aftermath

we dream, we create, we change, we love

Archive for September 2008

Saucy Smiley

leave a comment »

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - smiley

Written by macheide

30 September 2008 at 7:22 pm

Posted in smiley

Jenniversary

leave a comment »

Nat gave up a TV appearance cheering at UH’s game this weekend to join us visiting Jen this weekend to join her celebrating a special anniversary.

You’ve had such a good year this past year, Jen. We’re all very proud of your good work.

Group dinner after the meeting was at Buca di Beppo, where Susan and I shared a small cheese manicotti.

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - paterfamilias

Written by macheide

27 September 2008 at 6:30 pm

Posted in paterfamilias

Corner Bakery Munchies

leave a comment »

Luckily we happened to find out that we’d be dining tonight at Buca’s, else we might have gone for a bigger lunch, especially after being delayed several hours sharing common experiences with a couple from Houston considering having their daughter join Jen‘s group. On Jen’s advice, then, we lunched at the Corner Bakery Cafe.

Their roasted tomato basil soup was average, nothing special but ok. But I wound up just picking at their chopped salad – oven-roasted chicken, crisp applewood smoked bacon, avocado, bleu cheese, tomatoes, and green onions tossed with iceberg and romaine lettuce in their sweet and spicy house vinaigrette. All in all, I should have gone with Jen’s recommendation and had their Pesto Cavatappi, even with Buca’s looming on the horizon.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - trencherman

Written by macheide

27 September 2008 at 2:32 pm

Posted in trencherman

cd poster steps

leave a comment »

we stop by a convenience store in th little low-lying area just outside madison nj, looking to pick up a few things before heading out for th weekend. although i am expected to pick up drinks and snacks for myself, i focus instead on picking up notebooks and pens and other writing supplies. when i go to th counter to check out, i realize i have left most of my purchases back on th counter in front of th store’s coffee machine. trying to keep my place in line although th few other people in th store are elsewhere looking through th aisles, i keep stretching back to try to retrieve my purchases, but need to stretch far enough that i cannot see what i am grabbing, so i keep getting something else instead of my own stuff. by th time i am ready to check out, th clerk has tired of waiting for me and has gone to th other end of th registry area to serve another customer. i become concerned that i have forgotten to bring along both of my computers for our weekend trip, but decide that i will be able to keep myself busy enough with my new notebooks, then can finish up whatever work i wish to give to my computers come sunday night. but by th time i have finally completed my purchases and come back outside to return to th car, th rest of th family has decided i’m taking long enough that they have time to swing back by th house to pick up a few extra items they themselves had forgotten. i hope that maybe they’ll see i forgot my laptops and bring those along too

they take long enough that i decide to walk back up to th house and rejoin them there. while waiting for them at th house, i serve as chaperone for a social event for young teens. i reprove several of them for a dangerous social habit, one that risks a serious addiction: biting their fingernails down to th stubs. another adult joins me chaperoning and questions my warnings to th party-goers, but agrees with me after i point out th seriousness of th problem. about a dozen other adults join us one by one, and we sit discussing bland concerns while th party goes on in th next room

i unfold a large poster included inside a new dylan cd, turning to th part with th drawing that has th words to th final song. th few fragmented words of th brief sad song are drawn instead of written, like th first word “not” sketched as a stick with a knotted clump of wire. th word drawings are shown on th side of a picture of a head, with a staircase of steps winding in folded origami-like squares coming down through th man’s hair down to th neck, where was drawn a small landing with a chair and desk behind which sat a sketch of a person intently studying, as if to emphasize th final chords of th song. but looking closer, i saw that th steps wound further down into thick forest below th neck of th man’s head that held th song, and following that further i saw th square steps wound even further, down to th bottom of th poster. i stepped back to see why that continuation of th steps had not been visible at first glance, and th winding path disappeared, visible only close up, and only by following it from th landing at th neck, not visible directly on. i now unfolded th entire poster out like a large paper map, and saw similar staircases winding in elaborate patterns throughout all of th drawings where were sketched and written all of th other songs of th new cd. seeing that all those staircases were in similar origami-like folds as though carved into th poster, i realized that similar staircases in reverse would have to be present on th flip side of th poster. when i held th folder up, i saw that as expected th staircases on th other side were like a mirror image of those on th side i’d first been viewing, and realized that th winding patterns of th staircases illustrated th ways that th songs and their themes wound together like currents of wind

