Thursday, September 29, 2005


I got to bed late last night, then read for too long. Too many books to choose from: Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate, and a book Ruth lent me called The Other Boleyn Girl (Phillippa Gregory). Sleep hit me at about 5, then for no good reason at all, retreated at the indecent hour of 7. When I realized the time, I fell back into a stuporous sleep, the result of off hours, fighting a cold, and too many cigarettes in too short a time last night. Ugh.

I woke up thinking at least it would be a pretty day. When I was fading in and out of sleep earlier this morning, I could see that it was one of those dramatic Septemeber days when the wind is whooshing and clouds go whipping across an otherwise sparkling blue sky.

By the time I coaxed myself into getting up, the dramatic September morning was degenerating into a damp grey nearly noon. The wind was no longer content to push fluffy clouds around. It was bending trees at impossible angles, battering lawn furniture against walls, and tossing a plastic watering can around outside. By the time my coffee was going, the wind had begun heaving itself into the apartment building like a frat boy body slamming a drinking buddy.

I was sorting my laundry and hoping a hot shower would help my smoked inflamed sinuses when I heard a crack from out front. The cat went streaking by me and crammed himself under my desk. I looked out the window and saw that a large tree had come down in the courtyard outside my apartment. I went out and mourned the tree for a moment. ThenI called the landlord. Then I waited. I waited impatiently because it had started to rain and I was watching the still very active living room leak drip drip drip, wondering when the plaster is just going to come down. He knows about it and has me take $100 off the rent each month until he fixes it. It's been 3 months. His cheapness is outdone only by his laziness.

To pass the time while I waited (and to reassure myself that there was some way my landlord could be made to take care of the tree in a more timely manner than is usual for him), I called the town office to ask how long is a reasonable amount of time to give the landlord. I figured if he hadn't come or called by mid afternoon, I'd contact a tree removal service myself and take it off my rent but I wanted some kind of back up so I wasn't stuck holding the bill or going to housing court. I was referred to the public health department, several of them. Of the many staff members I spoke to today. Janet was by far the nicest and did eventually understand the situation and what I was trying to ask. Janet's boss on the other hand, wasn't and didn't.

Between those calls, my friend and neighbor A called from school to tell me that my ex was in the department today.


I felt ambivalent, sad, and really angry. I wasn't sure why angry. He's got a right to be there too. So why am I feeling angry?

Since I can do something about the tree, I focused on that. It is concrete, removable. No one would deny that it is an obstacle. The solution to the problems it poses is refreshingly singular and not debatable: A big fucking tree is where it shouldn't be. Let's get rid of it.

I talked to folks at several different offices. I decided that maybe the promotions are based on degree of obstinance and spatial reasoning deficiency. Find out if you have a future in one of this state's local public health departments. Read the description below, then go to the diagram I drew (at the end). If from reading the passage below you actually have a reasonably good understanding of where things are relative to one another in this scenario, then you can answer phones for our local health departments, but you would not be allowed to hold a job with any responsibility.

Here’s a run down of what I said:

1) Hi. I live in an apartment in C_____. A tree came down this morning and I’m having a hard time getting in touch with my landlord about when it will be removed. I’m concerned because I can’t really get in and out of my apartment complex (usually at this point they interrupt for no good reason) because this really big tree is blocking the walkway out into the driveway (they interrupt here too).

2) The apartment building has a small courtyard which is connected to the driveway by a narrow paved walkway. The tree had been standing in the middle of this courtyard but it broke off about 10 feet up the trunk so the bulk of this large tree is lying across the entire walkway. Unless I had a chainsaw, there really is no way for me to get through the tree.

3) I can get out of my apartment, but not out of the complex. I can’t leave for work. I can’t get to my car. There is no clear path to the street or driveway because of how the building is situated. If the police or another emergency responder needed to get in here, they would have to leave their vehicles way down in the driveway or on the street and hack their way through on foot to get to these apartments. The only other ways I can see in and out of the complex would be to scale a stone wall, crawl along the roof of the storage shed next to the street side of the building, or go hike into the woods out back.

Ok. Done reading? Try to picture it in your mind. Pay especial attention to paragraph 2 of the description since that has the info that I usually had to repeat under close questioning several times.

On the plus side, the tree makes it pretty damned hard for me to feel like I am staying away from my department today just because my ex decided to show up. Indeed, I have a concrete reason for staying away that leaves me feeling less self reproach than if I'd stayed away on purely emotional grounds. Sitting here staring out the window at the broken tree trunk, I considered some of the anger.

My ex and I had e-mailed earlier this week about my dropping off more of the stuff he had left behind here. I had planned it like this - to drop it off today and to be scarce tomorrow when he said he'd be in and able to pick it up - so I wouldn’t have to see him. It still wrings my heart and casts a shadow on my day (week) to have that kind of contact with him. He seems fine with it, but I am not and I just can't fake it to myself or anyone else. If I stay home because of this, then even in the breakup I am still sacrificing my work, my self, my separate and independent life to the relationship. And this makes me angry. I had most of the whistle blower responsibility in the relationship, so I basically spent the last year finding new and exciting ways to get us talking about what was going wrong. I was not alway graceful. He was not always graceful. But I have a better memory than him and each time it came up, we were talking about all of the other times too. At least I was and I couldn't understand why he kept forgetting. I felt like a jerk most of the time, like I was picking on this poor fella who was just so stressed and lost and said he loved me still but acted like....ah hell. Between loving T and feeling bad about fighting with T, I just didn't get a lot of work done last year.

I do know he's not ok post breakup. He is just very good at walling off the bad. It's a family trait. The shit is there and not even too far below the surface but because I do not hate him I don't scratch or pick. I try not to anyhow. I try to accept that this is how he wants to appear, so for all practical purposes, this is how he is.

Oh boy what a rotten grinding set of feelings to be caught in. And there's just not much I can do but go on and on and on until maybe someday I am not feeling so bad about it.

But for now, today, I can blame the tree. An act of god, goddess, fate, or just a brilliant September wind threw it in my path.

Ok. Time for your local CT public health department test. Remember the description. Here is my very carefully drawn scientific diagram. Enjoy.

It is nearly 5 PM. It is cold out and the sky is spotlessly blue. My apartment manager just finished chopping out a path. What do I do with this freedom?

Late Night

It was close to one a.m. when the phone rang. It's my brother, Tr. He says " ya doin'?" all casual and I know that something is really wrong. "Uh, good? How are you? What's up?" He had told me he's been sick lately and during the call he coughs a lot. He shouldn't be up at this hour since the fatigue he's been feeling has been intense. He says he can't even make it through a six hour day.

What's up is his boyfriend. Having coaxed my brother back with promises of an attempt at reconcilliation, he is now returning to his same old shit. The new and improved boyfriend lasted a total of 6 days. The good thing is that at least Tr wasn't sobbing when he called me. He sounded rather angry actually, not enraged, but annoyed at having been dicked with yet again. What pisses me off about this guy who is jerking my little brother around is that he keeps telling my brother that his way of doing things is how "everyone" does them. Not just any old things. Relationship things. Intimacy things.

