Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Caffeine Cat Fiend

You know how I am! Don't even speak to me in the morning 'til I get my first cup o' joe. When they said this was good to the last drop, they weren't making it up.

Cup's clean now. No need to wash it.

Nope, it's not really coffee Alex is going after, It's full fat vanilla ice cream. I doubt he'd be interested in coffee, but wouldn't turn down a lick off the top of your longneck beer.

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Music and Cats - - - Friday Ark -

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some relief from the blast furnace

Finally we get a nice day! It felt sooo good today, it is only supposed to get in the low 80s today after getting up to 106 yesterday (4 days in a row of record-breaking heat), topped off with a traffic jam at evening rush hour, hottest part of the day, that made the trip home take 2 hours! 20 degrees cooler today, and feels great!

I almost feel giggly, even in spite of being buried in work and getting this back-handed compliment:
REQUEST: A custom Powerpoint template for a new project
COMMENT ON RESULT: I didn't expect anything this nice.

Not sure if they expected lower quality, and if so... why?? I swear... one of these days I'll get some respect around here... or maybe not. Not until I'm dead and gone. Just being gone doesn't do the trick.

Well, I am not going to let the bastards get me down. It's beautiful and cloudy, we are seeing Serenity on Friday, Boggy Creek Farm reopens Saturday with... and what did you expect, this is Austin... LIVE MUSIC. Mundi will be playing. My favorite quote from a Mundi show: "Most of our songs are about trees or flowers. This one is about flowers". I wonder if they have any songs about home-grown tomatoes?

Don't know what's up Saturday night yet. Then Sunday is Del Castillo in San Marcos. My husband may go to the big Lance Armstrong/Sheryl Crow free show, but I don't think he's decided. I am just not particularly a fan of Sheryl Crow's music (although I'm sure she's a very nice person) even though I admire Lance. Oh well, too much to do. Again.

- -

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In search of bread and water, morning not-so-routine.

The dryness is still driving the big boys inside looking for water. See this earlier post. There's been one in the kitchen for a week or so. He's fond of the sink basin and the apples in the fruit bowl. Uuuuugh!!! Yesterday I saw him first thing in the morning, but he escaped. He's a big 'un, about 3 inches! Then, I got in the shower, and even after checking the stall before getting in, there was another one in there with me. Nothing like being naked in a small enclosed area with a giant cockroach! Didn't know how I missed seeing him! Then today (after not seeing new buddy Cuka Rocka doing his apple-hopping in the kitchen), I again checked the shower stall before getting in, turned on the water... and there... squeezing into the shower through a drain hole was another big guy. What a sight! It was fit for a horror movie, except in that case there would have been hundreds of them! So my husband did all the wrangling duties, and they should be getting their taste of rainwater outside by tomorrow... we hope.

Fixing my lunch, I opened a fresh loaf of light bread, and I'm wondering if "light" means it lets light through, or if it just weighs less because it's hollow! I could wear this thing from a chain around my neck! There are many creative ways you could wear it, depending on your anatomy.

Enjoy your lunch, and if you're a giant cockroach, enjoy the apples before the eviction.

- -

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Red Cross Examination

I found this link on J-Walk [Charity Confusion], and it's something to be very concerned about. I'm watching CNN and it seems to be one story after another about people NOT being helped through the channels that we believe are there for that purpose. The Red Cross (I believe) is trustworthy, but I also think that they are generally perceived to be the ones who are responsible for going the distance toward fixing these people and putting them back on their feet, so the Red Cross gets the lion's share of the donations even though they may not end up being used for that purpose. In reality a lot of the money will stay in their coffers for the next emergency, and not applied toward the continuing survival needs of these people who need help now.

It's all very complicated and I don't know where donations should be going right now. Is it Habitat for Humanity? The Food Banks? I wish someone would really sort this out. Seems like the money always gets huge amounts squandered and wasted by corporations, faith-based charities, and who knows? I don't think the Red Cross is corrupt, I just don't know if most of us understand their whole function and what's missing from it, at least I don't.

addendum 9/29: from AP: Red Cross Criticized, Urged to Share Cash

I have the potential of turning into a Browncoat.

Serenity will be out Friday and I am pretty psyched. I haven’t even seen all the episodes yet, but am very hooked trying to geek up and get ready. Here are a couple of sites that will guide you through the world of Firefly/Serenity:

Firefly wiki


It’s best described as a space western, not a new concept, I know, but very well done. It’s got great plausible interesting characters, an evil corporation, and mystery. It happens in a universe that you can transport yourself into, and it’s not a show about special effects. George Lucas, are you listening?

