Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rita: How Soon We Forget

Residents north of Houston, specifically The Woodlands and Conroe (my area of knowledge) won't soon forget Rita. In fact, most people are either without power or have the joy of rolling black-outs. No one complains too much--we all realize it could have been much, MUCH worse.

It seems that other people, however, have very short memories indeed. A friend stayed home from work on Monday and Tuesday since all the schools were closed (and a lot of everything else, save a few grocery stores). Her boss called her Monday saying, "You really need to look for a back-up source for child-care."

You have got to be kidding me. So a boss in the Katy area who is experiencing no inconvenience from the storm, whatsoever, assumes everyone else is in the same luxury yacht she floats in.

And then, talking to people from up north (anywhere north of the gulf-coast), it is amazing how little play this whole thing is getting. Oh yeah, yeah, the hurricane. Blah, blah, blah.

Oh realllly? the hurricanes are no big deal, 'eh? I bet these same people will be screaming when they purchase their home heating oil.

They can kiss my rear while they keep the thermostat at 60 degrees because "it's too expensive." Lovely readers, please catalog this little post and remember it mid-January when a huge "nor-Easter" blows through dumping three feet of snow (global warming the cause, no doubt) and people are "freezing to death" because they "can't afford to heat their homes".

I can hear Ted Kennedy now: "We cahn't heat the homes of the elderly. We need to raise tahxes."


One problem with the mass media breathlessly reporting from the "eye of the storm", is that it all feels like a good adventure movie--like the trauma and loss aren't really real. Sound bite rolls into sound bite and the next big thing happens.

While no one expects never-ending tears and sympathy--heck most tears that will be cried over this storm have already fallen even for those going through it--a little slack would be helpful.

And employers? Surely you can have patience with people sleeping in 100 degree heat or people without homes at all.

We all need mercy some time. A natural disaster seems like as good a time as ever to extend some.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hurricane Aftermath: The Story of Resilience

Bill Murcheson says:

We commission government to shield us from bad things, only to find that government -- made up of fallible human beings like ourselves -- lacks the necessary magical powers.

Indeed. Read more here.

Rita: Federal Funds Helping Churches

Should faith-based organizations receive federal money in the wake of disaster relief? No. Faith based organizations receive reduced-tax dollars from their members and are tax exempt themselves. They are guided by the Christian principle "give as they are able." They shouldn't do more than that. Period.

Linda Chavez says that faith-based organizations were the "first responders" to the crisis while Nagan, Blanco and FEMA fooled around. True enough. When will the government ever be more efficient than an individual or church? Uh, never. Federal funds will gum up the works for faith-based organizations.

Give people more incentives to give charitably. Cut their taxes so they have more to give.

Rita: Price Gouging and Market Lessons

People were stranded two miles from me on I-45. Many strategies to avoid this nonsense could have been employed--better travel management, for one. My husband said that exits should have been open in Galveston moving up I-45 at intervals and then you wouldn't be allowed on the freeway until another interval. So you would get on the exit in Galveston and the rest of the exits until north of Conroe would be sealed by police, blockades, etc. Then systematically opened as you moved north. Makes sense to me.

Here's another idea: Walter Williams says "let the market work". Indeed.

Abused Children Distracted by Anger at School

The thing that alarms me about this research: is it ethical to put abused children in a situation where they perceive more abuse? Sheesh! Sounds terrible, and abusive, too.

Episiotomies in Wide Use Even Though No Science Supporting Them

Wow. This is a shocker. A useless procedure that nets a doctor $400 for a 15 second cut and it's still around. An episiotomy and the "repair" cause the woman untold grief while recovering from the birth itself. They cause pain for months afterward adversely affecting her sex-life.

The most alarming thing? I know women who have asked for one! Clearly, women have been buffaloed about the so-called benefits. There aren't any. There is no such thing as a "controlled cut" when 10 cm head is pushing through a very small and stretchy openening. In fact, violating the integrity of the birth canal opening makes it weaker. Often a woman tears at the end of the cut.

"Episiotomy is one of those practices that became routine in obstetrics based on lots of theory and virtually no evidence that it was beneficial," says Dr. Graham. "Now decades later there is an accumulation of studies showing the practice is actually not beneficial, and in some cases can even be harmful, yet the operation continues to be performed liberally in many parts of the world. This is a prime example of some health care providers not keeping up-to-date with the literature. Women should be talking to their health care providers about this."

Episiotomies should be banned except in shoulder distocia and breech births. And even then they should be used judiciously.

Gastric By-Pass

People treated in public hospitals often don't receive gastric by-pass. Good. It's a horrible surgery with horrible side-effects. Over 50% of those who receive it are fat again within two years. Nutrient absorbtion is reduced to nil. People end up even more malnourished. The remaining part of their stomach re-expands. Guess what? Fat again!

The real problem is malnutrition to begin with. While people eat more food, it is food that lacks nutrition (processed foods, fast food, sodas, basically junk food) which makes people hungry because their bodies are starved of real nutrition. People get fatter and feel more hungry.

If you refuse to eat right, at least supplement your bad diet with WHOLE FOOD NUTRITION. Visit for more information.

Aneurism Hope

A friend died from a Berry aneurism. This treatment offers hope--in the hands of the right doctor.

Rita: Weary Travellers At Our Door

Friends without power called and then stopped by today to do laundry and sit in A/C. They look pretty good, better than I imagine I would, considering.

Right now they just seem to be soaking up the cool air. Heh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rita: Power Outages Continue

We have friends around Montgomery county who have suffered without power since the storm hit. Those of us with power lay cool with gratitude. Tempers are starting to flare everywhere, though. It is difficult to work without power. It is difficult to sleep without power. It is difficult to have a good attitude.

This message board says it all.

Welcome AW Readers

Hello subversives from ages past. Welcome and thank you for visiting.

Check out the archives where you will find health-related research and links, thoughts on leadership and psychology, and essays examining the not-so-obvious side of human behavior.

Leave a hello if you know us. Link

Mary Mapes--Remember Her?

Mary Mapes, the producer for CBS who along with Dan Rather foisted forgeries on American voters and (for once) got caught red-handed defends herself. That these two still act like they are victims when their actions harmed more people than the president--can you say lost trust? Can you say cynicism? Can you say discredited? Journalists have nothing if they have zero integrity and don't even try to look like they seek the truth.

Anyway, she's on the prowl again. Let's hope she stays unemployed. The more she talks the more she makes her case worse. Oy.

Thanks Instapundit, again.

President Bush Wants To Be Liked, Too

One criticism of the president is his steadfastly sticking to a point-of-view, not caring that eveyone disagrees. I don't know about that. While he stays the course in Iraq, he seems way to concerned about what some people think about immigration (and won't deal with it), about rebuilding NOLA (political suicide if he says let's step back and look at the facts?), about cutting spending (keeping congress people happy at the expense of the tax payers).

My opinion? He cares what people think--just the wrong people. I didn't mind if he p.o.'d Democrats. They didn't vote for him. I do mind that he seems deaf to his voter's opinions.

Katrina: News Coverage Exaggerated Reports

Well, I bought the Superdome Hype like everyone else and am embaressed to say so. I even reported some heresay, myself. It was third-hand and unverified [by me]. It is difficult to believe that a police officer would make stories up, but maybe he too didn't have all the facts.

To give myself a teensy-weensy bit of credit, the thought about when the people were going to come forward to press charges popped into my head--but not long enough to stop me and get me critically thinking.

Ugh. Being a mindless rube is so embaressing. Watching the reporters salivate and animate annoyed me, but I swallowed the message hook, line and sinker. A lesson learned. The MSM will do and say ANYTHING for ratings. Truth takes a back seat.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Stuck on Stupid: Have You Seen This Yet?

Every once in a while I worry that no real leaders exist. And then.....this. Thanks to The Political Teen.

Super Satire

Lyndie England Convicted

Lyndie England meets justice Army-style today.

I have mixed emotions. When I think of torture, putting someone on a leash naked (while humiliating and degrading) doesn't come to mind. Tasers, getting beat about the head and neck, losing a finger or two, head held under water until you almost drown, etc. come to mind. Her actions don't seem to rise to the level of torture. In fact, to frame it that way minimizes the true torture that prisoners of war in wars past really endured. Hell it minimizes the torture kid-knapped workers and soldiers of this war endure at the hands of the psycho-Islamofascists. Lyndie's stupidity seems to be small taters in comparison.

The real damage done by Lyndie and the other grinning idiots? Energizing the enemy. By never considering that these images would get out and never considering how the pictures would "inflame the passions", the soldiers involved confirmed the "evil American" view. The whole thing was stupid and short-sighted.

These soldiers damaged their own sides efforts. They should know the images would shame Americans--'cuz we know better and do beter. They should know their actions would degrade the impression of the military and legitimize the cynicism the media and anti-war people already possess. In short, their actions were bad enough. Taking pictures of it? Beyond stupid.

And for that they all should be punished.