That is just plain coercive. You don't get to assert your personal preferences for intimacy within a relationship under the bullshit reasoning that your ways are indisputably correct since they conform to social norms. WFT?! Relationships are about the people in them. If one can't at least respect and try to accomodate the rational stated needs, desires, and style of the other, then there isn't any relationship at all. Just bullshit.

My brother says his boyfriend does show him he loves him, and I said "How?" Tr had a hard time coming up with anything concrete. He said "Well he used to..." and, largely inappropriately Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" popped into my head. The side effects of growing up with a diva loving gay teen sibling - inappropriate recall of Janet Jackson, Samantha Fox, and Madonna lyrics.

So Tr is talking of leaving him, again. I hope it works. I hope he does so he can get on with his life and make the most of it. He told me this week he's going back on the HIV drugs again, which about breaks my heart because I know they make him sick but he clearly needs some antiviral therapy right now. My worst fear is that he will remain attached to this man who is clearly so wrong for him and his health will continue to decline under the stress of maintaining this "relationship".

I got him to laugh at least. I did my best Margaret Cho impression, the Mistress Pauli bit. It is fitting since Tr's boyfriend is acting like some kind of Sharon Stone soft top belle of the ball brat. I'm going to have to start calling my brother at random times during the day to leave messages with his favorite quotes. I want him to laugh more. He needs it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Blame game

I do distinctly recall Bush saying there would be plenty of time for blame later. I guess now it's time.

The House of Representatives brings you The Blame Game!

Our congressfolk seem genuinely concerned about how far the shit will splatter but it looks like they're willing to try to play for GW and the GOP. The committee former FEMA director Brown is talking to (below) is not the independent investigative panel that we the people as well as some lawmakers have been asking for. To me, it kinda seems like Brown's being hung out to dry. It doesn't seem like he was incredibly qualified for the job, but if you follow the news on this, you might notice stuff like a repeated theme of misallocation of funds (for things like disaster plan development) at many levels. Oh yeah, and then there's the part about ordering an evacuation but not making sure that folks had (a) a way to get out and (b) a place to get to. Even the Hurricane Rita Houston evacuation stories highlight this. How do you get out if you lack certain necessities like a car or the money to fill it up?

While I find the comments of the members of the House well, somewhat validating, I can't help thinking if they really cared about addressing and hopefully fixing what happened they wouldn't be satisfied to just beat up on Brown for the cameras at this farce of an investigation. They would press for a real investigative panel. Unless that is only reserved for something as dangerous and controversial as a mislead young woman and an unfortunately stained blue dress.

Brown Shifts Blame for Katrina Response
By Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press Writer

Former FEMA director Michael Brown blamed others for most government failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday, especially Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

...."I'm happy you left," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R – Conn)

...In a testy exchange, Shays compared Brown's performance unfavorably with that of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to step in there and take everyone out of New Orleans," Brown said.

"What I wanted you to do is do your job and coordinate," Shays retorted.

"I'm happy to be called not a Rudy Giuliani ... a scapegoat ... if it means that FEMA ... is going to be able to be reborn," Brown said.

(Brown added "And you're a big doodie head Chris!")

Cat therapy

My friend A and I have a habit of thinking up businesses we would start if we were to leave grad school. And find ourselve with a large amount of money of course. Where the money comes from doesn't really figure in usually, although sometimes we embellish our fantasies with notions of rich aunts or other family members we could get the start up cash from. So far, these are my favorites - mobile cat therapy, the bed and not breakfast, the bathroom book, and the hip coffee shop that this poor excuse of a college town desperately needs.

Cat therapy is when you sit someplace warm and comfy with cats just piled up on you purring and snoozing away all your problems. No one does content like a happy snoozing cat. This picture is my cat therapy moment at A's parents' house this past winter. Oh boy did I need that this winter. The therapists featured in this photo are (left to right) Meepers, Zenj, and Myth.

Mobile cat therapy would involve a large van with 70s style shag carpetting on the interior and maybe some couchy type bench seats against the walls or, forsaking formal seats entirely, huge piles of multicolored chenille pillows and sueded fabric beanbags. The back of the van would be separated from the driver/passenger compartment so the cats would not be loose running around where you need to drive. And the cats would need to be screened, obviously, to be cats who are ok with being in cars. They do exist. We had one when I was a kid. His name was Tim and he adored riding in the car, but only out of the carrier. While this was a risky endeavor, it wasn't as reckless as it sounds. Because Tim liked the car, he would pick a spot and settle down to watch the road as opposed to scrambling up your leg or worse down below the steering column. More recently, I had stopped at CVS to run some errands. When I got out of my car, I noticed the car I had parked next to had an adorable grey british shorthair snoozing on the dashboard. He came to the side window when I practically squealed "Hey kitty kitty!" (which, to the horror of a couple of my grown up female friends and all but two of my ex-es, I do far too often). The owner came out soon and introduced me to him, saying he loved to go everywhere with her and even came to work with her.

People could call the cat therapy office and make appointments to have a therapy session on their break from work, school, or between jobs. We'd definitely have sliding scale fees where we overcharge our rich clients so we can ask only a small and affordable amount from the less economically advantaged. Probably we could throw in some kind of rich person enticement to justify charging them so much, give them 10 extra minutes, chamber music, a smoothie, and a power bar and call it the "Executive package" or something. I've considerd whether or not to have a special suit to put people in, something soft and kitty irresistable. This would help to reduce the unbusinesslike wads of fur that would inevitably stick to whatever the client was wearing while undergoing a treatment. But it is a little impractical. How would it fit everyone? Is it sanitary to have many clients sharing one cat cuddle suit? Potentialy, we could just advise our clients to bring special comfy clothes to work to have on hand in case they need to take a cat therapy break. Like those people who work out on their lunch break (or perpetually intend to). They bring gym clothes to work. They could just as easily bring a pair of comfy pajamas or something.

The bed and not breakfast is pretty elaborate financially and involves some high risk daydream investments but the result is an extremely nice diversion to think about now and then. I want to live someplace nice and comfortable, someplace big and weirdly designed like those victorian homes with turrets or whatever on them and old fashioned indoor pool/spa rooms that could be converted into a series of solariums (solaria?), greenhouses, and lounges. But I'd be surprised if I ever get my shit together enough to actually buy even a modest two bedroom house for myself. And even if I do, I'd get lonely in a big house. I like having folks around but I don't plan on having a family. Ah...maybe a bed and breakfast I thought at some point. Then there is the drawback that I hate mornings. I like having elaborate breakfasts prepared for me because they at least interest my exceptionally low morning appetite, but I usually feel so horrible in the morning that I can't eat much even when the eating includes things like crepes and portabella mushroom omlettes and roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes. There is no way in hell I could get up and make all that food for other people. So I would have an inn that served a very restricted menu of light late evening dinners and cocktails in a bohemian salon setting.

