Book Ratings

Book ratings explained:

* I didn't like it | ** It was OK | *** I liked it | **** I really liked it | ***** I loved it

Friday, September 30, 2005

Made a piggy of myself

I just got back from dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I had their new Cairns Citrus Chicken with a small dinner salad and a piece of cheesecake for dessert. I'm about to pop at the seams. Everything was too yummy for words.

The Best Friend called right before I left to say she was approaching San Marcos. After a lot of backing and forthing, I decided to spend the night here at the hotel and then drive down to meet her tomorrow morning. I don't like driving at night in general and I really didn't want to brave trying to find the friends' house I stayed at last weekend in the dark. The roads leading to their house are very twisty and windy.

I'm going to plop my stuffed little self on the sofa and watch a bit of TV before I go to bed.

In Austin

Yesterday was my first day in Austin. The class is interesting. The food was good. The hotel is wired for 'net access. The Alias season premier was good. And now I've got to get ready for day two of class.

BBC NEWS | Health | Liars' brains 'are not the same'

I just had a vision of witnesses in court being required to submit to brain scans to determine the ratio of grey matter to white matter to see if they are prone to lying.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Business trip

I'm headed out to Austin in the morning for a business trip. The last I heard a week ago, I am scheduled to be there through the 7th. I'm taking my laptop but I don't know if / when / where I'll be able to get online while I'm gone so don't panic if you don't hear from me for a while. I have reason to think the motel I'm staying at has WiFi, but I don't know for sure since I don't yet know what inn I'll be staying at. I won't know anything until I show up tomorrow.

The Prodigal Son is staying home this time for which I'm sure the cats are eternally grateful.

Well, I'm off. I have laundry to do and packing to get done and Veronica Mars to watch.

Later, 'gators!

The picture says it all

Photo of store with windows boarded up on the inside instead of the outside

Monday, September 26, 2005

Well . . .

I know. I know. Such a deep thought for such a shallow mind.

I was going to write about my trip to Austin last night, but the digital cable service went out right in the middle of typing up that post so here I am writing it now instead.

As I mentioned in another post, I was going to Austin to stay with friends because I thought I had to be in Austin on Monday for some training. I found out later that I wasn’t needed in Austin until Thursday, but it was too late to change plans by then. Anyway, the Prodigal Son was going to his sister’s in Fort Worth along with five cats, his girlfriend, and his best friend.

The trip to Austin from my house should take about four (4) hours. The trip to Fort Worth should take about six (6). There are a couple of routes you can take to get to either city, but they generally don’t add more than an extra hour or so to the trip.

I had to go to work on Wednesday, so by the time I got home and got everything packed and made sure the Prodigal Son had himself and the cats all squared away, it was a little after 4 pm when I got on the road. The Prodigal Son started his trip about half an hour after I left because it took just a bit longer to get things fitted in his car.

Sometime between seven (7) and nine (9) hours into the trip, I pulled off the Sam Houston Tollway to take a personal hygiene break and top off my gas tank. I honestly don’t remember exactly when I pulled off or where, but the line for the bathroom – don’t get me started on the condition it was in – was longer than the line for gasoline.

At about 13 ½ hours into the trip, I pulled off Highway 290 – I think it might have been at Barker-Cypress – for another hygiene break. I stopped at a Randall’s supermarket and wound up napping in their parking lot for about an hour while I waited for the store to open. I don’t know what woke me, but I felt slightly better having napped a bit.

About 20 hours into the trip, in some little town whose name I don’t know and whose name I can’t even look up because I honestly have no idea where I was, I stopped to get something to eat and deal with the hygiene thing again. The restaurant billed itself as a steakhouse, but I think it might have been exaggerating just a bit. I ordered what the menu called a half pound ground sirloin steak with brown gravy that wound up being a processed hamburger patty – like the kind you get at fast food burger places – and some kind of liquid that was almost but not quite brown but did taste like gravy. I ordered string beans and carrots as my vegetables of choice and they were actually pretty good.

Just a little bit up the street from the restaurant, I stopped at a gas station to top off my tank again. I tried calling the Prodigal Son while I pumped gas, but I must have been in a cell phone dead zone because it kept telling me the call couldn’t be completed. The last time I’d talked to him, which was several hours earlier, he was just about to arrive in Waco and he was thinking about pulling off the road there to get a couple hours of sleep.

