The Thunderbolt 150924 Reprint: The Legend of Ratticus

Counter Strike

TB Clndr

The Thunderbolt

News — Commentary — Calendar of Activist Events — Dumb Jokes




1) Evergreen Disorientation Week 2015

2) Cop Watch Volunteer Meeting

3) Peace Vigil

4) Women in Black Silent Vigil for Peace

5) rEvolve: A Human Shift

6) $15 for Olympia: Community Day

7) Boogie 4 Barner

8) Extinction Support Group Olympia

9) Move to Amend Monthly Meeting: Get Big Money out of Politics

10) Olympia City Council Candidates Forum

11) Bonus Tip of the Day


A detailed description of all events is located after the News and Commentary section

To go directly to an event description just type the index entry above into a search box





The Legend of Ratticus!



You can say what you say…

…but you are what you are

                                    —Jay Z

Safety Zone

When Donald Trump criticized Jeb’s brother George’s Iraq policy, Jeb replied that brother George had kept us safe.

Who will keep us safe from them?


Black on Black Violence

Hey Kids!

By the time Barack Obama leaves office, black people in the United States will be worse off under every single major economic indicator that they measure than they were when Obama took office.

This isn’t all Obama’s fault — but he certainly did absolutely nothing to fix it.


The Legend of Ratticus!

Note: I am mostly taking this week off for a much-needed recharge and so I am reprinting a piece that I originally published in February of 2014. This is neither my personal favourite nor the most important piece that I have ever done but the original newsletter version and the radio show version both received far more positive reader and listener feedback than anything else that I’ve ever done and so I am going to reprint it again here! Enjoy!

I recently poked gentle fun at people who suffer ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). I did this as I forced them to consider the reality of a snake that can glide through the air as it hunts its prey.

This was not gratuitous: I have found that once people learn more about a species then they tend to think more highly of them. As far as flying snakes goes, who was the first snake to even come up with that idea? And how many tries did it take before that first snake worked it out?

That takes determination.

Well, the Thunderbolt is once again going to mine the treasures of Mother Nature this week, for over the last couple of months I have received some serious schooling from a rat.

I moved into a little 100 sq ft plastic house inside my daughter’s garage just before Christmas. For the first month I thought that I was sharing the garage with both a mouse and a mole. (The ‘Mole Theory’ came about when a friend said that she had seen a mole coming out of a hole right next to the garage and the only glimpse I that I had ever had of my roommate was a very brief glimpse of its ass as it disappeared into a crack— and I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was a lot bigger than a mouse. Also, since it once carried away an entire loaf of bread, then I knew that no mouse could do that).

It took me almost a month to figure out that I was, instead, living with a rather large rat. The fact that it took me a month of living in very close quarters with him before even figuring out what he was is itself a clue as to what I was dealing with here. Mice used to set up housekeeping on my school bus with fair regularity, but all I needed to do was to set out a 5-gallon bucket with some peanut butter in the bottom at night. The mice would go into the bucket for the peanut butter and then they were unable to get back out. I’d get up in the morning and take them wherever I thought they might be able to get by and dump them out. I wouldn’t even mind living with them if they’d stop crapping in my food.

I have never before lived with a rat. Therefore, I have no gauge with which to measure the level of intelligence that the rat species possesses as a whole — but as for this particular rat, if he is any indication of typical rat-intelligence then I am surprised they haven’t taken over the world. I began serious attempts at eviction when he started chewing on my Bose speaker wires, and thus began an epic battle of wits with the creature that has now lasted for nearly two months — and I must now admit that this battle has turned out to be like Wily Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner. Not only that, but I must now admit defeat. The rat has won. Not only that, but he has also won my admiration and respect. I now officially surrender. I will now feed him just to try to keep him out of my other stuff.

Here is a synopsis of the critical events in this epic tale: The peanut butter in the bucket trick did not work. Upon awakening I found the bucket free of both peanut butter and rodents. Next, I tied a piece of cheese to a stick that was itself rather precariously holding up a box that would fall if the stick was disturbed in any manner. The next morning everything was just as I left it — including the rope leading to the little slip-knot that had been tied to the cheese — except that the cheese was gone. Still thinking that I was dealing with a mouse, I went to the hardware store and bought a small plastic tray filled with a sticky substance. You place the bait in the middle of the tray and in theory the mouse gets stuck. While this trick did not work either, it did provide me with my first opportunity to actually see my foe in the fur: Upon hearing a commotion and investigating the matter, rather than espying a cute little mouse stuck in a plastic tray, I saw instead a rather large rat walking around barely inconvenienced by the little plastic tray that was stuck to his foot. As soon as I appeared the rat ran into a crack. The plastic tray would not fit into the crack and I moved to grab him, but the edges of the crack provided the leverage the rat needed to fairly easily pull his foot out of the tray whereupon he disappeared with great alacrity into the wild unknown mazes contained within the mountain of boxes that reside inside my daughter’s garage.