Also, it’s got a great theme song by Sonny Rhodes, who is a Texas Bluesman (lyrics by Joss Whedon). Not sure if he still lives here, I think not, but this little piece sounds very Texan to me, blues with a western twang. Listen at this click.

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me...

I have my husband to thank for turning me on to this show, we always seem to like the same things. Also, the Flick Filosopher, who has a great cross-post from the Captain himself on her blog about a lowdown, clueless comic book guy. Austin has a Serenity event, Alamo Rolling Road Show style with stars on hand and live poetry, on Wednesday... but if you want to go and don't have tickets it's too late. Sold out.

- - - -

Monday, September 26, 2005

Not that cross over Las Cruces

Lawsuit seeks removal of crosses from Las Cruces city logo

OK, I am an agnostic, an atheist (yes, they are different), and a Unitarian Universalist. I am against all those Ten Commandments monuments being on Government or public property and prayer in school and the Pledge of Allegiance having “under God” in it. I object to being asked to swear on a Bible and say “so help me God”, being required to believe in a diety to hold public office, and all that kind of related stuff – I am for the separation of Church and State, and freedom of religion or freedom from religion if so desired…

But I’m not so sure about this case. The name of the town is “Las Cruces”. It means “The Crosses”. The logo for the city has crosses in it. They don’t really look like a religious symbol to me, they are stylized and it kind of looks like two crosses, not three. I’m not so sure that this graphic is portraying a religious message that those other previously mentioned monuments and such.

Whether or not Jesus was real, and whether his manner of death has religious meaning (there are also theories that he survived the cross, but that's a totally different topic), we know that crosses existed and that many, many people died on them throughout history. It’s a cold hard fact. There has always been repression, cruelty and war.

It is also a fact that many gravestones were in the shape of crosses, and this practice goes back to the Celts (or even before? I am not an expert on this by any means)

This page provides a brief history of the city, including how it might have been named.

Now that there was a town, it needed a name. People chose Las Cruces but where the name comes from is the subject of some disagreement. The most popular theory is that sometime during the 1700s, a bishop, a priest, a Mexican army colonel, four trappers and four choirboys were attacked near the Rio Grande and only one choirboy survived. He put up crosses at the site and the area became known as El Pueblo del Jardin de Las Cruces, or City of the Garden of the Crosses.

Another theory holds that crosses in the area marked the sites of various Apache attacks. This is similar to yet another theory that holds that in 1830, Las Cruces was the site of an attack on 40 or more travelers from Taos during which none of the travelers survived.

The most peaceful theory is that the name is simply the Spanish translation for crossing or crossroads.

Anyway, this is the least objectionable case I've come across of religious symbols being used on government property or identity, and I'm usually fairly hard-nosed about it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Chillin' in ridiculous heat

Rita left us completely unscathed weather-wise in Austin, except for providing a nice breeze for outdoor activities, which was most welcome in this searing heat.

The festival in Waco with Del Castillo and the Jug Band that I had been planning was cancelled. Waco was originally right in the path of the inland storm track before it turned eastward, but I doubt they ended up with more than just a little wind and rain. The other non-weather Rita situation we have in Austin and all over east and central Texas is that we are out of or very short on gasoline. Austin was already packed with evacuees from Katrina and then Rita, plus we've got just a few folks in town for that little shebang, the ACL festival.

This is our first time to not go to the ACL festival. (My 2004 recap and pics are linked from this page) Usually we have gotten lucky and gotten the super-cheap early-bird tickets, but that didn't happen and we didn't care to pay the high-prices for something destined to be overly crowded and possibly overheated (as it has been way too hot for 3 out of the 4 years they've had it, the other year it was cooler and raining. I have one word to say to the people who put on this show: October... make that 2 words: late October. Forget September. Ugh.) On Sunday afternoon as I post this, here's the current reading, just a degree or so hotter than yesterday. They just said on News 8 Austin that ABIA (the airport) just broke the heat record with 108. September. It's the new August.

Instead of ACL we went down to the Pecan Street Festival, the freebee they have on 6th Street. had lunch at a great new Korean restaurant, Koriente, which has lots of veggie (vegan even) selections, healthy and low fat options. Some people pics from Pecan Street. On the left is a street musician named "19th Street Red", and on the right is a living statue. He scared the total crap out of a girl passing by when she saw him move. She screamed!

