Presidential Debate a real stomach churner

I made myself watch the debate, despite the fact that I had to make a conscious effort to keep my stress level down. I love what Jim Lehrer did, or tried to do, in encouraging the candidates to speak directly to each other. I grow weary in the last stretch, let's get it over with, already. I've never been so ready to vote. Gee, would I sound like McCain if I said, "I first voted in '68, and in most every pressie, plus lotso state and local elections, and I can say we've never had so much at stake in our country. "

It was so painful to hear McCain's litany. He never once addressed Obama face to face. To be fair, Obama was a little uncomfortable at first about the degree of engagement that Lehrer was attempting to promote. Once he got into the swing of it, he addressed McCain, Lehrer, and the TV audience.

By the end, Obama had just hit his stride. McCain was flagging. It took a lot out of him. He couldn't get Obama to succumb to his bullying. Obama stood up to the insider smears, never taking the bait to lower himself to McCain's tactics.

You could see he was a little pissed at McCain insisting on trying to tarnish Obama's character, while never quite answering the question. From where I was sitting, Obama focused on actions, and never smeared McCain's character--only the Bush administration's bad judgment and decisions. McCain could hardly find anything good to talk about.

And he really put his foot in his mouth, unintentionally ratting on his homies, when he said, "I'll make sure that American soldiers never torture anyone again." That "again" was pretty much a public admission that that is in fact what has been going on since we invaded Iraq, of course before, as well, but not as systematically systemic. McCain is still talking about physically, forcibly taking over Iraq, hardly any mention of diplomacy, or of tackling the real problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

McCain would cut funding to everything but the defense and 2 other things I can't remember. And institute consumer-purchased health care. Without regulation in the industry, it will STILL be too expensive to purchase. Not a word about education, but lots about 'roiding the military.

It will be interesting to see if either of them changes their tactic in the next debate. Oh, gee, I guess I'd betterremember to get some heavy duty antacid for the VP debate.


Closet cleaning time

It occurred to me that this is the perfect time to clear out old clothes and stuff. And more stuff. Start putting redundant kitchen utensils, the things that I really don't need, are cluttering the place up, and would be better used in a shelter or someplace around Austin. Maybe get a drive going or something.

To that end, I began cleaning up the computer area. As I stretched under the desk to snag the last yellow page, I glanced at it.

"I need to clean up my writing space."

That's all. No telling how long it had been there. Six months? A year?

Then I starting thinking about one of those listy things, you know, "Nine jilliondy leventy thousand things I found under my desk." Don't ask me to put that in numerals.

Apropos of nothing, I really like Cynthia Boaz' latest post on Palin. We graduated from the same college. Which is not why I like her writing. I like her writing because it's how I'd love to be able to write. That's my secret goal as a writer. Find other writers who reach in and rip my heart out by way of my imagination, with a strong, authentic, and truthful voice. Molly Ivins was one.

My friends Little Feat are going to be on Conant O'Brien this Monday night, Sept. 22. They'll be a treat. Dave Brubeck is at Jazz's Alive in San Antonio this Saturday. He wrote some stuff for a friend of mine, THE most gorgeous baritone, Kevin Deas, and there's at least one recording out somewhere.

I'm disturbed by the number of PC games I discovered everywhere...30 and counting. Well, that's what e-Bay's for. Anybody interested in an alpha list of what I'm chunking? Would it be obtuse to say that I'm bored with the computer games I have? If anyone knows of a great game along the lines of Oblivion or Two Worlds, anything with Radiant AI, let me know. It must be my vagabond tendencies. Or childhood fantasies. Or both.

Craig Ferguson on Late, Late has demonstrated an incisive, observant critique of American politics and voters. He's a recent citizen, and takes it dead seriously. He offers a fresh and patriotic perspective on what it really means to be an American.

