Thursday, September 29


Wow .. what an exciting day I had.

First: I replaced a burned-out brake light, but it took two trips to the auto parts store to get it right. Turns out there's a brake light, and then there's an almost-brake light. Now, I have a spare of each. Now, where can I put them so I'll find them again when I need them -- in the beer fridge? Maybe I should put them among the other automotive trinkets I've collected over the years?

Second: I attended a meeting of a nearby homeowners association .. it's an area that's become attractive to recent immigrants due to low home prices. The people who've lived there for years don't care for some of the "casual maintenance attitude" of the newcomers, and they're planning a crackdown. The speaker made note to say "this is not a cultural issue, or a race issue" and maybe he's right -- the newcomers shouldn't park their trailers on the front lawn, or toss their used mattresses onto the curb 24x7, or have 13 cars in a 2-bedroom home, regardless of their native country.

Third: I remembered to post the updated Sundry on Thursday. Please, control your applause.

Wednesday, September 28

terror amidst the skyscrapers

I attended a meeting that started at 7pm in downtown Dallas. A fast-moving storm was en route from Fort Worth, but I'm guessing not all attendees Got The Memo about the change of weather. So, when the first thunderbolt hit (around 8pm) quite a few people looked around, wondering if we'd just been Struck By Terra-ists. I'm guessing those were the Republicans, who have been conditioned to Find Fear In Everything, All The Time. Several of us who Did Get The Memo sorta sighed and waited for the speakers to continue.

Judy Bob and I ran into one of their ilk last night at a local restaurant; the guy was pseudo-proud that his sole source of information is the Fair & (Mentally Un)Balanced Fox "News" Channel, and he was shocked that we didn't see the ACLU as a 12-headed monster bent on Destroying Us All. After all, Everybody Knows™ that To Be An American Is To Be Afraid, All Night Long.

Bonus Quiz #7: What are the Statistically Improbable Phrases in this blog entry?

Everybody Knows is a trademark of Fox "News"; Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Sunday, September 25

Darwin will be proven right .. again

No one (apparently) died in Texas as a direct result of Hurricane Rita. As a result, the next hurricane to hit us will kill hundreds (if not thousands) of Texicans. Why? Because the Rocket Scientists (no offense, NASA-Houston) will say
"why, remember when Hurricane Rita hit in September of `05? Ah tried to git outta town, but traffik was backed up fer mahls an mahls, and there warn't no gas nowhuhres .. I shoulda staid hoam!"
and The Next Time they will stay home, and they'll all die. This is what Darwin referred to as Natural Selection (the antithesis of Intelligent Design).

Saturday, September 24

yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Well, today's the day for The Weather Event (Hurricane Rita), and all indications are that it'll be A Big Snoozer here in Dallas. I've done my Due Diligence .. waddling into the yard, looking for anything that might blow away during a moderate wind (35mph). That amounted to about 3 things: wind chimes; wind spinner; lawn chairs.

10am : nary a drop of rain, and the winds are from the north @~5mph?

11am : spotted the Rita-related blogs on the Houston Chronicle site

2pm: went outside to fetch the snail mail. wind ~15mph? (no rain)

3pm: wind picked up: 30mph?

5pm: wind ~5mph (no rain)

5:20pm: I check the AccuWeather website, and it's now showing Tropical Storm Rita leaving Texas for Arkinsaw and Mifipi. I reckon' Rita decided not to stall over east Texas after all, and is now taking the long way to New Orleans.

Friday, September 23

a simpler time

I finally got around to Shaving The Beard today, and then called Bruce The Barber and asked if he'd had any Rita-related cancellations. Indeed, he had.
"There's an opening in 2 hours," he said. "Can you make it?"
You betcha. A barbershop's a good place to be when Something Big is on the way. You can hear the (sometimes weird) opinions of others as they come in, sit down for a cut, and tell their views about Stuff to anyone who will listen can overhear.

I heard about the woman who ran into Sam's Club yesterday with her dire prediction of impending doom: "There ain't agonna be no gas tomorrow!" she shouted (to no one in particular), and then she ran back outside, into the cultural abyss that is Addison.

I listened as several patrons groaned when they heard that Dallas may only get 2 or 3 inches of rain out of Rita's fury. They appeared to be hoping for an instant cure to the recent dry spell. Memo to the clueless: a hurricane is overkill for a drought.

