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September 29, 2005

More Reading

From Peggy Noonan:

It is the government's job to warn and inform. That's what we have the National Weather Service for. It is not government's job to command and control and make microdecisions about the lives of people who want to do it their own way.

This sort of thing of course has been going on for a long time. In Katrina and Rita it just became more dramatically obvious as each incident played out on TV.

Governments always start out saying they're going to help, and always wind up pushing you around. They cannot help it. They say they want to help us live healthily and they mean it, but it ends with a guy in Queens getting arrested for trying to have a Marlboro Light with his Bud at the neighborhood bar. We're hauling the parents of obese children into court. The government has increasing authority over our health, and these children are not healthy. Smokers, the fat, drinkers of more than two drinks per night, insane swimmers in high seas . . .

We are losing the balance between the rights of the individual and the needs and demands of the state. Again, this is not new. It's a long slide that's been going on for a long time. But Katrina and Rita seemed to make the slide deeper.

It is hard for governments to be responsible, and take responsibility. It takes real talent, and guts. But authority? That's easier. Pass the law and get the cuffs.

Go read the whole thing!

Posted by Beth at 01:43 PM
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September 28, 2005

Must Reads

If you ever watch tv, and aren't reading A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago, well, shame on you.

Two of the many wonderingful things there today.

An interview with Joss and Neil.

A breakdown of the new Amazing Race season, read the comments as well.

I had my tv sound almost totally muted about half way through TAR last night. Squeeling women - make it stop! It's interesting that Survivor seems to be ratcheting things up this season, and TAR went all sissy, family oriented. TAR should not be following in the steps of shows like Trading Spaces and going all family on us. If it's really confined to the U.S. this season, there won't be any taxi drivers speaking poor English gouging the racers. There won't be any ghettos to feel sorry for all the poor children. And where will they find horrible things for the racers to eat? Sigh.

Posted by Beth at 12:07 PM
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First Responders

Nerdstar and I were talking a little bit last night at dinner about having the military be the ones in charge after disasters. At first, and certainly after Katrina, that sounds like a good idea. But only on the surface. Leaving aside the issues of legality, and the question of do we really want the military to come charging in to domestic issues, it's a question of logistics.

Yes, we have the best military in the world. It's organized and good at logistics. But, it's not simply sitting around in every major or not so major city waiting to respond. Nor should it be. That's what the local fire and police are for. They live in the city affected, know the streets, know the particular dangers and feasible solutions. Most importantly, local fire and police don't have to wait for orders, supplies, and transport before they can get to the disaster, even if roadways are open for them to get there.

Yes, an ex military person should be in charge of the federal response, but I don't see how we can get around having the local people be the first responders.

Pundita has a different look at the same issue.

Update:

David sent these comments via email after having trouble posting them in the comments:

'First responders' is not a very clearly defined term. If you mean getting people on buses and out of trouble, or having an evacuation plan in the first place... then yes I agree with you.

But once a disaster has struck, no local government has the infrastructure or manpower to deal with the scope of something like a flood, hurricane or earthquake. That is exactly why we have the national guard.

Also, once the Federal government gets involved on a financial level, there is no federal organization that is large enough or properly trained to provide assistance other than the military... and again, that means the national guard.

The pre-disaster things, such as evacuation and preparing and positioning equipment is certainly up to the locals. By "first responders" I am referring to people who are available immediately after the disaster to provide medical care, directions, assessment of damage and such.

I am not at all familiar with how things have been handled, and by whom, in past hurricanes or earthquakes. My impression is that the locals handled most things with the help of organizations like the Red Cross. I don't know, and haven't looked up, what the role of the National Guard had been prior to Katrina.

My thoughts were along the lines of the fastness of response, which seems to be the biggest complain against the federal government. The National Guard might be the best organization for dealing with a lot of the problems, but they cannot be moved in very quickly, as we've seen. It takes time, certainly more than 24 hours, to issue orders, issue equipment, and move troops from location A to B. In order for the National Guard to be a true first responder, there within the first few hours, they would have to already be positioned within the city. While there are lots of military bases around the country, do we really want to set up special little bases just in case of natural disasters or terrorist attacks?