What Price Freedom?

The strongest democracies bled much on their way to freedom. It is difficult to read in history books. It is even harder to read in the news and know that today people suffer. Perhaps like Poland and other countries that took their fate into their hands, Iraq will emerge stronger than we think and surprise those of us who worry that sectarian violence will undo it all.

Rita: It's Not Over Today

I spoke too soon. Today, not many posts. Did you notice that? Well, greater Houstonians are currently enjoying record-breaking heat (I can hear my relatives in Michigan and New York laughing right now: BUWAHAHAHAHA!!!!) in their non-air conditioned homes because of rolling black-outs.

Here's the deal: Yesterday wires were down everywhere. Today, they are getting put back together. Yesterday, people were still in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, etc. Today they have returned home and would like their electricity thank you very much. Yesterday the few lines carrying energy from Beaumont worked okay for those of us who still had power. Today, it's not enough.

The result? Rolling black-outs until everyone is up.

Entergy began rolling blackouts north of Houston because of heavy demand on its damaged system. [emphasis added--we are north of Houston]

KHOU calls it "misery". That is not a strong enough word for no A/C at 3:00 p.m. that lasts for hours.

Rita: UPS Delivers

UPS is here with my chain saw. Cool!

Accupressure Keeps You Awake During Boring Sermons

The actual research used students as subjects but I extrapolated. Stimulating certain accupressure points (chinese meridian points) keeps you awake and alert while sitting and listening for a long time.

Immune System Communication

One of the biggest questions medical research fails to answer: How does your big toe know how to fight an infection that you had only ever experienced in your ear?

Turns out the immune system communicates via hidden tunnels. No, I am not kidding.

Rita Aftermath: Back to Normal in Houston

Everything is getting back to normal. I might go out shopping with the kids today. Hot as blue blazes. Whew. We are pushing toward October and it is still 100 degrees outside.

I'm going to go back to posting normal stories. While thousands still suffer without power, we're keeping them in mind even as we get back to normal.

Rita: Funny Thing

On Saturday while breezes still blew it became obvious we dodged a bullet--all was a-ok. One thing struck me. Why weren't people out in my neighborhood cleaning up? Debris in the form of leaves, sticks, pine needles and some branches lay on everyones' lawns.

And then the neighbor answered for me on Sunday. Everyone (except us) has a lawn service. No one even owns lawn mowers, blowers, trimmers and weed wackers. Heh.

My friend made fun of us and called us "rich people wanna bes" 'cuz we have no lawn service. And I'm like dude, even if we had a lawn service we'd keep our lawn equipment. Jeez. While falling short in the do-it-yourself-work by good-ole-boy standards we are not total tools.

NOLA Wants YOUR Money

"This bill boggles the mind," said Steve Ellis, a water resources expert at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Brazen doesn't begin to describe it. The Louisiana delegation is using Katrina as an excuse to resurrect a laundry list of pork projects."

Big shock here. Louisiana, and its crown jewel city New Orleans, two of the most corrupt political entities in the USA want 16x what the Army Corp of Engineers say would be required to "fix" NOLA and 10x the Army's annual budget, $40 Billion--thats with a "B"--and that all this money should be controlled by (yup, you guessed it, the same people who sent federal money to casinos instead of shoring up the levees) New Orleans and Louisiana governments.

And so it begins.

Update: John Fund says clean up the corruption. Via Instapundit.

Another person who thinks like I do about letting NOLA go.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Natural Disasters & More National Control

Just because Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin are complete morons does not mean that the federal government needs more control, like President Bush suggests, in natural disaster situations. We are a representative democracy. If the dim-bulbs of Louisiana vote for a dim-bulb, they are represented by a dim-bulb.

Does being represented by a dim-bulb stink? Yes, it does. But it is their own dang fault.

Hurricane Rita at The Woodlands: What I Have Learned

Mr. Dr. blew the yard off, cleaned the garage of canine excrement (ewwww!) and checked in with neighbors and friends while I wrestled the baby, marinated some meat and cleaned up inside. Our friends have gone to their home since they have A/C and electric now.

While puttering around I pondered what could have been done differently and better. While people belly-ache about FEMA and local governments, it is clear to me that each person must be responsible for themselves. There are simply too many people with dire needs. That is who the Government should help. I estimate the "dire needs number" at 2 percent of the population (think hospitals, elderly homes, orphans and widows). Probably 10 percent have intense needs (paycheck to paycheck, little famial support). And probably 10 percent more are just stupid (I'll be fine, denial of the possible disaster, no planning--not for lack of resources.) All told, probably 20% really need the emergency resources.

But the rest of the 80% needs to have their collective act together. It's called SELF-RELIANCE. It is AMERICAN. And it is ESSENTIAL in crisis. Here is what we thought of too late:
  1. We need a generator. With temps in the 100s it is unthinkable to be without A/C. Energy is too fickle with just regular old thunderstorms.
  2. We need at least one, maybe two chain saws. We are surrounded by beautiful trees. Their lovliness turns ominous with a tornado or hurricane coming. We might have enough gas, but if a tree falls and blocks us in, we're stuck anyway.
  3. You can't have too much duct tape.
  4. You can't have too much plastic sheeting.
  5. Everyone should own a gun. After Katrina, I posted that we were going to go gun hunting. And we did have the ball partially rolling, with friends giving helpful advice and checking prices on the internet and all. But we needed one yesterday, not some time in the future. Yes, a gun is needed for protection. But if push came to shove, a gun can kill a deer for meat. We have lots of them around here--fat ones too 'cuz they munch unmolested in our planned community.
  6. Buy more perishables than you think. I know this advice runs counter to Dr. Neil Frank's advice. He says its all lost in a big storm. But my recent experience says not really. With extra people in the house, we went through milk and eggs and bread and butter at an alarming rate. Our gas stove and grill would have worked. We could have cooked for a lot longer with the food we had. We had plenty of ice to last us probably five days. We were out of milk in one day. (We had evaporated and powdered milk, too, but had to dive into that faster than I would have liked.)
  7. Good food keeps morale up. Eat together. Prepare it together. Clean up together. Like the military, no one should eat alone.
  8. There is safety in numbers. We housed friends who live in a mobile home. They felt grateful to have a more solid roof, but the benefit ran both ways. More hands to take care of things. Children to play with each other. Adults to play with each other. We played cards and watched movies together. We laughed and talked and kept one another company. We cooked for each other. It was fun. It is MUCH BETTER than worrying alone.
  9. Be careful who you invite! Our friends are wonderful. We get along great in good times. A sourpuss, negative nay-bob or chronic depressive kill-joy will do more damage than 100 mile an hour winds. So will a lazy leech. Working together, staying task-oriented calms the jitters and keeps energy productive instead of destructive.
  10. Men are good. New York City can keep their metrosexuals. When times get tough you need a real man--two or three are even better. They lift heavy things. They nail things. They do dirty work. One thing I like about Texas is that there are plenty of real men. Now, it gets annoying, too. But when times get tough, the tough get going. A side effect of divorce and single-motherhood is that so many women are left with caring for children while also having to think about protecting children. The task is almost impossible alone.
  11. Keep lots of bleach around. It kills germs and viri and is multi-use.
  12. Keep childrens meds around. My teething kid went nuts and we had no way to help. He just suffered. Our nerves suffered as a result.
  13. We needed more light. Had the electricity gone out, we would have been in the dark to conserve light. That would have stunk. We need some camping lights and I'm going to get some this week.
  14. All families should have a notion of survival methods. No joke, I was harkening back to summer camp when we were all required to go on two and three day bivouacs where we boiled roots for drinks, used shovels to make latrines, etc. While not eager to employ said methods, I could if I had too.
That's it for right now. We did some things right. Unfortunately, we would have been caught underprepared had things gone wrong. As a single person with only myself as a responsibility that might be ok. With children, running out of food or supplies--I don't want to think about it.

Rita: Power Outages & Miscellaneous Worries

We have power, but our friends still don't. This news about power restoration isn't encouraging, but sounds alarmist to me.

My biggest concern, not that state planners are consulting me or anything: Fuel. The people who are coming back will be out of gas once they get here and I have bad news--there is hardly any stations here with gas and the word gets out quick if there is any.

Another concern: what if a hurricane, terrorist attack, earthquake in California, tornado in Kansas, and the Great Lakes flooded all at the same time? We need a National Plan says the Army. Yes we do.

Rita: NOLA The Biggest Victim?

Update: Brendan Loy says that Rita won't stall and it keeps moving Northeast, but that New Orleans is flooding anyway.

Has anyone considered how in the world NOLA is going to be rebuilt since it floods every time it rains? And, we are entering the rainy season. I have three words: LET HER GO. She has had a good life, longer than she should considering her inherent weaknesses. We could spend the resources in many other ways. Make the French Quarter an island. Let her go.