The inn would also be a cat shelter and pet boarding facility. Of the sheltered cats, those who don't have social anxiety issues would be allowed in the guest areas of the house and the boarded pets and slightly less person-sociable felines would stay in the (vast) cat friendly romper rooms, outdoor enclosures, and/or kitty condo like facilities that have been built for them.

Guests could bring their own cat with them to stay either in the guest room or in the cat boarding area, depending on the cat's general disposition and behavior. And guests could request rooms by resident shelter cat. "Do you have a long haired orange tabby suite available for the labor day weekend?" they would ask my diligent manager who would be attending veterinarian school and working here for free room and board plus a stipend when finances allowed. The dining room would be open to non-guests and any profit would be put back into running the shelter and inn.

The bathroom book is one of my favorites because I truly believe that this is necessary. It would be like one of those AAA guide books but it would have maps, reviews, and ratings of roadside bathrooms for different regions or well travelled roads in the US. I see a huge market for pregnant women. Hell, for women in general because we can't (easily) go at the side of the road, and we have to either sit or hover in a bathroom, regardless of how wretched the bathroom is. Men have the anatomical luxury of not needing to make this often uncomfotable choice, or as A put it, "we can just stand on the other side of the room and fire away" at the offending potty. Lucky bastards.

The inspiration for the bathroom book came when I went to a wedding this Fall with my ex, T. I had just gotten my period literally hours before and I was in excruciating pain. We'd been at an all day conference on campus which I had to duck out of to run to my office to get changed and then sprint to the car, dress shoes and all. Then I was whisked off to the wedding in east buttfuck CT, with no discernable bathrooms and god awful cramps all the way. When we got there, everyone was socializing outside while they waited for the event to start. Just when I was about to give up and enter the inn (one of those special event inn type places) searching for a place to go collapse in my bloated agony, the wedding started. Outside, of course. It was a crisp fall evening. Beautiful, but I was dying. Finally it was over and I ran into the place, grabbed a large glass of red wine, and demanded the bartender actually point me at the nearest bathroom.

It was amazing. It needed a rating system just so it could be at the top. It was warm. Not overheated in the way that makes a sick person feel sicker. Just nice and warm. And it was pretty, soft pastel colors and antiqued gold finished fixtures. It was a private bathroom with a firmly locking door which, when closed, shut out all sounds from the party on the other side of the wall. On the back of the toilet was a basket with an assortment of pads, tampons, and pocket packs of tissues. Hell, there was probably a midol in there. Even the air fresheners were pleasant. No lysol or glade chemo-fest aerosol cans. Clear bottles of pump spray scents like "green apple and moss" were set out on the counter, which was at exactly the correct level for easy use of the sink while allowing for a full enough view at the mirror to be sure you hadn't tucked your skirt into your pantyhose. I wanted to stay there all night. I decided it should definitely get five rolls.

This paragon of potty made me decide I had seen the gold standard, the commercially affiliated restroom platonic ideal of which all other bathrooms are just variously pale incarnations. Someday I will do the bathroom book. And maybe someday I will have my coffeeshop or my bed and not breakfast inn with many cats and the most welcoming bathroom around.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dream dream dream

I was just reading Kate's blog and it reminded of a dream I had a while ago.

Not long after september 11th 2001, I had a dream that I was trying to do laundry and George Bush was there in my laundry room. All the washers were going and I was trying to put in the detergent, which Bush was holding onto. He wasn't really doing anything with it. I think he had just casually picked it up and now that he was going on and on about shit like "global port" or "port economy" (whatever the fuck that meant) and reconstruction, he seemed to have forgotten it was in his hand. I kept trying to grab for it while he talked, at one point even saying "Uh can I please have my fucking detergent? I'm trying to do my laundry!" He said "well now jess wait a minute. I don think yer hearin what I'm trynna say..." and launched into more grammatically challenged political rhetoric.

I was outraged. Here he was, the man whose family's and party's foreign deals and policies not only painted big bull's eye targets on all americans but gave weapons and training to the people who were looking for was my personally least favorite president invading my laundry room, using my need to perform my routine daily tasks and my detergent as hostages to his nonsensical hyperpatriotic bullshit.

I remember I woke up so unbelievably pissed off.

Last night, I had a nightmare. I don't remember much except that it involved squirrels.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

You say it's your birthday...

It's my birthday!

I say with excitement. Feel the excitement implied by the exclamation point?

No? Me either.

It's just so overused, maybe that's why it doesn't look as exciting as it should. I think that I shouldn't blame the misfortunate punctuation mark though. I think there are other reasons. My personal punctuation symbol lately would have to be a question mark, although talk about overuse. Something to convey the appropriate level of ambivalence between extreme motivation, spurts of effort, and a creeping desire to curl up in a ball. Fortunately, the former two tend to outweigh the latter one. But sometimes it is difficult. Maybe a better choice would be a dash - There' s the incompleteness, the sense of something to come that I definitely feel these days. A dash it is then.

The party was excellent. Many folks from different areas showed up....mostly from my department but my sister came down and my best friend Ruth came up. A woman from linguistics, and my friend TM's non-school associated boyfriend also came, diversifying the department only crowd a little more. It was good. Most everyone wore party hats, which was wonderful because you just can't take yourself too seriously in a hello kitty birthday hat. We had tons of good food (artichoke dip from my lab mate, apple pies courtesy of my sister, and extremely good chocolate mousse cake), delicious sangria, mini umbrella toothpicks, squirt guns, and art. We made a collage (it's still in progress) and got high on turpentine fumes from the large hand painted birthday card. Also a work in progress. A, who hosted, says he'll keep some of this up for us to continue to work on. I'll scan them when they're done. Or done enough.

And just when the party was breaking up, I got cramps, and then my period. Not due yet, but hey, it just had to come. At least it had the decency to wait until most of the guests had left. The sangria was extremely helpful for the pain, as were the sesame noodles with fresh ginger that I had made earlier that day.

Sesame noodles:
(guessing on the amounts...I don't cook with measurements usually)
1/8 ? cup sesame oil
1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 ? Tsp lemon juice
A dash of ground cayenne pepper
two cloves of garlic (minced)
1 inch fresh ginger root (peeled and diced)
Toasted sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl (or tupperware). Boil 1 pound of spaghetti. Drain, rinse, and toss with the mix in the bowl. I also sauteed some red peppers and a little bit of diced onion with a bit of the sauce mix and added it to the noodles. It was very very good and pretty easy to make. Really, you should use tahini paste instead of peanut butter but I don't keep tahini paste on hand since I rarely use it. The peanut butter was a good substitute.

Now I'm doing homework ('d think I'd be done with that stage of my education) and should at least look at my paper. But I think I'll most likely just get the homework done and watch movies with A when he gets back from his parent's house.

