80s Oracle

How weird is it that there was that band in the 80s called “Katrina and the Waves?”
I mean, the only thing more prophetic would have been a band called “Katrina and the Storm Surge.”

Aftermath

This situation in the south is just astonishing — cities under water, water that is contaminated with oil and gas and sewage; looting and riots; devastation that will likely take years to repair. There are simply no services: electricity, telephone, internet, gas… Millions are stranded and unable to return home for what may be months, with nothing — no money or supplies, no place to live… so many people have lost so much.
It’s almost too much to wrap my mind around. Almost.

How’s that electic car looking now?

I’m not completely opposed to high gas prices; I feel that if prices were generally high, fewer people would buy guzzlers like SUVs–and eventually, we’d have cleaner air and fewer destroyed streets.
But what we really need is some predictability. What we have now is not only record high gas prices, but incredible volatility. In the last 24 hours, gas prices here in San Jose have jumped up to 40¢. Just this morning, I saw gas priced at $3.38 per gallon. If we had worked up to that price gradually, we could have found ways to absorb the rise; but overnight?
There was a huge line at a gas station across the street from the one priced at $3.38; people were rushing to fill up at $2.98 when they saw where the future was heading. I guess that people who can afford SUVs are frowning a bit now, but what about people who have to drive to low-wage jobs in cars that don’t perform well and who now must suddenly pay twice as much as they used to for gas?
A couple of months ago, GM collected up all the electric cars they had been leasing and converted them to scrap. I keep wondering what kind of collusion goes on between car manufacturers and oil companies…

The Story of the Cock and Eagle Rock

Well, I did say that I wanted to try new things and make some life changes when I moved here, so when F. called to ask if I wanted to go hiking, I said, “… sure!”
Oh, F. Well, F. is the guy I have been seeing for a few weeks, this was our 4th date.
Anyway, don’t want to jinx it.
So, hiking through Alum Rock Park was idyllic, and then when we emerged from the trees, this sight greeted me:

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I realized this was not like hiking at, say, the mall. We came across this bizarre playground equipment, making me wonder how many kids screamed and ran away:

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After winding around, the trail started to go up, up, up… as did my heart rate. But my aversion to exercise was tempered somewhat by having a very cute and nice companion, and the promise of a view… finally, after climbing some 795 feet, we arrived at the top, Eagle Rock. Not only could we see the entire Santa Clara Valley and the southern point of San Francisco Bay, we could also clearly see the layer of smog floating over the city. And somewhere below, a rooster was crowing incessantly.

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When we neared the top, my phone beeped with a message — it had been out of range for the entire hike, so I was surprised. The reason was clear when we reached the overlook and looked behind us:

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Technology is always with us, eh?

No wonder he doesn’t read the papers

Just a few of the stories on the front page of the Washington Post today, most of which are bad news directly attributable to the current administration and Congress:

  • Aftermath of Katrina: the military and National Guard are too depleted from the Iraq war and this is straining their ability to help
  • Gas could soon top $3 per gallon
  • More than 600 Shiites killed in stampede after rumor of suicide bomber in Baghdad
  • More Air Pollution Possible: Draft regulations would ease emission controls on old power plants
  • Bush Calls Iraq War Moral Equivalent Of Allies’ WWII Fight Against the Axis (except, of course, Iraq was not threatening any other countries)
  • Poverty rate continues to climb

Oh, and “Bush’s Numbers at All-Time Low.” That’s the good news on the front page.

Katrina’s other victims

Generally speaking, I’m far more sympathetic toward animals than people; and even though I have huge sympathy for the people in Louisiana and Mississippi… well, the pictures of the animals who were victims of the destruction of the aquarium there really hit me.

The scope of the devastation — the flooding — in New Orleans is starting to become apparent to me, and it’s shocking… it seems like the worst case scenario, the flooding of this city is happening just as predicted for years and years. I have read that some people are being told that they can’t return to the city for a month, maybe longer. Now there is a report of a prison riot with hostages. There are looters on the streets — or rather, the waters. Another thing to be ashamed of.

Lucky boy

This president is so freakin’ lucky — first, he gets to take a 5-week vacation. Then, just when people are getting sick of his marathon vacations and his ratings are plummeting, a hurricane comes along and gives him the perfect cover story for cutting his vacation short, making him appear to be compassionate…
of course, he’s only cutting his 35-day vacation short by two days, but hey — like everything else he carefully parses, the claim of a shortened vacation is technically true.
What he thinks he’s going to do 4 days after the hurricane hit is beyond me. I guess he’ll make stern faces and invoke God and basically make a lot of statements like “This morning our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast who have suffered so much from Hurricane Katrina.”

