Thursday, September 22, 2005

Finally ...

After getting nothing but voicemail for two days, I finally got word that everyone in the family made it out of Houston and is safe. Mom is in Waco, while the rest of the family is in Dallas. I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oh Boy ...

And it gets better. Rita is now a Cat. 2 hurricane and may become a Cat. 4 by the time it reaches landfall. Ahead of that, mandatory evacuations have been ordered, so my family in Houston will have to evacuate ... Mom will go to San Antonio or Waco, while the rest of the family is heading to Dallas after boarding up the home.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sigh ... Not Again ;-(

As some of you know (or may not), part of my family (sister, brother in law, and niece) lives south of Houston, TX, between Houston and Galveston. According to my sister, Tropical Storm Rita is predicted to strengthen to a hurricane (possibly a Category 3) and the current storm track (if it turns into a hurricane and stays one through the weekend), indicates that it may hit landfall at Galveston and continue northward right through the area that my family lives.

If they're fortunate, it veers east and hits elsewhere, and they're looking at bad weather: heavy storms and maybe some tornadoes. If they aren't, then it would mean evacuation farther north before the hurricane hits.

Unfortunately, there are some complications: Mom has some acute-care issues that need monitoring and meds, so she would be moved with her nursing home's residents to a sister facility in San Antonio. Adding to that, sis is also expecting later this weekend and they will have their hands full with that; they would likely evacuate to my other sister's place south of Fort Worth.

This has been one of these years ....

Friday, September 09, 2005

Carrying Your Candle (aka, Going to Light Your World)

A day or so ago in the local newspaper, one of the editorial columnists wrote a thought-provoking piece to compare the circumstances in New Orleans to what would have happened here, if we had had a hurricane-like disaster. FYI, Des Moines actually came quite close (anyone remember the Midwest floods back in 1993?) But in the space of a few paragraphs, he painted a grim picture. And to be honest, a disaster may be something we'll experience here in the Midwest 50 years' hence; not everyone realizes it, but the central Midwest may (at least, according to the prognosticators), be the site of a major earthquake, due to the New Madrid faultline.

This has been one of those weeks where it's been hard to look for the positives. Between watching the toll from Hurricane Katrina on the news and hearing of friends' personal losses (from Katrina and otherwise), it's been hard not to encounter someone who has lost someone or something dear to them, or who has lost everything. And this Sunday marks the 4 year anniversary of 9/11. I don't think any of us can truly say we understand what the survivors have been through, unless we have experienced it ourselves.

Looking for the bright spots, this Wednesday, I was practicing a piece I'll be singing in church Sunday. Called "Go Light Your World", it has this lyric: "There is a candle ... in every soul. Some brightly burning. And some dark and cold. And there is a spirit. That brings a fire. Ignites a candle. And makes us whole." For all the horror that we've seen on the media, for all of the political bungling, we've also seen giving on a scale not seen since 9/11. It's not a red state/blue state issue. It's not a Bush-hater issue. It's a human issue. In the years since 9/11, I have seen our country fragmented by soulless politics, by religous fundamentalism, by narrow- mindedness bordering on economic and racial prejudice, and by a dwindling share of compassion for others. It is my prayer and hope that for once, we see less politicizing, less divisiveness, and more compassion, and that our compassion for those in need, our candles that in recent years seem to have almost been snuffed out, are reignited and remain brightly lit.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day Weekend

Hi all, just taking the time out from the weekend to post. Weekend's been great so far; mini golf with a friend on Sunday, followed by a local blues festival downtown. This afternoon, I'm going casual at the grill. I did have a line on a new-agey gathering, but that didn't pan out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Planet of the Apes

I was looking at a story online this morning ... two, actually, which when paired together, underscore the tragic nature of extinction:

1. Geneticists have recently discovered that a very small portion of DNA (about 26,000 bits, I believe), separates chimps from humanity, and that both chimps and humans share 99% of our active genetic material.

2. According to environmentalists, within a single generation we could see the near-extinction of the great apes and certain breeds of chimpanzees in the wild due to human encroachment (logging and habitat removal, hunting, and the onset of Ebola, which can be transmitted to them).

I know in the greater scheme of things, we have other concerns (the ongoing war in Iraq, the economy and rising prices, caring for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina) which are pressing, but it saddens me that we've discovered how close we are to another species and, at the same time, are now just realizing how poorly we have done by them.