Thursday, December 22, 2005

Google Desktop Plug-ins: How to install the Hello World plugin

I recently installed the Google Desktop. It has some very nice built-in features that let you read your gMail and regular mail at a glance, as well as some very advanced local and remote search capabilities. But what really interested me was the vast number of Google Desktop plugins being developed, and the capacity to create my own plug-ins. I'm especially interested in the SideBar plug-ins that allow you to embed a program in the sidebar.

I poked around and found the necessary SDK to do Google Desktop Plug-in development. I found that getting the first, Hello World plug-in up and running was a little involved, so I thought I would post how I did it in case anyone else had this problem.

How to Install the Google Desktop Hello World Plug-in

  1. Download the Google Desktop SDK from This will download the file Unzip it. For this example, I'll assume you unzip it to c:\GD_SDK.

  2. Download the WiX Toolkit (Windows Installer XML) from You want to download the file called "binaries...".

  3. Important: Unzip the WiX binaries file to c:\GD_SDK\api\tools.

  4. Open a command window. Change directories to the location of the Hello World plugin:

    cd c:\GD_SDK\api\samples\scripts\display\HelloWorld

  5. Execute this command to create the Hello World.msi file:

    c:\GD_SDK\api\tools\GoogleDesktopPluginInstaller.exe plugin.gdp

  6. Run the resulting Hello World.msi. This will install the plug-in to your Google Desktop sidebar.

Of course, you have to learn a lot more than just this to write Google Desktop Plug-ins, but this process will ensure you have what you need to produce them.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Musipedia lets you search for music by whistling the tune

I just found a web site that I had been looking for for years now: Musipedia lets you search for a song by whistling the tune:

You have to go through a bit of configuration to allow your Java plugin to record the sound of your whistling.

Basically, on Windows XP/2000, you have to save a file called "c:Documents and" with these contents:

grant {
permission javax.sound.sampled.AudioPermission "record";

After that, you will be able to whistle or sing a tune, then search for it.

I tried out whistling part of Vivaldi's "Concerto in D minor for two mandolins". It came back as a possible finding, along with (among others) Lennon & McCartney's "No Reply".

It works by using something called The Parsons Code for musical contours. Basically, it tracks relative note values by listing if the melody when Up, Down or Repeated, as U, D, or R. So the Parsons Code that I whistled into the search engine was "*UDDDDDRR", which is also the pattern for part of "No Reply".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Should Mardi Gras 2006 go on?

I just saw that a group of people are suggesting that Mardi Gras 2006 be called off. Actually, I've been telling folks that Mardi Gras would most certainly go on-- that if it did not, people would take it as a sure sign that New Orleans was dead.

I'm not sure what's right now. I sympathize with the people who are homeless and would rather see the resources put to other use. But Mardi Gras really defines New Orleans... it's not really New Orleans without it.

I've put up a poll question about this. Please comment.

My running gear

I can't run right now because I slipped on some ice walking out my front door and hurt my knee. This is what being 41 is all about-- I took up weightlifting last year with no injuries, then hurt my back yawning.

Anyway, in light of my injury, I thought I thought I'd write a little about what I'm running in. This isn't a list of recommendations-- in fact I'm considering changing my shoes because my knees are really taking a beating. Anyway...

Shoes: I'm running in a pair of Nike Free 5.0s. I know, you're probably wincing. The recommendation is to use these for 20 minutes a week, and I'm using them as my standard shoes. But I have this dumb purist idea that if my running style is good enough, I should be able to run barefoot. Don't be like Tim, Tim's brains are trying to kill Tim's knees.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Javascript Date Since Calculator

This is a simple piece of code to calculate the number of days since an event:

function daysSince(yr, mo, dy) {
var anniv_date = new Date(yr, mo-1, dy);
var today = new Date();
var diff = (today - anniv_date)/1000/60/60/24;

You call this within your HTML as daysSince(2001, 09, 30) where the parameters are the year, month, and day of the anniversary.