At 23 hours into the trip, I finally reached the Prodigal on the phone and he’d made it to his sister’s house. He couldn’t remember exactly when he’d gotten there, but he thought it had taken him about 17 or 18 hours.

At 26 ½ hours, I finally reached the front door of my friends’ house. They led me in. They fed me. They unpacked my car. They showed me where to shower. They showed me where to sleep.

And I had a wonderful time while I was there. I read some. I worked on the butterfly fairy and the scarf. I watched the news about the hurricane. On Saturday, the Missus Friend and I went to a small craft shop and dug around cross stitch patterns and yarns and doodads. It turned out to be a really relaxing little vacation.

Late Saturday afternoon the Prodigal called to say they’d already started the trek home but that they’d just gotten done rafting down the Guadalupe River and were stopped in New Braunfels. I found out after I got home that another friend of his had evacuated to New Braunfels to be with family and they stopped by to visit her. They left the cats at her house while they played on the river which was shallow enough in parts that people’s bottoms scraped on rocks.

I started my trek home about 11 am on Sunday. Other a few pockets where everyone felt the need to drive 20 miles below the speed limit for no reason I could discern, the drive back was a breeze. I arrived at my front door at just a few minutes after 3 pm.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Just call me Gentle Ben

You Are A: Bear Cub!

bear cubBears are strong and independent creatures who roam in the forest in search of food. Bears are usually gentle, but anger one and be prepared for their full fury! You're tough, you won't back down from a fight -- classic attributes of a bear. Intelligent and resourceful, though lazy at times, you are a fascinating creature of the wild.

You were almost a: Turtle or a Frog
You are least like a: Squirrel or a ChipmunkWhat Cute Animal Are You? - News - Perry: Nearly 3 Million Texans Moved Inland Within 48 Hours

I think a much more accurate statement would be that 2.7 million people tried to move inland.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | 23.4m watch second series of Lost

But I wasn't one of them because I was stuck in gridlock trying to get to Austin.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bugging out

Unless something really extraordinary happens, it looks like Hurricane Rita will either hit directly on top of us or just a bit to the south, putting us on her dirty side. The Prodigal is going to board / tape up the house tomorrow and pack up the cats and head out to the Daughter Who Isn't Mine. I'll be here until practically the last minute and then I head west because I have to be in a training class out that way on Monday.

I don't know when I'll be able to post again. That just depends on where I wind up and whether they have WIFI or an analog phone I can tap into.

Think good thoughts for Texas. We're gonna need 'em.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My boss is back

But the poor guy is so jetlagged I don't think he knows which way is up. We went out to lunch together and talked a bit about stuff. I spent the day talking to him and reading manuals.

I love my car!

I finally got to drive my car to work today. It was ever so loverly. No more sitting at funny angles and having things bump when you move or not being able to reach the top of the steering wheel. I was a happy camper! ;D

And I even enjoyed the drive home this afternoon even though I'm tired.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Brenda Lyons Gallery: Angel of the Outcasts -

I know the feeling.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | James Bond writer 'reinvents' spy

" 'We're trying to reinvent Bond. He's 28 - no Q, no gadgets.' "

But isn't that - Q and gadgets - what makes Bond Bond for several generations of viewers?

Grandmother held on looting charge freed - Hurricane Katrina -

"Police arrested Maten the day after the hurricane on charges she took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli. Though never before in trouble with the law, her bail was set at a stiff $50,000.

Family and eyewitnesses insist she only had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat when officers cuffed her in frustration, unable to catch younger looters at a nearby store.

Despite intervention from the nation's largest senior lobby, volunteer lawyers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and even a private attorney, the family fought a futile battle for 16 days to get her freed.

Then, hours after her plight was featured in an Associated Press story, a local judge on Thursday ordered Maten freed on her own recognizance, setting up a sweet reunion with her family."

CBS News | Man, Trapped 18 Days, Is Rescued | September 17, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The weekend, at last!

In the last week I've learned that driving an hour and a half to work, even with rush hour gridlock about half way there, is not really bothersome. However, driving that same route home in the late afternoon, even without the gridlock, is exhausting.