Via Instapundit, I just read that Hurricane Rita might hang a U-ey and travel toward....New Orleans. Unbelievable? Impossible? Maybe. Read more here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita: Post Traumatic Stress Order

No disorder here. Just relief. Some more friends over. Still have A/C. Some don't even around here.

My solution to removed stress? Eat, of course! (It is also my solution to stress, but I digress.)

Eating spaghetti and tacos (the real, really good Mexican kind) and cupcakes. That's a balanced meal, right?

Rita: The Woodlands Saturday Afternoon

Peace and quiet, occasional zephyrs (look it up, it's a fun word to know--I learned it from Owl, Winnie-the-Pooh's friend, myself) and clouds.

Mr.Dr. went around with his video camera to see what happened. In another life, I am convinced that he was an amulance chasing lawyer. Anyhoo....A major tree down in the Sterling Ridge shopping center. A tree down in our little park.

It will take a few days to clean up, probably. Otherwise, it looks like Galveston and Beaumont and Port Arthur took the brunt.

Gratitude unbounding here.

Assigning Blame for Katrina (but a Good Life Lesson Generally)

See commentary by Miami Herald-Tribune journalist Rod Thomson here.

Rita: The Aftermath in The Woodlands

Mr. Dr. said to me yesterday, "This is going to be the biggest non-story."

I disagreed. Somebody was going to get hit. And for someone, this was going to be a very big story. But in one sense he was right: for us, so far, it has been a non-story.

While the rest of the household slept, the phone rang and my daughter answered and said, "No the hurricane didn't hit. We're ok and our friends are here. We're having fun." Pretty much sums it up for us.

At around 2 a.m., the wind pounded a bit and tree branches bounced off our windows which was a tad unnerving and woke me up. I woke Mr. Dr. up just in case a tornado brewed and we needed to get everyone to safety. We looked at the news and all looked ok.

Friends in Conroe have no power. Friends in Houston have no power. They have to wait 'til the wind dies down to fix it. So, these people are hot--although the temp outside I'd put in the high 80s not 100 like it has been. That's a blessing. Not sure they'll want their windows open if it's raining, though.

Another plus, all the schools in the area are filled with people who couldn't get anywhere. The plus is that we still have power so they are cool and dry and lit so no one is freaked out. I called one of the churches and the recorded message had a lady almost crying saying, "We are not a shelter. We are over capacity. I'm so sorry. Please find someplace else."

After we ascertain our friends safety, we might go and see what the people need close to us at McCullough.

That's it. Power, which means no looting, 'cuz the alarm systems are working. Power which means cool comfort. Power which means refrigerated food. Power which means clean water.

So far, we have power. Hallalujuah!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita: If I Go Down

Hey ya'll. If I blink out, go here for bloggers around Houston. Maybe they'll stay live longer than me.

Rita: My Last Request

UPDATE: I received some constructive feed back: "you had me at don't have another stupid telethon". So I reverted to journalistic wisdom "when in doubt, cut it out." Ahhhh, much better.

Before power goes out, please honor my last request. It is directed at.....celebrities. When the storm "ravages" the gulf coast, when the "human suffering" wrenches the faint-hearted and weak-kneed, when "disturbing images" disturb, please don't have another stupid telethon featuring overwrought, hand-wringing ernest beautiful people.

My one request to these people? Send money. Lots of it.

Put your money where your mug is and spare us the posturing. The American people possess unsurpassed loving generosity. They will give, probably more than they are even able. One friend gave all her excess cash to get a family into a house. She and her four children and her mom put-putted on I-45 hoping she made it.

So don't worry about the average Joe. He does his part. Celebrities: do yours.

Rita: Surging Power

Hi all... I was hoping for power through the night or at least until the winds. But We are surging right now.

The wind is barely moving yet. The first couple of drops have dripped from the storm. 60,000 customers without power down in Galveston.

So, if you don't hear from me in the next few hours, don't fear the worst--just blame downed power lines or a blown transformer.

Otherwise, we have had a nice dinner. We are running the dishwasher. The house is an icebox in anticipation of electricity loss. My feet are cubes. But we shall endure, because I'll be the first to complain when the heat rises.

If I hear one more person say "stay safe" I might have to create some flying debris. Every one tries to stay safe. Not everyone can do it.

P.S. We have a shotgun by the front door. A good deterrent hopefully.

Rita: Settled In

Well, Maria & family are here. They experienced bigger gusts than us they said. So everyone is relieved to be in a house.

For those of you without TV, go to Yahoo News and connect to KHOU Houston. The TV is online with no commercials.

Sky is gray but no problems. Eduardo is making some kind of mixed drink for all of us. We don't have tequila so no marguaritas, but we'll make due!

We'll watch the movies soon. Have the Hispanic station going on the TV. One of our neighbors has a brother and sister-in-law and 5 month old baby who was 2 pounds when she was born. The mom just got out of the hospital from her fifith surgery in as many months.

Just saw on the TV that Houston has never been without water during a storm, including Alicia the big Cat 3 Hurricane in 1960. The Woodlands is an extra-territorial district of Houston. That means we have no local government (it's amazing how well we do without one). We have 80 gallons in a pool in the garage. Both our tubs are full. Lots of full buckets. Lots of bottled water.

It looks like Rita is going to hit East of Houston. That means we worry about tornados and trees falling due to winds in the 50-90 mph range.

Rita Update Thursday Afternoon

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Maria and her family will be coming over in the next hour. That way we can get all set up before we hunker down. The Lord of the Rings plan will be activated at 1500 hours. (Writing in military jargon makes me feel more prepared. Roger that.)

I read a blog that said that the reason the roads are so full is because areas that didn't need to evacuate are evacuating.

Ok, we are in the Woodlands--we'll get high winds which blow intermittantly right now, but we are supposedly far enough north, just outside Harris county and into Montgomery county, that we shouldn't evacuate. Everyone should stay put. We shouldn't "clog the escape routes".

And yet, yesterday stores were closed and shelves empty. Same for today. If it is so safe, why not keep the stores open and operational, the restaraunts feeding people, etc? If it is so safe, keeping normal services serving would do a lot to diffuse the siege mentality and calm fears.

The Hurricane won't hit shore in full force until 11-2 a.m. tonight. All people are doing right now is sitting and watching their TVs and freaking O-U-T.

So, either we should be worried and it is bad, in which case we should have boarded up homes up here. Or, we are safe enough out here that the stores can be operational at least until noon.

The enterprising woman who owns our building also owns about five donut shops. Guess what? they were all open and she is making a killing! She sold out of donuts and was making them as much as possible.

She is an individual business owner. Small business owners stay going as long as possible because thier livelihoods depend on staying open. One of the problems around here, and some of you may think I'm crazy, is that because all the businesses are national chains, the liability of staying open probably supercedes the money that could be made by the HUGE business they would have.

In addition, because of the short-sighted debacle on I-45, supplies simply could not get in here. So, now the Woodlands has lots of extra inhabitants and there are no supplies in the stores and no gas.

Here I am bitchin' about the lack of planning, but I'd like to direct you to my post Wednesday morning. Getting out of Houston, or into Houston, for that matter on I-45 is a pain in the arse with moderate traffic.

Corsicana (is anyone from that forsaken stretch reading this?) has had construction going on for the eight years I've lived here. Friends who have lived here for 15 years said it has been going on for as long as they have been here. ANNOYING and worse than annoying: PREDICTABLE.

So, sitting and waiting and having the luxury of time to ponder what needs to be addressed the next time. Perhaps with this storm the wind, rain and flooding will better teach us for the future.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita: Why I'm Still Worried

NOAA Discussion:
Although Rita has wobbled westward during the past couple of
hours...the overall motion during the past several hours has
remained west-northwestward...about 300/9. There are no changes to
the official track forecast...since the various dynamical models
straddle the previous advisory track. Rita is expected to
gradually turn northwestward and eventually northward as the high
to its north slides eastward. Rita is forecast to then essentially
stall in about three days in the area of northeastern Texas where
steering currents are forecast to become very weak. This scenario
poses a great risk of very heavy rainfall well inland and for many
days after landfall.

Rita: When Does A Cat 4 Look Better To You?

Latest track isn't uploading but it looks like it's moving East. But I don't trust it at all. Too shaky.

Better sleep while I can. Here's the latest link.

Rita: Stormwatchers

Well, here are other people like me. Doing what I'm doing--staying behind, preparing for the worst (feel unprepared--kinda like I felt going into my National Boards for School. Can you ever know everything? Can you ever prepare for all contingencies?)


Beautiful Evening

Took in an amazing fuscia and golden pink sunset with the fam tonight at the local park. Neighborhood serene and orderly, as usual. Air balmy, tropical and sensual like a beach in Cancun.

Can you imagine enjoying this lovely weather without having instant communications and satellites and brave pilots who fly into these monsters to measure them? Is it any wonder 7,000 people died in Galveston back in the day? They probably had gorgeous weather and then BOOM!

And while we gazed at the ducks and lapping water and the sky.....