You can see an example of this at

Thursday, December 8, 2005

37:50 Race, Front, South, Broad, Arch loop (4 miles)

A pretty standard run, just very cold (about 34F). I started out the run just fine temperature-wise, which means, of course, that I was over-heating by the end of the run.

I was thinking a bit about the shooting of Rigoberto Alpizar. I don't really know what to think. I *do* think it's an unfortunate coincidence for the Bush administration that our agents attacked, someone died, and then the Weapon did not materialize-- kind of like the WMDs....

How to extract query text from a Microsoft Access Database

How to extract the text from MSAccess Views:

I needed to extract the SQL text of a bunch of MSAccess views recently. I was hoping for a system table with this information, like Oracle's DBA_VIEWS. I did not find anything like that, so I wrote this script.

Create a VBA module in the Access project (To do this hit Alt-F11, Right click "Modules", insert-> Module)

You will need to add references to Microsoft DAO and Microsoft Scripting objects (Tools->References) , then add in this text:

Sub extract_view_sql()
' Add two references to the project:
' 1) Microsoft DAO 3.6 Object Library
' 2) Microsoft Scripting Runtime

Const viewdir = "C:\TEMP\"

Dim db As database
Dim qd As querydef
Dim fso As New FileSystemObject
Dim f As TextStream

Set db = CurrentDb()

For Each qd In db.QueryDefs
Set f = fso.CreateTextFile(viewdir & qd.Name & ".sql")
f.WriteLine qd.Name
f.WriteLine qd.SQL
Set f = Nothing

MsgBox "Done."

End Sub

Run this by clicking within the sub text and hitting F5. The text of each query will be stored to a text file.

This felt kludgy, but I have found no other way to get SQL text from Microsoft Access Views.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

35:05 Arch,Front,South,Broad,Arch loop (3.8 miles) - Black EyedPeas/Elephunk

It's cold in Philadelphia, about 36F, and snowed a little last night. This made for a slower run, because there were patches of ice every now and then. Still, a good run. I picked up enough speed to turn over 9:15 miles, which is very good for me in the city.

I'm not normally a rap fan, though I'm sometimes surprised to find something I really like. In the movie Be Cool, The Black Eyed Peas did a number called "Sexy", which is a rap over Jobim's "Insensatez". This song got me listening to Bossa Nova again, and I got to where I could play "Insensatez". I started listening to the Peas one day and found that I really like them.

The Black Eyed Peas have a lot going on musically, it's not all just rap, and they talk about things other rappers don't. The song "Sexy", for example, is pretty much all about a consensual relationship, something notably lacking from a lot of rappers' repertoires. "Sexy" also stands out because the Peas brought in Sergio Mendes to play the piano part (nice).

"Shut Up" is a painfully faithful rendition of an escalating argument between two lovers, a la Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Particularly wrenching is this section of dialogue:

That was a different thing

No it ain't

That was a different thing

No it ain't

That was a different thing

It was the same damn thing

in which you hear everyone's favorite theme of lovers' quarrels: semantics over substance. On second thought, don't listen to this if you're married, it'll just make you depressed.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Katrina Pictures

These are pictures I took when I went to New Orleans to get our stuff. I didn't get many good pictures-- the devastation was so great that it was impossible to do it justice. You can't take a picture of what 360 degree complete destruction looks like (not yet-- maybe if we keep electing the Bush family we'll get enough experience to get it just right).

Friday, December 2, 2005

FIX: SQL Server Error 2132

Note update: this is a one-time fix to resynchronize backup devices. Once you do this, you can resume doing normal backups on the backup devices. Thanks to the Data Iguana for pointing this out.

Problem: I have a SQL Server 2000 maintenance job that backs up my transaction logs every ten minutes by running this step:

BACKUP LOG [Tryout] TO [Tx01], [Tx02]
NAME = N'Tryout Tx 10 Mins',
STATS = 10,
DESCRIPTION = N'Tryout Tx 10 Mins',

This returned this error:

Executed as user: Tim. The media set for database 'Tryout' has 2 family members
but only 1 are provided. All members must be provided. [SQLSTATE 42000]
(Error 3132) BACKUP LOG is terminating abnormally. [SQLSTATE 42000]
(Error 3013). The step failed.