My impression has been that local fire, police and EMTs have the training necessary to be first responders. Why that wasn't enough, and/broke down after Katrina is something I truly hope is answered.

Posted by Beth at 10:19 AM
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Review

The screening for Serenity last night was pretty cool. It was a huge theater and was probably 80% full. Universal had three rows reserved for bloggers who had signed up, so we not only got to see it for free, we got great seats!

You could tell most of the people there were diehard fans of Joss' work. It's always a little weird to be immersed into total geekdom. The one time it was really fun was when we saw the South Park movie the night it opened.

I totally enjoyed the movie. Joss mastered his blend of comedy and drama just about perfectly again. It was neat watching a movie about characters I was already invested in, but the movie was never predictable as it could have been. Yes, there are a couple of things people totally committed to the series might wish had been different but I wasn't bothered by them. (I won't give details to avoid spoilers, you can email me when you see it and we can discuss it.)

I told Nerdstar it was certainly better than the last three Star Wars. I was never a Trekkie (see I probably spelled it wrong) or a huge sci-fi fan, it took me until season five to start watching Buffy, but Joss won me over.

I asked Nerdstar how she liked it, she's only see a couple of episodes of the series, she said it was pretty good, which from her is almost high praise.

It's one movie I would actually like to see a sequel for.

More and better reviews:

Doc
Vodka Pundit
Will Collier
Instapundit

Perhaps the best review I've read.

Posted by Beth at 09:36 AM
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September 27, 2005

Books I'm currently reading

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

My War: Killing Time in Iraq - Colby Buzzell

Spring Forward - Michael Downing

Founding Mothers - Cokie Roberts

Posted by Beth at 02:21 PM
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Maybe

Looks like things might be looking up. I'm scheduled to start the new job on Monday. I called the temp agency this morning and the lady asked how things were going at the new job, I laughed and said I was still waiting to hear back. She said, oh, I guess I forgot to call you yesterday. Um, yeah, I guess so. I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing yet. They had a facility down in New Orleans that's now inoperable, the KC offices are picking up that business and doing lots of overtime, so they have five or so positions to fill. None of them are exactly anything I've done before, so it doesn't really matter to me which one it is.

It's going to be really weird going back to work after all this time. I have a feeling I'll have a new bedtime of about 7 pm!

Nerdstar's job seems to be set until the end of the year, I think. It's been an insane story of her unit back in Austin totally dropping the ball. Fortunately, the folks here at Leavenworth are helping her out.

And the weather has cooled off, which we love.

Posted by Beth at 12:52 PM
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September 25, 2005

More on Serenity

Here's the official blurb:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

Here's the link for the movie

So many movies have been disappointing this last year, but I'm pretty sure Joss won't let me down.

Posted by Beth at 12:38 PM
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September 22, 2005

Fun!

I signed Nerdstar and I up for this.

Posted by Beth at 02:15 PM
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September 21, 2005

Ugh

It's so frustrating watching this massively huge storm heading for the state I love (even if I think Houston sucks). It was hard enough watching Katrina heading into land, but now that I've seen the aftermath, it's hard watching and knowing the same sort of damage that was done in Mississippi will be done in Texas.

I'm glad to see people taking the storm seriously. Nerdstar will be in touch with her family again this evening and trying to make sure they'll be ok.

For lots of Rita related links and tons of fun, check in often with Laurence.

Posted by Beth at 05:12 PM
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Worries

One piece of good news first, my second interview is Friday morning. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, Nerdstar's job is up in the air. She knew when she took it that the budget ends in late September and there could be a week or two between sets of orders. A few weeks ago the organization said they'd extend everyone's (uniformed military people) orders for 90 days - until the first of the year - while working on the budget for next year. None of those orders have been processed, everyone's current orders end in three days. Our best guess is that all of this money talk in the government about Katrina could be holding up the money for jobs like hers. We can't really imagine they'd close down the entire office, but I guess you never know.