At Pecan Street we saw Dave Sebree, who is one of the best guitarists in Texas. He is president of the Austin School of Music and plays very few gigs, so it was a real treat to see him. I had seen him play acoustic a couple of times before at a private party, very informal, and he is awesome. He's very melodic, a little jazzy here and there, kind of in the same mode as Eric Johnson, Van Wilks and maybe Steve Morse. Beautiful stuff. You can listen to a song of his by going to this page, and under ALL FACULTY select David Sebree. (It's a flashy site so I can't give a direct link, and the navbar is a little tricky but worth it. Lots of other nice samples from other musicians there too). His final song was a rockin' cover of Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick.

In the evening we went to the Alamo Drafthouse and saw "The Corpse Bride". It was really wonderful, very funny, great characters! Cutest spider and maggot I've ever seen. Recommended!

After that we went to Momo's for a late set with the South Austin Jug Band. Watched them for 2 hours and ran out of steam. We were the old folks in the crowd, it was 1:30 a.m., we'd been at it since 11 a.m. (now technically the previous day), and were beat.

Monday it's supposed to be nearly, if not just as hot as today, then some clouds should be rolling in taking us down in the low 90s. I hope so.

- - -

Friday, September 23, 2005

Reckless on Thursday

On Thursday I finally got off my butt and went to an outdoor event, stifling the whiny gremlin on my right shoulder telling me it's too hot or I've got too much work to do. (OK, he's telling the truth, but it's still whining)

Besides, it's always perfect weather at Shady Grove on Thursday night when they have the Unplugged shows. We waltzed in just before 8:00 when the music starts, and got 4th row seats!! Not sure how that happened. I think it must be magic.

I think I had a better time at this event than at the Erwin Center the night before where there were a few bigger guns. Shady Grove has an intimate back-porch atmosphere which is just great, and Reckless Kelly is just a really good band to see live! I'm not as familiar with them as I'd like to be, I've seen them just a couple of times. I think they are really more famous outside their Austin hometown than here. Check them out sometime, and Shady Grove too.

- - -

Oil Strike... I mean Spare

A few elements of the Religious Right have suggested that Hurricane Katrina happened because God was angry at low-life sinners and went all Sodom and Gomorrah on New Orleans. Well, we expected that from them, didn’t we? Hell, I guess those folks think that now He’s gunning for the ones that got away to Houston, trying to finish the job.

Seems to me, if I was going to create a plausible myth about why God is in a destructive mood, it now seems to make more sense to say that God is pissed about all the oil refineries! Makes you wonder why the Higher Being would keep taking aim in this general area. Einstein said “God does not play dice”. Well, maybe He prefers bowling.

(oh please don’t think I’m actually forming a theory here, I’m being facetious... besides, I don't even believe there's a big guy out there aiming stuff at our heads. Humans are destructive enough of the earth, themselves, and each other without needing outside help, just my humble opinion)

Feline Friday - You lookin' at me?

Who the hell are you? Only one cat is allowed in here right now... and you're lookin' at him Buster!

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at - - - Friday Ark -

Thursday, September 22, 2005 I prefer Action movies to Chick Flicks

You Are 60% Boyish and 40% Girlish

You are pretty evenly split down the middle - a total eunuch. Okay, kidding about the eunuch part. But you do get along with both sexes. You reject traditional gender roles. However, you don't actively fight them. You're just you. You don't try to be what people expect you to be.

Snagged from The Goober Queen

Willie, Bob, Eric, Patty and Lance

Wednesday night was spent at Willie Nelson’s hurricane Katrina benefit, with proceeds going to the Red Cross just in time for Texas to need them after Rita blows through. It was to start at 6:30 (super early!!) and after a frenzied time trying to get there and get parked, we got in our seats about 5 minutes before it started. Good thing too, because the first act was Eric Johnson, and I would have been pissed with myself if I had missed him. His set was very LOUD! He was definitely set up to rock an arena, and he did that with only a couple of equipment glitches that had him muttering something off-mic. For those keeping up with such matters: light orange shirt, black pants, shaven.

Bob Schneider (just call him “Bob”) and his Bluegrass Massacre was next. We are not Bob fans but he always has a rockin’ awesome band, and this one is no exception. Warren Hood is one of the two fiddlers, and Jeff Plankenhorn is on guitar, Bruce Hughes on bass of course. Patty Griffin gave a stunning performance accompanied only by her guitar. I really think I like her minimalist style the best. Her voice is like a perfect diamond, there’s no need to accessorize it. I really think all the synth guitar, horns, etc. that she uses with full band or recording are too much. What a wonderful voice, and one of the best songwriters anywhere.