What was happening is that I'm trying to backup to two different backup devices on two different systems, but one of the devices was not correctly formatted.

Fix:I fixed this with the following statement:

BACKUP LOG [Tryout] TO [Tx01], [Tx02]
NAME = N'Tryout Tx 10 Mins',
STATS = 10,
DESCRIPTION = N'Tryout Tx 10 Mins',

You run this statement once to resync your two backup devices. After that, the normal backup statement will work correctly.

Note: This solution reformats both backup devices, so you will want to do a complete backup to a different backup device prior to doing this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

25:38 Ben Franklin Bridge (big fall) - Zap Mama/Seven

I was really cooking on this one-- something about Zap Mama that makes you run fast. It made me remember the stuff we used to listen to when I was in Peace Corps two zillion years ago. Actually, I started my Peace Corps tour in 1991, so its been 14 years. That means that I've been out as long as some of the returned volunteers were who gave me recommendations (who has started their tours in 1977). My entire life conspires to make me feel ancient.

Anyway, I got enthusiastic about running back the downhill side of the bridge and was just about to go into red-shift when I tripped over my feet, fell, and left a nice red skid mark on the pavement. I rolled when I landed, which is lucky. I knew I had hurt my knee, but didn't want to look down, so I just got up and kept running.

I passed a lady in the street who looked down at my knee and winced-- then I knew that I had done a pretty good deal of damage to it. In the end, I took a lot of skin off of the kneecap. Yipee.

Zap Mama is great. She does a lot of vocal instrumentation (like Petra Hayden). My favorite tracks were "Nostalgie Amoureuse" and "Telephone".

Monday, November 28, 2005

40:00 Center City - Prayer of St. Francis

I ran a big loop, down 3rd to South Street, down South to Broad, up Broad to Arch, back to work. It's a little less than 4 miles.

By rights I didn't listen to anything. I was thinking about the Prayer of St. Francis-- I should preface this by saying that I'm not a Christian-- I guess I'm not really anything, but I'm pretty spiritual, and I'm kind of at a spot where I need a little boost. A friend suggested this prayer:

Make me an instrument of your peace

that where there is hatred I may bring love

that where there is wrong I may bring the spirit of forgiveness

that where there is discord I may bring harmony

that where there error I may bring truth

that where there is doubt I may bring faith

that where there is despair I may bring hope

that where there are shadows I may bring light

that where there is sadness I may bring joy.

Grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted

to understand than to be understood

to love than to be loved.

For it is in self-forgetting that one is found

in foregiving that one is foregiven

in dying that one awakens to eternal life.

I just thought about that while I was running, with the idea that a lot of what I am faced with will not respond to a frontal attack-- maybe it won't respond to any attack at all.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

How to create MAN Pages in AIX

Purpose (was aixmanpages

This document describes a simple method for creating man pages on an AIX system so you can document locally created programs.

  1. You need system privileges on the AIX server to do this. Sign in.

  2. If there is no directory called /usr/share/man/man1, create it. It should have 755 rights (chmod 755 man1)

  3. For each command you want to document, create a file in the man1 directory called command.1. where command is the name of the command.

  4. Enter the man page in nroff format in this file. See the sample file section for an example.

  5. Run man on the file from any user (man foo). This will parse the file and place the output in /usr/share/man/cat1 as parsed nroff. It will also display the man page.


The following nroff commands can be helpful:
.THTable Header
.SHSection Header
.TPTable Point (list item)
fBStart Bold
fPStart Plain

Sample nroff file

.TH CI 1 "21 February 05"
check_server - Check an AIX server
fBcheck_serverfP [ -e -p ] [aix_server]
fBcheck_serverfP attempts to connect to an AIX
server. If there is no error, it returns
a message that the server passed. If not,
it returns a message that the server failed,
and optionally can send emails, a page, or both
to alert the sysadmins of the problem.