Overhead at least six helicopters flew by. All heck is breaking lose on I-45, I think (don't have the gas or desire to look for myself, though I am really curious).

Sirens and sirens and sirens. Almost continually. Wonder what crisis is occuring while I sleep in my comfy bed with my babies safe and secure.

Rita: New Forecasting Model

This model (thanks Brendan Loy) is the newest Hurricane forecasting model. It accurately predicted Katrina and her eye-wall collapse. This model forecasts a "worst case scenario"--a direct hit on Galveston.

Read more here.

Rita: Everything Closed

Well, what's done is done. Everything is closed--except Home Depot which closes at 9 pm.

Wal-Mart closes at 4:30. The rest of the stores are closed. I asked when they would re-open. They said Sunday "if all goes okay".

The vehicles are in the garage. Mr. Dr. blowing off the yard so it's not too backed up when the wind really whips up.

It is alternating between blast-furnace breezy and dead, stagnant heat. It is alternating between increasingly quiet and the sirens of police and fire trucks.

The whole stituation feels surreal. Mandatory evacuations for all people who live in mobile homes. Around here that's lots of people.

Weird random thoughts popping through my head: the bombing of London, the helplessness of being stuck on the freeway, being unable to communicate for days, maybe weeks, the misery of living in 100 degree heat without air conditioning. The fact that I'm probably not going to be flying out of Houston next Wednesday to go to Philadelphia for continuing ed.

Wondering: did we make the right decision staying? Can't even imagine being stuck in traffic, though. Driving for 17 hours when it should take two? Gimme a break.

Wondering: why do people get adjusted as a huge natural disaster looms? I heard of patients who come get adjusted and then commit suicide. Part of the routine? Comfort at the end? Says a lot about how much our patients love Mr. Dr., though. Hopefully, they make the office the first stop after they clean up! Nerve-wracking being self-employed at times such as these.

Ok, post more later.

Rita: Check Great Analysis on Brendan Loy

For best interpretation of news go to Brendan Loy's website.

Rita Strike Probability Thursday Morning 10 am

She's coming into Galveston Bay and will travel up the 45 and 59 corridor. Louisiana will get wacked again.

People's cars were overheating. There's no more gas. People are sitting on the freeway, walking along.

People are driving the wrong way on the high way into on-coming traffic.

In shorty, anarchy brews.

Rita: Find Out About Us This Way

Ok, friends and family. Probably after about midnight tomorrow night communicating will get dicey. Any information we can get out of here will be via my mom. Her number is 856-478-4844.

Call her, not us, when phone lines go dead. If we can get through, we will call her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita: Last Moments

Perhaps you're wondering how the fam and friends will spend our last moments before power loss, debris as projectiles, car alarms, house alarms, and then silence. Maybe not, but I'm telling you anyway.

We shall watch as much Lord of the Rings as we can get through. We shall eat popcorn. We shall drink ice-cold Coca-Cola, maybe even a brewsky or two. We shall think noble thoughts until the storm hits and then scream like babies and run for cover in closets and interior bathrooms.

How's that for noble? Heh.

Oh, and I plan to blog 'til the bitter end. Phone lines will be clogged. We all can communicate this way for as long as possible.

P.S. If you would like to sign up for Google talk, email me at and I'll invite you. Takes two seconds and we can either instant message or talk for FREE! It is simple and awesome. So no need for phones. It's called Google Talk.

Rita: Gas Gone Thursday Night

At around noon today, a line snaked around the Exxon gas station with people waiting for a turn to fill up. My tank was full but did not runneth over so I topped it off.

Mr. Dr. went to top his off tonight. All gas stations tapped out. "Out-of-order" signs everywhere.

I do believe we have entered the twilight zone.

Makes me think of one of my favorite Tolkien quotes by Gandalf to Pippen before the last fight. "It is the deep breath before the plunge." Pippen says, "I do not want to be in a battle...but waiting on the edge of one I cannot escape is even worse!"

Check out other great militarily oriented Lord of the Rings quotes here.

P.S. Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for giving us the D batteries. We will hopefully be able to find the potty at night now. (It may not be all that hard--a tree in the backyard is not so hard to find at our house.)

Rita Strike Probability Thursday 12:05 a.m.

Uh oh.

Rita: More Updates

Well, Mr. Dr. said that all the patients he saw today said that they would be leaving "in the middle of the night", "If I had a dime...." was his direct quote. Um, newsflash not-yet-weary travellers, no one is going anywhere. It took 3 hours to travel 30 miles to get to Conroe today. 2 1/2 hours from the airport to the Woodlands (normally takes 25 minutes).

There's no gettin' out. If it sounds like a good premise for a horror flick, I thought of that too.

People still actin' crazy. Next door neighbor has no water. NONE. She seems a tad checked out about the whole thing. Her house is pristine, though.

Two neighbors I talked to today were thinking what I'm thinking looking at our walls of windows: uh oh. Hope the trees don't fall through them. Hope the wind isn't too bad. Hope God turns the storm around and it wipes out Fidel Castro and his henchmen--no one else, just them. Well, maybe they weren't thinking that.

Kids out of school for Thursday and Friday. "Just in case of weather" was the official explanation to the kids. Like all kids they took it in stride. No big whup--yippee! No school!

Meanwhile, I gaze at their naive innocence and pray that there is enough food, water, everything for them. Don't even want to contemplate a hungry or thirsty child.

Car accidents every five minutes. People are panicky. It would seem excessive--yet a Category 5 hurricane named Rita is strengthening as this is written. So getting food and supplies and stuff isn't excessive, it's sensible.

We need more water. We need duct tape. We need plastic sheeting. We need D batteries. But other than that, we're Jim-Dandy fine.

Rita: Woodlands Update

Got water. Mr. Dr. saw a pallet get delivered at Krogers. It was all sold in 3 minutes, he said.

Hurricane Rita at The Woodlands

Still no water anywhere. Got four six-packs of gatorade.

I-45 going north is almost completely stopped to Sawdust exit. There is so much construction around Houston.

Here is MY worst case scenario:

Accidents and slow moving traffic cause people to get stuck on I-45. Their cars start to flood. They have no where to go.

Sound far-fetched? Heavy storms already render parts of I-45 impassable between The Woodlands and Conroe. Last big storm I remember people were abandoning their cars and walking to safety.

We are staying put. The weather guys evacuated their families yesterday.

The stores are packed. People are getting more hysterical and edgy. I topped off the truck and the lines are out of the parking lot. Gas will be gone soon here and the freeways will be clogged.

Sounds like paradise to me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Galveston, I Mean Gallows Humor

If I haven't already offended most of you in my blog, then I'm not trying hard enough. So, here is another warning: cheeky story follows. If you lack a sense of humor or if the use of the word "hell" (as in hades) bothers you, I suggest that you proceed no further. Again, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Please, no church lectures. We've already established that I'm a bad seed and working on it.

Subject: Chemistry mid term

The following is an actual question given on a University

of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one

student was so "profound" that the professor shared it

with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course,

why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or

endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using

Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when

it is compressed) or some variant. Onestudent, however,

wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing

in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are

moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I

think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets

To Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the

different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of

these religions state that if you are not a member of their

religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one

of these religions and since people do not belong to

more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to

Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can

expect the number of souls in Hell to increase


Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell

because Boyle'sLaw states that in order for the

temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the

volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls

are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at

which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and

pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of

souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will

drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during

my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before

I sleep with you", and take into account the fact that I slept

with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus

I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen

over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has

frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more

souls and is therefore, extinct... leaving only Heaven

thereby proving the existence of a divine being

which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh

my God."


Worst Case Scenario

My husband's favorite phrase is "worst case scenario" and then fill in the blank. Tonight we laughed (hopefully not our last--ha! ha! ahhhhhhhhhh!) because this really could be a "worst case scenario".

Well here's what the worst case scenario for Houston would look like if Rita is just right or just plain really, really wrong.

Rita Strike Probability Wed 1:00 a.m.

Rita Wiping Stores Out


  • Stores out of water
  • Stores out of generators
  • Stores out of plastic spoons
  • People freaking out
  • People fighting in water isle of local Wal-Mart
  • Witnessed tension at Target
  • Office manager and husband heading to Dallas
  • We have food but hope water will be delivered at stores tomorrow
  • Long lines at gas pumps
  • Lots of men shopping--not the normal shopping demographic
  • Heat wave in Houston 100 degrees today.

Rita Wiping Stores Out

Ok guys, I've been shopping to Kroger and Target today and the shelves are nearly empty of anything survival related. Mr. Dr. and I witnessed some tension in the water isle at Target and a emergency personnel friend of ours who is helping Wal-Mart shelve water said a full-on fist-fight broke out over water.

Dude, it is OFF THE HOOK here.

I spoke to one lady who is housing all her relatives from NOLA and now she was trying to stock up for Rita--only there was nothing much left.

