Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Goodbye to old friends

I was sad to learn of Don Adams' death yesterday. It seems that all the characters and personalities I grew up with have been departing this world.

Don Adams, in his character of Maxwell Smart, brought a to life a sneaky, campy, delightful humor. Would you believe I named a cat "Maxwell" after him? Maxwell the cat had the same pointy features and enjoyment of life that Don Adams seemed to have.

Sorry about that, chief.

Although he had been out of the limelight for a few years, I was still grieved by the death of Johnny Carson. I didn't really have a social life when I was in high school, but Carson brought his wit and his funny, talented friends into my room and it was as if these fabulous people were sharing their evening with me.

I miss Jimmy Stewart, George Burns, and all those wonderful men of my early life who are gone now.

Lord, thank you for Don and all the people who brought joy into our lives and are here no longer. I know they live joyously in you now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pet delight

The heck with all the bad news. Here are pictures of my pets.

This is Elvis

This is Jack the Brat, when I first got him.

This is Betsy

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Which way will they jump?

Network or Episcopal Church?

This is the scuttlebutt I've been hearing: the clergy are being polled in the Diocese of Central Florida, to see which way they're going to jump. Do they plan to stay with the Episcopal Church, or go with the Network?

Apparently the Network wants to be ready to jump ship at General Convention 2006. Apparently, the bishop wants to know he'll be surrounded by a posse of AAC-types before he goes for a break. Maybe he wants to force fence-sitters into a decision.

The clergy are being reminded they'll lose their pensions if they go. I'm not sure if this just to help the clergy see the ramifications of their decision, or likely, if the Network leaders can get enough Network wannabes worked up about it, to push for some grab of the pension fund.

There's already been a precedent set in the Diocese of Central Florida for letting break-away churches keep the property, by "selling" it to them at very low cost, at very good terms.

For a good while, the Web site for St. Lukes Cathedral in the Diocese of Central Florida has been referring to the cathedral only as a member of the Network, and nowhere does it admit being a part of the Episcopal Church. You can go to www.stlukescathedral.org and take a look.

At least the diocesan Web site still calls the diocese "Episcopal."

How crummy, though.

Two good things
p.s. -- a big, bad thing

Two good things happened yesterday: Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ophelia finally headed east and out to sea, away from Florida, and Michael Brown was removed as director of FEMA's Hurricane Katrina response effort.

Both have qualifiers.

Here in Central Florida, we still have to keep an eye on the fickle Ophelia, to see which direction she'll go when she loops back. The predictions are she might hit the Carolinas, but the weather people have been very unsure in predicting her movements. Maybe she'll fizzle out in the Atlantic -- the best-case scenario.

Michael Brown still heads FEMA, just not the Hurricane Katrina response. I caught him on the news saying he didn't understand why he was pulled off Katrina. I guess he ain't no rocket scientist. There's been so much ill will toward him, I don't see how he could work with any of the people or groups in the Gulf Coast. I'm sure Bush had no option but to remove him.

He should be removed from FEMA, but the prez is just too much into cronyism. Look at "Know-Nothing" Chertoff, head of Homeland Security. With all the vast resources at his command, he said he didn't know about the levee breaking and New Orleans flooding until fully a day later, when he read it in the newspaper.

With this kind of intelligence gathering, no wonder we can't find Osama bin Laden.


Oh my God. I just read an e-mail from one of my ultraconservative acquaintances. It appears that the horror in New Orleans wasn't because of lack of action by the Bush administration. No, what was really going on in New Orleans was that the people who didn't leave when told to evacuate were the shiftless types in the projects, along with crimiinals the police just let out of jail, because they couldn't evacuate them. But the criminals all came from the projects, so they're really all the same people, the e-mail explains.

These "thugs," as they're described in the e-mail, are compared to the good-for-nothing towel heads in Iraq who shouted obscenities at the U.S. soldiers who came to save them. These "thugs" or "parasites" spent the time of crisis in New Orleans raping, looting, murdering and thugging.

The situation was caused by 40 years of "welfare state," not by inaction and incompetence on the part of bushie and his henchmen/political appointees. No, the e-mail says, "The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains
and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that
> has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting."

I think I'm going to be sick. Excuse me for a minute.

This e-mail is being sent all over the place, and I got it many generations from its origin. I know where it came from, though.

We're going to be lied to about the body count, also. They're only reporting 154 bodies found in Louisiana so far. Of course, the bushie government is controlling the morgues and the body counts that come out of the search operations. 154? That's a big fat lie. The body count will be minimized, just like the casualty count was in Viet Nam. And it's going on in Iraq, too, certainly for the civilian count.

This blame the victim -- they deserved it anyway -- tactic is totally beyond the pale. I'm more convinced than ever that a bunch of Nazis and their goons run our government.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Stalling around

Hurricane Ophelia is hanging around, stalled just off the coast of Central Florida, and the experts aren't sure what she's going to do. She was dubbed "hurricane" about 24 hours earlier than expected.

Forecasters now think she might head to the northeast, then loop and come back toward Florida, with winds of up to 100 mph (sigh). But, they warn, even a temporary shift to the west could give us some nasty weather now.

It's Murphy's Law: we, as we should have, sent law enforcement officers, medical teams, firefighters and supplies to the Gulf Coast, leaving us more vulnerable here in Central Florida.

Our local Salvation Army's pantry is bare, and they're out of money to help people with rent and so forth. There's a great need now, and there will be an even greater need if we get even tropical storm force winds here. We're in great danger of flooding if we get much rain at all -- we already have too much water to deal with.

We've still got nothing to complain about, comparatively -- 100 mph winds at the worst pale in comparison to Katrina's destruction.

Here's praying we get nothing of Ophelia but a few more rainstorms. Just go on out to the Atlantic and fizzle, Ophelia.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I hear you knocking...

Tropical Storm Ophelia has parked herself off the coast of Central Florida, and it looks like we're in for a blow and a lot of rain the next two days. Thank heavens she's just a tropical storm - nothing like Katrina - yet, we have to go through the drill of preparing for power outages, flooded streets and wind damage. I went to the store last night and stocked up on pet food, milk, bottled water and camping-out fare. I already have a stash of batteries.

Flooding is the biggest potential threat to my area, where the ground is already saturated. A number of subdivisions around here have been dealing with overflowing retention ponds, street flooding and some house flooding all summer. This is partly due to some of them not being built according to their approved plans, we're finding out. But the flooding is mostly due to three hurricanes last year and some heavy rains this summer.

Just let us off easy, Ophelia. No need to linger and turn into a hurricane, or move on then double back on us.

But thank God you're not Katrina.

This is

Jack the Brat

who came to live with me just before the 2004 trio of hurricanes hit Central Florida.


Too many dead, too little done

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the catastrophic situation in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Both Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and City of New Orleans officials can take bows for making a catastrophic situation worse.

As people began to die in the Superdome and New Orleans Conference Center, I watched both FEMA Director Michael Brown and his boss, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, act as if they were oblivious of the horrendous situation.

To approximate one incredulous newscaster’s question to Brown, “Haven’t any of you at FEMA been watching TV?”

On the Sept. 4 broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff acted equally clueless, and unaware people had been instructed to go to the Convention Center. According to him, people went there "spontaneously" and on their own, so they shouldn't have expected shelter supplies.

Uh, Mr. Chertoff, people were being told to go to the Convention Center for shelter, as well as to the Superdome.

Everyone else in the country knew what was going on in both facilities: no water, no food, no sanitation, no medical care, and people were dying. FEMA and the rest of the feds were the only ones who seemed to know nothing. They're the new "Know Nothings."

Chertoff said the difficulty wasn’t lack of supplies. It was getting them to flooded New Orleans. Yet other groups were getting in and out. Wal-Mart, apparently better at crisis management than FEMA, could get trucks into the area. Katie Couric could get in.

Meanwhile, bodies piled up and the people of New Orleans got mad and charged racism, all the way up to the White House.

I don't know how racist Bush is, but for the past few years, I've been certain he doesn't care about anybody but himself and his "have-more" friends. Maybe if Halliburton had been ready to come in and charge the federal government $50 per boxed meal and $5 per pint bottle of water, the federal response would have been quicker.

It isn't as if they didn't know the hurricane was coming. I knew someone in the Gulf Coast was going to get it as Katrina approached South Florida, and I'm no meteorologist. I know from experience these storms scoot across the tip of Florida, get into the steam bath of the Gulf of Mexico, intensify rapidly, and go north. Everybody from the bend of Florida to Galveston should have been on alert, and FEMA should have been deploying wherever it hit, within a day.

And they knew New Orleans was Katrina's prime target a couple of days out. And they knew New Orleans to be the most vulnerable city of any. And they sat around. They thought New Orleans was fine, 'cause the newspapers said Katrina's eye missed the Big Easy, and they didn't know about the levee breaking until they saw it later, in the newspaper, they said.

I guess it's a good thing neither Cherthoff or Brown are in charge of the CIA. I guess Bush is.

FEMA’s in there now, and so are the troops, in the thousands, although there are only maybe 10,000 living people in the city, and maybe that many dead.

But what about local government?

I watched a lot of television coverage of the crisis, and saw no New Orleans city officials helping residents get food and water or a way out. I saw one city truck sent out by a city official, to check on his own home, not to help anyone. But the truck did end up rescuing a few people, due to the television spotlight on it. I'm unimpressed with Mayor Nagin. I don't know where he rode out the hurricane, but he sure didn't come back to the Superdome to give leadership in a crisis.

In contrast, I saw our local city engineer and city crews working on a lift station as Hurricane Frances approached, and other city and county leaders working furiously before and after the storms.

Why the City of New Orleans didn’t stock at least the Superdome with survival basics is beyond understanding. New Orleans’ emergency-preparedness plan seemed to consist of telling everyone to evacuate, without any plan to help the sick, elderly and poor who had no transportation.

Just say it, and poof, everyone's evacuated.

After News Orleans is cleaned up, its officials should consult with our local Emergency Management Services people, who can advise them about hurricane preparedness.

Our people know about being prepared — watching the weather, keeping shelters stocked with enough food and water for several days, tracking road conditions, coordinating services, and providing transportation for those without it.

If lessons are learned, maybe the next Hurricane Katrina won’t bring so many deaths.

I've learned my lesson: If we get a category 4 or 5 hurricane heading toward my part of Florida, I'm putting the animals in the car and heading for the Georgia mountains. I don't care if we have to camp out somewhere. Hurricane Frances was plenty enough for me.