Next up were the Flatlanders who played a great set, and Robbie Gjersoe is fantastic on guitar! Always a treat! One of the best sidemen in town and that’s saying a lot. Jimmie Vaughan followed, with a guest spot from Lou Ann Barton. Then, for the first time, I got to see the great Ray Price! He’s rather old (almost 80) and has lost a little of his vocal skill but still sounded wonderful. He had a huge band (with three fiddles!!) but his voice is the star of the show. The Neville Brothers have at least partly moved to Austin in the wake of Katrina, and we are going to be getting lots of chances to see them in better venues. They put on a good show and a really loooong set. They’ve got a great sax player!

There was a special guest to introduce Willie: Lance Armstrong! He talked to the crowd a bit. Yaaaaay!!! We stayed for only about 2 Willie songs as it was very late for a weeknight.

OK, charity causes aside now, I’ve obviously got no beef there. This town is awesome for charity causes, and this time they couldn’t be too picky with venues on such short notice.

But... [rant] I am really not into stadium and arena shows, especially the ones with reserved seats, especially if they have the posh VIP bunch at the front who are more impressed by being VIPs than with the music. There was no place to dance and the crowd was dead anyway (with a few exceptions). I could probably have left my seat and danced over by the security guards at the entrance (not really fun). The Neville Brothers got people to stand up and dance a bit, but security was keeping the aisles clear so you weren’t allowed to dance anywhere but in front of your chair… uptight… not too outasight though. I am just a person who prefers clubs and general admission amphitheaters. You’re probably a big fan if you got there early enough to be in front, you love the music or the band, you really want to see the fingers on the frets, what’s on the pedal board or what’s written on the setlist.

You’re not there because you can spend $100 for a show, then plop in your folding chair waiting to be entertained – or maybe you got your front row tickets as a perq of some kind, a favor for a favor, schmooze for schmooze, and don’t even know or care who’s playing. Those people hate being sweatily jammed together by the stage in a dirty club where there’s no room to be served drinks and your pretty shoes will be subjected to broken beer bottles and the beer they contained (not to mention the one that got spilled down your back) [/rant]

This show had a decidedly different feel than the Tsunami Relief show that Willie headed back in January. That one was at the Austin Music Hall (and it’s on DVD if you want to see it for yourself). It was general admission, and a really rockin’ good time. Performers mixed it up, played/sang during each other’s sets.

There are a few reasons this one may have felt different besides the arena rantings, for one thing, the ACL festival is coming right up and people are more focused on saving their money for that – or – they’ve already been to a bunch of benefits (there have been a load of them) – or – people are much more personally affected by this: the Nevilles are here because they lost their homes with Katrina, now Rita is heading to Houston so there is much more relief and sheltering that will need to be done soon, and it’s right here at home.

Oh yes, and the show in Waco on Saturday with the Jug Band, Malford Milligan and Del Castillo has already been Rita’d. I think that’s good planning on their part. It was right in the path of the storm and they are going to need the indoor spaces for evacuees and supplies.

Take care everyone. Stay safe and hold on to loved ones and strangers. We all need each other now.

- - -

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Despair

No offence intended for my genius or engineer aquaintences.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

They should have included "Q"

It looks as though this is such a bad hurricane year (and you thought LAST year was bad!!) that they may run out of names. Here is the list of names already laid-out for Atlantic Cyclones. Looks like I get my turn in 2010.

Here comes Rita!!

Sol still rules! But now it's looking like Central Texas will under the influence of Rita next weekend... and I don't mean "margarita"... well her too, but...

People at the ACL festival (or at other outdoor festivals, like me) should bring some rain gear. My little festival in Waco (with the South Austin Jug Band and Del Castillo) might even get cancelled since it's a freebee anyway. It depends on whether or not it's raining sideways.

- - -

Monday, September 19, 2005

We'll hoist ye over the yardarm, ye lily-livered sea bass!

A long walk off a short plank to the scurvy dogs who vandalized the statue of Maria atop the Taco Xpress. Shiver me timbers!

Not a strong enough sentiment? Try these. Arrrrrrr
- - -

Don't be fooled, mateys!!!! Arrrrrrr

A load of lovely pictures of storms right out of a sea-captain's nightmare have been sent around the net... many many times by all manner of persons! Even the scholars what arght to know better has passed these along as bein' that wench Katrina.

