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Sat, Sep. 3rd, 2005 01:05 pm

In 2001, FEMA predicted a great likelihood of three major disasters to come: terrorism in a major city (such as NYC), a catastrophic hurricane in the Gulf, and an 8+ earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. Assuming these predictions were based on some sort of reliable science and evidence, when is our turn?

I've done a pretty good job of avoiding the television news this week -- the online and print articles have been more than enough. We were just in New Orleans a few months ago for the RedHat summit; we walked past the convention center several times, as well as through downtown and of course the French Quarter. Our path from the airport took us along the neighborhoods that are now under water and the freeways that now only carry convoys of rescue buses.

It is really clear to me that the great human loss falls upon the city, county, state and federal agencies whose job it is to anticipate, model and plan for such a crisis. True, the levee system in New Orleans was built to withstand a class 3 hurricane at most, but for years the possibility of a 4 or 5 has been discussed. Given that this country knew several days before the hurricane made landfall that there was a huge hurricane off the coast that was going to hit the Southern coastal states, there's no excuse for the delay in rescue and recovery. But hey, everyone knows we'll be hit by the Big One someday -- how ready are we?

And who's left behind? Poor. Mostly black. Lots of invalids, elderly and children. And they were supposed to mobilize to get out of town how? As someone who gets reamed annually for federal taxes, I'm pissed that the money I cough up wasn't applied rapidly enough to provide assistance to these folks -- my extended community. Even with all the claptrap about being Americans and sticking together, I think there's a silent majority in this country that thinks these folks deserved what they got. Or that they are nobodies, and their needs don't have to be addressed.

New Orleans is like a lot of tourist destinations (another example is Hawaii). The tourist friendly zone is a dot in a landscape of largely low income neighborhoods filled with people who are simultaneously reliant upon and resentful of monied visitors. These destinations are not necessarily pleasant places to live when you leave the prettified tourist area and get into the real character of the city. Much of what a visitor sees is a fantasy created for the vacation experience. The rest of the city is a hard place to live, with few jobs and what there are being low paying.

This event is showing us what is really going on in America, or rather in America's poorest places -- no matter what kind of happy association the rest of us might have with the city. It could be us. If Oakland had to be evacuated in 48 hours, I don't hold a lot of hope that our poor and otherwise less mobile folks would be taken care of. Unless of course, the rest of us pitched in -- each finding someone who couldn't get out on their own to hop into our cars. That's the kind of planning we just don't include when we talk about preparedness.

Current Mood: somber


Mon, Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:44 pm

Thank you Susie Bright, for this tip on how to use all those beautiful tomatoes that are available now...



Thu, Aug. 11th, 2005 02:37 pm

Here's a guestmap that someone set up...register to create your own guestmap where people can virtually leave a pin to show their locations.



Tue, Aug. 9th, 2005 09:34 pm

I'm in a confessional kind of mood...

- I never saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" until last Friday. It's awesome! Now I can't wait to see the new version and compare the two. I'm not sure how I missed the movie when I was little, since I have read most of Roald Dahl's books for children and adults. It might be related to the fact that...

- I have never seen most Walt Disney animation films like "Bambi" and "Sleeping Beauty." My parents were overprotective freaks and somewhere my dad got the idea that millions of kids were traumatized by the death of Bambi's mother. Somehow in my family it was ok to watch 60 Minutes, Benny Hill, Monty Python and the Twilight Zone but nothing from Disney.

(- BTW, there's a Twilight Zone that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid -- I mean, not sleeping for a few nights kind of scared. It was about a little girl who fell into a black hole under her bed. Everyone could hear her but nobody could see her in there. *shudder*)

- "Point Break" is one of my favorite films ever. I know Keanu Reeves is made of wood and overall it's a less then stellar story line but I just love it. Embarrassingly so.

- Green Day completely annoys me. Yes, even before their current ballad phase, I have been anti-Green Day. I even went to a picnic of theirs where they were hanging out with their kids and families. I wasn't even able to appreciate them as regular, everyday people. Part of it is an irritation with how they were labeled punk. Mind you, I never saw them at Gilman back in the day so what do I know. But everything I've ever heard by them on the radio IS NOT PUNK. And IT NEVER WILL BE. I realize that's not their fault, but it's too late.