All stores report shipments tomorrow, but people are freaking out today. Water is being rationed at stores. A state trooper was walking into Kroger as I walked out at 9:30 pm.

Mostly men shopping tonight. Everyone walking with purpose. Genial and contained but serious.

So much shopping, in fact, that Kroger had run out of grocery bags, were using food packing boxes (banana boxes) and I got the last three they had in the store tonight. Felt bad for the people going IN to the store as I was leaving.

I live 45 miles in-land from Galveston. A little too close for everyone's comfort. No more generators in town. No more water right now.

Like I said, OFF THE HOOK!

Our office manager and her family are bailing and going to Dallas. We are waiting for better info tomorrow.

My concern is that our house is surrounded by monstorously huge trees because the former owner loves the "natural look". Our house might be naturally impaled by the branch-snapping winds. Oy.

Is there anywhere along the coast that has Zero population? Could we please pray that Hurricane Rita gets ladylike and mosies over there? Thanks all.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blogging: An Existential Crisis

Many people feel that blogs are just narcisstic efforts by people with very pathetic little lives. Or narcisstic people covering other narcisstic people.

The MOST Important Factor for Health

My patients and many friends who ask for advice don't want to hear this news: their diet, exercise, sleep patterns only slightly influence whether or not they will get chronic disease. From the friend with cancer who has convinced herself that she gave it to herself because of eating sugar to the aerobic addict, the bad news for them is that this behavior while helpful is not as important as this:

Do you have lots of friends? Do you feel loved by your spouse? Does your church group pray for you (do you even go to church)?

People with these networks often do better economically, but I think research at this point has gotten the causitive agents backwards: you are not well-connected because you're economically well off, you get economically sound because you're well-connected.

Why? It's a matter of worldview. Our perception changes from "I'm alone in the world" to "I am not alone." This life-view supercedes jogging, eating vegetables, getting 8 hours sleep, etc.

People with this life-view trust more and make more friends. This positive view gives them a reason to exercise, eat right and manage their money. Eating right might help you think more clearly but it can't change your mind or philosophy.

Here's the dead horse: change your mind, change your life. (And live longer too, even if you eat junk, drink like a fish and the most exercise you get is picking up your phone to call your friend.)

Milk Causes Osteoporosis

The American dairy association will put up a fuss about this research that we in the Alternative Health field have preached for years: milk causes osteoporosis (and a lot of other problems, too, but right now we'll talk about bone loss).

Because some of you won't go to the link either because it's too much trouble or it so disturbs your paradigm that you want to ignore it, I'm including the full text here:

Dairy milk is singled out as the biggest dietary cause of osteoporosis because more than any other food it depletes the finite reserve of bone-making cells in the body.

So although milk makes bones stronger in the short term, in the long term it erodes bone-making cells, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This explains a paradox: black people are known to be less tolerant to lactose in milk, and consequently they drink less milk, yet they get much less osteoporosis than white people. This new research resolves the paradox because by consuming less milk you are less likely to get osteoporosis.

Growing evidence is showing that calcium in milk does not protect against osteoporosis. For example in a 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk. Similarly, a 1994 study in Sydney, Australia, showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk: those with the highest dairy consumption had double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption.

Author Russell Eaton says: 'Dairy milk does increase bone density, but this comes at a terrible price. The latest research is showing that far from protecting bones, milk actually increases the risk of osteoporosis by eroding bone-making cells. Also, people with osteoporosis have a much higher incidence of heart disease and cancer, and the evidence is pointing at milk as the common factor. '

It had been thought that prostate cancer was caused by harmful fats in the diet, but this may not be so. Calcium and phosphorus in milk serve to feed nanobacteria, causing calcification and cancer.

It seems that harmful calcification, caused by nanobacteria in the body, is at the root of many diseases such as arthritis, kidney stones, heart disease and stroke. These microscopic organisms get fed calcium and phosphorus from the bloodstream and then secrete calcium phosphate to cause calcification. In the book The Milk Imperative the author shows how dairy milk feeds nanobacteria, thus causing many serious diseases.

Commenting on the book Dr. Amy Lanou (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, USA) said: 'There is a compelling argument that today's pasteurized milk, in all its guises, has virtually no redeeming features at all, and serves only to cause disease and poor health. By simply switching from dairy to non-dairy milk we will make a dramatic and long-lasting improvement to our health.'

Go to the linke here.

Katrina: Turn Off the TV When Kids Are Around

Common sense, really, that watching too much coverage of the devastation traumatizes children. It traumatizes adults but we have a context for this bad news. Children don't. Read the research here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Good News Missed

Did you think I forgot my Good News Day? I didn't. Just didn't have time to post. So, here it is:

I had the opportunity over the past few weeks to observe two "functional" (as opposed to dysfunctional) families give their son and daughter in marriage. More than the sheer, unadulterated joy of the occassion expressed by all, the cynicism that often marks these events anymore was totally absent. With the divorce rate over 50% in the first seven years, who can be safely optimistic?

This marriage and this couple boast the support and belief of all present. And, based on the great record of the families, the faith is well-placed.

These families' success was no accident. Little every day decisions made over and over added up to good habits and practices and reaped results.

No doubt, the parents faced challenges in their marriages. They argued, I'd guess, but from all reports, handled disagreement fairly and resolved them.

They raised their children with a firm Christian foundation and had extremely high expectations. One dad said, after I marvelled at the success of his three children, "When they were teenagers I became their friends. The job was already done." His son asked him to be best man.

Both sets of parents worked hard, too. They saved money for their kids. One side effect of divorce are the long-term financial losses. Each divorce causes 10 steps back for one step forward. (Not saying no one should get divorced, just saying it is tough economically.) In fact, after health care woes, divorce is the single greatest factor in American bankrupcies.

So, not only did the kids see great married examples, not only were they raised with solid values but they also received economical benefits. They are being given a boost at the beginning of their lives together so financial stress doesn't cause marital stress.

See how all this is a circle?

I am enormously curious about making a family work. What makes a great marriage? What financial decisions do responsible people make for the future? How should children be reared so they show respect for themselves and others and use their talents and live joyfully?

Putting the answers to these questions into practice changes lives for generations. Happy individuals got married and formed happy marriages and then they raised happy kids who meet and now have happy marriages.

They exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Let's see: they chose to love each other, laughed a lot, found peaceful solutions to disagreement, endured with patience their spouse's shortcomings, interacted with kindness, were good i.e. charitable and encouraging and giving, remained faithful and committed (40%-70% of people commit adultery--how's that for tearing the fiber of a marriage apart), acted gently remembering their own faults and, when they wanted to "lose it" or have their say or strike out they exhibited self-control. They didn't strike out.

A quick depressing contrast: loathing their spouse's existence, expressing contempt (eye rolling and sneering which have over 90% prediction rate for divorce), rarely resolved disagreement or vicious fighting--hitting "below the belt", impatient, mean, selfish and withholding, unfaithful, harsh and unforgiving, and regularly expressing their most vile thoughts and feelings or indulging in the most base activities because it made them feel better. Far too many marriages function this way these days. Some end in divorce. Many just foment suffering amongst the partners and then the suffering gets foisted on the children.

But that is not the marriage I just witnessed. No, this new marriage will be built on a solid foundation, one laid by their parents and their parents before them. Its strength is something to behold. It is something to aspire to.

These families give me hope. Their hard works blesses us all.

Rita Strike Probability

Here Comes Rita

Why do I get the feeling she is going to take a right hand turn and hit Houston? Maybe I'm just paranoid. Just a feeling.

Look here.

Tom Peter's Feels Blue

Tom Peters, management guru, waxes contemplative. Like everyone he is brought low by the New Orleans events. But he was buoyed by Bush's speech. Read more here.

Katrina Housing--ON A CRUISE SHIP!

Link here.

Breast Cancer Detection

Mammograms? Thermographs? MRIs with differential? Digital Mammograms?

Despite the latest study results, he said, "it's still more important who's reading the picture than whether it was done on film screen or digital."

Here is my order:
  1. Thermographs--no radiation so no causation of cancer if tendency.
  2. MRIs with Differential--if you have a family history of breast cancer, also no radiation.
  3. Digital Mammograms--better for young women, have radiation.
  4. Old-fashioned Mammograms--radiation.
However, skill of imaging interpretor is most important of all!

Moderate Islam: Does It Exist?

This weekend at church, I amiably argued with a friend over whether "Moderate Islam" exists. My position was thus: Moderate Muslims do not exist because they cease to become practiciing Muslims when they "moderate". More specifically, they no longer follow the teaching of the Qu'ran as laid down by the Prophet Mohammad.

My friend vehemently disagreed. He felt believes that Moderate Islam does exist and that the American people are generally bigoted against the majority of "peace-loving Muslims".

He went further to state that the media portrayal of the Arabs is "unfair" and that the Jews are no longer special or "God's people." Well, this is another argument altogether, but one that gets thrown into the bag.