Ain't true!! The bloke what took 'em is that landlubber Mike Hollingshead in a place called Nebraska! Way back in 2004! I seen these shots before meself. Right lovely. He's also got plenty o' shots of scabrous dogs... cats too! So don't take any wooden nickels, may the wind be in your sails, and don't forget to blog like a pirate!

- -

Sunday, September 18, 2005

September 19 = Talk Like a Pirate Day!

- -

Fall? What is falling, exactly?

Well, I really wimped out this weekend! It is mid-September and the temperatures are still near 100. I've had a "stay shady and cool" attitude instead of the "be tough and sweat it out" one I've had in the past. There were so many things going on... so many benefit shows and even free bashes that I wanted to go to.

Friday I took a half-day off thinking to go to the 6th Street to Bourbon Street benefit... ended up coming home, looked at other people's cat-blog entries, then took a nap. We ended up at the movie house (guaranteed to be ridiculously air-conditioned) watched War of the Worlds for the second time.

Saturday, it was either going to be Idlewild at the Parish, a show with doors at 10 and an opening act, or Grupo Fantasma at the Nutty Brown, an outdoor show. I got one of my famous tension headaches and after a lot of whining we stayed in all night.

Sunday (today) we were going to choose between all-day shows at Jo's Coffee and Central Market, both outdoor shows. Went to Jo's for lunch, then headed home to enjoy the AC for the rest of the evening. It was 99 degrees today (a tie for the record high for the day), and the forecast for the rest of the week looks nearly the same every day. Next Saturday I want to go to Waco from mid-afternoon until late, so I hope it cools down but it's not supposed to.

I know I am being very whiny and non-Texan about all this. I have lived here for going on 6 years and eventually I expect that I will be able to refer to this time of the year as Fall... but nothing is falling you know. Not leaves, and not temperatures. It's gosh-darn silly and ill-informed to call this Fall. [sigh] I need to toughen up and get back out there.
- - -

Cacti and honeysuckles

Look at our pretty Texan yard! My husband is a really good gardener and braves the elements everyday to keep it looking like this. We favor native plants and like the "wild" look. I'm not sure there's any such thing as a weed, especially if it gets a flower on it at some point. We've been known to dig up grass and plant "weeds", heh heh. By "braving the elements" I don't just mean the heat. As I was taking these pictures, mosquitoes were eating me alive. I am talking SWARM. No one has been able to figure out where they are coming from. We keep all the water-bearing vessels dumped out or changed daily. We put in a screened porch last year, best investment EVER! Those little light specks you see on the agave are fresh raindrops.
- - -

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dark and Weary World

Here's a great new release this week! South Austin Jug Band, Dark and Weary World. It's not a dark and weary album at all. If you like bluegrass and swing, this is great stuff, and very well-recorded! The band has been through some big personnel changes since we first started seeing them, but they have recovered and changed their style accordingly. All great players, their big feature now are the 2 dynamo fiddle/mandolin guys, and great guitar as always. Good songwriting! Check them out, they are great live.

- - -

Feline Birthday Friday

Happy Birthday to Henry!
Best darned cat in the whole darned world.
14 years old.
Don't know his real birthday, this is just a guess. Henry was a rescued alley kitten, trying to survive for who knows how long in St. Louis in February! He has been pampered ever since. Looks like he's going to sleep through his own party, but nearby Duncan is wide awake, and asking "Ummm... you gonna eat that?"

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Watermark - - - Friday Ark -

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Maggie deserves better, don't you think?

They are building a treadmill for a zoo elephant in Alaska. Her name is Maggie and she's from Zimbabwe. She was too heavy at ~9,000 lbs so they have had her on a diet combined with exercise for about a year and they think she's lost 1,000 lbs.

This is a sad story. First of all, she's in a zoo. Second, she's alone as her female companion died in 1997. Elephants are not solitary animals. Third, she lives in Anchorage. Poor Maggie! No wonder she let herself go! Where's the quality of life?

I have mixed feelings about zoos. I've enjoyed visiting them, and sometimes they gather valuable information from studying zoo animals, but basically most zoos are just prisons and for the most part I don't think they should exist. I mean, we cringe at those roadside zoos and snake farms, but going to a big city zoo is family entertainment. Maybe it's because the roadside zoos (at least the ones in Texas) don't have penguins. That would be equivalent to keeping a lone elephant in Alaska. People are strange...

The zoo in Austin is an exception, I think. Most, if not all of their animals are rescues. They've got everything from failed pets to ex-Circus animals. I will NEVER go to a Circus that includes animals unless I'm there to protest it. They are just wrong!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Eliza does Austin proud.

