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51 entries from September 2005

I wanted to be a writer

When I was in junior high school, I was seized by the notion that writing would be a great way to earn a living. I hadn’t decided if I thought fiction or non was the way to go yet; just the idea of writing—of being able to say, “I’m a writer”—somehow it appealed to me.

In high school I was on the staff of the school’s newspaper and I wrote a few articles here and there (I remember none of them). I caught the bug for journalism and I didn’t specialize, mainly because in my high school the only specialties were sports or student life and I participated in neither. My friends were outside of school and I was at best an indifferent follower of the school’s athletic teams, particularly because the football team was in the midst of a record-setting losing streak at the time. I tended to gravitate more toward the design and layout of the paper, copy-editing others’ work, the mechanics of producing the monthly rag.

This continued into college, where I declared journalism as a major at one point. (Actually it was Communication with Emphasis on Writing for Print Media; we can’t have a degree program with a single-word name, after all.) And I wrote a few articles, a very few, but again I ended up on the business and editing/production end of the whole gig once more. The paper’s editor specifically asked me to handle the business operations of the paper; he knew me from our membership in DeMolay and thought highly of my as yet unknown business skill.

And I had a great time, but I was past the idea of writing for a living.

When I first considered starting some sort of web site a few years back, I had no idea what I’d put there. I figured it’d probably end up like the home pages of AOL Hometown and Geocities and similar services, slapped-together web presences that no one much cared to view. Then I stumbled over beta-testing opportunities for various publishing and content-management services, TypePad among them, and I was hooked.

All with no idea what I might possibly put on the damned site.

So I started small and just scribbled up quick notes about the blog process itself and my first steps into it. Then I got ambitious and thought I’d start a second blog that summarized the news and other stories that grabbed my attention each day, and when I suddenly had a topic, I posted like a madman on that news blog for, oh, I’d say a month or so.

My personal site, in the meantime, went through dry spells and incredibly prolific spells as well, and it was all inconsequential. My archives reveal a lot about my day-to-day life over the last two years but less about my personality or my politics, though you can get a sense of those by the stories I’ve told about myself and by the news articles I’ve quoted and by the sites and other blogs I’ve linked.

Now I seem to be going through another dry spell and I think how amazing it is that some people start up blogs devoted to PVRs or television or conservative politics or knitting or hiking or Google Local and I’m just amazed. I can’t think of a single topic about which I care that much, but I sure love reading other people’s efforts in the subjects they’ve chosen.

Such a vast diversity of sites out there, and mine has elements of many of them and says nothing much at all.

I love technology. That so many people have such immediate simple access to such a powerful medium just boggles my mind. By no means perfect, of course—some countries still exercise too much control over their citizens’ ability to speak out in any forum, the web included—it’s still an absolutely astounding progression over the last six centuries from hand-copied manuscripts to movable type and on to mass-produced books and printed matter and now to the electronic world.

All so readily available, some of it infuriating, much of it annoying or just plain wacko, still more of it just individuals’ attempts to stake out an identity in one more part of their lives.

Extraordinary.


I didn't think I was afraid of the dark

And then I set my TiVo to catch the premiere episode of Supernatural on The WB, and in the first few minutes the following things happened.

  1. On-screen, a woman ended up pinned to a ceiling and bursting into flame.
  2. Off-screen, Annie jumped into my lap at the moment the on-screen woman screamed in utter absolute horror.
  3. Off-screen, I nearly leapt bodily through the wall behind me into the townhouse to the north.
  4. On-screen, a commercial rolled.
  5. Off-screen, I attempted to defibrillate and then foolishly continued the episode.

There's a reason I hate horror movies. The tension works way the hell too damned well on me. All I need is a bit of atmospheric music, a little darkness or obscure lighting or weird camera angle, BAM my psyche leaps into overdrive and I go into fight-or-flight mode. Mostly flight, in fact. I hate horror movies. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate them.

So I figured I'd give this show a try, at least the one episode, and just be sure to watch it in daylight. Because, you know, what evile lurks at night can't do anything bad in the light, and then the damned cats scared the shit out of me.

And then the sun actually went down and now I've been in various parts of the house in darkness and my skin crawls even though I know nothing's going to happen, but there's that sense of "What if...?" anyway.

And the cats are doing everything in their power to keep me uptight. Knocking plants off counters, sending their toys rolling down the stairs, sneaking up on me to be loved, etc.

