Monday, September 05, 2005

FEMA dreams

I remain deeply engaged in what is going on in the Big Easy for purely personal, and I must confess, slightly selfish, reasons. I have an active volcano in my rear-view mirror as I make my way up I-405. Deep beneath my office building, a number of faultlines cross and re-cross. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is shaped perfectly for shotgunning a tsunami into Puget Sound. So one of the reasons I don't mock those who live in hurricane- or tornado-infested areas is that I have a rather large sword suspended above my own head.

That influences what I am particularly concerned about as well as my level of concern. I am not as worried from a local or state level because the mayor of New Orleans is not the mayor I have to worry about in this situation, and the governor of Louisiana is not in my chain-of-command. I do worry about the actions of FEMA because it IS in the chain if something bad happens out here, and my presidential administration is, well, sometimes you just have to go with the president you got.

So now I am curious about Seattle's Emergency Plans. On a personal level, we stock extra water and supplies and have some basic evac plans, including a rally point outside the city limits where the Lovely Bride and I will meet up in case we have to get out of town separately. Via Making Light, Jim Macdonald talks about "go bags", which are a darn fine idea. When we first moved out here, some of my fellow designers had houses in the "15 minute zone" of Mt. St. Helens. That means that when you hear the siren, you have 15 minutes to get OUT of the 15 minute zone. Both the Lovely Bride and I grew up as fire safety was coming into common knowledge (safer near the floor, touch doors before opening, know how to get out of the house safely). And this is the same thing, on a much bigger level. As I know more about Seattle's plans, I'll pass them along. And for your part, you might want to check out with your locality as well.

Speaking of plans, China Mieville remains one of the hardest-working bloggers in the business right now, cranking and linking at high velocity. So much so that one of his most damning posts may get lost in the shuffle - the idea that New Orleans' plan (approved top to bottom by folk who are supposed to protect them - and us) was to have no plan when came to the poor and carless. This one is seriously twisted, and again, I recommend you to check out with your local authorities because, you know, your car may be in the shop when Godzilla wades ashore.

I mentioned Mieville as being unabashedly socialist, so here's an good one from the more conservative end of the spectrum, brought in from Mark Evanier's excellent site (which usually talks about old TV shows, comic books, and Garfield cartoons). Brendan Loy is a second year law student and weatherblogger who found himself covering Katrina from tropical depression to destructive force (start here and move up). Loy's cut is to the conservative side (Venezuela's Chavez is a dictator and a corrupt thug, while Pat Robertson is merely a marginal figure on the right, listened to by few - on the other hand, he pinned back the Washington State GOP's ears over their behavior during the election case). Watching the progress of the storm from depression to storm to Florida to Gulf to Louisiana to Alabama, he provides a good realtime account. Again, it told me something I did not know - that Katrina as a Category 5 lost some of itse energy when it clipped Louisiana, and was a Category 3 when it punched into Alabama and Mississipi. It is cold comfort to Biloxi - like being hit head-on by a slightly-smaller truck, and a reminder of how deadly these storms are.

I bag on Anne Rice like some people talk about Al Gore - a reflex reaction based more on public image more than any crime, real, imagined, or literary, they may have committed. Yet Ms. Rice turns in some of her best writing here. You go, girl, um, ma'am. Also, Poppy Z. Brite checks back in from the limbo that has consumed her life. She's OK, and so is her spouse, but the rest remains a huge unknown.

Cartoonist John Kovalic notes that Lou Zochi is OK, and if you ask who Lou Zochi is, he is to gaming what Fats Domino is to rock 'n roll. John also yanks an article from the New York Times with the headline "White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage". As god is my witness, I thought this was an Onion headline, and had to go to source to make sure it was real (Like so many things that have stopped me dead in my tracks, it is - its a free subscription to find out). Its good to know that administration has its priorities straight.

And in other Gaming News, John Wick is donating his month's take from his small pdf operation, Wicked Dead to the Red Cross. I think that's a great idea.

I know a lot of people are hitting overload here (and I know I am after tapping in all these links), and the more I look the more I appreciate those folk who are providing OTHER distractions and news of their lives. I'm talking about things like this, also from Jim MacDonald on Making Light, which only a writer or editor could laugh at. This crazy Internet has created its own set of de facto reporters out of whole cloth, who because of their immediacy are in turn influencing the mainstream coverage. I'm not going to link to it here, because one thing the media loves to examine and discuss is itself, and as you may have noticed, there are more important things going on. I'm going to go back local news for a few days, unless something else goes casters up.

As for you and yours, think about a go bag.

More later,

[[Editor's note - Nope, you're not dreaming - I changed the text. An alert reader pointed out I goofed on Fats Domino - his chosen genre is rock 'n roll, not jazz. Naturally I was swept up in New Orleans stereotypes. The Mgt regrets the error.]]