Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Still no direct information on my mom & her parents. I got in touch with the PR/ media information department of the hospital's parent company Tenet. Their rep told me NorthShore had fared the best of all their hospitals in the region with very little damage. It had supplies and backup power, with much of the regular power & phone lines expected to be up again by the end of today. I am still getting the busy signal there, but a regular busy, not the recorded message or the super fast no-connection busy signal. So I can just keep calling.

I was also relieved to learn that a dialysis machine can be hand cranked without electricity.

My dad was able to evacuate his mom from the West Bank to Baton Rouge where my sister and her mother in law picked up the relay to take my grandmother to my great aunt, her sister's house in Texas. She can stay there indefinitely, which seems necessary at the moment.

My dad headed back to New Orleans to continue efforts there.

I had some news to tell all of y'all but I was waiting because it isn't official yet, but Jacob & I bought a house. The contrast to what so many people I love are going through right now is very disconcerting.

That's the latest.

Angie and Shelly - thanks for the family updates - I'm thinking about you guys. My folks and sister are in Houston right now with friends and plan on coming to Austin this weekend. I think they're just taking things a few days at a time - trying to plan for the future seems so overwhelming. My heart goes out to all the people in New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. Right now I'm waiting for the Red Cross page to load so I can make a donation. It seems a good sign how busy their website is.

I went to New Orleans to meet internet friends, way back when this was not a commonplace event. Shelly and I both lied to our parents about it. I broke Z with a shrimp po'boy. JT played a tape of his trumpet sonata and a sample of the work he was doing with Snapple caps.

Mike, you've been to NO, right?

What I've seen so far: Kenner Regional Medical Center in Kenner, La., Meadowcrest Hospital in Gretna, La., and NorthShore Regional Medical Center in Slidell, La., remained open with back-up power but suffered water and wind damage, the company said. Damage included flooding, broken windows and leaking roofs. All the hospitals were without local power and phone service, Tenet said Tuesday. The company's 203-bed Kenner Regional Medical Center in Kenner, 207-bed Meadowcrest Hospital in Gretna, and 174-bed NorthShore Regional Medical Center in Slidell, remain open with back-up power but also suffered water and wind damage. Most hospitals had supplies and generator power for three to five days, but the effects of Katrina would last much longer. “They're short of suplies and diesel, and without people to get to them,” Zeuschlag said. Hospitals elsewhere in the state were in trouble, but the extent of the damage wasn't clear, the Louisiana Hospital Association said. Association President John Matessino said his group was working with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, FEMA and other authorities.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

So in the confusion of the extremely brief phone call with my dad this morning, we miscommunicated. He actually has NOT spoken to my mom or her parents since the storm hit. My sister got to speak with Dad briefly tonight and she said he sounded better than I described this morning. They'd been pulling hundreds of people from rooftops and chopping people out of their attics. I probably spoke to him immediately after a long shift of that.
My sister reported that dad sounded cautiously optimistic. He said that though it is really terrible, the news is sensationalizing it a little bit, and the destruction is not (yet) quite as even handed as the media reports lead you to believe. I hope the abandonment of the levees and pumping stations won't make national news reports an accurate foretelling, as lake waters contine to rise in all of the city on the east side of the river. Dad and his mom have been evacuated from the downtown to the Westbank somewhere, probably Gretna. He's going to try to get my grandma to my sister in BR, and she'll bring my grandmother to my great aunt's house outside of Houston where she can stay indefinitely until there is someplace to return. It also sounds like with the arrival of the National Guard, my dad won't be doing as much of the really dangerous work for a while. He was actually going to get to sleep tonight.

My mom and her parents are in the NorthShore Regional Medical Center in Slidell. I know Slidell in general looks really really bad, but based on what we've heard about the hospitals in that area, we're hoping they should be ok. Another hospital in the area was evacuated, but power, water, food, etc to the remaining ones was being made a priority. Anyone who happens to see any specific information about conditions at the North Shore Regional Medical Center in Slidell please email me the link or post it here. That area has been in total communication blackout since the storm, which was why it was so unbelievable that my dad had news about them this morning. As it turns out, it was unbelievable, but a miscommunication the family was all eager to believe. We can actually reach voicemail ocasionally now, so I'm hoping some of the grids are coming back up and we'll be able to get in touch with them by cell or land line tomorrow.