I've done nothing all week long once I got home except watch a couple hours of TV, eat something, and go to bed an hour earlier than I used to. I've not read or worked on my craft projects or had a thought that wasn't primal - hungry = eat, tired = bed. I will admit to having slept long and well, which is something that had begun to elude me.

I strongly suspect that my postings will become less frequent, probably happen more on the weekends, because of work tiredness and the start of the new television season here. I know my calendar for the next two weeks is filled up with the season premiers of several shows I enjoyed watching last year.

Well, I'm off to consume a banana and some lemon yogurt for breakfast. No, I didn't just wake up. I've been up for a several hours, but I just haven't gotten around to wanting something to eat until now. My tummy is finally feeling rumbly.

Malcolm Brown Gallery - - Fantasy Art Galleries

I love the style of his artwork. Epilogue has just a few of his pieces, but he does have his own web site that has more of his work.

I think my favorite is Snail Walker.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Third day

Good day. Attended a luncheon class where I was fed - always a good thing - and I got to chat with a computer geek about computer geeky things. I also stopped at Starbuck's on the way home for a mocha latte and a half hour of reading before I tackled the homeward bound rush hour trek.

iWon News - Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional

"SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday, a decision that could put the divisive issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments.

The case was brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words 'under God' was rejected last year by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation 'under God' violates school children's right to be 'free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The second day

I just got home a little over half an hour ago from my second day at work. I'm very pooped. The drive up in the morning is lovely and refreshing, but the drive home in the afternoon is exhausting.

So far the job is good although I am being inundated with information that really doesn't mean much to me . . . yet.

Oh, well. I'm off to scrounge up something to eat and plug myself into the TV so I can watch the season premier of Gilmore Girls.


Monday, September 12, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | US emergencies chief steps down

"The top US emergencies official has resigned following criticism over the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), had already been dumped as head of the rescue effort by President George Bush.

News of his resignation came after the president visited central New Orleans for the first time since the disaster."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Joel Johnson

"Volunteers: Red Cross Took Our Medical Supplies

I'm standing in a morning meeting with a group of volunteers who are working to set up the medical clinic. The big topic of the morning is the story of an LPN named Bobby (who isn't here) who was apprehended by the Red Cross while providing medical relief. The Red Cross (working with armed troops from FEMA [we think]), seized Bobby's medical supplies from his truck because someone from the Red Cross decided that he was stealing the necessities-specifically, the pharmaceuticals.

Problem is, Bobby's supplies weren't from the Red Cross, but instead from private donations. Many of the pharmaceuticals were for residents in New Orleans who have a prescription, and one of the other medical volunteers is licensed to dispense prescription medicines.

Not only did the Red Cross seize the pharmaceuticals at gunpoint (while detaining Bobby somewhere until after the curfew), but they also took the remainder of Bobby's supplies, including bandages and the like.

That is the story as told by four of the local non-Red Cross medical volunteers."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I stand corrected

The shop I bought the clothes in is called Avenue. Having just clicked on some of their links, I've discovered that the lilac blouse is really lavender and the peach blouse is really dried apricot.

The Prodigal's car

Since it was raining and my wiper blade is missing, I took the Prodigal's Ford Taurus shopping. I can say unequivocally that I will never, ever purchase a Taurus for myself. If by remote chance I should ever be gifted with one or win one in a contest, I would sell it sight unseen and definitely undriven.

The seat in its most upright position leans back at an uncomfortable angle. In order to compensate for the angle, I would have either had to lower the steering wheel - which would have caused it to rub on the top of my legs - or moved the seat further up - which would have caused my knees to bump the dash whenever I had to switch between the gas and the brake pedals. As it was, making turns was rather an interesting proposition since my arms weren't quite long enough to grasp the top of the steering wheel.


Fickle woman that I am . . .

I changed my mind about going shopping in the rain. I picked up a pair of brown shoes and a pair of black shoes. I bought a pair of very dark grey slacks with a lilac blouse and a pink sweater, and I picked up a pair of tweedy brown slacks with a peach blouse and a creamy tan sweater. All the blouses and sweaters will go with the black slacks I already have, and I think most of them will go with the grey slacks as well. With these nine coordinates, I should be set for a while.

