Thursday, September 29, 2005

I've seen a number of very hostile e-mails about the refugees. But I've also met people who dealt with refugees in person.

The true story is that close to 100% of the refugees are kind and grateful. Over and over and over again that is the story I'm getting from people who have actually met a refugee or engaged in service or staffed a shelter or a clinic or done something else.

The sad thing is how the media fueled the disgust many Americans feel towards people who do not deserve it.

Do you know how many murders there were in the Superbowl?


Not one. Not a single one.

How many gunshot wounds?

One. Bless his heart, a National Guardsman shot himself by mistake after all the refugees were out and they were doing a sweep to collect all the dead bodies.

If the media coverage had not been so hateful the evacution of the Superbowl would have taken place a day earlier, but the Guard delayed a day in order to have sufficient force to handle the anticipated violent crowd.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.

The real total was six, Beron said.


"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything. ... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."


"These people - our people - did nothing wrong," said Sherry Watters of the state Department of Social Services, who was working with the medical unit at the Dome and noted the crowd's mounting frustration. "No human should have to live like that for even a minute."

By Brian Thevenot
and Gordon Russell
Staff writers

Thought I should say something to add to what those writers said.

The truth needs to be repeated sometimes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

For those worried because I'm in Texas (I just got two calls tonight), Dallas is five hours (without any traffic slowdowns) from Galveston (we used to go every year for the 4th of July) and four hours from the North edge of Houston. Usually we don't even see rain from this sort of weather, though we are hoping.

And, the local wards are all making lists of places available for refugees to sleep and spend a night or two before they go back home.

I may not be ok, but if not, it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with spending too long looking out a window at Jessica's favorite place to go in Fort Worth. That was a long day yesterday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I've submitted a guest post over at Nine Moons. I'll be interested to see if they decide to use it or not.

While waiting, 100 best movie quotes can get you off and running and thinking. 100 best quotes, things like "I can tell you would rather die than pay tithing" and the like. Yes, I especially like metaquotes which are quotes as we have inherited them, not as they were spoken.

An interesting discussion on oil and the future at Ozarque's the on-line presence of the author of The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense.

Blogs used to be "web logs" -- logs of places people had been on the web. The number one blog at the ecosystem still is that type of log. In the Bloggernacle, what we have is computer generated web logs -- but no human ones.

Too bad, but it is a sign that we, like most others, have expanded past the original roots.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Recently the EAC list that my wife participates in had a discussion about a foster home for autistic kids that kept the kids in brightly colored crates at night. Win's comment was:

We had considered changing a crib to an upside down position for our children. They all started climbing out of their cribs at about 8 to 10 months of age. They could walk, they could climb, they could get into all kinds of trouble. But they were young enough not to be able to understand any sort of direction.

Courtney used to like to climb up our closet organizer and leave one shoe on the top shelf -- just 8 inched from the ceiling. It was her way of letting me know that she had been up there.

She used to leave crayon marks on the playroom ceiling. I never could figure out how those got up there.

Jessica liked to get herself up onto the toilet, use the toilet paper holder as a foot hold and use it to boost herself over into the sink. Then she could play with the faucets. She was 8 to 9 months old. She also figured out how to open up the frig and search for the container of whipping cream.

We did try a net over the top of one child's crib. It appeared to be more of a health hazard than any sort of prevention so it didn't last more than a day. I do like the big screen idea Russ mentioned.. It would be like a huge terrarium.

About the article, it all depends on the children and their particular issues. Autistic children can lay in bed and bang their heads into the wall or the side boards for hours. They can get head injuries. ...

Just thinking about our girls and bright colors. Hope the other children are ok, but I miss our girls.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

2005-09-12 04:48 )
nothing personal,
I just can't stand all the greedy predatory (additional adjectives omitted) wrong wing "Republicans" and "Libertarians", may they and the Devil they worship suffer endless torment (details also omitted) for at least a billon eons -- they deserve worse. My sincere desire is to remove them permanently from the gene pool. I know you're dedicated to non-violence and can't agree.

