Wednesday, August 31, 2005

If it keeps on raining, the levee's gonna break.
When the levee breaks, I'll have no place to stay.

Today, circumstances have me listening to an NPR news audio stream over the net. I am riveted. The entire day has focused around the Katrina disaster in the Deep, now Dirty, South. They thought they could breathe a sigh of relief in N'Awlins once the storm passed, but then the flooding came from Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi.

Crazy stuff is happening. An oil rig broke loose and hit a bridge. Thousands of people are homeless. Hundreds are dead. There is widespread looting throughout the city.

When you think about just how poor (economically) New Orleans is, you know the damage will be exponential.

They estimate that this will be our nation's most costly natural disaster. Aside from the obvious loss of buildings and homes, New Orleans is our country's biggest port; nearly all of the grain produced in the heartland (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, etc.) finds its way down the Mississippi via barge or rail to be exported from New Orleans. Additionally, a significant percentage of the US oil refineries are located in the storm impact area, and they have suffered damage.

Personally, I have experienced a tornado in my hometown, countless blizzards, the Northridge quake in California (and the seasonal fires, floods and mudslides), a mild hurricane in Boston, a big fire in the Everglades (which left us stranded in gridlock on highway 1 in the keys, on a bridge over pristine blue waters... not a bad place to be stuck in traffic), and the Rodney King riots in LA. As far as disasters go, I really need a plague of locusts and a volcano to complete my resume.

I take comfort knowing that, here in Bozeman, Montana, there is no risk of hurricane, and microscopic risk of tornados and floods ... but we are sitting right near the rim of the continent's biggest Supervolcano, centered in Yellowstone Park.

The last time it erupted, it blotted out the sun and killed off the dinosaurs. It erupts every 500,000 years or so. It has not erupted in 550,000 years, so we're due.

At least here at the epicenter, we'll die quickly.

Actually, if they had to list Vegas-style odds of meeting my demise by the natural world, death by avalanche in a snowboarding accident would likely top the list. This would be followed closely by "hypothermia," "gored by moose," and "mauled by bear," respectively.

A few quick hits:

Among people who have given up meat in their diets, there's a disturbing tendency for some to think of food purely in terms of its nutritional value, in a manner similar to the way Christian fundamentalists think about sex. Things like texture and nutritional content far outweigh "flavor." Fortunately, India does not fall into this category, although she is occasionally guilty of judging a meal based on color and "crunch" before flavor. (On a side note, and very exciting to me, she ate her first piece of chicken in ten years this last weekend, as she was unable to resist the delights of a grilled chicken sandwich, of which she ate half. I'm not counting my chickens before they are hatched, so to speak, in the hopes this will become a regular occurence. They texture of chicken, beef and pork really give her the skeevies, as well as the possibility of a chance encounter with undercooking.)

Speaking of Christian Fundamentalists, today at a stoplight, I was behind an SUV that was festooned with five different varieties of the "Support Our Troops" ribbons--- there was the standard yellow with the aforementioned message, a yellow/stars and stripes combo, a straight stars and stripes theme, a camouflage theme, and a stars and stripes theme that said, "God Bless America." There was also a "Jesus Fish" on the vehicle.

Rather than orienting them vertically, the owner had placed them all horizontally, which drew my attention to the similarity of design with the Jesus fish. Interesting juxtaposition.

I am sure this similarity is coincidental, as the first appearance of that ribbon design was for AIDS, I believe (then being co-opted by breast cancer, and a dozen other ailments that I cannot keep track of)... and I doubt the Jesus Fish people and the AIDS activist people got together on that one.

When I think of New York in the summer, I think of the combined smells of popcorn, piss and BO.


During a repair of our vaccuum cleaner, I was pulling the roller-brush out of the machine by the rubber band, which was in need of replacement, and it snapped out and hit me square in the face, opening a nasty half inch gash on my already "distinctive" nose. (It sports a swooping, right hand curve due to a couple mishaps involving a baseball bat and the bottom of a swimming pool... but that is another post.)

India happened to be sitting there as it occurred. In a superhuman display of restraint, she somehow managed to refrain from laughing her ass off. I think the sudden and copious flow of blood stopped her. I know that, were situations reversed, I don't think I could restrain myself, as I find real-life, slapstick-style situations really funny.

I now am now forced to explain, in response to quizzical looks, that my vaccuum cleaner nailed me with a cheap shot. But you should see the other guy... I mean, the Kirby.

Thank you, that is all.