Neither of us really have any strong feelings one way or the other about what happens. If this job really is cancelled, they'll cut her orders and pay for our move back to Austin. Then we'd both have to find jobs there, but that wouldn't be too bad. She's also been in talks with a head hunter for linguists/analysts in the northern Virginia area and those jobs would be really cool and I think we'd both like to live in that area for at least a while, even with the high cost of living and bad traffic.

I mostly feel that her current job will be extended and we'll be here another year or two, but who knows what the next weeks/months hold.

Job stress is never fun. But it's not the only stress.

Nerdstar's grandparents are in Houston, so we're worried about them. Her uncle who looks after them is in Europe this week and we're not sure if he'll be able to get back to Houston before the storm hits. Her aunt and cousins are there, but we're not sure how seriously they're taking the storm. It's just so hard to know what's going to happen, what to prepare for.

Then there's all the ongoing crap with my brother and the custody issues and such. It's too complicated and stupid to really write about, but we worry so much about little Zach. He's such a good kid in spite of having two worthless parents. (yes, I'm including my brother!)

We had plans to meet up with my parents and Zach in Galveston in a couple of weeks. Looks like that plan is out. What a drag.

Posted by Beth at 10:14 AM
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September 20, 2005

One Year

Nerdstar wrote an entry about it being a year since she came home from Iraq.

Reading back through our entries from last September is pretty cool.

It's been a year of lots of changes, lots of getting to know each other again and hopefully better.

I'm still so glad you made it home safe and sound!

Posted by Beth at 03:13 PM
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TV

I dvr'd the new show Willow is on, How I Met Your Mother. It was ok, not great, but we'll see how it goes. One of the characters says something about having to blog that and I thought, you know, if a character in a tv show says they have a blog, then they should actually have a blog for that character.

I also dvr'd Arrested Development, which remains the funniest show on tv. Again, one of the characters yells out the name of his website a few times. Low and behold imoscar.com. Fantastic!

I love dvr. I've finally gotten to tune into the second half of the second season and first half of the thrid season of The Wire. Deadwood is still my favorite drama, but The Wire is stunningly well done.

I also decided to go ahead and check out The Comeback. It's so well done is scary!

I loved the beginning of Survivor. It's about time they got tough on them! I'm so glad Stephanie is back, but I seriously doubt she'll win the whole thing, at some point they'll vote her off because it's her second chance.

Oh, I almost forgot. Tyra Banks = The Skinny Oprah. or not.

Posted by Beth at 09:30 AM
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September 19, 2005

I give good interview

I had a job interview today through a different temp office. It went well, seems like a decent enough job in a decent enough location. I've got a second interview either tomorrow or Wednesday, keep your fingers crossed. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Posted by Beth at 04:20 PM
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September 16, 2005

The Aristocrats

I actually had the chance to see it at the SXSW Film Festival last year, but missed it on opening night and failed to make it to the screening added later in the week. By then, I knew it was going to get wide distribution.

Last night we finally got to check it out at a new theater not too far from where we live.

I don't even think I can describe it. Hysterical - absolutely. Vulgar - extremely. Gross - well, by the end I felt like I needed to go home and shower. Did we laugh through the whole thing, totally!

If you're really hard to offend and need some laughs these days, I can't recommend it enough.

If you've seen it, what did you think? What was your favorite part? We had two, South Park and the card trick.

Posted by Beth at 11:20 AM
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September 15, 2005

Bored Again

I called both temp agencies and they got nothing going on. I called the Red Cross about local stuff, they've got tons of new volunteers and might get back to me in a couple of weeks. They have a need for people who can be gone for three weeks down to the coast, but I don't think I want to be away from home that long, although it was very tempting just to have something to do.