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - oneirra

Written by macheide

27 September 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Leaving Ike Behind

leave a comment »

Eleven days after Ike headed north out of Texas, it’s time for me to remove my central Hurricane Ike Aftermath post from its sticky position at the top of aftermath, and let it recede into our past.

We’re not yet completely finished with Ike, not by a long shot.

Allstate is working really hard to make sure of that. After we made repeated fruitless calls attempting to get some action moving somewhere with our homeowners’ insurer, we were finally told, “Well, you do have your claim adjuster’s name and number….” Ummm, somewhere I must have missed Allstate’s new ESP policy, whereby the insured is supposed to simply know these things when nobody at Allstate cares to pass the information along. Meanwhile, our local agent remains completely AWOL, and this alleged claims agent is said to be “driving to Houston,” probably from Alaska or Brazil or some other distant location, and apparently without a cell phone or anyplace to stop where he could return our calls. How much would you like to bet that Allstate’s “good hands” will work really really fast once it comes time to trying to deny claims on all the additional damage being suffered by all the Houston homes that their neglect has been leaving exposed.

We’ve got fence and roof repairs to have done. And I’m still not comfortable turning that upstairs bathroom light on without having it looked at by a qualified electrician. But we still have upwards of two thirds of a million of our neighbors who don’t even have electricity restored yet, thousands who don’t even have homes left to light up, and countless other problems mounting up higher by the day.

And I had other issues on which I had wanted to waste time ranting and rambling. Criticism, for one. Sometimes I could have strangled some of the news reporters at some of the press conferences, whose criticism would have led absolutely nowhere, no matter what the answer was. In most instances, however, criticism was another way of saying, “Something very crucial is not getting done. It needs attention.” Once numbskulls like the Harris County judge got out of the comfort zone of his insulated bunker and got out here on his own to see the criticism to be real, worth attention, then things that should have already been moving finally started to.

And how unhelpful far too many officials were. From the lowest, epitomized by UH officials who dangerously rushed the decision for having students return to classes, all the way up to the very top. Too easily, the press bought off on the PR that President Bush visited Houston and Galveston. He did not. He met with a few officials at Ellington Field and Galveston, took a quick flyby over Galveston, and quickly left without so much as a glance at the 4th largest city of the nation he so poorly pretends to lead. “Mayor Bill White met with Mr. Bush on the tarmac at Ellington Field before the president flew home,” stated the Dallas Morning News. Sketch that picture more accurately, please. After Bush returned from Galveston, he strode as quickly as a man can do without breaking into a sprint, obviously anxious to get to Air Force One to get the hell out of town, overall spending less time in the region than the super-fast hurricane itself had spent. Mayor White had to literally run after the President like an unwanted stray dog, otherwise even that brief on-the-fly tarmac “meeting” would not have taken place.

Later, perhaps, some reassessment and preparation for that inevitable next time. For now, though, so long Ike.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

24 September 2008 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Houstonian

blindfold hide & seek

leave a comment »

i am strumming a guitar, singing folk songs to myself as th room grows dark. another of our group is nearby doing th same. our group are supposed to be packed and ready to head back home at a moment’s notice, although we are not actually scheduled to leave until tomorrow morning. i say i am ready, although i’ve not yet actually started to pull my things together. i know that will take me only a minute or two. if need be, i can just go as i am, leaving what little i brought with me behind, none of it is essential