Little bastards.


I just had an odd experience involving a restroom, my boxer-briefs, and the fortune I received after lunch at the Chinese restaurant

Quite likely more than you ever wanted to know.


So I heard The Call of Nature and, heeding it, wandered from my desk to the men’s room where I stepped up to the urinal as I’ve done a time or two every day for the entire three years I’ve worked here. I unzipped and reached in to use the fly built into my boxer-briefs because I’ve never understood it when men unzip their pants fly and also undo the belt and unfasten their pants and lower the whole shootin’ match out of the way when they’re standing at a urinal. Just... WTF?

Anyway. The boxer-briefs are cotton and snug and I’ve never had trouble maneuvering around before when I needed to use the restroom, and while I’m trying to be a bit euphemistic out of some sense that I might outrage someone who happens to read this, I don’t know why I’m bothering.

So I’ve never had trouble with this process before but today somehow I managed to pinch the head of my penis as I pulled apart the cotton panels that make up the briefs’ fly. I guess I got caught in the internal seam and I emitted a sound of horrified pain even though it didn’t really hurt so much as surprise me.

Of course the sudden cascade of nerve impulses briefly removed all need to use the urinal for its intended purpose, and I was immediately much more careful with my movements. Eventually, however, The Call returned and I finished up and CAREFULLY zipped up and washed my hands and walked, slowly, back to my desk, and that’s when I remembered the fortune I got as I paid the tab for lunch at Chan’s Place in Woodinville:

You will enjoy good health,
that is your form of wealth.

I thought: This is why I nearly emasculated myself, this fortune I received not one hour ago

And the only reason I kept the fortune paper was it reminded me of an amusing verbal exchange involving iambic pentameter between the White House Counsel and an associate counsel from a second-season episode of The West Wing.

What a wonder is the human brain, that pinching one’s penis in one’s boxers fly could bring to mind a literary joke from a television show.


“Designer dogs” outrage reaches the hinterlands, 18 months later

I first posted about this in January 2004 when CNN.com ran a story about it. Seems we’re just now getting the word here in Seattle, via a wire story from an upper-midwest newspaper . . . ?

Continue reading "“Designer dogs” outrage reaches the hinterlands, 18 months later" »


Harry + Max (unrated) (2004)

Netflix summary:

Two brothers, 23-year-old Harry and 16-year-old Max, who also happen to be pop singing stars, embark on a camping trip together for some quality bonding time. Harry’s boy band career is on the slide, while Max is a rising teen icon. During their trip, they hope to come to terms with their dysfunctional family past... but in the process, they begin to have feelings for each other that redefines the term brotherly love.

My take:

Harry and Max (unrated) (2004)This was another Netflix recommendation and will likely be the last for a while to come.

It struck me as an amateurish effort from the get-go. I’ve never put much stock in film festivals and the fact that this movie apparently garnered any praise at Sundance leaves me with even less faith in festivals and the people behind them. Overall, a wasted effort with a muddled story line and mediocre acting at best. And the two lead actors were absolutely unbelievable as boy-band pop stars, mainly because neither could sing.

Michelle Phillips must’ve been pretty hard up to consider appearing in this turkey.

Cast:

Sources:


Universal cursing

I found this article absolutely fascinating. I'm pretty passionate about language, though I think the flap about obscenity is stupid; but I do find myself highly irritated when I encounter common examples of bad grammar or usage. I feel my pulse quicken and I go into a defensive mode sometimes.

New York Times: Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore
By NATALIE ANGIER

Incensed by what it sees as a virtual pandemic of verbal vulgarity issuing from the diverse likes of Howard Stern, Bono of U2 and Robert Novak, the United States Senate is poised to consider a bill that would sharply increase the penalty for obscenity on the air.

By raising the fines that would be levied against offending broadcasters some fifteenfold, to a fee of about $500,000 per crudity broadcast, and by threatening to revoke the licenses of repeat polluters, the Senate seeks to return to the public square the gentler tenor of yesteryear, when seldom were heard any scurrilous words, and famous guys were not foul mouthed all day.

Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin’s famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.

Young children will memorize the illicit inventory long before they can grasp its sense, said John McWhorter, a scholar of linguistics at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The Power of Babel,” and literary giants have always constructed their art on its spine.