The basic gist is this: Muslims, Arabs and anyone Middle-Eastern non-Jew are portrayed as fascist, murderous nuts and it is an unfair depiction.

I need to learn more about this myself and am currently researching the history and religion of Islam and the history of the Crusades as well.

Here is my current position: while there are nice Muslim people, and I have friends who describe themselves as Muslim, the Islamic religion cannot be construed as "peaceful" in any way, shape or form.

Here though is a phenomenal link which captures my current position better than I can write myself.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina Obsessed: Helping After the 2-week News Cycle is Over

Well, it's been two weeks now, since Hurricane Katrina decimated a wide swath of the gulf-coast reagion, so I'm guessing everyone feels fatigued about the whole story. Two weeks seems to be the average American's attention span in all things newsworthy.

While I'm weary, too, of pundits pontificating like pompous windbags, my fatigue seems rather superficial compared to those who are just coming out of the ether and trying to decide what to do with what little is left of their lives.

Having gone through a couple major ordeals in my short life, I found that people possess very little patience for the grieved and brokenhearted. While we are a nation of "get over it already", we rarely can get over it fast enough for everyone's comfort: most of the time because we are dealing with difficulty day-to-day that people can't comprehend. They want you to be over it because they don't want to deal with the difficulty of looking at your sad face.

For example, four years after my premature son was born, it still yook an hour to feed him. About four hours of my day was spent in a chair facing a resistent little toot. He simply did not want to eat. I won't tell you how long it took to potty train him. And all sorts of parents with challenged children deal with wheelchairs, feeding tubes, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, voice therapists, etc. Except for the feeding tubes and wheelchairs, my son still has all these helpers--it is eight years after the storm.

Most people going through a long-term storm, like those who will deal with post-Katrina rebuilding, don't usually complain as much as you think they would. In fact, reporters have been shocked at survivors attitudes post-Katrina. 90% have strengthened faith inGod? How could this be?

They have perspective, that's how. Now some will descend into bitterness and I've seen that, too. But most will quit belly-aching over their little problems and show lots of gratitude for mundane things like love and life and friendship and the beauty and power of God's creation--the last seeming more than alittle ironic. Yes that creation can be great and terrible--but the humbling reminds us of our mortality and relative insignificance.

We can hold onto our arrogance, but that just makes us look like fools.

So the survivors will amaze and inspire with their fortitude. Everyone will wonder, "how do they do it?" They just do. Because they have to. People will say, "I could never do that." You've never had to, so you can't know what you would do if you had to. Let's hope you're never tested that way.

Long term, after the winds and rains and debris are picked up, people will still be needing help. 150,000 people in Houston, Texas alone. Maybe more.

The news will stop covering the mess and rebuilding. I just read an article about Sonia Kashuk (the Target make-up maven) just moving into her apartment four years later after it was blown to smitherines on 9/11. Four years later! It passed like a blink in one way, but for her, she made decisions every day, lived somewhere else, lost all her possessions save a few pictures, and rebuilt a life.

When we had our trial eight years ago, we, too had nothing. No insurance. No money. I take that back: we did have this one possession thousands of dollars in college debt.

Platitudes didn't help us. Between feeding and medicine and oxygen and tiny baby in huge car seat, we didn't get out much at all. Food needed to be bought and made. The house needed cleaning. But most people wanted to come and hold the baby. That didn't help. In fact, it was upsetting, because even a small virus sent him back to the hospital for months. The parting words of the neonatologist, "You'll be back in the NICU an average of three times by the time he is one. Expect it." Visitors terrified me--the baby caught (and until last year, still did) everything.

In contrast, the church where I grew up sent us $5000. That $5000 helped us in so many ways. It helped buy the car to take the baby to the doctor's appointments in town. It helped buy a nice crib. It helped us pay for parking at the hospital (at around $300/month). It helped buy food. It helped pay for doctors appointments. (We just barely didn't qualify for government aid. For my son's first year of life he was uninsured. Can you believe that?)

Long story short: people want to help but don't know how. Asking the person in the crisis is useless. They are simply surviving.

Here's a list of ways to help:
  1. Buy groceries, deliver it and leave it at the door.
  2. Call ahead and say, "I'm coming over to clean your bathrooms. I'll be there at 3. Is that okay?" Then clean them and leave.
  3. Get lawn service or maid service for the people.
  4. Keep hospital and home visits short. People are tired.
  5. Bring magazines in interests they like.
  6. Make sure they have internet access at home or in hospital--they need information.
  7. Make sure they have communication--cell phones help. We didn't have them and had to rely on nurses giving us messages. The hospital gave us pagers but when those went off we knew it was really bad.
  8. Don't be a miserable mess when you visit. You blubbering doesn't help.
  9. Don't pretend it isn't happening, either. Hugs and "This sucks and I'm praying for you" statements help more than you'll know.
  10. Talk about your life, people want to know--but keep complaints to a minimum. I had a hard time listening to a friend with a new baby complain about crying jags, when I was absolutely buried with stuff.
  11. Laugh. At the right time. Tread carefully, but I wanted to laugh more than you would think.
Now, this is based on my experience, and I'm guessing the New Orleans evacuees will need other things. But concrete things help. Words are words and more than useless.

The good samaritan, helped his "enemy" to safety, paid for his healthcare and food and visited to see his progress. Nothing glamorous. Nothing in it for him. The prayers of the Rabbi did nothing to help. In fact, the scripture that says, "to see good and to not do it, is a sin."

I'm ashamed to admit this, but before my own trials, I gave little thought to the troubles of strangers. Good friends who I knew, I did my best to help. But so much of my help, when troubles hit, came from anonymous strangers: the Catholic priest who prayed over my son every day, the Christian couple who took my hands and prayed for me in the waiting room at the hospital when I was clearly bereft and distraught, the book sent by a woman who had also experienced a premature birth, the nurses who bought baby clothes and toys, the people who sent flowers to cheer me, the people who sent me money, the people who wrote encouraging letters, the people who left messages on my machine to say they loved me.

How do you adequately thank people for their generosity and kindness? It's impossible. But I'll say it again anyway for those of you out there who were there for me: thank you.

Our world is filled with loving, giving people. Sometimes these people pause when they want to help because the help may be imperfect. Well, a bumpy ride on a donkey that leads one back to safety and health, may not be ideal but it can be life-saving.

So the two-weeks news cycle has come around. Reporters are bored. The Judge Roberts confirmation and the blow-hard Senators now take center stage. But the need for the NOLA evacuees has just begun. It will take years for them to get their lives back and no one can do it for them. But a little help along the way and remembering, too, can make all the difference to people recovering from devastation.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Katrina: Why Did They Stay Behind?

Here are the answers in part:

The survey also provides disquieting clues as to why so many residents remained in New Orleans to face Hurricane Katrina despite orders to evacuate. A third of those who stayed said they never heard the mandatory order to evacuate issued by the mayor the day before the storm hit. Somewhat fewer -- 28 percent -- said they heard the order but did not understand what they were to do. Thirty-six percent acknowledged they heard the order, understood it but did not leave. In hindsight, 56 percent said they could have evacuated while 42 percent said it was impossible.

Bad decisions, bad luck or sheer stubbornness kept many in town. More than a third said the single biggest reason they did not leave was that they thought the storm would not be as bad as it was, or they decided too late to flee. One in 10 simply did not want to leave. Slightly fewer stayed behind to protect their homes from damage or theft. A handful said they did not want to leave pets.

Angie Oneal, 44, a housekeeper from the Sixth Ward, heard the warnings to leave on her radio. But she stayed, to protect her belongings.

"I said to myself, if we went through Bessie, I thought we could go through Katrina," Oneal said. "I thought it was just going to pass over." She worried about the new TV, computer and bedroom set she had just bought.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Racial Divide

Reading an opinion piece about a U.S.A. Today/Gallup poll regarding how race "colors" our thinking, caused me great distress. You can find the poll here.

While discrimination still exists and will never be eradicated 'til Kingdome Come (I am a woman, btw, and receive the pleasure of having my pointy little head patted at least occassionally by some "helpful" male), how do the ignorant bigots get so much play? By that, I mean, why do the few ignorant, small-minded rockheads represent all whites in the minds of 80% of blacks?

I hope these numbers are more nuanced than this poll suggests. I fear, they are not. How do we solve this problem?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Eye of the Storm

See amazing pictures here.

Baaaaaaaaa! Sheep or Shepherd?

Business magazines feature leadership articles in almost every issue. What makes greatness? When does intensity become abusive and border on disorder? What makes a leader a heartless meanie versus a direct decision maker?

Leadership doesn't usually seem to matter much, in fact lots of people resent the "in charge" guy, until a crisis comes. And then, a wolf enters the fold or worse, a pack surrounds the flock and the shepherd must ACT!

While the sheep screech in fear, the shepherd must guide. All of a sudden the sheep really want to follow someone who knows what he is doing.

