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Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in lizhenry's LiveJournal:

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005
11:01 am
there are maybe 30-50 computer volunteers in here, mostly just people who walked in wanting to help in any way and who don't have particular computer expertise.

there's this core of people, Jim hilliard, James Jones from atlanta, jim forest, will reed, travis. and they have been here for days and days and some of them around the clock and sleeping here in this room . they're as in charge as there can be. will is a liason person talking to fema etc. jim h. is upstairs running paging. james is next door in reliant center setting up connectivity and coordinating volunteers for their new computer center. i got a bunch of info from them and wrote it down. the red cross is, i think, i think they have it in process to hire someone to head up this center. that's what is needed as the people who know anything are about to leave and go back to their real jobs.

i am writing short "how to" documents and printing them and stuff like that. i helped one guy find his wife thru the paging system. I've heard the cowbell in here ring maybe 4 times this morning. i've been here since 7am.
Tuesday, September 6th, 2005
11:57 pm
cultural adaptation
I sirred and ma'amed more the first half hour in the Astrodome than I have for my entire life. It rolled off my tongue so nice and came so natural you'd have thought i was raised by baptist preachers who whupped me with a belt to make me speak up nice and polite.
10:17 pm
10:12 pm
fashion notes
To my earlier fashion-related comments I would like to add that all those very shiny new people I mentioned on the plane, their close cousins were hard at work in the astrodome pushing brooms or hauling giant wheeled hotboxes of food around with aprons tied on and the exact same slightly worried, nice, bewildered look as they had in the airport. I loved them!
9:50 pm
not saying i don't know
I can't stand to be the person behind a desk saying i don't know, i don't know, i have no answers for you.

I don't know where you get a bus,
or buy groceries
or find a drugstore
or how you can get your paycheck
or how you get your social security
or which hospital it is that's down the street where they took your son
or hardly anything because I just walked in the door a couple of hours ago...

But i have done my best to never say i don't know and can't help you. And, also, learned immediately, not to say, "Ask a police officer..." the houston cops have been incredibly friendly and great and helpful to me but I'm not sending any person in the dome to speak to them or go to them for answers or look to them as authorities. if need be i send someone with them or i go myself. I go bug people who look knowledgeable until i get some sort of answer. i did start saying, "go ask fema at the east gate downstairs" for many things and i hope that was not horrible and that the FEMA people were decent.

this place needs MAPS and directories. posted everywhere and as flyers.
7:19 pm
friends network software
What we need on the ground in the astrodome is social network software. I should be registering everyone for some bare-bones orkut or tribe. it needs to be stripped down and fast. but that would make more sense. the information I'm getting doesnt fit into any of the forms or db systems. people could find each other thru people they know. Someone get on this.

Barcamp people where are you?
3:14 pm
Hmmm I forgot about the time change and so did my computer. So I told my mom I would go outside and take the light rail to her office downtown at 6, but I think I emailed her that at 6:30. And so they got me around 8pm. The time really flew. I will blog more in a minute but first i need to load up some more names of people into whatever the hell databases... omg omg.

So, Jim, a guy from I think either yahoo or exxon mobile ("the devil") and some other guy have sort of been running computer center and they have to go back to work after tomorrow. I may step in to do stuff, we'll see, I'm going to go super early tomorrow. They need to set up another computer area in the reliant ctr, and they also want to keep the paging and people finding centers running in the astrodome. Yes, they need volunteers. Don't wait for people to tell you what to do, if you are awake, and have a good block of time to give, they need you. There are efforts to develop a system for finding people but it's very, very, very proto-proto-proto ... arrrrr.... they're doing great, and i did see some people find their relatives or finally get through on the phone to someone, but mostly, you can't find out anything, no one answers the pages sent out over the intercom, and it's chaos. there is a huge effort.

All you BarCampers and that sort of person... help with the central data-scraping and consolidation, it is DESPERATELY needed now that people in there are fed and have some medical care they are going out of their minds with worry for their loved ones.
And, people are really needed to help with information infrastructure. I can see what's wrong and I can help with a sort of bandaid approach, but there needs to be SERIOUS organization.

