Monday, December 17, 2007

trial done. now what? oh, right, that "life" thing i hear so much about.

ok. so i've spent the past two months working like a crazy person. lots of 70 hour weeks; clocked one day at 18 hours, and such and so forth. and now it's done. i mean, there's plenty of cleanup and organization to be done, and who knows, maybe there will be an appeal or some such crazy thing. but basically it's over.


it's very anticlimactic, the way it unfolded / unraveled. for starters, the closings for the plaintiffs were broken up between two days, so i wasn't even there for all of it. to make matters more complex, they kept making us switch courtrooms, because of - *oh the irony* - asbestos abatement. so the past week has just been disjointed.

but today the jury began deliberations, and at 2:30 they had a verdict for us. and it was indeed for us, and it was a good one. so, good, right?

so i've finished my first trial. well, like i said, mostly finished. this morning i had a delivery service pick up 20-some-odd boxes of documents and other assorted crap that's accumulated down at the courthouse since mid-november - that will be fun to go through. but i'm finding it somewhat difficult to switch modes back to office work. sit at a desk? what? no more hovering around a courtroom, frantically texting back to the office for a copy of this or that, or a did you get in touch with so and so, or redacting transcripts until i think my hand will fall off so that they can be put into evidence before end of business...? now, don't get me wrong. working like this has been killing me and it's well time it ended. but i can't help but feel that now i'm going to be bored out of my mind. filing? um, like, no.

somehow i thought winning would be different. i pictured something... else. i don't know what. just else, just other. not a text of oh hey we won, here's the numbers, 20 minutes of champagne in the attorney's office and then back to the desk.

i don't know. it just ain't like the movies... even if we did get to spend one day in the courtroom where they film law and order.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

bastian-come-jinx tackles the mountainous biscuit.

all that talking about baking last night made me want to do it some more, so i decided that this morning i would bake biscuits. it's a beautiful day, blue sky, low 50's. perfect fall weather if you ask me. this put me in a good mood, and gave me the bravery i needed to tackle a new baking challenge.

i used a recipe from "how it all vegan" (a great little book, in case you didn't know) for sweet biscuits. utterly contrary to everything in my being, i followed the recipe. to a t. of course, it's like five ingredients, so there's not much room for variation. and, you know, i added 1/4 teaspoon of salt because my margarine of choice is unsalted and most recipes assume that you're using a salted butter-like-substance, and i also divided the dough into 6 biscuits instead of 8, and half of the flour that i used was whole wheat pastry because i don't make ANYTHING with only white flour. but whatev. for me, that's following the recipe, for serious.

i mixed up my dough, which was a workout, and the initial results were indicative of a success. the dough looked like biscuit dough, and tasted like biscuit dough. but when cooked, would it actually become biscuits? this was the question racing through my mind as i threw open the mouth of the hell-beast and sent the sticky flour-and-water balls to their fate.

preliminary peeks were promising - they were rising like little biscuit boulders, looking something like (very large versions of) the homemade biscuits that my dad would whip up when i was a kid.

but if you know me, you know that i'm not a very patient girl, and also that i'm terrified of burning things. and if you know my oven, you know that she's not very reliable when it comes to temperature. and i also made the biscuits bigger than they're supposed to be. put these things together, and whaddaya get? a bit of a comedy of errors, with me pulling the biscuits out and feeling like they're ready, and leaving them out for a few minutes, and then deciding that they weren't cooked enough, turning the oven back on, putting them back in there, taking them back out again... not quite "lucy", but then i don't like that show anyway.

finally i decided that i would leave well enough alone, took my fledgling biscuits out of the oven for good, and let them cool for a lil' minute. when i couldn't stand the anticipation any longer, i cracked one of those suckers open. surprise! it was kind of... like a biscuit. but also kind of like a scone. and alas, a bit doughy in the very center. good news for me, because i like stuff to be doughy. bad news, however, for my boyfriend, who would have much preferred them to be all crumbly and whatnot. he of course would never say so, and told me they were quite good. ain't he a gem?

i took my slightly doughy biscuit and smeared it with a bit of black cherry all fruit, brewed a nice mug of strong black tea, and settled in for a very pleasing breakfast. a lovely fall morning, i declare; all sundays should start so well.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

gingerbread bakeoff: 9 x 9 vs. one dozen cupcakes.

and suddenly, it was cold as sh*t. and that can only really man one thing. huzzah! baking season has begun! yes, with the sudden bite that finally made its way into the air in the last week of october, i once again was filled with the urge to bake. as some of you may know, last year i went cookie crazy. i'd estimate that i baked about two gross, total. in case you don't know, a gross is a dozen dozen. yeah, it's a lot of cookies. i threw myself over a sugar cliff at least 20 times... you gotta taste the dough to make sure it's coming out right... anyway.

this year, i got inspired to make gingerbread. this is partly because i used to get these really awesome squares of moist spicy gingerbread from one of my common haunts back in new orleans, and i've been thinking about that treat lately. but it's actually more because i just finished reading a book by jasper fforde called "the fourth bear". see, one of the main characters in the book is the gingerbread man... who happens to be a giant homicidal maniac. anyway, all that talk of his giant glace cherry eyes, licorice mouth and gingery, cakey body just made me get a craving... strange i know. but what can you do? the heart wants what the heart wants.

(the book comes highly recommended by the way, but you have to read the first one in the series first - "the big over easy". that one's about humpty dumpty. and it'd help if you read the first four books in the "thursday next" series before you did the two nursery books... but i digress.)

ok. so, due to various inspirations, i decided that gingerbread was the craving du jour. i further deemed it necessary to have a bit of an in-house competition: a classic 9 x 9 against a quirky cupcake number. i got the pan recipe from that there interweb-dot-net, but i don't really follow recipes how i find them... ever. so here's my (fairly vastly different) interpretation of a "low fat" gingerbread recipe i found via google:

the cupcake recipe is one that i've been wanting to try out for maybe a year from the very-famous-in-small-circles isa chandra moskowitz, of post-punk kitchen notoriety. i followed her recipe more closely, though i left out the crystallized ginger (mostly because i didn't have any) and made my own lemon icing, and got quite wacky with the decorating i must say. the recipe i followed looked like this:

all recipes gathered and ingredients accounted for, i got down to baking. the recipe for the pan type required some stovetop stuff and some cooling; that was somewhat intimidating but made my house smell really good, and allowed me to use sugar in the raw which is usually much too large grained to use in my baking. the recipe was actually pretty easy and fast, apart from waiting for the stovetop mixture to cool. one really funny thing you should know about my baking: i'm terrified of ovens. seriously. every time i have to reach in there you'd think it was a nuclear reactor and i was going in to save all of humanity or something. so when i looked in there and saw that the batter i'd poured in so nice and flat was rising - !!! - i was elated, but i had to throw my courage to the sticking place to poke a knife into the middle when that timer finally beeped.

