Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Boz--you will gain as you share the next several months with your wife. Nearly impossible to avoid. I wonder what Fat Boz will look like. We already know he's Phat Boz. But, Fat Boz might be pretty good.
Going to the Card's game tonight if the rain holds off! 4 more regular season at Busch! Go Cards!
It could be due to the absence of one Mr. Howdy. I can't for the life of me figure out what he must be doing that is taking up all of his time!
So, Howdy, I do believe it's time for ***dum-ta-da-DUUUMMMMM*** "BABY UPDATE".
I can only assume that adjusted sleeping patterns are beginning to feel more normal, and feedings, changings (doodie patrol), etc., are moving along at the normal rate. I would also assume that you are quite a bit busier than you were prior to the arrival of Master Christopher Mark.
So, what do you have to say for yourself??
Monday, September 26, 2005
He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!"
Finally, president looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"
The movie is "Crash". For those who haven't checked it out, the plot revolves around a group of strangers that have their lives intertwined by a few random acts. Most of the acts aren't what you would call "positive". Some scenes will piss you off and some might make you shed a tear. However, as a whole the movie was pretty thought provoking (at least to me).
Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you all think? If you haven't seen it, go rent it. It's worth 112 minutes of your life.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
New Orleans population 1.3M. Houston pop is 5.2M. Lots of people to get out of the Galveston Bay area.
Who ever would have thought two major hurricanes this close together? Is it global warning or have the terrorists learned how to manipulate the weather as a weapon? Cyclical changes in the earth or Revelations prophecy? Perhaps civilization has not heeded the lessons of the likes of Pompeii.
Galveston Island--1980 something. 86? Show Choir in some convention center? Kiwanis convention of 8-10K attendance. An Astro's game? Seamhead, Jaga, RWP or SweetLou may recall this. I think I have a photo of Seamhead on the field somewhere.
Monday, September 19, 2005
The following is a true story.
This morning seemed like any other morning. I was in front of TBHS welcoming students to another day of instruction. I had just approved a note from a student for an absence on Friday and asked another student about the upcoming district baseball tournament, when my peripheral vision detected a small, strange movement on the ground and to my left.
I directed my attention toward what turned out to be an averaged-sized toad who found himself on the sidewalk next to a retaining wall in the midst of heavy morning foot-traffic. He was probing the wall; looking for a crevice or crack into which he might escape. The oncoming rush of 1600 students ready to begin their final full week of the year made the next few seconds all the more urgent.
The danger to a small creature in a heavy traffic area on a campus like ours is two-fold. First, the random foot-fall of a hurried student could injure, maim, or kill such an animal in a split second. Second, some degenerate teenagers would revel in the opportunity to grab this creature and throw him against the wall, or worse, secure him in their back pack to transport home for who knows what tortuous endeavor.
Acting quickly and without regard for my personal well-being, I moved my own body into the path of the oncoming student traffic. As I stooped down to corral the wild beast, I gestured calmly to the flow of students with my right hand, quietly indicating that they should not travel through the area which I had secured for toad extraction. Adding to the already explosive situation, one sophomore girl who saw the distressed amphibian yelled "EEEwwwwww," as she moved passed.
Maintaining my laser-like focus, I gently scooped the toad into my left hand and covered it with my right, protecting the toad from its own instinctive urge to leap from my hands and back into the oncoming rush of students. As the toad micturated in my hand, I paused for a moment to reflect upon the irony of our arrangement: me acting selflessly to save a toad from the threat of certain death, gently preventing the toad from foolishly leaving the safety of my grasp; and for my trouble, I get a handful of toad urine.
Getting back to my task, I considered the options nearby for toad relocation, and I must tell you that it did not look good. To the north and east, we were bordered by several acres of asphalt parking lot. To the south and west, sidewallks and the high school building. I thought for a moment of dropping him down the storm water drain (functional, but gross), or placing him in a small flower bed next to the building (pretty, but not much room). I knew that neither of those locations could serve as permanent habitat for my charge. I remembered the grassy area on the south east side of the high school; a mixture of trees, grass, and shrubs, I knew it would provide the perfect blend of sun, shade, and moisture for this toad to thrive.