There you are and you heard someone say your son or your mom got on a bus that might have been going to arkansas but you aren't sure. You heard that your cousin with her baby was in the astrodome, but then they might have got moved to somewhere else in Texas, where? I had no way to answer these questions. I had to persuade people to give me as much info as possible about themselves and their missing people, and I"m going to slam that half-assed data somewhere, and hope. I did some searches, but that wasn't working.

I have to say the SBC people did a FANTASTIC job with the phones. there were bright red phones everywhewre and long distance calls were free with no fuss or hassle. I never saw anyone in line for a phone -- there were lots of phones.

I realize I don't know anyone's phone number anymore; if I lose my cell phone I'm toast and would not know how to contact anyone. I don't know basic stuff like my own parents' street address. People who had their shit really together were wandering around holding little piece of paper with a bunch of numbers, they'd found out their own bank routing number, etc. But mostly... NOT.

Also, I think intake workers , data entry, compute search, whoever's listening, needs to ask a crucial question: WHO who was not in the flood would your missing person think to call? And what is that number? Who should they call if it hasn't occurred to them? Because just saying "I'm in the Astrodome" is not helping necessarily.

okay i'm frantic. more later. must upload names.
3:02 pm
holy shit
okay wow. this is amazing but i am so confused. i now know the central message board for here and the db. it's here... i have no idea though... oh man it's overwhelming. Yahoo is here and also exxonmobile, which a funny dude said, "I'm here from The Devil." I stared at him blankly and he laughed. "Exxon mobil."

yahoo is using bugzilla to track and page people. each person who comes up becomes a bug. i'm not clear on how this works. then you update them and the central paging people know to page them. ???

the family messages board has about 15000 people in it.

there nees to be a central db and a scraper thing like what Ping and those peopel are writing. help!!!
2:45 pm
I need help now, from where you are.
Hello friends and family. I am at the astrodome and I am seeing suddenly (first try) there is no central database of missing persons. so what if I try posting here, and you guys help. There are a zillion Databases to be searched and what i need is for you guys to take a person and look for them, and also to post the info on the person who is safe and looking for their family/friends. That seems more efficient, if anyone can help.

Missing: christian vigne nickname shun in arkansas??

Safe: christa vigne, from St. Philips, new orleans, looking for him. in astrodome,
living at palms court motel. 8900 main st. houston. cell
1504-908-4554 or, warren, cell 504-460-6681.
1:43 pm
conv. with woman next to me on the plane. wv, washignton, irs, on 25 year anniversary vacation trip with frequent flier miles

houston airport doesnt have free wireless grrrr
cab driver's philosophy. the mentality and the analysis that is not correct, of people who are propertied.
without people, there is just the world and god and no problem. (then he sings to sarah smiles.) you cant let people who rip you off make you a bad person - that is the point of his stories - you stil have to act according to the right way, "to god" he says, "you will be judged by a higher law and another methodology."
his storieis of people he helped. he gets very very upset as he tells me their stories. note to self do not upset cab driver. later he calms down and sings with the radio for me and tells meabout being a musician for 29 years . then as i am getting out i pass him 20 bucks to pass on to whoever needs it (as he keeps giving his own cash to people...) and i see a sign in the front that says "according to houston law # whatever, conversation with the driver is strictly prohibited." and i point at it and we totally crack up. "use your discretion, man, i am not necessarily in agreement with that type of philosophy. "

walking around a bit, confused where to go. there are signs everywhere, actually not too confusing... in reliant, volunteer registration and orientation by fire dept. and red c ross, 10 minutes. i have an orange armband. people all around are shell shocked. a lot of pepople, i notice immediately,, are wearing tshirts with prominent advertising...that's what gets donated as PR.
1:39 pm
From the airport and plane; rambling
From the airport and plane. What better way to pass a long dull plane flight than to write nonstop whatever pops into my head?? I love to digress.