I went back to the hardware store and learned that there was also a rat version of the same idea with a much larger tray and much more glue.

The next morning I found the tray lying near the nearest crack and the only thing left in the tray was the rat’s little paw prints.

Next, I tried a combination hat-trick: I set the sticky-tray under a box that was precariously balancing on a stick. Since the rat needed leverage to get the tray off, then I figured there was no way he could get the tray out from under the box without hitting the stick and thus knocking the box down.

The next morning my box was still propped up but the tray was lying empty next to the nearest crack. I measured the clearances, and there was barely room to slide the tray from under the box without hitting the stick. It was almost as if the rat understood what the stick was for.

That was it. I was out of ideas. The only choice I saw now was to deploy lethal means. I really didn’t want to and I felt really bad about it but chewing my speaker wires is completely unacceptable behaviour in a roommate and I wasn’t going to sacrifice a $250 speaker system (purchased back in the days when I had ‘disposable income’ — which state I seem unlikely to ever find myself in ever again thus making my Bose speakers literally irreplaceable) for a frigging rat, no matter how smart he was.

I went to the hardware store and purchased the extra-jumbo rat-sized snap-trap with the deadly spring-loaded bar that usually catches them right across the neck and kills them instantly.

The next day I set the trap. About an hour later I heard it snap. I went out into the garage and saw the trap with a seemingly dead rat attached.

Then, to my great consternation, the rat wiggled around for a couple of seconds and then went still again.


I moved in and saw that Ratticus (yes, Shari named him when she heard the story) had almost gotten away with it again. He had lost — literally — by a nose.

In fact, I’m afraid that Ratticus has lost his nose.

He wiggled again when he saw me, but went still as I slid a piece of cardboard under him. Keeping one hand on the trap to make absolutely sure that he couldn’t get away, I took him two blocks away to the back of a very large schoolyard with several houses and garages nearby. When I released him from the trap he just lay there. I left. It was raining. I felt really bad. I wondered about the survival odds for a rat without a nose.

I went back 10 minutes later and he was gone.

I felt a loss. There was an empty space in the garage now. I began recalling now-fond memories of Ratticus’ genius in making me look like an idiot.

And now, the next day, he is back. I saw the tell-tale curtain wiggle that happens whenever he uses one of his pathways behind my desk and I heard some clattering around out in the garage. The peanut butter I set out was gone within minutes.

Wow. He crossed two streets and ran a gauntlet of cats to get back here.

I am done. I bow in true respect before my better and offer to him my sword in unconditional surrender. Me and Ratticus are now buds. I am moving out of here at the end of the month anyway. Ratticus is welcome to it.

Every time I put out a little bowl of peanut butter it disappears within minutes. I decided that if I couldn’t catch him, I at least wanted to see him and so I set up a video camera to record the bowl when I put the peanut butter out.

Thus far Ratticus refuses to approach the bowl while the video camera is running even though it is digital and thus makes no sound.

He is much quieter and much less active now. He has been through a traumatic experience and he is seriously injured. He is probably crippled for life. His sacrifice, though, has taught me some important things about the sanctity of life and I hope that he’s now teaching some of you some important things about similar things.

I don’t think that there are very many rats who have ever accomplished this feat.

At least, then, Ratticus didn’t lose his nose completely in vain (says he in a transparent attempt at assuaging guilt…)

Ratticus just had some organic peanut butter for breakfast. I wish him the best.

Sorry about the nose, dude.

Just please quit chewing on my speaker wires.

It’s time to get to work…




The Thunderbolt Calendar

Week of September 24th thru September 30th, 2015




1) Evergreen Disorientation Week 2015

All Day Thursday and Friday @ The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW

This is the radical alternative to Orientation Week.

This message came from Rita:


12-2pm White Allyship

2pm-4pm Fascism and so on

4:30pm-6:30pm The Hunting Ground film screening

7pm-whenever PARTY


Noon-3pm radical 101

5pm-7pm Self Defense and Solidarity

Everything will be in the the Student Art Gallery on the third floor of the CAB except the Yom Kippur Ball which will be at “the golden goat” 2509 20th ave nw

fascism and so on will define and explore facism, antifascism, and related topics such as white supremacy and national socialism

The Hunting Ground film screening will be just that a film screening of the movie the Hunting Ground which is a film that explores sexual assault on campuses nationwide and terrible culture and institutional practices that have developed surrounding sexual assault on campuses nationwide

PARTY is well a party and is currently being formulated, but will eventually be whatever the participants want it to be within the present material conditions

radical 101 is a workshop that will explore such topics as capitalism and libertarian socialism



2) Cop Watch Volunteer Meeting

Every Thursday from 4 to 5 pm @ Traditions Café, 300 5th Ave NW

These are our local cop watchers.