Most of us resent the notion that we are common sheep, following trends, ideas and beliefs of others, but for the most part, sheep we be. Consider the following:

We wear similar clothes, following trendsetters. (Don't laugh. Men, you do it, too. The amount of money spent on suits went up 24% last year. Why? Because some fashion LEADER said that the frumpy, "business casual" look is O-U-T.)

We name our kids, following trendsetters. Read the book Freakonomics and either laugh at others or be embarressed yourself about how we name our children based on the neighbors around us who we aspire to be like.

We move to "trendy" neighborhoods following gutsy real-estate leaders who brave changing neighborhoods and make big money when they sell and move to the new hot spot.

We watch the same movies. We drive the same cars. We seek the same schools for our kids. And we didn't do it because we are all independent-minded people seeking the "best for us personally." We do it because "John and Jane are really smart and they picked that and I think we have the same [discriminating, no doubt] taste."

Being a sheep does not mean you're an idiot. Following trends can be very efficient. Let's see, you can spend hours researching private schools or you can talk to other parents who have done a lot of research themselves and have smart kids with good prospects.

As an example: Since I-Pods hit the tech scene, oh my, how I have coveted one. They are sleek, efficient, and the music I want anytime pours out of headphones. How cool is that? But, I am not a tech leader. Paying the big prices seems a waste. And then, with all things Steve Jobs, I wondered if the I-Pod was a flash in the pan fad. And then, what if a cooler knock-off came out?

Instead, I played sheep. Waiting, following the hordes of buyers, watching the leaders, I did not break with the herd. Wonder of wonders, I-Pod seems built to last and to reward my sheep-headed behavior, the Nano I-Pod came out this last week. The size of a credit card and 1000 songs? Be still my heart.

So, being a sheep usually serves us well. We are protected from rash actions. Other people, braver people, make decisions and pay the consequences (good or bad) for us and we benefit from better products with less defects.

But sometimes, being a sheep just leads us to the slaughter. Ignorant of our surroundings but the rear-end of the sheep waddling two paces ahead of us, we can fall over a cliff before we see it there. We can suffer apathy and ignorance--who needs to think? We'll just go with the crowd.

Well, even the best-informed, smart sheep doesn't have the perspective of the shepherd. The shepherd is higher and can see further. He is armed. He is privy to information sheep don't have.

The shepherds possess lots of authority and huge responsibilities.

When the shepherd misuses, abuses or is bereft of the perspective, information and authority, the sheep pay. It has been a long time in American history, since sheep paid so dear a price as in New Orleans.

The SuperDome story continues to serve up leadership lessons. People with no way out were told to go to the Superdome. They went.

The mothers and children and elderly waited in two-mile lines in 95 degree heat to get into the Superdome for safety and protection from the vicious storm. At the entryways they were greated by policemen? aid workers? Mayor Nagin? No, no and no. They were greated by gang members who "relieved" these people of their possessions.

The police fled for their own safety and left the sheep with the wolves. The people in the Superdome were almost all robbed of any money, jewelry or other earthly possession. Anyone who resisted got beat. If they were white their lives were in jeoprody. If they were black their personal safety and dignity and health were in jeoprody.

The police officer who told my husband this account felt shame beyond belief that another person possessing the badge would bail when the people he vowed to serve and protect needed him most.

And then, when the buses came, guess who got the hell out of Dodge first? That's right: the gangsters. 647 firearms were confiscated from fine upstanding gang members who plopped their sorry asses on cots in air conditioning while leaving mothers and babies and grandmas to bake in the fetid mess in New Orleans.

Where was the Shepherd? Did he weild his rod and his staff to protect these innocents? No. Did he send a battalion of officers to secure the convention center and Superdome? No.

And here is a bigger problem: the sheep caged in these buildings are more used than most to following orders. Public assistance is nothing if not list after list of do's and don'ts to qualify. In fact, most of these mothers and children and elderly relied not on family but the government for all support and protection. Who are the leaders if they do not protect the widow and the orphan?

One family arriving at the Astrodome also had guns. While mom drove, father and son sat on opposite sides of the car with windows down, guns drawn. The family made a run for it and gangsters chased after them and shot at their car and they drove, desperate to escape. And while they drove, they shot back.

The boy, crying and confessing to the Astrodome officer said, "I think I killed people. I think I killed people."

The officer took his gun and put it down. He put his hand on the boy and said, "Go on, now. Go on in."

Business schools, poly-sci majors, and everyone who claims responsibility for others should learn from this madness.

It is a given that crisis will come. It is a given that things will go much worse than planned. It is a given that those who report to you will make mistakes. It is likely that all leaders save Jesus, Himself, will also make mistakes.

But leadership is NOT a given. Leaders must practice action. Leaders must plan. Leaders must keep the big picture. Leaders must protect their charges.

And most of all, Leaders must have such moral clarity that in the time of crisis, the question, "what is the right thing to do?" doesn't even have to be asked. The right thing is obvious and known.

When a True Shepherd calls, her sheep will answer and obey because they trust the Shepherd.

Do you trust your Shepherds? Will you rely on your leaders during the next crisis?

And, if you're a Shepherd, is your leadership worthy of trust? It better be. You have more to answer for than just yourself.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Depression in Kids Tough

1-2% of kids are depressed. Treating depression is difficult because the SYSTEM needs treatment--they are just the "identified patient."

More here.

Babies Cry Inside the Womb

Read more here. But they don't feel pain yet, remember?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

George R. Brown Pics

Air Force Assistants to Chaplain from Ellington Field

Walgreens Pharmacy On-site

Medical Volunteer Entrance

Eyeglasses for Evacuees

Give the Gift of Sight. Evacuees receive prescription eye glasses.

More Houston Shelter Pictures

Yellow shirts are Operation Compassion volunteers serving jambalaya and corn bread today.

Celebs Emote & Help NOLA

Read this article. Tell me what you think.

I don't understand the lovefest over New Orleans culture. NOLA was and is now even more so, a dirty and dangerous city.

Is the music great? Can Cajuns cook? Is the architecture unique? Yes, yes and yes and then some. The Jazzfest in New Orleans is awesome. I've gone to it. I love jumbalaya and gumbo and beignets. One of the best meals I've ever eaten in my entire life (not that long, granted) was experienced in the French Quarter. My mouth waters still....

And yet, my husband got scammed and nearly beat or worse on a French Quarter street. A friend got pulled into an ally and raped and nearly died off a French Quarter street.

My feeling while wandering the beautiful boulevards was wary vigilence. New York City feels safe and secure and is much bigger and much busier, New Orleans feels evil--just a meandering uneasiness. Not so much the Big Easy. More like the Big Un-Easy.

All the sex shops and drugs and drunkeness and debauchery and lewdness and devil-may-care attitude do not a society build. I get the feeling watching the celebs weep and opine about this great city that "will be saved" (or else?), that what is really being said is, "save this lifestyle--in this buttoned-up yet prurient American society we need at least one "cultural", laissez-faire place so we don't have to keep flying to Paris to get our better-than-you fill".

Who are we kidding here? Louisiana education is atrocious. A huge percentage of New Orleans rely on the public welfare system not jobs in the beloved French Quarter. People outside the rich, self-serving "cultured society" are helpless and hopeless and living in abominable conditions. For too many residents, home wasn't much to come home to. Add to joblessness, lack of education and poverty, constant fear due to crime and New Orleans only seems nice to those who are rich and behind beautiful iron bars either as residents or visitors.

Perhaps, counter-intuitively, Hurricane Katrina will sweep away not only the homes but also the helplessness. Maybe, the crisis will create opportunity for people who had very little. Maybe in escaping with their lives they will be able to build a new life.

All the romanticizing by celebrities of all that is New Orleans ignores why the blues were written in the first place: they were an expression of the deep sorrow experienced by resilient, creative people who were once slaves and who suffered great injustice. Unfortunately, the injustice continues--public assistance, government reliance, and poverty are not freedom.

You know, the old refrain: Nobody knows the trouble I've seen......

What if the people who lived that trouble had a chance to escape it? What if, instead of the blues, they rejoiced--not in sorrow, but in blessings unmeasured? What if those most unfortunate of New Orleans could finally be free at last?

HOPE! For A New Start

The question of what will happen with evacuees is partly answered here and it sounds good!

Divine Intervention? A Photographer's Diary of Katrina in NOLA

UPDATE: This link should work now.

See the gripping pictures here.