A fashion note, because I know you all love to see me talk about clothes. In the airport I can spot the people from Houston a mile away. They are sort of shiny-new, as if they just came out of the box, dressed in new-looking mall clothes that have been dry cleaned and pressed; they have nice haircuts and are blowdried, and they sport an air of vague unease. They're nice looking. It's very different from Miami-nice or L.A.-nice; less glitzy, less tight, less polished, more friendly. They seem a little overanxious to be proper, for everything to be new, unblemished, clean; nouveau riche. To me they look provincial. To them I look like a freakazoid vagrant, or perhaps charitably, "student", though in San Francisco or most of the Bay Area, my dressing style reads easily as "Urban Techno Hippie". I think it is often an aesthetic that musician and pop culture theorist Momus calls "Vagabond". Here, if you are a little scruffy and alterna-looking, with some facial piercings, a laptop, and a latte, you are part of what's not even a subculture, but is post dot-com boom slightly decayed cultural elite. Silicon Valley still makes fun of geeks who wear polo shirts. It's not that one doesn't want to look nice, but "nice" is different here. Suffused with regional pride last night, I purpled up my hair freshly, figuring it will give some little kids in the Astrodome a kick. It was due to be freshened up anyway. And, people need to know that people with funny hair are not all snarling punks. Some of us are friendly, smiley, helpful punks. Freshening up my funny hair also serves me well as a queer signifier, so that gay, lesbian, trans people will know they can talk to me.

I'm wearing jeans and slightly tattered black converse with pink laces and a hot pink stripe and a yarn pompom that Shannon's daughter Zelly made for me and tied on there 6 months ago. She likes to see it there and boast that she made it and I wear it. My armwarmers are cotton rainbow-striped socks with the toes cut out and pink stitching. They are my queer-friendly signifier... I have a boys' long-sleeved shirt over my tank top as the morning is chilly, and the Ugly Photographer Vest that is so very handy when travelling. A hot pink bandana do-rag; well, my neighborhood if you wear a red or blue or even black bandana you have to worry a little. Just a little...

I think of the backpacks that Cosco donated to all the kids in Milo's school, John Gill. Five years ago it was one of the "bad" schools of the district, though not the worst with test scores. Now it is turning around as the neighborhood continues to gentrify. And as people like my friends Jackie, Shannon, and Elaine have spread their influence to say that if we as privileged people with mostly stay-at-home moms, if we send our kids to public school instead of fleeing to private schools, and we put that money we would have spent on the private school into the public school instead, and we put in our time, that is better for our communities and thus, ultimately better for ALL of our kids. And a lot of people heard that message and did that. They worked hard to spread that meme. People like Mara and.. Robin? Who started the Selby Lane Education Foundation, and who work for the Redwood City Education Foundation, who don't want their kids going to a school with gangs, but instead of fighting to segregate the schools, they work for social justice and integration, and against flight to private schools, and for the money raised by taxes and donations to be spread equally in the schools. Not disproportionately given out to the "nice neighborhood" schools. Everyone wants racial integration, almost no one wants class integration. It is too frightening, too scary, too big of a problem and no one knows what to do about it. But they're trying.

Anyway, the backpacks. Cosco generously donated backpacks full of school supplies. About half, maybe 60%? of our school needs it, REALLY needs it. To the rest of us, the wealthy, they might as well have given us a roll of pennies or a box of paperclips, and we're like, "Oh shit. This is weird. What do I do with this? Donate it somewhere?" And then I hear that Cosco TRIED to give the backpacks to Fair Oaks, Selby, Hoover, Taft. But those schools would not take them, because the backpacks are red. And red and blue are forbidden at those schools because they are gang colors. Our neighborhood is Norteño, red, 14, XVI. If you know to look, you will see it tagged all over. The Surenos, I think from Mountainview and East Palo Alto, have been encroaching in some neighborhoods, in Fair Oaks and over by Woodside Road not far from where I live at the border of Mount Carmel (the gentrifying neighborhood since the dot-com boom) and Jefferson, so there's been extra-bad violence there lately. Well, our school took the red backpacks. It is not an issue at John Gill that I have yet heard. I think being next to a middle school or high school makes it an issue.