the knife came out clean, so i let it cool for a while and then popped it out of the pan - my nonstick / oil-the-bottom-anyway combo didn't fail and it came right out. i let it cool some more, and then went in for a taste. to my fairly enormous surprise, it was really effing good. so... gingerbread-like! astounding. woot. pan one, cupcakes zero. but then, they didn't exist yet.

so then, to the cupcakes, which were of course already in preparation. when i first combined the wet ingredients, they turned into this crazy science experiment lookin' thing, and i was afraid i'd done something terribly wrong. but i whisked my little heart out and it all actually emulsified quite well, and stayed that way. ahh, chemistry. (you do know that cooking is just chemistry with foodstuffs, right? that's what makes it cool.) the batter was much spicier and more potent than was the pan batter - a bit too spicy i was afraid. but i charged ahead; i figured isa knows what she's up to.

trying to get the batter into the little cupcake cups was nothing short of harrowing - i've never tried to deal with cupcakes before, believe it or not. (this is just because i'm a coward. i love cupcakes.) but i did it. there was probably a lot of cursing coming from the vicinity of the kitchen - you'd have to ask my boyfriend (or the unlucky neighbors who share that wall with us). i was only able to fill 11 of the 12 cups. i was hoping that this was because i had eaten too much batter during preparation, and not because i'd put too much batter in each one and was going to have some kind of catastrophic spill-over event. my fears were unfounded, and not long after the mini-cakelets went into the oven, they too began to rise. i was so astounded, proud, and afraid of this fact that i had to take a picture of it. it looked like this.

testing the cupcakes for done-ness was even more of a trial, but i succeeded, and in the end i triumphed over the mouth of fire in my kitchen. once the cupcakes had been removed from the hell-beast and were cool enough to touch, i ate one. and would you believe it? it was amazing! totally different than the loaf - lighter and fluffier, and spicier too than the pan gingerbread. not better though; too utterly different to be called better. at that point i was just happy - two completely different, really good kinds of gingerbread! that i made! from scratch! on my first try for both types of baked goods ever! a successful evening, to be sure.

having grown up in a household where home-baked birthday cakes were standard, i know all too well that icing a baked good that's still warm at all is just asking for misery. as such, the cupcakes went into the fridge to be iced the next day, and the pan loaf got packed up to come to work with me. the co-workers who tried it liked it; sadly, i have no pictures.

on tuesday the cupcakes were iced, in preparation to bring them into the office for halloween! i made my own "buttercream" frosting, which is really just my mother's with vegan instead of animal ingredients. read: margarine, sugar, whatever extract, and however much "milk" it takes that day to get it to the right consistency. i did make it lemon, because i liked isa's idea of the lemon / ginger combo. i added yellow food coloring, because i wanted it to be pretty. spreading it was fun, and it was much easier than i thought it would be to make it look all fancy and professional-like. once it was spread, i added some orange sprinkle sugar, for the prettieness. and it sure was pretty, iff'in you ask me.

and THEN i remembered that i'd found these ridiculous halloween sprinkles on sale for like 90% off at the fancy schmancy baking store a few days before - purple and black jimmies with white ghosties. the sprinkles said, bring it, and it got brought. decorated and beautiful, my very first batch of cupcakes ever got boxed up to take into my place of employment... where i am the only person who even comes close to being a vegetarian, much less a vegan. let the fun begin.

halloween! there were treats a-go-go around the office, and my cupcakes had to contend with bagels, cookies, and at least five different kinds of donuts. and yet, they were devoured and loved by several appreciative co-workers. a few were skeptical at first. (how in the world did you make a cupcake without milk and eggs? is there like, broccoli in there or something?) but with one bite each one became a believer, including mr. j.b., who didn't even realize it was vegan until the next day. just look at their beaming faces!

and so, in the great battle of 9 x 9 vs. one dozen cupcakes, the winner is: both. i suggest either recipe, depending on what you're craving at the moment. maybe next i'll mix it up, and use the pan batter to make cupcakes... ha! and maybe i'll try crystallized ginger in the pan recipe. i know, i'm a wild woman. just try to keep up with me, i dare you. i mean, i spend my saturday nights blogging about baked goods... what does that, tell ya, huh? yeah, that's what i thought.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

the weather.

someone finally sat down and had a heart-to-heart with october. this counselor reminded october that he was to be a month leaning toward the cold, the brisk, the autumn. but then october went and got wise on the counselor, and remembered all on his own that he was also




Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the intricaces of workplace communication... as perpetrated by a bulldozer.

let's talk about work, shall we?



it seems that some time last week a decision was made by the powers that be. it went something along the lines of, "well, the plan was to hire a new paralegal to do trial work. but mel has proven that she can do trial work. so why don't we just have her just keep doing trial work and hire an entry-level para to take over some of mel's old responsibilities? yeah! that sounds great! let's do it."

fine. awesome. good plan, oh management team-a-go-go. it really is a perfectly good plan, nothing wrong with it. they hired a lovely 22 year old girl, straight fresh from college, to take over inquiries and eventually more, to start the following monday. they told a few of the paras. they told the receptionist. but guess what? ooh, ooh, yeah, i bet you already guessed it...





well, at least not until friday evening around 5:30. of course, by that point i'd caught wind of it. nothing stays a secret around my office. they'd already hired someone for the position and told at least five people, and i gots friends, you know? i didn't know exactly how it was gonna play, but i had me a hunch.


i'm now officially a trial para. not a big shock; i've been doing ever-increasing amounts of trial work since may. and the decision does make sense from a managerial point of view. why hire a newbie to put on a trial when i've proven myself to be capable and willing? on that point i agree with them.

now, there are those who would say that they could have *asked* me if i wanted to give up my old position. there are those who would say that they could have at least *told* me about the plan, perhaps before hiring someone or letting half the staff know (before i knew). but to those people i say, naive fools! haven't you been reading my blogs? that just ain't how these people operate. they don't mean it. they're just idiots when it comes to dealing with people. after all, they're just lawyers.

overall, i'm a bit put off by how the whole thing was approached and carried out, but i'm not unhappy that it's happened. i very much like the girl that they hired (she started monday and i've been training her), and at least this is an acknowledgment that i had WAY too much work; was essentially doing two peoples' jobs. right now i actually have more work, since i have to train newgirl. but that's alright. she's picking things up quickly, and it means that soon i'll have less work.

also, one of the trials has been taken off of me, and not a moment too soon either. the attorneys on it (or, well, the one really high-maintenance-hard-to-say-no-to one) were asking me for things that i hadn't been able to touch, despite my 60 hour weeks... very stressful. so the trial, my original trial, my baby, was handed over to probably my favorite co-worker. seriously, no sarcasm. a good friend of mine and an asset to the team. she too has a ton on her plate, but she's been wanting some trial work and she's ready. plus, this trial is already well groomed, with just one defendant, exhibits already in order, etc, etc. she already works well with both attorneys, has had some involvement with the cases, and we sit in the same office. i think it will work out well.