I was so proud to hear Eliza Gilkyson on NPR this afternoon! They were featuring her song Requiem which is on her latest CD Paradise Hotel. It's a song that she wrote after the Asian tsunami, but it's very appropriate for right now with the grief that people are feeling. It's an absolutely beautiful song, and I have to say that this CD is fantastic! One of my new favorites. You can hear the song on their site at this link, and while you're there, have a listen to Hiway 9, a powerful political song. She is a treasure.

- - - -

How do they do that? heh heh

Go to, type in "failure" and click "I'm Feeling Lucky".

Shallow movie review of the week, Heaven's Gate

We finally saw "Heaven's Gate" (now more famous as a bizarre suicide cult) which has a Tomatometer splat reading of 47%. I've always been curious about it, wondering how it could really be all that bad, and we wanted to get a look at local musician Stephen Bruton in it. During the filming, Michael Cimino's budget virtually put United Artists out of business. It's loaded with great actors, cinematography is good, "The Deer Hunter" is one of my favorite movies ever, what went wrong with this?

First of all, it needs English subtitles -- for the English language. Accents are sometimes very heavy, and entire conversations happened while I was just wishing I knew what they were saying. (Wow! That's a pretty good Irish accent... Huh? What?)

To us it was hard to tell who some of these people were and why they were there, and I'm sure someone could just explain all that stuff to me but I think the movie is supposed to do that. So we ended up feeling clueless and dumb instead of... whatever we are supposed to be feeling for these characters... which was not much.

Kris Kristofferson's character, which I think was supposed to be a good guy, in the end turns out to be a dick who should have suffered everyone else's fate. And I shouldn't say this, but young John Hurt reminded me a LOT of Queer Eye's Carson. Stephen Bruton played a band member (big stretch!!) and I would never have recognized him in a million years of doing nothing but watch "Heaven's Gate".

In 3 hours, a lot more could have been accomplished. Also watched this week: "Donnie Darko", which we liked much better. Tonight it's "Bush's Brain" and tomorrow our taped season return of "House".

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm checking for pods.

Blood for oil... again... not to mention environmental catastrophe

Now that the cleanup is beginning, I wonder what will be done in the way of rebuilding New Orleans. I have found these two articles very interesting, they have been passed around a lot: the National Geographic article Gone With the Water published in 2004, and the Scientific American article Drowning New Orleans by Mark Fischetti from 2001. These are fascinating reads. (click the title bar if my links don't work for some reason. It's a link to the entry on both items)

Excerpts from these articles:
A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city.

It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however--the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level--- more than eight feet below in places--- so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't--- yet.

The area was undoubtedly sinking, the articles say that the delta was sinking at a rate off an acre every 24-33 minutes, or 25-30 square miles a year. What was causing this? Is this a natural disaster or a man-made one? Even without the bunglings of Bush and FEMA, it's both.

The soil will naturally compact and sink, then spring floods would build up soil deposits. That is what nature wants, but industry and commerce have re-engineered everything with levees, canals and pipelines.

Former petroleum geologist Bob Morton, now with the U.S. Geological Survey, noticed the increased loss of wetlands during peak oil and gas production and discovered that the extraction of these things was a major cause of the slumping land.
--"When you stick a straw in a soda and suck on it, everything goes down," Morton explains. "That's very simplified, but you get the idea."--

There is an excellent program on New Orleans that is playing on the History Channel now which is all about the levees, the science, the industry and the reasons why. In fact, I was writing this post when it came on, and since it's so late now, I am taping it to watch later. Coincidence!

Anyway, it pains me that when New Orleans is rebuilt, the same dangerous scenario will again threaten the people living there. I wonder if Halliburton and the others are taking those people's lives into consideration? Something needs to change here, and I'm not sure exactly what, how to do it, or how much it will cost. Hoping for the best, but not expecting it.

- -

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bug blogging

It's finally raining here! Everything but the cactus has been withering, and we take a xeriscapist attitude toward the outdoors, if a plant is not supposed to grow here and can't take the extended periods of 100 degrees and sometimes no rain (...and give me a break, weather-people! If it's 97 that's hot enough to be a milestone of it's own. Stop telling me it's going to be cooler today when the high is expected to be 99! geeeeez louise!!! ---weather-rant over) then we will say our sad goodbyes. Better luck to the seeds.