People are boarding the airplane to Newark at gate 35, next to us. The agents are asking for people to give up their first class tickets and downgrade, as there is not enough room and the plane was changed; it was supposed to be a bigger plane. No one wants to give up first class. There are heated arguments. People are queueing up and looking tense. I also feel a bit tense as our plane to Houston is full. They're offering $250 vouchers for anyone who will wait for a different plane which I think leaves at 2:30. I wonder if I should give up my spot, and try to pass on the $250 voucher to someone in the Dome? I don't do it. Now I'm standing in line for the plane, watching the ticket agents for Continental cordoning off the first class passengers. Why is there first class? Should there be first class? I like comfort. In fact, I like luxury. The couple of times in my life I've been kicked up to first class by accident or luck, I was amazed at being comfortable on an airplane. It was like being on a comfy sofa in a reasonably nice restaurant. The attendants smiled a lot and tried to forsee what you wanted. And that was kind of cool, but made me really uncomfortable mentally! How odd! Do the people in first class really deserve to be treated so much nicer? Do they need it, somehow? I think about people who have their own jet planes. They need it because they are important, their time and comfort are more valuable than other people's. If you are the President, or, like, Madonna or something, you don't have time for waiting in lines and being subject to the inconveniences, the vagaries of mass transit. Does Madonna stand in line at the airport for coffee and a donut? Or does she travel with a little cortege of people who carry her stuff and fetch things and insulate her from the world?

Is this right? Does the frail-looking, very fat old guy in a wheelchair over there "deserve" more help and comfort on the plane than the wealthy houston businessman? We don't ask these questions: we don't think about social justice, we only ask who can pay for it. That is what was wrong with the evacuation of New Orleans, and in their hearts and consciences, the people of the world and of this country know it.

There's a couple next to me, older, maybe 60, Mexican or Mexican-American, a guy in a very nice cowboy hat and shirt, extremely fancy, a velvet shirt with pearl buttons, so proud and fancy as to be here out of place and almost a costume; a lady nicely and sort of quietly dressed with gold jewelry and very worried about her place on the plane. They are extremely dignified. She does not want to get bumped. They go up to board the plane with the first people to get on, the back rows, though they're in the front of the plane; the guy (Black) in a uniform at the door, (a flight attendant? the pilot?) hesitates a minute obviously wondering whether to tell them they can't go in yet, then he figures what the hell, swipes their tickets, and they're on the plane. Did he just have a moment of realizing they don't speak English, or did he have a minute of cross-racial solidarity and is figuring - - - give them a break, why give them any obstructionist bullshit hassle, what they must deal with! - - - the way that gay cops never give me a speeding ticket? I love it when people in bureaucratic roles have a human moment; I think of times I've been working in a university, and I would answer the phone and get a wrong number, and someone obviously very frustrated would be on the line, and I'd just say, "okay, who are you trying to reach, I will look it up," though it was not my job. Instead of kicking them back to a dial tone or transferring them to an operator, and they'd be so astonished. Human-up, people, whatever your job! A cog in the machine can sometimes get away with this, if there are not terrible quotas or consequences.

The Mexican couple are settling in as I stand in the aisle of the plane waiting. I love to eavesdrop on people speaking Spanish. "Ojalá que este viejo gordo no siente aquí..." she says to her husband. She's in the middle seat. "a mi me gusta a sentar en el sale porque..." I can't think of the proper Spanish but she hopes to god that the old fat guy doesn't sit next to them, and my god, she likes best to be in the exit row because it's more room even though, my god, what if the door opened accidentally during the flight when you're a mile in the air and you're sucked out of the plane. Ay! I crack a smile. The guy in the cowboy gear notices and pokes his wife to shut up, flicking his eyes over in my direction as if to warn her. What, like I'm the respectability police? Hahaha. Little does he know it's now all over the internet or soon to be.

I'm thinking now of travel narratives I've read. The one by that guy, I can't remember who... one of the guys who thought he was going to cross Africa by going up the Congo and who was just utterly fucking defeated. Maybe he was searching for the source, or trying to cross africa, or rescue Livingstone. But he was so civilized; he was a conqueror; he had about 300 bearers; he had beautiful equipment; he had arrogance and vision that you admire even as you fill up with schadenfreude as everyone deserts, drops the nice equipment, dies of malaria, is bitten by ants, gets infected hangnails that turn into amputations. I remember not feeling that same schadenfreude for Freya Stark or Mary Kingsley. Or even Paul Theroux or Chatwin who are somewhat despicable and lying when you bother to analyze them. Because of their goals being different; the spread of information. A certain charm to them. Despite them having the same attitudes, arrogance, etc. as the death or glory Explorers. Bringing the bubble of their own world with them and trying to preserve it, so desperately; the anthropologist's tent of privacy where she retreats to write down her reports that will never be read by the people they are ABOUT. I hope somehow that, though I am firmly stuck in my own tent of comfort and wealth, my inadequacies are somewhat offset by my goals of the sharing of information; i'm not dismantling the tent but I'm trying to make the window into it transparent.