Ugh.

I was telling Nerdstar the other night that last week was almost the ideal job. If the Red Cross leader at the DCC had been a good leader, it would have been perfect. I pretty much set my own schedule, got to find an area to help in that I enjoyed and if I'd had all the info necessary would have totally rocked, and I got to help people out.

I've been contemplating a move into the medical industry. But, I'm pretty sure I could never be a nurse, I don't deal well with bodily fluids. I've applied to a program to be a phlebotomist (however you spell it) but haven't heard anything yet and the classes wouldn't start until January. The other area I'd be interested in is being an x-ray tech. There are also classes for that, but they're three times as much. I'd just like to get a simple job at a decent medical facility and then maybe take more classes.

Something has to work out eventually... right?

Posted by Beth at 10:37 AM
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September 13, 2005

Volunteering Wrap Up

I jotted down a few notes Saturday night when I couldn't sleep. I had a hard time sleeping at all during my time in Dallas. My parents' have horrible beds for me to sleep on when I visit. Added to that was my brain just not shutting down at all. Thankfully, I had the satellite radio and iPod, mostly I'd tune into CNN, Fox and MSNBC late at night to catch all the news I'd missed during the day.

As I wrote, Thursday was stunningly frustrating. The media was putting out notices that both FEMA and the Red Cross would essentially be handing out money. Unfortunately, neither agency could muster a decent plan to accomplish that, and people hate being lied to by the media and given the run around by agencies. Personally, I have no problem with FEMA handing out the $2000 debit cards, and am frustrated it was such a small, mostly botched effort. I had countless people come up and say they've found a place to live, were trying to find a job, and they just need some cash to help with the basics.

I pretty much knew when I went down to the DCC Friday that it would be my last day there. I went and bought about twelve decks of playing cards and handed them out to random people staying in the DCC and just asked how they were doing and if they needed anything. It seemed most had settled in pretty well by Friday. I answered a few questions at the Info desk I'd been at for a few days and toured around the area to see if things were improving regarding access to services. FEMA had finally set up a decent size area with computers and such in the middle of the area and there was a long line where people could finally ask them questions. That made a big difference.

I kind of took to thinking of the people staying there as "my people" and needed to feel they were finally in more competent hands so I could come home.

When I'd go to the SBC area and check my email and such, I'd observe people trying to help evacuees register online with FEMA and such. Several of them had never had an email account and weren't really familiar with "being online". So while it's good to have online resources, you can't always count on the people you're trying to help finding that a useful or easy to use resource.

I do have to give lots of credit to two groups of people, the medical volunteers and DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). DART had a table set up every day handing out free two week bus passes and helping people find routes for where they needed to go. The medical people were the nicest, most caring people helping people to feel better both physically and mentally. The pharmacies of Walgreens and Walmart also stepped up and helped people replace their meds for free.

I'd like to say I had some sort of ephinany or something, but I didn't. I didn't do anything many other people couldn't have done.

Posted by Beth at 05:30 PM
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What she said

Over on Rambling Rhodes I read Mandy's account of volunteering at the Astrodome. It sounds much like what my days would have been like if I'd worked the registration area instead of the information desk. It's a good read!

Posted by Beth at 09:56 AM
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September 12, 2005

DCC Pics

Sorry these pics aren't better. I debated even taking a camera all week, I just didn't want to feel like I was exploiting these people. Click on each pic to see it better and read my comments.



www.flickr.com



Posted by Beth at 08:19 PM
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What the church should do

I have for about twenty years been a huge critic of the church at large for not doing more with the resources it has to help people. Now, I know lots of churches do lots to help their members and community organizations, but I never thought it was enough. So, I was happy to see T.D. Jakes' church, The Potter's House, step up in a huge way to help the evacuees who had come to Dallas.

