Wednesday, August 31, 2005

And the bad news goes on....

It's amazing how bad things seem to happen all at once, kind of like the old superstition that death always comes in threes. Tonight, I went to choir practice as I always do on Wednesdays. Since only about 5 of us showed up, we sat around talking about the hurricane for a while, and decided not to have practice. Over the course of the conversation, I heard more stories about people who have no where to go, no money to start over...people who are totally dependent at this point on their family and friends; many of these people have money in their bank accounts - but their ATM cards are not working because their bankhas been blown away, leaving no records behind. Terry's step-son is in Pensacola with his grandmother, who is insisting on returning to her "home" as soon as possible. Bud's family is in Baton Rouge, and they already know their house isn't standing anymore. Then, Bud told us his story about Friday night...some teenagers broke into his house; they ignored the thousands of dollars of studio equipment and computers that he has. They only took a pair of hiking boots, a pair of earrings and less than $2 in change. Later that night, he heard a strange sound outside...and woke up to see his next door neighbor's house burn to the ground. Literally, to the ground. Suddenly, my Man-of-War sting doesn't seem so bad.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Thoughts

When it comes to weather catastrophes, I've been amazingly lucky. Ivan last year, and Dennis and Katrina (so far) this year. Nature constantly amazes me, with the endless surprises that she is willing and able to throw our way. Even more amazing is the human ability to adapt and survive through things that seem insurmountable. I've been reading and listening to quite a bit of the coverage regarding Katrina (no surprise there, half of the country is, too). My mind can't seem to get around the results of this storm. Looking at the pictures, reading the stories, hearing first hand accounts - all seem to leave me with a similar feeling of....disbelief. How can anything be this huge? There aren't any words to describe it...and the English language has a lot of words. Instead of thinking of the aftermath, my mind keeps returning to the hours and days before the storm hit. Instead of thinking "How would I live with the fact that I have no home to return to...", I keep thinking of the hours before Katrina landed. If I had been faced the knowledge that I had to flee - quite possibly for my life - what would I do? What would I choose to put in my car and carry away with me, knowing that anything I left would be gone forever? Since I got married only 8 months ago, the first thing that came to mind were my wedding pictures. The Mickey Mouse music box that my parents got me years ago when they went to Disney Land... The quilt that my grandmother made for me, that I only received after she had died...The picture on the mantle of me, age 2 or so, sitting on my father's lap with a bottle in my mouth (apparently recovering from some Awful Event that can only happen to two-year olds)...the picture of my husband with his brothers and cousin taken 25 or 30 years ago that (to him) represents his more carefree days...my cats and all the paraphernalia that goes with them...and, of course, my computer. But what about the things that I would choose to leave behind? Don't they say just as much about me as what I would choose to take? In the end, it doesn't matter for me -this time. To say that I'm thinking and hoping and sending positive thoughts to the people whose lives have been changed forever seems somehow...clich├ęd at this point. But I am, and I do.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Guilt and Innocence

Ok, we all know that I tried to stay as far away from the Michael Jackson case as possible. I didn’t watch a single moment of the trial on TV, and I turned the station off of the news as soon as the daily - let’s be honest, sometimes it was hourly - updates began. Not because I didn’t want to face the fact that he could be guilty (I don’t like the freak that much), but because I would never have to make a decision regarding his guilt. And unless it’s my responsibility as a juror to decide someone’s guilt, I prefer to leave it up to the people who are unlucky enough to be in that situation. I didn’t watch a moment of the OJ Simpson trial (ok, I admit – I was in High School, so wasn’t at home while the coverage was on – but you get the point), and I kept the recent Richard Scrushy trial at the far end of my radar, even though I live in the city where the entire scandal and trial took place.

I still don’t know if Michael Jackson’s guilty or not. But the mother of the child he allegedly molested (the mother who was responsible for the trial) has now had 5 felony accounts of welfare fraud brought against her. (Read here). She had received $150,000 from JC Penney as a settlement (no trial) in a civil (not criminal) case where security guards allegedly beat up the family.

trying to get money for something that was never proven?