Unless it stops raining . . .

I probably won't go shopping today. We're having another summer squall and it's been at it since early morning. Sometimes just rain. Sometimes thunder and rain. Sometimes neither, but not for very long.

Rain means not being able to go to Houston if I can't find any clothes in town since I don't have a windshield wiper on the driver's side of my car. Did I mention taking the car in for an oil change and the people breaking the wiper arm off just above where it is mounted on the car? No? Well, I did. They will replace it but the dealer didn't have any parts in stock so a wiper arm had to be ordered and won't be here till Monday.

And if the part isn't in and fixed on Monday, I will be driving the Prodigal's car to work until mine is fixed since rain is predicted for next week starting on Tuesday. Thank goodness the grandparents chipped in for his car.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Battlestar Galactica

Wow, Xena as a blonde.

(I know Lucy Lawless is a blonde and had to dye her hair to play Xena, but seeing her as a blonde . . . I can honestly say she makes a prettier brunette.)

Truly, finally, for real

I start work at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. Yipee! Woohoo! Yeehaw!

Unfortunately, tomorrow I have to go shopping for clothes. I hate shopping for clothes.

;D How Reliable Is Brown's Resume? -- Page 1

"Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was 'serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight.' The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 'overseeing the emergency services division.' In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an 'assistant to the city manager' from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. 'The assistant is more like an intern,' she told TIME. 'Department heads did not report to him.' Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. 'Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University,' recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. 'Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt.' "

Texas Library Association - Disaster Relief

If you've got books you normally give away or donate to local libraries or other institutions, please consider either sending them to the TLA or finding out if a similar donation process is available where you are.

PinkDome - September 09, 2005 - Caption This Picture

You can read my caption under the name Seitherin. It was the second one.

Finally . . . but

I just got back from the doctor's office - and running errands - and my blood pressure is finally in the normal range. But, I've got to wonder about the nurse who has been taking my pressure since last week.

She took the pressure in my left arm this morning and the reading came back 138/92 which is still outside the normal range but would have been a significant improvement over Tuesday's reading. She decided to take the pressure in my right arm as well, but she decided to use a larger blood pressure cuff than she'd used on my left arm. She explained that the smaller cuff was for slight people and the larger cuff was for more substantial people like me.

Anyway, the reading using the large cuff on my right arm came back 110/84. This, of course, caused her some pause. She decided to take a reading on my left with the large cuff just to verify. That one came back 118/86.

There's a big difference between 138/92 and 118/86.

She's been using the small cuff all along. If we use the same sort of ratio between today's readings and apply them to Tuesday's readings, the 158/98 could very well have been as low as 138/92.

Any which way, I had her fax the information to the clinic as they had requested and I will call them around 1:30 or so to make sure they've gotten the release and that they will clear me to work. And then I will call the lovely HR lady at my new job and let her know what's going on. I may actually be able to go to work on Monday. Wouldn't that be great!?

BBC NEWS | Americas | Powell criticises storm response

"There were 'a lot of failures at a lot of levels - local, state and federal', Mr Powell told ABC.

'There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans - not enough was done,' he said.

Mr Powell's views will be heard with particular interest as he is a highly respected figure and a prominent black American, the BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington.

The Pew Research Center, which ran the new opinion poll, also indicated that two-thirds of the African-Americans questioned believed the government reaction would have been faster if most of those affected had been white.

But Mr Powell said so many African-Americans were left unprotected be cause they were poor, rather than because they were black."

Hey, Best Friend

I did a Yahoo! People Search and found two Rodney Ramseys in Louisiana. I found six Robert Ramseys.

Also, have you thought to post a "looking for" entry at

Patiently waiting

I've been up for a while patiently waiting for 9 o'clock to roll around so I can go to the doctor's office to get my blood pressure checked . . . again. I don't think the meds he has me on are working. I feel more blood pressure-y now than I did before I started taking them.

George W. Bush Still Rocks! / Stop criticizing! The rich man's CEO president is executing his job requirements perfectly

Not pretty, but gutsy.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Titan moon occupies 'sweet spot'

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (Worst Disaster)

"Claim: Television news screen shot captures President Bush with an inadvertently humorous caption.

Status: Undetermined."

