Friday, September 30, 2005
The Blue Cosmopolitan
1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Blue Curacao
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. white cranberry juice
1 cup ice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Cover, shake well*. Pour into a martini glass, garnish wth a lime wedge and lime twist.
It tastes almost exactly like a regular cosmo, and the bright blue color really messes with a regular cosmo drinker's perception of reality. I was tempted to call it the Playgirl, since it's a blue version of Cosmopolitan.
*For me, a shaken drink isn't shaken well unless frost, or at the least condensation, forms on the outside of the shaker.
There was a time when I thoroughly bought into a way of thinking that utterly rejected the idea of a "Slippery Slope". I held the view that each and every decision was made on its own merit and had no causal relationship to any prior or subsequent decision. But I was wrong. I've seen the slippery slope at work far too many times to cling to that ill-informed belief.
Especially when it comes to moral, ethical, and legal issues. Once an allowance is made for any type of activity, it becomes easier, more acceptable, and more likely that we will make allowances for other activities of that type. A shift in degree is always a much easier obstacle to hurdle than one of type.
Case in point, the definition of Marriage. My own religious, moral, ethical, and political views regarding Same Sex Marriage are not well known, as I've never bothered to expound upon them. However, I will say this much: As I listen to the arguments in support of Same Sex Marriage, I have for some time made the observation that the defense of SSM can also be applied to Polygamy, Polyandry, Polyamory, or any number of domestic arrangements. Or to be more precise, the most commonly used and accepted arguments against limiting Marriage to heterosexual monogamy are just as valid as arguments against limiting Marriage to monogamy AT ALL.
And now I've been proven correct. The Netherlands, one of the countries on the cutting edge of Same Sex Marriage, has just permitted its first polygamous civil union.
Anyone who has really given this issue any thought can't be all that suprised. And I'll make a further prediction. Eventually, you'll see a concentrated effort to bring the same thing to the United States. And it won't just be bigamy. Eventually it will be two men marrying three women, two women marrying for men, two men marrying each other and a woman. Because really, if they all "love" each other, what's to keep them all from marrying each other?
I'll go one step further in my prediction. As these pressures are applied to redefine how many people can be married to each other at once, we'll start to see pressures to redefine how old they must be. the pressure's already there to accept sexual activity by younger and younger children. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on record as supporting an age of consent of 12. And it won't be much of a leap for people to argue that if you're old enough to bed, you're old enough to wed.
The slippery slope exists. But at some point, very soon, it will cease to be a slope, and become a cliff. Let's all hope and pray we dig our pitons in before we get there.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Thanks for the Memory to The Llama Butchers and Dave J at It Comes in Pints?
JUDGE PRISCILLA OWEN
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, appointed by
G.W. Bush, 50 years old
Filibustered by Senate Democrats when nominated to
the federal bench, Owen is a former Texas
Supreme Court judge regarded as "far right
wing" by liberals. But who isn't! A
member of the Federalist Society. (Psycho
music) Sen. Reid has already said he would
filibuster her nomination to SCOTUS.
New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court
brought to you by Quizilla
Different results from the other two blogs, equally unsurprising.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
We knew it was going to happen, but didn't know when. Researchers have finally captured footage of a Giant Squid in the wild. It occurred off of Japan.
My best friend Lurch is, like me, an avid fan of marine biology, especially of marine mammals. However, while my favorite sea creatures are the pack hunters, dolphins and orcas, he finds the sperm whale more interesting, because it was for so long thought to be a solitary hunter (though recent research reveals this to possibly not be the case). This interest has translated into an interest in Architeuthis, a favorite prey of the sperm whale. He's going to be geeked when he reads this.
Here's what I found ironic. He was very kind in expressing his gratitude for my help. Yet I seem to recall that when I arrived every morning, he was already there, and when I left every evening, he was still there. That seems to indicate to me that he put in some mightly long hours. If you're goinng to be passing out kudos, Joe, better save some for yourself.
But here was the part of the email that most touched me. He's given me permission to publish it here:
I know I am rambling, but I wanted to give you some stats: In the 21 days of shelter operations, we gave over 600 residents a safe place to rest their heads. Over 2100 “non-residents” came into the shelter for services or help. When we closed on Sept. 21 only one person had to go back into a shelter (but only because his apartment was not ready to move into).That feels really good.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
After yesterday's rant on Race and Volunteering, I received a comment from reader Jaybird, who pointed me to an editorial in the Oregonian with more of the same racist drivel, and I was nigh unto the end of my rope. The quality of mercy really was beginning to feel strained, when I popped over to Ally's and found a link to an excellent editorial in FrontPage Magazine from Rabbi Aryeh Spero.
The good Rabbi gets it. He sees what I saw. Read the whole thing.
And I have a response to this concluding statement:
Those who for decades have been accused by elitists of not having compassion are the ones living it. They are: the churches, the military, and the sons and daughters of the South.Thank you, Rabbi. And you're welcome.
You're in our prayers, guys. You deserve to come out of this unscathed.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Thanks for the Memory to Ravenwood via It Comes in Pints?
Looks like my days of Volunteer Blogging aren't quite over. But this time, it's in response to someone else's observations about us volunteers, not my own experience.
Apparently, Black leaders in Tennessee are complaining that the Red Cross Shelters and their volunteers aren't black enough.
My immediate, most honest, and candid response to this would probably not merit The Headmistress' approval. I'll try to control myself, HM, but if I fail, please understand why.
I don't want to seem oversensitive, but give what I spent ALL last week doing, I can't begin to tell you how hurt and insulted such statements make me feel.