so once again work has been flipped upside down and backwards. the big differences, this time, are that a) there is a recognition that i was being given much much much too much, b) something was actually done about that, and c) the overall effect is (i think going to be) positive.

well, positive on my work life. on my personal life? that's another story. remember my leaving-in-january plan? can you say out the window? i don't know if it officially is, but i think it might be. it's really hard to see how things are going to play out right now. i feel like i just need to tuck my head down and get through the winter, wait till the sun comes back, and then take a look around and see where i'm at.

remember those plans of applying to nyu? gathering dust. literally. i don't know... i might still do it. but the more i think about it, the more i know i'm just teasing myself. affording that? what a joke.

paralegaling, it seems, is my career. for now, at least. TERRIFYING thought. if you could go back in time and tell my 11th grade trig teacher that this is where i'd be now... hell, if you told anyone who hasn't spoken to me in the last 12 years or so what i'm up to now... well, let's just say jaws would drop. to the floor. even those that have watched the progression don't quite believe it.

who knows. life works in strange ways. i guess we all find a niche... mine at the moment just happens to be in a windowless room in a law office in midtown manhattan.


it could be worse.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

i have a new sweet potato. her name is biellzie.

she sprung to life in my kitchen, sprouting vivid green leaves, crimson veined. and in my opinion, you don't ignore that kind of thing. i've introduced her to my money trees, frank and wobble, and they all seem to be getting on nicely.
a re-potting party seems in order, wouldn't you say?
and to think, jonathan wanted to include her in our breakfast, despite her sprouting... *shudder*. sometimes i just don't understand that boy. or maybe he just doesn't understand the magic.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the lack of the blogs.

so, it goes like this. life has been hectic. thus the non-blogging. i've been clocking about 60 hours a week. and yes, the OT checks are effing sweet. but i gotta say, it's not all that much worth it. i'm exhausted, and ten different kinds of sick, and still drowning in work. the fact of the matter is that we're desperately understaffed, and somehow the powers that be are in denial. or something. maybe the 47 hours of overtime they had to pay me on yesterday's paycheck will make something click in their little heads? like, maybe it's more economically practical to pay someone else 35 hours of regular pay than to pay me 30 hours of time-and-a-half?

so yeah, there's been the working, and very little else. i've had a sinus infection for about two weeks now, and then this past week, i got food poisoning! now, we all know that in the illness department i'm a go-getter, and this event was no different. i didn't have to be hospitalized or anything, but when my temperature was nearing 103 don't think we didn't have talks about the emergency room. one of these days i'm gonna get me some scarlet fever, or maybe polio, and then we'll know the stuff i'm made of...

so yeah, there's been no blogging. and no social life. and no cooking, or cleaning, or keeping up with normal life responsibilities. last month several of my bills got paid late - VERY uncharacteristic of me.

money or not, this craziness has got to stop. i'm exhausted, and my body has all but given up on me. this week was all but a loss, and i'm more behind now than ever. they still haven't hired anyone. it's been two full weeks since sack-of-potatoes got fired. how long does it take? it's new york for chrissake. there are a few bright hardworking educated people looking for jobs around here, or so i hear at least.

speaking of which, anybody wanna join the team? as you know from my descriptions, it's the best job ever! great management, ideal seating arrangements, perfectly balanced workload... or, you know, the exact opposite of that. but whatever. it's a job, and you can bust your ass for a mediocre paycheck, little appreciation, and pretty good benefits. woo! you'd get to work with me, which always makes life interesting...

aah, existence. mere existence, and little else. i've been reading fiction for weeks now. yeah, it's that bad. no research for me; my brain just can't hold it right now. so it goes, so it goes. it'll swing back. it always does.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

the saga of sack-of-potatoes. he will not be missed.

After I was accused of "setting him up" and being part of a vast conspiracy to get him fired, I was asked to write down "my account" of what had transpired with my favorite former co-worker, sack-of-potatoes. (Apparently it didn't occur to him that blatant incompetence and missing ten days of work in the first three months of employment might be grounds for dismissal?) Below, the censored version to protect innocent bystanders:

* * * * * * * * * *

Hi (office manager). As per your request, I'm writing you to give you my account of the events that occurred regarding the exhibit production in C_____ and F____, ultimately leading to the termination of (sack-of-potatoes).

* * * * * * * * * *


-About 7:30 pm on Friday 9/21, I found out through a personal conversation with J.D. that the C_____ and F____ exhibits were involved with (my most hated lawyer's) document production for the following week. I had previously thought that it involved only R________, and that (sack-of-potatoes) was helping J.D. with the R________ exhibits. ((My most hated lawyer) had apparently decided on Thursday 9/20 that all of the exhibits for all defendants in (all three plaintiffs) would be produced to all defendants by Monday, 9/24. This is an enormous undertaking involving thousands of documents.)

-The previous week, I had been assigned to do some work on exhibits for certain defendants in F____ with H.P. So when I found out that (sack-of-potatoes) was to be producing all exhibits for both C_____ and F____, I was concerned. I called H.P. on her cell. She told me not to worry, and that the exhibit production project was not my responsibility. I told her that I had already almost completed sets of exhibits for two of the defendants due to my assignment from the previous week, and asked if (sack-of-potatoes) was aware of that or if he was needlessly repeating that work. H.P. did not know.

-I called (sack-of-potato)'s desk phone at about 8pm hoping that he would still be at work, but he was not. I left him a voicemail saying that IF he had NOT already done exhibits for Aurora and Buffalo Pumps, that he should not waste his time doing them because I'd already done them. I was assigned to do as such previously, before (my most hated lawyer) decided to produce all of the exhibits so suddenly.


-The following Saturday morning 9/22, I went into the office early, and by looking in the conference room where (sack-of-potatoes) had been gathering materials discerned that he had indeed already done sets of exhibits for Aurora and Buffalo Pumps.

-The fact that a foolish and unnecessary lack of communication caused the two of us to waste our time doing the same work annoyed me. Because of this, I sent an email to (sack-of-potatoes and the lawyers involved) regarding the situation that read as follows:

Hi (sack-of-potatoes). Well, you can disregard the voicemail that I left you last night - I see that you've already made physical copies of the exhibits for Buffalo Pumps and for Aurora, as have I. I really wish that someone, anyone, had communicated with me as to what was going on with this document production, as this was a task that had already been assigned to me and I'd been working on it. I could have saved you some time instead of both of us needlessly doing the same work.

On a separate subject, when I spoke to H.P. last night she told me that we settled with Garlock. As per her request, I've removed all of the Garlock discovery from Conf. C, so that's one less thing for you to worry about.