The Jacobean dramatist Ben Jonson peppered his plays with fackings and “peremptorie Asses,” and Shakespeare could hardly quill a stanza without inserting profanities of the day like “zounds” or “sblood”—offensive contractions of “God’s wounds” and “God’s blood”—or some wondrous sexual pun.

The title “Much Ado About Nothing,” Dr. McWhorter said, is a word play on “Much Ado About an O Thing,” the O thing being a reference to female genitalia.

Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, “eat their own dung, and drink their own piss.”

Entire article (registration-free)

He brang it.

From previous photographic proof (1, 2, 3, 4), you may already know that I attended the Neil Diamond concert at KeyArena (map) last night.

I had a pitcher of beer in me before the show and I haven’t yet decided if that was too much or nowhere near enough to prepare me for the experience.

Continue reading "He brang it." »


Favorites and trivialities

On my way to bed and via lex icon:

What time did you get up this morning? 06:30

Diamonds, pearls or silver? Silver

What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith

What is your favorite TV show? The West Wing

What did you have for breakfast? Honey Nut Cheerios with banana slices

What is your middle name? Lynn

What is your favorite cuisine?

What foods do you dislike? Beets, organ meats

What is your favorite chip/crisp flavor? Barbecue

What is your favorite CD at the moment? No single CD, I have a "favorites" playlist rotating a lot through iTunes; heavy on Vienna Teng, Carbon Leaf, The Fat Lady Sings, my usual stand-bys

What kind of car do you drive? Ford Escape

Favorite sandwich? Grilled cheese on wheat or sourdough; also the Brew Pub Chicken sandwich at Taylor Brewing Company from my days traveling for work in the Chicago area

What characteristics do you despise? Insincerity, applied stupidity, lack of personal responsibility

Favorite item of clothing? Canvas duster (any long coat, really)

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Alaska or Australia

What color is your bathroom? White and beige for both

Favorite brand of clothing? Eddie Bauer and L.L.Bean are both up there

Where would you retire to? No idea

Favorite time of day? Evening in autumn and winter, morning in spring and summer

What was your most memorable birthday? 21st for the milestone

Where were you born? St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah

Favorite sport to watch? Live: Football and basketball; TV: tennis or baseball

Who do you least expect to send this back to you? Not sending it out, posting only

What fabric detergent do you use? Tide

Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke

Surveying the carnage

One of the things I find most amusing/annoying about moving house, either my own or someone else’s, is the plethora of bruises and other small injuries you discover on your person after the fact.

I have a two-inch bruise, rapidly fading, on my right forearm; several small bruises and two cuts on my left knee; and several more small bruises on my right knee. I don’t remember dropping anything on my left foot but one of my toes is nearly black from its own, also rapidly fading, bruise, and the nail on that toe is oddly wobbly, like the shock of whatever hit it has loosened it to the edge of slipping right off.

I don’t remember any of these injuries at the moments they happened. I don’t recall reeling backward from some sharp pain or jerking my arm away as a box corner stabbed into me or anything of the type.

But here they are, taunting me with my lack of memory.

Ah well, below the fold is the tale of Michelle’s Move, September 2005.

Continue reading "Surveying the carnage" »


Weekend, compressed

I was going to scribble up this mildly amusing entry in which I talked about our whirlwind day trip to Portland to help our friend Michelle and her family move from a three-bedroom apartment in one complex to a three-bedroom townhouse in the complex directly east, due to a lease brouhaha with a dog. And how I dropped my end of a 400-pound 35" (or thereabouts) television, to the collective shocked gasp of everyone in the room, but it was okay in the end and no crushed toes. And how Shannae is afraid of bats and the trees directly behind their house are the type bats love to roost.

I was going to mention all those things and more but I've a weird throbbing headache which I believe is a combination of these new glasses and that we drove to Portland from 06:00-09:30 yesterday and returned from Portland from 22:00-01:30 last night/this morning.

I hate headaches.


Vending-machine Stupidity Zen

So I was in the break room at the Coke machine, feeding it change to get a Diet Coke because while I've been very good about not drinking DC for the last couple of weeks, the last two days I've been not so good.

Dropped in two quarters and a dime and then the stupid machine absolutely WOULD NOT ACCEPT the final nickel, despite six or seven tries. So I whipped out another quarter, figured I'd deal with the small amount of change I'd get back.