No calls from my ex, T. My brother T called today to say he's feeling too sick to drive the two hours. I really do understand that since the Lyme left me pretty much not able to do long drives also. He's thinking of coming down next weekend. In the meantime, he's had a shit load of bloodwork done to see what's going on with the intense fatigue he's been experiencing. I know it could just be AIDS. God, what a horrible way to put it. It's just AIDS. He's been HIV positive since 1997, but has so far managed to keep his virus low and T cells high. This summer was taxing, and he's been slipping steadily each year. I know this is exaccerbated by his occasionally not terribly healthy lifestyle. Crystal meth is just horrible, and that was his party drug of choice for a long long time. He's been off it for a while, but not long enough that I don't worry when I don't hear from him for lengthy periods.

This is a topic best left for another post, not that it doesn't warrant addressing but because it does warrant a lengthier discussion than I'm up for right now. I'm planning on keeping in close contact with him this week to find out what is going on health-wise. I hope he takes care of himself. He's back with the asshole boyfriend and while I know he wants this, I also know it is another stresser as the guy really is a dick. So I am pretty concerned about him right now and I want to be supportive without being judgmental about the dick. Not an easy path to be on. I wish he could find someone great. He's got a lot to offer to the right guy and it makes me angry to see the wrong guy taking T's love and not appreciating it.

Time to go eat some pie and take some more pain meds so I can get through the night not curled up in a ball. Pie is good for a lot of things. And I don't care what my sister says. it IS good pie.

Friday, September 23, 2005

good news, bad news, good news, etc.

My good news is that my brother T called to say he'd be down Sunday. The bad news is that I'm sick and his t-cell count is low. We're going to see how it goes. I'm not that sick and his count isn't that low.

I'm off to school. I hope I'm not heading in for nothing. I got up and going so late today I'm worried I will have missed everyone I need to see. And I rememered after committing to being in today that Friday is the day I want to avoid campus since it is the only day of the week that my ex is likely to be in. I'd rather not deal with that brand of ambivalence today.

Oh one other piece of good news. I had only two cigarettes yesterday. I'm not saying this is quit time, but since I would like to make a serious attempt to quit soon, I think it is a good sign I can make it through a day with so little nicotene.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tropical Depression Dickweed Adams

Shit. I missed Constitution Day AND Talk Like a Pirate Day this week. I just don't know where my head's been. Clogged up from the back to school cold I think. It better move through fast because it's only 3 Days to my birthday.

Meanwhile, some news (hot off the wire or something like that):
Names for Storms, Hurricanes Running Out
AP Thu Sep 22, 2005

There are only four names left for tropical storms and hurricanes this year: Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma.
Currently, there are six separate 21-name lists and each of them is used every six years in a rotation. They don't include names that begin with q, u, x, y and z because there aren't enough names starting with those letters.

Here are some suggestions that spring immediately to my mind when I see that there is another hurricane brewing:
"Holy shit"
"What the fuck?"
"Oh fuck"

And/Or we could start giving them surnames. I suggest we use up the presidents', members of congress', and governors' last names. This would last a very long while. If we use even a 20 item list, just two presidents would get us a list of 40 unique names. We'd know that "Hurricane Oh-Fuck Bush" or "Tropical Storm Shit-Shit-Shit Bush" clearly happened during a different storm season from "Hurricane Oh-Fuck Nixon". Dad and son duos would be smooshed into the more recent use of the name with the earlier one being skipped.

Or if more mainstream and wholesome names like "Tequila AnJanette" are more what they're looking for, the National Hurricane Center people could go here for loads of suggestions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Alternate Reality

She's smart and funny!
From UMass' Daily Collegian

I'm not a Trekkie. I swear I'm not, but as I was channel surfing (avoiding even the most trivial forms of commitment helps to minimize the risks of disappointment and despondency), I came across one of the various treks.

Right away I knew it was an episode that was set in one of those evil alternate dimensions. I knew it before any of the backstabbing and double-crossing that are the standard order in malicious parallel universes even started. I knew because there is a key defining feature of any evil alternate dimension in nearly all quasi-main stream sci-fi. This trans-series constant is the molecular instability of any material used for clothing by any female humanoid life forms.
I wonder why there aren't any evil incidents or alternate dimensions where the men are just barely dressed. I asked some women I know about this; specifically, what was their construction of an evil alternate dimension, and what were the men wearing there? The answers I got included mini kilts, boxers, the Playboy bunny outfit, and fig leaves (this one turned up three different times from women who were not acquainted with each other). From my sister it was, "Chaps, and that's it! Well, and the hat, of course." Obviously there's an audience for such depictions, so why haven't we seen them yet?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Party Store

I'm in a better mood now. My friend (and neighbor) A and I went to the party store tonight to get stuff for my birthday. Damn those places are fun. At least they're fun if it's not the week before halloween. Among other things, my haul included a sparkly red hat, a feather boa, Hello Kitty dinnerware, and squirt guns.

The sparkly red hat and boa are for me to wear because I'm the birthday gal and also so I remember not to take myself too seriously. I desperately need the boost. I might even have to wear these items to school once or twice.

The Hello Kitty is for my brother AR, who I really hope comes because he and his asshole boyfriend just broke up and despite the ex being an asshole, my brother's devastated. I promised him Buffy episodes and chocolate as well.

The squirt guns are for guests to use on each other if anyone from school dares to talk for more than 5 minutes at a time about school or research.

My friend A has promised there will be arts and crafts....this involves paint but other than that we don't know if there will be any real crafts going on. We debated macaroni necklace making but decided it would be too messy. Especially since there will be sangria involved.

So now I'm back home, with a bag o'fun stuff, and relaxing. Well I was. Apparently I need to attend to the cat. He just announced something important by way of a lengthy polysyllabic meow from the living room. he's on my dresser knocking things off. I believe the message is "get over here and entertain me, damn it!"

It's like ring tones

But for your fly. It's Fly Tunes.
This is one of the things over the last few days that has brought a smile to my face. After announcing my new invention to my friend A, we spent a while listing off the songs that should come out when people we know unzip.
Countdown to my birthday: 5 days!
Is this a sign of a deteriorated mental state? Possibly.
Do I care? Not really. It's harmless and it made me laugh a lot.
5 days!

The Results of Graphically Constrained Cutting in a Way Too Long Post

This was a long but connected post. After posting it, I decided I wanted to edit it some. Attempts to edit the text around the warning sign images resulted in strange discontinuous writing. (It seems I should be editing it in the HTML view mode, still getting the hang of this.)

I've decided that the graphic constraints on the text has yielded something more interesting than the original post. To me at least. And really, who else is reading this blog?

Lately there is a professor, CN, who apparently (and rather spontaneously) decided I need some mentoring. Actually, I'm not sure she's volunteering

She thinks she is some kind of fucking guru or something. And that is just inappropriate.

Last year she admonished me about how I couldn't chase every dragon or

I left a new student, Dookie, off the list. I SWEAR I don't remember doing it on purpose. I am willing to believe that there was some subconscious dislike

So I replied to Dookie's bitchy e-mail and cc'd it to CN because she is the one officially in charge

Boy, you really over-reacted to D. You've got to let things like that roll off your back or

CN thinks I am asking her how to BE ME. I am not. I already know how

You cannot react to every grievance, every letter to the editor you disagree with, every student whine or grade complaint, every rejection from a journal, every non A, every thoughtless remark, or you won't have time to enjoy the blessings that life holds.

she does not know or respect me as well as I do myself, that this is a careless diversion for her, and therefore her opinions about and advice to me are invalid.

