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After a week of death (literal and metaphorical), I received a small set of binoculars and a book about birding in the mail. As of now, I am not a birder. But perhaps this gift from family would be a start. Still, it has confused me how to bird in the midst of havoc. I looked through binoculars, caught too much of a neighbor’s apartment, and, for a day or two, put them down.

A lesson could have been learned from Sergeant Jonathan Trouern-Trend, who wrote Birding Babylon, a journal of his birdwatching while in the military. We excerpted pieces of the book in our May+June 2006 issue. It is one of those rare things that surprised me. I would not call his book a balm so much as properly unhinged. Here’s a taste:

5/14/04 On the way the helicopter hit a bird. It traveled through one of the windows near the pilot’s feet and into the helicopter…The bird was a male pin-tailed sandgrouse. I’d like to see one alive, maybe later this year.

6/23/04 As I was watching some wood pigeons, a pair of F-16s came tearing down the runway…The birds were unfazed.

So, there you go. That’s how you bird during hard times. I probably should realize—especially because I’m not in combat—it really isn’t that difficult. I’ll try again soon.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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