CBS News | Katrina Leaves Pets In Peril | September 8, 2005

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Michael Moore's Blog: The Office Has Moved

"Today's news that 'debit cards worth 2,000 dollars' were being handed to each homeless hurricane evacuee. A friend of mine, who's in-laws live in Jefferson Parish, told me that they went to the FEMA center today to get their debit cards and they said that not only weren't there any debit cards, the FEMA people there didn't know anything about it."


from of the Day:

demagogue \DEM-uh-gog\, noun:
1. A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.

2. A leader of the common people in ancient times.

A consummate demagogue, McCarthy played upon cold war emotions and made charges so fantastic that frightened people believed the worst.
--Arthur Herman, Joseph McCarthy

Even when he showed his true colors as a demagogue and trickster, Stalin did so in such a crisp and weighty, confidence-inspiring manner that he bewitched not only his conversational partner but himself as well.
--Milovan Djilas, Fall of the New Class

Demagogue derives from Greek demagogos, 'a leader of the people,' from demos, 'the people' + agogos, 'leading, one who leads,' from agein, 'to lead.'

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

iWon News - So, don't accept chocolates from a Nazi..

"A secret file from the archives of Britain's spy services released this week shows ingenious methods, conjured up by Germans during World War Two, for disguising bombs."


That's the name of the second med I've been prescribed. It is a diuretic which means I'm going to spend the next 30 days - that's how many pills I have - peeing all day long. With any luck, the extra dosage of the Lisinopril and the addition of the chlorthalidone will bring the pressure down.

I'll know Friday.

I am so ready to start work.

Boing Boing: Katrina: wish you were here.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Police told to clear New Orleans


BBC NEWS | Americas | California backs gay marriage law

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Gilligan comedy actor Denver dies

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Comet gives up its 'snowy' secret

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush to lead inquiry into Katrina

US President George W Bush says he will lead an investigation into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled.

"I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong," he said in reply to criticism that the authorities were too slow to respond.

Oh, please. Like this man will accept responsibility for putting his cronies into positions of governmental power for which they are immensely unsuited.

When he does that, I'm sure pigs will be flying the friendly skies.

DHS | Department of Homeland Security | National Response Plan

The full National Response Plan is a 4.24Mb pdf file which I downloaded today. It will be interesting to see if the plan changes - without a corresponding change in publication date - after this mess has the appropriate spin put on it by the politicos who failed miserably.

Daily Kos: National Response Plan: THE BUCK STOPS HERE. [updated #2] / CBS News Video

On the left side, search for the video entitled "Local Leader Blasts Response".

A tiny spot of blue sky

The Prodigal Son has a two day gig helping a friend at a construction site. If he lasts, he should get about $60 which will be enough to pay for an oil change on his car.

No improvement to speak of

I just got back from having my blood pressure checked. There is no significant improvement although it is down a bit. My meds have been adjusted. I now have to take two of the Lisinopril twice a day and a second med has been added to my regime. I don't know what the second one is yet because I haven't been to the pharmacy to pick it up. The doctor's office is supposed to call it in as well as make a change to my Lisinopril prescription to the next higher dosage. I'm supposed to go back on Friday to have my blood pressure checked again.

If there still isn't any significant improvement, I'm not sure what that's going to mean for the job. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News

Daily Kos: Just to give you a sense of just how badly FEMA has f*cked up. / World / US - Federal agency 'slow' to accept business help

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food

" 'The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans,' said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

'Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day [asking for access]. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders.' "

After Failures, Government Officials Play Blame Game - New York Times

" 'We wanted soldiers, helicopters, food and water,' said Denise Bottcher, press secretary for Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana. 'They wanted to negotiate an organizational chart.' "

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Saturn ring particles 'fluffy'

" 'It would be wonderful to take a butterfly net and scoop up the ring particles, bring them back and look at them. But we have to indirectly infer what a ring particle might look like, and they're probably more like a fluffy snowball.' "


Like mother, like son

Barbara Bush, talking about the Katrina refugees:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this is working very well for them."

The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann -

The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann -

"September 5, 2005 | 8:58 p.m. ET
The 'city' of Louisiana (Keith Olbermann)

SECAUCUS - Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: 'Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater...'