But I could have done without it right now

Saturday, September 17, 2005


If I were a daughter or son of a Bush, I'd want to be wasted too.

Gov. Jeb Bush's son arrested in Austin
Sept. 16, 2005
Reuters News Service
John Ellis Bush, the son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of President Bush, was arrested in Austin today on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest, police said.
Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle was sentenced to 10 days in jail in 2002 after cocaine was found in her shoe at a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program. President Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara were both charged in 2001 with drinking underage.

Friday, September 16, 2005


I don't like sharing my personal space with bugs. I'd like to be all zen and shit about them, let them live as long as they don't threaten me. With some of the more innocuous seeming bugs, I can convince myself to adopt this attitude providing the bug keeps its distance.

For very threatening bugs like bees and cockroaches, I will take swift action regardless of their placement or behavior. I will kill, usually overly much. Typically, they get swatted, ground, and smeared. I want to be absolutely sure they are dead. If a relatively harmless bug persists in being in my space in a way that is unhealthy or worrisome, like living in my flour, I will also become less zen about them. I do not intend to share my resources with something which is hurtful, unhealthy, or parasitic.

My ex, T., doesn't like to kill them, although he's rather panicky around bees and such. Today he told me that a wasp flew into his office at school. He dodged it but it kept coming for him, so he closed all the windows and left. He is hoping that it will be dead when he returns to his office on Monday.

He also told me today, interestingly enough, that he broke up with me. I asked him if he meant that he acted like such an asshole that I had to break up with him, thereby passively causing the breakup. He said no. We then had a discussion about each others' narrative of the relationship, or specifically, about the breakup.

was probably thankful to be done with these sorts of conversations and I think it came as a shock to find himself engaged in one with me. Over the last few years, his discomfort with them became like a fucking presence in the room. This was part of a more general detachment. T seemed to lose the ability to engage in deep conversations that demanded he operate with some understanding of assumptions relevant to the discourse at hand. He used to be very engaged and socially aware in interactions not only with me but with friends. Over the year, he lost so much connection that friends frequently commented that he had more and more "inside jokes", meaning stuff that he would expect us to find funny without explaining the sometimes unlikely connections he had made in his head.

What was happening? I think T was becoming what I consider a zombie. I was one once when I was married. The zombification results from the belief you are trapped or powerless to deal with the sometimes quite difficult challenges in life, especially the growing up challenges that come up in your late 20s. And a zombie is someone who is scared or threatened enough that he will even kill his own spirit to stop feeling scared.

It's a very fortunate biological fact that when they are in pain or discomfort, animals will try to escape. Shit, even slime molds will be provoked into acting like an entirely non-fungus-y organism if you consider lack of food an unpleasant stimuli (which you should unless you're some kind of freakish diet addict). We humans are higher organisms and shit, so you'd expect us to be able to seek remedy in efficient and enlightened ways.

Hardly. Unfortunately, even humans’ "remedies" for unpleasant stimuli are often predatory, parasitic, and/or destructive. Further, it seems we humans are unique in being sanctimonious about our destructive remedies. We can covertly move from a rewarding communal or couple relationship to one that is parasitic or predatory, telling ourselves that this is right, just, warranted, “the way things are done”, or whatever. I can't think of another creature that goes out of its way to convince the organism it is about to eat, hitch onto, or somehow harm in its efforts to ensure it feels safe and secure that the organism should actively and eagerly participate in its being used.

Back to T. T was used. He served as a remedy for some monstrous deficiency of his father’s. As a result, T lost some crucial basis for adult self confidence, self efficacy, and the ability to embrace mutuality. Throughout his childhood (and at family dinners even now) all of T's judgments and choices were subject to cross examination through daddy's ridicule or tantrum. A significant manifestation of the damage this has done is that T does not really have decision making skills. He can make choices if a committee agrees that they are the right ones. Or if his family agrees. And he immediately forgets the text of what little clear deliberation he did engage in. I believe it is because the process makes him anxious, so he's eager to be done with it asap.

The need to recruit others to deal with the decisions in his life has left T the options of being either parasitically attached to his partner or a gear in the suffocating machine that he calls his family. That’s a bad spot. No winning on either side. So he chose the only route that offered no pain. He became numb.

When I was a kid, I had nightmares about zombies. I might have written about this before, so I apologize if I’m being redundant.

My nightmares were marked by a recurring theme of a zombie like illnesses that spread through the community and into my inner circle. In these nightmares, I was always holed up somewhere with people I was close to, avoiding a war, storm, or some other disaster. Zombies would start out as a premise - a "they're out there" sort of thing. The next thing I knew, I would realize the people I thought were safe, healthy, and helpful were becoming predatory zombies too. This was the most horrifying thing for me.

Eventually it would become clear that our hideout/shelter was not holding and needed to be abandoned. It seemed if we banded together, we'd have a fighting chance of making it out. And if we died in the attempt, at least we wouldn’t become zombies. The one thing that was always abundantly clear was that I could NOT stay there and just let this happen. But no matter what the circumstances were, I could never convince anyone to leave with me. My companions would peek out from under a bed or inside a hole in the wall to tell me they were too scared to run, to fight, or to do anything but stay there even if it meant a fate possibly worse than death.

I always woke up screaming, not in fear or horror from the threat around me, but in something like the most outraged frustrated disbelieving anger. There is no word for the feeling.

I've felt like this with T. I felt it when I was speaking to him today on the phone. I know I was cruel sometimes. I wasn’t when we first broke up, but then when we first broke up, the only threat was the one of hurt. But it was hurt for a good or at least right reason. God it did hurt, but the other routes seemed like they would be worse. Using one another, coming to hate ourselves and/or each other, losing our identities....

I broke up with T because I knew it would be bad to become what he thought he needed, and I didn't want to continue to be angry and frustrated with him for failing to find the courage to live on his own terms. I wanted to find an enlightened remedy to the pain and the threat of more pain. It was not easy, but I thought I could do it. It was so hard to accept that what had once been such a wonderful and joyful, honest relationship had turned into such a horrible and increasingly sullen, selfish mess. Because I wanted to be honest and genuine about the love I still felt, and kind about the love he still claimed to feel, I accepted the term "separated" and I tried to maintain a friendship while keeping the necessary boundaries in place. But he repeatedly tested and crossed them.

This was becoming threatening and unhealthy, but I didn't stomp it out right away. The last two times I saw him, I had mentioned to him that I wanted to plan some time to talk. His calling me when he was driving by and asking if he could stop in, inviting himself out to dinner with me and my friends, taking me aside to hug and kiss me - but not calling, not planning, not showing respect for my time - it was crushing me, and making me angry. I didn't want to feel thsi way, so I said "hey we need to talk" and he agreed. Last time he was here, I said "call me next time you're going to be in town and we can set something up". And he said "Well you could always call me". And I thought, yeah, he's right. Plus I'm the one who requested a sit down talk. So I called the next day. Then I waited. He replied days later with a distant e-mail saying he had been very very busy. He also happened to mention he had found the time to go on a field trip to Boston during that very busy time. This was too painful. What the fuck was I doing?