A Reader Volunteers in Houston

Thank you Ms. V for commenting about your work. Here's what she says:

Went to Geroge R. Brown at 5:30am this morning. They already had so many
volunteers that they turned people away. They did let me in because I trained w/
Red Cross the other day. Walked among the people, talked with young mothers,
children and elderly folks. The sense that I got was one of total helplessness.
These people lost everything. They are confused as to the kind of services they
can get and how to get the money that they did have. The shelter is very
organized and they are using the loudspeakers to inform the public about
pertinent information. They had a lock down and are not letting new people in
today because FEMA is taking care of the people inside the Geroge R. Brown
Conv.Cntr. first. When I got there at 5:30am this morning, one gentleman was
already standing in line to find out about a possible job. The door for that
area was not opening until 10:00am but he knew if he did not get there very
early he would be standing in a very long line. Children always amaze me! A
group of them went upstairs by themselves to have breakfast. They all were
bouncing around as if this was the norm. Another little girl about 5 yrs old got
a hold of a new puzzle. She was excited to put it together with her daddy on the
little cot they were on. Another little group was left to themselves because Mom
found a job. As I walked around, I saw a station set up for "Prayer". An elderly
lady was there weeping as someone prayed for her. I checked out a number of
people and was told to get their forwarding address and their assigned badge.
Needless to say, most could not give me one. They had no idea where they would
end up. That made me so sad.Today is Saturday, a day for happy news. I am
utterly amazed at how many people are so willing to serve. There were yellow
shirts eveywhere (operation compassion), red shirts (team leaders) medical
staff, red cross and the list goes on. The spirit of voluntarism in this country
is strong, alive and awesome! I am proud to be called an American!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Happy Saturday!

My commitment to edifying stories on Saturdays remains. This weekend, the memorial of 9/11 will be on the news everywhere. Do I remember? Every day. How could I ever forget?

What will I do Sunday? Going to a bridal shower or going to serve Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Either way, the blessing will be seeing people whose lives are being transformed by birth or rebirth. Becoming a parent changes you prfoundly. Losing everything does the same.

As I said before, these times can be catalysts for positive actions. My fortune cookie said tonight:
Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

How's that for timely? I would say this as well:
Every blessing carries with it the seed of possibility for growth and gratitude.

A baby is the best blessing of all. And wow are kids a catalyst for change and growth!

My hope: May Katrina's adversity carry a seed of greater benefit for all in her wake. Lots of possibilities.

Did 9/11 Change Us?

Yes it did. Read more here.

Ewwwwww: Plastic Surgery Gone WAY Wrong

This isn't even funny and must qualify as a mental disorder. Read more here.

Realtors Rank Up There With Lawyers

Realtors never work in your interest. Period. Never. They, by nature of the whole set-up, work for their own. Please forgive me, Henry, but it's true.
  1. They get fixed fees. Who in the world is guaranteed a set commission? Realtors! At 3% not too shabby either when considering that the European average is 1.5%. Don't cry them a river either. For a $100K house, that's still $1500. Not too shabby considering that the average home price is much higher.
  2. They benefit by selling homes at higher prices. If you are buying, don't ask the realtors opinion on a good offer. Do your own research--annoying I know when they are getting paid, but do it anyway. When your realtor says, "I can't offer that, that's an insult", I say insult away.
  3. They benefit by selling your home sooner. Faster turnover? More cashola.
The Justice Department is suing NAR--National Association of Realtors. GOOD. Lawyers versus realtors. Hah! Maybe two wrongs will make a right!

Read more about it at the Freakanomics blog here.

Houston Shelter III: Doctor Stories from the George R Brown

this is an audio post - click to play

Houston Shelter II: Medical Facilities at George R. Brown

this is an audio post - click to play

Houston Shelter: A Doctor Gets Credentialed

this is an audio post - click to play

3rd Floor George R. Brown: Katrina Cantina

This is the third floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston where NOLA evacuees receive medical care and many call home for the moment.

This picture shows the mess hall, dining room, eating facilities--whatever you want to call it.

Food served while Mr. Dr. M treated achy people: Ham Sandwiches, any kind of soda, chips, water, salad, personal pan pizzas courtesy Pizza Hut, barbequed sausage, and pudding.

Krauthammer's Blame List

My only quibble is that he puts the citizens last. Last I checked, we are a representative democracy. See what he says here.

Federalism vs. States Rights

Get educated by a guy who knows: who is supposed to do what in a tragedy? Read here.

As an aside, the idea of the President being given powers to take over in a time of crisis in a state makes me nervous. He has plenty o' power, thank you.

Our country is a republic of elected officials who represent us. Like it or not Guiliani represented the people's will in New York City--so did Pataki--during the 9/11 aftermath. In California people count on a former action hero named Schwartzenager. Unfortunately for the people in and around New Orleans they had two people who continue to fret and fume instead of fighting through the fear in the face of the overwhelming nature of the task.

It is easy to throw potshots from the cheap seats when you're not in the thick of the chaos of the situation. But this crisis wasn't unknown like 9/11. We all saw the hurricane coming. Even I warned of impending doom--I felt it in my bones--and worried over people cavalierly saying "I was born here, I'll die here." See "Katrina Komin'" from Saturday, August 27, in the archives.

Here's what we know: The city is below sea-level. They even have an evacuation plan they decided not to use. The governor and mayor get elected precisely for these times. The police are hired to serve during these times. Fire fighters fight FIRES. These people steadily run TOWARD the crisis they do not run AWAY. And they are lead by our elected officials.

In Texas people rely on Rick Perry at the state level and mayor Bill White a Democrat in Houston. The Mayor and Judge Robert Eckels a Republican work together as of this writing to coordinate efforts to help care for the NOLA refugees. Here's a quote from today's Houston Chronicle:

White has shaped much of the official response to the hurricane. He formed and chairs the Katrina Working Group, the large panel at the city-run George R. Brown Convention Center that weighs evacuees' needs and plans accordingly. He's spearheaded the effort to obtain corporate help and to move the evacuees out of shelters and into apartments and houses.

White has led the way in large part because his office institutionally has more power. The mayor controls all city departments while Eckels must rely for most equipment and personnel on other elected county officials — four commissioners and the sheriff, for example.

But the trademarks of White's tenure — deft management, cooperation with politicians of opposing philosophies and a willingness to rely on business leaders — also are evident in his partnerships with Eckels and others managing the relief effort.

They and their staffs have been consumed since the earliest hours by the massive and complicated relief operation, an effort that could shape their legacies. Both men so far are getting good reviews.

"The mayor and Judge Eckels have done a fabulous job," said Councilwoman Pam Holm. "Houston is lucky to have such leadership."

Granted, Houston's leadership had more time to prepare--we knew the hurricane and very likely, the people were coming. But had the Hurricane hit here and our elected officials acted as NOLA's, I'd want their collective heads on platters. I hope the residents of Louisiana remember the incompetence when they vote again. If they elect more family members and cronies and big babies, they get what they deserve.

Read more here.

No More Toothbrushes at Target

After sitting in the bleachers at the elementary school proudly watching my kids win medals for reading lots and lots this summer this morning, the little dude and I shopped at Target--for diapers of course, but I didn't make it home until I had spent over $100 on necessities like a neat bag holder designed by Michael Graves and a mirror designed by Thomas O'Brian. I can't help it! Target carries cooly-designed stuff.

While musing over five million choices of Secret deoderant alone, a woman shopping next to me mused over toothbrushes. What's so fascinating? And then I noticed: they were almost all gone. All zillion toothbrushes were gone except for the super-expensive race-car models that cash in at just under $4 a brush. She had at least ten of these in her hand.

"Are you buying those for the hurricane victims?" I asked. She was. But she was disturbed.

"The Indian-American Association of The Woodlands e-mailed us lists and asked us to do kits for a family, but I wanted to do 10 kits. At these prices though, I might have to cut back because I want to give money, too."

She sighed. She wanted to do more. I marvelled. What a great country! What a great state! What a great city! What a great community! I love my fellow Americans.

Around the isle, Target sold kits with the Red Cross Seal and the, for $29 with $10 of each sale going to The American Red Cross. I bought one. It has basic survival stuff. Nothing fancy except a really great-designed plastic holder that would keep water out. It's not much, but it's something.

My husband drove down to the George R. Brown to offer Chiropractic and natural health advice to the needy--both the refugees and the other service personnel. He called me excited to say that he had treated a couple fire chiefs, some EMTs and other people. We will both go down tomorrow afternoon to help more.

I asked what the whole system was like. He said that it was organized and amazing. Half the arena is dedicated to medical care, the other half to giving out money and other support services like moving to homes. A semi housed a mobile X-ray unit. Neat rows of exam stations staffed with doctors and nurses and EMTs abounded. "Police are everywhere," he said. It is all very secure.

When crisis hits and we see suffering and the pictures cause us to despair, the solution to the helplessness is action. Man it feels good to DO something. It may be a drop in the bucket of service to those suffering, but lots of drops together cause a deluge of love.

We will be adding more drops that will hopefully help to wash away the sorrow of the Hurricane survivors next Friday, September 16, 2005 from 9 - 9. All new patients can give a suggested minimum donation of $50 with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the American Red Cross. Just drop by! No appointment necessary!

Please join us! Send your family members and friends. Bring people in who have intended treatment but never got it. And Hurricane Katrina people will be treated for FREE. Help us help more people. There is no obligation for further treatment. Just come on in!

Together our little drops add up to lots of love.
More blogs about the woodlands rita.