I mean, really. Do you WANT me to go away and not help just because I'm white? Is that REALLY what you want? Am I SO unclean a Samaritan that you'd have your brothers and sisters go without rather than have them sullied by my lilly white hands? Do you know how incredibly racist you sound?
And not just racist, but ignorant.
Searcy says she tried to open up her community center as a shelter, but could not get approved by the Red Cross. It already had a list of 63 churches and community groups.
Searcy adds, “You know that big headline that we were gonna have six thousand evacuees and the list of shelters in the newspaper were in the suburbs and so the question is: why aren't these in our community?”
Well, her answer is in the very next paragraph:
The Red Cross says it’s because the other groups were already on a pre-approved list. Their facilities had already been checked out, and the volunteers, already trained.But I could have told her that. You see, the shelter where I worked had only been Red Cross certifed a WEEK before Katrina. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been a shelter.
But Reverend Enoch Fuzz says in times like this, the volunteer corps should be more diverse,SO GO VOLUNTEER!!!!!!! The training is open to anyone (as the article mentions), and in some cases, such as Houston, where the evacuee populations was huge, the Red Cross is waiving the training requirement. Look, stop cursing the dark and go light a freaking candle! That's what I did. My local Red Cross was absolutely useless in terms of getting me info on volunteer opportunities, so I took matters into my own hands. I talked to a friend in Houston, he offered me a place to say and told me how open to taking ad hoc volunteers the shelters were, I went to my friends and family and church and got support to get there. At least some of the people in question get it:
One other thing about Reverend Fuzz' comment really irked the... well, it irked me :
The Red Cross acknowledges most of it’s volunteers are white, but says training is open to anyone. Since then, Joyce Searcy went through training, and is signing up others.
A number of black churches are helping evacuees on their own even though it isn't through the Red Cross.
Also they are assembling teams of 50 take turns volunteering at the Red Cross shelters.
“Who in Brentwood would know where a black beauty shop or barber shop is?” asks Fuzz.
WHO CARES????? Is that really what you're worried about? Why not worry about who in Brentwood (Or Champion Forest or Little Rock) knows how to navigate the FEMA website or one of the myriad forms required to get people assistance? Who in Brentwood can and is willing to haul in large boxes of donations and hot meals and empty trash and clean #$%&ing TOILETS and haul laundry and sweep and mop and do all of the menial chores associated with running a shelter?
But if you're really concerned, Rev., maybe the people in your community can do what people in Houston did -- the black barber/beauty shop CAME TO THE BLESSED SHELTER!!!!!! That's right, they came to us, they set up shop and provided FREE haircuts ON SITE -- this despite the fact that they were surrounded by all us scary white volunteers!!!!
Well, except for the black volunteers. And the Vietnamese volunteers. And the French Canadian volunteer. And the Japanese American volunteers. And they provided haircuts to the black evacuees and the white evacuees and the Vietnamese evacuees... get the picture?
See, we were all -- volunteers and evacuees, black, white, men women, too busy DOING SOMETHING to worry about whther or not we LOOKED ENOUGH LIKE EACH OTHER!!!!! I made friends there -- black and white, volunteers and evacuees. And I felt close to all of them. I felt like we all gained from one another. When I think about the sense of purpose, the worthwhileness, the joy that I was blessed with for being there, the warmth and inspiration I gleaned from the shelter residence, and the camaraderie I felt for my fellow volunteers, I can honestly say I got as much as I gave. And I'll be thrice-damned if I'll let anyone tell me I'm not entitled to that just because I'm the wrong color.
*sigh* I almost made it without cursing.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Oft we are reminded by many on the left and by Francophiles everywhere that we Americans are so simplisme', so naive to the ways of the world, while the French, well, the French are more nuanced, more sophisticated. This is evidenced by the grammatical and other verbal faux pas committed by our Commander in Chief. Why, a French statesman would never commit such a gaffe. They are far too suave for that, n'est pas?
...during the visit of French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem on September 8, he asked - while perusing maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed - whether British Jews were not also murdered. Needless to say, Douste-Blazy's question was met by his hosts with amazement. "But Monsieur le minister," Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, "England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II."
The minister apparently was not content with this answer, which, according to the magazine, was given by the museum curator, and persisted, asking: "Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?"
Comment vous dites "Nukular" en Francais?
I spoke to Vulture 6 last night, and Houston's a bit on edge. As of last night, four of the ten most likely models had her slamming the Texas Coast, and if the storm surge goes up Galveston Bay into the Houston Ship Channel, things
What will be interesting to see is how Texas' response compares to Louisiana's. According to V6, Texas has been painfully aware of the consequences of a killer storm since Alicia, and are well-prepared. We shall see. The good news for Katrina Survivors is that Arkansas has agreed to take all those who have not yet found permanent housing by Thursday off of Texas' hands. That should help.
My prayers are with Houston. Neither the people of Texas, who are such awesome hosts, nor the people of LA/MS/AL, who've already sufferend enough, need this. God be with you all.
Well, again, the media was there, and Houston TV station KHOU has the footage available for viewing online.
Never mind. It's been brought to my attention that the footage is nothing more than the talking heads in the studio doing the "coming up" lead. I'll post pictures when I get the film developed.
My sister called and left a message that James was on the Today Show this morning.
Monday, September 19, 2005
The Jawa Report
Turns out that Dr. Rusty Shackleford isn't just my Blogfather, he's a fellow Katrina Relief volunteer. And while he wasn't a "first responder", he has been helping out closer to the "front lines" than I did. He has words for those criticizing the response efforts that arer as strong as mine were for those criticizing the relief efforts.