(Lawyer who's really my boss), I hope you can make some time for me soon to discuss what I'm actually supposed to be working on so that this kind of thing does not continue to happen.


-(sack-of-potatoes) came in at about 10 or 10:30 that morning, and came into my office to confirm that he had indeed already done the Aurora and Buffalo Pumps exhibits. I told him that I'd realized that, and explained to him that I was really just trying to get the point across to (bossman) and (my most hated lawyer) that they needed to communicate more clearly with me as to what I should and should not be working on. I told him some variation of what I'd been feeling; that they keep changing their minds about what I'm supposed to be working on and then not telling me. Obviously, as it was something that (sack-of-potatoes) was now working on, it should not have been something I was doing any longer. But no one had told me that. The conversation was very brief and, in my intentions, had a basic theme of "yeah that's annoying that we both did the exhibits for two defendants (out of a total of 33), but no use crying over spilt milk".

-An hour or two later (sack-of-potatoes) asked me what I was there working on, and I told him (truthfully) that I was doing some dep abstracts and some other random things that I'd gotten behind on during the week.

-(sack-of-potatoes) was still there working when I left that afternoon, and J.D. later told me that they were both there until about 9 or 9:30 that night, and that when they left (sack-of-potatoes) was talking about how much work he still had left to do.


-Around 4:30 or so Sunday afternoon 9/23, I received a call from J.D. asking if I could help him with the R________ exhibits. He had to have 12 sets of them ready for Monday morning and it was getting down to the wire, so I went in to help him. When I got to the office, he told me that (sack-of-potatoes) had not been there all day. This was confirmed by A. in the mailroom, who had been in since about 10am by my understanding.

-I was hoping that there was something that I didn't know, like that the C_____/F____ production deadline got pushed off to the next week maybe. But then when I happened to be sitting at my desk I got an email from H.P., asking me (and (sack-of-potatoes) and C.D.) to take any Anchor Packing exhibits out of the production room because we'd settled with them. Since I was there, I wrote her write back telling her I was in the office and I'd take care of it right away. She wrote back immediately, saying: "Thanks! How did everything go? All exhibits copied?" Based on that, I guessed that there was NOT something I didn't know.

-I felt I had a responsibility to tell H.P. what was going on. I wrote her back and told her to call me; we spoke and I told her what I knew: that (sack-of-potatoes) had not been in that day, and that it didn't seem like he'd finished with the exhibits. She mentioned that he knew they had to be finished by the next morning, but did not tell me to do anything. I stayed until 9 or so that night, working only on the R________ exhibits to help out J.D.


-The next morning, Monday 9/24, I went in early as usual. I did not take any action on the matter but suspected that if for some reason (sack-of-potatoes) did not come through I would be asked to take over the exhibit production project for C_____ and F____. J.D. was more than busy with R________, K.M. does not normally do any work on Extremis cases, and C.D. always has her hands much too full to take on this type of all-consuming task. Due to these factors, and as I'd already done some work on the trial, I was the obvious choice to step in if necessary. Sure enough, at about 9:40am (sack-of-potatoes) called in sick, and H.P. asked that I take over the exhibit production. Only at that time did I start work on the project.


* * * * * * * * * *

and that's the story. fun, right? yeah, i thought so too. that week i worked 70 hours. oddly enough after that i got a sinus infection. go figure eh?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


ok. so my work life has been turned on its ear... again. my trial, the one i've been on since may, has been postponed again. indefinitely for all intents and purposes. i found this out because my least favorite attorney in the office popped his head into my cell and told me i needed to join them in a meeting - NOW. because i was now to be on another trial. i just sat there blinking at him, and he was all, "well if you can, i mean, what else are you doing?" and i was all, "well, my trial." and he was all, "well that's getting pushed off. ours is going first. we need help."well ok then.the really fucked up part: i knew about the trial getting pushed off before either one of the trial attorneys knew. how is that ok?so, again, my workload has doubled. mind you, this is the workload that i was barely keeping up with even while working 50 hour weeks.sometimes i think they're actually trying to kill me.what's really irking me is that it throws all of my plans off again. i can't leave in the middle of a trial and screw everybody; i'm just not that kind of person. but from the looks of it, we're going to be on one trial or another forever! it is the trial that will not die! and it's so bizarre because we don't go to trial. ever. we settle. we're litigators, damnit. this is crazy. i've been here for 1 and 3/4 years, and we haven't gone to a single trial yet. and now we have five cases going to trial at once, so that they have to compete with one another? what the hell?perhaps my sabbatical will wait until spring... but seriously, i can't put this off forever! i can't stay here much longer. i guess it's just a matter of which comes first: will we finish up with trials so that i can leave with a clear conscience? or will i just crack?

Monday, September 10, 2007

and i'm back to working the overtimes.

i want my new life and i want it NOW! it's killing me. i know all of the reasons that i'm not doing it now. and they're good reasons. but i'm afraid that when the time comes, there will still be good reasons not to leave. there will always, in fact be good reasons not to leave. stable income and paid health insurance chief among them. but jesus. it's trading one kind of happiness for another kind of happiness. blarg.

i want it. i want it now. i daydream all the time in these vague notions of what it will be like to have all day, every day to pursue the things that i actually want to be doing. the things that i care about, the things that excite me. thinking about it only makes me hate my current situation that much more... i need to find a balance between dreaming about it enough to keep it alive, but not so much that my real life makes me sick.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

sacred chow got new chairs! go eat there right now. i mean it.

now, if you don't know this restaurant, you don't know exactly how exciting this is. see, they have some of the most amazing vegan food in new york city, and it's unlike the food anywhere else. but until recently, the seating arrangements were nothing short of atrocious. i mean really. there have actually been many occasions when i wanted to go there, was actually craving their specialties, but did not want to deal with the tiny wicker-like stools with no backs.

but fear not, for those days have passed! this most wonderful of vegan restaurants is now fully equipped with lovely, elegant, high backed black chairs. see for yourself:

now, if you're worried that this sudden investment in fancy furnishings has degraded dining quality, think again; the food is still fantastic. right down to the ice cream brownie sundae thing.

and speaking of ice cream: on top of the new-chair sensation, it seems that sacred chow has finally, FINALLY stopped offering dairy ice cream and are 100% vegan. what were they thinking with all that nonsense anyway? i guess they didn't know either, and now we don't need to because they've cut it right out. whew!

so don't delay! stop by sacred chow. their brunch on the weekend is amazing (for the love of all that's good in the world, get the italian fritatta, which i've written about before) but their regular menu will knock you flat as well. visit my friend fanelli - last i checked he worked tuesday, thursday, and sunday evenings. and when tipping remember: 15% is standard, 20% is classy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

two years. (from myspace)

so, i'm having a rough day. i shouldn't be at work, but i am. i came an hour and a half late, but whatever. it's a slow week. everything is crazy. i'm supposed to be going to get my tattoo tonight, but as fate would have it the tattoo artist that i've been consulting with is having a baby. well, his wife is anyway; she went into labor this morning. of course. whatever. it'll be alright.there is no word, no description for the multitude of emotions that today elicits.anger, however, is one of them.why are we still angry? this is why we're still angry.

