Category Archives: Texas

Right! What’s an Ark?


I’m cranky this morning and I’m going to rant. I’m cranky because some weather-witching cretin made a rounding error, and all the rain that was supposed to put the fires out in Texas got sent up to New England by mistake. It’s been raining here for days. And days. Nonstop, too. We’ve had torrential downpours, thunderstorms, light drizzle, threatening spatters, hissing streams, sprinkles, slow steady showers, opaque sheets, and presently, a deluge. I’m starting to feel like the mythical Eskimo with all the words for snow. Now I’m getting warnings from the NWS. It’s not enough that the Connecticut River came up over its banks last week, it’s got to do it again this week.  Because, of course, now it’s working on establishing some kind of tradition.  And the net effect of all this is to screw up whatever harvest Irene didn’t manage to trash. And I feel like a jerk about complaining over this pestilential rain, because my friends in Texas are still down there dealing with wild fires…that are all the more challenging to put out because Perry the Putz slashed budgets for stuff like, duh, fire fighting.  I notice that he’s comfortable enough now that he knows the fires aren’t threatening his house, and he’s gone back out on the campaign trail.  I’d have harsh words for that, ordinarily, but in my opinion, Texas is better off without Rick Perry in it.  I just don’t want him up here in New England, either.

Or, in the immortal words of Sholem Aleichem, “May God bless and keep [Rick Perry]…far away from us!”

I’m annoyed with the pinheads in Washington who are trying to use the victims of these national disasters as pawns to advance their political agenda.  And that’s just what it is, make no mistake.  We’re not broke, we’re just wasting money on graft.  They want funding to offset the national disaster recovery efforts?  Go get the damned 61 billion dollars back from Halliburton and the rest of the defense contractors that stole it.  Dammit, that’s my tax money.  I don’t want it lining the pockets of Dick Cheney or anyone else like that, I want that money back and I want it sent to fix the roads in Vermont and to help the Texans whose houses burned up.

And in the immortal words of Sholem Aleichem, “May God bless and keep [Eric Cantor]…far away from us!”

I could make a pretty extensive list of the people I’d like to have blessed and kept…well away from us.  Any number of the people occupying the national stage…who would be better off spending that time visiting their psychiatrists to get their meds tuned up.  All of the religious fanatics who assert that these disasters are the Wrath of God/Allah/Flying Spaghetti Monster being heaped on the heads of the Unrighteous for voting Democrat/voting Republican/gay marriage/violence against immigrants/government spending/being Christian/being Muslim/being Pastafarians/being Southern/being Texans/teaching evolution/reading tarot cards/practicing witchcraft.  Etc.  Stop that.  You people.  Does it make you feel morally superior to look at the suffering of your fellow creatures?  Because they are your fellow creatures, you know.  They are just like you. Including, unfortunately, that tendency to get all self-righteous and judgmental when someone disagrees with them.  And quite probably, just last month/week/year a bunch of them were looking at some other unfortunate group and priding themselves on how awesome they were that God/Allah/Flying Spaghetti Monster was not punishing them for some perceived slight or sin.

And guess what?  When it’s your turn to get it in the neck, there’s going to be some other group that regards your misery and distress and seizes that opportunity to feel smug about how holy they are while you obviously have been inspected by the divine and found Wanting.

So how about you idiots just knock that stuff off right now.  And I feel totally comfortable using the word “idiot” here because there are some things that every serious student of the matter agrees upon:  if there is a God (and I personally believe that there is at least an organizing force in the universe, and I don’t mind calling that “God”), this God is unlikely to engage in large-scale retributive acts that destroy without discrimination.  Even the somewhat vengeful depictions of God from the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible agree that He (It) made significant efforts to ensure that Wrath was vented only on the deserving, not with indiscriminate enthusiasm.  So, yeah, if you’re out there thinking that God is going to Smite entire sections of the country just because some people in those areas don’t share your personal convictions, I do think you’re an idiot.