Then I remembered the cost for a beverage is 60¢ and the machine was patiently refusing my nickel because, well, it didn't need it, and would just return it to me as change anyway, so why accept it?

The lab folk who were in the break room enjoyed this spectacle immensely, mainly because I called myself "numbnuts" as I explained why I was close to destroying the machine in rage when the light bulb went off.

So glad it's Friday.


New specs!

Flickr photo sharing: New specs!
New specs!
From Don Nunn's photo stream
I saw the eye doc just a week ago Thursday and they told me the new glasses would probably take 12-14 days, so I was stunned when they called this morning to announce their arrival.

I'm doing the goggle-eye thing today as a result; my right eye's astigmatism changed enough that the world looks a bit... twisted... this afternoon.

::swoon::


"Jihad E. Coyote"

That's Jerry Seinfeld's name for a suicide bomber whose payload goes off too early due to error or whatever, resulting in the death of the bomber himself without the intended target casualties or damage. Failed mission, how embarrassing it must be, etc. etc.

I nearly laughed myself into coughing fits at that one.

The show was a scream throughout. The opening act, whose name I did not catch, was mildly amusing, but Seinfeld as usual had me near death from the laughter.

And for once, all the people seated around us actually laughed with the show. Every time before, at least one person next to us would be stone-faced throughout the show, like Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H, though I doubt by the same method.

Anyway, 'twas a good show and our parking was included in the season-ticket package, so we got in and out in no time at all. I was home by 22:00, felt positively middle-aged after what seemed like a full rich day and the nightly local news was still an hour away.


Labor Day weekend in Victoria, British Columbia

Finally getting around to setting down the travelogue of our weekend in Victoria, nearly two weeks later. Thank God I’ve my PDA (read: Nerd Tracking Device) to assist with reconstructing the days. Otherwise it would be only a tale of a brewpub, some beautiful formal gardens, and an afternoon tea the likes of which I’d never experienced.

And in fact that’s exactly what it was, with some city wanderings and some metric-system road signs and various other small details that made it an experience I never expected and I’m so happy I didn’t miss.

Full tale below the cut. Note that I’ve included distance and speed conversions to make things easier on my non-metric readership, because we all know the metric system’s just stupid, with its easy conversions and decimal base.

Continue reading "Labor Day weekend in Victoria, British Columbia" »


October Project — Where You Are

From October Project’s self-titled album released in 1993.

Download Where You Are (6.4MB MP3)
Floating in the summer sunshine
We are flying
We are blue
Falling like a summer raindrop
Like a teardrop
Like the dew

Nothing but a blue horizon
All around us
Like a glove
Feeling it go on forever
Far below us
Far above

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Shining like a summer rainbow
We are colors
We are bright
Vanishing into the sunshine
Like a river
Made of light

Floating in a summer memory
I can see you
In my mind
Knowing it goes on forever
Far beyond us
Far behind

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Falling in a summer daydream
I remember
What I knew
Nothing that I can’t hold on to
Or return to
Even you

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

I hope the Mariners win tonight

Not because I'm a huge Mariners fan, nor because it would mean two wins in a row and they'd be in position to sweep the three-game series. Not even because the Mariners' 62-81 record mirrors their opponents' 81-62.

No, it's because they're playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team with easily the stupidest name in the history of sport. Why two cities in the team's name? They wanted to play in Anaheim but be a Los Angeles team?

I find it amusing that in the SMS score updates I receive, they're called the L.A. Angels, and their official web site's address is just angels.mlb.com—most other teams' MLB sites incorporate the teams' cities into the web-site address—and its title is Los Angeles Angels : The Official Site but the team's full name apparently has to be given during broadcasts and the like.

It must be the lawyers working the strings in the background.


Because I haven’t listed my recently played songs in a while

And I know how breathlessly everyone awaits these lists.

I discovered today, when I plugged in my iPod shuffle to sync with iTunes 5.0, that not only are my play counts updated, but so are the Last Played dates for songs whose play counts have changed. The iPod shuffle has no internal clock and can’t stamp played songs with their actual last-played date/time, so iTunes makes up for this by updating those songs’ play times to the sync date and time. I end up with a slew of songs showing the same Last Played information, but I’m fine with the inaccuracy because it does better to accommodate geeks like me who have Smart Playlists that use Last Played as part of their selection criteria.