I only had access to the local news while staying at my parents' house. Fortunately, I saw the news conference with Pastor Jakes and the mayors of New Orleans and Dallas stating that they will have a program to find housing for the 1500 or so people who were actually living in the Dallas Convention Center and Reunion Arena. (I'd guess that 80% or more of the evacuees had luck finding places to live other than shelters. That's why the FEMA cards and such would actually be helpful in a very pratical way.) I would love to know who actually contacted who with this idea, my gut feeling is this is Pastor Jakes idea and he's having to cooperate with the mayors to get the additional funding left.

I refered a lot of the people I talked to at the Convention Center to Pastor Jakes church. Within a day or two of the hurricane his church had set up phone lines to try to assist people that were open until 11 pm. The one request that I never did find an official response to was people who had located their loved ones in other cities, but had no way to get to where they were. I figured the church would have people willing to help with that need much faster.

The Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund has raised $350,000 toward its $3 million goal – including $100,000 each from The Potter's House, Highland Park United Methodist Church, and the law firm Baron and Budd, where Ms. Miller's husband is an attorney. 7-Eleven Inc. announced Friday that it hopes to raise $400,000 for the fund selling Mardi Gras beads from its stores.

The fund will be used to pay for rent and utilities for evacuees still living in Dallas shelters, many of whom are looking for jobs and trying to get back on their feet, Ms. Miller said.

How To Help

To contribute to the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund, send a check to the Dallas Foundation, 900 Jackson St., Suite 150, Dallas, Texas 75202. Checks should be made payable to the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund.

To adopt a family, call The Potter's House at 214-623-4081 between 9 a.m. and midnight any day.

The Project Exodus move-out celebration will be at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Dallas Convention Center and Reunion Arena.

"They have lost everything," she said. "And they are the easiest to help."

On Sept. 18, The Potter's House will spearhead Project Exodus – an afternoon move-out celebration during which chartered buses and other vehicles will take evacuees from the convention center and Reunion Arena to their new homes.

The 30,000-member Potter's House in Dallas will assign volunteers to adopt the families after they move in, providing them with everything from televisions to towels.

Posted by Beth at 12:51 PM
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Back Home

I made it back to KC late last night. Nerdstar was great and flew down Saturday morning to hang out with me and little Zach and then to drive back with me yesterday.

I plan on writing a final update on my time down in Dallas, if you have anything you'd like to ask, please leave a comment and I'll answer it.

In the meantime, if you're not still reading Brendan Loy and the Times Picayune sites, you should be.

Posted by Beth at 10:35 AM
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September 08, 2005

Day Six

Head, meet brick wall. That's what the life of us Red Cross volunteers here at the Dallas Convention Center feel like. Slowly things get a little better. But only very slowly. There is absolutely no leader at the DCC for Red Cross, most of us do what we can, where we can to help individual evacuees.

And while Houston is getting all the celebrities, we got the Mayor of New Orleans here today. He made a brief political speech, told people in a few months he'd put out a call to have people come back to help rebuild, asked "if the CIA comes after me, ya'll got my back?" answered three softball questions and snuck out the back door.

WTF is he doing touring around anyway - doesn't he still have a city in need??

/end of rant

I'm exhausted. I can't sleep at night because my brain won't turn off.

I wish I had individual stories to tell you. I catch bits and pieces. I've seen families reunited with loved ones. I talked with a woman who had to go to the hospital where he husband was because he had a heart attack, and when she came back to the DCC, all of her stuff was gone. I see people trying, and trying, and trying. And I see buearacrats fucking it up at every turn.

There's lots of good, and lots of bad, as there always will be when dealing with us humans.

Posted by Beth at 05:37 PM
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September 07, 2005

Days Four and Five

Whew. Yesterday the most frustrating day I've had in years. There's just nothing like sitting at a table where you're supposed to give information - but you have NO information to give. I've said in the previous two posts how patient these people are, but even Job ran out eventually! (or at least he should have!)

The man in charge of the Red Cross here at the Convention Center has was completely useless yesterday, and not here today. Whatever. The people like me who just show up and volunteer - they are amazing people who try so hard to do whatever they can to help whoever they can.