I’ll be happy to extend that consideration as well to everyone who truly believes that God led your particular sporting team to some particular victory.  God does not choose who wins the Super Bowl and World Series.  He does not guide the arms of Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, or Curt Schilling…or if he does, he also guides the arms of Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, and no, their anemic batting averages are not evidence of their fundamentally sinful natures.  I met a guy in a bar the other day who told me that he saw David Ortiz arrive at Sonsi in Boston for dinner.  Apparently, David drives a lamborghini, with “Here Comes Papi!” etched into the paint on the front so everyone else can get out of his way.  I adore Big Papi – he’s my favorite hitter, hands-down, but last I checked, Pride is one of the Seven Deadlies.

I think I’m warming to this theme of “idiocy”.  Next on my list are doctors who have nothing useful to say but say something anyway, and those who have no idea what’s going on but don’t think to send you to someone who might.  I’ve got a friend with pretty bad acid reflux, it keeps the guy up at night a lot, everyone in his family has it, so it’s clearly genetic.  Unfortunately for him, the usual pills aren’t terribly helpful.  His GI goes on my Idiot List for responding to the information that the drugs aren’t working so well by advising him to put a couple of bricks under the head of the bed.  Uh, yeah.  That’s definitely going to help a lot more than, say, sleeping on a foam wedge.  It’s certainly going to help the guys down at “Sleepys, The Mattress Professionals” when he’s got to buy a whole new bed because these bricks under one end have caused the frame to pull apart and destroyed the joints, and the mattress is getting all lumpy at the foot from the Force of Gravity.

I mean, what kind of advice is this? I don’t know what to do to help you, but instead of saying ‘I don’t know’ and helping you find someone who may be better equipped to treat this problem, I’m going to blow a bunch of smoke out of my butt and give you bad advice that not only won’t help your problem, but will damage your furniture?!?!  Why can’t the guy just admit he’s stumped, and send his patient to someone who is more on the ball?  Boston is 90 minutes away, that should be good for something.

This same friend had a moronic internist.  Besides acid reflux, my buddy has high cholesterol. As does every other single member of his family including the ones who have been running in the New York Cit Marathon for years, and they all get the problem somewhere in their mid-fifties.  Even the matriarch of that tribe has the problem, and she’s still running around New York City in her nineties.  Dude, it’s genetic.  It would be one thing if 1) it weren’t obviously genetic, 2) my buddy had a weight problem, or  smoked or drank, or ate a lot of fatty food or junk food.  But he doesn’t do any of those things – he exercises for about an hour a day and eats the American Heart Association heart-healthy diet, and he took in an eating diary so that the doctor could see what his diet and exercise look like.  Because, you know, it’s genetic for him, it’s not something that is happening because of lifestyle factors.

But does that doctor pay any attention to that?  No.  She dishes out the same crummy advice that everyone who has ever been bored in a grocery check-out line and picked up a copy of Prevention magazine has seen, because I think they run the same article every  month.  You don’t even need to be in the grocery – you can probably type “high cholesterol” into Google and hit the I Feel Lucky button. Or go search through Yahoo! Answers…you’ll get it there, too.  It’s not crummy advice for people who drink, smoke, don’t exercise, and have poor diets – I’m not saying those things aren’t relevant.  It’s crummy advice because it wasn’t appropriate to the non-drinking, non-smoking, exercise-junkie with the low-fat diet, and she was being paid for this advice.  What a waste of time.  Silly woman should either dish out the statins that everyone else in his family needs to take for the cholesterol problem, or explain why she’s reluctant to dispense them.  I’m Not That Kind Of Doctor, but even I can read the health news that says that statins should be used carefully – I don’t understand why that wasn’t part of the conversation, but the rubbishy Google advice was.

In a moment of real honesty, it’s not the aforementioned idiots that are making me cranky (although any time I think about them for more than 30 seconds I do start feeling that way).  It’s this wretched rain…coupled with the Horse Soon To Be Known As Mine.  I decided to buy this guy and I haven’t gotten to ride him since because of the bloody rain.  There’s a potentially suitable bridle and bit at the stable that I could buy if it works for him, and I want to try it out.  I just bought a set of brand-new grooming tools and a purple heart-shaped bucket to hold them, and I want to go try them out too.  But mostly, I want to go hang out with this critter for whom I’m in the process of assuming Ultimate Responsibility, and bond with him.  And, dammit, I want to ride.

Boston Cemetery 2

This boneyard holds the remains of Paul Revere and a few signers of the Declaration of Independence. They'd probably be cranky on account of the rain, too.