Now all my “not played in 3 weeks” and similar lists will update to reflect play activity on my shuffle, oh joy. This was one of the things that most annoyed me about the shuffle when I first got it and tried to set up playlists to use a combo of play counts, played dates, and ratings to keep a rotating mix of songs moving through at each sync.

So without further ado....

Song – Artist, Album

Continue reading "Because I haven’t listed my recently played songs in a while" »


won't someone think of the filters

This weekend brought a lot of doing nothing, including not writing up my Victoria travelogue (my conscience is nibbling at me about that, why I've no clue), but it did feature a lot of coffee.

Niagara Falls: American Falls
American Falls in autumn, snorked from Info Niagara
On with the coffee. Refill the coffee. Keep sippin' the coffee.

Oh, the coffee.

I used up the last of my Seattle's Best Seattle's Best Blend® (damn that's redundant) half-pounder yesterday morning—it made an 8-cup pot, which was unexpected, but I downed the whole thing over a six-hour period—and today I had four cups with breakfast at Queen Anne Café starting at 10:00, followed by a tall white-chocolate mocha and then a grande drip at the Tully's across the street.

It was only at 14:00 that I finally had to use the restroom and since then it's been goddamned Niagara Falls every hour on the hour.

I loves me social coffee. :-)


Just call me Squinty

I was going to write my Victoria BC travelogue tonight, but I find myself unable to focus closer than about 75 feet due to this afternoon's eye exam complete with field-of-vision test and dilation for pressure check and blindness-inducing.

Damn, those are some bright freakin' lights they use, even when your eyes can adjust properly. But then they give you the anaesthetic drops that sting going in—and just what freaking evile is that, pain-reducing medication that hurts when applied?—so they can press an ophthalmic instrument DIRECTLY AGAINST YOUR EYEBALL to take a pressure reading, and then they give you the dilator drops to open your eyes to The Beauty of All Light In the World at Once!, and then they bring out the bright lights again to have a close look at your retinas and you squint and pull back and your eyes water a freakin' RIVER because, well, hell, your pupils can't constrict to protect your retinas from bright lights.

There's a reason they call it practicing medicine, that much is certain.

So yeah, the travelogue will have to wait, because while I type well enough and I'm reasonably certain this has few or no typos, the concentration's making what vision I do have go all wonky and I don't think I can be witty and charming and write favorably of the fantastic time we had over the Labor Day weekend in my current state of mind.

I'll do it tomorrow, or maybe not. And I'll post some photos, or also maybe not. Right now, however, I need to turn this screen way down so my eyes will stop with the wailing.

Figures, I can't see anything close to my face so of course now is when I really want to read.

::mutter::


Hint for you search users out there

When you search for something at, say, Google, best to click the links to the sites in the results and read a bit before you ask silly questions via IM:

Search Goofball (17:33:47): do you have backpacks at bartell?
Beldin (17:34:00): I don't work at Bartell
Search Goofball (17:34:06): oh
Beldin (17:35:27): What made you think I work there?
Search Goofball (17:35:35): your website
Beldin (17:35:55): That I complained about their service made you think I work there?
Search Goofball (17:36:05): i didnt read the letter
Beldin (17:36:25): Ah ha... yeah, that would be a good idea, to read the search result and not just see that it includes the term you're looking for
Search Goofball (17:36:43): ok?
Beldin (17:37:14): Anyway, good luck finding out what you need there.


Turns out we ARE taking care of our own

Danny Westneat's readers respond to his wondering last week why we can't seem to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in any organized or timely manner:

Seattle Times: A flood of public response
By Danny Westneat
Seattle Times staff columnist


Last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I wondered: Why aren't we taking care of our own?

The question touched a chord, as more than 200 of you wrote to agree that our national government is no longer tending to some of its most basic functions, such as helping the neediest cope with a natural disaster. It's a disgrace; we've become like a Third World country, wrote some.

We can't expect the government to work when we bash it all the time, said others.

We seem to care more about the citizens of Iraq than the citizens of New Orleans, dozens of readers said.

We are about to have a much-needed debate about the performance and priorities of our government.

There's never been any doubt about the people.

—Danny Westneat
What's heartening is how many of you took the failures of the past week so personally.

Like Bothell's Ray Brown. He was appalled at what he saw on TV about New Orleans. He got angry. He got depressed.