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might've saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could've brought last Monday and Tuesday - like the President, whose statements have looked like they're being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called "The Department of Homeland Security": "Louisiana is a city..."

Politician after politician - Republican and Democrat alike - has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the 'I-Me' switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were - congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Law Officers, Overwhelmed, Are Quitting the Force - New York Times - Hurricane Maria forms in Atlantic - Sep 4, 2005

"'On this track, Maria should remain well to the east of Bermuda and only pose a threat to shipping interests,' said Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center." - U.S. receives aid offers from around the world - Sep 4, 2005 - House-to-house rescues under way in New Orleans - Sep 4, 2005

'My Pet Goat' -- The Sequel

"Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action." News - International - Death awaits for those too scared - or naive - to flee News - International - Nation which began as joke mourns its leader and greatest ambassador

"IT WAS created as a joke and is not shown on any map, yet since it was founded in 1947 the Free Republic of Saugeais has boasted a president, a prime minister, customs officers and a national anthem.

Now the tiny, little-known independent state in eastern France has been thrust into the limelight following the death of its beloved president, Gabrielle Pourchet, who died last week aged 99.

Named after the upper valley of the River Doubs, a region near the Swiss border known since the 12th century as the Saugeais Valley, the 1,000-square-kilometre Republic of Saugeais lists 4,500 citizens and includes 11 municipalities. " News - International - Beleagued Bush forced to admit US is unable to cope

There is no shame in asking for help. There is even less shame in accepting help when it is offered.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Glitch forces Mars probe shut-off

BBC NEWS | Americas | 'Five shot dead' in New Orleans

Louisiana's Wetlands @ National Geographic Magazine

Photo of man standing chest high in water

This article is from October, 2004. It appears none of our politicians or political appointees read National Geographic. To quote the article:

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

KR Washington Bureau | 09/02/2005 | Experts: Focus on terrorism delays FEMA response to Katrina

"As federal officials tried to get some control over the deteriorating situation in New Orleans, chaos was being replaced with bureaucratic rules that inhibited private relief organizations' efforts.

'We've tried desperately to rescue 250 people trapped in a Salvation Army facility. They've been trapped in there since the flood came in. Many are on dialysis machines,' said Maj. George Hood, national communications secretary for the relief organization.

'Yesterday we rented big fan boats to pull them out and the National Guard would not let us enter the city,' he said. The reason: a new plan to evacuate the embattled city grid by grid - and the Salvation Army's facility didn't fall in the right grid that day, Hood said in a telephone interview from Jackson, Miss.

'No, it doesn't make sense,' he said.

The Salvation Army, along with the American Red Cross and other relief organizations, is supplying meals to refugees in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. But Hood said good supply lines to keep relief stations stocked with bottled water, food and gas still haven't been established.

'The problem is we're running out of food and supplies, and getting replacement food and supplies in here is a big problem,' he said. 'The infrastructure is clogged.' "

Pentagon Investigator Resigning - Los Angeles Times

An Angry 'Times-Picayune' Calls for Firing of FEMA Chief and Others in Open Letter to President On Sunday

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

The Bursting Point - New York Times

The scrapbook of history accords but a few pages to each decade, and it is already clear that the pages devoted to this one will be grisly. There will be pictures of bodies falling from the twin towers, beheaded kidnapping victims in Iraq and corpses still floating in the waterways of New Orleans five days after the disaster that caused them.

Christine Adelhardt berichtet live aus Biloxi. |

This is also a German video link. For this one, I have a translation thanks to Daily Kos:


Zum letzten Stand jetzt live aus Biloxi Christine Adelhardt

Vor 2 Minuten ist hier gerade der Präsident in seinem Konvoi vorbeigefahren. Was sich hier in Biloxi aber während des Tages abgespielt hat, ist wirklich unglaublich. Plötzlich tauchten hier Bergungstrupps auf, plötzlich waren hier Räumfahrzeuge, die hatte man die ganzen Tage hier vorher nicht gesehen, und das in einem Gebiet, indem es wirklich nicht notwendig wäre, groß aufzuräumen, weil hier lebt weit und breit kein Mensch mehr, die Menschen sind weiter innen in der Stadt. Der Präsident reist mit einem Pressetross. Dieser Pressetross hat damit sehr schöne Bilder, die da sagen sollen, der Präsident war da und die Hilfe, die wird auch kommen. Das Ausmaß der Naturkatastrophe hat mich geschockt aber das Ausmaß der Inszenierung hier heute schockt mich mindestens genauso. Damit zurück nach Hamburg