Rough Morning For A Glamazon


For a given value of “Glamazon”, that is. Back home, in any one of the big Texas cities, I would not qualify.  My hair is too small, and I do not wear makeup to the grocery store or the gym.  My leather jacket is decked out in fringe and wooden beads, not rhinestones. I refuse to wear shoes that hurt my feet, and I feel that at 5’10”, do not not really need the commanding presence conferred by high-heeled pumps.

But, as they say, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” and I no longer live in Texas, I live in the Pioneer Valley, and it seems that the simple fact that I wax my legs and eyebrows, and deep-condition my hair on a regular basis is enough to get me Full Glamazon Status.  Never mind my huge collection of shoes and handbags, and my instinct to coordinate my outfits…even to go to the grocery store and the gym.  It is also enough, amusingly, to get me relegated to the status of “Bimbo” with certain elements of the local society, who appear to regard any woman who engages in Grooming as an individual of inferior intellect, who must play up her looks to compensate for the lack of a brain.  Just wearing lipstick – heck, even colored lip balm – to a party with this sector of society is enough to bust your rank.  Certain other elements in our local society regard me as a Quisling for removing any of my body hair and wearing a bra.

I was grateful when my local paper (which celebrates its 225th birthday today, which impresses the heck out of me) instituted a regular one-page Friday “style” feature.  Yet this, too, bears the distinctive stamp of the Pioneer Valley:  the style team canvasses downtown looking for someone who appears to have spent an actual thought on assembling their clothing, photographs him or her, and interviews the person about their Look.  I’d say, conservatively, that 90% of the people the team chooses have assembled their Look off of the racks of the local thrift store.  Not that I have a problem with dressing from the thrift store – I’ve done it myself – but it does, shall we say, limit the degree of sophistication and coordination one can achieve with an outfit.  So the short story is that virtually all of my local competition for the Glamazon title are, regrettably, hipsters.  That said, there are a small number of individuals with truly interesting style – in the Rodarte sense – that operate out of the thrift store around the corner.  They’re more of the Burning Man tribe of Fashionista, and their outfits are clearly assembled with great care, express significant individuality, and in general, they’re a joy to watch as they swan around the town with their vintage handbags and pumps.

Back to my morning.  I hate it when I look at the 54 pairs of summer shoes (the winter shoes and boots are still in storage) and reach the depressing conclusion that I Have Nothing To Wear.  I am certain that my husband hates it even more than I do when that happens.  Fortunately, this isn’t one of those days.  The roughness of my morning has everything to do with the quandary of finding an outfit that will carry me through the day without major alterations and trips back home.  This is not, I should note, one of those trite little crises about how to dress for work when one must go straight out to an evening function.  Enough women have difficulty with this question that every women’s magazine in the country runs at least three articles per calendar year on how to navigate those waters.  Those waters, however, are pure class-1 rapids.  That’s grade-school…ABCs and 123s, as easy a sail as you can get with both feet actually in the boat.

My issue is graduate-level:  what outfit can I assemble that will carry me from the barn, where I need to clean up a horse and supervise the pre-purchase exam from the vet, to my classroom where I need to deliver content on cost behavior and estimating cost functions, preferably without stains, mud, hay, or Eau du Equine.  And, thanks to the tattered rags of Tropical Storm Lee, it looks like the barn scene is going to be characterized by a general sense of Wetness.  I have come, reluctantly, after 90 minutes of firm consideration, to the conclusion that this cannot, in fact, be done.  I must take an entirely separate set of clothes into which to change on the fly.  I cannot help but feel that my Serious Glamazon Sisters in Texas would have found a way to pull this off. Oh, the shame of it all.  The disgrace.

I’d wear a paper bag on my head, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t go with my shoes.

Old French Quarter Lamp

I feel as dilapidated as this lamp from the French Quarter.

What’s Happening Here?