The Common Room
The Headmistress had kind words for me last week, and now she's directed my attention to the Blog of Dr. Goodheart, who has me and Rusty both beat in spades when it comes to putting his ass where his mouth is.
I'll never forget the lady (whose name I didn't even get) who ran from the chair next to me crying "Thank you Jesus! My baby's alive, I've got to find him!" or E., who still didn't know on Friday if the same was true of his son. His quiet dignity as he went about the business of living in the face of daunting obstacles was an inspiration to me. His friendliness and faith renewed my own.
It will be a long time before I'll forget the sense of purpose and significance I felt doing something as menial as emptying trash cans, or the satisfaction I got from guiding someone through the process of applying for assistance. People are better off thatn they were before we entered one anothers' lives. That's not something I can usually say after a day at the office.
Ironically enough, I doubt I'm as qualified as even the remotest blogger in Alaska to speak to the first response efforts, upon which so much of the attention has been focused. Quite honestly, this last week I lacked the time or energy to pay attention to it. But I CAN speak to the follow-on relief efforts, and perhaps there are parallels to be drawn. That is something that will be discussed for some time, I'm sure.
Quite frankly, on an organizational level, the efforts (even those of myself and my fellow volunteers) left something to be desired. It's not that we didn't want to help, and it's not that we didn't have help to offer, but the actual process of delivering that help was chaotic. The problem was that there was no central clearing house of information that could direct an individual to every source of asssistance available to them. My last day at the shelter was the FIRST day it was visited by a FEMA official. It was Wednesday or Thursday of LAST WEEK when a representative of the AFL-CIO showed up to let us know they were assisting with job placement for displaced union members. On Thursday, I helped one gentleman fill out his LA state unemployment form, when a question on it caused a lightbulb to go on over my head. I ran a Google search, and became the first volunteer at the shelter who knew that the VA is also providing job assistance, for displaced veterans. Texas HUD, god bless them, is willing to foot the bill for rent for qualified applicants (and almost all Katrina evacuees qualify), but it takes 2 weeks to process an application, and we didn't know this until Thursday -- less than a week before people have to be out of the shelter. Many national and international corporations offered relocation and assistance to their employees, but unless those employees think to look that info up, it would have been very difficult for their companies to find them.
I started thinking that what's needed is a database -- run either by an organization like the Red Cross, or by FEMA, that lists all of the different private, local, state, and federal agencies that provide assistance, what kind of assistance they provide, to whom they offer it, and how one requests it. This database should be available to frontline relief workers, perhaps through FEMA and/or a select number of private agencies (RC for example). The workers should have a computer questionnaire they can use to screen each victim -- are you a veteran? A union member? Who was your employer? Did you rent or own your home? Did you have homeowners insurance? etc. etc., and based on the answers given, the database is searched and all relevant assistance for that victim is brought up.
One other thought on the relief efforts: I have heard a few people, both bloggers and non-bloggers, make comments to the effect that the relief efforts are in vain because it will just turn the evacuees (who are all single mothers, according to these same comments) into welfare recipients.
Kiss my white volunteer ass.
I've been around these people for a week. And while it's possible that my shelter was non-representative, I can tell you that most of the evacuees *I* encountered were families, and MOST of them wanted jobs as much as they wanted immediate aid. And many of them already had jobs by the time I showed up.
To be sure, there were some who seemed interested only in the checks they could get from the Red Cross or FEMA. But to paint all of the evacuees with a broad brush would be unfair. They wanted a leg up, not a hand out.
It was quite a week. If I had it to do all over again, I would. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to help. My thanks to all of you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. And especially, my thanks to:
The Feared Redhead for caring for The Lad, for busting her ass to keep our house, and for making it a home to return to;
Uncle Scott and Aunt Joyce, May, and Kimberly, for helping TFR with childcare while I was gone;
Corrine for the donation of the Frequent Flyer miles that got me to Houston;
The Sister In Law for donating clothing and cleaning supplies, for meeting me at the train station and driving me to the airport, and then for letting me rest at your house before heading home yesterday;
The guests of Gervais Salon & Spa who contributed cash for travel expenses and the purchase of supplies for the shelter;
Vulture Six and the Vulturette, for being such great hosts and transportation, and for the good company every evening;
Mr. Priapus, Darth Apathy, Vulture 6's Brother, Tito, John, and all the other Houstonians who showed me a great time all week;
The Congregation of Hosanna Christian Fellowship, my home congregation, for paying for my hepatitis vaccinations, and for praying for me;
The congregation of ChristChurch Baptist Fellowship, for turning your facilities into the shelter where I felt so useful;
The Red Cross volunteers who worked next to me and gave me such encouragement and camaraderie;
The guests of the shelter who showed me how to face adversity with dignity and humanity.
Friday, September 16, 2005
But overall the day was full of good notes on which to end the week. In the morning, I was helping a woman in the computer room. After helping her set up her FEMA request, we went to the Yahoo1 People Finder link I mentioned earlier, and I helped her discover that her 21-year-old son is still alive. His last known location was the Astrodome on September 7, but he's alive.
:ater in the day I and another volunteer gave a ride to a young couple who were looking for an apartment. He just found a job as a welder yesterday. They found a nice place in Humble (pronounced "umble" apparently). While they were filling out paperwork, we drove over to a nearby Methoist church and saw to it that they were aware of the presence of this young couple and the fact that they'll have some immediate needs until his paychecks start coming in. The church promised us they'll take care of them -- it's already sent some of their own congregation as volunteers.
And the best news of the week. When we left at 2:30, there were a reporter and cameraman setting up. By the time we returned it had grown to four camera crews.