in a field across th road, a group of about half a dozen assembles to play blindfold hide & seek: they will close their eyes then try to find me based on where they last saw me. as they close their eyes, i immediately move across th road to th ditch beside their field, planning to move into th field behind them as they come over to where they’d last seen me. mm is standing back watching th game, thinks my strategy to be ingenious. but two of th group remain behind in th tall grass of th field, not hearing me but suspicious that i might have done what i did. th smallest one lies down in th field as though trying to sense vibrations of my steps or my form breaking th way th wind blows. i lie down near her, but she seems to sense that, so i stand back up. th other person keeps making broad running sweeps up and down th field, hoping to randomly run into me. once i do have to bend backward to avoid being hit by his hand. when he finally stops to rest within reach of me, i just put out my hand and let him think he had touched it to find me, figuring it is time for th game to end

across th road in th other field, a television game show was posing questions that i was to answer, competing against patty and someone else i didn’t know. th questions become more and more random, off on very odd topics, but all commonly known material, so that one of us are usually getting th answer, whoever remembers it first. whereas i remain calm, so am able to remain in th lead by not getting frustrated when i don’t remember an answer at first, just calmly answering th ones that come to me right off, patty and my other competitor are getting more and more frantic, trying to outshout each other while searching to figure out an answer. patty hesitates during one of those shouting bouts, as though realizing she would rather be having a casual conversation with me, but while she pauses our other competitor gets an answer she might have had and the next question is asked by th television screen, so she returns to frantic competition against him, as though knowing i will win in th end and worried that she must at least be in second place if she wishes to have time with me after th contest

Bumper Sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com/] - oneirra

Written by macheide

24 September 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in oneirra

Good Morning!!

leave a comment »

Morning person or a night person?

meme from susan

A

Morning. But when you find me up writing at 4am, more than likely I’m waking from a good dream, versus stretching out the day ahead.

The older I get, the earlier I seem to run out of gas during the evening hours. But if I sleep late every now and then on the occasional Saturday morning, that usually means I’ve dragged out a dream as far as 6am. And it’s way more common for me to have a few solid hours of road behind me by then. That isn’t likely to ever change, no matter how many years I add to my age.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - not me

Written by macheide

24 September 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in not meme

Zen Tracks [25] Bruce Springsteen: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

leave a comment »

Zen Vision M4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)Bruce SpringsteenThe Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
[5:36] * * * *

Today my Zen Vision:M plays solid Bruce to celebrate the Boss’ 59th birthday.

Springsteen’s second album was my introduction to Bruce and the band, and it remains my favorite to this day, even over Born to Run, even over Darkness on the Edge of Town, even over The River, over any of the others, yes, even over Greetings from Asbury Park. Thirty-five years ago, no more than a few weeks after this album’s release, the reb and I were visiting Bret and Mickey, close Jersey friends back then. We were chatting away, good music in the background, and right in the middle of a sentence Bret says “Rosalita” and then just carries on with the rest of his sentence like that interjection belonged there, didn’t even blink, not a pause or a breath, just “[sentence fragment] Rosalita [rest of sentence].” The reb and I were like, what?!? Mickey laughed and explained that Bret was obsessed with this Jersey singer from his old neighborhood. Bret had simply inserted a piece of sing-along Bruce into his own conversation without even thinking about it; and it soon obvious that with Bruce playing in the background, Bret was singing along and injecting Asbury Park imagery into his entire conversation, even when he wasn’t doing so quite as obviously out loud. Before the week was out, I had both of Bruce’s albums myself, and have never looked back.

And I can’t ever hear Sandy without returning dancing to my own Jersey days, where everything here on this ferris wheel seat would stand still while all the other lights and sounds and all the whole world around us would rise up behind like a grand dream that would never end.

Sandy the aurora’s rising behind us
The pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh love me tonight and I promise I’ll love you forever

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - zen

Written by macheide

23 September 2008 at 7:32 pm

Posted in vision:m

September Smiley

leave a comment »

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - smiley

Written by macheide

22 September 2008 at 7:24 pm

Posted in smiley

TX AWOL

leave a comment »

Perhaps the State of Texas is trying to make FEMA look good by excusing itself from doing much more than shrugging at the crisis still gripping its largest city? If anyone had any doubts, the state’s official website goes out of its way to make their lack of care obvious.