This message came from Oly FOR:

Every Thursday from 4 to 5 pm:  Cop Watch volunteers invite you to connect with local efforts to monitor police behavior:  Cop Watch’s concerned citizens are available to hear your stories and strengthen local efforts.  Come to Traditions Café, 5th & Water, downtown Olympia.



3) Peace Vigil

Every Friday from 4:30 to 6 pm @ Percival Landing, 4th and Water Streets

This happens every Friday. This message came from Olympia FOR:

Every Friday from 4:30 to 6:00 pm:  Peace Vigil at Percival Landing’s south end, 4th & Water, downtown.  Please join us for whatever length of time you can.  We provide plenty of signs.  The Artesian Rumble Arkestra street band ( joins us at 5:00 with lively music to support our vigil!  Sponsor: Olympia FOR.  Info: 491-9093



4) Women in Black Silent Vigil for Peace

Every Friday from 5 to 6 pm @ the Fountain, Near Corner of 5th and Water St

Every Friday from 5:00 to 6:00 pm:  “Women in Black” Silent Vigil for Peace on the south side of W 4th Ave near the fountain. Women only. Please wear black. Some signs are provided. Since 1988 “Women in Black” has been a loose network of women worldwide committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to war and violence. Info: Rosemary Barnhart 866-7589 



5) rEvolve: A Human Shift

Saturday September 26th at 10 am @ Millersylvania State Park, 12245 Tilley Rd S, Olympia, 98512

This is an alternative to how to live your life.

This message came from Melanie:

It’s time to rEvolve. It’s time to shift to a simpler call. We live in a time where everything seems to be speeding up at an exponential pace and there is an increasing call to return to an alternative way, a healthier time, when food is cooked slower, time is passed crafting hobbies with loved ones and our consciousness is centered on awareness, wellness, HEALTH. As the pace of life advances forward, the draw towards simple is becoming craved, in fact, necessary and crucial for survival!

rEvolve is a one day festival which celebrates a rEvolution, a healthy turn in lifestyle attitudes, gleaning from our more primal ancestors. On the docket is a variety of interests, including (but not limited to) food preperation, outdoor survival skills, minimalist athletics and recreation, holistic and natropathic medicine, homesteading, etc….all with the common theme of incorporating a sustalnable alternative into our fast paced, mainstream world.

Come to learn, listen, teach and rEvolve! All ages welcome



6) $15 for Olympia: Community Day

Saturday September 26th from Noon to 5 pm @ Heritage Park, 301 5th Ave SW

This is the latest in the campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

This message came from Liz:

Stand in solidarity with low wage workers in the fight for $15 and better working conditions on September 26th at Heritage Park in Olympia (5th and Water Street)! There will be workers sharing their stories, guest speakers, food, live music, and community art projects! Share this event and bring your friends.



7) Boogie 4 Barner

Saturday September 26th at 6 pm @ McClane Grange, 931 Delphi Rd SW

This message came from Rick and Janet:

Boogie 4 Barner

George Barner is running against Joe Downing to retain his seat on the port commission. He was previously a long standing county commissioner. He has been a people’s candidate and not a front for business interests. He voted against the warehouse for fracking proppants and the Weyerhaeuser contract was before his time on the port commission. He supports cleanup efforts the port has been engaged in.

From I-5 S, take US-101 N, take Mud Bay Road NW exit, turn left on Mud Bay Rd NW, turn left onto Delphi Road SW.
Go ½ mile to hall on right.



8) Extinction Support Group Olympia

Tuesday September 29th at 6:30 pm @ Media Island, 816 Adams St SE

Are you having trouble emotionally coping with the impending end of humanity? This is the support group for you. These meetings happen on the last Tuesday of every month.

For information:



9) Move to Amend Monthly Meeting: Get Big Money out of Politics

Thursday October 1st at 7 pm @ Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Dr Room 280

Thurs Oct 1:  Get big money out of politics!  Local organizing meeting tonight:  Olympia’s Move to Amend group invites everyone to join them for a monthly meeting (first Thursday of each month) at 7:00 pmin Room 280 of Bldg 1 at the Thurston County Courthouse.  Info:  Michael Savoca at   or Jennifer Sprague 866-8906



10) Olympia City Council Candidates Forum

Thursday October 1st at 7 pm @ Traditions Café, 300 5th Ave SW

Come meet the people who want to ‘lead’ our city.

This message came from Janet:

Hear the candidates for City Council give their views on the important land-use questions the winners will have to decide over the coming year. Q and A, refreshments.



11) Bonus Tip of the Day:

Take a rat to lunch today!




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