Another of The Cutters said that, yes, indeed .. they've had Katrina Refugees from Louisiana come into the shop(pe) for a cut. "They talk funny," the cutter said, in her finest Texas ta-wang. I asked her if sales of hairspray would skyrocket, now that so many Rita-refugees from Houston are in town, and she affirmed: "yes, that'll probably happen" without understanding the joke*
* Houston women (in particular) love to keep their Big Hair maintained with an unnaturally large amount of hair spray. I suspect it has something to do with that city's (in)famous Humidity.
Alas, it was time to Pay The Piper and make my way home, past the long lines at the gas station where the marquee said "REGULAR $2.79". One day, I will look back upon this as A Simpler Time. Until then, I must feed Beta the Wonder Dog, lest she eat my carcass while I sleep.

Thursday, September 22

the view from 300 miles north

News item: the deadliest natural disaster in US history was the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas. There was no accurate death toll, but it was well above 5,000 people.

Fast forward 105 years ... per the Associated Press:
The last major hurricane to strike the Houston area was Category-3 Alicia in 1983. It flooded downtown Houston, spawned 22 tornadoes and left 21 people dead.
to which President Quagmire is reported to have smirked:
Bring it on!
You're doin' a heckuva job, Rita!
Mission accomplished!
President Quagmire then returned to playing with His Silly Putty™, just outside the watchful eye of His PuppetMaster™, Karl Rove.
Deep Thoughts #72, 73 and 74: I wonder how many photo ops they'll be staging in Texas? Will President Quagmire bring out His chainsaw, and go to work cuttin' the downed trees? Will He say anything in Spanish to the Mexicans who lose their El Caminos?
As to what happens here in Dallas, the latest guess is that Rita's remnants will wind up a hundred or more miles east of here, but then stall early in the week. Hence, we may get some strong winds Saturday evening and then rain for several days after that. Fortunately, my home is perched high atop Mount Dallas so the chances of seeing me waving from a rooftop with Beta the Wonder Dog by my side is slim-to-none.

Hey, at least Sundry on Thursday's been updated!
Disclaimer: this hurricane prediction, should you choose to accept it, will be disavowed by The Wonder Pets. This blog entry will self-destruct in 48 hours. Good luck. {queue hissing sound}

Wednesday, September 21

inhale, now hold ...

A few weeks ago, after Hurricane Katrina blasted New Orleans, a fundamentalist Christian group ("Repent America") said the hurricane was sent because of the approaching "Southern Decadence" (gay) festival, scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

Now that Hurricane Rita's about to blast the Texas coast, I wonder what good ole' Repent America will have to say about us Texicans? Probably that we deserved it for electing President Quagmire ("the incarnation of Satan in America") to a second term, huh?

Pardon me, while I hold my breath, waiting for their press release ...

Tuesday, September 20

duck and cover (4½ days from now)

I know, I know .. hurricanes aren't funny. But the dashed-red line showing the projected path of Hurricane Rita takes it here to Dallas by 2am Sunday. I wonder if I should begin perfecting my looting scavenging skills?

Speaking of not funny, here are two items I wandered across lately:

1- American diaspora - Katrina shows how people have migrated from New Orleans since Katrina

2- Chip Ward's article: Bush's Holy War on Nature

Sunday, September 18

with all due apologies to John Paul Jones

Gene Bob predicts .. that it won't be much longer before the Radical Right begins to turn on President Quagmire because He's getting carried away with Doing The Right Thing after Hurricane Katrina. This means His statements about spending "whatever it takes" to bring New Orleans back into civilization aren't going to set well, for the political party that Doesn't Do Social Programs (per their Prophet, Ronald Reagan ... may He rest in Peace).

Everybody Knows™ that The Regressives Eat Their Young, so don't be surprised when they start yanking President Quagmire's chain even more than they have in the past (trust me: they have not yet begun to yank).

Back to N'orluns: I heard someone say they'll probably take all those submerged vehicles, concrete and broken/moldy wood and dump them in the ocean! Doesn't it make a lot more sense to use them as landfill in those parts of the city that are below sea level? Well, okay .. maybe not the cars, with all their recyclable components. Isn't landfill how the California city of Newark was formed? What about learning some lessons from the Netherlandites? Granted, neither of those places is in Hurricane Country, so the levees are of a different scale, but .. you get the idea.

Everybody Knows is a trademark of Fox "News"; Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Saturday, September 17

how soon before I can vote for him?

News item (slightly modified):
The youngest son of Florida Governor John Ellis Bush ("Jeb") was arrested early Friday (16.9.5) and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest. John Ellis Bush Jr, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 0230 on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade. The nephew of President Quagmire was released on $2,500 bond for the resisting arrest charge, and on a personal recognizance bond for the public intoxication charge.
"Like uncle, like nephew", I always say.

Maybe Daddy Jeb (not to be confused with Uncle Jed) will sign him up for a couple years with the Florida National Guard?

