Thursday, September 29, 2005

Deprived of oxygen

Grrr, I still can't write a whole entry on any single thing. I can barely compose a complete sentence. My brain is as scrambled as the eggs Giada put in the frittata. Hang on people...

I'm on about my fifth Altoid and I still can't get rid of the taste of foot. Good thing I recently bought new shoes, so at least it's fresh leather. Too late in the day to Make Somebody Happy anyway, so I'll try again tomorrow night.

I love blackberries.

She gives me a lot without taking. I should be ok with that arrangement- she is- but I'm not. It seems like she's got a negative answer for every possible question. Does she have it all written down in advance? Because it's like she doesn't even have to think before answering. [Ed. Note: Last line redacted.]

Thanks for the love. So, how much do I owe you?

Nevertheless, I thought about you off and on all day- how, where, what to make you happy if you'd let me. I know, I'm supposed to play it cool and not call you for a couple of days. I guess I'm not cool and then you told me what I already knew.

I finally saw last week's ER (preempted due to the storm). Sam and Luka are sitting on the bench outside the prison and she says, "He couldn't care less about us but that little boy loves him anyway. What the hell is right about that?" but he doesn't respond. A long moment passes. She doesn't get it, you can see it. I don't know how he had the restraint not to punch her in the head for being so thick.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More scraps

I'm going to need a beer to put these flames out. Yo! Great Mav, real slick. (0-4-3)

Evolution would be more interesting if it were faster.

The results of my Hurricane Rita looting*:
-Toshiba 57" wide-screen HDTV
-Marantz DTS/DD 5.1 surround receiver
-Paradigm Monitor 9s
-JVC 7-disc progressive scan DVD player
-Breadmaker (not pictured)

*Actually looted from my ex-wife in the divorce. Check out those carpet-tracks though! I loves to vacuum. Sheer bliss.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Things written on scraps of paper around my home.

The score: 0-3-3

You can really drive yourself to drink playing the "I think she thinks that I think..." game, but I think she thinks there's something wrong with me for unselfishly wishing her happiness. That can't be good.

Butter (stick & tub), juice, pizza, broccoli, dishwasher detergent, chicken

Review the following albums: Mike Doughty (6/10 stars), Raul Midon (6/10 stars), The Redwalls (7/10 stars), Herbie Hancock (4/10 stars), Paul McCartney (2/10 stars), As-yet-unreleased album by The Goodhound Blang (6/10 stars), As-yet-unreleased album by three Irish sisters & one Irish brother (4/10 stars), As-yet-unreleased album by 23-year-old English jazz pianist (8/10 stars).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Storm

Friday, 9pm:
It's dark now, so I can't really see what's happening out there, apart from what's on TV. The rain started around 8-ish, but it's not raining hard yet. The wind has been intermittently gusting, but also not bad yet. I could put some shoes on and take an umbrella outside, but I'm not all that interested. I had my aunt, uncle, & cousin from down the road over for dinner, so in addition to my refugees there were six adults & one child here. I'm used to living alone, including rarely speaking on the telephone, so I was not terribly comfortable with all these people in my home, putting my silverware in their mouths & such. Ok, I'm Monk.

Saturday, 7am:
The wind finally died down and we were able to sleep. After 3 hours of sleep my aunt called to let us know their power went out. That's all. Thanks for waking us up. As long as I'm awake, let's see what it looks like outside: Hmm, same as yesterday- broken clouds & breezy. No downed trees or electric lines, traffic signals working. Ok, everyone out of my house.

Everyone's gone, for the second time. I had my aunt and cousin here today because they lost power AFTER the storm. After a full day without power, she decided to come over and put a few things into my freezer and avail herself of my air conditioning. My pleasure of course, but still odd to spend time with someone that I'm not paying to lecture about finance.

Some have said the storm was a non-event. Others said it was a waste of time to evacuate or a "dry-run for the big one." This was none of that. It was a real storm, and it was really coming to Houston. For the most part, Houstonians did exactly what they should have done- stock up, board up, and/or head out. Yes, we were very fortunate and yes, it revealed many things that need to be improved upon for next time, which could still come within the next 2 months.