News flash: Two Worlds is coming out with a new TW: Temptation. I'll HAVE to sell off my old games to get it when it comes out. Kinda like videos. Some movies I like to see in the theater, some I'm more than willing to wait til it comes to the local vid store. You know you're pretty deep into gaming when you buy a new game at full price, even though you know that if you wait a year or so, it'll go down. Or browse Half-Price Books or other book stores, or even Good Will and St. Vinny--sometimes you can find something there.

Or I could be cleaning up my writing space.


Austin has rain

but it's not from Ike, except for the water in the air. This midnight rain is the result of a cold front from the NW shoving Ike north and east. Set a record high temperature today, 100 degrees. We'll have a little cooler weather, which around here means upper 80's. Extremes in weather.

OK, enough about weather for a while. It's unsettling and exhausting.


Ike update

Even though we got nary a drop of rain, we got winds, and a staggering amount of evacuees. Yes, a friend confirmed, bumper to bumper traffic as the second wave of evacuees come struggling in after having to find a place to sleep on the side of the road. It has been interesting to see the plan in action. I'm glad that we have some assistance for those who could not evacuate, and that the rescue team is on the spot looking for folks and bringing food and water.

FEMA whosits and the guv have the Texas coast locked down tighter than a drum, with not only our fine Texas National Guard folks, which I appreciate and have not a huge problem with, but with "Private Organizations" which spells Blackwater to me. I have a huge problem with that. Those folks should be leaders in alternative energy development and production, not mercenary soldiers.

The size of the locked down area is larger than New England, not counting the gulf waters. Keep in mind that as much as 2/3 of the state will be affected, in addition to portions of at least two other states and Mexico. Texas has a border to protect, and you can rest assured that they will not have let that coverage lapse. This means that a goodly percentage of the Texas Hurricane Task Force will necessarily be non-U.S. military personnel. i.e., Blackwater and the like.

The evacuees will stay in place until the guv says they can go home. It could take several days, if not weeks, so yes, even though we stayed dry, windy, parched, Ike will directly affect our lives for some time to come. I welcome those who did the safe thing and evacuated their family, I think we all will.

Interesting times.

Ike is a monster

O M G. Here is a video from the space station, via KXAN.com local NBC affiliate in Austin. Ike is gigantic.

Galveston just lost emergency power and there are electrical fires throughout the city.

The cold front from the north will lessen the effect on Austin.

I was just reading comments on one of the sites, and some Austinites were saying that folks are panicking and buying the stores out of water and food. Long lines at the gas pump. If this is true, then I'm glad I got gas yesterday, that I have stuff to eat and drink, and cat food. (See earlier post).

The big problem will be losing power. I can't deal with that. It will still be in the 80's, and stiflingly humid. No AC will be a definite threat. The utility company has posted their fleet around town to better deal with outages.


Ike is as big as Texas

This is a NOAA satellite image of Ike's water vapor footprint. Hope they don't mind me using it. If they do, I'll remove it. Ike is a monster.

There are storm surges along the entire coast of Texas, Louisiana, Miss, Ala, and Florida. And then it takes a turn north and east and will drench my pals in the mid-West.

Tip of the hat to St. Louis, Chicago, Cincy, Indy, Arkansas, been there, can imagine the potential water chaos.

Hispaniola is pretty much wiped out. Ike took an excruciatingly long time to pass over them. I'll see if I can find some more photos.

Galveston Island will be the straw

that cracks the back of American oil, courtesy Mother Nature. Unfortunately the little people will pay for it. Where are we going to put all of our coastal inhabitants, in the short term, never mind whether global warming exists or not. Doesn't matter. Our primary focus should be to re-evaluate the misery most of the population is in, not to mention squandering trillions of precious things, and I'm not even counting the money. Following an ego-ethnocentric bunch of yahoos who thought they didn't have to act like human beings to get what they wanted, we have wasted so much of America's valuable resource, we the people.

We are in perilous waters, captained by maniacs. Incursions into the territory of former allies, more innocent human collateral damage. And I'm watching a 900 mile wide whirligig of cloud get ready to wipe one of my favorite places right off the map. There are thousands of folks who defied the evacuation order and stayed behind. They are now calling for help. The rescue units can no longer get to them. This will be worse than Katrina, and it will claim many lives, much more precious than possessions or oil.

