Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wake up and smell your money burning

Since I seem to have a tenuous grip on reality right now, let's talk politics. First, this is a nasty-assed campaign. We all knew that but throw in a financial catastrophe, such as bailing out AIG, and you have more mud being slapped around than Hurricane Ike. All I gotta say is anything but four more years of the Bush/Cheney regime and that includes McCain.

This is how bad John McCain wants to be president. He hired the same monkeys responsible for smearing his family in the 2000 election. Then, in 2004, there was this moment when McCain must have gotten the "kiss". It's ok, pardner, we'll take care of you in four years, your time is coming.

Now look at the big mess with big businesses. These fat cats have been on easy street for the last eight years and now we're going to bail them out? What about the money they raped from their respective companies in obscene bonuses? What about McCain's financial advisers? Carly Fiorina, when she was booted from Hewlet Packard, after a brutal five year stint, she left with 21 million and stock options. Twenty one million? Does this seem right?

Wake up, folks. McCain is a particularly suspect Republican. He opposed the Bush tax cuts. He has admitted that the economy isn't his strong suit. He's doesn't have an instinctive grasp of how to talk about many of the biggest economic issues. So he's chosen Fiornina to answer for him.

Project Vote Smart is a great website even if you only use it to find who your elected official is in Congress and contact them. Don't know who represents you? Click this link, find your lying fat-bastard in Washington, and send them a note.

When Clinton left office we had money. Read I'm sure it wasn't as much as they said but the answer to both these questions:
  • During the Clinton administration was the federal budget balanced?
  • Was the federal deficit erased?
That would be a resounding, YES.

In the almost eight years since is your financial position as secure as it was?

What about a draining, unnecessary war that will continue until your children are paying for it, is that working for ya?

If not, get your monkey-ass out there and vote.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Train one eleven: one week later

This is a continuation of my thoughts about the Metrolink train crash on September 12, 2008. I'm using this blog to sort out my feelings because I really don't like talking about that day.

When you are called on to deal with things beyond your control it's important to have a few things:
  • Supporting family
  • Good friends
  • A sense of humor
I've spent the last week dealing with a lot of different emotions and today, as I boarded the Metrolink for LA, I felt I wasn't doing it alone. All week people told me how lucky I was to have not been on train 111. What I've decided is fate kept me off that train and my real luck is to have all three of the necessities above.

My husband was beyond patient with me even after I forgot and burned the kettle dry on the stove. Plastic may be a miracle product but that handle produced some wicked smoke.

The mood at the Simi Metrolink Station was quiet this morning. The remnants of the impromptu memorials, still there, caused a few tears and the ride did not have it's usual Friday joviality. When we passed the accident spot it seemed as if we were going slower than normal and well we should, that's now hallowed ground and there was no talking as we drove into the Chatsworth Station just beyond.

My court date was the lightest we'd ever had and we were released by 11:00 am. This meant I'd be waiting two hours to get the 109 train. I chose to go shopping for my husbands birthday and used my time wisely. Since I've not taken that early of a train before I couldn't say if it were the normal amount of travelers with only a handful getting off in Simi. Not like the 111, the next train, where maybe forty or so disembark there.

The conductor, someone I recognized, was understandably not her cheerful self. She always jokes with people she knows and says hi to everyone else as she makes her way through the cars. Friday she seemed to be as somber as expected for only a week after the accident. The day of the wreck she was on the 113 with me but not working, just heading home and was put off the train in Northridge with the rest of us. Today, as she walked passed me, she nodded and wished me a good weekend. I asked her how she was doing. "Better, she said, but it's been a long week." You could hear the sadness in her voice; see the anguish in her eyes. Then, with a half smile she said, "See you later."

With time, you get better about talking of such things but I still won't talk about it in public. This is a small, big town and I'd hate to have someone, having lost a loved one, over hear how lucky I was to have missed the 111 train.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Train one eleven: day seven

This is a continuation of my thoughts about the Metrolink train crash on September 12, 2008. I'm using this blog to sort out my feelings because I really don't like talking about that day.

Would you want to know in advance the day you die? I don't think so, that's too creepy for me but in retrospect do you want to know the day you don't?

Many questions haunt me but the biggest is why do I feel guilty? By some quirk of fate I wasn't on train. That alone should make me the happiest person right now but how can you be happy when someone else died or was injured in your place. If I were looking at it from another persons' prospective I'd be elated my loved one wasn't on that train. More than once I've started to go to the Simi station. I'd like to put a candle, or flowers, or a note at the spontaneous memorials that have appeared but I couldn't tell someone grieving: I was one of the lucky ones.

Time has a way of creating a foggy distance from things horrible and this will be the case here. I am sleeping better, less nightmares, and I'm not reliving each moment of last Friday in my mind. I have the support of loving and caring friends and family and writing about my feelings is somewhat helpful.

