September 23, 2005

Boo! Your Kid's Off School!

Phone call from my friend today:

"Hey did you hear that our kids are off school until Wednesday?"

"What? What the hell are you talking about?"

"The Hurricane--school's canceled until Wednesday--maybe longer. They're using snow days."

"But the hurricane's in Texas and Louisiana. And it's not snowing."

"I know. But they're worried about the gas, so they figure if the diesel buses don't run, we can save gas."

"You lie."


"You lie."


"Come on."

"I know."

"Oh man."

Are they really getting out?

Tears, anger as many poor are stuck
By DEBORAH HASTINGS / Associated Press

Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only they would pick up their phones.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

With Hurricane Rita breathing down Houston's neck, those with cars were stuck in gridlock trying to get out. Those like Skinner — poor, and with a broken-down car — were simply stuck, and fuming at being abandoned, they say.

"All the banks are closed and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

Some of those who did have money, and did try to get out, didn't get very far.
Judie Anderson of La Porte, Texas, covered just 45 miles in 12 hours. She had been on the road since 10 p.m. Wednesday, headed toward Oklahoma, which by Thursday was still very far away.

"This is the worst planning I've ever seen," she said. "They say, 'We've learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina.' Well, you couldn't prove it by me."

On Bellaire Boulevard in southwest Houston, a weeping woman and her young daughter stood on the sidewalk, surrounded by plastic bags full of clothes and blankets. "I'd like to go, but nobody come get me," the woman said in broken English. When asked her name, she looked frightened. "No se, no se," she said: Spanish for "I don't know."

Her daughter, who appeared to be about 9, whispered in English, "We're from Mexico."

Census figures show Harris County had 3.6 million people in 2004, of whom 14.7 percent lived below the poverty level while 8.7 percent of households lacked a vehicle, both percentages slightly higher than national figures. More than one-third spoke a language other than English at home.

For the poor and the disenfranchised, the mighty evacuation orders that preceded Rita were something they could only ignore.

Eddie McKinney, 64, who had no home, no teeth and a torn shirt, stood outside the EZ Pawn shop, drinking a beer under a sign that said, "No Loitering."

"We got no other choice but to stay here. We're homeless and we're broke," he said. "I thought about going to Dallas, but now it's too late. I got no way to get there."

Where will he stay?

"A nice white man gave me a motel room for three days. Just walked up and said, 'Here.' So my buddy and me will stick it out," he said, pointing to another homeless man. "We got a half-gallon of whiskey and a room."

In Deer Park, a working-class suburb of refineries south of Houston, Stacy and Troy Curtis, waited for help outside the police station. Less than three weeks ago, the couple left New Orleans after it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

With no vehicle, and little money, they tried to get their lives together while staying at a hotel in Deer Park. Stacy Curtis, a nursing assistant in New Orleans, had a job interview scheduled for Thursday.

But most businesses had shut down because the neighborhood will likely flood if the hurricane hits Galveston Bay. The streets were empty Thursday afternoon.

"We're stuck here," Stacy Curtis said. "Got no other place to go."
An emergency official eventually sent a van to take the couple to a shelter at a recreation center.
Monica Holmes, who has debilitating lupus, sat in her car at a Houston gas station that had no gas. "We can't go nowhere," she said, tapping a fingernail against the dashboard fuel gauge. "Look here," she said. "I'm right on E."

Her husband, a security guard, had a paycheck, but no way to cash it.

"We were going to try to go to Nacogdoches" in east Texas, not far from the Louisiana border, she said. "But even if we could get on the road, we're not going to get out. These people that left yesterday, they're still on the beltway. They haven't even got out of Houston."

So she and her husband will hunker down in their Missouri City home, just to the south. "We'll be fine," she said. "You can't be scared of what God can do. I'm covered."

As always, there were those who chose to stay, no matter how dire the warnings.

John Benson, a 47-year-old surfer and lifelong Galveston resident, said he thinks his town "is going to take on a lot of water. But as far as the winds, I think here on the island, it will be a little bit less than they anticipated."

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Wednesday for the area.

Benson said he planned to use his surfboard as transportation after the hurricane. "The main thing is you have a contingency plan," he said, and thumped his board. "You got buoyancy."
Skinner, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson, Dageneral Bellard, would settle for a bus.
"They got them for the outlying areas, for the Gulf and Galveston, but they ain't made no preparations for us in the city, for the poor people here. There ain't no (evacuation) buses here. I got nowhere to go."

EDITOR'S NOTE — Associated Press writers Pam Easton in Galveston and Tim Whitmire in Deer Park contributed to this report.


some people got lost in the flood, some people got away alright. [audio]

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Rita's steady rains sent water pouring through breaches in a patched levee Friday, cascading into one of the city's lowest-lying neighborhoods in a devastating repeat of New Orleans' flooding nightmare. But levees on other canals were holding their own.