I released the toad at about 7:35 this morning. I haven't seen him since, but I hope that he finds his new home safe and comfortable. I hope this tale of the selfless action of one man may inspire you to great things this day.
And remember to wash your hands after reading this email.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Date of family expansion tentatively set for March 4, 2006. March Madness.
Kudos to anyone who caught the foreshadowing in one of my previous posts. No, not the bit about partial-birth abortion. The "Three Is A Magic Number" reference. Paulie must've read me, cuz he performed the whole damn song. Thanks Violent Farmer! Wanna be a Godfather?
I watched some of the Senate testimony. He appeared to me to be very forthright, honest, and decisive in his answers in acknowledging he is committed to the rule of law.
Compare that with Dianne Feinstein:
``I don't know what I'm going to do,'' said Feinstein, who said his testimony showed ``this very cautious, very precise man, young, obviously with staying power. ... I'm convinced you will be there, God willing, for 40 years. And that even concerns me more because it means that my vote means more.''
Feinstein voted to confirm Roberts for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She voted for him once, but isn't sure what she will do now? Isn't a cautious, precise person the kind of person you want for a Chief Justice? She is "concerned more" that her vote means "more"? As if he might only be able to serve 20yrs, her vote would mean less? Where is the confidence and decisiveness of this elected official who represents the State of California and is influencing our nation one way or the other with her vote?
Anyway, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Have at the response comments.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The movie was "Downfall" and it was all about the last few weeks in Hitler's bunker. It was a little hard to keep all the charcters straight as this general and that general, etc., kept coming in and out. I knew about half the names of the real life characters, but of course the German army was pretty damn top heavy by the end. The guy who played Hitler did a fantastic job and really gave life to how demented and delusional the man was at the end, and almost all of the major characters were rounded out so that you could also see so much humanity (which just made them seem all the more twisted by nationalistic ideology and blind heteronomy).
There were several interesting side stories as well, such as one about a young boy (12 +/-) who is just itching to fight, against the will of his father - obviously a veteran who has lost an arm and realized the futility of the German cause; the Russians were inching ever closer to the middle of Berlin and shelling the crap out of everything the whole time.
There are some hard scenes, mostly due to emotional content and not to gruesome images. It's pretty difficult to watch Frau Goeble kill her children with poison instead of letting them grow up "in a world with out National Socialism." It's pretty troubling to watch Herr Goeble (or Goering?) and Hitler, at different times, talk about the fact that they could care less what happens to the German citizens, and then show emotion for idiotic, nationalistic reasons, or because a dog is dying.
It was extremely interesting to see the two factions of Hitlers officers - those who had come to the realization that all was lost, the Fuhrer was losing control, and the best thing would be to stop the madness and save lives, and those who were of the "we fight to the last bullet and then use the last bullet on ourselves" camp.
Anyway, I highly recommend this movie, which I think is especially important at a time when this country is tipping a bit too far toward nationalism and imperialism. I hope we've learned some lessons since then, but I doubt it. I think every generation hopes they've learned lessons from the past, but history tells us we're not quite that bright.
It's really all summed up in the Planet of the Apes series of movies, but that's another story...
Oh, BTW, the movie is in German w/English subtitles, but that actually makes it 100 Xs better. (There's nothing like a good Hitler Rant in German!!)
Oh, one more thing for all to muse....The movie focuses a great deal around one of Hitler's personal secretaries, whom he treats very tenderly and very well. Actually, the movie opens and closes with a short interview with the actual woman. Several times in the movie, as the women in the bunker are talking about trying to get out of harms way, they mention that they want to get through to the American lines (the definately do NOT want to be captured by the Russians). I wonder if that feeling is still out there in the world, that even if we're fighting against a country our fighting forces will still respect the sanctity of non-combative/innocent human life...?