FEMA. Where to start. I spoke with the head of FEMA last night before leaving here. They had a decent plan. I was hopeful it would work and me and another lady did everything we could to leave that information for the Red Cross volunteers showing up this morning. Well, except thanks to bad media info (don't get me started on the media again) FEMA's plan got blown to hell again. They are set up here, things are slowly getting processed.

The best news is that FEMA will be giving families $2000 - by direct deposit if they can get bank account info, or by debit cards if not. Yes, there is tons of room for abuse, but it's better than nothing.

One good man here at the Convention Center with the Red Cross is Ron. He told me today that the Red Cross is also working on a way to literally distribute the $$ they've collected to the people who were evacuated. I trust his word on this.

I'm writing this on a short break I'm taking on computers set up by SBC in an annex of the Convention Center.

Every day I come here hoping to see marked improvement in helping these people. It may not be marked, but there is improvement.

Ok, back to it for a little longer tonight.

Posted by Beth at 07:01 PM
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September 05, 2005

Day Three

I'm pretty tired. Haven't really caught up on sleep since the early morning drive down here. I get into bed and my muscles are a little achie, as is my brain.

I went back down to the Convention Center today and worked at the same table. If we had 200 people yesterday looking for loved ones, today we had about 50. I truly hope it's because people are finally beginning to find where their loved ones are.

I know it sounds like a good idea to rescue women and children first. But in reality it just means more stress for the people who are separated from family and the hard task of trying to reunite when you have no phone and no address.

I think the federal agencies are finally starting to set up shop in the Convention Center. Although it had been announced FEMA would be there today, and a few of their people showed up, they aren't set up for business yet. Head Start was there today and they're going to start bussing the kids at the Convention Center and Reunion Arena to school tomorrow. It'll be complicated - everything is it seems - but it'll be a good thing for the kids to do and it'll give their parents a break and some time to accomplish what they need to.

I don't have a good feel for the Red Cross yet. What's most obvious is that it's a beauracy with legal red tape that slows things down. I came in today to find that as of this morning every volunteer has to wear latex gloves all the time. And while this is certainly more for the protection of the evacuees from the volunteer germs, it seemed a little late in the game for such measures.

The other thing I know is that the guy running the Convention Center for the Red Cross has just about pissed off all of his 14 hour a day volunteers. I have a feeling he's one of those men who think they're being decisive and active, when he's really just being an asshole. He certainly was a dick to me my first day.

I wish I could give you more of my impression of the evacuees, but I still can't find the words. Well, actually, patient and resourcefull come to mind.

I felt bad today because I wasn't as busy. I head back down there tomorrow and see what's going on and if they need help since maybe some of the volunteers are headed back to work tomorrow. But honestly, they don't need that many people to help because things are running, maybe not smoothly, but they're running.

I'm on my brother's computer for a few. Not sure when I'll have access again.

Posted by Beth at 09:42 PM
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Patience

It's weird staying with my parents, they live in the stone age, with neither cable or a computer. So I made the leap from observation to participation. I started another long day at the convention center. The biggest thing that I can say is how humbling it is. I am far from being a patient person, and yet with everyone that I had dealt with today have a patince of Job.

Today I got lucky, and got to spend the day helping people trying to find people. For whatever reason, at the convention center, there's no comprehensive list of who's staying there or anywhere else. So all we do when people are looking for someone is page them over the loudspeaker. Most of the time, they only know that the person that they are looking for, is somewhere in Dallas. Amazingly enough, about a fourth of the time, I saw them find who they were looking for.

One of my fellow volunteers, was a man named T J, who himself is staying at the convention center, after spending 5 days on a friend's roof. He's a great guy, who was just happy to have something to do.

I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Posted by Beth at 12:48 AM
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September 04, 2005

Volunteer update.