My godmother and her mother live in southwest Lousiana and may not have faired as well. They're in the process of moving to northern LA, so I know they were out of harm's way at the time, but they still own property very near ground zero. On the other hand, Mother, Sister & her kids went to Grandmother's house in Central Louisiana where they also experienced a much worse storm than we did here. There is debris inside the house, but don't worry- it was all caused by my nephews.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The morning after

Sat, 9am-
Just a quick update: Everything's fine. Never lost power. Less than an inch of rain. Very windy overnight made for tense brief sleep, but no downed trees or missing shingles so far as I can tell. I'll post more later.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Waiting

I have nothing new to report at this time, except that I now have 3 refugee houseguests, one of whom brought her 3 doxies. Normally I wouldn't report such a detail, but I know a few people who will get a kick out of that- I'll post pictures for you.

For now it's just me and Tom Petty...

Fri, 4:30pm Update: Still waiting. Overcast and breezy. No rain in the city yet.

Fri, 6:00pm Update:


Rare midday post for me, so my apologies. I know some of you are worried about me and my family and may be checking here regularly, so I thought I'd give you something else to read.

The plan at this point is that my father and idiot brother-in-law are driving up from the Clear Lake area to my townhome in the city. We have food and supplies for at least a couple of days and will be reasonably safe here. Once the storm has passed we will attempt to leave the city.

I know it seems contrary, to leave after the storm, but if you guys could see all the reports we're seeing here (total gridlock, no gasoline) you might understand. All of our cars have enough gas to get us out of the city, but not if we sit in stationary traffic. Going nowhere and using up the gas doesn't do us any good. Houston won't be cut-off from the rest of the world like New Orleans was and Galveston will be. If the storm hits Friday at midnight, it should be over by roughly Saturday midnight and we'll start looking to get out by Monday morning. At that point, leaving is not for our safety but for our comfort. After the storm we expect the weather to return to ~100 degF, and without a/c that will be miserable.

Leaving before the storm IS still an option that we're keeping open. It will depend on the traffic and the storm, both of which are being continuously updated. My uncle and his family are still here as well, and we're all touching base every few hours as we debate & decide. For those of you who know how to contact me, don't. I'll post here when I'm able.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Today was anything BUT calm. The city is slowly emptying its inhabitants onto the freeways. I don't know what passes for news where you are because it's 24-hour weather-watch here now. Not that I mind or that it's unnecessary, but it's kind of creepin' me out. Living alone doesn't help. I've got this nagging feeling my whole family is ditching me, kind of my worst nightmare to begin with. Cellphone networks are saturated, as everyone on the road is calling everyone else on the road. Text messaging still works, as will email until the storm actually hits.

The NBC affiliate here did a live call-in Q&A. It went something like this:
Caller 1: Hi, I live in (location 1). What should I do?
TV Guy: Well, if your house is in the floodplain, you should leave.

Caller 2: Hi, I live in (location 2), right next to (location 1). What should I do?
TV Guy: Well, if your house is in the floodplain, you should leave.

Caller 3: Hi, I live in (location 1), should I leave?
TV Guy: Well, if your house is in the floodplain, you should leave.

[And no, that's not a typo- Caller 1 & Caller 3 were in the same location.]

I can see why Katrina was such a disaster, with a couple hundred thousand people stuck in that city. It's not because of some overt failure of either the local or federal government. It's because the general population doesn't know anything. No matter how much warning we've been given, there are people all over town who simply don't know that they should pack a week's worth of clothes and toiletries into their cars and drive north. (And don't tell me they don't have cars- everyone in Houston has at least one car and it's always on the road, in front of me, when I have to be somewhere.) The real failure of disaster planning is the inability of the government to take each individual by the hand and explain it to them one at a time.

