September 17, 2005
Life's simple pleasures are the best (blat blat--that would be the horn)
All the little things that make you smile and glow
Of all the things you know
Life simple pleasures are the best.
ALL DAY LONG. ALL DAY. AT LEAST ONCE AN HOUR.
I googled it at around 1 p.m. Found out it's the old Van Camp's Pork and Beans jingle.
I love google.
Out of no where
from my musical memory
just making the bed.
September 16, 2005
Often, I'd purchase animal figurines at the dollar store, or on clearance in my shopping travels, and sell them on ebay. I'd scour garage sales looking odd things I knew would sell well. You see, if you bought a $1 zebra at the dollar store, it was much more valuable online to a zebra collector on ebay. Honest-to-goodness collectors, from your Aunt Hazel to your Uncle Lawrence, camped out on ebay in the old days. I would sometimes turn a $15 profit on dollar store figurines representing some animal, vegetable, or mineral that sparked the imagination of x-random collector.
In fact, I got so into selling on ebay that I sold pretty much everything of value we owned by 2001.
But I digress.
You see, in the early days of ebay, the high bidder on your old Barbie would tell you she cried when she won. You had to WORK to get a deal as a buyer, right down to the last second, long before "buy it now" hit the too-many-options scene, back when being high bidder on a coveted item felt like winning the lottery, not like you had to go to the bank and get a money order to send to someone for something you really could live without.
These were the days before the convenience of paypal, when most of us requested postal money orders because Uncle Sam, not spammers, was our biggest worry. These were the days before HYPER-AUTOMATION, just before sellers gained the functionality to be able to import hundreds -- thousands -- of records with listed items in batch mode, before storefronts could hop on and sell entire odd lots of kitchenware and linens.
These were the days when buyers and sellers had to use external email to contact one another to set up payment and shipping arrangements, when leaving and getting good feedback mattered more than any other part of the transaction.
I used to make about $400 a month off ebay back then. It was enough to pay my car payment. It was like having a best-selling garage sale from inside the house. It was not a business.
Today, ebay is a mess.
Spammers have infiltrated every mechanism and intersection point between buyer and seller. I'm not talking about the spam that everyone gets -- whether you buy or sell on ebay or not -- but instead the very specific event-driven spam that plagues and puzzles participants to the point of driving me off ebay until they get a handle on what matters.
For instance, soon after an item sells, sellers are inundated with "fake" users claiming to have been the high bidder, threatening to call the police of the item doesn't arrive immediately, OR pretending to have contact you by accident in their attempt to reach a seller of a similar item. Everywhere someone is DARING you to email them. I know why, but I bet a lot of folks don't.
What a damn fabulous and ingenious way to capture verified email addresses! Simply pose a potential problem to a seller or buyer that goes to the very core of what their value as a marketplace participant: good feedback, satisfied customers, reliable payments.
Even the ethics of legitimate ebay participants, who can now remain personality-free thanks to over-automated processes, are in question on every sale. If you're a legitimate buyer, you don't ask for a bid retraction in the last five minutes of a seven-day auction. THAT kind of person is up to something, and that something is no good.
Combine all of these aggravations with hyper-automation that pretends to make life easier, but instead provides more automation than any human being needs, and what was once an elegantly simple and vibrant marketplace is now a littered parking lot.
Enter Skype. I haven't read much yet about what ebay intends to do with Skype. But I can tell you that providing one more way for the underbelly of emarketplace riffraff to contact and stalk me for the purpose of getting my email means one less time I'll bother to buy or sell on ebay.
Sometimes technology changes things for the better.
Sometimes technology just changes things.
That's my school tip of the week. It's all I've got.
Bonus: This is the lake I grew up on.
Then they built an elementary school at the end of our subdivision two years ago.
In the last six months 12 boys have moved into our neighborhood. Five at one house two doors down. Five at another house across the street and three doors down. One across the street (he's been there a while), and one at the end, who I think has an older sister.
12 boys between the ages of 2 and 10.
One of the boys is in her class. His name is Kye. He follows her everywhere.
He is over today for the first time after school to play.
I heard him ask, "Should we go up to your bedroom and play?"
My daughter did good: "No Kye, my bedroom is out of balance."
Practice. Repeat. Practice. Repeat.
I think she meant out of bounds, but either way, it works for me.
September 15, 2005
In those interactions, I found myself smack dab in the swirl of my own Katrina memories, not memories of that storm, but of my own 'before' and 'after' the storm story, my world in the years before my father died and the seconds, moments, and days afterward; my world before I went to school and came home to find out he was dead, and my world from that day on.