Ike' 50 mile wide eye is due to hit Galveston around one a.m. We will get tropical storm conditions to max out around six a.m. I will definitely be facing southeast sending good thoughts to those in danger. Settling into twenty-four hour hurricane watch.

Linus came in long enough to eat last night, found me and gave a great yowl. Then he disappeared, until I opened the door to let him out. I think he said, "Ike's coming, get your shit together...and my food, while you're at it."


DNC--Report from the field

A dear friend of mine, Linda Black, attended the DNC and wrote a spectacular account of her experience. I asked her if I could share, and she said yes. So tonight we have a special guest blog eye witness report. Thanks, Linda! Here's her story.

Sorry to all that thought I never made it back from the convention. Reg and I were on vacation in the Black Hills of S. Dakota last week and this is the first chance I have had to tell you about my experience.
Thursday, August 28, 2008 was an incredible day for me. I attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver. You should know that I have voted in every national election since I turned 18, but have missed many state and local opportunities to vote and I have never volunteered or been a part of the election process other than voting. I have done my share of complaining and wishing things were different , but I never ran for office or participated in a protest or a demonstration, never even put a sign in my yard.
I was fortunate enough to get a seat on one of three buses co-ordinated by the Larimer County Democrats. I am registered as "unaffiliated," but they did not care. Our small bus of 24 people, including the driver, left Loveland at 11:00 am. About half of those people are actively involved with the Democratic Party and the rest of us were just people that wanted the experience. It was an energetic, fun group and we were all excitedly getting to know each other when all fell silent as our driver informed us that we were on the clothing optional bus. So, I just stood up and took off my shirt and, after a few surprised looks, we all had a good laugh. (layering is mandatory in Colorado so, yes, I was wearing another shirt underneath)
We arrived at the Pepsi Center at about 12:30 pm where some chose to wait for a shuttle to Invesco Field and the rest of us decided to walk. We waited in line with hundreds of others for about an hour during which time we were lured by vendors of t-shirts, ribbons, hats and anything else that could have a picture of Obama printed on it. Friendly, helpful volunteers were stationed all along the route offering ice, cold bottles of water which saved at least a few lives as it was blistering hot in the sun. After entering Invesco, I had hours to kill before much of anything was to happen which was fine because I found out later that we were lucky to arrive so early. There were people that waited 3.5 hours just to enter the stadium.
This down time gave me the chance to meet many people from all over the U.S. When I asked them why they were there, not one of them mentioned Barack Obama, Sheryl Crow, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Stevie Wonder or anyone else that appeared on the podium. They did say they were there because they needed health care, child daycare, elder care, somebody to care. They were there because they want an opportunity to go to school, to start a business, to own a home, to retire someday. Many mentioned that they just want to be a part of making our country better, getting out of the Iraq war was uppermost on some minds, and most parents said they want to be sure America is a country that their children and grand-children can be proud of. All of them told me that they felt they could make a difference by getting more involved. They all said that it is up to each of us to do our part to get what each one of us needs and deserves. I saw all of America--babies and octogenarians, Hindu, Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, black, brown, red, white and yellow, prosperous and poor, students and teachers, able and handicapped, unemployed, secretaries, and a ton of politicians.
But there was something that we all had in common, hope. Hope shone forth from every face in that stadium. Lights were not needed. We could have lit up the entire city of Denver with the electricity that pulsed through the crowd. It was a sea of red, white and blue--people clapping, cheering, waving what seemed like billions of flags and hoping to make a difference. I was bursting with pride in the state of Colorado which has become my home, my country, myself and all of the others that were there not because they think that a politician can "fix it," but because they think that we, the people, can.
After all the speeches and videos, music, food and fireworks, (which, by the way, were all fabulous) it was time to come back to reality. My reality was that myself and 79,999 of my new friends were all going to be trying to get home at the same time. Now, I have a pretty decent sense of direction but, unfortunately, the route I walked from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field was blocked off. It was dark, I do not know the area well, and, remember, 79,999 others are with me. I had the most marvelous walk all around Elitch Gardens and a lovely stroll along Cherry Creek parkway neither of which leads to parking lot B10. I do not own a cell phone and so relied upon the help and directions of many locals that were absolutely delightful and friendly, but clueless. Because I have a good sense of direction, I ended up behind the Pepsi Center where all the forktrucks, trash bins, and loading docks are located--no parking lot B10. At this point it was very dark and none of my 79,999 new friends were anywhere to be found. So, of course, I remembered what they always told us in school--when you are lost, ask someone in uniform. Eureka! Out walked a security guard and when I told him I was lost, he loaded me onto a cart and delivered me to my bus just like a celebrity. After walking a good 2 or 3 miles at breakneck pace because I thought I was going to be late and miss the bus, and then arriving looking like a rock star with my own, private escort, I discovered that I was the first one back out of all 3 buses---go figure.
The purpose of this long saga is not to persuade you to vote for any particular candidate or support a particular issue, but to show you that the people at the DNC were just ordinary folks like you and I. All of those I met were committed to doing something to make a better country, a better life, a better world. I have never been so proud to be an American. About 70% of those I met had, like myself, never gotten involved in the election process except to vote. We were all willing to start doing something to bring about the things we want for our country because, whomever wins the election in November, they cannot change our country---it is we, the people, that can.
Peace, Linda