Nerdstar here taking dictation from Beth:

"I made it to Dallas, about 2:30 PM yesterday. Said hi to the family, grabbed some lunch at Whataburger, refilled the gas tank, and started to try to find out how to volunteer. I called the Red Cross number, they then gave me the local number. They referred me to a website to register on. It's hard to get things done without computer access when you're used to having one. I called Nerdstar to see what she can find out, and finally ended up registering as a volunteer over the phone. I heard that if you just showed up, they'll put you to work, so I headed down to Reunion Arena.

The outside of Reunion arena looked like a large garage sale. There were bunchs of shoes, clothes, diapers, etc. that people had dropped off everywhere. From my understanding, the Red Cross cannot deal with used goods, so that's why everything was outside of Reunion Arena instead of inside. I made my way to the front to find the Red Cross person. The volunteer rep. that I had talked to told me that you had to take a course in order to become a volunteer, and she didn't know when the next course would be offered or where. The phone number for registeration had already closed down for the day. I hung around for a while, trying to figure out where to go next. I found a different volunteer and told me if I went to the convention center, about 5 blocks away, that they were waiting to get enough people to start a volunteer group. So I headed over there. One thing about wondering around downtown Dallas, is that it has never been the safest place to wonder around. I have a feeling mixed in with all the Louisiana evacuees, walking outside around all these shelters, with many of the Dallas homeless as well.

Once I got inside the convention center, the Red Cross lady at the front asked me to wait until some more people had showed up, so I waited. In 15 minutes, they had a small group of us together, gave us name tags, gave us a short briefing, and sent us to work. I spent about 3 hours down there, mostly helping to set up cots. Since the convention center has just been opened the day before, there was still a lot of setting up to do.

My fellow vo,unteers were truly a diverse group of people, and it seemed that the Red Cross people, are dedicated yet realistic about what they can achieve.

They seem to want the volunteers to work in shifts. So I'll head back down there around 3 PM. Fortunately, the Dallas rail system goes straight to the convention center, so I won't have to drive into downtown.

Mostly, I have to keep on reminding myself, that even what seems like a small amount of help, actually makes a difference.

Posted by Beth at 11:48 AM
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September 02, 2005

One last thought

One of the best side affects of getting out of here and trying to go help will be to finally stop the 16 hour a day reading and watching of coverage of this disaster. It'll be interesting to see the reality and not the bullshit coverage and opinion. (yes, probably my opinion included as well!)

That said, just one more thought. I haven't read anywhere someone talking about the seemingly contradictory goals of FEMA and all. Was it not stated late Tuesday night that the goal was to evacuate the entire city of New Orleans? If your goal is to get the people OUT then why would your goal to also be getting supplies IN? Now, was it possible to fully realize the magnitude of getting the people out? I honestly don't think so. How could they have anticipated how long it would take to rescue thousands of people by the fours and fives off of rooftops?

And everyone seems to me to keep leaving out the most important aspect of all of this - the city is underwater.

I'm truly stunned at the intensity of emotions about this whole mess, on both ends of the spectrum. The reverberations from this might be stronger and longer lasting than those from 9/11.

Hopefully my next post will be from an entirely different perspective.

Posted by Beth at 08:19 PM
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Going

Well, I'm going to head out early in the morning. It's a nine hour drive, so I wish I could have gotten out of here this evening, but now it's getting too late.

I won't have internet access while I'm down there. My parents don't have a computer and I can't take our laptop. I think Nerdstar will posts updates for me from our phone calls. I tried to set up audioblog, but didn't have any luck.

Feel free to text msg me at ***** if the mood strikes, I don't know when I'll be able to access my email.

Posted by Beth at 05:38 PM
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Should I stay or should I go?

I've been frustrated being up here in Kansas, feeling like I have all this time on my hands and no way to really go help. Now that some of the evacuees are being housed in Dallas, I'm seriously considering driving down and staying with my parents and volunteering at Reunion Arena for a week or so. Nerdstar, although she's off work Monday, can't really go with me. So it's hard to just pack up and leave. But it's also very hard to sit here, knowing I have nothing better to do, and not GO. It's just hard to go out and see a movie or something and enjoy it.