Trauma is about a moment of disconnect so huge that it brings with it a complete inability to parse how such a momentous change -- one so powerful you can feel it at once lift the sky higher and drop the ground from under your feet -- can fit into a single moment or day or week. Trauma is about shattering, upending, dropping, down down, while every membrane within the human body threatens to explode
It is the language that has yet to be formed, outside of time and meter, the world as an eyeball, peeled raw, staring right through your skin. It is a place of opposite poles where we become at once soft and steel, electric and muted, where we shiver and sweat in the same instant and wonder where the air is.
The mind can't comprehend it, the heart can't hold it, there is no where to put it.
This is what I saw on Tuesday.
It's all one big house. Some rooms are just virtual.
September 14, 2005
Texas leads the nation in the number of executions performed since the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in the 1970s. Almost half the people on death row in Texas are African American, though only 12% of the population is. In Harris County where Frances Newton is from, the police crime lab is notorious for botching capital cases.
Evidence was disputed.
Another hurdle in Newton's case was her state-appointed attorney. She was originally represented by the infamous defense attorney Ron Mock, who lost so many capital cases that he is known as “Death Row Mock”. At least 16 of Mock's
clients have gone to death row, and he has never won an acquittal in a capital
case. He has been suspended from the bar twice.
See also here. and here.
I think I need a bathroom break?
Now as you know, that is not possible, because I right now am 25 years old, so how could I be out of high school for a quarter of a century. And Vanessa has no business surprising me like that with her name in a box, same name as she's always had, and then springing this November silver reunion thing on me when I've never even been back for a reunion, so I'm pretty sure it's my FIRST not TWENTY-FIFTH high school reunion.
I think I may need a bathroom break?
The good news (?) is that the shelter will be closing tonight, having placed the last of the families in temporary or semi-permanent housing (?) or appropriate (?) medical facilities. The question marks are there because I'm not sure. And I'm not sure anyone is sure.
I heard different stories from different people woring with the red cross on the benefits of speeding the placement of folks (from hurricane to housing in 10 or so days) in hotels, appartments, medical facilities and even other shelters.
The Red Cross is more experienced than I am, so let's assume there is a master plan. One of the workers wasn't so sure though. She said "They're selling these people a line of bull, sending them to the hotels on Busbee Parkway when none of these people have cars, telling them there's public transporation when you know there's only one bus a day out that way. How are they going to get to the grocery store? Who's taking them to the doctor? All they want is them out of the way."
Hmm. That made me think. The families they've sent to hotels on Busbee Pkway will be in a pickle if some agency doesn't run some buses to the grocery stores, walmart, doctors, etc. Metro (AKA) Atlanta is nothing if not spread out. And not walkable. Cobb County in particular has always balked public transportation because of the "there goes the neighborhood" mentality. ON THE OTHER HAND, if I had been in that shelter for a week or more, I would want MY OWN SPACE, not rows of beds with make believe boundaries made out of duct tape. I'd be wanting SOME WALLS and some non-public rest rooms. So I know I would have been jumping for a hotel room.
I plan to check into how things are going over at the hotels next week and see if these folks have what they need in the way of transportation. I can at least give a few lifts if they don't.
Many of those who aren't at hotels have been placed in apartments. I heard a bunch of the volunteers whoop up a cheer when one of the clients was matched with free housing for a YEAR. Now that is a great way to help someone restructure their life to start again without having to wonder where they'll lie their head.
The Red Cross workers were really trying hard to make the residents at in the gym feel at home. I baby sat a one-year-old girl named Kenya while the driver took her mom over to lens crafters to get new glasses. While I was there, they helped about six folks get their paperwork and eyeballs over to Lens crafters to get re-hooked up with eyeglasses. People were looking snazzy coming back with shiny new frames!
Little Kenya is on dialysis, and she had just come off, so she had been throwing up. But with a bottle of pedialite in her hand, she was ready to rumble. I had fun chasing her around the place, picking up crayons, and after about two hours I sang her a song while she fell asleep on my shoulder.
I can't really put words around that. Something about touch. Something about softness and vulnerability and the gift of a child's small arms, and who is holding whom, raspy voice humming along with my words, trusting me enough to let sleep come. Wshew.
Once I put Kenya in her bed, I helped the other volunteers pack up boxes. Since this shelter was closing the next night, we had to pack up the storage room for the truck that was coming to take the extra supplies down to Mississippi where they still need it badly. It amazed me how organized the storage room was and what a variety of items it held. Everything from toys and board games to DVDs to tampons to showercaps to Bibles. Lots of Bibles. Get ready for Sunday service, because you folks in Mississippi have about four dozen Bibles headed your way from Cobb County. Praise the Lord.