Dang ol’ Boomhauer, man

Dang my phone, I tell ya, that thing… anyway, I saw this guy yesterday at the Austin airport, who was the spitting image of Boomhauer from King of the Hill. The pic is blurred, but you can make him out on the right there:
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Meanwhile, another homage to Texas:

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It’s called misdirection

While you have been watching the Bush administration and the feds, states everywhere have started to dismantle access to abortion — and contraception.

Since January, governors have signed several dozen antiabortion measures ranging from parental consent requirements to an outright ban looming in South Dakota. Not since 1999, when a wave of laws banning late-term abortions swept the legislatures, have states imposed so many and so varied a menu of regulations on reproductive health care.

Three states have passed bills requiring that women seeking an abortion be warned that the fetus will feel pain, despite inconclusive scientific data on the question. West Virginia and Florida approved legislation recognizing a pre-viable fetus, or embryo, as an independent victim of homicide. And in Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt (R) has summoned lawmakers into special session Sept. 6 to consider three antiabortion proposals.

While national leaders in the abortion debate focus on the upcoming nomination hearings of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, grass-roots activists have been changing the legal landscape one state at a time. In most cases, the antiabortion forces have prevailed, adding restrictions on when and where women can get contraceptive services and abortions, and how physicians provide them.

Antiabortion activists say they have pursued a two-pronged approach that aimed to reduce the number of abortions immediately through new restrictions and build a foundation of lower court cases designed to get the high court to eventually reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision making the procedure legal.

We have to remember not to expend all our energy and attention on the top level while the fundamentalist right is digging out from under our foundations.

The non-sacrifice

I naively figured that the Bush administration was reacting to public criticism of rising oil prices; but this short item from the Washington Post yesterday highlights some other more cynical reasons for the new fuel effciency standards, ineffective as they are:

The Bush administration proposed modest increases in fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs that will give a competitive boost to struggling domestic makers General Motors and Ford . Energy savings would be modest: 10 billion gallons of gas — the rough equivalent of 25 days of consumption — spread over nearly two decades. The rules are meant to preempt more stringent requirements passed by California, which several others states had threatened to adopt. Hummers and other large trucks would remain unregulated.

Less than one month’s consumption saved over 20 years. Boy, that’s conservation.

Home is where the dog is

How weird to think of California as home, but the whole time I was sitting strapped into that little airline seat, I couldn’t stop thinking of getting there, walking into my living room, falling asleep in my own bed. Jann came to pick me up and brought Diego with him in his little carrier, it was a little reunion.
So now I sit on my couch replaying my little vacation in my mind — cutting out little paper snowflakes with io and Lily, having huevos rancheros for breakfast, rollerstaking and trying to keep my feet from going in opposite directions, realizing that California grapefruit costs less in Austin than it does here in California, watching opera singers and flashing back to the time B. sang for me, filming Sara’s stream of conciousness ramblings in the car and trying desperately to stifle my laughs, Lance’s out of the blue hilarious comments…
all in all, my trip left me with a very sore face from smiling so much, totally exhausted from the heat and the energy of the girls, and with the feeling that there are people out there who, while they’re not family, still treat me like I am.

Leaving Austin Weird

A bittersweet day — my last in Austin. Yeah, I want to get home to my comfy, familiar (after 3 months??) home in California and play with my dog; but I’ll be returning to a pretty lonely place, especially after having been part of a rambunctious, funny, loving family here. This is not the kind of family I am used to, and the experience is so foreign yet comforting.

So, here I sit, enjoying a triple shot mocha and blueberry muffin from Jo’s coffee shop, contemplating the end of my mini-vacation and the beginning of airport security. I wonder: why bother packing anything when you just have to unpack it all again for security? I’ll have to disassemble my camera and laptop, take of my shoes and belt, and probably give them a little skin sample from the back of the neck.
And they’ll detain me to ask my why the back of my neck is blue.

I think I’ll wander up and down South Congress Ave. this morning, checking out the weird and wonderful shops; although I only brought a small little carry-on bag, so I won’t be doing any shopping… unless there’s something I must have and they do shipping. Anyway, one thing that Austin still has is fun, neon, googie signs — something that most cities have done away with in favor of relatively boring and uniform corporate signage. Up the street here there’s an old theatre that seems to now be some kind of office building. The marquee is still there, though, and on one side it reads: “The other side is the truth.” Drive a few more yards, and you can see the other side, which says: “The other side is a lie.”
Among my favorites is this strangely phallic motel sign a few doors down:

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Surreal: taking a picture of taking a picture…

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Later today: off to one of Sara’s benefit shows, then from there it’s time to wing to the west. In about two weeks, I’ll be back in flight to get back home to DC for DC Shorts. I’m wondering what it will be like to be back home. I mean, 3 months isn’t that long really, but how will it feel to be in a place I lived for my entire life, but without a home there? Without a car, without my own bed, without my dog? These questions will be answered on September 21. Stay tuned.