I decided to fail to put an end to this means I agree to play along so T doesn’t have to deal with the realities of the break up. He gets to put me on a shelf when he doesn’t want or need to deal with someone who holds him to an exceptionally high standard. And I get to have a zombie relationship. It's not dead, it's not alive. He didn't want to try to fight it out with me, he wanted to hide under his bed. So now he’s a zombie looking for what passes for intimacy for zombies, i.e., predation and consumption. Apparently I can’t be his lover, but I can still be a consumable resource. It hurts to have to swat, grind, and crush this out of existence, but the alternative T offers is unacceptabe. While his remedy is not one where I am the predator or user, it is self destructive and I simply won't do it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


(subliminal advertisement) Birthday Countdown: 10 days
After a slow start back to school, at least this week has been somewhat productive. I have found myself wondering how much more I could have gotten done if I were working without the weight of tragedy on me. It seems like this is not something I should consider too much though because, well it just is. And even without the breakup with T, the horror of Katrina, the supreme court nominations, I think there would be something there. There always is. The difference right now is that it's like someone boosted the signal or turned up the volume. Or both.

And still.
I have made progress on my paper after telling my advisor that she'd have to babysit me on it. I am nearly ready to run participants for my dissertation pilot data. I look forward to having a whole mess of sound files and some cooler weather. I am set up to do analysis at home. What stops me is nothing to analyze currently and the fact that with the exception of a few deceptively nice days a week ago, it is mostly hot and muggy here. My office is a corner of my bedroom, and neither has an air conditioner. So I will wait until October for the cozy data analysis corner to get started.
Birthday Countdown: 10 days
In the meanwhile, I need to figure out some way to finish setting up the physical experimental space. I am collecting English utterances from people who are native speakers of Japanese/second language speakers of English (J1E2). At this point, it is just an exploration to see how word stress manifests in J1E2 folks' English words. For example, "OBject" differs from "obJECT" in stress placement. Native (monolingual) English speakers presumably will vary a bit in terms of whether they use pitch, duration, or loudness to get the stress across. For a totally unscientific experiment, you can try saying the words with differences along any of those 3 dimensions and you'll see that any one of them is enough to make the stress contrast clear. But Japanese is not a stress accent language. Japanese is a pitch accent language. So I am predicting that J1E2 productions will show evidence of a heavier reliance on pitch than E1 productions.

Well that is the idea. And that is phase one. Phases 2 through infinity are for later this year after I even know what the hell is going on with the J1E2 speakers and confirm what native speakers of English do. Gotta do the latter because although everyone and his brother in phonetics has a paper on how stress is encoded in English, everyone and his brother seem to offer rather disparate accounts and observations. I'm all about doing it for myself, and since I'll be measuring speech for J1E2 speakers anyhow, why not throw a few E1 folks in there too?

Brave words now. We'll see how I feel in December.

I'm hitting the radio station today to upload the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary public service announcement they sent me. This was incredibly nice of them to do. I was going to record one, but their audio engineer got in touch with me and said they'd send me one. So here it is. God that would be a great job. Audio engineer for an animal sanctuary. Holy shit. Anyhow, I'm also going to record one with a general appeal for people to volunteer to help out or fund raise in their areas. This applies to people relief as well as non-people relief. While I'm donating to the people relief, I am organizing for the non-people. I figure that sort of balances me out.

So now it is time to go be more productive. And then tomorrow I am going to skip school and go to a movie because I fucking need a little bit of a break.

The picture is of a fountain my friend M. encountered after a very long drive with a very full bladder. This was in the lobby of her destination building, between her and the bathroom. Somehow, this feels like the right image for me today.
Birthday Countdown: 10 days

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Penguin Passion, or "They're just birds"

My friend M sent me a link to an article in the New York Times Science section today. In the subject line, she had written "mwah-hah-hah". Indeed. Below are some excerpts from the NYTimes story.

March of the Conservatives: Penguin Film as Political Fodder
September 13, 2005

The movie is "March of the Penguins," and of all the reactions it has evoked, perhaps the most surprising is its appeal to conservatives. ...Conservative groups have turned its stirring depiction of the mating ordeals of emperor penguins into an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars.

....Religious conservatives have seized on the movie as a parable of steadfast faith. In Sidney, Ohio, Ben Hunt, a minister at the 153 House Churches Network, has coordinated trips to the local theater to see the film.

Mr. Hunt has provided a form on the Web site that can be downloaded and taken to the film. "Please use the notebook, flashlight and pen provided," it says, "to write down what God speaks to you as He speaks it to you."

I can't tell you how much I love this glorification of the penguin. I dig the prophecy through penguin movie. What should we call that? Aptenodytomancy?

I also dig the silliness of the conservative pundits. Here are some of their comments, from the New York Times piece (referenced above).

"March of the Penguins....passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing!"
says critic Michael Medved

Rich Lowry of the National Review calls March of the Penguins
"An amazing movie. Penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy."

Yeah boys, keep digging that hole. You know why? Because, to paraphrase Margaret Cho impersonating her mother..."Penguin, they like the picnic!"
That's right - gay penguins!

There's nothing saying that gay and monogamous are mutually exclusive terms. But try finding a self labeled conservative out there who actually defines "monogamy" as being applicable to same sex relationships. If you do find one, let me know.

As a matter of fact, it turns out there's a lot of homosexual behavior in the non-human animal world. So much for the "it's not natural" line. You can read all about it in Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl or Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson.

This info isn't just in biology books though. The conservatives missed some rather mainstream accounts of homosexual relations between animals, specifically, between penguins.

Central Park Zoo's gay penguins ignite debate
Dinitia Smith, New York Times
February 7, 2004
(republished in the San Francisco Chronicle)

New York -- Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": That is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins.

How could the conservative publicists have missed the news reports of this biological phenomenon? Will someone point it out to them? Will they care or will homosexuality in nature and in their now beloved penguins be dubbed a left wing liberal conspiracy? I take this oversight as evidence that these folks truly are outside the mainstream, relying mostly on shows like the 700 club and other christian co approved media for their news. Although I am quite sure my google search for gay penguins turned up at least one hit for Fox News.

So what would explain this glaring oversight in choosing the gay friendly penguin as the mascot of the hyper christian values movement? It could be that guy in Ohio isn't far off. It's not too far a stretch to see this as an amusing slap for the immense hubris that characterizes our modern theocratic ministries and individuals.