* * * * * *

Comment on the timeline here.
Friday, August 26
GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]
Saturday, August 27
GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster." [Office of the Governor]
FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: "Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency." [White House]
Sunday, August 28
MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: "Forecasters Fear Levees Won't Hold Katrina": "Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow." [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]
9:30 AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES FIRST EVER MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS: "We're facing the storm most of us have feared," said Nagin. "This is going to be an unprecedented event." [Times-Picayune]
AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: "'We were briefing them way before landfall. … It's not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.'" [Times-Picayune; St. Petersburg Times]
4PM CDT — NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards." [National Weather Service]
LATE PM — REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: "Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer." [Times-Picayune]
Monday, August 29
7:30 AM CDT — BUSH ADMINISTRATION NOTIFIED OF THE LEVEE BREACH: The administration finds out that a levee in New Orleans was breached. On this day, 28 "government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, [reported that] that New Orleans levees" were breached. [AP]
8AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: "I've gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we've had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much." [NBC's "Today Show"]
11:13 AM CDT - WHITE HOUSE CIRCULATES INTERNAL MEMO ABOUT LEVEE BREACH: "Flooding is significant throughout the region and a levee in New Orleans has reportedly been breached sending 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th ward area of the city." [AP]
MORNING — BROWN WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DEVASTATION OF KATRINA: In a briefing, Brown warned Bush, "This is, to put it mildly, the big one, I think." He also voiced concerns that the government may not have the capacity to "respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe" and that the Superdome was ill-equipped to be a refuge of last resort. [AP]
MORNING — MAYFIELD WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE TOPPING OF THE LEVEES: In the same briefing, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warns, "This is a category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there's a big big difference. This hurricane is much larger than Andrew ever was. I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of lives is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge. … I don't think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but there's obviously a very very grave concern." [AP]
MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: "I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he's the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are." [White House]
11AM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: "Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as 'this near catastrophic event' but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, 'Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.'" [AP]
LATE MORNING — LEVEE BREACHED: "A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new 'hurricane proof' Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina's fiercest winds were well north." [Times-Picayune]
11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: "This new bill I signed says, if you're a senior and you like the way things are today, you're in good shape, don't change. But, by the way, there's a lot of different options for you. And we're here to talk about what that means to our seniors." [White House]
4:30PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: "We've got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check." [White House]
8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld "joined Padres President John Moores in the owner's box…at Petco Park." [Editor & Publisher]
8PM CDT — GOV. BLANCO AGAIN REQUESTS ASSISTANCE FROM BUSH: "Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got." [Newsweek]
Tuesday, August 30
MIDDAY — CHERTOFF CLAIMS HE FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: "It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city." But later reports note that the Bush administration learned of the levee breach on Aug. 29. [Meet the Press, 9/4/05; AP]
PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: "Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs." [WWL-TV]
MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: "The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked," Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. "We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops." [AP]
U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: "The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan's hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty." [Chicago Tribune]
Wednesday, August 31
1:45AM CDT — FEMA REQUESTS AMBULANCES THAT DO NOT EXIST: "Almost 18 hours later, [FEMA] canceled the request for the ambulances because it turned out, as one FEMA employee put it, 'the DOT doesn't do ambulances.'" [Wall Street Journal]
11:20 AM CDT — FEMA STAFF WARNED BROWN THAT PEOPLE WERE DYING AT THE SUPERDOME: Three hours later, Brown's press secretary wrote to colleagues complaining that Brown needed more time scheduled to eat at a restaurant: "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes. We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you." [AP]
NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ARRIVE IN LOUSIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND FLORIDA: Troops arrive two days after they are requested. [Boston Globe]
TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: "A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. 'We pee on the floor. We are like animals,' said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming."" [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]
PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will "fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort." [New York Times, 8/31/05]
JEFFERSON PARISH EMERGENCY DIRECTOR SAYS FOOD AND WATER SUPPLY GONE: "Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed." [WWL-TV]
80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy "estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops." [Reuters]
3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: "With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one's priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions." [Times-Picayune]
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR ENTIRE GULF COAST: "After a natural disaster, short and long-term medical problems can occur. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and mosquito-borne illnesses tend to break out under these conditions." [WCBS-TV]
BUSH SURVEYS DAMAGE FROM AIR FORCE ONE: President Bush flew over New Orleans on Air Force One. "During the 35-minute tour, Bush clearly saw from his vantage point the damage to the football stadium in New Orleans as well as the flooded neighborhoods, wiped out bridges and slabs of foundations where houses used to stand." [Fox News]
CHERTOFF "EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH THE RESPONSE" OF THE GOVERNMENT: "We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy." [Department of Homeland Security]
EARLY AM — BLANCO AGAIN TRIES TO REQUEST HELP FROM BUSH: "She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops." [Newsweek]
4PM CDT — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: "Nothing about the president's demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis." [New York Times]
7PM CDT — CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: "On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at 'Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance." [New York Post, 9/2/05]
8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: "I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected." [CNN]
Thursday, September 1
7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." However, as former FEMA Director Michael Brown told CNN, "the president knew from our earlier conversations that that was one of my concerns, that the levees could actually breach." [Situation Room, 3/2/06]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: "Rice, [in New York] on three days' vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central." [New York Post]
STILL NO COMMAND AND CONTROL ESTABLISHED: Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Homeland Security Director: "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans." [Fox News]
2PM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES "DESPERATE SOS" TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: "This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we're running out of supplies." [Guardian, 9/2/05]
2PM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN CLAIMS NOT TO HAVE HEARD OF REPORTS OF VIOLENCE: "I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that." [CNN]