Personally, I prefer to hear both sides of the story. I'm not interested in joining Pol Pot or those on the other end of the spectrum. I'm not interested in the free market anarchy of Albania.

I often find those I really disagree with can teach me something, from Brian Leiter to others.

I don't believe, as qiihoskeh appears to believe, that Republicans or Democrats or Marxists or Libertarians are headed to hell or worship the Devil, I've met too many good people of all kinds.

Not that a great deal of harm is not done, sometimes, by people of good intent, but without an interplay, without appreciating that many have good intent, we can not reach them and our violence only serves to transform us into the demons we think we face.

I admire true pacifists such as Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin or the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. I belive that Christ told the truth when he said "Blessed are the Peacemakers."

And, I believe with all my heart that I do not have all the answers, but that I know some of the right questions, and that by listening, I can learn more.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just something light and happy for today. We had some friends over for dinner, and after dinner, when it was time for dessert, I asked our five year old to bring the ice cream from the refrigerator to me.

She opened the door, looked in and said "mm, mmm, mm. my day has come." I'd never heard her use that phrase before and she was just so delighted. It was a great moment (especially, since when I asked her about it she said "well daddy, I meant my moment had come, not my day had come."

It was like a beam of light breaking out of the sky to watch her be so happy, for us and our guests.

Labor Day weekend was great. Alison came down with Frank and her kids and spent the night and then Monday the Prince family came over. All we needed was the Greens to make it perfect (or at least a perfect Wichita Falls reunion).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Real" mental illness is, in many ways, worse than grief, at least as far as I can tell. With grief, even overwhelming grief you've got severe disability for a few years (usually 1-3) and then modest disability for a few more (3-5) and then lingering pain and memories that people come to terms with (no, they never "get over it," but they do reach terms with themselves and God).

But mental illness, the real kind (and I'm using "Real" above to emphasize that it is real rather than as "scare quotes" to diminish it) continues without benchmarks and often without clear resolutions.

Sure, you can do some things. You can get aerobic exercise, if nothing else, sneaking off to a local university or school track and running for forty or fifty minutes a day. You can regulate your sleep and engage in cognitive therapy.

But the medication is usually not perfect (they all have side effects), your body changes as you age (so what worked last year, may need to be adjusted next year) and the very problem you are trying to deal with robs you of the ability to deal with it.

Grief is rough, and it can break coping mechanisms (usually, each child that dies breaks a method of coping, lose two or three and you can be a mess), but physiologically based mental illness can rob you of all your coping mechanisms.

On the other hand, especially in the modern world and in the United States, there is real hope of a kind that the world never had before.

Someone noticed that I posted about the baby Dallas matter (there is more than one) and other things *after* they were in the local newspaper and the only details I had were the reflections on my own life.

Well, my wife worked those nights, but she doesn't talk. So I post about the things I know. Sorry I don't have details.

If you have some free energy, drop by The Celibate Blog or Pie Polar Bear and leave them a kind word and say a prayer for them.

In times of great disasters people always want to know what they can do. The answer is simple: you can find a person and help them. One person at a time you can help people.

Peace and grace attend you.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Another baby born tonight, her one year old sibling was floated out of New Orleans in a bucket.

Poor mother was in pre-term labor, brought on by too much stress, too many days and nights in the Superbowl. Her story reminded us all of the flood on Featherstone when Win left as the water reached three foot deep, with Jessica and a bucket, and came to my office (on the 5th floor) to wait it out.

We named our next child Heather, but so many here are naming their children "Dallas."

We've a flood of them coming in from New Orleans, except we greet them with much more love and kindness, a flood of new life instead of a flood of death.

With all their suffering, only compassion has any answers.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Usually this blog deals with issues of grief, death and faith. I am working on another blog to discuss other issues at other -- but that isn't up and running yet and I wanted to post.