You see the shelter has in residence a blind man from New Orleans named James who had lost his service dog and longtime companion "Jake", a yellow lab. When I returned to the shelter on Wednesday, there were signs up asking if anyone had seen the dog -- apparently it had been rescued by a National Guardsman, and been relocated to a shelter, but noone knew where.
Well, they finally tracked the dog down to a shelter in Louisiana (Slidell or Baton Rouge, I can't remember which), and today a volunteer drove him to Houston. Right around 6:30, the time I was getting ready to finish my last day's work, I had the joy of watching them reunite James and Jake.
I'm not ashamed to tell you I cried like a baby. Most of us did. Not only was it a wonderfil, heartwarming event, it was tangible evidence that our efforts have not been in vain. It was a welcome release of the week's pent up emotions to cry. I'm really grateful to God for ending my week's volunteering on an up note.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I came home early from the shelter today, at around 3 PM. The morning was much busier and in the afternoon we had more volunteers than normal (and more than needed), so I hitched a ride with another volunteer. I only worked 7 hours. I felt guilty about that until I realized that on Monday and Wednesday, I'd put in 11 hour days. That compounded with late nights visiting with old friends had me exhausted, buth mentally and physically. Ironically, it did't hit me until AFTER I had stopped being busy. I was in the volunteer waiting area, waiting for something else to do, when I realized I needed to knock off.
Simply the Best
One of the reasons I was able to leave early without leaving them in the lurch was that the local Best Buy/Geek Squad sent over about a dozen of their people to help out. They freed those of us who've been there from being needed in the computer room. I still hate their commercials but at least I respect them as people.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Today I returned to the shelter from Monday, the one at ChristChurch Baptist Fellowship. The other volunteers there seemed genuinely happy to see me, and not just because the help was needed and welcome -- we seem to have developed some real camaraderie. I think I'll be going there the rest of the week (all two days).
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!
One policy at the shelter makes me really question my motives for blogging on my volunterering at all, and definitely caused me to decide not to catalog everything I do each day. It was a simple thing, really. At the shelter, volunteer vehicles are parked the furthest from the entrance, evacuee vehicles closest. And that's how it should be. Because no matter how much good we're doing, it's not about us -- it's about the people in need. Anyone who has a problem with that shouldn't bother volunteering for anything. Ever.
I will mention in passing, however, that I spent the second half of my day in the computer room, helping evacuees with their FEMA assistance applications, job searches, apartment searches, and searches for missing friends and loved ones. I mention this in passing to point out some websites that really impressed me.
Yahoo has a People Finder that searches at least a dozen different missing persons registries. I saw it firsthand successfully locate at least one missing person. Very good for them.
If you want a creative way to help, consider donating frequent flier miles. MileDonor matches up people who want to give with people in need of flights. They weren't specifically set up for Katrina, but they are helping. The airline tickets donated by Continental were gone in three days.
This morning I gave a ride (in another volunteer's car) to an evacuee (name withheld) who needed to check out an apartment for rent. His wife already has a job, and he will get one as soon as he's found them an apartment. She has medical complications which require that their new place be right on a bus route, so he's doing the leg work while she goes to her job. He was polite and friendly and was doing his best to muddle through all the red tape associated with getting long term help. all this despite the fact that he still doesn't know where his fourteen year old son is, or even if he made it. I have a great deal of respect for the rescuers and first responders and relief workers and volunteers, but let's not forget the heroism of many of the hurricane's survivors, for whom day-by-day living is an exercize in courage.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I did notice that this shelter was better organized, but there didn't seem to be the same warmth on the part of the staff. It was also interestingly differnet in that most of the evacuees at this shelter drove themselves out the day before or the day of the hurricane, while most of tjhose at yesterday's shelter were rescued from rooftops by helicopter.
I'm really frustrated. I came here to help. It's good to see that this shelter has all the help they need, but my day's shot now (no transportation to other shelters). Tomorrow I'll go back to the shelter at CBF. Today I'll sort the clothing and other supplies that were sent down here with me, in preparation for donating them. I hope the rest of the week proves more productive.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I arrived at Christchurch Baptist Fellowship at around 8:30 this morning and signed in as quickly as possible. They set me to emptying trash cans into the dumpster. After I'd finished that, I was put to "work" (if you can call it that) sitting by the entrance to the living quarters of the shelter, making sure only the resident guests (evacuees) and specific authorized volunteers went in. It was tedious work -- necessary, but mind-numbingly easy to the point of boredom. If it hadn't been a needed function, I would have felt guilty performing it.
That job morphed into one that was just as dull, but a bit more physically demanding. I and two other male volunteers were tasked with patrol duty -- walking around, mall-security style, making sure that everything was in order on all three floors.
This tied up a good 30% of all the men working at the shelter, as female volunteers outnumbered male volunteers, by at least 5 to 1. what we lacked in numbers, we ,made up for in willingness to do whatever was asked of us.
Most of the volunteers were Houston locals, but I did meet one other volunteer with a storey similar to mine. she flew down from Colorado to volunteer.
While most of the guests were African American, there were some residents of the shelter, as well as day guests (who are staying elsewhere but showed up for assistance during daylight operating hours), of many various ethnicities -- caucasian, Laotian, natives of the Indian subcontinent. And while the majority of the volunteers were white, there was als a good representation by other ethincities.
A few things struck me about the evacuees. they were incredibly polite. I don't think I've been greeted with "good morning" that many times in one day in my entire life. They actually READ my name tag and called me Brian.
I also noticed how parenthood has changed my perspective. When I did have time to converse with guests, I gravitated towards families with children as young as The Lad. And our mutual experience as parents made establishing common ground blazingly simple.
