two- or three-hour break in the middle of the day.

After six months, she finally gave up her coaching duties. Britt is now the assistant to the athletic director at Grand View. And just like when she was a little girl, Britt keeps moving.

This year proved the biggest challenge of her professional life. Almost half the schools’ athletic events were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s tough enough to herd athletes when you’ve got them on campus. Now they’re scattered home. But Britt helped coaches stay in touch with athletes and tried to keep the Viking family together despite being so geographically separated.

Britt’s efforts earned her the Grand View Excellence in Service Award for her outstanding contributions in 2020.

Her husband, Justin, coaches basketball at Lincoln High School in Des Moines.

The couple have a daughter who is nearly 2, so one thing is certain: the restless girl from Eldridge is not slowing down anytime soon.

Daniel P. Finney, independent journalist

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.