Monday, October 29, 2007

California vs. New Orleans

Watching the news of the California fires, I cannot imagine the horrible feelings that must come with seeing your home in ashes, along with all your personal treasures and memories. The further scope of whole neighborhoods and the destruction that fire leaves behind must be absolutely devastating. My heart goes out to all of those who go "home" to face this horrible scene.

Listening to the politicians and news commentators has stirred some emotions in me, and I am sure in others as well. Our close association with a family from New Orleans has given us an insight into what really happened in New Orleans and the politicians and politics involved.

How can anyone in any possible way, draw parallels with the San Diego and other California fires, with what happened in New Orleans and the response by local, state and federal entities?

Here are some of my thoughts:

Will the insurance companies rule that the homes in California were destroyed by something other than fire? Following Katrina, it was wind damage vs. water damage - whichever one the insurance company conveniently did not cover.

Did California offer evacuation methods to those who could not get out by themselves? At last count there are 8 people from 2 immigrant worker camps who died in California. Were these people offered a way out? Or were they "overlooked"? Sure is ironic how quickly they discovered the bodies after not knowing they were there (or did they?).

The Republicans say that Governor Blanco did not ask for help. I remember clearly seeing and hearing her on TV in the days following Katrina, in tears begging for help.

Even if the Governor Blanco had not asked for assistance, does the Federal Government have no heart? There was no possible way for them to override the state and get help to people stranded in New Orleans? Let's be real!

Did California, FEMA, and the Bush administration learn lessons from Katrina? Or is there simply a different attitude towards people who live in mansions in Malibu vs. working class black people who lived in New Orleans?

How much did politics play in these two disasters? Did a Republican governor use the disaster as an opportunity as a photo op with the President? While a Republican administration balked at looking like they might be cooperating with a Democrat in Louisiana?

Who paid for all the massages, acupuncture, TV's, internet availability, etc, etc, etc, in San Diego? Where have all those people been disbursed to? Who is paying for their boarding until the insurance companies annie up?

The people in the Superdome in New Orleans only wanted water, food, a bathroom, and a way out through the floodwaters. They had no desire for acupuncture and no expectations of anything more than survival.

While we may not be privy to all the details and all the plays of politics, the end results are very clear. When we have a disaster of any magnitude there is no room for politics.

This country must come together. We cannot afford to be "Red" or "Blue". Who cares what "political colored party" I belong to - this is a country of human beings, and no one human being is more important than another.

Just yesterday someone commented to us that "all those people in the 9th Ward of New Orleans were on welfare". So, does that include Fats Domino? His home is in the 9th Ward. Who owned all those 350,000 or so homes that were under water? Why don't people want to take the time to learn the facts?

There is a major man-hunt to find the culprits who set the fires in California. Who is being held responsible for the levies that had not been maintained?

Who is propagating all the mis-information and prejudice? Is it all those idiots on the radio who spew hatred over the airwaves? Or the naive people listening who think these radio show hosts are really telling them the truth? Or the politicians who say one thing and do another (as if we aren't watching!)? Or is it that we really aren't watching and paying attention and seeking out the truth. Are we so hypnotized by the media and the government that we believe everything we hear?

Just some things to think about - - and another blog you might like to read:


Friday, October 19, 2007

Halloween is almost here!

Last year was the first time that the kids had Halloween costumes and experienced the fun of Trick-or-Treating. They were a little shy about it at first, but this year they are plotting and planning already.
I scoured ebay for some inexpensive costumes as they have grown so much they have outgrown last year's outfits.
More 2006 pictures: Chip Annie Marquel Charlie

This year, Marquel wants a Princess dress, Anthonyione wants a "new" witch outfit, Charlie wants to be Spiderman, and Chip is getting a Tigger costume. Our little town of Bulverde has an all day Halloween event on October 27th, the neighbors are having a party that evening, and our church is hosting a Trunk-or-Treat for the kids on Sunday.

Check back for pictures from this year's festivities!

What else has been happening recently?

Chip is starting to talk really well. Sometimes he surprises himself by getting the words out clearly. After 2 years of carefull study and observation of his brother and sisters, he is ready to roll!

Charlie's Kindergarten teacher is amazed at how smart he is. Even when it seems he is not paying attention, he can repeat what she just said (one of those survival techniques we have noticed with all 3 of the older kids). He talks incessently and has a hard time sitting still, but slowly we see progress as he calms down and learns to control himself.

Annie loves to learn. She has a stack of 2nd grade workbooks that she works on constantly. First thing in the morning she gets them out, and I have to take them away from her at night so she will go to sleep. She would rather do that than watch Disney Channel, and if she is punished by not being able to play on the computer, the books are her next favorite thing.

Marquel is really catching up fast on her studies. She is a little behind in reading and reading comprehension, but we had another Angel come to our aid! A neighbor is an English teacher and offered to tutor Marquel. Thank you, Margaret, we will take you up on this offer!

Turk turned 70 on October 2nd (although he really doesn't want everyone to know that!!) He took the 7 and 0 candles off his cake and replaced them with 3 regular candles. The 3 candles represent Past, Present and Future. We think this is a nice tradition!

Every Friday I drive across town to take them to their counseling. It makes for a long day, but I feel it is very worth it. The Post Traumatic Stress is a very serious thing, and we cannot assume that they will get better on their own. If we want to give them the best future possible, it has to be confronted and overcome (as much as possible) now. These kids will never forget what they have seen and lived through, but hopefully by giving them some coping mechanisms, they can learn to live with the sights and sounds that replay in their minds. Turk says that Marquel in particular will say "Dad, remember . . ." and recount a memory that she has. I encouraged Turk to talk it over with her, to reassure the kids and to help them all talk through the grief and loss that they have experienced.

Until next time . . .