The moral of the story? There are so many to choose from. The one I like best is be careful when you pick your parables. I'm sure it is embarassing when the lesson unintentionally becomes your own.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hepatitis C

A good friend of mine was diagnosed a little while ago with a Hepatitis C infection (HCV). The diagnosis came after years and years of symptoms that were ignored, dismissed, or misattributed to other problems. No one thought to test her because she was not in a "risk group". That is to say, she did not fit a stigmatized profile for a HCV patient. She was not a drug user, didn't have mutiple body piercings and tatoos, and did not have another blood transmitted infection (e.g., HIV). She did, however, have a transfusion before the blood supply was screened for the virus.

So who finally thought to have her tested for hepatitis? A dermatologist.

Since being diagnosed, she has been squeezed into the stereotype profile for a high risk HCV patient. What do I mean by that? I mean a moron doctor wrote in her history that my friend had a history of IV drug use (my friend has a needle-phobia), had multiple piercings (my friend has a couple of earrings), tatoos (none), and was a closet alcoholic (no). When my friend saw this in her chart, she was understandably irrate and upset. She asked that it be removed, but encountered resistance. As far as I know, the misinformation is still in her record. This is not only offensive and just plain wrong, it is bad for research. That issue is probably best saved for a mega rant at some later point.

She began treatment for the infection this summer (ribavirin/interferon combo). The side effects of these drugs are just awful, and she has had nearly all of the listed side effects already. She has become an expert in HCV and jokes that she is getting her medical degree on the side. She shows up to her doctors' offices with her big bulging folder with information and her list of questions and concerns. This puts off some of them of course, but it is what she must do to take care of herself. The good news is, it's working. She e-mailed me recently to tell me that her viral load was undetectable in her recent bloodwork. This means she "wins" 36 more weeks of what she calls "pretty nasty drugs".

I am elated that this drug regimen is doing something other than making her sicker. I know she considers the lowered viral load a mixed blessing as the first 12 weeks of therapy have been ungodly difficult. But she is committed to continuing it. I want her to win on this. I want her to be better because I want her to feel good finally after so many years. But I want her to win for for purely selfish reasons as well. There are a lot of people in this world who get me down, who grate on me, who blunder through their own and other people's lives on autopilot. My friend is not one of them. The world needs more peole like her. I need more people like her. And so I am happy to know that her strength and character has paid off, that her chances for recovery are up, and that she may someday soon kick this virus into remission.

I've decided that I'm going to do something amazing this week in her honor. She has inspired me.

About HCV
From Hep C Alert (the website's being updated so it's a little user unfriendly right now)

One or more of every fifty people in the United States is infected with the hepatitis C virus. Often called "The Silent Epidemic", the disease can linger without symptoms for decades while causing serious liver damage. Risk factors that indicate the need for prompt screening include:

* Blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before 1992.
* Treatments with blood clotting products before 1987.

* Long-term kidney dialysis.

* Shared drug needles; drug straws; body piercing needles; tattoo needles and inks.

* Accidental needlesticks; blood contact with the eyes, nose, mouth or broken skin.

* Unprotected sex with multiple partners.

* Elevated liver blood tests.

* Previous diagnosis of hepatitis B or HIV.

* Unexplained fatigue.

* History of any military service - particularly Vietnam veterans.

People who are concerned about their risk for hepatitis C should call Hep-C ALERT's toll-free hotline 1-877-HELP-4-HEP (1-877-435-7443) for a confidential health-risk assessment and referral for a blood test. Counselors are available Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:30pm and on Saturday 10:00am to 1:00pm EST.

Hep-C ALERT, a national nonprofit service organization formed in 1997 whose mission is to raise awareness of and assist people affected by the disease; offers hepatitis C education, counseling, screening and medical referral services for individuals, public health and employer groups. For more information, visit the organization's website at

Help Katrina Animal Rescue

Clicking on the banner below should take you to the donation site
for the Humane Society of the United States.
I realize I am posting a lot on this topic, please do realize that I am as concerned for the people who have lost, well, everything as I am for their pets. For a pet owner, losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a member of the family. This is from a post on Craig's list:

Of all the things we left, Sammy is the only thing that really matters. We are hopeful that she is still there, oblivious to what is going on outside. The guilt of leaving her and the thought of her there without food or water is overwhelming on top of everything else. We have already contacted and registered with most of the rescue organizations that we are aware of. We are hopeful that one of them will be able to save Sammy.

So yeah, I'm going to keep pressing on pet rescue efforts. These people are grieving and while I can sympathize about the other losses they have suffered, it is limited by a fortunate lack of similar experience. What I can and do share is the pain of losing a pet, and so I act on it.

Please, whatever your charitable inclinations are, do not make the mistake of believing that in a month or two the need for your help will be over. People need to start lives all over. The number of displaced people is vast, as is the number of displaced animals.
The need for assistance will continue for quite some time.

If you are looking for other ways to help, consider holding a fund raiser in your community.
There are many animal rescue and welfare organizations you can donate to, including your own local no kill shelters since animal welfare groups and shelters across the country will be dealing with overflow from this disaster for months to come.

Help Local Humane Society in LA

LA Humane Society calls for help
September 10, 2005 : 12:41 AM ET
Boats urgently needed; animal rescue professionals at Gonzales shelter
Contact: Dana Nesbitt (President) Email:

NEW ORLEANS, SEP 8, 2005. Despite the heroic efforts of volunteers and animal groups from both Louisiana and around the country, time is running out for the animals trapped in New Orleans, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Help is desperately required to rescue animals trapped in the flooded ruins of New Orleans or roaming the streets in hungry packs.

The Humane Society of Louisiana, St. Francis Animal Shelter and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary are jointly operating a huge emergency shelter at 115 Obed Magee Rd., Tylertown, MS 39667, where rescued animals are cared for in the longer term, before being adopted.

PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING: The Humane Society website is now back online at and is ready to accept credit card donations. Alternatively, send checks (made out to The Humane Society of Louisiana) to our emergency temporary office at P.O. Box 238, Sharon Center OH 44274. The Humane Society of Louisiana is a 501(c)3 registered charity (No: 58-1795272) and all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowable by US law.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

When Pigs Drive

Why you should be happy about the great high prices you're paying for gas.

Soaring wholesale prices, some federal officials say, just reflect a functioning free market sending the right price signals that will encourage producers, refiners, and shippers to rush supply back in to make up for what's been sidelined by Katrina. The armada of tankers carrying gasoline from overseas is evidence of that. The chief economist for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, James Overdahl, says: ''Energy prices are being set fairly in an open and competitive environment."
The Boston Globe Scratching your head over the sudden run-up? Here's what happened

So there. If you aren't happy that gas prices are so high, then the terrorists have won. At this time of crisis, Americans should come together. Now is not the time to question the level of victimization we should expect from free market economy. We need to -
What? No terrorists? Oh. Ah. Um.
How 'bout that Gay marriage?
Saddam Hussein's on trial!
Woo hoo! Look over here!
Supreme Court vacancies....I've got vacancies.
Get 'em while they're hot!

I was a little bit curious about this. Where's the functioning market? Or rather, who is it functioning for? Not for me. Oil prices are down but so far the gas prices are still up up up.