I also met a man named Richard Lee who is an artist in New Orleans. I almost said "was." His story sounded -- how can we even use this word? -- typical of what we've heard from those who barely escaped: Three days stuck in his attic, his daughter missing until yesterday when they flew her in from Houston where she was sent when they were separated, all of his tools art supplies gone, and no idea how the galleries where his work is being shown made out. I set Richard up with a google email account. I gave him our phone numbers. If he stays in contact, you'll hear more about him from me. I would like nothing better than to be able to get his hands back on some tools.
When we were done with our shift that afternoon, my co-volunteer friend and I took 14-year-old Shane from the shelter to my pool so he could hang out, relax, swim. His mom is still looking for her twin boys that were with their father when she and Shane left New Orleans. She was glad Shane could get out of the shelter and do something fun. He was allowed to be out until 10:00. My friend asked him when he wanted to get back. He said, "Is 9:59 okay?"
He jumped off the diving boards like a pro and said he couldn't remember the last time he'd been swimming. Then corrected himself: "Oh right, it was before the storm."
That is the a/b switch playing in the minds of the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been interrupted with a trauma so immense it's hardly describable. There is 'before the storm' and 'after the storm.' The first part of their lives and the rest of their lives.
The only thing I know for sure is that I have new folks to add to my prayers. And I have.
Sep 13 2:41 PM US/Eastern
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco lashed out at FEMA on Tuesday, complaining the agency is moving too slowly in recovering the bodies of those killed by Hurricane Katrina.
The dead "deserve more respect than they have received," she said at state police headquarters in Baton Rouge.
She said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency still has not signed a contract with the company hired to handle the removal of the bodies, Houston-based Kenyon International Emergency Services.
Calls to a FEMA spokesman in New Orleans and the Homeland Security Department in Washington were not immediately returned.
September 13, 2005
Put a meme on your bumper and help the cause, then come over to the porch group and be as damn weird as this country is right now.
September 12, 2005
Sheila, if Bob stays with you long enough, maybe you'll both join us on Trent Lott's new front porch when it's rebuilt? Because a bunch of us are planning to be there. I never thought about it being screened in, but there's no reason why it can't be!!
How apropos still:
In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, "Now you are free," but you dont give him any bus fare to get to town. You dont give him any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet again in life.
Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply said, "You're free," and it left him there penniless, illiterate, not knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.
But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every year not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. Its all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.
Thanks for the reminder, Bumblebee.
I mean, I'm up to 157 already and that doesn't count a single dead guy, like the kind you find when you're sweeping up. The million man march got whittled down to 25K. Let's make sure the dead guy count, if we have to autopsy every damn alligator in the bayou, is right.
"Although body-recovery operations were still under way, the death toll represents the number of bodies that have been counted where the deaths were a result of Katrina's winds, rains or floodwaters, or those who died as a result of medical equipment that became inoperable during the hurricane."
I was in the media for 8 years and I know the sound of weasel words when I hear them. I want to make sure that these Dead Guys are counted, in their wheelchairs and their mother's arms, and on the buses and on the rooftops and in the back bedroom where their asthma got them if the water didn't. I want to make sure that each and every last one of them is counted.
I want their names written down on a big list, and read off on anniversaries and remembered as people who were loved and who loved and who struggled and lost that fight to Katrina and to time and to bureaucratic bungling.
And I want us all to remember that if we don't see those names, if we know about a Dead Guy whose story has not been told, we have to do just like the guy paid to bulldoze New Orleans trash. We have to tell the story. And if the authorities don't listen, we have to tell the media. And we have to give them a date and a place and a time and a story. And when they show up, we have to make sure that when the convoy of cars trying to clean up the mess they made arrives that we don't let it go unremarked. Not even one Dead Guy. Not in New Orleans. Not in Mississippi, not in Houston, not in Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. Not one.
Beans and Rice for EVERYONE!
Except Trent Lott
He gets Steak and Lobster
And he gets to use the new State of Emergency order to pay his hired help Less Than Minimum Wage.
WEALTH ROCKS THE HOUSE!
I look forward, like President Bush, to hanging on Trent Lott's Porch when Mississippi rises again, after the corpses are stuffed in some non-descript places, out of the way, so Trent Lott's Porch has a really good view, not a view that includes skulls and femers and such. Because that would suck. And it would suck if people were still angry at FEMA when Trent Lott's Porch is finished, and maybe they all would show up on school buses and pull up in front of Trent Lott's New House. It would suck because, again, the view from Trent Lott's Porch would be unpleasant, what with lots of poor angry people lined up and hanging their heads out of the school bus windows.