We'd open our home, but it's quite a ways up here, and, as I know firsthand, staying in this area long term would be hard because jobs aren't abundant here.

We can't do much from here. We've got some clothes and such we were going to donate to Goodwill I can take with me and give to one of the local churches doing clothes drives. Other than that I just have me and my little self to do what I can.

Posted by Beth at 04:33 PM
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September 01, 2005

More Info

This is a decent article in the NY Times about the government response so far.

Posted by Beth at 10:57 PM
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The blame game

With all those fingers pointing every direction, it's hard to know who failed at what.

Until today I had been really impressed with the level of reporting from the major cable news outlets. I get most of my news from the internet, but you still can't beat cable news for pictures and video. Although, I wish the reporters and camera men were able to move around more instead of having the same shots for four days. If they aren't able to move around, how do they think relief workers can get in and move around? And, it would be really helpful when they run loops of video if there was some indication on the screen of when it was originally filmed. Not everyone is watching twelve hours a day and knows when what they're seeing on the screen actually happened.

Today, though, I lost all patience with the media. I understand fully the cries of "why" coming from the poor people in the affected areas. One of the most stunning and frustrating aspects of the past three days has been the inability of anyone to get information TO the people affected. Along with the food and water that wasn't air-dropped, bullhorns would have come in really handy. What I do NOT understand is the echoing chorus of the media today of cries of "why", especially after the adequately informative press conference. The media is in the best position to know how devastated the roads and infrastructure are and how that limits resources, to know the honest answers to "why" - yet the go with the chorus of hysteria instead.

Pundita wrote a great post questioning why more wasn't done at the state and local level in Louisiana and New Orleans. Everyone finds it easier to look to the federal government to do everything, but that's not the way disaster/emergency situations work. It's truly up to governors and mayors to see the needs and find the resources and ask for help. The feds can't act until being asked. My feeling - and it's just that - is that Governor Blanco had no idea what her role was supposed to be, and simply waited for FEMA and anyone else to come in and take over and fix things.

Should something as simple as food and water have been air-dropped much earlier - certainly. Is it entirely the fault of FEMA and the federal government that it didn't happen, I doubt it.

I don't know. I thought after 9/11 we would have plans in place for every disaster that could happen in this country. Why that wasn't the case for New Orleans is beyond me.

I do know that there will be plenty of blame to go around when it's all said and done.

Update:
Here's just one of what I'm sure are many such threads related to all of this over on Ann Althouse's site.

I'm trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Just like in some circles someone could have predicted 9/11, we knew in theory this could happen to N.O., but reality is a whole different beast.

One major, and reasonable question, seems to be "where are the rescuers" of all types. Well, again, why doesn't the media - with all their resources - know the answer to that? There are staging areas of all kinds, for FEMA, for the Red Cross, for the National Guard, how hard is it for the media to find out their locations and report that information?

Posted by Beth at 06:03 PM
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If you can

Here's a link, to MoveOn.org no less, where you can fill out a form to offer housing to those in need. Looks like it's pretty well thought out.

Posted by Beth at 04:11 PM
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Helping Out

I'll simply refer you dear readers to Instapundit to get tons of information on how to help the hurricane victims.

I know the major media tends to go with the extreme stories - both good and bad, and God knows there are a lot of bad stories in N.O. right now. But as always the people of this country open their hearts, homes and wallets. Like every other Texan, I'm so proud of my home country - HA, I just typed country without even thinking about it, yep, I'm still a Texan! Anyway, I'm so proud of Texans and their response to all the people from LA who are being relocated.

I know lots of people worry about the furry victims, here's a great roundup of links of ways to help out the animal victims.

The Houston Chronicle has tons of information about what's going on.

Posted by Beth at 10:48 AM
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