Those of the family who work for national or even statewide companies are beginning to try to work out arrangements to work remotely or in a Houston, Alexandria, Baton Rouge, or Layfayette office. Now out of direct harm's way, those who still might have jobs are desprately trying to keep income coming in. So many businesses will be gone cause small locals can't afford to rebuild or larger companies will simply close up the New Orleans branch and relocate. A family group of aunts and cousins are examining the possibility of extended stay housing in Houston. most of them only have a change of clothes or so, but that is already so much more than so many others right now.

No one has talked much about property though we've all been scouring the forums for reports on neighborhood conditions. Some of our homes we know are total loss. For one or two we hold out hope they may be on slightly higher ground, but none of that may matter tomorrow morning as waters continue to flow through the breached levees they've abandoned trying to fix. I'm also hoping the dogs were able to get high enough up in the second story of the house to stay out of trouble. I know that seems a pretty petty concern given everything else, but I do think it all the same.

Thanks to y'all who've sent well wishes. I'm so glad to hear that Steph's & Angie's families were out of harm's way. The pictures coming in today look pretty grim.
My sister evacuated to stay with friends in Baton Rouge. My aunts and cousins evacuated to Houston. My dad had to stay in New Orleans for his job. His mom went with him to the "vertical evacation" staging area, one of the downtown hotels. Thank goodness he managed to convince her to evacuate at least that far. Her neighborhood seems to be part of the lake now.
My mom stayed with her parents. My grandmother is in the hospital and my grandfather just had surgery, so my mom stayed in the NorthShore Regional hospital to the east of the city, with them.
The last time I know someone talked to them was before the eye had reached where they are, Monday morning. At that time water was leaking into the hospital room. Yesterday no one could get in touch with my parents or grandparents as all the phone lines and cell towers are jammed or out of service.
My parents had to leave the family dogs in the house because no one else could get to them to evacuate them.
Late last night I was able to get my dad's voicemail so I left a message telling him I love him. First thing this morning he called back waking me up. The call was twenty seconds or less, and not a great connection. So my dad is ok, and indicated that my mom and grandparents are as well. I wish I'd had more composure to ask for details of when and how he talked to them. He's a stoic, but he sounded quite choked up. I'm sure he's already exhausted and doesn't have much sleep in store, because there are lots of people to rescue while there is still time.
I hadn't really cried, even watching the incomprehensible aerial footage where familiar places are nearly unrecognizable submerged rooftops. When I got off the phone though I just started bawling.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sorry, I forgot about the where are you from disagreement. I now recall K's answer, "You know, WARS...."

Mike, I hope that you are either in Austin or back home.

Shelly, Steph, I'm thinking about your families.


As the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Katrina, my family is safe, sound and dry.

The fam arrived Sunday morning around 6:30 a.m. When they left NOLA, the hurricane was not a category 5. After they arrived and realized Katrina’s magnitude, they wished that they brought more stuff: official paper work, clothes, keepsakes. Frankly though, I’m glad they’re not in the Superdome with 10K people, no A/C or electricity and two holes in the roof.

I have an aunt that lives in the southwest part of town, but her A/C broke down over the weekend. Originally my grandmother, aunt, mom and dad were all to stay at my house, with all of two bedrooms, one bath and one remote control. Fortunately though, my aunt’s A/C was repaired on Sunday. Now it’s just my parents and me.

The worst part so far was being subjected to Fox News most of yesterday.

A reporter from the local paper called to interview my family yesterday. But there are two things that people of color avoid: the cops and the media. So, I did the interview. I wasn’t in the paper though, so I’m assuming either that they dropped the story or that I give crappy quotes. Given my profession, I prefer to think the former.