NEW ORLEANS "DESCEND[S] INTO ANARCHY": "Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. 'This is a desperate SOS,' the mayor said." [AP]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: "Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we've confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo's Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice's timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, 'How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!'" [Gawker]
MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY LEARNS OF EVACUEES IN CONVENTION CENTER: "We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need." [CNN]
Friday, September 2
ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: "Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina." President Bush's comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed "the start of this campaign." [New York Times, 9/5/05]
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES DEMAND THAT DHS TO PAY ATTENTION TO WORKER-SAFETY: "By Friday, experts and officials from NIH, the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency began to make frantic calls to the Department of Homeland Security and members of Congress, demanding that the worker-safety portion of the national response plan be activated." [Wall Street Journal]
EARLY AM — BUSH WATCHES DVD OF THE WEEK'S NEWSCASTS CREATED BY STAFF WHO THOUGHT BUSH "NEEDED TO SEE THE HORRIFIC REPORTS": "The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One." [Newsweek]
10 AM CDT — PRESIDENT BUSH STAGES PHOTO-OP "BRIEFING": Coast Guard helicopters and crew diverted to act as backdrop for President Bush's photo-op.
10:35AM CDT — BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." [White House, 9/2/05]
BUSH VISIT GROUNDS FOOD AID: "Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush's visit to New Orleans, officials said." [Times-Picayune]
LEVEE REPAIR WORK ORCHESTRATED FOR PRESIDENT'S VISIT: Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9/3: "Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment." [Sen. Mary Landrieu]
BUSH USES 50 FIREFIGHTERS AS PROPS IN DISASTER AREA PHOTO-OP: A group of 1,000 firefighters convened in Atlanta to volunteer with the Katrina relief efforts. Of those, "a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas." [Salt Lake Tribune; Reuters]
12PM CDT — BUSH "SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE": "I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results." [AP]
PM — FEMA'S NO. 2 OFFICIAL "IMPRESSED" WITH GOVERNMENT RESPONSE: "I am actually very impressed with the mobilization of man and machine to help our friends in this unfortunate area….I think it's one of the most impressive search-and-rescue operations this country has ever conducted domestically." [Time]
BUSH COMMENTS ON SEN. TRENT LOTT'S HOUSE: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Time called the remarks "astonishingly tone-deaf to the homeless black citizens still trapped in the postapocalyptic water world of New Orleans." [White House; Time]
CONGRESS APPROVES INITIAL FUNDING: Congress quickly approves $10.5 billion in initial aid for rescue and relief efforts. [AP, 9/4/05]
Saturday, September 3
SENIOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL LIES TO WASHINGTON POST, CLAIMS GOV. BLANCO NEVER DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY: The Post reported in their Sunday edition "As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said." They were forced to issue a correction hours later. [Washington Post, 9/4/05]
9AM CDT — BUSH BLAMES STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS: "[T]he magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need." [White House, 9/3/05]
8:05PM CDT — FEMA FINALIZES BUS REQUEST: "FEMA ended up modifying the number of buses it thought it needed to get the job done, until it settled on a final request of 1,335 buses at 8:05 p.m. on Sept. 3. The buses, though, trickled into New Orleans, with only a dozen or so arriving the first day." [Wall Street Journal, 9/13/05]
CHERTOFF CLAIMS THAT NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED KATRINA: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argues that "government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur." However, scientists and others had warned of the possibility for years. [CNN, 9/5/05]
THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME IS FULLY EVACUATED: By the time the evacuation was finished, the Superdome was in such a poor state that "inside and outside…[it] was a sea of trash up to 5 feet deep. [AP, 9/3/05]
Monday, September 5
FORMER FIRST LADY PATRONIZES POOR REFUGEES: Former First Lady Barbara Bush says, "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them." [American Public Media, 9/5/05]
Thursday, September 8
BUSH SUSPENDS DAVIS-BACON ACT: Bush halts the enforcement of a law that sets the minimum pay for workers on federal contracts. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney blasted the move as "outrageous." [Washington Post, 9/9/05]
CONGRESS APPROVES MORE RELIEF FUNDING: Congress appropriates an additional $51.8 billion relief funding, six days after approving initial funding of $10.5 billion. [Washington Post, 9/9/05]
Friday, September 9
BROWN STRIPPED OF RELIEF DUTIES: FEMA chief Michael Brown is removed from his duty overseeing relief operations. He is replaced by Vice Admiral Thad Allen, chief of staff of the U.S. Coast Guard. [CTV, 9/9/05]
Monday, September 12
FEMA DIRECTOR RESIGNS: FEMA head Michael Brown resigns. Brown was "under fire over his qualifications and for what critics call a bungled response to Katrina." [CNN, 9/12/05]
Tuesday, September 13
BUSH TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR FLAWED RESPONSE: "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Mr. Bush said. "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." [New York Times, 9/13/05]
Wednesday, September 14
INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE PANEL REJECTED: Senate Republicans voted down an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton "to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate" the government's failures following Hurricane Katrina. [AP, 9/14/05]
Thursday, September 15
BUSH ADDRESSES NATION, SAYS HIS ADMINISTRATION WILL "LEARN THE LESSONS" OF KATRINA: "This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes, so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people." [Bush, 9/15/05]
HOUSE ESTABLISHES KATRINA COMMISSION: A day after the Senate rejected an independent panel, the House of Representatives approved legislation to create the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) was named as Chairman of the Committee. [House, 9/15/05]
Tuesday, September 20
ALLSTATE REFUSES TO REIMBURSE VICTIMS: Insurance giant refuses to pay those filing Katrina flood claims. The storm may end up costing insurers as much as $60 billion. [MarketWatch, 9/20/05]
3rd — IRAQ WAR HINDERS KATRINA RELIEF: An inquiry into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina finds that the effort suffered "near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war." [Independent, 10/3/05]
13th — 600,000 REFUGEES LIVING IN HOTELS: Spending $11 million a day, the reliance on hotels has been necessary because FEMA "has had problems installing mobile homes and travel trailers for evacuees." [New York Times, 10/13/05]
19th — CHERTOFF TESTIFIES, CLAIMS ADMINISTRATION WAS PREPARED FOR KATRINA: In his testimony, he says, "The idea that this department and this administration and the president were somehow detached from Katrina is simply not correct. We were acutely aware of Katrina and the risk it posed." Despite Chertoff's claim, Bush wasn't made aware of the failed response until four days after the storm hit. [Chertoff, 10/19/05]
1st — BUSH APPOINTS "KATRINA CZAR": Donald Powell, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is tapped by President Bush to become the hurricane recovery czar. He will work to coordinate recovery and rebuilding efforts. [U.S. News & World Report, 11/3/05]
10th — VICTIMS SUE FEMA FOR AID [New York Times, 11/10/05]
16th — EVACUEES GIVEN 15 DAYS TO LEAVE: 150,000 evacuees are given until December 1 to leave government-subsidized hotels and find other housing. "Housing advocates criticized the announcement, saying that FEMA failed to spell out long-term housing plans, ignored existing federal housing programs and will push some poor evacuees into shelters for the homeless because of lack of planning." [Washington Post, 11/16/05]
23rd — THOUSANDS REMAIN MISSING: Nearly three months after Katrina hit, the National Center for Missing Adults says over 6,500 people are unaccounted for in the hurricane's wake. In addition, "more than 400 bodies remain unidentified." [ABC News, 11/23/05]
4th — "THE DISASTER IS STILL REALLY GOING ON, IN TERMS OF HEALTH CARE": "Many hospitals in the New Orleans area are short-staffed and struggling to care for a growing population of patients who are returning to their homes three months after fleeing Hurricane Katrina." [USA Today, 12/4/05]
13th — VICTIMS TAKE OUT AD TO GET CONGRESS' ATTENTION: Homeless victims of Hurricane Katrina took out ad space to "[plead] with Congress to pay for stronger levees." See the ad here. [New York Times, 12/13/05]
14th — HOUSTON ENDS VOUCHER PROGRAM: Houston Mayor Bill White said today he will stop giving Katrina refugees vouchers for a year's worth of rent and utilities. With more than 100,000 displaced persons flocking to Houston, White declared, "Houston is full." [Houston Chronicle, 12/14/05]