We've been seeing quite a few of those biiiiiiiig roaches in the house. You know those 2 to 3 inch long guys that fly? This picture is about actual size, not sure if it's the exact species but the size is right. When I was living on the Gulf coast of Florida we saw MANY more of them, really... Texans shouldn't even complain... but here I go. heh heh. They seem to be coming in looking for water. hmmmm... that must be why they're called "water bugs" (also "palmetto bugs"). The data on them says that the rain will drive them indoors even more, so we might as well brace ourselves for company. There was one underneath the clear plastic cutting board late the other night, the board has little legs that lift it up where water can pool under it. Uuuuugh!! The other thing they like to do is walk upside down on the ceiling, which are too high to allow upside-down bug catching, and they could just drop down on you in your sleep from there. We don't kill them (except for using Chem-free pest control periodically, they have the least toxic methods and I mainly want to rid the house and yard of scorpions, fire ants and termites. The other bugs, unfortunately are collaterol damage). When we find one of these guys, we catch it and toss it outside.

You would think that cats would kill and eat something big and tasty like that, but that's not what has happened in our case. Two cats encountered one on the screened porch last week, Alex the little skinny cat made a beeline for the house, and big Duncan was oblivious to it, letting it crawl right under his tail. Well, actually I'm glad they don't want to eat them. All their food is expensive special or prescription stuff, which is gross enough on it's own, and I'd just as soon not get any kitty kisses after that. Errrg.

- -
EDIT 11/11/05: This post is proud to be included in The Carnival of the Cockroaches #4 at Blog d'Elisson!

Friday, September 09, 2005

What Would Willie Do? He 'd help out.

What: Neighbors in Need benefit concert. All proceeds from the concert will go to the Red Cross Katrina Relief effort. (title bar has link)
Who: Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Jimmie Vaughan, Lucinda Williams, Eric Johnson, Patti Griffin, The Flatlanders, Bob Schneider and more
Where: Frank Erwin Center
Date: Wednesday, September 21
More benefit concerts scheduled than I can keep up with! This is the biggie. I'll bet they make a DVD of it like they did of Willie's tsunami relief show (where we make an appearance during What would Willie do?. I usually cry when I listen to Patty Griffin, but this time I think Lucinda will be the one to do me in. Eric is included, so I'm thrilled about that too. I can't imagine the Neville Brothers not being there either, since they are new Austinites.

Update 9/14/05: Sure enough, the Neville Brothers have been added to the lineup. We got 11th row seats. Lucky us!
- -
- -

Coverage or Cover-up?

US Agency blocks photos of N.O. dead. Controversial subject, but worthy of discussion.

An agency [FEMA] spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats and that "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect."

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.

OK, that's a point well-made, especially about the space in the boats, but isn't it the job of the press to create an accurate picture of events that are happening?

...and then there's the censorship/propaganda aspect of doing that, illustrated by this statement in the article: "The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light."

I would personally rather have the "red-pill" version of things, no matter how bitter it is.

I found this German photojournalist site (through SOMEONE'S blog, can't even remember which one) that is really QUITE graphic! The journalists were definitely right down in the heart of things, and pulled no punches for the sake of anything. It's a little confusing here and there navigating all the slides especially since the text is German (you can translate the site through Babelfish, which will create a few funny translations, but the photos are un-funny enough to balance that out unfortunately)

Here is one place to start which has the background info on the photographer's activities, and this page presents a navigation menu of most of the slide shows. Brace yourself though, this is a bit more graphic than some of the stuff on CNN.
- -

Friday Cat Happy Hour

Do I smell catnip???

Wheeeee!!!! My head's upside down!!

I think I freaked myself out there...

Whoa!! Everything got blurry!

Hey, what's up? Did I miss something?

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival - - - Friday Ark -

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Google Satellite images

Google maps (click the link or title bar, then zoom) now has an extra setting when you are viewing the upper Gulf Coast area, this is in addition to Map, Satellite, and Hybrid. It's called Katrina. They have a relatively small area online now, and you can just toggle between the different settings: before, after, with roads, without...

We have a permanently changed nation.

- -

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Well Fiddle-Dee-Dee!

From (click the title bar for the article)

Claim: Former First Lady Barbara Bush said of the war in Iraq: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Status: True.

I'm having trouble describing my feelings for this woman right now. She's not a bitch, or a pig, not to me. That would be insulting to certain animals... animals I like. I decided to try my favorite insult generator, the Abuse-a-tron. Here are a couple of things it came up with:

"You steal food from the cat’s dish, you drooling, toe jam kissing, armadillo jumping, chemically-based cub of a malodorous pervert."

