A day that starts with a dead mouse underfoot can only get better…right?

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Mornin’ all.

Say, have you ever gotten up in the morning and shuffled your way to the life-giving elixir that awaits you in the coffee pot only to have your safe, familiar routine horrifyingly rent asunder by the feeling of placing your bare, vulnerable, unsuspecting foot directly on top of a DEAD FRICKEN MOUSE??…and then having to pretend it’s a GOOD thing and you’re SO proud when you espy your eager kitty’s wide, hopeful eyes as she desperately just wants approval for guarding the house against such a villainous beast during the night?

Yeah. It’s that kind of morning.

The body wasn’t even cold yet. *shudder*

…though…would that have been worse?

The weather turned really chilly here over the past couple days. I’m not surprised my little mouser was in her element last night. It’s an old New England house. Of course we’re going to have mice panicking in the first frost and trying to find a nice, warm place for the winter. However, little do they know the horror that awaits within. Not only do we have a superior huntress, but our new neighbor has three cats of her own. We’re now the Bates Motel for mice.

I patted kitty’s head while gagging, then tossed the flattened mouse outside as a freebie for Nature. I guess I should just be happy she didn’t play soccer in my room with this one.

“Say, Bethie. You live in NH, and I believe you mentioned the Pumpkin Fest a couple weeks back…”

Yes, I do and yes I did. I hate the Pumpkin Fest. I hate the very idea of the Pumpkin Fest. I am a lone voice of dissent in this region. Or at least I WAS. Now I bet there will be some uproar. See, for those who may not have heard, all was not sunshine and roses for the people who were watching tons of food be torched. There were riots.

Now, here’s where the news is getting it wrong. The riots were not, technically, the fault of the Pumpkin Fest. Let me explain.

There’s a college in the town, Keene State. Next to the college is a large neighborhood of off-campus housing…frats, sororities, apartments for kids who can afford not to be imprisoned in dorms. I also want to make this clear, too, because even some of the news sites that are getting it right and blaming the college kids are blaming the college itself. All of the rioting was done in the off-campus neighborhoods, NOT on the college property and NOT at the actual Pumpkin Fest.

The Pumpkin Fest is a big deal around here. I don’t even know how many thousands of people show up for it, but this was the 24th year that Keene has held the event, and it’s grown enormous. Because of this, many people in the area, not just the college students, see it as party time. They invite family up to stay, grill some hot dogs, go to the Pumpkin Fest, and have a real good weekend.

The college kids did the same thing. However, they are young, irresponsible, and incredibly stupid. Take those kids, add some booze, add it way too early in the day, and then keep it flowing all of Friday, all through Friday night, and continue to pump it into them Saturday morning and you’ve got yourself one really good recipe for disaster. Screw the hot dog grilling and strolling through the carved pumpkins. Riots sound much more fun to their underdeveloped, alcohol-addled brains.

What basically happened is that a bunch of college kids came visiting, and like any good 80’s metal band, they trashed the “hotel”. They got drunk, fights started to break out. When the cops went to calm the situation down, the kids became belligerent and started attacking the cops, throwing whatever they could grab at them.

I know we live in a “blame the police” society, but folks, you cannot throw glass bottles and rocks at the police and expect things to go well for you.

The future leaders of our nation took the fight out to the streets, screaming about police brutality and all that common Ferguson crap. Innocent people walking by started getting hit with the debris being hurled by the drunk college kids, so the cops amped up their response. There were several rounds of it through the day and well into Saturday night, the worst probably being Saturday night when the black out idiocy spread and caused the morons to light fires in the street, tip over cars and dumpsters, tear down road signs, and shoot fireworks at the cops.

By eight Sunday morning, the real student body of Keene State, the ones that were not drunken belligerent asswads, had assembled and were cleaning up the damage of their own accord. See, I also want to make this point clear. The general student body of Keene State College was NOT responsible for the destruction. I think the media is largely missing that point, too. Most of the students were horrified of the actions of a very few of their classmates and became determined to restore their school’s good name.

Living right next door, I get a look at all the local coverage of the event. It seems people around here are greatly divided in their thoughts, both of the riots themselves and the future of the Pumpkin Fest. Some businesses say this is the final nail in the Pumpkin Fest coffin. Not because of the fest itself, mind, but mostly because once there’s been a “rager” (that’s how it was tweeted by some of the people causing the riots) at an event, there will always be a couple assholes that become hellbent on making sure the rager the following year is even bigger and “better”. It’s a valid point, especially in our current society where rioting becomes a twitter and instagram event that people want to be part of for whatever sick and twisted reason.

Others are pointing out that the Pumpkin Fest was not responsible, that the fest itself went very well, that it brought a lot of business into the town and now that they know the threats, they can nip them in the bud for next year. Some are saying a way to do this is to make the county a dry county for the weekend. Yeah, that’s not happening.

And some are saying that it’s time to shut Keene State College down, to kick them out of the area. I’ll admit, the college kids are annoying. Every time I have to go into Keene during the school year, I end up slamming on my breaks near the college because it seems to be physically impossible for a college student to look up from their cellphone before randomly darting out into the street. Maybe they’re in some bizarre competition with the squirrels? Who knows. Haven’t tagged one yet, but it’s been really damn close. So I can see the locals’ point. College kids are annoying. However, if it’s a choice between the burning pumpkin sacrifices, or keeping the college, my vote is firmly for the college.

Look, no one likes having a college in their town. The students invade for 9 months out of the year, descending like partying locusts. They put a strain on the police force with their stupid antics, they take perfectly good jobs from the locals, and folks get really sick of listening to their vapid idiocy when standing behind them in line at the grocery store. But like it or not, a college is a good thing for a community. A thriving college brings in a whole lot of cash to what is honestly an otherwise stagnant region. The college libraries work with local schools, allowing younger students access to resources they otherwise wouldn’t have. There are more job opportunities, year round positions the college won’t hire a student to fill. It’s easy to blame a community’s problems on the annoying college kids. But the fact is, the benefits of having an institution of higher learning in a town far outweigh the negatives.

Now, I don’t want the Pumpkin Fest anymore. I hate the very idea of it. They take thousands of tons of vitamin packed food and set it on fire.

“Wow. Buzzkill.”

Yep, and I don’t care. It’s a pointless waste. From designating large tracts of arable land for the sole purpose of growing something that is just going to get destroyed, to the truly self-absorbed picture torching tons of food presents to a starving world, I can’t stand the impact an event like this has. I hate the Pumpkin Fest. I wish it would stop.

…but not because some college nitwits bought into the hype of rioting. That could happen anywhere, and if we just start canceling everything on the off chance that nitwits will act like nitwits, then we’re never going to have public events again.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Tuesday, October 21, 2014. I’m off to seal up the windows with plastic sheets today. I’m on the fence about foaming up the mouse hole. Kitty looked so very pleased with herself…

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