Oil prices fell sharply Wednesday, extending a streak of losses as the U.S. oil industry showed signs of recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the international community tapped emergency reserves to avert widely feared shortages.
The Boston Globe Oil prices tumble as sector recovers

So in my ignorance I am wonering how come the gas is over $3.40 a gallon everywhere around here if oil prices are down? When are the gas prices going down? I looked into this online today and I thought I'd share the results here. Primarily, it seems that there are still "anticipated shortages" and that is one often cited reason for why consumer costs for gas remain high. I can't help feeling like the excuse of anticipated shortages is a little overused at this point. Do we have less oil now than we had this time last year?
Analysts surveyed by Reuters predicted a report from the EIA (Energy Information Administration) Thursday will show crude stockpiles fell last week by 8 million barrels due to Katrina, bringing them to about 314 million barrels. While that would be an abnormally large decline, stockpiles would still be well above last September, when stocks fell below 270 million barrels after Hurricane Ivan cut Gulf of Mexico production.
The Boston Globe Oil prices tumble as sector recovers
I guess not. Well we don't know about the oil refineries in the gulf. They might have all been lost.

U.S. gasoline prices appear to have peaked as energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico, clobbered by Hurricane Katrina last week, resume production. Other energy prices are also easing. Light sweet crude for October delivery fell $1.59 to $64.37 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
USA Today Gas price increases ease as gulf production up
Ok, this bothers me. We have more oil now than we had a year ago, we have production up (not all but much) and running in the gulf. The price companies are paying to buy the oil is down. But consumers are still paying high prices because someone somewhere thinks there might still be a shortage. Does that bother anyone else? Show of hands?

Yes, you folks in the back talking on your cell phones but raising your hands while you also check your stocks online. I'm sorry. I've forgotten all of your names already. Ah, you're the US Senate Energy Committee. That's nice. And so you are bothered about this? All of you...ok, well most of you at least. And you all decided to hold a committee hearing. How nice!
"The American people are being victimized more than any free market would warrant," said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., at Senate hearing on the impact of the hurricane on energy prices.
AOL News Senate Holds Hearing on Gas Price Gouging
Senator Smith, when you are done making paper airplanes to throw at Senator Boxer, maybe you can give the rest of us an idea how much victimization of the american people you believe is warranted by our free market.

Several news stories on the hearing made a point of stating that the Federal Trade Commission cannot regulate price gouging unless it involves antitrust/monopoly issues. If this were about someone buying up all the railroads, utilities, or the midpriced real estate, presumably they could intervene with a nasty Chance card. "Pay a windfall tax....NOW! (unless you really don't want to or anything because no one can force you to. No one at all.)"

Testimony focused specifically on why gasoline prices are so high while oil companies make record profits; with a longterm goal to hammer out policies about price gouging, unfair speculation and what Senator Domenici called "unconscionable profiteering."

"The Federal Trade Commission is not specifically subject to the jurisdiction of this Committee, but any oil company that is price gouging will find themselves in those witness chairs where they will be made accountable," said Domenici.
CNN Senator wants price gouging protection - Committee head wants to know why gas prices are so high while oil companies make record profits.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A better idiot

So far, the best quote I've seen in the news today, possibly the best quote I've seen anywhere in a long time in fact, is this one from Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish:

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area. And bureaucracy needs to stand trial before Congress today...
I'm asking Congress, please investigate this now.

Take whatever idiot they have
at the top of whatever agency and
give me a better idiot.

Give me a caring idiot.

Give me a sensitive idiot.

Just don't give me the same idiot."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Go MA?

I wonder what CT, one of the richest states in the country, will be doing to help out. So far I've not seen much. In this case, I hope the state government proves me wrong.

From the Boston Globe
2,500 Katrina evacuees headed to Cape base
Romney says state is happy to provide help
By Michael Levenson and Lisa Wangsness
Globe Correspondent And Globe Staff
September 5, 2005

About 2,500 evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina will be flown from the Gulf Coast to Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod by Wednesday and given food, clothing, medical care, cash, and housing at Camp Edwards for the next 30-60 days in a massive undertaking announced yesterday by Governor Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts National Guard.

Arriving in some cases with little more than the clothes they are wearing, the evacuees will come to a sprawling military base that includes sleeping quarters, a movie theater, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, and an unoccupied school that Romney said made it an ideal location to help the evacuees recuperate.

The operation is part of a nationwide effort by states to share the burden of sheltering the tens of thousands of residents displaced by Katrina, many of whom have been living in increasingly cramped quarters at the Houston Astrodome and other shelters across the Gulf Coast. The Federal Emergency Management Agency asked Massachusetts to take the evacuees in a conference call with state officials yesterday.


Romney said he had no estimate of the cost of the operation. He said he had spoken yesterday with Senate President Robert E. Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who both ''were quick to say, 'Governor, whatever it costs, we're there,' " Romney said. FEMA would pay the bulk of the costs, he said. The state also has a surplus of $600 million to $800 million, some of which could be spent on the operation, he said.

Sleight of Hand

Amazing. Astounding. President Bush just found a way to take the focus off his administration's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. Clearly there are many many people who are still reeling, helping, surviving, organizing, relocating, assisting, grieving, and giving and for whom Bush's recent Labor Day weekend supreme court coup will mean very little. I understand this. The Bush administration understands this. That is why it is such a clever decision. It's a win-win situation. Either we turn our attention away from the federal government's abandonment of the poor and suffering in the gulf coast states and therefore stop the barrage of criticism of the humanity of the administration or we keep our focus on rescue, recovery, and relocation efforts and let the nomination of Roberts to the Cheif Justice position slide right by.

I intend to keep working here in CT with community based Katrina relief efforts. But I also just took a moment to call both of my senators and to e-mail Arlen Specter and Ted Kennedy, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter (R, PA) is the chair of this committee and although a republican has been an outspoken advocate in the struggle for recognition of collective bargaining rights for academic employees. Kennedy (D, MA) is an obvious choice for me as he is a veteran senator and I was born and raised in MA. In my communications to each of these senators, I explained that although I am still focusing on Katrina relief efforts in my community, I felt I had to take time out of this to address my serious concerns regarding the nomination of Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I'm hoping to make a quick phone call tomorrow as well since I know an e-mail from out of state will be very unlikely to reach anyone or anything but a big e-mail trash folder.

Does it matter? I don't know. Honestly I don't. I think that so many people rightly feel disconnected from their government, but I believe this is in part a self fulfilling attitude. We let the politicians coast, we don't say anything because we believe our voice doesn't count. And by maintaining that attitude, we collude in our own alienation from our political process. My attitude is it doesn't hurt to try.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Relief

Below are links for aid to Katrina Survivors.  I have included the URLs
so this information can be copied and pasted into e-mail.
Even if you can't do anything else to help, please at least pass the information along.

Listing of Relief Organizations
Craig's List

A blog with lists of EXCELLENT links, resources, suggestions, etc.

Animal Welfare Organizations/Updates
Local shetlers for Louisiana


Humane Society

Alley Cat Allies