Dozens of blocks in the Ninth Ward were under water as a waterfall at least 100 feet wide poured over and through a dike that had been used to patch breaks in the Industrial Canal levee.

"Our worst fears came true," said Maj. Barry Guidry of the Georgia National Guard. "We have three significant breaches in the levee and the water is rising rapidly," he said. "At daybreak I found substantial breaks and they've grown larger."

The levee on the other side of the Industrial Canal, which protected other sections of the city proper, were holding.

[[make you wonder who's driving.]]

September 22, 2005

Bush on a Bender?

I've seen bloggers wonder aloud. T has a good post outlining what tabloids are reporting--which seem to be the only mainstream rags touching the story, if it is one, and it might be. It wouldn't surprise me if it were true because the president's been a dry drunk for some time now.

To someone who's not an addict, having a shot of whiskey or a beer is having a drink.

To an alcoholic, it's a personality change in the making.


wooops--welcome to the mainstream, Mr. Lush--I MEAN, Bush. Let's serach optimize this one:
Bush and Booze
Will any member of the White House press corps risk scorn from McClellan -- and maybe even mockery from colleagues -- by asking the press secretary to set the record straight about what appears to be an utterly scurrilous report in the National Enquirer that Bush is hitting the booze again? Some brave soul should.

Uh huh--i guess they would be... or not.

David's surfin on yo mama

hard to imagine. still.

What I wouldn't do...

What I wouldn't do, just once, to hold one of those honkin' big 2 mg pills with the letters x-a-n-a-x written across the scored pieces in my hand.

I can't imagine.

They sure are pretty.

A headline is worth a thousand words

Aaaaah? Oh.

Rita, Rita and Rita

Move over.

Well how long were they gonna wait... give the man this spot? It's been, what, 443 years already?

September 21, 2005

I wondered how you fit in the crib with me.

I remember that, baby.


click image.
Originally uploaded by michaelo.

blogfriend to blogfriend

I'm afraid I missed that wonderful AKMA and Margaret got together with the MOCCs in the garden of Eden, or some very like place, and then I found this picture of AKMA giving some very important bird-and-bee-and-flower related inforamtion to Charlie OCC.

Check out the photo stream--it's awesome. Or better yet, I'll blog the links!

Originally uploaded by michaelo.

What do you say?

I had mr. connerton for fifth grade science in the early 70s. He had a face kind of like sean connery, he was bald, and I guess you could say we kids didn't fear him -- though he was worthy of it -- as much as we revered him.

Not only did mr. connerton teach science, but as luck would have it he was the boy's gym teacher, and as such he was the first man I ever laid eyes on in a wrestling outfit, with all of the many countours I had not yet encountered in my young life, and I'm not sure what possessed that forty-year-old man to demonstrate his wrestling talent in a body suit at our middle school talent night, but for whatever reason there he was in the circle on the floor of the gym, where the talent show was being held, which was handy for him since he had to put wrestling matts on the floor, in all his glory. He was wearing this wrestling headgear and orange body suit, and I know he didn't have on any underwear, because let me just say that if you are supposed to wear an athletic cup when you wrestle, and I assume a man would, well he was not wearing one.

I did not intend to notice this. He made me.

But the wrestling display at the talent show wasn't what I started out to write about. I was going to tell you about when I had mr. connerton for science, and it was a pretty big class, him favoring rows of seats, one desk behind the other, with I'm guessing 30 kids in the class. So one day early in the year he does this sort of ice breaker where he stands at the desk of the first kid in the first row against the window wall (me being on the last row against the exit wall) and asks each of us to say what our father does for a living.


Now I know the first reaction you might have is what a sexist question, but this was 1973 and I wasn't really interested in all that what you might now call feminism or some such thing. But what did interest me was the most impossible, choking, dizzying, blood draining panic that gripped me as soon as those words came out of his plump lips, because I had no answer to the question, being that my father was dead, and I was the only kid in my class with this unique situation.

I didn't hear the answers from the kids in the first two rows, because I didn't care about them or their dads, all I cared about was getting out of that room somehow, and so I planned numerous exit strategies none of which made sense in the end, because they all served to achieve the one thing I was trying to avoid - that is drawing attention to myself.

Mr. connerton was headed down row three, the row before mine, when I turned to my friend and pleaded--what do I say? what do I say? and she looked at me like I was a donut and then turned back to the kids answering the questions, yes of course I know Louie DiPrima's dad is a plumber, and I already knew what John DeMarco's dad did, and Peggy D'Auria's dad did something with cars I think or maybe that was Gary DiMartino. Did I mention this was Rochester?