As for me, I'm not in the floodplain, but I am between two of the city's bayous. I expect the streets to flood for several hours, but I'm fairly well above the streets so I don't expect the house to flood. I'm fairly well protected from wind-damage due to there only being a 6' gap between the townhomes and the exposed side is largely my garage. I expect the power to be out for a couple of days, and it'll be miserable, but I don't need it to survive. I stocked up on supplies (except gasoline, impossible to get now) including canned goods, juice, and propane for the BBQ grill. Couldn't find batteries, so I'll have to rely on whatever dad has when he comes. Couldn't buy water either, but I drink a LOT of a name-brand sports-drink [Ed. note: Name withheld- no free publicity] and my laziness in throwing out the empties means I've got a lot of empty jugs to fill up with tap water. 4 gallons of tap water (now frozen), 1 gallon of tea, 1.5 gallons of juice should be good. Tomorrow I'll fill the tub and a 40 gallon trashcan with water for washing and flushing. I still need to take "before" photos of the townhouse and clear out the other half of my garage for a second vehicle. Then wait.

You may well ask, why not leave and avoid being miserable and/or uncomfortable? It is 1 AM as I type this and the Houston Real-Time Traffic Map shows every freeway northbound out of town in red (< 20 mph). At 1 AM. I may not be able to leave.

But I may yet try.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Calm

It appears inevitable at this point that a very large hurricane is coming to town this weekend. The forecasts at this point are for a storm nearly as big as Katrina. New Orleans, as you already know, suffered the devastation it did because much of it lies below sea level. Houston, on the other hand, is roughly AT sea level, therefore we will all be swept away into the sea instead of suffering horribly at the hands of inept right-wing government while left-wing reporters sit idly by. Much preferred.

I'm doing all the normal disaster preparedness stuff- downloading new albums, baking Bagel Bites, and reading a book about the development of the Gregorian calendar- but it's getting really spooky around here. The TV is now 24-hour hurricane watch with regular, live updates from the food warehouse stores about how quickly the bottled water sold out. I'm not sure whether I'm going to weather it in place or, more likely, flee to the north side of town with my dad & idiot brother-in-law. The womenfolk will have already fled to grandmother's. I've still got some preparation to do around here, but I'm in pretty good shape so far. Maybe I'll go have sushi tomorrow.

I know there's an important topic I've failed to discuss, but I'm going to shelve discussion until next week at the earliest. I'm not much of a fatalist anymore, so don't expect any teary-eyed confessions of love and sin. One way or another, I'll see you on the other side. In the meantime, I'm going to go looting.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


If you want the free drinks, you can't play the nickel slots all night.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


That whole happiness thing? Man, what was I thinking ... kind of red-faced over here. Sø sorry for the confusion. Those responsible have been sacked.

Back to the drawing board, as they say. Only I can't draw. I've taken drafting classes though, among the last engineering students to learn how with actual pencil & paper. It's all computers these days. Damn kids.

Tonight's deep thought has been preempted by something preemptory. I've got book & music reviews but no desire to write them...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


It's late and I've spent my energy elsewhere, so this is going to be short.

First- Still happy, even slightly moreso. Not nearly "ecstatic" but way beyond "pleased". I know what you're thinking- but he didn't make it to Bright-one's party- and while that's true and I deeply regret missing it (especially Zelda in 9" heels, although there's some question as to whether she made it to the 8-second buzzer or not) I soldier on.

Second- Saw this and had to include it here. My personal preference is "Metro Death Train" but I can live with this variant.
Wham-Bam-Tram Ram Counter Details
with apologies to the non-Houstonians

Finally- If you want to love someone, don't deny them the opportunity to love you too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fly in the ointment

I've discovered a tiny flaw in my theory about being happy...

Recall that I'm trying to be a happy and upbeat person under all circumstances. I'm doing pretty good at it, by sheer force of will, despite traffic jams and 1,000 pages of reading for school each week. I haven't had the opportunity yet to practice what I was preaching the other day when I said we should more proactively celebrate our successes and remember them year after year, and that's when I discovered a problem:

Although not strictly required, happiness is best when shared with another.

For example, I'm VERY happy right now (and those of you that know me best know this is rare) but I don't really have anyone to share it with. I've emailed and IM'ed a few people about this happiness, but it's not the same as someone being here. To me, there is little better than the pure joy of seeing your smile reflected in someone else's smile. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying happiness (mine or otherwise) is dependent on anyone else, it's just the a la mode with your pie. Honestly, it's one of the things I miss about being married. Sure, there were plenty of specific things about my ex-wife that I liked, but now being divorced I don't particularly miss those specific things (take that however you will). Who did you call when something great happened to you? Who hugged you in congratulations? Who held your hand on the way to somewhere fun? See what I mean?