"You wag your tail like your mother, you tick-plagued, sewage slobbering, cat romancing, discognizant heir of a raving hobo."

heh heh... it's getting there... actually that second statement might be a better description of Duhbya.
- -

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let them eat cake, but we don't want them crumbing up THIS place.

Barbara Bush must have been in a cruel and insensitive mood when she made these statements on NPR after touring the Houston Astrodome which is filled with disaster victims:

LISTEN to Marketplace archive

"Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

"What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And 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."

This reminds me of when I was young and we visited my great-aunt who lived somewhere in the deep south (I think it was Mobile, AL or thereabouts). She made a remark that I will never forget. She stated that black people (and used a term now viewed as derogatory instead of "black people") were much happier and better off "when they was slaves" (sic).

I wonder if even one of the evacuees in Houston would consider themselves to be in a situation that is working very well? So these people, because they some were poor and/or black, they are fine and dandy now, living on handouts and charity even though they've lost EVERYTHING but their very lives? What a racist and elitist comment.

I guess just because you dress them up (in pearls) doesn't mean you can take them anywhere. Foot-in-mouth disease must run in the family.

So much for the "let them eat cake" part of the story, listen to the audio file about how the "don't move here" sentiment you sometimes run into in Texas might be seeping over into the evacuee situation.
- -
- -

Giraffe spotting

If you stare at the above picture long enough, you will see a giraffe.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Not a quiet week at all

Wednesday (the 31st) we went down to the anti-war rally with Cindy Sheehan. There were some powerful speeches and musical pieces performed by Eliza Gilkyson and the Flatlanders. It was larger than other rallies I've been to here and I'm thinking that maybe the tide is turning when it comes to the way people feel about ending this war and about this president, esp. in the light of the government's handling of the Katrina disaster. At the very least, people feel that they (the powers-that-be) need to take care of the things that are most important first, the lives and well-being of our people. Priorities are horribly screwed up here.

We have several thousand refugees here in Austin, so this is more than close to home. I will probably be volunteering to help with the donation process, or whatever else they assign me to do. This is a long-term process and is going to need lots of helping hands and $$$. This whole thing is just heartbreaking, it's unimaginable.

On a more cheerful note, we had a nice music week, with 2 fantastic Greencards shows at the Saxon on Friday and another in Kerrville on Sunday. We had a great time at all of them. Had the opportunity to introduce Eric to a couple of the Cards so that was a little highlight after the Saxon, and Robert Earl Keen graced the stage as a surprise guest in Kerrville for a couple of songs. A little bird had told me that he'd be there so I wasn't surprised, heh heh. This was the Wine and Music Festival, a bit smaller than the more well-known Folk Festival. Very nice and mellow vibe.

The problem with going to Kerrville is the same as the nice part of it -- from Austin it's all backroads -- very pretty in daytime but treacherous at night. There were lots of deer on the sides of the roads waiting to cross, waiting for the headlights, that is. We had one encounter which luckily only resulted in the deer's foot glancing off the back of the car. We didn't even get a scratch out of it and I hope it was the same for the deer. FRIGHTENING!! I hate night driving. Didn't get home until 3 a.m. so half the day Monday was spent sleeping. A good way to spend Labor Day, huh?
- - -

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mixed Blessing

Every time there's a big disaster that requires charity donations, there are always a large number of choices. During the tsunami relief cycle, it became evident that some charities were more efficient, or perhaps reliable than others, and then there are always some that are outright fraudulent. I personally stick to the secular ones who don't have an ulterior motive of evangelizing or otherwise conducting some kind of religious crusade... as though converting or assimilating the needy people is part of "helping" them.

For what it's worth, I have just learned (via J-Walk) that Operation Blessing, one of the charities that has popped up on the screen on CNN and others, is one of Pat Robertson's projects, and has received big funds under Bush's Faith-Based Initiative, apparently even though he criticized the fund.

For all I know, OB is doing a fine job of helping people out without crusading or pocketing the money... but Pat Robertson has been on my sh*t list for a long time, and personally I think I will stick with the Red Cross.
- -

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Friday Grand Chat Noir

This is Samson, (aka Jax). He's not shaved!! He compulsively overgrooms that big ol' belly and other parts, tough habit to break but we're trying to keep him wiped down with Bitter Apple. He was an awful mess when we rescued him last year, so the few bald spots still left are a fairly small problem. He's a sweet and hilarious sack o' snuggles.

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival - - -