Strange Musings *hyuk*
Friday, September 30, 2005
  11:50 PM — **keyword**
Teh best comment EV4R.

"I just came across your blog about **keyword** and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about board bulletin now otc otcbb sand sndtf symbol technology ticker trading under so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!"

This comment was left on one of my posts, and cracked me up. It's obviously someone who downloaded comment spamming software and didn't know half the fuck what he was doing! Comment is deleted, link isn't put in this reposting, and I'm turning on human-verification.

  7:55 PM — Post-Apocalyptic Resume
After a conversation with Jethereal, here's a new meme! Leave a comment with your answers.

What skills do you have that would be useful in a post-apocalyptic (i.e. lawless, no electricity) world?

  6:37 PM — *&#$@
It's fuckers like this who left thousands to die in New Orleans.

[Former Education Secretary William] Bennett, who held prominent posts in the administrations of former presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, told a caller to his syndicated radio talk show Wednesday: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down.

"That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he said.


I tell ya, NOLA-ers should've eaten their babies rather than looting.

I'm sure the Conservatives are arguing their heads off, turning themselves blue in the face saying "oh, but he meant it was a BAD thing." But then explain why he thought of it in the first place, why he made the assumption that BLACKS CAUSE CRIME, and then why the fuck he went and SAID it after thinking it?! Even if you do think that's true, you've got a head on your shoulders and shouldn't even say it to give an example as something bad!

Regarding the logic of the "blacks cause crime" statement, that's like if I said "there's too much dog shit in the neighborhood, I'm going to get rid of all fire hydrants." Sure there's more dog shit in towns with more firehydrants, but it's caused by the fact that both come from a third thing, more people! Sure more blacks are convicted of crimes than whites (unfortunately), but it's caused by social pressures and the workings of the justice system.

It's been proven time and again that societal roles have an unaccountably strong influence on the behavior of people. This isn't saying that those blacks found guilty really aren't guilty of the crimes they commit, it's saying "walk a mile in another's shoes" - if whites or yellows or reds lived the same lives, they would do the same thing. The individual is guilty (though you would be too if you were him), and his situation is guilty, but his RACE isn't.

Thursday, September 29, 2005
  6:50 PM — Sudoku
This summer at CTY a number of my fellow instructional staff ([info]sammka) were absorbed by this thing known as Sudoku. I'd heard of it before, and I didn't quite get why it was so fascinating, especially since I barely got 6 hours of sleep as it was without adding additional distractions. A few weeks later in London I finally saw one in The Guardian and gave it a stab. It was a hard one, and I only got two rows in the end, but it was really fascinating. For the 8 hour plane ride back, I bought a couple books of it for me and T$ to keep trying. FINALLY just yesterday I found a link to, and it's probably going to supplant PBN as my internet time-waster when I've used up all the webcomics.

What is Sudoku? It's a logic puzzle that originally came from Japan (supposedly). The numbers 1-9 are used, but they're really just symbols, you don't do any math with them. You're handed a 9 by 9 grid, broken into nine smaller 3x3 boxes. Some of the numbers are already filled in, and you have to fill in the rest. There are only three rules.

It's amazing how fiendishly difficult they can get with just those three rules. Now go and try it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
  10:08 AM — Signs of the apocalypose
From an email from my Dad,

On L.I. 2-days ago, a car driver purposely rear-ended a bike and drove him into the back of a car, killing the cyclist instantly. After his arrest, they found he had previously been arrested for running down his wife several years ago.
My theory
People see the news: Iraq, Katrina, Rita, inflation, unemployment, 911; and they see theur world is out of control. They use their rage (looting, road rage, violence) as a way of taking personal control (what do they have to loose?).
Sad to say: Anarchy, racism, weather stuff (floods/droughts/hurricanes), economic class, geography (high vs low ground) are the challenges ahead.

Stay inland and surround yourself w. good friends.

The end is near! If my city ever gets evacuated, here's what I'm taking.

Saturday, September 17, 2005
  12:38 AM — "Under God"
As sammka mentioned in a recent post, I feel it is important to engage in civil discourse on controvertial topics. The following letter is going in the mail to my Senators by Monday.

The Honorable ***

September 16, 2005

Senator ***:

I am writing to you today as a *** State resident regarding the U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruling in California on the unconstitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance (9/14/05), and the subsequent unanimous Senate non-binding resolution condemning this ruling late Thursday September 15, 2005. I am disappointed by your decision to oppose the ruling, and would like to express why.

As quoted by CNN, the non-biding resolution said that “ ‘one nation under God’ in the pledge reflects the religious faith central to the founding of the nation and that its recitation is ‘a fully constitutional expression of patriotism.’ ” I agree that the Founding Fathers held Christian beliefs of a Creator, as is shown by the Declaration of Independence’s statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal,” but disagree about their relevance today. The word of the Founding Fathers is law, but laws should sometimes be changed. Non-white men, and women of all races have been given equal rights and protection under the law that the framers of the Constitution would never have dreamed of. Moreover, the phrase “under God” was added to the Pledge by Congress during the 1950’s, and therefore in no way reflects the original intents of our forefathers. Using their intentions is not a valid argument.

What is valid is the effect that these words have today. As you are a Senator of a state with a diverse population, I am surprised that you did not take our beliefs into consideration. The word “God” refers primarily to the Christian Creator – Judaism uses another word, Islam uses “Allah.” A number of citizens in this state believe in other forms of a Creator, such as a female form (Gaia) or a polytheistic form (for example, as in Hinduism and Paganism). And even others such as myself believe in a purely secular form of Creator, such as the Big Bang and Evolution. As of 2001, 21% of the state population self-identified as non-Christian – while this is a minority, we are still a significant percentage of the state. The choice of the word “God” is not inclusive of our beliefs of a Creator, just as if the Pledge contained “under Allah” or “under Evolution” that would not be inclusive of Christianity.

In conclusion, I feel that in expressing disagreement with the ruling by Judge Karlton you failed to consider that there are precedents of newer laws superceding the intentions of the Founding Fathers, and that the phrase “under God” is not inclusive of a significant number of your constituents. I hope that in the future you will consider points of view that differ from yours and represent the other constituents within the state that has elected you.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.



Feel free to modify (or not) this letter and send to your Senator.

See Also:
* Pledge ruling
* Senators' condemnation and appeal
* Senators by Zip Code

Friday, September 16, 2005
  6:28 AM — Belated Webcomics Telethon
This's a belated bit of info, but better late than never. Many webcomics authors out there have banded together to host a web-a-thon for Red Cross donations to hurricane relief. On this past Tuesday and Wednesday, every 20 minutes a new free webcomic was uploaded to the telethon site for your viewing pleasure. It's possible they're still going though, as I believe the number of comics they received was amazing. Participants include PVP, Sluggy Freelance, the Blank Label Comics people, a number of Keenspot people, and many various others. Keenspot even ran a box ad for it even though it's not one of their own products.

Go to the Webcomics Telethon page. Click the back button repeatedly until you get sick of it. Then go to the Red Cross link at the top and donate -- you'll be sent to the Red Cross homepage and you'll donate there, so you KNOW that the money isn't going to feed peckish webcomic artists / authors, but starving Katrina refugees. The webcomics telethon people are requesting that you self-report how much money you're going to donate so they can keep track of how effective the drive has been -- $27,000 as of my pageload this morning!

Monday, September 12, 2005
  5:36 PM — Modern Science
Well, I've decided to debut another blog... I'm not too sure why I'm doing different blogs on different topics, rather than throwing them all in here. Maybe so if you want to follow certain topics but don't want to be bothered with the others, you don't have to look at them.

This one's called Modern Science, and was triggered by a number of good conversations I've had on spiritual blogs about the purpose of science. The goal of the blog is to have a forum to discuss new scientific discoveries, the pseudoscience that has the world in its grip, controversies in science, and the demarkation of science from other fields (such as religion). I hope to stimulate open, honest, and respectful communication in the comments, and encourage all to post questions or discussion topics.

Come visit!

Sunday, September 11, 2005
  12:06 PM — BRAINS....
We all already know that zombies say BRAINS....., but (c/o faerieboots),

What does a vegan zombie say?


Suggested by Jethereal,

What does a zombie phlebotomist say?


And my own contribution (w/ help from Jethereal),
What does a zombie cosmologist say?


And if you laughed at that one you're a horrible dork and you'll never get laid.

Saturday, September 10, 2005
  7:59 PM — Ahoy! Thar be Talk Like a Pirate Day!
September 19th is international Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Talk Like a Pirate Day: Sept 19

  6:37 PM — Bloggers Against Bush
I have to be honest and say I don't understand the concept of impeachment well enough to (yet) support impeaching Bush, but I'm planning to look it up. If you do think he should be impeached, there's a bunch of bloggers who're calling for it and you can join them.

  12:30 PM — Fruit Fly Trap Instructions
Every so often, even for the most conscientious people, you get a fruit fly infestation. For me, I wasn't being conscientious, I had a banana in a smoothie, and made the stupid mistake of putting the peel in my worm compost bin. I think they're breeding.

Here's instructions for a environmentally friendly, humane, pet-safe, cheap, and easy fruit fly trap that you can make to help solve your problem. It also makes for a good science fair project for kids, as they can then experiment on the fruit flies and even watch their life cycle.


Take the cap off the soda bottle and using the thick needle (whatever you've got in a sewing kit will do) and the thimble to push, poke a hole in the top of the cap. Take a close look at this hole. In the finished trap this will be the only access fruit flies will have to get in and out. As tiny as the hole seems, they really can squeeze in through it, but since you've made a little heaven for them inside, they feel no need to get back out. Believe it or not, you're making them happy.

Screw the cap back on the bottle, and peel off the label if you want a better view of the future fruit fly farm. Use your scissors to cut off the top part of the bottle, where the sides stop tapering out and become straight. When you cut the two halves apart, the top part should be smaller, and look like a funnel (upside down), and the bottom part has straight sides.

Stuff your banana peel in the bottom half of the bottle - this is your bait / fruit fly food. Making sure the cap is back on the top half, flip it upside down and nestle inside the bottom part of the bottle like a funnel in a glass. The sharp edges from where you cut before should line up. Tape these edges together SECURELY. Clear packing tape is best for a good view, duct tape is most secure. DO NOT allow any gaps in the tape, and press the tape firmly against the bottle so there aren't any wrinkles going all the way through. If your trap ends up not working, this is what you screwed up.

Your trap is now done and should look something like the picture that I have yet to post on the right. ;) Place your trap anywhere you've seen fruit flies, though if you've weak stomach I'd suggest away from where you'd see it while eating. In a couple days you'll see your new fruit fly pets crawling around inside the bottle. If you're just trying to solve your problem, you can throw out the trap when your problem is solved (do NOT crush the trash until outside of the house or you'll release them all), or take the bottle outside and release them. Throwing them out won't actually kill them, unless you use an incinerator, and they'll probably be taken to the city dump and live happy lives there.

If you're curious or want the kids to learn something, keep the bottle for longer. In a week or two you'll also see little white grubs wriggling along the sides of the container as they breed. *ick* Dispose as above when school's done, or you get too grossed out.

  11:35 AM — School Donations
If you or your company are interested in donating items to schools, the US DOE has set up a page to connect donors w/ needy schools. That link is the page of schools requesting items, click on a school name to find out what they need. Strangely, a large proportion of these appear to be Christian boarding schools, so if I send things it'll keep going to the Astrodome or similar locations, but I figured it was better to list another place to send things than to not.

  11:09 AM — One family's useless ordeal
I don't usually post news stories here (News Unfit instead), but this one's worth it, and fits a train of discussion that's been here.

To summarize, wheelchair-bound mother Debbie thought the hurricane wasn't going to be much of anything, and besides if they evacuated they couldn't bring their "three dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, a gerbil, six hamsters and a parakeet." When the levees broke they escaped to the attic for three days, where the grandmother died and Debbie tried to convince her daughters to commit suicide with her using her painkillers. They were finally rescued by Debbie's brother, along with two of the dogs (but not the 11 other animals), but that doesn't matter because they had to abandon the dogs anyway.

A little forethought would've gone a long way. If they'd gotten out sooner, they might've had a chance of bringing the pets with them, more likely if they travelled on their own rather than going to the Astrodome, but as the mother had a disability that might not have been an option. As is, it's been horribly tragic and their whole point for staying was a failure.

Quotes from the article below, or just read the original.

Before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Sunday, August 28, Debbie said she hadn't paid much attention to the warnings and didn't want to evacuate without the family's pets. "I never once dreamed ... I just thought it would be a little wind and rain and then it would just blow over."

The family had lived in the three-bedroom house on Arts Street for 13 years. Melissa Harold, the grandmother, moved in several years ago after Debbie's husband died. They lived with three dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, a gerbil, six hamsters and a parakeet.

"My mom told us we weren't leaving because wherever we went, we couldn't bring our animals with us," said Tiffany, who wants to be a veterinarian and mourned leaving behind the pets, including those buried in the back yard.
Trapped inside the darkened, stifling hot attic of her flooded home in New Orleans with her two teenage daughters, Debbie Este watched her own mother die as they waited for help she thought would never come.

For three days they waited, sweating and stripped nearly naked because of the 110 degree heat, with no food and running out of water. The rising water reached the attic and threatened the survival of anyone inside the yellow-sided, single-story house.

During half the time they were trapped, the body of Debbie's mom, Melissa Harold, 68, who didn't make it through the ordeal, lay lifeless on the attic floor.
Debbie, who is 47 and uses a wheelchair, had carried her painkillers -- 60 Loratab 10s -- into the attic. And she asked the girls to swallow the pills with her to end the suffering.

"She kept on saying, come on and take 'em," said Tiffany, who marked her 16th birthday in the Baton Rouge River Center shelter on Monday. "I just kept telling her we were going to be saved, but really, I didn't know."

Amanda swayed her mother from suicide by talking about her future.

"I said I want to finish school and have a job and have kids and have a husband," Amanda said.

"She was miraculous. I couldn't believe it," Debbie said of her younger daughter. "I was so proud of her. She just screamed like that for hours and hours. Her and Tiffany kept saying we weren't going to die up here."

Tiffany doesn't remember much else, having slept most of the time, even though her mom regularly woke her up, afraid she had died. "After my grandma died, I just went to sleep. She thought I'd died, but I was just sleeping."
Soon, the drinking water was gone. By Wednesday, the same water they had to urinate in started filling up the attic. They inched farther and farther back.

Then, Debbie Este heard a voice from outside. Her brother, Aldo Harold, 50, had arrived by boat with some friends. Debbie had last talked to him by phone briefly three days earlier when the water started coming in to his house about a mile away.

"I thought I was dreaming," Debbie said. "I heard my brother hollering 'Debbie!' and I don't think I've screamed so hard in my life, I said 'We're here!'"

Tiffany, awakened by her mother's screams, realized they were going to stay alive. "My uncle just kept saying he was going to get us out."

In about five minutes, using an ax, Aldo chopped through the black shingles and wood of the roof so the three of them and two dogs could be pulled into the boat.
Two of their dogs survived the flood, a shitzu named Matt and lab mix named Princess, but they couldn't bring the dogs out of the city and had to leave them behind.


Friday, September 09, 2005
  11:12 PM — Who's fault now?
Interesting post arguing against the points Democrats bring up accusing Bush of failing in his duties re: Katrina/New Orleans. I must say that it's an admirable post and draws from many resources online, a number of which I am familiar with and find reputable. One of the sources he quotes a lot,, I've never heard of and am skeptical of, but Washinton Post, Red Cross, Hearald Tribune? Those I do believe, and he makes a good case on some points.

  10:08 PM — (Katrina + Hidradenitis) Victims
If you or someone you know suffers from hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and was affected by hurricane Katrina, an online group has started a contact list so you can let friends/family know if you are safe and your whereabouts. If you haven't noticed either of my two posts this year on HS, it's a potentially debilitating skin disease affecting a small portion of the population, and therefore little research is being done on a cure or treatments. You know those stories you hear on CNN about people being physically unable to leave their houses due to things like needing kidney dialysis or oxygen tanks? Well there may just have been one person unable to leave her home because of the grapefruit sized sores on her thighs, chest, and arpits that make any motion blindingly painful. And yet, it's extremely difficult for these individuals to get disability payments.


I kept hunting in my archives for an essay I wrote about what it's like to have HS, and then realized I hadn't posted it when I wrote it, but just saved it on my computer, b/c I feared it was too morbid. I'm going to have to read over it again and see if I'm willing to put it up.

  8:41 PM — 12 (LJ) Babes of Xmas
Apparently someone's set up an annual 12 Babes of Xmas competition. Your nominee must be a livejournal user, and come October there'll be a vote. The full list of nominees contains more than 600 unique individuals. Once you're nominated you can decline the nomination by doing nothing, or enter the contest by sending him a (non-nude) photo (or six) of yourself.

I wonder if the nominees have to actually be genetically female? What about transgenders and hermaphrodites? His FAQ doesn't cover that.

Thursday, September 08, 2005
  10:14 PM — Remicade and Enbrel?
Does anyone here have experience with the drugs infliximab (Remicade®) or etanercept (Enbrel®)? As you may have seen from previous posts, I have a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS. (If you google it, expect some disturbing photos.) After having a flare-up (thankfully minor) while on a pseudo-honeymoon in London, I decided enough was enough already, and today I discussed treatment options with my dermatologist.

If you've had any experience w/ Remicade/Enbrel, for any condition but especially HS, I'd appreciate your input! :)

  7:38 PM — You're not gonna believe this...
On Page 2, I'm "Candy Man." I've got the headers to prove it too!

The original letter it's referring to is still on The Stranger, but I can't find it on The Onion AV Club. (The Stranger is the "home" paper of Savage Love anyway.)

Dan Savage makes a point that didn't occur to me about bubble-gum cigarettes potentially enticing kids to smoke, but I occasionally got them as a kid and have never NEVER been tempted to try real cigarettes. *shrug*

Cool beans!

  7:22 PM — Ask an inappropriate question...
Today I saw a student with the following slogan on a T-shirt:

You, me, whipped cream, and a pair of handcuffs.
Any questions?

If it weren't totally inappropriate I would've replied with, "yeah, did you want to be whipped, or beaten with a paddle while I've got you handcuffed?"

His shirt totally didn't clarify which partner was to wear the cuffs. Or whether his partner had to be female. And if there'd be an audience. Man, there's a lot he left out.

  8:36 AM — Disaster Mail
In case you're sending stuff to either the affected areas, or to the Astrodome...


Wednesday, September 07, 2005
  6:51 PM — Fringe Theory
Alternative scientists can often provide valuable commentary on the shortcomings of mainstream science. For example, this "paper" starts off with a good criticism of the tendency of many scientists to write elaborate descriptive models before having solid theoretical models. To the humanities major who has somehow stumbled across this blog, an example could be how you know exactly how fast your car is going to go when you push down on the gas pedal (description of what the car does), without knowing a thing about what's going on under the hood (theory of how the car works).

Unfortunately this author then firmly plants his foot in his mouth by saying the astronomical equivalent of "cars are powered by two dozen fairies in a hampster wheel under the hood; see Geddes, Anne (2004)."

Folks, just because someone quotes someone else, doesn't mean any of them know their shit.

Astronomers, go read that paper and tell me at what point your jaw hit the floor. For me it was "Stars are an electrical, not a thermonuclear, phenomenon."

  5:31 PM — Out of Place
Today I got home from grocery shopping and started lugging my bags into the house. A man in khakis and a polo T-shirt was walking towards me, and I took a short-cut up my lawn to stay away from the unsavory individual. He was clearly not from the area, he had to be a Jehova's Witness or Insurance Salesman. He called out "Excuse me" in an Irish-ish brogue before I could entirely avoid him, and asked me directions to a place I didn't know. He showed me the Yahoo!Maps sheet he printed out, where he'd clearly taken a wrong turn in his tan-colored luxury vehicle. I directed him back on the right track, 100 meters back up the road.

It was a strange experience because I realized I had automatically moved to avoid a person who did not fit in the neighborhood. Not because he looked unsavory, in fact he looked quote wholesome, but because he was out of place--he was white!

  8:44 AM — Being Poor
I knew a woman who was younger than myself and had two children. Her boyfriend, not the kids' father, was getting in fist fights with her (not the children or I'd've called the cops), but she couldn't leave him because they were all living at his father's house. These things make me want to cry. And yet, that's still better than what many refugees from the Gulf Coast have.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
  12:31 AM — Government Obligations?
The question of whether our government is obligated to provide food and water for those suffering in New Orleans was recently brought up in my blogging blog. One person commented that it is not stated in the Constitution, and anything not permitted should be forbidden.

Liberal atheist though I may be, I agree with the late Pope John Paul II that food and water are basic rights that every living human behing deserves. (I happen to disagree with him on what is "food" and what is "medicine," and what constitutes a "living human being," as the Schiavo case showed, but that's a different argument.)