Friday I plan to board the train in Simi, if it's running, head downtown and when I'm done for the day, take whatever train is available. If that means the 111 I hope I'm able to make that step through the doors.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One eleven: day five

This is a continuation of my thoughts about the Metrolink train crash on September 12, 2008

The 113 train is usually in the station early but I took a slow leisurely walk to the platform stopping to use the lady's room and buy a snack. The train was waiting, I punched my ticket and got on board. The first week I started taking the train a young engineering student told me never to sit in the first car. Go to the back of the train because if there were a wreck those are where the worst injuries are. Counting back three cars I climbed on board and went upstairs where it's less crowded. I usually set in the middle of the train, it seems quieter there, and settled in for the hour-long trip home.

As I remember, we'd only left our second stop, Glendale when people behind me started to chatter about something wrong past the Chatsworth station, one stop before I get off. There were groans and speculation of a car or person or something else to slow us down; we never thought it was so serious. Five minutes later passengers started getting text and phone calls about the accident. Since there aren't timed tickets it isn't uncommon to catch a later or earlier train and friends and family were calling. Seems there was an accident before the first tunnel.

Since I do take that train I quickly called and left a message for my husband; "I'm not on that train, repeat, NOT ON THAT TRAIN." The last thing I wanted was for him to worry. He called me to say he'd heard there were a few fatalities and asked where to pick me up. By this time we were stopped in Van Nuys station and Metrolink was trying to figure out what to do with us. I told him I'd call but not to worry, I'd make it home or at least get closer. They did leave us all off at Northridge, the next stop, and then the train headed back to Union Station.

When we disembarked the conductor announced there would be buses to take us to our final stop. This was a full train as, unlike the 111 that only goes to Moorpark, it goes as far as Montalvo in Ventura. I knew if I could just get the the Chatsworth station there was a Simi Valley city bus that had a regular route back to my Metrolink station, and my car. After an hour of waiting for a bus I jumped on a city bus and headed out to Chatsworth.

The Chatsworth station is only about three miles from the accident and all of the streets and off ramps near it were closed to traffic leaving our poor bus driver at a loss. He had no instruction at all so when we got close me and another man got off the bus and walked the other mile to the station. I have never in my life seen so many emergency vehicles, including helicopters. At one time I counted seven over the crash site though I'm sure some might belong to news stations.

Finally at the station there were a few Metrolink employees and harried though they were could give me info on the Simi Valley bus. They assured me it would be here and if not, they'd have a cab take me home. I would not need a cab. If the bus couldn't make it in I'd just wait until my husband could pick me up. I was already feeling quite lucky to be alive at that point. My bus made it in and out and took me safely to my car at the Simi station. It was a long and trying day for me but nothing like the rescuers or the people left injured on the train or the families left waiting and wondering about their loved ones; not to mention the ones never returning.

to be continued …

Monday, September 15, 2008

One eleven: day four

My first concern is with all the families involved in this mess and that includes the family of the Metrolink train 111 since the spotlight is now shinning on him. Metrolink was premature to make the statement he was to blame. It's so easy to blame someone when they're gone. The official that made the statement resigned this morning and we all know, emotions can make us say things we shouldn't.

Also, forgive me if I go on for a while about this. I'm trying so desperately to organize my thoughts and figure out why I'm alive and unhurt today.

Downtown Los Angeles, for the past eleven weeks, has been my destination on Fridays and until four days ago I could not have loved it more. I would board the 6:53 am 104 train in Simi Valley and ride fifty minutes or so to the last stop, Union Station. A short ten minute walk to the court house then repeat those steps to come home. The coming home time and train could be different but for six out of the last ten weeks it was train 111.

Friday at court was an odd day to start with. Everyone seems to be less than attentive and would drift in and out, so much so that the secretary had a stern message about not leaving the courtroom until we had an official break and if anyone was not here, we would wait until the whole jury was back in the room before going on. He wanted to go home as much as the next person but we had to abide by the rules, even if it kept us there until 4:00 pm! When we were finally released I looked at the clock; 3:35 that meant the 111 was just pulling out of the station. I'd grab the next train at 4:26 and be home by 5:30; looks like we'll be going out to dinner tonight.

to be continued …

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One eleven

Commuting should not be dangerous. Sky-diving is dangerous. Wrestling alligators is dangerous. Coming home from work should not be life-threatening.

Yesterday is still a blur in my mind. I travel to downtown LA on Fridays and always take the train, always. This Friday morning my train seemed light; must be summer vacations are just a distant memory.

I was hoping for an early day so I could be home to cook dinner. My darling companion always insists we eat out but I wanted something a bit healthier for tonight. If I could get the 111 train back to Simi Valley life would be great. I missed the 111 and caught the 113, a short fifty minutes later, and for me life is still, well, life. Not so for a number of my fellow commuters that did make the 111. At 4:23 it hit, head on, a fast moving freight less than ten minutes from my stop.

Every news site has photos and I've searched the photos for people I recognized. Not knowing their names doesn't mean I don't know them. Was the lady who rides her bike to the station then takes the bike with her to Chatsworth and rides to work OK? I just spoke with her before we boarded the train in the morning. We laughed about the dangers of riding with crazy drivers. What about the young girl training to be a makeup artist or the many others I've seen and talked with?