Who was it I was reading lately who said that whenever a national myth is created or reified, something wrong is going on. Hmm, where was that? That there are handles to a region, that certain places are for writing, for literature, "universal" - - - falsely. That a certain kind of U.S. setting makes a story perceived and marketed to be "universal" possible, it makes that story possible; but if you are somewhere else, you have to tell the regional keyword story. You're Cambodian? Well, everyone wants you to talk about Pol Pot and the Khmer and the killing fields and they don't know a damn thing else about your country, and it's like you're not allowed to have any other story. You have to represent just that thing, over and over. And it's dehumanizing, it's reductive. OH!!! I remember where I read it, in a very intelligent and fascinating introduction to a book of short stories, of Canadian science fiction, edited I think by Geoff Ryman and Nalo Hopkinson.

That is the sort of reductiveness I experienced when I was visibly disabled, in a wheelchair for a long while, and it was frustrating that everyone always wanted to talk to me about disability, about mine, about someone else's, they'd want to process their own issues with health and disability. And I was willing to do a lot of that, but it got wearing. Anyone who has been in a similar situation knows what I'm talking about. You're the only black guy in a group of white people, you're the only woman in a group of male hackers, and everyone wants to explain racism or sexism to them, or they want to explain their Whole Thing About It to you. How vexing it becomes, even when well-intentioned! And yet it can't be helped. Can it?
8:17 am
in the airport
I'm about to blog this in exhaustive detail though I hope at some point I'm working too hard to do that. I tend to post rough notes written quickly, and then I clean them up later for typos, grammar, and clarity. I am not used to writing under my real name, but I will give it a good try; perhaps it will make me more circumpsect. Hang onto your hats.

Leaving Milo & John asleep. I feel bad at leaving Milo behind. I explained the hurricane to him in simple terms and said that I was going to help people. Though my main job is to help him and take care of him, I'm telling myself it is only a week and John will take over.

Am I bringing the right stuff with me? Too much? Too little? A woman from the Redwood City Mothers' Club brought me a big duffle bag full of toys, baby clothes, chapstick, diaper wipes, crayons. But later that evening it became clear that all the Houston shelters were asking for no more donated goods; also, I'm quailing at the thought of checking a bag, of carrying the heavy bag through the airports with my back and shoulder problems, and then through downtown Houston, where I will be walking and taking buses if I can find them. I am hoping this good-hearted, generous person doesn't mind if I pass them on elsewhere to a shelter that can use them. Soon, people from the Gulf Coast are going to be arriving in the Bay Area, and they'll need her donations.

It's 6:30 am. In the Safeway in Redwood City, two people at the checkout stand are chatting. They say there's 300 people coming into SF aiport this morning to go to St. Mary's Church. They both tell stories of local people they know who have family or friends living with them. "It's like she is... they have a good house, they're not RICH rich, but they have a good amount of money. (Expensively dressed hippie-ish white woman to Cheryl, a black woman working the register. No one thinks they are RICH rich, even when they are.) "But now they've got, in their house they've got their family, mom, dad, the son in college living there, their daughter, and his brother and their family, and then ... they've got 10 people living in there. 10 people in their house they have to support." (heads shake)

Their bodies and looks turned towards me are including me in the conversation as if to welcome me to say something... Feeling a bit sheepish... I say I'm getting on the train now to go to Houston to help out in some way. They both freak out and start holding my hands, shaking my hand, hugging me, "Please bless those people and let them know they are not forgotten. Please pass this on. Please give them a hug. A hug is a blessing. Please, please, please." Cheryl almost starts to cry. I feel like an imposter, I feel very bogus, very guilty, it's not like I'm doing something uncomfortable or dangerous or particularly heroic. And twice over for writing it up here as if I were trying to get attention for myself or show off. But what it is, is that I find I say I'm on my way there and people get excited and feel inspired to do something, they think, "Hey, if she can up and do this, maybe it is possible for me to do something too, whatever I can manage. " So, that's why I'm saying it. And their hugs and blessings are embarrassing but you know what, I'll try to take them with good grace and sort of take that mojo they're infusing into me, and pass it on, as they requested. And as everyone writing me email and sending me money has requested.