The Constitution does not state that we should save dying people because it is obvious. Specifically, it was already covered by the Declaration of Independence, and even that statement said that it was obvious:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
(Declaration of Independence)

In other words, "It's obvious to everyone that everyone deserves life, etc., and governments are created with the sole purpose to provide that, and if they don't, we should abolish that government and install another one." Maybe the Declaration of Independence doesn't hold the same legal weight as the Constitution, but whenever we talk about the intent of the founding fathers, I think it's a good place to look, and it very clearly says those people dehydrating in New Orleans deserve water from the government, and if the gov't fails in that we should get rid of it and put another government in place.

And now for something completely different,
Vote Stewart/Springer '08!

Monday, September 05, 2005
  7:29 PM — Church Wisdom
On a church sign in Palmer:

If you don't prepare for tomorrow, you may not like the results.

That church has the most awesome messages. I wonder if they really meant that to be a stab at our goverment.

  6:49 PM — Reactions, Comparison
I've been mentally comparing my reactions to Sept 11, 2001, and hurricane Katrina. Sept 11 hit me immediately, but it took a while for the Katrina disaster to sink in. Part of this may have been because NYC is my hometown, and part may be because it took a few days for the levees to break and the city of New Orleans to flood. The horror stories about NOLA keep rolling in too. The anarchistic reaction of some of the NOLA populace undermines my hopes for humanity, while the NYC firefighters and cops running back into the WTC did a lot to help it. In the WTC, after the towers went down, there was no chance of finding further survivors. Hospitals in the surrounding tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) were on alert to receive record high numbers of patients, individuals flocked to blood banks to donate, but neither the hospitals nor blood were ever used. In New Orleans people continue to die as I type, from starvation, dehydration, or pre-existing diseases that they have run out of medicine for. Many police have (understandably, I think) turned in their badges, and two have even committed suicide, shooting themselves with their own guns. On top of the tens of thousands of human fatalities we expect, I'm sure there were hundreds to thousands of pet deaths as well. Human bodies ARE being found, but there is no place to put them. I think this is a worse disaster for the country emotionally because the scale is larger, the location is more romantic, the disaster is spread out over a longer period of time, and there is no one for us to blame but ourselves, or maybe God.

How do your reactions compare? How do you think the two events compare?

Thanks for the many comments on my "Memories" post!

Friday, September 02, 2005
  8:53 PM — Memories
I went to the site of the World Trade Center Oct 3, 2001. New York is my hometown, and every year I make a pilgrimage to one of its great sites/sights. Usually I take one of my friends along for the ride, as their fresh eyes make everything seem new to my jaded ones. (We New Yorkers even wear black to weddings.) But this trip I made alone.

The main thing that struck me was the chalky smell in the air. I don't have that great a nose on me, but this couldn't be missed. The ground everywhere was covered in this off-white powder, made of the concrete and plaster and asbestos of the buildings. It got in your hair, your eyes, your nose. Even my skin felt dusty.

The next thing I noticed was a scaffold on another building, left from before, saying "METS SUCK!" That one elicited a bark of laughter from me. Nothing can break New Yorkers' spirit. Kill two thousand of us and we're still going to argue over whose team is worse. "Sox" who?

Then, as I walked around, I started to notice the holes in the sky, where the buildings used to be, or where I could see a building behind that I couldn't see before. I stood in front of this small church for a while, reading the signs that children had sent. Large banners and small, wishing the firemen well, and praying for those who died. Across the street were pictures of missing people. After a while I remembered the church, that it used to be incongruously small in front of the huge sky scrapers behind it. Now it was the remaining buildings that seemed out of place.

The last thing that stayed with me from my visit was the street vendor. Covering his usual newspapers, magazines, and "Rollex" watches were ... Americana. Flags, scarves, pins, hats, T-shirts, posters, snow-globes, you name it. Gray towers on a gray sky, ink faded from the cheap printer, "We will not forget." White background, waving flag, AMERICA, size M-XXL. The man himself had a flag bandana, flag shirt, flag tie, American blue jeans, and a bright blue jacket. He was foreign. At the time I didn't notice his ethnic origins, but now I think he might've been Indian, or perhaps even Middle Eastern. And all I could think was "This stuff, what he is selling, he is selling the American Dream."

