Archive for September, 2005

When the Big One comes

September 26, 2005
Finally, after missing many opportunitites to write an update this
month, I now have achance to sit down and fill you in on what’s been
going on.

Evelyn and I have a wedding date: March 16th, 2006.
The Big Day will be mostly for close family, and any friends of ours
who want to see us get married. We do not feel constrained by size
right now, so if you know anyone who wants to attend, please let us
know! Our guest list is being put together, but it’s incomplete, so
I’ll put up our milk carton page soon.

I’m in a contest to play Fluxx this month! I’ve got twelve names so far, and I’ve only got five more days left. Please play Fluxx with me!

Evelyn heard from her old friend Patti, who weathered the brunt of Katrina down in Biloxi. You can read about her experiences here.

Like many others in the nation, my attention has been on the Gulf
Coast. I am bewildered by how different Katrina and Rita were, and how
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas each handled advance preparation. I
was astounded at the Army Corps of Engineers’ impotence at repairing
the New Orleans levees. I was angered at how many victims had been
forgotten or overlooked by FEMA, and by FEMA’s orders to refuse
truckloads of water and cut operational telephone lines. I fumed at
seeing pictures of waterlogged fleets of buses that were not used to
get people out of the city, and raged at tales of drivers who refused
to fill an empty seat in their car. I cheered as the military rode in
to quell the nightmare. Never in my life did I expect to see an
American city be abandoned.

But worst of all, I was dismayed by
how the media panicked about the conditions in New Orleans. The media
reported that armed gangs of looters stalked the streets, firing at
rescue personnel. The media reported that women were being raped in the
Superdome as lines of angry people beat back the police. The media
reported that helicopters were being fired upon. Now, all of these
reports are looking very questionable. Shame on you, media, for
devolving into sensationalism during such a major crisis, not taking
the time to separate fact from rumor.

Bush did not cuase the
hurricane. In fact, by the time emergency management had Bush’s backing
full force behind it, things got much better. Heads rolled at FEMA.
People got food and water. Evacuees were taken away from a crippled
city. It is strong central planning that saved the day. If Bush is to
blame, it’s for cutting funding to the Corps of Engineers, money that
was badly needed to fight the uphill battle against the Mississippi
River. If Bush is to blame, it is for allowing those levee walls to
become critically weak in the first place. If Bush is to blame, it is
for prioritizing foreign problems over our own.

Thank God for
the Coast Guard. Thank God for the Red Cross. They did things right.
Please, give the Coast Guard more funding; they need it badly.

I hope that when the next one comes, the city is evacuated several days
in advance. I hope every bus, train, and plane in the city is used for
mandatory evacuations. There should be no more empty seats leaving
town. I hope the authoritites don’t simply tell people to buy their own
bus ticket twelve hours in advance. It is sad to think of how many New
Orleans residents were too poor to afford a ticket, and may have died
because of it. I hope that, next time, the inbound highway lanes are
opened up for evacuation. Nobody should be allowed into a city that is
under mandatory evacuation. I wish that phrase actually meant
something. I hope that next time, FEMA remembers to check all the
evacuation sites for survivors, so there are no more ignored masses
starving at a convention center. I hope that the river itself is used
as the best highway out of New Orleans; put people on barges and float
them out of town on the Mississippi itself.

Quit blaming global
warming. We haven’t been studying weather long enough to know for sure.
However, every last bit of conservation helps. Please help by doing
your part, by making your life simpler and more efficient.

I
couldn’t help but notice too, how paralyzed modern America is without
cheap gasoline, cell phone reception, highways, insulin, heart
medications, and electicity. Our modern age gives us wonderful new ways
of helping extend human life, an age of progress where travel and
health technology have never been better. It is a modern age where
things work very well when everything is okay, but the slightest
disturbance brings it crashing to a halt. It was like the shipwrecked
sailor on an island with thousands of cans of food, but starving to
death for want of a can opener. I had no idea that the lives of so many
people depended on one little pill, one injection, one hospital
procedure, and if that one dose was interrupted, they would die. It is
humbling to think of how much man brags about his control over nature,
and how easily nature can fight back. We think we are the kings of the
world, but our inventions fail us when we need them the most. It is
tragically easy to forget.

What would you do if you had no
electricity, telephone, television, running water or air conditioning
for a week? What would you do if the supermarkets vanished? What would
you do if your survival, your very life, depended on your
resourcefulness?

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Wedding planning update

September 1, 2005
Evelyn and I are
continuing to scout for locations. We’ve settled on March 16, 2006 as
our date, barring any unforeseen insurmountable difficulties.

For
our ceremony site, we’re hoping to look at a colonial house called
Stone Mansion, built circa 1780. It has multiple small rooms, is tucked
away in a quiet subdivision, and we could potentially have the whole
building all day if we wanted to. It’s managed by the Fairfax County
Park Dept, so we figure it’d be relatively cheap, too.

Here’s a link to Stone Mansion: http://www.co.fairfax.va.us/parks/hprs/stonemansion.htm

For
the reception site, we’re looking at a ballroom operated by the
historic Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. The ballroom itself is
even an American Legion meeting site.  The room itself
is spacious, and overlooks the town from the second story. The attached
tavern would provide the meal cooked fresh that day.

Here’s a link to Gadsby’s Tavern: http://oha.ci.alexandria.va.us/gadsby/gt-rentals.html#wedding_events

Evelyn
and I have been meeting with our friendly cantor, Sharon Steinberg, who
will be officiating for us. We have some more meetings with her yet,
after the High Holidays in October.

Evelyn and I have been a
little dismayed by our ever-shrinking guest list. The initial guest
count of 100 has dropped to 80, and now it looks more like 50. We had a
serious discussion about whether or not we were doing our wedding a
favor by not holding it in the summertime. Our conclusion here is that
we’re still sticking with March 16th. Instead we are revising our
expectations of the wedding size. Originally we had hoped it would be a
multi-famity gathering, the kind that relatives see each other every
five years at. It looks like our chosen time of the year is too
restrictive to do that. Now we picture a much smaller event. Now we
consider our wedding to be for people who want to be there for the
ceremony itself, want to meet the other family face-to-face, or are our
friends from the DC area.

Thankfully a smaller wedding opens up
many opportunities in ceremony and reception sites. We’re feeling a bit
liberated by not worrying about having more guests than we can handle,
and we’re having creative thoughts on how to hold a smaller ceremony
and reception.

But we still want to celebrate with the larger
family, so we are going to make a bigger deal out of our Whistlestop
Campaign, as we’ve liked to call it. We’re planning on taking up to a
year and a half to eventually visit the areas with large concentrations
of family: Middlebury, Lompoc, Indianapolis, Missouri, Los Angeles, and
Long Island. Expect us to delegate planning of these visits to the
respective family in the area, though. This way we can see family who
otherwise couldn’t come out to our wedding in DC.