Little known fact: Jeb Junior called his older bubba (George Prescott Bush) to bail him out of jail, but "Pee" told him to "Suck It Up!" and "Be A Real Man, like your Uncle Quagmire!" Ah, a tight-knit family.

Friday, September 16

first rule of restaurateuring

I lunched with Drew Bob today, but not after (re)discovering the restaurant row that parallels LBJ-635 in Irving (northeast of DFW).

We originally were going to meet at a "Classic Denny's" (a retro-1950's concept diner) but when I arrived waaay early I found a closed "Lone Star Diner" in its place. Another restaurant also sits idle on the western end of Market Place Drive .. the ones near MacArthur appeared mostly crowded during lunch. Location, location, location?

Since I had beaten Drew there by 30 minutes (!) or so, I had time to kill, and kill it I did! Here are the eateries along that stretch of dirt, in order from east to west: Whataburger; IHOP; Steak & Shake; Boston's (pizza); Buffalo Wild Wings; On the Border; Chili's; Razoo's; Lone Star Diner; A&W/Long John Silvers (combo). Across the street were a Sam's Club, a PetSmart and a Wal-Mart. We opted for Chili's, after briefly (not) considering the haute cuisine at Sam's Club (mmm/mmm .. those day-old hot dogs look divine!).

Unrelated #0: I loved the phrase "lobbying against puppies" in this news item: Charities are for Suckers. Now I'm all misty-eyed!

Unrelated #1: I watched an item on Democracy Now! with Rosa Clemente ("Educating, Organizing and Mobilizing the Hip Hop Nation!") which reinforces what I've seen of the rural South through my own white eyes: the smalltown police forces are mostly white and racist, which hasn't changed much since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. I wonder if that'll ever change?

Wednesday, September 14

Supreme Crescent

John Roberts gives me the willies. The heebie-jeebies. He reminds me of Some Scary Someone in my Long Distant Past, but for the life of me, I can't put my finger on it.

I can hardly wait until President Quagmire quips:
"You're doin' a heckuva job, Johnnie!"

Sunday, September 11

The Vanished City

I finally finished reading all 186 pages of Michel Mazor's The Vanished City: Everyday Life in the Warsaw Ghetto which I started what .. 3 months ago? Mazor wrote the book circa 1953, and the English translation was printed in 1993.

This was a difficult book to read for several reasons, including the subject matter; the author's style; and (undoubtedly) translation difficulties. That said, it's a very rare subject because I'm unfamiliar with anything like it : a firsthand recollection of what happened to the large number of Jews forced into such a small space by the Nazis, prior to their eventual deaths at the gas chambers.

The fact that this book exists at all is remarkable, given the obstacles. The author had to jump from a train bound for Treblinka, avoid capture until World War II ended, then have the presence of mind to commit everything to paper. Wow.

Saturday, September 10

compassionate conservatives, part 2

.. and the Pulitzer goes to: Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two San Francisco paramedics who were staying in the French Quarter for a convention, when Katrina came to visit. Be sure to read all the way to the end of page two. What they have to say is amazing.

unrelated: It seems that Tom DeLay (another one of Texas' Most Compassionate) asked some Katrina refugees if they were having fun "camping out" in the Astrodome .. as if losing your home, friends, and earthly possessions was like a week at Summer Camp. DeLay must be related to George HW and Barbara Bush. Why heck, I'm sure he opened his garage to a family or two .. compassionate guy that he is, trying to set a good example ...

Is sleeping in the Astrodome better than the slip road? Are there enough flats (with loos) and minders to go around? Anything to do besides play a thousand games of naughts-and-crosses? (for those BritSpeak-challenged, this English to English translator may be needed)

in the "fun reading" article for today, see James Ridgeway's Pumping Us Dry: Katrina tragedy is an absolutely perfect storm for oil companies

Friday, September 9

what was I thinking?

Texas Governor Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry is starting to regret his decision to accept so many refugees from Louisiana, after it was determined that 95.4% of the newcomers are registered Democrats!

Since voters don't declare a party orientation in Texas, that may not become apparent until after the next election .. time will tell. I'm hoping enough of them sit out the primaries to Vote For Kinky, but that's just me.

I suspect Perry and his cronies will attempt to change the voting laws so that those displaced won't be eligible to vote in Texas will be able to vote for their Louisiana representatives.

Thursday, September 8

compassionate conservatives

President Quagmire and His Daddy stop by New Orleans after "The Little Storm".

This photo (undoubtedly not modifed) is almost as priceless as the quip from Daddy's wife, Barbara:
"so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
Just goes to show, the Bush's Silver Spoons didn't drop far from the turnip truck.