On the last state of things here's Christine Adelhardt live from Biloxi

2 minutes ago the President drove past in his convoi. But what has happened in Biloxi all day long is truly unbelievable. Suddenly recovery units appeared, suddenly bulldozers were there, those hadn't been seen here all the days before, and this in an area, in which it really wouldn't be necessary to do a big clean up, because far and wide nobody lives here anymore, the people are more inland in the city. The President travels with a press baggage [big crew]. This press baggage got very beautiful pictures which are supposed to say, that the President was here and help is on the way, too. The extent of the natural disaster shocked me, but the extent of the staging is shocking me at least the same way. With that back to Hamburg.

ZDFmediathek - Verzweiflung in der Anarchie

The report is in German but it contains a video link that really doesn't require much translation.

One of those sleepless nights

I'm having one of those sleepless nights where I just can't seem to fall asleep no matter what boring thing I find to do. I tried watching TV, but I got interested in the movie that was on - "The Forgotten". I tried reading but I just kept reading the same sentence over and over again so I gave that up. Then I started digging around in my desk - which has now been very efficiently organized - and I found some notes I made I don't know how many years ago for a language I was going to create for a story I was going to write. I don't remember what the story was supposed to be about, but the notes for the language are kind of nifty looking. I suspect they would be even more nifty if I'd had any sort of linguistic training. Anyway, I thought I'd share --

a = ah as in father
â = ow as in cow
ä = ay as in hay

e = eh as in net
ê = ay as in hay
ë = ee as in need

i = i as in pit
î = e as in we
ï = i as in night

o = o as in shop
ô = oy as in boy
ö = o as in hope

u = uh as in up
û = oo as in moo
ü = u as in use

y = ee as in need
ŷ = ye as in yell
ÿ = yi as in yipes

bh = p as in pair

c = k as in kite
ch = ch as in German ich

dh = th as in this

f = as v at the end of words

g = always hard
gh = fa as in fin

hr = voiced

q = k in kite


th = th as in think

x = s as in sunset

z = sh as in ship

There is no k.

'at = masculine extension, suffix
'el = feminine extension, suffix

te' = plural, prefix

nê = mankind, plural noun

nê'at = man
te'nê'at = men

nê'el = woman
te'nê'el = women

nêor = gold, the color
nêoret = gold, the metal

nêas = silver, the color
nêaset = silver, the metal

et = metal
te'et = metals

tûra = parent
te'tûra = parents

tûr'at = father
te'tûr'at = fathers
tr'ati = daddy, dad

tûr'el = mother
te'tûr'el = mothers
tr'eli = mommy, mom

sä'am = friend
te'sä'am = friends

And that's as far as I got. I wish I could remember what I was going to write about. I can't find any notes on the story. Oh, well.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US Chief Justice Rehnquist dies

BBC NEWS | Americas | Massive airlift rescues thousands

Saturday, September 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Rover's image from Mars hill peak

In Exile

Whatever: Being Poor

New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - Fastest pulsar set to escape the Milky Way

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | World mobilises to aid US victims

"President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela - a major oil exporting country - said he had offered to send cheap fuel.

The state department has not decided whether to accept it."

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Press blames anarchy on rescue delays

BBC NEWS | Americas | Hurricane aid efforts gather pace

BBC NEWS | Technology | Gamers rally for Katrina support

Friday, September 02, 2005

From the horse's mouth

President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina: "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

Hurricane Katrina - President Gates Statement

Texas A & M University Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

Just talked to my brother

I just got off the phone with my brother. My sister-in-law has family in Biloxi, Mississippi that no one has heard from since Katrina hit. She has an uncle and several cousins and their families who live(d) there. I had no idea. I thought all her family were all in either Texas or Georgia. If I'd known, I would have called to offer support instead of waiting to hear it from my brother.

According to my brother, they've checked with other family members and contacted the Red Cross and checked the web sites but they haven't found any information on them.