Our recent actions seem to not uphold that fact, if it ever really was true to begin with.
Monday, September 12, 2005
It happened about a week and a half ago. One of my football players was injured in a tackling drill. I personally didn't see it happen since we were separated by position and I didn't coach his. My assistant called me over since the kid was in a lot of pain. He said that his neck hurts. Now, if there's one thing I've learned, saying "neck" on a football field is similar to saying "bomb" on an airplane. We immediately (as we would for many injuries that could be serious) put a call in to the parents. In nicer words, I tell them that their son is Injured and should probably be looked at by a doctor. Long story short, the parents eventually tell us to go ahead and call an ambulance and that they would be up there as soon as possible.
My two assistants stayed at the side of the kid while I took the rest of the team (the other 65 kids) to another part of the field and resumed some sort of practice to keep them busy. Minutes later, I hear the sirens of a fire truck. As most of you know, the fire department is right across the street from the football field. This didn’t surprise me, since I knew that the EMT’s often came from there. About the same time they arrived, so did Mom. I jogged back over to see what was going on. Now at this point, with a parent and a medical professional there, that pretty much puts us out of the picture. So from here on out, the 6 coaches and 130 football players on sight (us and the eighth grade) were simply spectators. So were the 50-75 or so parents that frequently sit in their lawn chairs and watch the practice, especially during the last half when they’re all getting off work and come early to watch and pick up their kids.
Now this kid is lying there, fully moving all parts of his body except the shoulder and neck area. Typical questions were asked like, “Did he ever loose consciousness?....NO “How was he hit?”…not hard, just seemed to fall on it wrong (the kid that hit him was half his size). This is when I hear the EMT say, “I think we need to immediately air evac. Him to Children’s Hospital!” I’m thinking, “Holy shit!” But who am I to question? I figure that she must feel or know something that I don’t.
By now, 3 police cars have shown up to see what’s going on. The ambulance also arrives.
Of course, this brings mom to tears. Embarrassed, she asked me for $5 since she didn’t have enough gas in her car to make it. We take up a larger collection (since $5 will only get you to Wentzville and back nowadays) and give this poor lady some money.
By now our Principal and 2 assistant Superintendents that were still around also show up. And the board member, who was there to pick up his son told me that his beeper went off with the information as well.
Now let me pause and review. We have: a Fire truck, 3 police cars, an ambulance, a principle, 2 assistant superintendents, and a board member all come to a sight that already has a couple hundred parents and kids. .....
.....Now the helicopter arrives, straps the kid up and takes him away.
I didn’t think much about the decision until a Doctor (who will remain nameless), who also heard about it from another source, told me later that evening that it was a surprising decision since we had an X-Ray machine less than 2 miles away, and they could easily have airlifted him from there should it be shown to be serious.
Needless to say, even my wife heard that a kid “broke his neck” before I even got home from practice that evening (about an hour after it happened). Arriving at school the next day, the first 3 kids I see I overhear saying that some kid broke his neck.
It was a crazy experience…maybe you had to be there.
The good news is….The kid himself called me about that night saying that he was ok and would be back at school the next day. He wore one of those foam neck braces for the rest of the week and was back playing football a couple days ago. One week after the incident occurred.
I wonder how good Mom's insurance is? The helicopter is a $6000. bill. Plus the Ambulance cost another $800 or so just to show up. She can keep the gas money
Friday, September 09, 2005
Emphasis on Local Response
* The Plan identifies police, fire, public health and medical, emergency management, and other personnel as responsible for incident management at the local level.
* The Plan enables incident response to be handled at the lowest possible organizational and jurisdictional level.
* The Plan ensures the seamless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local or state capabilities.
* Timely Federal Response to Catastrophic Incidents
* The Plan identifies catastrophic incidents as high-impact, low-probability incidents, including natural disasters and terrorist attacks that result in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions.
* The Plan provides the means to swiftly deliver federal support in response to catastrophic incidents.