This afternoon I was at a Lowe's (who I heard are doing donation matching for hurricane Katrina) buying a bird feeder. Birds are a great comfort to me. I'll put it up this evening sometime. In the checkout line I started to psych myself out. There was a man standing behind me, not too large but strong, carrying a heavy shovel. What was there to stop him from reverting to base needs and swinging that shovel at me and everything! Then he muttered aloud "Man, I picked the wrong line," and I remembered we are normal, we are good people, we are human. But so were the New Orleansers, before.

For the tsunami and this hurricane I donated the same amount to charity. For September 11th I donated twice as much. My parents organized that, one of Dad's coworkers was collecting for a police and fireman's fund, and they were shocked when I told them how much I wanted to give. My reply was that I had more than that, and I in fact felt ashamed I wasn't giving more.

When I got home from visiting the WTC site in 2001, I sneezed and had a drippy nose for hours. It all came out black. And then I realized it wasn't just cement and smoke and asbestos that I was breathing in the whole time, but also PEOPLE.

  8:03 PM — Any Refugee: Update
Package postage was $20.13, add that to the $14.80 that I threw in for stamps, and I spent a total of [does arithmatic in head...] $35.93 to send four care packages. If I hadn't wanted to put in stamped envelopes so they could write to relatives if they haven't been able to call them, it would've cost me on average five bucks to mail each package, and the contents were all in my house already and unneeded.

I sent them cheapest class possible, and they should get there in 7-10 days. And before you say "that's so long!" just like I did at first, tell me just when you think those people in the Astrodome will get to go home.

  7:27 PM — Sunfell's Earth Walk - Charities to donate to, charities to avoid
Link c/o rosefox, check out this list of charities with and without agendas, hidden or not. I'd mentioned elsewhere that I tend to avoid Salvation Army b/c of their evangelical leanings, so if you're looking somewhere and didn't want to take my word on MercyCorps, read that link.

Sunfell's Earth Walk - Charities to donate to, charities to avoid

  6:36 PM — Comfort Food
Receipt from Stop & Shop this evening:

Yeah, that last one's out of the blue.

And on a related note, I've been on the email list for the Librarian's Index to the Internet for a while. Today they sent out their list of hurricane Katrina-related sites. One of the top hits is an EPA webpage listing emergency ways to disinfect drinking water.

  12:55 PM — Gas Gouging
Does the gas cost in your area seem just too high? Check out this AAA page on gas costs throughout the nation. It seems that my city's charging some 30c/gallon more than the rest of the state. If you find a station participating in price gouging, contact both your state's Attorney General, and the DOE. Price gouging is illegal in 23 states.

  11:26 AM — What to Send Where
Any Refugee boxesThe New Orlean's Craig's List has a post up on what items are needed and where you can send them. It looks like my ideas weren't too far off track. Now I gotta get out and MAIL those packages.

  9:10 AM — Children's Books for Evacuees
My #1 favorite webcomic has a message that you can send books (childrens' books especially) to evacuee children at the Astrodome.

2700 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77098

It's a different street address than I got online, I think because as CNN describes there are two parts to the complex, the Astrodome, and the Reliant Arena, so perhaps this address is for the other part. I hope mine'll get there. I haven't sent it yet, but I don't think I'll change the address.

Other places care packages could be sent are Huntsville, San Antonio, and Dallas, TX, since the Astrodome is filling up. I don't think I'm ever going to make another Texas joke again.

Thursday, September 01, 2005
  11:27 PM — CNN Katrina Safelist
I'm sorry for the flood of posts on Katrina lately. It's how I'm coping.

CNN's hosting a list of names of people who want to notify their friends/family/the world that they're safe.

  11:22 PM — I Drew This: Nightmare
Simpson, I agree with you. While I wish I could better see what's going on, it's probably a good thing that I don't have TV right now.

  10:16 PM — Animals; Something Awful
I read a little earlier about a boy who had to leave his dog behind. Update I just found a link to one article on it on CNN. A bus had finally come to take him to Texas, but they wouldn't let him bring his dog. He cried so hard he threw up. The National Guard at the scene told the reporter the dog would almost certainly die. I don't know what I would do if I had that option: get on the bus without Peeper or don't. Maybe I'd find a way to sneak her on. If the option were me and my child get on the bus without a pet or not at all, I'm sure I'd do it, and I'm sure either the boy's parents decided that, or the guardsmen did.