Then he got busy. He heard the mayor of New Orleans plead Friday for somebody, anybody to "get off your asses and do something."

The mayor said he needed 500 buses. Brown, sitting 2,600 miles away in his living room, thought: "I ought to be able to come up with at least one bus."

Today, after working nonstop over the Labor Day weekend, Brown's got that bus—chartered in Houston at a cost to him of $8,600. He's also got signed commitments from 29 Seattle-area families to host 50 Katrina evacuees for three months to a year, should they wish to come.

That includes providing housing, food, clothing and help in finding schools and jobs, if evacuees choose to stay in Seattle.

"We're not part of any official group," Brown, 41, said yesterday from Houston, where he and his wife, Lucy, 43, flew Monday to get the bus. "We put this together in a weekend. We felt we had to do something, because it seemed like so little was being done."

The way to combat that sickening feeling that nothing is being done is to do something yourself, said James McDaniel, 37, who offered to take a family into his Redmond home and is now helping coordinate Brown's effort.

"I asked myself: 'What can I do?' Well, I have a home; I can cook meals," McDaniel said. "It's a simple thing, but that's what we can do—just take care of each other."

So far, the Red Cross hasn't agreed to accept the Browns' guerrilla aid. The agency is reluctant to entrust shell-shocked evacuees to well-meaning folks who show up with a bus.

Also, the aid groups, as well as government agencies, have been besieged with offers of money, housing and supplies. That includes $504 million in donations, which far exceeds the pace of giving after 9/11 or the tsunami.

"They are completely overwhelmed down here," Brown said from Houston. "People are pouring in from everywhere to help out. It's amazing."

Yes, it is. We are about to have a much-needed debate about the performance and priorities of our government.

There's never been any doubt about the people.

HUGE FUCKING SPIDER!!!!!

HUGE FUCKING SPIDERI was preparing for bed when I heard my cat Buto do her cute little "I am chasing something with a lot of legs" meow. Normally I don't investigate because by the time I get to her she has eaten said something. However tonight I was sitting on the toilet and just outside the bathroom I saw something scurry across the floor followed by Buto. Fezzik came shortly. I finished my business and quickly grabbed some toilet paper to take care of said something. When I moved the shoe that was sitting in front of Buto out crawled a HUGE FUCKING SPIDER. Buto got all excited and started chasing it into the bathroom. My first thought was "shit - how am I going to catch or kill that thing?" Then of course I thought "Where is my camera?." The whole time trying to keep Buto away because I am relatively sure after this weekend's visit to the Victoria Bug Zoo that I have a Cat-Eating Spider in my apartment. I grabbed the camera a nice pair of tweezers for size comparison. Next I tried to think of something I could catch it in. The only available item was my Q-tip® container. I quickly dumped the Q-tips® and proceeded to cover the spider and put the lid on. Cat-eating spider is now outside on my patio. I would have taken it out further except for the fact that I had only a very short t-shirt on for this little event. The really funny thing is that at the Victoria Bug Zoo I had no problem picking up various bugs, but it seems so different when they just appear in your apartment instead of being removed from a very nice cage. Please note that the tweezers in the picture are about 2" long. I am now going to sleep where I am sure that I will have spider nightmares.

Sleep well everyone.


Enough already with talk of the short term, media wonks

I don't much care for Keith Olbermann but I do appreciate that he's asking a lot of the right questions in this transcript excerpt:

MSNBC.com: Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Enormous challenges to rebuild New Orleans
Expert says it could be as long as five years before city is up and running

Professional sports is of course utterly irrelevant in New Orleans right now, except as a barometer.

"The New York Times" reported on Thursday that the National Basketball Association advised its franchises to prepare for the likelihood that the team in New Orleans will have to play its games elsewhere, possibly for the entire season. Similarly, the National Football League is discussing if its New Orleans team should play its home games in Baton Rouge, San Antonio, or even Los Angeles.

These are not rats leaving a sinking ship, nor a sinking city. They are practical businessmen facing what a lot of people don't want to face.

New Orleans will be closed until further notice. And that further notice might not come until next year or later.

Mary Comerio, a professor of architecture at Cal Berkeley, and author of the book "Disaster Hits Home: New Policy For Urban Housing Recovery," appeared on 'Countdown' Thursday to discuss the rebuilding challenges and timetable ahead for New Orleans with Keith Olbermann.

