Objects that mean something: Today So Far

  • Why are so many people turning over their pets?
  • Covid cases are high in many Washington counties.
  • KUOW’s newest podcast “The Blue Suit” debuts, showcasing heirlooms and objects that hold special meaning.

This post originally appeared in KUOW’s Today So Far newsletter for July 5, 2022.

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I just moved into a new neighborhood and came across some recent street-side gossip — someone dropped of their dog, still a puppy, in the neighborhood, and left it there. The dog is now safe at a local shelter, but it got me thinking about a somewhat unexpected statement from Seattle Humane recently — there’s been an uptick in people turning over their pets, willingly, because they cannot care for them.

There are many guesses as to why more and more people are dropping off their pets at shelters these days. Perhaps people are finding they cannot care for their pandemic adoptions as they return to office life, or life in general. But Seattle Humane wants people to know that it sees something else going on.

“From our perspective, this trend is instead being driven by increasing levels of financial and housing insecurity,” Seattle Humane said in a statement.

What Seattle Humane is seeing locally is an echo of what Humane Society locations are seeing on a national scale. In January, the number of monthly surrenders was about 35,000. It jumped to 43,250 in May, according to Seattle Humane. In Washington state, more than 4,300 pets have been surrendered so far in 2022. Seattle Humane believes it will see more surrenders due to housing issues this year than it did in 2021. Read more in KUOW’s Today So Far Blog.

Reminder: The pandemic is still happening. I know it can seem as if it isn’t. The current version of the virus is not as deadly, nor is it straining our hospital systems as much as before. You may hear those facts stated as if it all doesn’t matter anymore. But that’s like saying, “Hey, you have insurance, and a seatbelt. Who cares if you get in a car crash?” I still don’t want to get in car crash, and hey, I still don’t want to get sick!

The reason I bring this up is that Washington currently has 15 counties with high levels of Covid transmission, including Pierce and Thurston counties in Western Washington. Covid levels are “medium” in King and Snohomish counties, according to the CDC. In King County, levels are still not as high as the peak in May and early June. But it’s still ticking up — 3% since last week. Read more in the Today So Far Blog.

Is there a family heirloom you keep around? What does it say? When I think about it, I have a typewriter that my grandmother owned. I have a few typewriters, but I feel a need to keep this one up and running a bit more than the others, because it came down from family. I imagine that one day, I’ll hand it off to someone else, a relative, who can carry it forward.

I got to thinking about that after hearing the intro to KUOW’s new podcast series “The Blue Suit.” A unique inspiration for this endeavor came to poet Shin Yu Pai amid pandemic shutdowns, when she was cut off from her parents. It spurred further thoughts about the experiences of Asian Americans.

“…we as Asian Americas are connected by a common separation — a separation from historical homeland and people and things left behind. Sometimes by choice, often by circumstance,” Pai says in the introduction to “The Blue Suit.” “Like many others before and after us, we leave something behind to make something new — a new livelihood, a new identity, a new future.”

Pai hosts “The Blue Suit,” which explores personal connections to objects; things that represent cultural and personal values ​​that people carry with them. Check out the new podcast here or by subscribing to the “KUOW Shorts” podcast feed wherever you listen to podcasts.

AS SEEN ON KUOW


caption: Jim Henterly poses outside the door of the Desolation Peak Fire Lookout in the North Cascades Wilderness.

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Jim Henterly poses outside the door of the Desolation Peak Fire Lookout in the North Cascades Wilderness. Henterly spent more than 70 days alone at the Desolation Peak Fire Lookout station high in the Cascade mountains last summer. He was there to keep an eye out for smoke plumes but also so much more in this storied place where author Jack Kerouac also spent time in the ’50s. “The Wild with Chris Morgan” visits this remote area to see how wildfires, and our philosophy of fighting them, have changed over the decades. (Matt Martin/KUOW)

DID YOU KNOW?

Happy day after the Fourth of July. Hope you had a swell holiday. I kept up my annual tradition of watching the most patriotic film ever to grace the screen—”Independence Day.” Spoiler alert: We still beat the aliens.

But that tradition almost never came to be. The film was originally supposed to be titled “Doomsday,” which would have removed all its cheesy sentiment.

The film was put out by 20th Century Fox. At the time of its filming, the company wasn’t allowing the ID4 title because it already owned another film from 1983 by the same name. To help gain approval, the “Independence Day” title was tied to the glorious speech by Bill Pullman’s character, which ends, “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day.” Though, originally, that line wasn’t in the script. And actually, writer Dean Devlin never intended for that version of the speech to be used. He was just a placeholder while he wrote the real, truly inspirational speech. But the cast was really into the placeholder speech, so they went with it, with just one last-minute addition — the mention of the holiday. With so much hype around July 4, and summer blockbusters being a big thing, “Independence Day” ended up as the approved, official title. And audiences would have to wait until 2008 for a film to be titled “Doomsday.”

ALSO ON OUR MINDS


caption: In this Feb.  27, 2021, photo, President Joe Biden speaks on the economy in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.  Biden took office promising to move quickly to restore and repair America's relations with the rest of the world.  Yet one major nation has yet to see any US effort to improve ties, and that's China.

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Biden urges unity in July 4th speech, while acknowledging the country’s sour mood

“I know it can be exhausting and unsettling. But tonight, I want you to know we’re going to get through all of this.”

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