I'm just sick about this. I hope her family is OK.

If I were a leading man

Clark Gable

You scored 38% Tough, 0% Roguish, 28% Friendly, and 33% Charming!

You're a helluva guy, a real split personality and a bit of an enigma.
On the one hand, you're a man's man, tough talking and ready for
anything. But on the other hand, you soften your rough and tumble core
with a disarmingly smooth exterior, and you make the ladies swoon.
You're equally admired by both men and women alike, drinking other men
under the table all the while charming the socks off half a dozen
lovelies. You're a commanding presence, and you know how to get what -
and who - you want when you want it. You're drawn to women who, like
you, are savvy enough to deal with the world on their own terms. You
work well with spitfires. Leading ladies include Joan Crawford, Myrna
Loy, and Jean Harlow. No damsels in distress for you.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on Tough
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Roguish
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 41% on Friendly
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on Charming

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

Oh, to be a classic dame

Jean Arthur

You scored 19% grit, 33% wit, 33% flair, and 26% class!

You are a little bit of everything: smart, nutty, classy, and even a
little scheming when you need to be. However, you aren't exactly the
most effective dame around, as you're sometimes given to fainting and
mumbling incoherently. But you're pretty steadfast and true, and might
I add, cute as a button, even if you're not sure exactly what you want.
Still, you end up with the likes of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant...not
too shabby!

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on grit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on wit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on flair
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on class

Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid


We're having a little summer squall. There's a bit of thunder and lightning accompanying the rain. I guess this means mowing the grass will have to be put off again. I'm sure that is going to make the Prodigal Son so unhappy.

News on the job front

Just got back from the doctor's office and my blood pressure hasn't improved particularly, but then it's only been two days of taking the meds. I go back Tuesday to have the blood pressure checked again to see if this dosage of meds is working or not. According to the nurse, there should be a significant improvement by Tuesday if the Lisinopril is working.

Anyway, what this means is that I won't start the new job on Tuesday as expected. If things are "normal" on Tuesday, I'll start the job on Monday, September 12.

On a brighter note, I found some really marvelous avocados at the grocery store so I picked up a couple. One is my late lunch, which I'm munching on now, and the other will be had with dinner tonight. I also found some really nice looking red seedless grapes which I've already munched on. They're going to be my snack food of choice until they run out.

SurveyUSA News Poll #6786 - Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses' - Sep 2, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Questions grow over rescue chaos

Anheuser-Busch Donates Canned Water For Hurricane Katrina Relief


BBC NEWS | Americas | Reporters' Log: Katrina's aftermath

BBC NEWS | Business | Katrina cost set to hit reinsurer

BBC NEWS | Americas | New Orleans rocked by huge blasts

Daily Kos: FEMA Dir. Mike Brown fired from prior job at Horse Assoc.

New Zealand Herald - NZ offers hurricane help, Kiwis missing - Friday 02, September 2005 10:47.00 AM - National News

Canada searches for ways to help U.S. oil industry - Yahoo! News

interdictor: The Real News

The Interdictor

This is the Live Journal of Michael Barnett who works for DirectNIC, a hosting company in New Orleans which is still up and running for the time being. | United Nations offers disaster assistance to U.S. | Bush admits Katrina relief effort not acceptable | B.C. urban rescue team headed to Louisiana

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yahoo! News Photo

While a city drowns, Bush strums.

While a city drowns, Bush strums - News - Help Katrina Victims

Wizard of Id

Charity Navigator - America's Largest Charity Evaluator

Network for Good :: Hurricane Relief Efforts and Preparedness

More links to organizations helping with disaster relief.

The Humane Society of the United States

Another organization accepting donations to help animals in the wake of Katrina.

Direct link to donation page

FEMA: Cash Sought To Help Hurricane Victims, Volunteers Should Not Self-Dispatch

Contains a list of organizations accepting donations.

American Veterinary Medical Foundation

People aren't the only ones who need help in the wake of Katrina.

Grocery Store Wars | Join the Organic Rebellion

Oh, my. I really do believe I'm seen just about everything now.

Cuke Skywalker: "You're my father? That's... That's really impossible!"

Darth Tater: "Search your peelings, Cuke, search your peelings..."