That “Hurricane Relief” thing at the northwest corner of the state’s home page? A curiously sick joke. It links nowhere, gives no information on how to contribute funds or efforts to any relief, points to nothing that the state itself might be daydreaming about doing for relief, gives absolutely no clue as to what it is even doing there. Just, “Hurricane Relief,” sitting there as impotent as the state’s own hurricane response has been.

But ok, at least that “Hurricane Ike Aftermath Information” links through to something, right? Well, yes, but don’t expect it to take you much of anywhere you could not have gotten to more quickly simply by bypassing the Texas state website entirely, as fitting a metaphor for the state’s Ike response as could be drawn. Must be intentional on the part of the website managers, one could easily think.

Ah, but we can always show that we side with our governor, showing that we empathize with Hurricane Ike victims who have lost their homes, their jobs, and their lives by contributing to the governor’s mansion restoration fund. We must remember to keep our priorities straight, must we not?

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

22 September 2008 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Blue on Red

leave a comment »

Yes, I once possessed one of the very first IBM XT machines off the assembly line, and yes, it’s difficult to find so much as an unplugged minute in my day-to-day life. But all things considered, I tend to drag way behind the curve when it comes to tech updates. I may never long for a Blackberry, I know I would rather get exiled back to the rock ages over having to appear with an iPhone, and I’m making a 5-year-old laptop live on life support as long as possible before I’ll replace it with the bare minimum model that will be around when this machine crashes its final crash.

But every now and then I do get pulled along after the crowd into new tech. Susan will pick me up an mp3 player or a laser pen that talks with my laptop for presentations. Or my job will bless me with a wireless card or a new laptop with software that isn’t a decade obsolete. Or some other bit of luck will add to my little tech toy collection.

Like, Kelly got his bluetooth cellphone earpiece wet, whereupon it ceased working, whereupon he seemed to have lost interest in replacing it when he recently upgraded to a Blackberry. The dead piece of equipment sat around on the kitchen counter for a few weeks waiting for me to give it a random moment’s notice. Absent instructions, and me not really having so much as a spark of a knack with such things, it still came very very close to finding the trash can once I did finally play around with it last night, especially after Kelly himself couldn’t get any signs of life out of it. Then suddenly, pop, there it was, picking up an invite from my cell phone, then wending its way through my bumbling explorations of how to make and receive calls with the device.

And so far, I do like it! I’ve been using a hands-free cell phone earpiece that connects with a cord that is barely long enough to reach to a pocket, too frequently inconvenient, not at all relaxed. This bluetooth earpiece gives me far more freedom, far more flexibility.

Another little lucky step forward along the technology highway.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - golem

Written by macheide

22 September 2008 at 7:17 am

Posted in golem

Birthday Bobbing

leave a comment »

Kelly just came home from work and walked in handing me a belated birthday gift, Early Dylan, an excellent collection of black-and-white photographs of young Bob. Thank you very much, Kelly!!

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Adrien

Drain Still Draining

leave a comment »

So while Ike cost us our power and Internet access and everything in between down here in Houston, the federal goverment was preoccupied with bailing out Wall Street.

And still, each and every day, on average $400 million lines up at the door to leave equities via pension plan investment reallocation strategies.

The government’s emergency fantastic departure from free market capital market does demonstrate in rather rash terms that yes, it is possible to temporarily encourage new money to come into the market at volumes sufficiently in excess of that $400 million daily drain, such that we have seen wild triple-digit jumps in the Dow, might even expect to see more of that to come for the next few days, maybe even ever so briefly longer. But the dramatic market jolt – almost more dramatic a destruction of sound economic principles as the terrorist acts of 9/11 were to true market value – likewise rather starkly demonstrates an important aspect of pension plans’ reallocation: how independent that strategy is on external events or factors. Let the market drop to historically undervalued levels, and the pension plans don’t switch to a buy-low strategy. Let some major financial firms go bankrupt, and the pension plans don’t accelerate their long-term reallocation moves. And likewise, push the federal government into a corner where it fights blindly with everything it has, and those pension plans don’t even blink. Tomorrow, if it’s an average day, pension plans will again be lined up to cash out about $400 million from the stock market, no matter how the federal government has tweaked its bailout plan over yet another wild roller coaster weekend, no matter what the stock market futures indicate, no matter how much money lines up for or against where pension plans are headed.