Sorry, just had to share.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy


Tue, Aug. 9th, 2005 03:39 pm

Ssshhhhh don't tell anyone...I've been hideously distracted at work the last day or so because I finally decided to play with Google Maps. I'm converting the maps on my site from the very technical monster mapping software I used for my grad work. (Actually MapServer is fascinating to use, but I'm done with having to configure a bunch of weird libraries on my server. A full time job really puts a kink in those kinds of recreational activities.)

Anyways, if you are interested in mapping stuff check it out. There is a mapping API that shows you how to embed Google maps in your own web pages. This doesn't have to be brain numbing technical mumbo jumbo either -- if you have a good handle on HTML, you'll be able to get up and running pretty quickly.

The most challenging part of this is getting the coordinates for points that you want to map...let me know if you need tips or data for that.

Google does retain the right to put advertising on the map in the future. It will be interesting to see how that plays out and what they would integrate. I'm cautiously optimistic that it won't be too overloaded.

Current Mood: geeky geeky


Thu, Aug. 4th, 2005 11:45 am

...global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s.

[via the really long \. thread on GW's support of teaching ID in schools]

Current Mood: amused amused


Tue, Aug. 2nd, 2005 09:33 pm

I'm sure you creative people can tell me what to do with these...

I have a lot of corks from drinking a lot of wine. They are begging to be put to some higher creative purpose instead of just sitting around my house, rolling under the furniture and filling up drawers.

Most of the cork projects I see are kinda dull, like making cork pin-up boards or trivets. Or they aren't the kind of thing I'm likely to keep around the house, like cork wreaths.

Corks have several qualities that oughta offer more interesting ideas: they are modular, being roughly the same size and diameter; they can be drilled and therefore connected to each other easily; they are easily obtained, meaning you aren't likely to run out; and so forth.

So far I've thought of making a cork curtain -- like a beaded curtain but with corks. I'm trying to think of what else I could build with corks so if you have a brilliant idea do let me know. Maybe I'll send it to you for Christmas when I'm done ;)


Fri, Jul. 29th, 2005 03:53 pm

Or, random thoughts and recollections...

Thank goodness it is Friday. Summer is making me feel incredibly uninspired to do anything but play hooky: go to the beach, run off to the mountains, find a swimming hole. Sad to say I have been unable to do any of those things.


Last week I was walking down Grand and saw a very striking young man decked out in a long, rich wig of hair and a sort of satin shirt tight pants and heels ensemble. He was especially noticeable being about 6.5' tall and IMHO quite well put together. Nice makeup (not too heavy), well accessorized. Of course he was attracting a lot of attention -- all of it very negative. People snickering, showing expressions of outright disgust. It occurred to me how much it must SUCK to put so much effort into making yourself look fabulous in the mirror and then walk outside to be reacted to as some kind of hideous travesty against society.

Perhaps getting all that attention (even negative) is part of the identity, but I would get discouraged having to confront that day after day. I say, you go girl. Lord knows I don't put that much work into how I look before I leave the house. I'm sitting here slumped into my chair, picking sunflower seed shells out of my keyboard and picking lint off my sweater. I hereby appoint as my sexy femme proxy that guy on Grand -- go safely into rich fields of fashion on my behalf.


At work, my department is shrinking. What was once a healthy IT department is now this mutant amoeba splitting between marketing and finance. We've lost our leader and then we lost our 2nd in command -- both off to greener (less hassled, more appreciated) pastures. A few weeks ago I had to throw a little fit in response to the idea that I would be put under marketing. (Actually I just employed a bunch of technical jargon, thereby making management nervous and able to conclude that they should allow me to decide where I belong.)

It's irritating that the management of my organization don't know what I do. I mean, I don't really care on one level because they don't need to know the details. But considering that I successfully got a pay raise and a title change, you'd think they would be curious about how I spend my time. Part of it is a sense of being devalued but more than that it's a need to establish myself in a way where decisions can't be made about me without consulting with me. Gaaah. Work environments are so dysfunctional as a rule, but this one might take the cake. I do really enjoy the projects I have and the remaining people I work with daily, so as long as I'm mostly left alone and paid well I can keep on truckin'.