People from New Orleans always know in their hearts that the city could wash away in a few days’ time. This mentality explains why the city has such a care-free, live-for-today attitude. Still, knowing and living something are two totally different things.

I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. More updates as they come.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hey Mike - Jandek?

Friday, August 26, 2005

AJ, omg, you are from hell too? Which circle? 'Cause I'm from hell too! Can't believe it took this long to find out!

Years ago, on a trip to NoCal, a group of us were going out to dinner and had all agreed on a Small Local Diner we'd been to before. Then an uninvited s.o. showed up and announced that we would not go to the diner 'cause she didn't like it, and that she wanted to go to the Strip-Mall Chain Restaurant. And we went, to keep the peace. Ugh.

yeah. we've disagreed about this before. it doesn't bother me most times when people are curious about what my ethnicity is. it doesn't bother me that most times they ask "where are you from," most people are just not enlightened and most people just never will be. we're not a leftist country, (or a leftist world for that matter), and most people will just never please me. so, when an unenlightened (or even an enlightened one for that matter) is curious about where i'm from, or what my ethnicity is, i'm pleased to oblige. anything to make the world smarter. people are curious about me... i'm curious about other people. i want to know where people are from, and what their family history is, i totally get off on that stuff. anyway... i better get back to work.

more importantly, phillies v astros soon. what do you think about that?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ok, people who say that they "eat anything" don't really mean it. When I suggest Vietnamese, Thai, sushi, Indian, raw oysters or soul food, they look at me as if I just grew five heads. Maybe it's just that I eat NEARLY EVERYTHING?

Another thing that irks me -- when people ask me "where are you from," when they really mean, "what is your ethnicity?" In answering the former, I've been known to cave into temptation and respond with, "From hell." If I'm not feeling like a smart ass and answer truthfully, they then proceed with, "Where are your parents from?" Ugh.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Yesterday I agreed to design a teacozy. Today, Mom knocked over and broke my teapot, which was the only teapot because she broke hers last week. Maybe Mom needs to switch to decaf?

Friday, August 05, 2005

I was in the San Francisco Bay Area for a week. Among the notable places that I ate at:

Last Supper Club (Mission) -- baked halibut in a garlic butter wine sauce and a side of roasted potatoes.

Sam Tung (Sunset) -- one of my all-time fav Chinese restaurants. They make their own noodles. We had the dried fried chicken (spicy orange chicken which is finger lickin' good), garlic stir-fried green beans, potstickers, seafood noodles in peanut sauce.

Sushi House (Alameada) -- one of the best places for sushi rolls ever. The rolls hvae double the amount of seafood and just the right amount of rice (I despice places that overdo the rice). The most notable was the lion roll (baked salmon). Did I mention the freshness factor??? It was reasonable, too. I think it was $45 for two of us.

Amber India on Santana Row (Santa Clara) -- This restaurant was beautiful. Vivid colors (hues of purple, gold, silver), high ceilings. The bathrooms sinks were made of cobolt blue decorative tile. They served the entrees in copper dishes. I had a stewed lamb dish. My cousin had a chicken curry dish.

Noah's Bagels (various locations) -- my favorite local stand-by. I got the asiago cheese and spinach bagel with a sun-dried tomato spread and a side cup of fruit.

a neighborhood Thai place -- I found a new Thai fav -- pad se yu -- flat rice noodles made with beef. We also got the chicken satay, fish cakes, a soup, and the tofu with the sweet and spicy yellow curry (can't remember the name).

some Korean friends made a home-cooked meal -- we had marinated beef (Korean BBQ style), squash, tempah, spicy soy bean paste, bean sprout and tofu soup, spciy dried squid. The next morning, they made me breakfast and baked the bacon. I'd never had baked bacon but I'm sold on it from here forward.

Dim Sum -- discovered a dish that I love -- stuffed bean curd with shrimp and pork.

a Chinese bakery (Richmond) -- had my stand-bys: egg custard, pork buns, read bean paste buns and sweet buns stuffed with custard.