In the work world, there are a number of messages you can send and a number you are sent. Books that purport to tell you how to be successful at work are legion (with exactly what that means). They are of the following kinds (regardless of what they claim to be on their title):

1) Books that tell you how to send the message that you are a useful worker bee (the kind of people businesses need to run, after all).
2) Books that send you messages about how to be happy as a worker bee.
3) Books that peddle myths, for the purpose of getting your money, that are useless or dangerous.
4) Books that give you skills or elements to improve your knowledge base and that will help you make progress (books like Dress for Success or The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense at Work.

Crooked Timber and Cheese links to a discussion or two on the topic, especially New York Times Article and White Collar Invisibility (which has the useful warning All those career coaches and employment workshops are the white-collar equivalent of the predatory creditors in poor neighborhoods. The author's books are flawed, very flawed, but interestng too. Much of John Bruce's Journey is about a guy who is a worker bee but who gives off the wrong message over and over again.

Most people do not understand class. America is rife with class issues and getting a job involves:

a) communicating that you are a worker bee of the appropriate class for the job.
b) communicating that you are not a threat.

Employers want to hire you (well, they really, really want to hire someone to get work done that needs to be done). They really want to keep you in the job they hire you for too (sometimes blocking promotions because a manager is a manager while a good worker bee is hard to find in some areas -- though in others, good managers are essential).

Many times those who have lost children also lose their jobs. The incapacity of grief leads to other issues and that leads to job loss. Suddenly you are looking for a job, not at your best, but at your all time worst. Most of the books out there are useless to you or harmful.

But, there is a free library near you (with interlibrary loan, probably for free as well), and as long as you take it only a step or two at a time, you can work your way back from anything. The key is continuous, steady work going after reasonable incremental steps.

There is always a way forward. The Man Who Planted Trees (note: Giono ran into difficulties with the American editors who in 1953 asked him to write a few pages about an unforgettable character. Apparently the publishers required a story about an actual unforgettable character, while Giono chose to write some pages about that character which to him would be most unforgettable. The real story of a real man who created a forest is at true story, real forest)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Singh Gildarie was buried today. He died yesterday, after a long illness. He was my first home teaching companion in this ward, he could never go with me, he was always too sick, but he was always there for Sacrament meeting, always faithful until the end.

May grace attend him.
Time will pass, but I thought I would link to three discussions of the current disaster:

The shock and outrage over New Orleans' post-Katrina woes reminds me of that experience--and not just because of the chaos. What's just as striking to me is the unique scrutiny to which the local, regional and national disaster response infrastructure is suddenly being subjected. Thirteen years ago, when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida to the tune of 25 billion dollars, a quarter of a million people were left homeless, and over a million stranded without power--a quarter-million of them for over a week--as looters ran rampant and government personnel at all levels struggled to maintain order and care for the victims. But I don't remember a national outpouring of fury at the authorities' slow and imperfect response to that disaster. (In fact, compared with the police failures during the LA riots earlier that year, the response to Hurricane Andrew was a model of smooth efficiency.) Rather, the nation's attention focused on the (largely private, charitable) relief effort, as millions in donations were raised to help the victims recover.

Then, for the other side Over the past few years in particular, a lot of money and thought was supposed to have been devoted to planning for rapid response to large-scale urban disasters in the wake of 9/11. While authorities in Louisiana and New Orleans are not as powerful as the Feds, they have known for years that a disaster of this kind was likely and were told in detail what it would do to their city. And yet. The reports of what’s happening convey little except how poorly-prepared, ill-coordinated and slow-moving the disaster response is. As Mark Kleiman comments, failing to plan is planning to fail. Kevin Drum provides a demoralizing chronology explaining why FEMA is being run by people with no experience in disaster management.

Finally, from someone who actually had a spouse there:

Also, the latest update from my husband, who's still helping at the temporary hospital at the New Orleans Airport: They were completely overwhelmed with patients on Wednesday, never less than 15-20 ambulances waiting in a line to unload patients, 2-3 helicopters at a time, too. More medical teams arrived on Thursday, and there have been national guard there to help keep everyone safe, so things started to get under control. The forestry service arrived Thursday night/Friday morning and set up one of their base of operations for the emergency workers, so they now have beds and showers and meals being prepared for them, which is helping morale a LOT. And what a coincidence, that things started to get under control about 72 hours after the disaster...

I'm just reading about it all, and very sad for everyone.

//////////////////// btw, what the LDS Church is currently doing /////////////

Storehouses Continue to Send Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims
By Nicole Seymour, Church Magazines

Two additional truckloads of humanitarian aid for Hurricane Katrina's hardest-hit areas along the Gulf coast are on their way from the Bishops' Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City. The semi-trucks, loaded Wednesday, are filled with supplies necessary to sustain the lives of Hurricane Katrina refugees. The cargo includes tents, sleeping bags, bottles of drinking water, and five-gallon gas containers. Meanwhile, Church meetinghouses across the Southeast continue to be used as emergency shelters. One meetinghouse in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb, served as an American Red Cross Shelter and a destination for carloads of the state's refugee families, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report.

At a press conference addressing the Church's ongoing role in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Kevin Nield, director of Bishops' Storehouse Services, said the Church would continue to meet the needs of Church members and other community members who are seeking refuge.

Brother Nield, who has played a significant role in the management of the Church's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, said a sufficient supply of drinking water is most essential. He said more water is in demand because of the potential for disease in local water supplies and also because thirst is greater than hunger among evacuees who are, to an extent, in shock. Brother Nield also said the five-gallon gas containers will serve as fuel tanks for generators and chain saws.

As 14 other trucks from the large central warehouse in Salt Lake have arrived or are near arrival among Hurricane Katrina evacuees, food, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies preceded the latest shipment. Central bishops' storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia are sending vehicles and supplies to the hurricane victims. Brother Nield said some trucking companies are teaming up with the Church to help the regional storehouses to haul goods; some even contribute to the supply of aid. “It could be a bishops' storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana or it could be a chapel in Biloxi, Mississippi,” Brother Nield said. “It depends where the need is and the kind of requests that come forward.” He said the most urgent need is in the areas the media indicate: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Volunteers from stakes neighboring the disaster are ready and waiting to help, Brother Nield said. “At the appropriate time, members will go in to help: to clean up and fix up and do what recovery could be done early on,” he said. “But again, it is too early in the assessment part of this whole process to know where they will be most needed and what they will be doing.” (For information about how to help with hurricane relief, visit

Even though relief efforts are ongoing, the death toll continues to rise. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, said Wednesday that he estimates the number of storm-related fatalities for his city to be at least in the hundreds, but more likely in the thousands. New Orleans has ironically flooded further in the wake of the storm because much of the city is below sea level. Eighty percent of the city is submerged because of the broken levees on neighboring, Lake Pontchartrain. To the east, Mississippi has a death count of 110; Alabama, 2; and Florida, 11—all victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also in the aftermath of the storm, 2.3 million people across the Southeast have been without electricity.

Federal officials have weighed-in on the disaster. Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who is a member of the Church, declared a public health emergency. Because of standing water in many areas, the threat of diseases such as typhoid and cholera is apparent. Leavitt said more medical personnel would be present in the hardest hit areas to counter the spread of disease.

Another good link: the other side of the story, still unimpressed with FEMA

Even better, Julie M. Smith's comments at Times and Seasons.

Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. . . Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
consider it vis a vis this link cafe express.

BTW, for more on the head of FEMA how he lost his last job.

Finally, some blog thoughts on rebuilding, etc. New Orleans will be the New Orleans of the rebuilders.