Anyway, I'm listening to Tilbrook and that makes me happy.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Stuff you shouldn't admit, part I

Here's one for the budding dream therapists:

A few nights ago I dreamt about Bush (President George W., that is) again. This time I was dating daughter Jenna (the blonde one) and we were pretty cozily snuggled up on the couch watching TV. As it got later into the evening, she needed to go change to get ready for dinner so she left the room and then it was just W. and I alone. At first, it was that awkward silence between a boyfriend and a girl's father, but he was pretty cool about it. I don't remember the topics, but I remember we managed to have a decent conversation and got along fine. I don't think he joined us for dinner though and I don't remember Laura being around.

[The alert reader will recall that I dreamt about W. back in November. We were buddies in that dream too.]

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I don't expect you to agree or disagree with me on this one, but I was thinking about the tendency of human beings to think in terms of our tragedies. It's hard NOT to think about it when the only thing on TV today was about the tragic events that happened 4 years ago. One of the cable news channels has been keeping tally, 13 days since the latest tragedy. And in case you've lost track, it's been 259 days since the tsunami and 2,964 days since Princess Di's death.
Bonus points if you know why this is entitled 'iron'.
Why do tragic anniversaries hold such power over us? It's as if we enjoy being reminded of our misery. The happy anniversaries are too few and far between. We should celebrate our birthdays with great fanfare, but most of us would rather not be reminded, myself included. Why not celebrate the anniversary of graduating high school or university? Celebrate the anniversary of successful surgery or of an excellent vacation. Throw a party commemorating the previous party.

I'll tell you why: It's too self-indulgent in a society based on a currency of misery. People in tattered clothes, crying and wailing in agony are what we're sold on TV and the radio. But one of the things I remember from that one book I read by the Dalai Lama is that misery is NOT the natural state of man. Human beings do not naturally seek out unhappiness and anger, nor are we predisposed to tragedy and suffering. I think Kicking Bird was on to something when he stated matter-of-factly, "You will mourn no longer."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Conversation with myself

Newton's law of universal gravitation, first published in the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) states that "every object in the Universe attracts every other object with a force directed along the line of centers of mass for the two objects that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the separation between the two objects."

Yeah, so?

So that flies in the face of logic, doesn't it? How can attraction be inversely proportional to the separation? That means that the further away something is, the weaker the attraction. But that's not the way it really works is it? What about "absence makes the heart grow fonder"?

Newton was talking about physics, not love.

Newton also wrote, in the first law of motion that "an object in motion, will remain in motion and an object at rest, will remain at rest, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

Oh, I get that you're imbalanced. Want to get to the point?

Newton's third law of motion states that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

*yawn* Fascinating.

I'm just saying that the heart at rest won't remain at rest when acted upon by the force of attraction. So even if (as you claim) Newton was right about attraction, the unbalance caused by the presence of a second heart sets the heart into motion which will not stop until an equal and opposite force brings the heart back to its original motionless state. Even if the second heart goes away, it takes an equal and opposite force to stop the motion induced by the attraction.

What about the second law, you conveniently skipped that.

Well, it doesn't really apply.

And wouldn't Newton have written all this in Latin? You don't read Latin.

Now you're just being difficult.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

So little to say

In keeping with my theme of telling you about the unimportant shit in my life (while hiding the really monumental stuff) I've got so little to say tonight...

I haven't properly told you about school. I'm taking three classes this semester, which means two in the spring and I'm done, outta here. Class one is Futures & Swaps, two types of derivative investment also sometimes used as hedges against other risky investments. I like this class so far. The professor is amusing, made moreso by his ability to laugh at his own mistakes, a rare trait amongst professors. Class two is Management of Multinational Organizations, a survey of techniques for dealing with cultural differences in an increasingly diverse workplace. It sounds cool on paper, but I'm not enjoying it at all. This professor thinks he's doing us a favor by front-loading all the coursework so that it'll be easier at the end of the semester. Instead, it just spreads out the pain instead of getting it all over at once. Class three is International Finance, a survey of currency, equity, and bond markets around the world. It sucked at first because all he talked about was oil & gas, which I'm told is important to Houston's economy. (??) Last class was better as we actually discussed international currency conversions. No telling what the next class will hold (assuming I don't download the notes until moments before class). So that's the next 14 or so weeks of my life.

I volunteered at the Astrodome Friday night. If we chat I've already told you about it. If not, you're not missing anything. It's not about me anyway.

I was going to conclude with two quickie reviews, but I've run out of what little steam I had to begin with...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's what's for dinner

Just don't ask me what it is...
Front of package
Back of package

I found it at the Hong Kong Market yesterday and it was just too colorfully appetizing to pass up. The instructions are pretty clear, three simple steps...

Prepared in 3 easy steps!
Unfortuately some genius put the label over step one, so wish me luck!

I had an interesting conversation earlier today...

Her: I'm angry because of some anti-american bullshit on a fucking yahoo group for goodness sake
Her: yes...I'm angry cuz of a damn yahoo group
Her: I need to meditate or some shit
Me: Medicate
Her: ahh
Her: i like that even better
Me: Tequila, for medicinal purposes.
Her: good idea
Her: too bad my mom isn't a drinker
Me: Too bad your mom is the only person available to drink with ;)
Her: LOL
Her: and I wasn't suggesting I drink WITH my mom...I was commenting on the fact that she doesn't have alcohol here
Her: LOL
Me: Oh. Otherwise I would have suggested you pour yourself a drink and then drive around looking for someone to drink with.
Her: lol
Her: i see
Me: What, you don't like that idea EITHER? I can't do anything right in your eyes, can I?
Her: LOL
Her: I don't know about driving around looking for just ANYONE to sleep with
Me: Sleep with? Where did that come from?
Her: omg
Her: talk about a freudian slip
Her: I meant DRINK
Her: oh god
Me: Damn girl!
Her: ok i am officially embarrassed
Me: Ok, I joke about it from time to time, but I am TOTALLY blogging that.
Her: oh god
Her: lmao
Her: the dogs are running in here to see what I'm laughing about
Her: that's HORRIBLE
Her: what is wrong with me??

Use your imagination as to where the rest of the conversation was headed...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What gets me

Everyone has something that gets to them. I don't care who you are, and you don't have to admit it to me. What gets me are the stories about the children, specifically getting separated. There was a story on the news yesterday about a 10 year old boy who, along with his family, got washed out of his house with the storm surge. They didn't pry into the exact details, but the boy was an instant orphan. That's the story that gets instant tears from me. And there are hundreds of stories about people not knowing where their families are. Not knowing who's alive and who's not is terrifying to me. It's like the end of the movie The Killing Fields. I've seen it enough times to know that when Sydney gets the call from the Red Cross aide station that the tears are about to flow.

But enough about my girlishness...

Update on my family: Everyone is still alive and well. My aunt & uncle made it into Slidell (suburb north of Lake Ponchartrain) to assess damage first hand. The northshore isn't cut off by downed bridges or flooded highways like most of the city of New Orleans, so getting in and out isn't difficult other than police roadblocks. Their house is mostly intact and did not flood. A large tree damaged the roof and let the rain in. The whole roof needs to be replaced, along with some of the carpet, but the structure is intact. No water, no electricity, but the gas is on. They're going to get a tarp on the roof and they've located a generator large enough to run a small air-conditioner and the refrigerator. The closest gasoline is about 75 miles away (nearly to Baton Rouge) where the cellphone service also resumes. That's probably the closest food & water as well, but they're going to be able to live in their home. My cousin is a diabetic, but my aunt is confident that the best place for her daughter is at her side and I don't have any reason to second-guess her at this point. Most of their immediate neighbors are in roughly the same shape, much worse off than you and I, but infinitely better than far too many.

I haven't heard anything more specific about my more distant cousins. The consensus is still that they've lost nearly everything and can't even get in to the city to confirm that. They've got closer relatives here in Texas to rely on. But they're still family and I still worry about them. Thanks for all the well-wishes.