But while they were polite and friendly, they were also quiet -- and I don't mean just a polite "Let's not disturb anyone" quiet, but an eery, shell-shocked quiet.
Furthermore, despite the rapport that has been established between the guests and volunteers (especially the veteran vlunteers), it was obvious they hit it off with one another even more, and had a kind of bond, almost like fellow soldiers in a war.
My final duties included helping unload incoming donations, as well as unloading the hot food delivered from KFC. I finishes around 6:30 PM, got a ride home from Vulture 6 at 6:45, and had a chance to relax in the pool before I sat down to Blog.
I don't have to stay there. Despite enjoying the swim, I couldn't help but think of those who do.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
In my case it's probably a bit of both. Take my current trip to Houston to help with hurricane relief. I hadn't even left Oregon, heck, I hadn't even left at all before things got interesting.
It had been three years since I'd seen Vulture Six and his wife at their wedding, so The Feared Redhead insisted we develop the pictures we have of The Lad to bring down and show them. Of course I managed to not get this done until Friday. So I trekked over to the local Wal-Mart in Springfield to use their one hour lab (the only one in town that takes film that late in the afternoon.
By the time I got them in (4:50 PM), they told me it would be two hours, not one. I was fine with that. Two hours gave me time to feed The Lad, do some laundry and packing, then pick up the pictures, then go pick up TFR from work.
Of course, The Lad was cranky because of his teething, so very little trip preparation got done. Then, when we arrived at Wal-Mart to pick up the pictures, we were informed that they were not ready yet. Give them 45 more minutes, and they'll be on the house.
So we waited. It was too impractical to go home and come back, so we stayed at the store. And I proceeded to forget to use the time to pick up needed supplies for the trip.
The 45 minutes elapsed, and still no pictures. By now TFR had called and was ready to be picked up from work. I told her (and kept her informed, in a running series of phone conversations) they said it would be 15 more minutes.
It was actually 30 more minutes. But eventually I got the pictures and escaped Wal-Mart (yes, yes, I'll post them soon, patience). By the time I drove to downtown Eugene, met TFR at the restaurant where she was eating while waiting, got home, got packed, and got to bed, it was around 11 or so instead of the intended target time of 9 PM.
Nonetheless, I managed to get up at 4:10 AM yesterday and get going rather quickly. The plan was to catch the 5:45 Amtrak Cascades, which would put me in Portland at around 8:30. That would give me a full 5 hours before my flight time, plenty of time for the SIL to pick me up, take me to Fred Meyer to buy snack supplies, and get me to the airport.
The countryside through which the train cruises is much more scenic than the view along I-5, but one spot along the way, just outside Aurora, Oregon, I got to know too well. We stopped to let a UP freght pass us onto a siding before we could proceed. The freight train managed to break down right next to us, before it could clear the track. We sat for two hours waiting for it to be repaired, during which time we had not eta on the repairs. I don't suppose you'll be surprised when I tell you that those of us with appointments to keep (a couple who ended up missing a wedding they were to attend, three other people with flights even erlier than mine, etc.) were a bit on the... anxious... side.
Finally, they repaired the computer that was giving the UP train fits, and it, and then we, were on our way. we pulled into Union Station around 10:30 or 11:00. By this time I knew I was SO Blogging on the whole adventure.
Thankfully, the airport and my flight went off without a hitch, and here I am in Houston. Today I'm scheduled to go get my Hepatitis vaccine (already have a tetanus booster under my belt), and also hope to finalize the details of where I'll be spending my volunteer time. I also need to deliver the donated goods TFR sent with me.
Let's just hope today doesn't go like yesterday.
Friday, September 09, 2005
"Without saying a word, what our mothers taught us is that cooking is the process of feeding a family. This is in stark contrast to what our fathers believe, which is that cooking is a process in which you invent unique and delicious creations and through which you bond with your kids."
To a certain extent, I can see his point. However, in my family, it was a little more complicated than that, in part because of my parents' backgrounds and upbringing.
My mother pursued a degree in what was then called (quite un-PC'ly) Home Economics. She never finished the degree, because she married my father and found herself in the practical side of the discipline instead of the theoretical, but she never forgot what she had learned. I'm convinced that her abilities in those pursuits were as much talent as skill, but that's a matter for another discussion.
The point is, she knew her stuff when it came to the kitchen. A lot of people, especially women of her generation, that I know, know how to cook the dishes that they were taught growing up. They know that X dish requires Y ingredients cooked for Z time and temperature. But my mother taught me the basics -- how to boil water, and eggs, and how to regulate temperature and not burn milk and how salt or pepper or sugar or any number of spices affected flavor. In short, she laid the foundational knowledge that would eventually allow me to not only follow a recipe, but to avoid catastrophe when not following one specifically. And yes, she did teach me more of the practical side of cooking.
My father had no such formal training in cooking. What he did have was a childhood and adulthood of abject poverty, which taught him quite well how to make do with what he had. This meant that my father was almost an artist at taking the simplest, cheapest of ingrediants and making something flavorful out of them (as witnessed by his potato soup recipe). This meant he was, to admit it, far more creative in the kitchen than my mother was. However, my mothers ability to master any cooking style taught to her is unsurpassed. She can bake pastry, can, pickle, and handle just about any task set before her. My fathers SKILLS were limited to frying, grilling, and a little bit of baking, but what he DID coook was always inventive, interesting, tasty, and well-presented.