The women in the grocery store clearly think I'm 18... You know, some day I'll get forehead wrinkles (where are they??) and the almost-40 will show up, and I'll be glad, because it's embarrassing to be taken for a young pup wet behind the ears.

That grocery store conversation was surreal. It was a bit like ... it felt like I imagine it was like, being an apparently able-bodied young man in 1944, walking around a city and not in uniform. People are turning to strangers in the streets and saying as casual conversation, "So, what are YOU doing to help?" And I hear an undercurrent of thinking in there, of "and why didn't we help anyone BEFORE?" Why didn't we go all out to help people in homeless shelters, two-three weeks ago? People are going to be changed by these thoughts as more of it gets said out loud. And said by everyone not just obnoxious bleeding-heart pinko commie liberal hippies like me or by religious proselytizers of various stripes.

"Government exists to improve the quality of life of its citizens." That guy on Face the Nation who said that, Bob Shieff, he hit the nail on the head. Short and to the point. Communities also exist to do that, but government is an extension of our community and we have let it get out of control incompetent, powerful, greedy, wrong-headed. Barbara Bush thinks the storm survivors are better off... Maybe she thinks all of us would be better off living in barracks, guarded closely by the military, where we would be "safe"... Excuse me, but thinking of it enrages me to where I get incoherent. How she can have been part of the government for 8 years and say that a significant number of her coutnry's citizens would be better off losing their lives, communities, ... living in a stadium. If she believes this, it is an admission of complete faliure to govern. Let them eat cake! Let them take charlty! (The Checkpoints are for Your Safety. You are Free Now.)

This morning I woke up with a song in my head, "Los presidentes" by a Venezuelan group whose name I can't recall, maybe La Familia Miranda. The refrain, translated is something like, "presidents come, presidents go, but venezuela's still got nothing." Another verse says, roughly: "With virtuous promises they talk & talk, but after all's said and done, they've carried off all the gold." Just so my dad doesn't kill me for saying this, I will add that it's a song that predates Ch&avez's regime.

The disconnect between rich and poor in this country has been getting worse from my point of view. I am not a historian, but I do read plenty of history. And I have no doubt that conditions and quality of life is good for people in the U.S. than they have been throughout most places and times in history, comparable to any stable, wealthy expansionist empire. Unless you are black and poor, or a recent immigrant percieved as non-white. Then, good luck to you. It's not like the U.S. invented racism, any more than it invented poverty. But there are ways of thinking so deeply ingrained here, so harmful, that it's unbelievable when you start exposing them. The people who don't feel their effects, or I'd say who feel the positive effects of having an underclass that's not them, often claim there is no racism, or they only acknowledge the most extreme examples of it, the obvious lunatics. But back to social class. It seems to me that post-war till the late 70s things were improving for many people. Now those positive advances, the growth of the middle class, has been eroding since the 80s. My generation and the one behind me have very different expectations of life than the Boomers had. That's all I'll say about that as other people have talked about it better than I can.

The fog, storms, wall of cloud, the spangles on wall at the airport coming off the train: "Wind Portal" by Ned Kahn. It's very beautiful and goes well with the distant morning fog over the hills above Pacifica and Colma. The spangles are like my grandma's mesh purses... like a stripper's spangles... a little tawdry... I think of the marvellous things people are capable of making. Beauty, art, airports... I like airports and their architecture... I think they are beautiful even when they become a little grubby and run-down. Because they are frequently imaginative and they are built for people, on a personal scale, but also built on a grand scale. They are built for use, hard use, not like monuments or palaces meant to dwarf people and awe them, to make them feel out of place.

The beauty of bridges, highway overpasses, etc. but train stations and airports are more beautiful... this is corny, but I'm thinking of great public works and say, Woody Guthrie's song about the Columbia Dam.
Monday, September 5th, 2005
11:29 pm
what I'm bringing with me
- computer
- index cards (I am not sure why, but they seem so useful)
- pens, sharpies
- small notebook
- power bars (don't want to fuss about lunch)
- crucial armwarmers, rainbow striped
- bumblebee legwarmers (it's hot there, but the A/C can be a bitch)
- bandana
- pair jeans
- pair overall-shorts
- ugly photographer vest with useful pockets; makes me feel like a Pak protector
- tshirt, from fussy.org
- black tanktop, 1 pink
- jogbra
- black short sleeved guayabera
- undies and socks
- digital camera??? maybe. hmm. plus its charger.
- entire bag of dove bars (for the bolstering of my own moral fortitude)

I can probably fit in my mom's clothes if I need anything... though I will not let any clothing from Talbot's touch my body! Noooooo! Never. I will go shopping at Talbot's with you, mom, right after you let me pick out a nice outfit from Hot Topic for you and you wear it to work.