Wednesday, September 7

Good, Better, Best (not applicable in Texas)

I was reading Good, Better, Best: How to Improve Gas Mileage and wonder how realistic that is in Texas. One item says:
Stay within posted speed limits
but I've known 17 people who've tried that, and none of them were alive at the end of the day. They were each executed by F350 drivers, who rode their bumpers (in the slow lane!) until their front bumper shattered the rear window of the car driving the speed limit. Another item says:
avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops by anticipating traffic conditions and driving gently
which is likewise comical. I've watched SUVs drive over the top of small Toyotas which didn't accelerate from 0-60 in 3 seconds.

Perhaps the FTC should come out with a special Texas version of that article?

Monday, September 5

Honoré: a name to remember?

I don't know a lot about this gent, but .. finally .. someone in New Orleans who looks like he can get things done: US Army Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina.

Aside: He's a "Three Star General" (aka Lieutenant General), one grade below General (4 stars) and one grade above a Major General (2 stars).

However many stars on his uniform, he appears to have done what others couldn't/wouldn't: take control of the situation. I admire that.

I suspect The Real Truth about what happened in New Orleans is somewhere in the middle of the ultra-liberal and the radical-right's reports. One branch of my dad's family landed in Gretna, Louisiana a few years ago. I later learned those relatives moved to Diamondhead, Mississippi (north of Bay St Louis) and some of their houses are in good shape while others are under water in New Orleans itself. Apparently that branch of the family (5 families total) have rendezvoused in Baton Rouge, at one of the daughter's homes.

Sunday, September 4

The Photo Op

Most disturbing (but not surprising) read of the day: ZDF News observation, 3 Sep 2005. Pity I don't spechen enough Deutsch to see if it landed on the ZDF website.

I'm guessing that President Quagmire Himself didn't have a clue it was all staged by The Regime, but maybe He did, and just doesn't care. Since He's a puppet and not a real President, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. By now, he's surely back in Washington playing with his yo-yo.

Actually, I'll bet he's spending all his time getting ready to name another Supreme Court nominee, now that Rehnquist has died. The CFRP will be appreciative, I'm sure. After all, how many Republican voters did you see at the Superdome last week? Me, neither.

Saturday, September 3

while Rome burned, Nero fiddled

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the human tragedy that's unfolding in/around New Orleans. I suspect it's the sound bites .. the anecdotes .. that I'll remember the longest. Things like:

Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues which questions President Quagmire's decision to spend money on His Oil War, versus going after Usama bin Laden and leaving a few coins for things like levee repair.

Other anecdotes, in no particular order:

Levee repair would've cost $250M
Flood drainage + New Orleans repairs may top $25B $200B
For those of you math wizards, that's 100x 1,000x more for the cure, than the prevention

One news story showed a frustrated semi-truck driver, who said he had a load of bottled water en route Monday but was told to park his rig until Thursday, when the Feds signed off on the paperwork.

Based on what I've heard about the filthy conditions in the Superdome, I wonder if they'll have to tear it down and rebuild?

Most of the looters appeared to be seeking water, food, shoes but the Louisiana governor says she wants a "shoot to kill" order (zero tolerance) enforced. And President Quagmire backs her up. Now there's compassion!

"Help Wanted" ad spotted:
Construction company hiring 1,000 people to help with hurricane clean up. $10/hr, 80-90 hrs weekly, food, lodging, transportation to area. Start immediately, could go on for 1-2 years
Heard somewhere else that the "disaster site" is equal to that of Britain.

and, last but not least:

While New Orleans drowned, President Quagmire fiddled.
(actual photo from Tuesday 30/8/2005, when he was in San Diego at a fundraiser)

There are more stories on the Times-Picayune (New Orleans newspaper) site.

Thursday, September 1

pity? lemme check the dictionary ...

In the past few days, I've received several emails from people I know casually, asking me to either boycott all gas stations on 9/1 or boycott specific brands "to send a message". Oh vey!
Someone once told me that it takes 21 days to change behavior (getting out of a rut) which I thought odd. I've never seen such a study, but then I haven't searched for it, either (talk about dry reading!). That said, let's assume I visit Brand Q station today instead of my usual Brand L station, but a couple days later, I revert because it hasn't become a habit. What did I prove?
The thing that frosts my bacon is that the people sending the messages seem to be the least likely to change their behavior with the gasoline price increases. Could they do something different, like combining trips (instead of coming/going 12 times a day, like one of my neighbors)? There are many others (car/vanpool; trade in your SUV for a more fuel efficient vehicle; walk/bicycle to places nearby) but they'll be lost on most folks, who love to blame things on The Global Conspiracy Against Them.

You may think that I have no pity on these folks. Well, hmm .. I guess you're right.