I wonder if Trent Lott's Porch will have couches, or will it have those built-in wooden benches with a nice white stain on it? Will there be potted plants? I think I will buy a homecoming present for Trent Lott because I am looking forward to his new porch.
Porches are nice.
What do you think you might see from Trent Lott's Porch?
Display complete incompetence that kills thousands, get $50 billion to spend as you please.
Exhibit the worst project management skills in the history of the word "project," get put in charge of the biggest rebuilding project in history.
Turn back food and water from reaching the starving, get billions to disperse to friends and loved ones.
All in a day's work.
The Arabian Horse Association must be proud of its former intern and his boss.
September 11, 2005
But what can we do? Hunt down Bush's business cronies and do what--steal their business cards? Confiscate their PDAs? Trash their laptops? Delete their contacts? It's bigger than us.
Tuesday I'm scheduled to work at one of the shelters in Cobb County where some of the NOLA evacuees are staying. I've been craving that day for a week, since I went and signed up as a red cross volunteer, because the overwhelming urge to CHANGE SOMETHING is haunting my every waking moment.
So I'll change something. Maybe it'll be a trash can liner, maybe I'll change a diaper, maybe I'll change the paper towels in the locker rooms, maybe the toilet paper in the bathrooms, maybe I'll change the ink cartridge in the ink jet printer, if there is a printer, maybe I'll change the way the phone is answered, or maybe I'll change what's for lunch, maybe I'll change my mind, maybe I'll change someone else's mind, or maybe I'll change some tiny little insignificant thing that might be the only little change I can change.
I'm serious. Get thee to Atlanta. These guys could make a killing in Buckhead around Lenox. Or even next door to my house, which is nowhere near Buckhead.
You manage to find the LEAST qualified person for a position of unparalleled importance in your administration hiding in the cubicles of an arabian horse association, but you can't find osama bin laden four years later?
Or maybe you want to look at it this way.
"Osama can be an excuse to justify US military presence in the region. If not so, he would have already been detained as he is not stronger than former Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein," maintained retired teacher Emal Khan, 69, while referring to the surprise capture of the former Iraqi leader.
YOU ARE A FAILURE.
What does it tell you — that the last two Fema heads were college room-mates? And that the previous head was already down on the Gulf coast last week, advising “private clients” on helping with the recovery? You don’t think any of the $100 billion in aid might end up in the hands of a few well-connected businessmen, do you? Meanwhile, even conservative commentators had to concede that Brown was in way over his head. He’d even padded his CV. In normal times, this kind of cronyism is not exactly shocking. It happens all the time — in administrations Democrat and Republican. Bill Clinton was a master at it. But after 9/11, to place a complete hack in charge of response to a national emergency is criminal negligence.
Now if this fella would peel his eyeballs and stop spinning, he might do the right thing too.
Lee said he gave handwritten notes to Wal-Mart stores in Harvey and Kenner saying they were ordered to open as soon as possible. Lee said Parish President Aaron Broussard agreed with the decision. Lee said anyone from FEMA who tries to close either store will be arrested by deputies.
Now THAT I would like to see.
The treacly prose collaborates in the enabling of forgetting. Recovery under way. A better tomorrow. The New York Times (just for example, since it has pretensions) does not analyze anything that is actually worth analyzing: It sets up frames that enable us to square away consciences and crises in order to get down to business. Sufficient to each day is the merchantry thereof.
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Even in the deepest darkness, we can see the light of hope, and the light shows us the way forward. We will honor the memory of those we have lost; we will comfort the victims of Katrina; and we will make the Gulf Coast more vibrant than ever. In all that lies before us, may God watch over the United States of America."
What is all this darkness rhetoric the president's been using--as if he doesn't know he should shut the fuck up with dark and light what with the racial tension now reaching epidemic proportions. There were hundreds of thousands of Americans-Turned-Refugees who were trying to find the light to show them the way forward from the convention center, but you weren't there then mr. president so why the hell would anyone believe you're there ever?
As for making the Gulf Coast more vibrant than ever, that virbrancy and brightness is a lot easier now that the darkness will be in check and living elsewhere. Especially with that really cool law you passed where our property can be seized and used for commercial purposes if its economically adventageous to the area. What a COOL LAW THAT IS AND HOW TIMELY! I didn't know cowboys were psychics.