4th — NEW ORLEANS STILL NOT SAFE FOR DISPLACED: "The bottom line: it continues to be a very risky decision for many of the displaced households to return to the area, since all of the key necessities are in scarce supply, and it is not at all clear when or if they will be brought back online." [Brookings, 01/04/06]
12th — PRESIDENT BUSH TRAVELS TO NEW ORLEANS; SPENDS LESS THAN 24 HOURS IN THE REGION: He congratulated Mayor Ray Nagin for getting the city's infrastructure "back on its feet," but he met the locals in an area that wasn't flooded and saw little of the city, save for the view from the interstate as he arrived. "I will tell you, the contrast between when I was last here and today…is pretty dramatic," he said. "It's a heck of a place to bring your family." [WSJ, 01/13/06]
24th — WHITE HOUSE REFUSES TO COOPERATE WITH A SENATE INVESTIGATION OF KATRINA: "The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response." [New York Times, 1/24/06]
25th — ADMINISTRATION REJECTS RECONSTRUCTION PLAN: The White House rejects a Congressional reconstruction plan — the "most broadly supported plan for rebuilding communities," and instead backs $6.2 billion in block grants that Congress provided last year, which Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) called "unacceptable." [Times-Picayune, 1/25/06]
1st — GOVERNMENT AUDITORS "LAMBAST" SECRETARY CHERTOFF'S RESPONSE TO KATRINA: Congressional investigators on Wednesday lambasted the U.S. government for its response to Hurricane Katrina, saying a lack of a clear chain of command hindered relief efforts and that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff or another top official should have been the point person on relief efforts. [CBS News, 2/1/06]
10th — MICHAEL BROWN TESTIFIES: Brown called "a little disingenuous" and "just baloney" assertions by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other top administration officials that they were unaware of the severity of the catastrophe for a day after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. [New York Times, 2/11/06]
15th — BUSH, SENIOR ADMINISTRATION LEADERS SINGLED OUT IN "BLISTERING" HOUSE REPORT ON KATRINA: The House of Representatives releases a 600-page report that further criticizes the White House's response. [The report] lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council. [Washington Post, 2/12/06]
28th — MARDI GRAS FINDS A QUIET NEW ORLEANS: "The lack of revelry reflects the lack of people — New Orleans's black middle class is gone." [Washington Post, 2/25/06]
2nd — UNCERTAINTY STILL REIGNS IN NEW ORLEANS: "Now six months since Katrina made landfall, New Orleans remains primarily in a gut and wait mode. Homeowners have gutted their houses, but are waiting to invest in their homes until they receive greater signs of certainty." [Brookings, 3/2/06]
5th — CONSERVATIVE CRITICIZES RESPONSE TO KATRINA: Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol said that Bush's handling of the disaster had become "an emblem of the administration that just isn't as serious about the competent execution of the functions of government as it should be." [Fox News Sunday, 3/5/06]
8th — TIM McGRAW AND FAITH HILL, NATIVES OF LOUISIANA, CALL RECOVERY EFFORTS "HUMILIATING": McGraw specifically criticized President Bush. "There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, 'I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done. And you're held accountable, and you're held accountable, and you're held accountable.'" [ABC, 3/8/06]
19th — THE BROADEST COUNSELING PROGRAM EVER GETS UNDERWAY: An estimated 500,000 people need some form of mental health service, but "even people trained to offer solace break down easily and often." [Baltimore Sun, 3/20/06]
21st — THE LARGEST CHILD-RECOVERY EFFORT IN U.S. HISTORY ENDS: Six months after Katrina, 5,192 children are reunited with their family members. [USA Today, 3/21/06]
30th — BUSH ADMINISTRATION MISCALCULATES COST OF REBUILDING LEVEES: "The Bush administration said yesterday that the cost of rebuilding New Orleans's levees to federal standards has nearly tripled to $10 billion and that there may not be enough money to fully protect the entire region." [Washington Post, 3/31/06]
4th — MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA) THREATENS TO PLACE HOLDS ON THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINEES: "Mr. President, the piecemeal approach that has marked your administration's response to providing adequate levee and flood protection for Louisiana has not worked," Landrieu wrote. "It needs to be replaced by a comprehensive approach that is both more effective and cost-efficient." [The Hill, 4/5/06]
6th — BUSH NOMINATES R. DAVID PAULISON TO HEAD FEMA: Seven other candidates turned down the post. [CBS News, 4/6/06]
14th — THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY FAULTS ITSELF: "After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, [Homeland Security's] prevention and preparedness for terrorism have overshadowed that for natural hazards, both in perception and in application," the report reads. [CBS News, 4/14/06]
17th — "KATRINA KIDS" SING FOR LAURA BUSH: Today at the White House Easter Egg Roll, dozens of children "from the stricken Gulf Coast region serenaded First Lady Laura Bush with a song praising the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency." To the tune of "Hey Look Me Over," the kids from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama sang:
"Our country's stood beside usPeople have sent us aid.Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.Congress, Bush and FEMAPeople across our landTogether have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!" [ThinkProgress, 4/17/06]
24th — HOUSING SECRETARY SAYS ONLY THE "BEST RESIDENTS" SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO HOUSING COMPLEX: Alphonso Jackson added: "I don't care what color they are, if they are devastating a community, they shouldn't be allowed to return." [USA TODAY, 4/25/06]
25th — BUSH ASKS CONGRESS FOR ADDITIONAL $2.2 BILLION TO REPAIR LEVEES: The move comes after the government announced it had initially underestimated the amount needed to repair New Orleans' damaged levees. Bush, however, said that this request should come out of FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. [Bush, 4/25/06]
27th — SENATE RELEASES 800-PAGE REPORT: The only national bipartisan inquiry in the country faults the Administration for "bungling the storm response by neglecting warnings, failing to grasp Katrina's destructiveness, doing too little or taking the wrong steps before the Aug. 29 landfall." [, 4/27/06]
27th — BUSH MAKES 11TH TRIP TO DAMAGED GULF COAST SINCE KATRINA LANDED: "If you are interested in helping the victims of Katrina, interested in helping them get back on their feet, come on down here." [Washington Post, 4/28/06]
18th — DEATH TOLL OF LOUISIANA REACHES 1,577: "A continuing rise in reports of out-of-state deaths" has increased Louisiana's official Katrina toll by 22 percent. [The Times-Picayune, 5/19/06]
15th — PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS ADDITIONAL SPENDING OF $19.4 BILLION FOR KATRINA RELIEF: $4.2 billion goes towards housing. The package brings the total allocated by the federal government for recovery efforts to around $107 billion. [Brookings, 7/1/06]
26th — $2 BILLION IN TAX DOLLARS FOR RELIEF LOST TO WASTE AND FRAUD: "The estimate of up to $2 billion in fraud and waste represents nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June, or about 6 percent of total money that has been obligated." [New York Times, 6/26/06]
3rd — SEXUAL ASSAULTS AMONG KATRINA EVACUEES CLIMB ALARMINGLY: "We have families doubling and tripling up in substandard housing, families living with extended family members they wouldn't normally choose to live with," said Alisa Klein, a public health and violence prevention specialist with the nonprofit National Sexual Violence Resource Center in Harrisburg, Pa. "We're seeing this increased vulnerability to sexual violence…" [Women eNews, 7/3/06]
21st — NEW ORLEANS RESIDENTS FACE HIGHER ELECTRICITY PRICES AMID BLACKOUTS: "Ten months after Hurricane Katrina, the city still does not have a reliable electrical system. Hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of repairs are still needed on a system devastated by flooding, the local utility is in bankruptcy and less than half the system's prestorm customers have returned." [New York Times, 7/22/06]
28th — U.N. CRITICIZES THE U.S. FOR FAILING TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR: A panel of 18 UN poverty experts said it was concerned that the poor, especially African-Americans, "were disadvantaged by the rescue and evacuation plans implemented when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States of America." [Mississippi Sun Herald, 7/28/06]
3rd — GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION OF NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPTARTMENT IS LAUNCHED: Law enforcement officials from Gretna prevented the evacuees, most of them black, from crossing a Mississippi River bridge into the predominantly white suburb. [Los Angeles Times, 8/4/06]
7th — FIRST WAVE OF NEW ORLEANS SCHOOLS OPEN: Eight new public schools open giving 4,000 students an early start on the school year. [CNN, 8/7/06]
8th — NEW ORLEANS STILL NOT BACK ON TRACK: One year after Katrina, New Orleans is showing signs of early rebirth…but the majority of indicators are troubling, pointing to much-needed progress in basic city services, infrastructure, and affordable housing for workers in order to boost market confidence and move the region's economy affirmatively forward. [Brookings, 8/06]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