I wish I could bring my trusty Leatherman tool, but they'd take it away on the plane.

Can I just add that I'm wondering what possessed Barbara Bush to say this? Is she entering the zone of senile dementia, or was she always that way?

Current Mood: awake
4:09 pm
Have laptop, will volunteer
I'm going to Houston to try to help out along with the Tech for All people. They put out a call for people with laptops & wireless, and tech expertise.

I have been reading and writing very intensively - since before the hurricane hit land - about this disaster. I have wanted to help more and now I'm hoping that my time, labor, and knowledge will contribute more than if I had just donated the cost of my plane ticket. So, here goes. People are donating towards my plane ticket by paypal, to my bookmaniac.net address.

I am trying to arrange babysitting for Milo; John can cover most of the time for me, but he will need help, especially on Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday, August 11th, 2005
12:33 pm
old Venezuelan coins
From my dad, some fun facts:

Bolivar - used to be 3.33 Bs to the dollar, then 4.24 Bs to the dollar.
We American used to call them Bees. Spanish nickname was
"Bolos". "Cuantos bolos cuesta?"

Two Bolivar coin

Five Bolivar coin - known as the Fuerte

Real - one half a Bolivar, "Costar un realero" means something
cost a whole lot. Another expression, "Donde no hay leal,
no hay lopa" or "No tickee, no washee"

Medio - one quarter of a bolivar or half a Real

Locha - one eigth of a Bolivar, or half a medio or 12 and a
half centimos

Puya - 1/20 of a bolivar or 5 centimos. "Gozar un puyero"
means to have a good time.

Centimo - 1/100 of a bolivar. No coin but it was a unit of account.
Saturday, June 18th, 2005
2:19 pm
Milo is done with kindergarten at the Montessori school. He'll be there 3 more weeks for their summer session and then, through the city, 3 weeks of day camp: Rocket and space camp, Pirate camp, and Robot-building camp.

His end of the year school concert was cute but very long. He was in a karate demonstration, sang a solo (the theme from Spiderman) and lots of group songs and dances.

Here he is singing his solo, loud and clear. "Is he strong? Listen, bud, he's got radioactive blood." Except he still sort of says "bwud". He got cheered with wild enthusiasm by the crowd - mainly for singing something that wasn't "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or "ABC". Out of 50 kids, there were only a few who sang something to stand out: Sofia sang the Scooby Doo theme, I think Lexie sang It's a Grand Old Flag, and someone else sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It was impressive that almost every kid stood up to sing alone. Because Milo is often so quiet, I was especially proud that he sang bravely and that everyone could see how he remembers all the verses to long songs!

Here's Milo and friends in a group song, "I am a pizza." The tall 5 and 6 year olds were in the middle. Milo was stuck out near the end of the line with the ones who are barely 3 or 4. His friend Sage, next to him in the Hawaiian shirt, had his 3rd birthday a few months ago... And again, the quiet Milo takes on a flamboyant stage personality. He likes to watch musicals with John.

Here's Milo in the hammock that my dad got from a trip to Colombia about 25 years ago. That hammock is still going strong after quite a lot of rough use from me and Laura - going through the washing machine many times - and now, rain and more rough action from Milo and the kids next door.

Milo's very proud of the new flame-colored stripe in his hair.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005
7:12 pm
commentary on books Milo's reading
Milo's favorite books right now are all by Dav Pilkey. He likes the "Captain Underpants" series. "Ricky Ricotta and his MIghty Robot" is another great series about a mouse who gets teased at school and makes friends with a giant robot. Together they battle evil villians from other planets. Each book has the same formula, with the mouse and his robot doing something slightly naughty like being late for dinner or squashing the family minivan -- then they save the world from attack and reaffirm their friendship.