Almost instantly, mr. connerton is at the top of my row, and I'm dripping sweat. My face is beat red and my breath is gone, sucked out of my body by an invisible enemy called 'being different,' and I begged myself to pull an answer out of the air, which, when he said: Jeneane? I did, because I said: My mom works. Yes I did: My mom works.

God came to me and put that answer on my tongue at the split second mr. connerton invaded my protected world of my father's death and I never felt so saved in my life. I don't know if the Lord knew he was wrong for taking a 36-year-old father from his kids or what, but I know I didn't think up that repositioning on my own.

As the primary anxiety began to fade, I was able to answer his next question: What does she do? She rents appartments, I said, that being the truth, and ultimately pretty ordinary, which is all I was asking to be.

Those of us who wind up lasting in the turbulent space of marketing and public relations, the world of spin and messaging, wind up here for a reason.

Thanks, mr. connerton. Wear a cup.

International David Weinberger Day

The Rev. AKMA has proclaimed it thus, and so it is: International David Weinberger Day.

Let us pray.

September 19, 2005

Loose Lips

Haven't written really written anything for a while but keep getting closer to the core. Where do the angles come from, the new ones, after I think I've looked at it, at me, from every side, up down and from the inside out. And every time there are more angles. I am a prism. What doesn't cut through me makes me stronger--is that what they tell you?

I remember when my dad was dead and I was nine and my sister and brother somehow got the money together to get my mom a "mother's ring," which, at least back in 1971, was a ring a mom would wear that had all her kids' birthstones in it. And I remember thinking, I thought we were getting her a TV, but they were seven and nine years older than me and they had jobs, so I had to shut up and be happy we could get her something cool like a ring, not the new Zenith TV that would have to wait until next year.

But they were worried about me, you know, about me always talking and spoiling secrets and tattling on them. So they told me that if I slipped up and told my mother about the birthstone ring, they would leave my birthstone out of the ring. That's right, you talk, you cease to exist, at least in our mother's ring, and they probably said, okay brat? because we were siblings. And I thought of that ring with their september and october birthstones, and no june birthstone of mine, and my mom walking around having to tell everyone why her third kid wasn't in her ring, and I felt pretty scared and determined not to screw up.

Now here I am with no dad, him having already died, even though we still got mail for him in 1971, and my brother and sister are sticking this gigantic secret on my shoulders, and I'm still wondering why it's still a secret what my father died of, cancer being something of a cultural bad omen back then, and there are about six other REALLY BIG secrets I'm holding onto at nine, so I'm already walking around with my lips about busting open from not wanting to hold onto any more secrets when they tell me about my birthstone not being in the ring if I slip up.

Next thing I know we're sitting around my Italian grandmother's table, big as all get out like they were in those big houses of the 10th ward in Rochester, and it's my sister, her boyfriend, my brother, my mother, me, grandma D., an aunt or two, and we're eating some pasta, which I still love to this day, though I wouldn't blame me at all if this meal put a bad taste in my mouth for pasta, and I kind of wish it had because I eat too much of it.

Anyway, we're eating and talking and my brother says something about telling my mom what the big present is that we've been promising if she lets him get X, and I can't remember if X was a minibike or a car, but it was something he wanted badly, although I know now that I'm 42 not bad enough to tell our secret, and they're joking around, and everyone's joking around at the table, they're all like: "Ha ha go ahead Frank, tell her what her present is so you can get a minibike," and then I go and do the dumbest thing, thinking that my brother might actually tell her what her present is, not stopping to think about why everyone is laughing and that it's a joke and that I'm nine and I should probably shut up. Instead, I remind him:

"If you tell her, you won't get your birthstone in the ring!"

Silence. dead air. forks on plates. eyes roll.

I stay steady, but the room is moving. Around me everything swims and I pretend not to know what I said, and my mom is the best, she's saying some Catholic thing like; Honey I think you mean he won't get a Jewel in his Crown, and isn't she the best my mom pretending not to notice that I just RUINED HER BIRTHDAY, and I'm so red and my stomach is sick because the ring is already bought and now I know that my brother and sister will kill me in my sleep.

And I really never wanted anyone to tell me another secret after that.

TP Talk Like a Pirate, Live Like a Pirate, Die Like a Pirate, Write Like a Pirate Day

He wins.

Getting in under the wire

Every year I nearly miss International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is to say I'm a goofball. If you can't remember TLAP Day, you might as well toss the holiday calendar out the window altogether. All other holidays are merely sloppy seconds to this un.

But as good fortune would have it, I read Shelley today, and she manages to remember EVERY year. (I know, doesn't speak well for her mental state.)

So, I say to you as I might say to George upon his purchase of the wrong instrument:

"Avast! Take ye that a hornpipe back to t'the lubber ye got it from!"