I won't even go into why I wasn't on that train. I may never understand that.

Update: Though it deeply saddens me, here is a list of the fatalities from Friday's accident, especially when the latest news is the engineer might have been texting right before the crash.

Passenger fatalities on train 111

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's dat clinkin' noise?

As mentioned in a previous post, my beloved is in a fence building frenzy. So, along with the neighbors in back of us, he is plotting a new fence. We really need a new one there, as well.

The previous seven neighbors were all too cheap to go together for the building cost so Dan just put up wood attached to an existing chain link fence. Not the best solution but it did last quite a long time. Through the years and a variety of owners, with children, the chain link has started to lean. The neighbors to the rear are at the top of our more than 45 degree slope.

Because he had already rented a dumpster to dispose of the first old fence Dan, at the same time, tore down the rear fence as well. Funny thing, now we can see our neighbors since neither they or us have any bushes between and this did cause another problem. They have pets. The dog, though a large bulky Chow,it only stare menacingly at Buddy our little terrier. They've yet to exchange any "words. Oh, Buddy does pee in his general direction but we've not had any breakthrough moments with the dogs.

Now the tortoise, plural, on the other hand have been the most problem. They have two desert tortoise and these odd little creatures somewhere have gotten the idea our slope is nirvana and try to escape as often as they can. One would think it would be easy to keep something so slow moving corralled. Think again. In the six days we've had the fence down Mr and Mrs Houdini been down here four times.

Yesterday, when I went in the back yard, I heard this odd clicking noise accompanied with some strange groan. Desert tortoises are hard to find but when I zeroed in on the noise there they were, on my slope, making baby tortoises; or trying their darnedest. I scurried around the block to fetch the owner and when we got back they seemed quite done. I think he was smoking a cigarette but could be wrong. Honest, they move much quicker than I'd ever imagined.

So the owner, disgusted with their, yet again another, escape. Swooped them up and headed for the car. This in its self is driving our dog Buddy absolutely nuts. I'm sure he can't figure out why people come and are taking all our tortoises from the back yard. So far, they've taken four and never brought any back. Poor Buddy, I believe he things we are growing them because he keeps nosing around in the bushes for more.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I gotta ask

What goes through a man's brain when he's so intent in watching a woman he walks into the back of a truck?

First off, I'm not even going to chastise anyone in this little scene. Not the busty young thing in tight jeans and tighter sweater. Sweater? The temperature has been in the high eighties kicking at that ninety door. Anyway, nor will I belittle the guy for staring. The sister puts it out there she shouldn't be surprised when someone stares. There is nothing wrong with staring; there is something wrong with forgetting where you are walking.

Now, back to my original question. You can't just look and turn away? I'm trying to think of anything that has taken my attention so. Sure, I've seen nice looking men, there was that time I almost ran into Tom Selleck in Starbucks, but you take a mental picture and move on. This guy was taking the mental picture, having it developed and printed into 8 by 10s. I think he was actually hanging them on the wall when he was brought back to reality by the bumper of a Ford 150.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A new defence

This is our old decrepit wood fence. How old? I'm guessing near twenty years but I'm so bad remembering this stuff. I do remember the guys that were renting the house next door said they'd do the work if we bought the wood. We thought this a good idea and it did last quite a few years and these two guys worked in construction and were in pretty good shape. Why do I remember these two? I had a teen aged daughter at the time and well, let's just say all the kids in the neighborhood called one of them, Bob, the Babe.

This fence has withstood many a windstorm and a number of children, neighbors not mine, until this year when our current neighbor could stand this no more and took some vacation, asked my beloved to go in half, and build a new fence. So after pricing a few options off they went to Lowes for cedar but came back with plastic.

Plastic. I had to think about this one for a moment but after some deliberation and explanation from the fence builders, I did accept the idea. I really had no say so in this as I was not lifting a finger to help build it though I did feed them a couple of times. The bright white, I'll have to get used to it or maybe soften it's effect with some plantings nearby.

The other neighbors? You don't even want to know what's going on there because once my beloved gets going, stand back. The neighbors in the back are willing for a change, too. I see more white in my future.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Are you an omnivore?

Tim at very good taste is doing a little meme called the omnivore's hundred. here's how it works:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

So, here is my list; what I've eaten is in RED. 48 out of 100. Boy, I've got some eatin' to do. Some of these items I'd eaten before I become allergic to seafood and I would still eat them if it didn't kill me.

French Benefit's Omnivore Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari - didn't actually like that but might have been the preparation
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O I've even made them
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake- in a restaurant in Arizona, we ordered as an appetizer and it wasn't appetizing

Here are links to my sister and daughter's lists:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Go directly to the Big House, don't pass go

New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin said they'd be tough on looters as Gustav heads for a hit on the city. Right to general population at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, with no stop in the city. Do not pass go; do not collect $200.

Seriously, this could be devastating for Louisiana, it's an election year and they could be flooded with politicians. And, y'all thought the water cause problems.

Let's all keep these folks in our thoughts, they've been through so much and are not finished rebuilding.