One last point to make, as an observation not of my parents but of my own progression as a cook: Professor Chaos should have not only compared men to women, but SINGLE men to MARRIED men. I remember how I used to bristle when I'd hear people make the tired old joke that bachelors can't cook. I knew it was BS because I was a bachelor and I could certainly cook. But I noticed that I didn't cook. Or at least, not much beyond tossing something into the microwave. But the abilities were there. Why didn't I use them?
The answer came to me when I started having a social/party/dating life, and suddenly found myself throwing together some damned good recipes. It was obvious. Men cook fancy only when we have an audience. Why bother going to all that trouble to make something special and present it nicely if you're the only person who'll experience it? But when we have other people who can appreciate the effort, especially if that person is an attractive woman, well then, suddenly we're Bobby Freaking Flay.
That, I think, is the REAL difference between male and female cooking styles. Women cook to feed families, men cook to woo women.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Easier said than done.
The instinctive reaction of any parent (well, any decent parent) is to want to rush to our baby's side as soon as he cries. Crying is a natural reaction to distress, and is a good indicator that something's wrong. Usually, something mundane but nonetheless worthy of attention, like a dirty diaper of an empty belly or an "owie" (that's the medical term, laymen may know it as a "boo boo"). It can also be an indication of more dire distress.
But in this case, it's him being pissed because we're not giving in to what HE wants.
Well, not right away.
The truth is, it's not going so swimmingly. We're supposed to let him fuss for about five minutes, then go tell him he's alright, make sure he's covered and comfy, and then leave him in the crib. That, at least, is the theory. In practice, we make it about 2-4 minutes between each time we respond (due to the mounting fury of his cries), and after 3 or 4 times, we usually give in and pick him up, rocking him to sleep as he wants.
So we're in a no-win situation. If we leave him in his crib, his cries break my heart. My greatest fear in life is that I would ever neglect my child. If we pick him up, we fail to help him learn, and are spoiling him. My second greatest fear in life is that I will fail my child in rearing him right.
I've a feeling that while the battle of wills over going to sleep will one day be over, the deeper internal struggle will go on forever.
I also look forward to the next meeting between Bloggers and Atkinson, hopefully I can attend the next one.
After meeting TFR at her work each day and taking the helm of the MoronMobile, We drive along I-205 back towards home, to be greeted by the picture-framed view of the Three Sisters, a set of tall peaks in the Cascade Range.
Well, soon there may be a fourth sister.
Or maybe not, according to the article.
I've known about the bulge growing in the area for some time, but I didn't have all the details right. I thought it was one of the Sisters herself. But apparently it's a region near the mountain.
I also learned something I didn't know, but doesn't surprise me, which is that Oregon is home to 4 of the 18 most active volcanoes in the U.S. (Putting us in such impressive company as Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. Welcome to the Ring of Fire, baby!). Those four are Mount Hood (I suspected that), Crater Lake (I thought she was extinct, but apparently is only dormant), Newberry Crater, and South Sister.
It was also a bit unsettling to learn how inadequate monitoring of them is. Usually volcanoes give you some advance warning, but still, the sooner we know the better, doncha think?
Whether the magma will move again or ever reach the surface is a mystery. But if it did, geological history suggests it would result only in small cinder cones that spew ash and lava.
...but would still be cool to watch.
The good news is that such an eruption likely would not seriously affect any population centers, Chitwood said.
Yeah, except for Bend, that's pretty remote country.
This could be kind of cool. Back when I thought one of the Sisters herself was bulging, I was worried about the towns and the city of bend and all the potentially threatened wildlife. But if it results in a much smaller but still interesting to watch event, it's a win-win. Scientists get the chance to observe a volcano being born, Oregon Tourism gets a boost, and the Cascades get to blow off a little stress, all without any real harm being done.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Sweet Blue Corn and Hazelnut Tamales
1 cup masa
1 cup blue corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup apple juice
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup oil or melted shortening
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
dried cornhusks, soaked for 2 hours in cold water
combine the dry ingredients in a glass bowl. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, vanilla, and apple juice. Heat over low until lukewarm, stirring until sugar and honey are melted. Pour into dry mix, mixing together with your hands until you have a smooth, lump-free dough.
using a mixer, beat shortening until fluffy. combine dough, mix thoroughly and continue to beat until light.
place 2-4 tablespoons of dough in each cornhusk, fold sides over and then fold over ends. Steam approximately 1 hour or until husks no longer stick to the tamale.
Makes a bunch.
I'm considering a couple of ideas for a sauce to pour over them, but nothing yet.
Hostage Roy Hallums has been released!
Rusty's been deeply involved for some time in the effort not to let Roy be forgotten. It looks like that effort was not in vain. The story of his release is running on Fox News, CNN, and the NY Times. This is good news indeed.
Rusty points out that up until now, for the months that Roy was missing, the State Department would not comment on the existence of another US Hostage in Iraq. Given the news today, I can't help but wonder if that wasn't for purposes of Opsec (Operational Security). The less they talked about him, the less wary the Tangoes would be of search efforts.
Either way, I'm glad he's free. Congratulations to Roy, his family, the brave US soldiers who rescued him, and to the Jawa Report for keeping the faith all this time.
So the next day or so will be spent looking into that. Wish me luck.
I'm not squeamish about needles -- as a veteran of childhood diseases and surgeries, they're old hat. I am squeamish about the effect on my wallet.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It has come to my attention that I have a four hour layover in Phoenix on my way home. Is there anyone in the Phoenix area who can recommend something to see that:
A) can be reached quickly enough to get there, do/see it, and get back to the airport without jeopardizing my next flight;
B) Is worth the trouble?
Whoops. Never mind, I was looking at the second flights ARRIVAL time in Portland, not it's DEPARTURE time in Phoenix. Layover's an hour at most.
THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 03 SEP 05Yes, and it's my country too, and I'm damned grateful that it's being defended and served by people like the crew of the Bataan. God Speed, Captain Tyson, and thank you and your crew.
Crew Faces Uncertainty In Gulf
By KATE WILTROUT, The Virginian-Pilot
ABOARD THE BATAAN, GULF OF MEXICO — If all had gone according to plan, the 1,300 sailors aboard this ship would have returned to Norfolk on Friday in time to celebrate the holiday weekend with their families.
Instead, after six weeks at sea for a maritime exercise, the amphibious assault ship is doing doughnuts in the gulf, its flight deck buffeted by the rotor wash of search-and-rescue helicopters flying up and down the hurricane-battered coast. Friday, the Bataan took on more than 80 medical personnel pulled from duty at a Jacksonville, Fla., naval hospital. The surgeons, pediatricians, anesthetists and obstetrician-gynecologists don’t know whether they will treat hurricane victims flown aboard ship or if they’ll be asked to set up a makeshift clinic on the beach.
The Bataan’s crew lives with the same uncertainty. Since Sunday, it has been the only major Navy ship in the area, and it’s doing a little bit of everything. Helicopters have left its flight deck carrying pallets of peanut butter, Vienna sausages and water. They’ve plucked survivors off the roofs of flooded buildings. The 12-man crew of the Bataan’s landing craft utility, from Virginia Beach’s Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, has seen the devastation up close. The boat spent two days navigating the Mississippi River, looking for signs of human life along its banks. Instead it found the bloated carcasses of cows, horses, dogs and alligators.
When the boat left the belly of the Bataan on Wednesday, crew members didn’t know what to expect, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Fish. They were prepared to hand out food and water – including 100 sandwiches they made themselves – as well as provide toilets and power to residents or rescue crews.
They came across two men in a boat searching for family members.
“Other than that,” Fish said, “there was nobody living that we saw.”
The boat continued upriver, passing through the tiny Louisiana villages of Pilottown, Venice and Boothville. They saw no signs of human life anywhere – but no dead bodies, either.
In Venice, the chief warrant officer said, the boat pulled into a pier in the pitch black. The crew members shone their flashlights into the darkness and shouted to let people know they were there.
“No one showed up,” Fish said. “The word is eerie.”
Further upriver, in Boothville, the crew prepared to tie up again but was dissuaded by the barks and growls of a Rottweiler, Labrador retriever and German shepherd.
“I don’t want you to think we’re sissies,” Fish said, “but I didn’t want to risk any of my men.”
After journeying about 55 miles upriver, with the sandwiches they’d made still untouched, the landing craft turned around.
Then debris knocked out its starboard propeller. A generator went down. A thunderstorm hit. The boat limped back to its mother ship early Friday morning. Though most of his crew hadn’t slept in more than two days, Fish said, Friday afternoon they were prepared to head out again.
Two of Fish’s sailors – engine men Samuel Hawkins and Garland Bourgeois, both petty officers first class — have a personal stake in Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Bourgeois has family in Kenner, La.; Hawkins in Moss Point, Miss.
Bourgeois said his wife, in Hampton Roads, had made contact with his parents. They evacuated to Lafayette. Hawkins had less to go on: A sister in Gulfport went to Moss Point to check on their parents. The house was flooded but intact. No one was home.
“I wish I knew what they were working through,” Hawkins said.
The Bataan will soon have lots of company in the gulf: Other Norfolk-based ships, including the carrier Truman, amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, dock landing ship Tortuga and amphibious transport dock Shreveport, are on their way.
“Everyone is bringing something different to the flight,” said Capt. Nora Tyson, the Bataan’s commanding officer.
Tyson said the flight crews on the Bataan are working overtime and then some.
“We are basically flying our guys from 7 or 8 a.m. until 2 and 3 a.m.,” she said.
Tyson, a pilot herself, said her tour of the wrecked coast seemed more nightmare than reality.
“You feel like it’s a bad dream you’re going to wake up from,” she said. “You just say, 'This is not us. This is not our country.’”
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Well it look like everything's falling in place for that to happen. Here's the progress so far:
1. I never heard back from my local Red Cross chapter, but I spoke to good friend and fellow blogger Vulture Six who assures me that the local Red Cross in Houston has PLENTY of room for more people to help out at the Astrodome, and he's graciously offered to put me up while I'm there.
2. a woman in my church has offered her frequent flier miles to cover my airfare, so I have a way to get there.
3. We have at least two and maybe as many as four volunteers to help care for The Lad while I'm away and The Feared Redhead is at work, so childcare is almost all covered.
4. The scheduling department at my work has agreed to approve time off on short notice, the only hting in the way now is supervisor approval if the time in question conflicts with other previous vacation requests.
So it's at least 80% certain at this point that I'll be spending a week helping in Houston. Of course I plan to keep you all apprised of how it goes. But I also have a couple of requests from my readers:
1. If you're in the Houston Area and would like to meet up for an evening aftyer the day's work, drop me a line.
2. I'll be taking along clothing to donate as well as cash to buy more supplies to donate. The cash will come from my coworkers, TFR's coworkers, and members of our church. If any of my readers want to add to the kitty, Vulture Six will be helping me set up a Paypal donation button on this blog. Deadline to give would be Wednesday the 7th. If you don't give by then, please go give directly to a relief organization.
Thanks for your prayers and well-wishes, keep 'em coming.
Vacation time has been approved and the flight confirmed -- I'll be in houston Saturday evening.