HOLY COW, speaking of sitting on porches, gonzo engaged reports that MAREK J is back, and this time not as the artist formerly known as MAREK, but actually he himself, master of the clued, home of the brave and stuff.

HEY diddle diddle.

Marek's brought his fiddle.

seriously though--if you're looking for the scoop on automated software testing and the like, here's his resume. He's one smart cookie.

He also has a new blog called blind spot, which I think is kinda weird since he is neither blind nor spotted.

That Marek.

You see an ugly blue minivan...

...with one of these on the tailgate, somewhere between the Big Chicken and Lake Alatoona, and you know you're behind this blogger chick.

Honk if you want to s(h)it on TL's P.

Global PR Blog Week

Blogging works for non-profits too!

Global PR Blog Week

It's not just for text anymore.

On Global PR Blog Week You'll Learn...

How small companies can benefit from blogging.

Halley Home from Heart Hospital!

Just checked again--Halley's home, not her heart. With all that exercise she blogs about, I didn't think so!

Halley in Heart Hospital?

Read Halley today and saw that she's in the hospital for testing -- heart related or something. I talked to her Friday and she didn't give away that she was feeling like crap, unless you count how she feels about the Bush Administration!

Halley, get well soon!!!

My Article Is Posted at the Global PR Blog Week Conference

My latest article on blogging -- Why CEOs Should Blog: Adding Your Voice to the Conversation -- is up at Global PR Blog Week. Everyone who has worked on this virtual conference, especially helmsman Constantin Basturea, deserves a pat on the back.


Let's Get This Party Started -- Global PR Blog Week Begins!

Global PR Blog Week has begun!

First up, Elizabeth Albrycht. In her article on Blogging and Network Building, Liz says everything I was TRYING to say at the recent PRSA Panel I participated in, and more. I got to field the interesting question of--So where is the money in all of this, Jeneane? And I said what Elizabeth is saying here. I'm not sure folks understood it because they are looking for immediate ROI from blogging -- as though a weblog is an ecommerce site or store front -- and usually blogs aren't. But their worth is quantitative. Read Liz's article for more of a taste on how and why blogs work in business.
By focusing on network building, we move away from the hyperbole of BLOG and begin to think about how to use blogs pragmatically, as powerful communications tools. A prime reason blogs are such good tools for network building is that they are link-heavy, and the link is the core technology for making networks visible. I believe the visibility of a network contributes to its effectiveness because that very visibility reinforces its presence and influence to its members.

Yep yep yep!

George Bush's Money Tree

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq,
Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

--Former President William Jefferson Clinton, who balanced the budget during his administration.

Best Blogger in a Comedy Series....

Last night I was at a friend's watching the Emmys, and I'm not sure if it was before or after, but a commercial came on for an upcoming series where one of the characters said: "This is definitely going in my blog."

Back in 2001, I predicted a movie would feature a crazed blogger in the coming year.

Never happened.

Maybe because we have tamed it down a bit around here.

It would be funny for a monitor to sit in the background on a TV commedy series, and every now and then when the characters walked by or sat to talk or went to look up directions, there would be Doc's blog, or Halley's blog, or RageBoy's blog, Tony's blog, or Shelley's blog open on the screen.

Television sorts don't interact enough with technology in the daily lives of those they are portraying. Their lives no longer resemble mine. It might catch my attention AWAY from the net and back to TV if they got with the program.

September 18, 2005

ebay decay

James Kew takes a further look at ebay's messy scam and spam problems and asks an important question:

But you don’t need to be an active eBay participant to spot the litter in the parking lot. The spam we all get is indication enough that it’s not a neighbourhood for the unwary. The sheer determined volume of phishing emails I get, every day, trying to con me into giving up my passwords to fake sites, is a huge disincentive for me ever to join eBay or PayPal. If it looks and smells that bad from the outside, I wonder, is it really worth the risk and hassle to be inside? To say nothing of the extra work: if I joined eBay, would I then have to read all those dodgy emails to determine if any of them were genuine?

Jeneane paints a picture of eBay in decay, its fabric undermined by legions of scammers and by automation technologies which favour bulk and commercial sellers over everyday individuals. I’m not sure that’s entirely true; eBay obviously works well for many millions of its customers. But in a landscape littered with spams and scams, is eBay an inviting, or exciting, prospect for new customers any more?

My take on it is that ebay is still inviting to new customers, but not the same kind of particpants that cared about ebay and being part of the ebay community when it was vibrant. The model has changed and not for the better.

If ebay doesn't find a way to get back to the origin of what attracts buyers and sellers to a marketplace and keeps them there, it may indeed reach the end of the Gonzo lifecycle. Ebay's scammers and spammers -- as well as the businesses that simply use ebay as another channel in a long list of sales touchpoints -- have taken the joy out of being there.

And Skype can't change that, only aggravate it.