Proof Hurricane Ike is serious trouble for Texas

The Texas/Arkansas game has been postponed. For that to happen is as rare as spotting a horny toad any more. They used to be everywhere--if not hippy- hopping around, flattened on the road. Horned frogs, not football games. I'll never forget the fragrance of horny toad pancakes baking on the asphalt every summer.

This is really serious. If Ike hits the refineries in and around Houston, which was just predicted on the ten o'clock news, then the world's largest refinery(ies) are forfeit. Not to mention putting the population in peril. Predicting category 3 at least, and wherever it hits, it's heading toward Austin. It will remain category 3 and 2 for quite a ways into Texas. That sounds severe, until you remember that there's a big old alluvial plain that stretches all the way to Austin to the west, and South Texas shares the Chihuahuan Desert with Mexico. Austin sits on the Balcones Fault, a very old, crumbly one, which is why we have so many springs and caves and the Hill Country. The fault marks a distinct change in elevation, with all of West Texas sprawled atop the Edwards Plateau and into New Mexico. I've always said that you could divide Texas into four discrete states, arranged primarily by geology. Western High Plains, Northern ag/lumber, South desert, East swamps.

We will feel this one. It will be horrible for the folks on the coast, but we are water starved. I've put my new special umbrella to work this summer. I've been wanting to purchase one for the last 14 years, ever since Australia. Finally did, and I'm glad. It blocks 90% of UVA and UVB rays and we've had a very sunny summer.

I recall a hurricane my family rode out on Matagorda Bay in 1950-51 or so, don't remember the name. Daddy was minister of the First Christian Church in Bay City, and it was small, but solidly built with brick. We lived next door in a tiny frame house. We had evidently picked up a hobo sign "kind preacher lives here," or the like, and on occasion while Daddy was next door in the church, we'd hear a knock at the back door, and my mom would serve up a big plate of food, open the screen door, and pass it out to a down-and-out, but always polite man who would sit on the back porch and enjoy a good home-cooked meal.

"Doctor Pepper, or Coke?" she would quietly inquire.

When the hurricane warning came, we opened the church to scores of Latino families who lived in adobe huts in the surrounding South Texas area. Not much bedding, but when the palm trees started blowing away, we were ALL glad to have a little space to try to sleep on the floor. No one panicked, we just rode out the night together. It was one of the many powerful learning moments in my life.

Update -- if Ike hits around Galveston (just S of Houston), then we will likely get flooding, winds 50-80 mph gusting higher, possible tornadoes (hurricanes frequently spawn tornados), and the like.