KEITH OLBERMANN: This is the 21st century. You can go home a week after heart surgery. You can reopen the stock market six days after 9/11. Do you think people are assuming the same kind of thing about New Orleans being up and running in weeks, when months or years is probably more like it?

MARY COMERIO: Well, I'm afraid the shock hasn't even begun to wear off yet. It is going to take months just to assess the damage, and years before New Orleans is inhabitable.

OLBERMANN: I guess the wild card as to how many months or how many years is that flood water and its—what is in it, because every day that passes, that becomes not so much water, as some sort of chemical mix that can rot away infrastructure. And then, when you do pump it out, you're pumping it out into the lake and the gulf, where it could ravage the fishing industry.

Is the question of how and what is done with that water the key thing here?

COMERIO: Well, getting rid of that water is obviously the key thing. And repairing the levee, so that it is even possible to get rid of the water, is really the first order of business. That's a huge engineering question. It is something that I think we should have been better prepared for.

People knew about weaknesses in the levees before. And it should have been part of the emergency plan.

OLBERMANN: Let me focus on just one aspect of this relative to the water supply, the taps of water, the ordinary thing that we all take for granted. ... In New Orleans right now, this has basically been poisoned, correct? How soon before it could be conceivably decontaminated and even support a neighborhood or two?

COMERIO: I think it is going to take several months.

First of all, the supply system is going to have to be repaired. There are going to be breaks everywhere, pump failures. So, just getting the system connected and back together, much less the ability to turn on your tap and have clean water coming out of the tap, is a long, long way away. And there's a big process involved in assessing the damage to those pipe systems and supply systems. And then decontaminating them and moving back to operations is a long period.

OLBERMANN: You studied the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew in your book. And you've seen the outline on this thing. Give me the best and worst-case scenarios on just 10 percent of the population of New Orleans living back in New Orleans? What is the soonest? What's the latest?

COMERIO: I think the best case is that, within six months, people are starting to return to a few neighborhoods, to a few businesses being open and repairs being made.

The worst-case scenario is three to five years before anybody finds it inhabitable.

OLBERMANN: Do the levees have to be rebuilt differently? If you go and look in Holland, where they have the same below-sea-level quality to the place, these extraordinary expensive, intricate, sensitive devices to protect against the incoming water inundating the land have been built in the last few years, at extraordinary public cost. And they've been happy to do it. Do we have to do that again or forget about New Orleans?

COMERIO: Well, we're not going to forget about New Orleans.

I think we have too much invested in the city and the community and the economy. It is a big, huge urban center and it is not going to go away. So, I think we're really going to have to think about how that center is protected and how those levees are rebuilt. I think we need to have a public commitment to making that possible.

OLBERMANN: We have to get used to it. This will be years and not months.

I've wondered this same thing hundreds of times over the last four days

The Seattle Times: Hurricane Katrina: Why can't we help our own?
By Danny Westneat
Seattle Times staff columnist


Last fall, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray ran a TV ad that is turning out to be prophetic.

She was sitting in an orchard, holding an apple, talking about local jobs and the economy. She said she was angry we're spending $100 billion rebuilding another country, Iraq, when we have so many needs right here.

"It's time we took care of our own," she said defiantly.

This nationalistic call to turn inward made me squirm.

But with what's been going on in New Orleans this week, can anyone honestly say we're taking good care of our own?

A focus on terrorism is understandable. It was just four years ago we were attacked.

But I'd say the war on terror has gotten the better of us if it's a reason we can't get food and water to our own people.

Danny Westneat
It's been four days since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Yet yesterday there was the mayor of New Orleans, sending out what he called a "desperate SOS" for food, water and evacuation help.

Armed gunmen roamed the city. Helicopters were attacked. Corpses floated about in the waters, some apparently shot to death.

"Where is the National Guard?" pleaded a man yesterday on a Web log run by the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

"Where is the federal government?" echoed the head of New Orleans' emergency-response division, Terry Ebert.

"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he told The Associated Press.

A few U.S. media commentators bitterly wondered why the French aren't helping more. Talk about projecting to cover our own inadequacies.

I think Murray was onto something. Hurricane Katrina crystallized it. It's now a major political issue: We aren't taking care of our own.

It's not that we can't help others, too, as we did after the tsunami. But is our nation so sapped and distracted by foreign commitments that it can't perform the basic duties of government at home?