Multi-agency Coordination Structure
The Plan identifies police, fire, public health and medical, emergency management, and other personnel as responsible for incident management at the local level.
The Plan enables incident response to be handled at the lowest possible organizational and jurisdictional level.
The Plan ensures the seamless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local or state capabilities.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I would imagine that if you lived there, you would know that YES, that happens, and it's probably pretty easy to get out of the way most of the time. I would imagine that if you lived there you would have neighbors you cared about, children that went to school, jobs to go to, etc. Life would be hard, perhaps, but it would not be 100% of the time shooting, bombs going off, etc.
I have heard the same thing from many ex-patriots and persons who live abroad - you cannot judge other countries by the 4 second snippits that we call "news". The cameras only role when something exiting, frightening, etc., is happening.
This is how it has been with Katrina, as well. The poor and minorities of New Orleans have been show screaming, crying, looting, shooting, etc. It's much more enticing cinema than showing those who have helped, those feeding their families, looking for neighbors, etc.
Lania's cousin Michael stayed at his house the entire time, in fact he's still there and has been joined by his mother and sister (who had taken refuge in Dallas with relatives). It is a total mess, but their house didn't flood too badly. He is disgusted by what has been shown reported by the media. His experience in Orleans Parish has been one of people helping each other, maybe taking what then need from stores, but mostly just hunkering down. He's spent a lot of time at the corner bar, where the proprietor has been feeding anyone with an empty stomach for more than a week (they've had gas and water the whole time, but no electricity). I guess they're eating a lot of beans or something!
Oh, and as far as the "cavelry" goes, two days ago - TWO FUCKING DAYS AGO - was the very first time that Michael saw an armed forces vehicle in his neighborhood. That is more than a week. That's a bad response, even by third world standards.
The person that we are most worried about is Lania's cousin Joey, the oldest of the three. He is a head nurse in a New Orleans hospital emergency room. He's also part of a first response emergency team. Because of that, he and many of the staff of the hospital have been on "lock-down" status since BEFORE the storm hit. The last I heard of him, he had broken down on the phone and begged his mother (also a nurse) not to come back to the city, but officials are calling for all health care workers to return.
Joey's situation sounds like a nightmare. All medical supplies ran out early last week. Food and water tightly rationed. Dead bodies floating around the hospital. Every person, patient and medical staff, have been pushed to the limit of their endurance. I'm not sure if they have been relieved yet or not. God, I hope so. His wife was in a similar situation in another hospital - I haven't heard about her ordeal yet.
I guess what I really want to say is that the media have an agenda, and unless you really find a truthful source, believe half of what you hear and almost nothing of what you see. (I do NOT mean to say that the situation is not a nightmare, but just that the amount of crazies are far outnumbered by the amount of people doing their best in an impossible situation).
Michael gave us a website that broadcast truth about what is happening in N.O., but I forgot to bring it to work. I'll see if I can share that info later.
Here's the thing: initially, Lania and I thought we were going to be housing her cousin's daughter, Taylor, for an unspecified period of time. BTW, Lania's aunt and 3 cousins live in New Orleans. More on that later.
Now, it looks like that will probably not happen. We were gearing up to have Taylor with us for months. That felt pretty big - I've met this child, but don't really know her well. Last night Lania came in and we pretty seriously discussed hosting strangers. We thought about it from all angles: Joel, having recently been liberated to his own "space" in our basement bedroom, would have to move back upstairs; I would lose my practice/recording studio (fancy name for joel's old bedroom); our entire family routine - just getting set for the new school year - would be interupted; the website cautions that we would be ultimately responsible for letting strangers into our house (what about the safety of our kids, our posessions, etc.).
It is a horrible thing to feel like we're turning our backs on people in need. If these people don't have a place to sleep and we don't give them our sofa or an extra bed, are we making any real progress from last week when thousands were trapped in hellish places like the convention center? Didn't we, as a society, let them down then, also?
I don't know if we're ready to make a decision on this. If you have space, you might think about it.