It’s an open drain that will remain open for at least another year, perhaps longer, before pension plans have reached the lower equity allocation levels they now target. The federal government might open a faucet with a flood of funny money every weekend or so, at least to try to save a little face until Election Day; but that pension plan drain still remains open throughout and beyond, uninfluenced, unstopped, persistent as ever.

And as long as it does, even a change in environment as disruptive as the federal government’s bailout plan will not alter the underlying weakness in a market predisposed to selling. And I still count on seeing a 4-digit Dow before the end of this year, perhaps as soon as we start feeling that hangover from this past week’s government-subsidized beerfest.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - calls & puts

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 8:05 pm

Posted in calls & puts

Most Precious Commodity

leave a comment »

Upwards of 1% of the country’s population is heading into their second week after Ike without electrical power; those who miss living in their mansions may not completely understand how far away from home that can make one feel. And although one can go for days, maybe even weeks after the storm, without so much as an MRE, clean water is more urgently and immediately needed for survival.

But if Ike has taught us anything about emergency supplies and distribution, it is that the most precious commodity, the commondity that is most in demand, the commodity least available, and the commodity for which distribution systems remain desperately inadequate is simply: information. Reliable, up-to-date information.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 6:41 pm

Posted in whatev

Zen Tracks [24] Leonard Cohen: You Know Who I Am

leave a comment »

Zen Vision MYou Know Who I AmLeonard CohenSongs From A Room
[3:28] * * * *

Today Cohen turns 74, so I’ll turn to my Zen Vision:M to play one of the first Cohen songs I fell in love with.

Back during my final high school year and still in my first year of exploring music beyond the tight circle of classical and religious music, I stumbled upon Cohen when visiting my father’s new girlfriend’s family one weekend in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, several hours of driving north from where we lived in the southwest corner of the state. After I had long passed the point of paying my dues, I was pointed upstairs to look in on the girlfriend’s brother, who as it turned out was holed up with a few of his friends, the room saturated with weed smoke, mysterious darkness, and the thick sounds of Leonard’s gift of a golden voice singing Stranger Song. Love at first hearing, not even a moment’s hesitation. Within the next week I was in my favorite record store on a mission, which while not blessing me with The Songs of Leonard Cohen, did infect me with Songs From A Room. Every single song of which was quite quickly committed to memory, carrying me through many a turn through the almost 40 years since.

You know who I am,
you’ve stared at the sun,
well I am the one who loves
changing from nothing to one.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - zen

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 3:21 pm

Posted in vision:m

Post-Ike Supply and Demand

leave a comment »

South of the Beltway down the Gulf Freeway toward Galveston, you don’t get much busier than Bay Area Boulevard, especially on a Sunday afternoon when the mall and just about everything else is opening back up post-Ike.

Still, I had to blink twice to realize what I was not seeing past that tanker: gas pumps in operation with no lines of cars waiting to top up. Not a single solitary auto fuel customer!

I didn’t notice, but the presence of extra gas supplies along with the absence of any demand may have been related to the price of their gas. Too many gas stations around Houston seem to think they can walk a tightrope just shy of price gouging, still charging some 40-50 cents more than can easily be found, in some instances at a competing gas station just across the street.

Whereas just 3 days ago the south side of Houston was pedaling on fumes, that quickly we’re back to driving on plenty enough to be price-conscious.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - houstonian

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Zoo Door Guard

leave a comment »

The zoo door is guarded against (almost) all escapees.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - monarda

Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 12:09 pm

Posted in monarda