If you want to donate to charity for animals, check out The Humane Society's webpage on it.

Man, this's all starting to get to me. Tomorrow I mail the boxes.

If you ever used to read Something Awful (, you've noticed it's down. That's because their servers were in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). Holed up in the server room is The Interdictor, formerly SA's "crisis manager," and posessing a military background. He's got diesel generators and somehow got the gas, and apparently the internet isn't down. He even took one of the servers over to City Hall to help them get back up, though I'm not sure what good it'll do. There's a police man and a few others there with him, and they're taking shifts 24/7 so they don't get looted, etc. I'm not sure if they have guns. Apparently people have urged him to get out, but he's staying there till the Hell and high water are gone.

  6:31 PM — Any Refugee
As per the tradition of sending "Any Soldier" boxes to WW2 (and more recently, Iraq) soldiers, I have put together four "Any Katrina Refugee" boxes/care packages. Each one included a letter as follows:

Any Refugee boxes

Any Katrina Refugee
8400 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77054

September 1, 2005

Katrina Refugee,

Please find enclosed in this package some goods that may be of use to yourself, friends, family, or fellow refugees. One of the items I have included is materials so that you can send a letter to relatives or friends outside the disaster zone so you can tell them you’re ok. I especially encourage you to share these among others, since if you contact just one or two people you know they can tell everyone else. If you wish to reply in the future sometime, my contact info is below, but you do not need to do so.

The nation and the world is following your story and doing what we can to help. You are in our thoughts and I hope for the best for you.



In each of the four boxes I put 10 pre-stamped envelopes, 10 sheets of paper, 2-3 pens, and some of them got cans of food that I've had in my pantry for years, small stuffed dolls my Mother gave me that I never really wanted, sample sizes or travel containers of shampoo and body wash (inside two ziplock bags each), and CureAd-brand Bandaids (the adhesive is too strong for me and hurts my skin). Two of the four boxes also have maxi-pads (ones I've had sitting around since I perfer tampons these days) and are addressed to "Any Female Katrina Refugee." I've heard pads are also good for injuries and sweat, so even if men get them they may get used.

I heard on the radio that people are bringing donations to the Astrodome but the Red Cross (who're running it) don't have the facilities to distribute it. I'm hoping that since I'm sending these as USPS mailed packages, that the postal worker will just hand it to some random person, and that will be the end of the burden of my package on the system. I find it interesting that I never got much in the way of care packages while I was in college - my mom sent newspaper clippings, but not cookies - and yet I'm sending these boxes. The total cost shouldn't be too bad: the paper goods and items I already had, $37 for a roll of 100 stamps but I only used 40 ($14.80), and each package I expect will be around $4-7, so my total cost will be less than $40.

Oh, and the person I helped on the phone last night, L***, she did get in contact with her two friends, J*** and C***. She hasn't yet reached her parents, who lived on the North side of lake Pontchartrain (sp?). I told her to have patience, as if they're ok contacting her is on the top of their list and may take weeks to do. In the meantime she (and anyone else affected) should keep doing normal things like going to work and eating, spend a lot of time with friends, and find a support group. I even gave her my number in case she just wanted someone else to talk to.

  2:36 PM — "It's worse than they're showing on TV"
My friend/co-worker S* sat in my office for a while relaying stories. A*, in her department, had family back in New Orleans. They are all safe, but they tell him that people are shooting at relief helicopters. The Superdome cannot be evacuated due to the ongoing violence (this one is on A whole city closer to the Gulf than NO was hasn't been reported on--why? Because there's no one left. Citizens were evacuated to the high school, and it was washed away along with everyone inside.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

--W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

A*'s family is pretty ingenious. They had three generators, but no gas, so they went to a gas station, which required electricity to run the pumps, and traded one of the generators for unlimited gas.

I'm going to start putting food in boxes and mailing it to "Astrodome, TX". I will not send it to the Superdome as it's likely to get stolen by looters. If you were thinking about going down to help, don't. September 11th, 2001, brought out the best in people. August 29, 2005, brought out the worst.


WARNING: This blog often contains disturbing stories of science and math as used in every day life.

If you are easily disturbed or a Luddite, surf on elsewhere.

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