Monday, September 05, 2005
In 2003 and 2004, the Bush Administration cut the funding for the levees that protect the city of New Orleans. Now, I've already heard the Bush apologists claim that any administration would have done the same considering the economic pressures. So, I'm gonna pretend that 100% of all presidential administrations would play Russian roulette with an American city that happens to be our largest sea port, because, you know, we wouldn't want to run up massive budget deficits.
Once you've cut the funding for the levees it seems to me the least you could do would be to be ready to act when the inevitable hurricane smashes into New Orleans. George Bush told the nation that no one could have predicted the damage the hurricane would do. Of course that's not true.
Readers of National Geographic knew of this scenario. The Army Corps of Engineers knew of this scenario. In fact this scenario was well known. For goodness sake, the National Weather Service knew exactly what would happen when Katrina hit.
So, FEMA took advantage of the two days from when Katrina turned category IV and when she hit the coast? That was not the case. Of course FEMA has been neutered by the Bush administration and is run by an incompetent. Michael Brown's main job for eleven years was the commissioner of judges for the international Arabian Horse Association. And he was forced to resign from that job.
And so the horror show continued. The director of homeland security was unaware that thousands of people where at the convention center until NPR told him. I guess he had no TV. The head of FEMA couldn't understand why people hadn't evacuated when the order to evacuate had been given.
And thousands of people died. While I think Kanye West was wrong, I don't think his comments were absurd at all. Certainly the Bush Administration, the State of Louisiana, and the City of New Orleans didn't leave these people behind because they were black. They did it because they were poor. They didn't feel it was necessary to waste time planning for a contingency that only affected the poorest and most vulnerable of their constituents. Kanye West was understandably confused because most of the poor people in New Orleans are black.
So we have demonstrated once again the lack of compassion of the Bush administration. Just like NCLB, just like the Iraq War, just like the giveaway energy policy, and just like the Medicare bill, we see the poor paying the way for the people in power.
As Keith Olbermann points out, this administration won reelection by running around this country claiming the other side couldn't protect them. Meanwhile, they left New Orleans and her most vulnerable population unprotected.
Should the people who did not leave be blamed? No, many of them had no means to leave. Many have been through storms before and ridden them out fine which may have presented a false sense of security for them creating a willingness to stay. I saw "an expert" on The Weather Channel saying "Everyone should get out, this will be like nothing we've ever seen". I would venture to guess that most of the people who stayed didn't even have the means to see The Weather Channel. And, this warning was only 2 days before it happened. Do I blame the government for the disaster recovery efforts? In totality, no. There are certain plans like knowing that 20,000 people in the Superdome without adequate food, water, and other necessities would not work. I don't know how you could supply the facility in short enough time (say 2 days to impact) to support all these people to the extent we in America would have expected. I remember thinking, "They are shoving 10K+ people in the Superdome....what if it doesn't hold? You've got 10K+ people in one place at risk". But, the only way to prevent this would have been to evacuate the entire city in advance. What would we Americans have said if we would have relocated all of these people to other cities and the storm passed without flooding the city? While having no human lives lost would be worth it, when do we decide what the trigger is for 100% evacuation in each storm? There are at least 10 more Tropical Storms predicted for this year alone. Should we evacuate everyone to other cities in advance in every instance? What if it had only been Category 2 vs. 4? Should we evacuate then?
Certainly more needs to be done for the future planning of disasters as we definitely should have been in at least trying to get survivors out sooner while we assessed long term recovery. But, it is not the President's fault. If you saw Kayne West's comments, I found them absurd. This isn't about race, it's about American people who are suffering and it's about our preparedness for this type of event in general. I hope those that are finger pointing are also stepping up, reaching in, and directly helping out beyond just inciting anger. People should and will be accountable. Now is the time to come together. United We Stand as Travis says on his blog. Let's help save the people of New Orleans and help them rebuild their lives. Meantime, pray we don't have another disaster hit in the midst of this one. And, let's make sure we know what to do in preparation for future disasters.