But I really don’t want to make any conclusions about her guilt or innocence either. Again, thank the gods that’s not my responsibility. I think it’s interesting for one main reason: This story was posted on CNN’s website Tuesday night. I listen to about 4 hours of news on the public radio station per day, in addition to watching/listening to another hour’s worth of the news on TV (granted, the first 15 minutes probably doesn’t count – at least one of my eyes is usually still shut at that early time of the day – but, as my husband will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with my ears – even on less that half a cup of coffee). And I haven’t heard anything about this, nor have my two co-workers who were apparently so wrapped in the story they actually skipped some lunches to go find a TV and watch the coverage. I’m willing to bet that the story that “everyone” talked about this year (The Michaels Jackson trial – either keep up with me or drink more caffeine) will hardly be revisited by this new story on the child’s mother. Instead, people will remember that the celebrity got off the hook again.

Hmmm… I really meant this to be a short post. Me and my soapboxes….and as my best friend will tell you, I have plenty of them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

End of Summer

It's official - summer's over. I've had a few weeks of enjoying the sunshine (or what I see of it before and after work), I've made my end-of-summer pilgrimage to my sister's place in Florida....and, of course, I have a new class starting on Friday. I keep promising myself that one day I'll be finished with school. And I'm really tempted to start bragging about the fact that at the end of the semester I'll actually have my MLS. But I had the same urge last January - and here I am, 7 months later, still in school. And I had the same urge as an undergrad after 5 years of studying. Two years later, I got my B.A. And last week, in a moment of weakness, I decided that at some point, I'd like to get my M.A. in English. I'm either crazy because I like to have something to study my ass off for, or I'm crazy because I seem to like accruing more and more debt. Either way you look at it..... Hopefully I'll get online at home one day (instead of making clandestine posts from my desk while my boss is on his breaks) so I can put up some of the great pictures I've taken of my family - especially the nieces and nephews.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Computer Wonders

I'm lucky to work in a very specialized library where most of the users are very familiar with a computer. I spend very little time explaining the use of a mouse and other bits of computer lore. Occassionally, though, we get a faculty member who is One of The Last Ones to Hold Out. You know the type. The ones who have resisted, somehow, the lure of email, the ease of research, and the compulsiveness of blog-watching. One of those is in front of my desk right now, standing behind a row of computers. He's just casually walking around, looking at the computers - as if they are going to pop up with a sign that says "I will NOT hurt you so sit down and use me NOW!." He seems completely oblivious to the fact that they are all displaying blank blue screens with no more than 5 icons apiece. He has a look of slight interest on his face, as if he's trying to decide if this is, indeed, a bad habbit that he wants to pick up. I've seen some people resist this call-of-the-computer. Most people are sucked into the mating ritual, and lose their souls in minutes to Google and the vast amount of information at their finger tips. Sometimes you can read their minds: "I have a PhD for what? So that my students can do research 2000 times faster than I can?." Today, the genleman decides to take the plunge. He's been sitting in front of his screen for thirty minutes, now. Luckily, a student called me over to help at a computer by him. The student needed only a minute, and as I walked away, the gentleman called me over - "Miss, can you show me how to read the news online?" He wanted the Fox News website (damn it, I wish I were unethical enough to denounce Fox to him). I showed him how to find it, and he's been sitting there ever since. His computer is at just the right angle that if I pretend I'm reaching to the far edge of my desk, I can tell that he's STILL reading the news. Every once in a while, a look of confustion will cross his face, followed by a short look of triumph. I've seen that same look on my 9 year old nephew's face as he plays video games. It's amazing what computers can do these days.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Chinese?

My printer is now printing up half of everything in Chinese. I’ve only been here 10 minutes. Why do I suddenly feel as if it’s going to be a long week?