The formula is actually sort of like this:

- Mouse and robot are mildly "bad"
- Evil alliterative villain plots to take over Earth and Squeakyville.
- The mouse does something clever
- The robot has a huge, dramatic battle (with flip-o-rama animation)
- The villain gets put in jail
- The mouse's parents thank him and the robot for saving each other and the world
- They eat pizza or some other yummy kid food
- Friends 4 ever
- How to draw the main characters.

Which seems very clever because "badness" and "fighting" are split off from the regular life of the kid. Selfish impulses and violence are externalized and conquered by the little mouse... This is true of any adventure book, but the simplicity of the story in this series makes the subtext very obvious and clear. I especially like how the parents thank the kid for controlling what is basically his Id manifesting. The moral of the story is also not wrapped up in one of blind obedience to laws or authority, but appeals to concepts that kids have down pretty well, like: "It's not okay for giant Voodoo Vultures from Venus to invade Earth and eat all the popsicles in my fridge."

The series would appeal to anyone who likes comic books and cartoons and superheroes!

I noticed lately that the library has started a "comix" section for kids. I'd love it if they'd get some classic comics in there like the Incredible Hulk and Spiderman, and I'll probably suggest it to them.

Meanwhile, at the allergist's office, we read one of the most boring books in the whole wide world. It was called something like, "Always Be Prepared!" and was about a bunch of animal children who worry all the time about whether they have their inhalers and allergy medicine. One kid carelessly figures he doesn't need his special medicine kit. The other kids all remind him - but NOOOOO. Tension builds at the library story hour as the librarian passes out cupcakes and all the neurotic allergy-laden kids properly refuse the cupcakes because they're homemade and might have peanuts, eggs, flour, or, you know, poison and razorblades. And an especially horrible elephant child goes home and tells his parents that little Jeremy almost ate a cupcake and didn't have his Benadryl... Then at the dinosaur museum, right after all the kids sing a jolly, wholesome, song, some fingerpaint has egg in it and the careless kid gets hives and has to go to the emergency room in an ambulance. If I were that kid in that book, I swear I'd have been huffing glue just to escape the boring assholes on the school bus knitting their eyebrows and reminding me to take my EpiPen everywhere I go. Alas- instead, the kid comes back from the emergency room with a Really Cool special medicine kit backpack with STARS on it. Hose him down! He's a rock star now!

I was extra traumatized by the boring drippiness and it's unfortunately burned into my brain at the cellular AND molecular level.

The slightly out of date Batman and Robin Remember Their Non-Drowsy Antihistamine (TM) comic book was still awful, but better than "Be Prepared". Batman goes off to fight Poison Ivy, but Robin has to stay home because he screwed up last time when his over the counter meds made him drowsy. Alfred the butler advises a pouting, sniffly Robin to go to the doctor right away. He fuels up on prescription meds and races off to join the battle. Silly Batman! When Poison Ivy fired her super-pollen gun, he sneezed all over - but Robin, thank god, had been to the allergist!

IF ONLY it were true and Claritin gave us all magic superpowers.

The people in the allergist's office are always in awe of Milo's reading superpowers, and I enjoy it to the hilt. At first they can't believe he's really reading. He looks younger than he is, so that makes it all the more strange to them. I remember as a little kid kind of liking the attention of adults who were astonished that I was reading something beyond my apparent age, but on the other hand it was annoyingly condescending most of the time. They'd feel like they had to convey somehow either that it was inappropriate for me to be reading at that level - or they'd suggest that I couldn't possibly "really understand it". (Or both.) In nearly every case they'd also talk over my head to a parent as if I weren't there. Rarely, there'd be a person who just talked to me like they would any human being and they'd ask about the book or talk about something they were reading.
Friday, April 29th, 2005
10:35 pm
bloggity bloggity welcome
Here's my blog and here I am. I'm reading tons of books for school, mostly poetry, novels, and literary theory - but past a certain time of night I read whatever is the furthest from that kind of thing. I'm also reading a lot of short stories for the Tiptree book award this year. More about what I'm reading later. This is just a quick intro. I guess I'll mostly talk about books I'm reading and gossip about Milo, with occasional photos...

I'm pretty busy with the end of my school semester so I don't expect to write too often here until the summer. I'll be doing my thesis in the summer, but should have a little less pressure!
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