i got it!

i got me some new diet coke plus! each 8 oz serving has 10% of my RDI of niacin (B3), B6, and B12, plus magnesium and zinc!

yeah, i'm saving this one for posterity. so that 20 years from now i can prove to skeptics that yes, they really tried to sell diet coke as a health food supplement.

Friday, June 15, 2007

family. (i'm taking a poll: do you really have to love them?)

there is currently a teenage boy living at my parents' house. the description alone of my relationship to him is in itself a saga. it goes something like this: he is the illegitimate son of my dead uncle's adopted-by-marriage daughter.

the whole situation is vaguely mind-boggling. his father, who was never married to his mother, believes that he is the second coming of jesus christ. seriously. his mother was legally adopted by my uncle, my mother's only sibling, during his brief, unhappy, and unsuccessful marriage to her mother. she had four children from a previous marriage when she and my uncle got hitched; he adopted all four. they were divorced. years later, he committed suicide. did so approximately a month, actually, after said teenage boy was born.

so how did this child of chaos end up in my parents' house? well, they had to institutionalize his mother... again. he, actually, had to do it himself. (we bonded on this a little bit; i had the same experience with my father a few years ago.) at any rate, he ended up with her car. as the story is being told, two days after this event he was told by his aunts (each of which is crazy as a shithouse rat and / or mind-numbingly stupid) that if he didn't bring back the car they would report him to the police. you know, for stealing it. his mother's car. that they have no claim to. that he used to bring her to the mental health facility.

and so, somehow, he turned to my parents.

now, let me tell you that if these two people are all you have to turn to when you're in need of major assistance, your life is not going very well. he's a little shit, but i feel for the kid. how could he not be? how could he be anything but completely fucked up? and of course, there are his two younger brothers. one of them is with the crazy aunts. the other is with the crazy grandma. i have great fears for these two. at least the one with my parents is older, 19. he won't be there for long. he'll be angry for years and make lots of mistakes and come out alright by the time he's 30 or so. but the other two... i just don't know. but who's to say.

so there's a little snapshot of a little piece of my family. there's so, so much more. you just have no idea. one day i'll write a book. and then it will become a made for tv movie, or maybe a mini series on lifetime...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

this. (nostalgia, unfurrled.)

i have a friend. and that friend writes blogs. and on the occasion that i read that friend's blogs, i am immersed in a feeling. i've been trying to pin down, name, define that feeling for some time now. envy? pity? jealousy? disgust? sadness? nostalgia? exclusion? and none of these are it because it is all of these and much more and not necessarily a negative feeling at all. it is a feeling that gives rise to other negatives, but in itself does not have that intrinsic value. and tonight, just now, i think i've put together what that feeling is, or at least how to explain it.

i read these blogs and i think, this is the life that i am no longer living.

this is the life that i abandoned or moved past or just moved through, one full of beauty and pain and intensity and long nights. but not the kind of nights that i have now; the ones where misery was tangible and necessary and juicy and fulfilling, bright sweet violet plums that made pain consoling. this is the life that clung to my heels in an old southern city like a shadow, a ghost of my former self that i could not rid myself of but to leave it behind. this is the life i had before the "reality" of rent, health insurance, taxes, and a complete lack of any sort of safety net encroached upon my emotional spectrum. the life i led before i was forced to be "responsible", "adult", "old", "boring". the life that i could lead before i tipped over that edge, the dividing line between wanting roommates and wanting to be alone, between a night at the bar and a night reading a book, between hysteria and mere melancholy. this is the life that i miss so desperately for its passion, but was miserable living. but miss it i do, oh so much, and i wish that i could be transported into that mind, live in those moments when i want to paint or write or obsess over a lover. but it is a consuming mindset; there is no back and forth, in and out. for me it was a trap, because for all that passion i was too weighed down to use it. now the intensity of misery is gone, and with it the intensity of passion and the crazy times and the stories.

but i have lived that life, and i have my stories nice and neat and stacked in a box in the closet, and the truth is that it never made me happy. i have a suspicion that it never makes anyone happy; that it just becomes comfortable, and that the drama compels itself forward. but would i sit late at night, listening to my refrigerator and the cars int he street and the ticking of my clocks writing this were there not a part of me that still aches for that light? perhaps i will not justify the question with an answer.