Good golly…earthquakes in DelMarVa, epic tornadoes in the midwest, Vermont washing away in floods, and now central Texas is burning.  Tsunamis and typhoons in Japan.  Epic flooding in Asia. Rains of dead fish and birds around the world. What’s next?  Mount Hood or Mount Ranier blowing it’s top and obliterating the Pacific northwest?  The Big One in LA, or San Francisco falling off into the sea?  An asteroid smacking directly into Australia?  I’m starting to wonder if the 2012 people are right, and we’re seeing the End of Days.  Or maybe Harold Camping just had a rounding error, and the Rapture is really coming off next month.

Or is it just Ming the Merciless, and the next thing we have to look forward to is the Hot Hail!

Really, this is awful.  The last two years have presented a spectacular array of natural disasters and catastrophes, and I don’t include the bank bailout or the global economic meltdown in that listing.  Those were purely human-made, and besides, they happened outside of my time range.

I hardly know where to look next – right now, we’re under a flash flood advisory, because we definitely need some more rain to mess up the crops.  Vermont got it in the neck again last night with flash flooding, and I think they’re probably still under the alert with Massachusetts.  That is just what they need to help along the massive volume of road repairs.

Meanwhile, Texas is getting it in the neck right now with wildfires, thanks to the worst drought in history.  These are qualitatively different from the big wildfires that burst out in the spring, because the part of Texas that is currently getting nuked is densely populated.  Lot of houses, lot of people, lot of critters in that area.  Cattle, horses, all kinds of things that are challenging to load up in the family sport-ute and drive out of harm’s way.  Bastrop was right on my route of travel between College Station, where I went to grad school, and San Antonio, where friends and family live.  It’s a beautiful area with a magnificent forest – and one of significant biological interest, the Lost Pines – and lots of people, lots of houses, lots of livestock.  And usually, it’s not tinder-dry – it’s in the part of the state that is close enough to the Gulf Coast to pick up summer rains.  But that’s not helping this year, in fact, many of my friends in Houston – a town that was carved out of swamp and jungle, and which cannot be considered “dry” – have been posting all summer about how the water mains are breaking and the foundations and walls of their houses are cracking as the ground dries out and shifts.  I’m less surprised by the fires northwest of Austin.  This area of the state can reasonably be regarded as “arid” – and when I moved there in 1985 and the population was less than a quarter of its current values, we were having to ration water every summer.  Now it’s overpopulated as hell, and thanks to some deals that were evidently written by Satan’s Legal Team and signed in blood by politicians 30 years ago, there’s been massive building on areas that are supremely unfit to support even the lightest density of population.

I know how the summers in Central Texas go. Your day is not complete until you have sent up a prayer/request/spiritual invocation/poured energy out into the universe/lit a candle, and the general content of these requests is the same: Dear God Please Send A Tropical Storm Into The Gulf And Send Us Some Rain.  As much as I loathe and despise Rick Perry as a fanatic and incompetent, when he held his prayer rally/raindance earlier this summer, he was just participating in this Accepted Central Texas Tradition.

The irony is that the Tropical Storm has been delivered, only someone got it wrong (probably Rick Perry) and it brought the rain to Vermont instead of to Central Texas – all Central Texas is getting are the winds, which are making these fires so much worse.

Speaking of the politicians, I cannot help but feel that nutwing wack-jobs like Michelle Bachman and the rest of her ilk are not helping the situation by insisting that [insert catastrophe here] is some kind of evidence of the Wrath of God Falling on the Heads of the Unrighteous.  I can understand her heaping that judgment on Gotham City, but I don’t understand how this explains the repeated haboobs that have plagued Arizona all summer and now the fires raging across Texas – these are hardly bastions of Liberal Sin.  Or the Joplin tornado, wiping out one of the strongholds of the Tea Party.  It also doesn’t explain Japan.

There’s always the specter of Harold Camping, though…or the Mayan calendar.   Perhaps the End Is Nigh, after all.  Or it is Ming the Merciless, and we must turn our eyes to Flash! Gordon! Or, maybe, it’s just global climate change exacerbating La Nina – that’s got my vote, personally.

I was getting ready to cut loose with some of my A+ barbeque recipes, but in light of what’s going on in Texas, that just seems tacky.

And I’m at a loss to find a suitable picture.  I’ll post resources to help out the homeless Texans when they start to become available.  In the meantime, the advice the Bastrop Public Information office provided will have to do:  evacuate early, and pray.  Because, horribly, there doesn’t seem to be anything else to do.