My god bless the United States of Haliburton.
The first thing is Cheney and his name Dick. Because lately, say the last two years during which they've been keeping him basically hidden because they know W.'s not long for this world if he keeps fucking up -- especially now that he has entire cities after his ass -- but the thing with DICK Cheney is that he walks around like he's got this big package going on in his pants. I mean he does that tuck-his-chin-down and swagger, all John Wayne like, and he wears these pleated pants as if he needs a lot of extra room, and all I'm saying is that he is trying to exude the testosterone that W. so desparately lacks, falling off bikes and things like that.
But what I was really trying to get at is what the hell is wrong with this Chertoff guy? I mean--okay I'm not trying to sound disrespectful to any illness that might make you look like Ghandi, really--but so what the fuck terminal illness does this guy have, and why do you make someone who's busy making peace with is maker the director of the office that's supposed to keep us safe if a suicide nuker lands in NYC?
I'm not sure I understand anything anymore.
the mayor has been on the radio, hes been on tv, hes been everywhere. he answers the tough questions and sure he blames others, hes got a right to blame some others. he might not have prepared perfectly for the biggest disaster of all time, but his people did get to where they were supposed to get to and the feds didnt come, and when FEMA arrived, they made things worse!
do you really want me to list their fuckups?
people go on and on about oh the mayor is a dem and the governor is a dem, did you know that the mayor was a republican up until right before he ran for mayor? did you know that he didnt endorse the governor in 2003 and instead backed the republican congressman Bobby Jindal? did you know that he, like me, only reluctantly endorsed john kerry in 2004? not really much of a dem.
but people need to affix labels on people and stick people in boxes, so there you are, fine, hes a dem. one that doesnt really like kerry and who didnt like the governor even before she also dropped the ball on this emergency.
things arent always black and white, but sometimes theyre closer than we want them to be. for example, i dont want to have to continually acknowledge to the world that my president is a fucking retard. and i really hate to admit that hes a pansy-assed coward.
why is it that ive seen kanye west on tv four times more than ive seen my president?
someone said, bush was too scared to meet with cindy sheehan of course he was too chickenshit to go to new orleans.
and what would he say there anyway? he doesnt say anything inspiring, ever. he doesnt know what to do when the shits fucked. he doesnt care about black people and he doesnt care about white people either. i hate to say it, but what do you want me to say, he hasnt disproven it.
sometimes people say fucked up shit about me thats totally wrong but feedback is feedback and after kanye said that i woulda gotten on tv and said kanye congratulations on your grammy and on your new cd thats about to drop but how about leaving the governing to me. and bam people would have said, damn. and then i would have told all the white people in my staff to stay away from me for about two three days and i would have only hung out with blacks.
image is everything when youre a leader and how fucked up is it that a blogger in his pajamas has to continually coach the president of the united states on how to do his fucking job
That this place has managed over all of these years to remain a hybrid of the highly-professional and highly-profane, of the proper and personal all at once, still amazes me. Every time I've tried to take my professional self or personal self elsewhere in the blogworld, they always end up back here.
Lately I've gotten pretty political. To colleagues or clients or readers who may disagree, or wish I'd write more poetry, or bring back the Pig, or want to hear about family or work--fear not. That stuff hasn't gone anywhere. It's just that I'm kind of busy trying to overthrow some madmen at the current moment.
I love you all. Thanks for the emails.
And Mr. J. Adams--I did get your v-mail. I didn't get the phone # off your message though, and now I can't find your email--so email me. I'll know more on Tuesday.
And Ron--I love it but I haven't gotten a chance to link to it, and honestly I was wanting a more, um, final ending if you get my drift...
And okay, I have to run.
All I'm asking is that someone please wake me up and tell me that I'm not an extra in the film on the Globalrati Top 100 and how they take over the entire fucking planet and blow it all to hell while they ride ponies in the lush fields of their secret underground dude ranch. PLEASE ALREADY? WAKE ME THE FUCK UP!!!!
OH and to make the plot even better--they don't even have to pay the lackies on the ground minimum wage to sweep the bodies out of the naval bases. They get to pay less because of that pesky state of emergency. Pack a body bag, earn $2.50.
The only thing missing is another brother -- Warren the Weatherman Bush -- who has been working tirelessly from a New Mexico laboratory for the last 20 years performing atmospheric experiments to construct the perfect hurricane.
It has to be.
HELLO!!! EARTH TO ANYONE LISTENING!!!?? AMERICA IS SENDING OUT AN SOS!
David says it with more decorum. Go read his post.