Friday, September 02, 2005
USA v. Richard Reid
Go read the rest there. Wow. That judge really gets it.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
A couple of charities that I and TFR believe in are among those listed, and I give them my hearty endorsement. They are:
Mennonite Disaster Services
Please give. We are.
I just got off the phone with my local chapter of the American Red Cross, and they are going to call me back with information about volunteering for disaster relief work. I've also spoken to TFR about this, as well as emailed an inquiry to my boss. If I can get the following details resolved, I plan to go help with the relief efforts:
1. I will need special permission from work to take my vacation on shorter notice than normal.
2. I will need to be able to spend the amount of vacation time I have to spare, if the Red Cross can only accommodate long term volunteers, I can't miss extra work.
3. I need to scrape up travel expenses to get there. We don't have that in our budget.
4. We need local friends and/or family to step up and help The Feared Redhead care for the lad while she's at work and I'm gone.
I'd appreciate any prayers, well wishes, or financial support my readers want to pitch in. Thanks.
Thanks for the Memory to Robert of the Llamabutchers.
This is a pretty fun meme. Go to Music Outfitters, and lookup the year you graduated from high school. The search will bring up a list of the top 100 songs from that year. Post them. Put any you liked in bold, strikeout any you didn't like, and leave alone any you don't remmember or don't care about one way or the other.
So without further ado,
1. Walk Like An Egyptian, Bangles
2. Alone, Heart
3. Shake You Down, Gregory Abbott
5. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, Starship
6. C'est La Vie, Robbie Nevil
7. Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
8. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby and the Range
9. Shakedown, Bob Seger
10. Livin' On A Prayer, Bon Jovi
11. La Bamba, Los Lobos
12. Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Chung
13. Don't Dream It's Over, Crowded House
14. Always, Atlantic Starr
15. With Or Without You, U2
16. Looking For A New Love, Jody Watley
17. Head To Toe, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
18. I Think We're Alone Now, Tiffany (hey, I thought she was cute, ok?)
19. Mony Mony, Billy Idol
20. At This Moment, Billy Vera and The Beaters
23. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, U2
24. I Want Your Sex, George Michael
25. Notorious, Duran Duran
26. Only In My Dreams, Debbie Gibson
29. Lean On Me, Club Nouveau
30. Open Your Heart, Madonna
31. Lost In Emotion, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
32. (I Just) Died In Your Arms, Cutting Crew
33. Heart And Soul, T'pau
34. You Keep Me Hangin' On, Kim Wilde
35. Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Georgia Satellites
36. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), Aretha Franklin and George Michael
37. Control, Janet Jackson
39. U Got The Look, Prince
40. Land Of Confusion, Genesis
41. Jacob's Ladder, Huey Lewis and The News
42. Who's That Girl, Madonna
43. You Got It All, Jets
44. Touch Me (I Want Your Body), Samantha Fox (There wasn't a teenage boy in America who didn't break into a sweat thinking of Sam Fox singing this song to them!)
45. I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett
46. Causing A Commotion, Madonna
47. In Too Deep, Genesis
48. Let's Wait Awhile, Janet Jackson
49. Hip To Be Square, Huey Lewis and the News (Shut up! I did NOT identify with this song!)
50. Will You Still Love Me?, Chicago
51. Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac
52. Luka, Suzanne Vega
53. I Heard A Rumour, Bananarama
54. Don't Mean Nothing, Richard Marx
56. Carrie, Europe
57. Don't Disturb This Groove, System
58. La Isla Bonita, Madonna
59. Bad, Michael Jackson
60. Sign 'O' The Times, Prince (One of the few Prince songs I can't recall)
61. Change Of Heart, Cyndi Lauper (Ditto Cindy)
62. Come Go With Me, Expose
63. Can't We Try, Dan Hill
64. To Be A Lover, Billy Idol
65. Mandolin Rain, Bruce Hornsby and the Range
66. Breakout, Swing Out Sister
67. Stand By Me, Ben E. King
68. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, Genesis
69. Someday, Glass Tiger
70. When Smokey Sings, ABC
71. Casanova, Levert
72. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
73. Rock Steady, Whispers
74. Wanted Dead Or Alive, Bon Jovi
75. Big Time, Peter Gabriel
76. The Finer Things, Steve Winwood
77. Let Me Be The One, Expose
78. Is This Love, Survivor
79. Diamonds, Herb Alpert
80. Point Of No Return, Expose
81. Big Love, Fleetwood Mac
82. Midnight Blue, Lou Gramm
83. Something So Strong, Crowded House
84. Heat Of The Night, Bryan Adams
85. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, Glenn Medeiros
86. Brilliant Disguise, Bruce Springsteen
87. Just To See Her, Smokey Robinson
88. Who Will You Run Too, Heart
89. Respect Yourself, Bruce Willis
90. Cross My Broken Heart, Jets
91. Victory, Kool and The Gang
92. Don't Get Me Wrong, Pretenders
93. Doing It All For My Baby, Huey Lewis and The News
94. Right On Track, Breakfast Club
95. Ballerina Girl, Lionel Richie
96. Meet Me Half Way, Kenny Loggins
97. I've Been In Love Before, Cutting Crew
98. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party, Beastie Boys
99. Funkytown, Pseudo Echo
100. Love You Down, Ready For The World
Hmmmm.... that's 47% of the top 100 that I liked (back then, some still today), and only 7% (well, really 6%) that I didn't. Yup, as I recall, it was a fun time to be young, and the soundtrack was part of that.
In retrospect, I should have contacted him personally with my objections before airing a feud that really wasn't to begin with. For thisd I am ashamed and offer my apologies to my readers and to my friend, you all should have been able to expect better from me.