Eastern Bakery (Chinatown) -- one of the oldest bakeries in San Francisco. They do lots of tours. They are famous for their moon cakes, which are served around the August Moon Festival.

Thanh Long (three locations in SF, one in Hollywood Beach I think) -- this place is famous for its roasted crab and garlic noodles. People, the garlic noodles were to die for!!!!! They used udon noodles or the like, and the garlic clung to each noodle. I would love to figure out how this shit is made. I'm convinced it's laced with coke. It was so addictive. I also had the Saigon beef which was decent. Next time, I'm ordering two plates of garlic noodles.

What Dog Are You?

An Australian Kelpie. A fine sheepdog and makes a good, loyal companion. It is hardy and can sustain itself without water for considerable periods. Famous for running on sheep's backs to reach the front of the herd.

I swear the questions didn't include anything about knitting.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

i just discovered a new VH1 show called Kept. mmmmm

i miss playing online scrabble. anyone wanna make a date?

go see Muderball.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Fried Green Tomatoes: I may not be the real authority here on this; I season some cornmeal with salt and pepper and dredge the tomato slices in it and fry them in hot bacon grease. I have had them made with egg and I don't like it as much.

Travel dreaming:
Fall 2005: L.A., S.F., Pacific Northwest.

Winter 2005: Volcano National Park, Haleakala National Park.

Spring 2006: jogging and eating with Upma in Philly, NYC, Toronto, morel hunting in Indiana.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

am insanely jealous of mike f's trip to austin. was contemplating going to ACL fest, but boss kinda shot that idea down. *sigh* oh well.
should get shipment of mosquito spray and deer repellent for the backyard. yes. deer repellent in center city philadelphia. why? because it is supposed to also repel squirrels... from my tomato crop. so far, there have been 3 ripe tomatoes, and all 3 have been consumed by squirrels. if the plants survive (they don't look so good), we should have many more tomatoes in the next two months. i would like at least one. from each plant. the yellow one already bit the dust. but the red one is hanging on, as is the black one. it's actually dark purple, but they call them black. the green plant is doing pretty well still... anyone ever had fried green tomatas? good?
the cucumbers are an entirely different story. if you're in town, lemme know, i've got a cucumber for you!

went to three weddings this spring. one was in the town i grew up in till i was 15. hadn't been back to that town in 15 years. it was really good to see people, some of whom i didn't remember at all, but most of whom i did. i had forgotten how cool, classy, sophisticated and smart these people are. all in this small, middle-of-nowhere town. i guess it would be more accurate to say that i didn't understand how good they were to begin with.
the next wedding was a traditional catholic one with a bbq lunch in the basement of the church.
and the last one was at a local brewery, their friend efficiated, and he was funny. he quoted from that song... Escape. "if you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain...." there were booms of thunder at the same time, and the timing of them made it really funny. there was bbq at this wedding also, it was soooo goood. and a local bluegrass band. i didn't go to the wedding after party, but it started at around 7 or 8 in the evening, and went till about 7 or 8 in the morning. good times.

i guess that's all i have to babble on about at the moment.

Monday, August 01, 2005

So Mike, do you plan on proposing to Jandek in Austin or in New Orleans?

I found a pair of decent running shoes on sale today for $16.99, took the hint from the universe, went for a 1.5 mile jog with my sister. She's very supportive and encouraging and didn't need to use a gun or even a sharp and pointy stick! I did have to wear a gigantic bright orange shirt, since I'd forgotten to bring one of my own, but come on - one look at my head will tell you I don't have a problem with bright colors (natural black on the sides, top is purple in the back, fading to red/purple, pink, and blonde as it moves to the front). I feel very very relaxed now - I understand why people jog to de-stress. Can't think about anything but breathing, very Zen. I'm also worried that I won't be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning. One of the members of my SNB told me she's been taking a trail-running clinic that sounds awesome - one of the runs is up a trail I used to hike frequently when I was at the university. I figure I'll start saving up for a pair of trail running shoes now and keep jogging with my sister and hopefully I'll be able to fit the clinic in with my schedule next year.