That's the view of the guy who heads our local disaster-response agency.

"It's terrorism, terrorism, terrorism, terrorism," said Eric Holdeman, director of King County's Office of Emergency Management. "It's what all the funding is directed towards.

"New Orleans shows the result when known problems aren't addressed because we're fixated on something else."

Holdeman said what happened there—levees not fixed because resources were diverted to fighting terrorism and the war in Iraq—is being repeated here in Seattle.

Example: There has been no earthquake-response drill conducted here since 1998, though we had a major earthquake in 2001 and quakes are the region's most likely catastrophe.

"We don't have freedom to choose what we want to work on," Holdeman said. "It's decided for us, by the Department of Homeland Security, where it's all terrorism, all the time."

He added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been gutted and "those of us who deal with disasters have no national leadership, and you're seeing that in New Orleans."

A focus on terrorism is understandable. It was just four years ago we were attacked.

But I'd say the war on terror has gotten the better of us if it's a reason we can't get food and water to our own people.

Katrina loosens New Orleans mayor's tongue

I think Ray Nagin has shown considerable restraint considering the monumentally blundered federal response to the hurricane disaster:

Seattle Times: Hurricane Katrina: New Orleans mayor blasts Bush
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS—A day before President Bush headed to the hurricane-ravaged South, Mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at federal officials, telling a local radio station "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."

Federal officials expressed sympathy but quickly defended themselves, saying they, too, were overwhelmed by the catastrophe that hit the Gulf Coast region on Monday.

Nagin's interview Thursday night on WWL radio came as President Bush planned to visit Gulf Coast communities battered by Hurricane Katrina, a visit aimed at alleviating criticism that he engineered a too-little, too-late response.

Bush viewed the damage while flying over the region Wednesday en route to Washington after cutting short his Texas vacation by two days.

"They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn—excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," Nagin said.

Nagin said he told Bush in a recent conversation that "we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice ... I have been all around this city and that I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every respect."

In an interview Friday on NBC's "Today," Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown stood behind the massive federal relief effort that's under way.

"I understand the mayor's frustration. ... We have been having a continuous flow of commodities into the Superdome, there were five trucks arriving last night to feed well over 50,000 people.

"We're also diverting supplies to the convention center which I learned about yesterday and that area. ... This is an absolutely catastrophic disaster," he said.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who like Nagin is a Democrat, was less confrontational than the mayor.

"When the system goes down, this is pretty much what you get," she said on CBS' "The Early Show." "We don't get into the blame game. We just work with what we got."

Yeah, see, I’m not actually a food critic

Flickr photo sharing: Disney Pirate Planks
Disney Pirate Planks
Flickr: Blazenhoff
Back in June I scribbled up a quick “buh?” about a new line of fish sticks released under a Disney brand.

Today at 08:42, that post received two hits from a Google search on pirate planks.

Ten minutes later, I got an email:

From: Wendy White <Wendy.White@...>
To: Don Nunn
Date: Fri Sep 02, 2005 08:52:40 AM PDT
Subject: Food Critic Comments

Attachments: PR- APS DisSeafood Product Reviews-2005-09-01.pdf

Donnunn.Com,

Here’s an article that may help with your previous comments about our products, “What evile is this? Disney-branded fish sticks? gah!”

These products were produced to get kids interested in eating seafood at an early age, due to health benefits and recommendations by the Federal Government with the new Food Pyramid.

<<PR- APS DisSeafood Product Reviews-2005-09-01.pdf>>

Regards,


Marketing & Media Relations
American Pride Seafoods
19518 Alabama Hwy 69N
PO Box 436
Greensboro AL 36744-5263
www.americanprideseafoods.com
Imagine the Possibilities . . . Catch the Excitement!
American Pride Seafoods, Southern Pride Catfish and Frionor

The attachment is a press release noting the favorable comments received on these products from some food journalists out of Connecticut and describing the product’s full lineup, including the Pirate Planks I noted previously with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell; fish nuggets coated in cheddar-flavor crumbs with Mickey Mouse on the box; and Lilo & Stitch hawking an absolutely yuh-huh-hummy-sounding pizza-flavored “fish wedge” concoction.

The release was written yesterday; their PR folks are in overdrive apparently.

All I know is, they sold me just fine. I gotta get me some pizza-flavored fish wedges toot sweet.