I haven't been to the movies in too long. Sometimes I am afraid that I am turning into a hermit, yet I always feel so busy running around with one thing or another. Yesterday I took a walk out at the park at the end of 7th street -- it is the furthest point of Oakland on the bay. People were fishing, riding their bikes and walking their dogs, all of which I would like to do but have various excuses for not doing -- haven't fished in years, my bike is too big for me, I don't have a dog. Lately I have been wishing that I could spend the summer On Golden Pond, but without the cranky Henry Fonda character. Just swimming, reading, falling asleep on the porch and sitting quietly on the lake.

I need to win the lottery, but I never buy tickets.


Does anyone else feel like we are overdue for an earthquake? Sorry to bring it up, but I was just thinking...


Fri, Jul. 29th, 2005 10:47 am

I guess I'm wishing it to myself, since nobody at my workplace knows what I do unless something breaks...


Current Mood: accomplished accomplished


Thu, Jul. 21st, 2005 03:59 pm

Fascinating! A British list of films everyone should see by the age of 14. Somehow I don't think the American list would include the subjects of homicide and cross dressing...

THE 10 CHOSEN BY THE BFI [British Film Institute?]

*1. Spirited Away (2001) - Animated Japanese film about gods and sorcerers

*2. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Musical classic

3. Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959) - French 12-year-old turns into a hellraiser

*4. The Night of the Hunter (1955) - Robert Mitchum as a serial killer in America's Deep South

5. Where is My Friend's House? (1987) - One of Iranian director Kiarostami's earlier works

6. Show Me Love (1998) - Coming-of-age tale of two Swedish girls

*7. Toy Story (1995) - Buzz Lightyear and Woody brought to life by computer animation

*8. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Steven Spielberg's sci-fi tearjerker

9. Bicycle Thieves (1948) - Italian film focusing on life after World War II

10. Kes (1969) - Gritty working class British drama


*A Day at the Races (1937) - Marx Brothers comedy

*The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - Oscar-winning Sherwood Forest action

Au Revoir les Enfants (1987) - World War II drama set in French boarding school

*Back to the Future (1985) - Michael J Fox's time-travelling adventure

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - Disney's musical masterpiece

La Belle et la Bete (1946) - French telling of Beauty and the Beast

Billy Elliot (2000) - Working class boy discovers a love of ballet

*Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Romantic tale of an uncommonly gentle man

Etre et Avoir (2002) - Portrait of a French school staffed by one teacher

Finding Nemo (2003) - Underwater animation

*It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Frank Capra's uplifting family feature

*Jason and the Argonauts (1963) - Greek hero and his adventures

*The Kid (1921) - Charlie Chaplin as a tramp

*King Kong (1933) - Giant ape thriller

Kirikou et la Sorciere (1998) - Animated African folk tale

Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953) - French comedy about a holidaymaker who wreaks havoc

*My Life as a Dog (1985) - Swedish boy abused by his family

*My Neighbour Totoro (1988) - Japanese animation

*Oliver Twist (1948) - Charles Dickens' classic

*The Outsiders (1983) - Francis Ford Coppola crime drama

Pather Panchali (1955) - Indian story of survival for a boy in Bengal

Playtime (1967) - Jacques Tati in a French farce

*The Princess Bride (1987) - Rob Reiner directed fantastical fairytale

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) - Aboriginal epic

*Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - Harrison Ford goes on a perilous quest

The Railway Children (1970) - Charming drama set in Edwardian England

*The Red Balloon (1956) - French parable

*Romeo & Juliet (1996) - Baz Luhrmann's modern take on Shakespeare's tragedy

The Secret Garden (1993) - Maggie Smith stars in the classic journey of discovery

*Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Gene Kelly musical

*Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937) - Classic animated fairytale

*Some Like it Hot (1959) - Classic comedy with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) - Tense drama set in post civil war Spain

*Star Wars (1977) - George Lucas's sci-fi epic

*To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Movie of the Pulitzer winning novel

Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902) - Vintage French space travel

*Walkabout (1971) - Children stranded in the Australian outback

*Whale Rider (2002) - New Zealand tale of love

Whistle Down the Wind (1961) - Hayley Mills finds Jesus on a farm

The White Balloon (1995) - Iranian tale

*Films I've seen (not necessarily by age 14)

[grabbed from the Daily Mail, via Robot Wisdom]

Current Mood: intrigued