If there is an error and a message is sent to
the sysadmins, the ORA- error is included with the message.

If no server is specified, a usage message is produced.

If neither fB-efP nor fB-pfP are specified, output
is sent to the screen only, to avoid sending erroneous
.SS Options
send error results to the sysadmins via email.
send error results to the sysadmins via pager.
A directory containing the error logs for each AIX server.
Timothy Chen Allen, , 504.555.1212
If the server specified does not exist or is mispelled,
fBcheck_serverfP will attempt to connect to it anyway. This is
generally not a problem, since fBcheck_serverfP is normally run
from a crontab. However, for this reason, fBcheck_serverfP
normally should not be run from the command line with the
fB-pfP flag, to avoid sending erroneous pages.

Friday, November 25, 2005

23:00 South Street to Market with Daniel

Since Daniel was a very little baby, I have gone running with him. pushing him in a baby jogger. We used to do two hour runs from Guinardo to Parc Güell in Barcelona: he would sleep, I would run, and his mom would get a welcome rest-- win-win-win.

So one of the things that I was really waiting for in our truck from New Orleans was our baby jogger.

Daniel and I just took a spin up Juniper from South Street to Market and went past the Marriott Courtyard hotel that was our home for a few weeks after we evacuated New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It was really cold yesterday, about 27F, so Daniel was bundled up and under a blanket. I love running with Daniel. He encourages me to run faster, and we make up crazy dinosaur stories, though now he really wants to talk about Power Rangers. My consession to all of this is that I've taught him to say, "violence doesn't solve anything" (Me: Hey Dan, what do you know about violence? Dan: It doesn't solve anything). To be perfectly honest, it's one of those sayings that I really don't understand, and I'm hoping that it Daniel gets started thinking about it early enough, he'll have a grasp on it by the time he's my age. One of the nice things about being a parent is that I get to impart my values on Daniel-- even the ones I'm not sure I've understood well myself.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner at Linda's

We had so much to be thankful for this year.

Linda was the woman I met our first day in Philadelphia who stuck out her hand at a Starbucks and told me she wanted to help Katrina survivors. Two months later Sònia and she are friends, and she invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. We brought with us two friends from Spain who we had known in New Orleans, Luis and Chari. Luis had evacuated with us as far as Houston.

We ate like pigs and talked about what a year this had been. There were blessings in Hebrew and thanks in Spanish and some awful jokes. We drank pink lemonade and talked about reuniting the group of Spaniards with whom we evacuated for Sònia's birthday in March.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Boxes moved in (trouble and strife)

The Katrina episode is starting to end-- we have all of the boxes in the house now and almost all of them put in place. We work fast. Too fast. I think we expected too much of outselves here, trying to get everything into place as soon as possible. On the other hand, it's nice not to live in a jungle of boxes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

1:00:01 Ben Franklin to Camden City Hall - Duncan Sheik - MatthewSweet/Altered Beast

I really didn't want to go running today, but kind of kicked myself out the door expecting to do about half an hour, max. But when I got to the peak of the Ben Franklin bridge, I decided to run out the hour. This is the first hour long run I've done for quite some time, maybe since I was in New Orleans.

The run took me into downtown Camden. What an ugly city. Philadelphia seems to have retained some of the charm of each of the Centuries it has lived through: a little colonial architecture, nice new buildings, etc. But Camden looks like it was born in 1955 and died in 1970, and no one told the inhabitants yet.

I bought the eponymous Duncan Sheik CD back in 1997 based on having heard "She Runs Away", which really is a very nice song that is very representative of that era. But for some reason I could not remember listening to it all the way through.

Now I know why. It is maudlin from start to finish. Excellent maudlin music, but maudlin. After about three songs I wanted to kill myself, but kept hoping for an upbeat song. It never came. I suppose this is a good album to listen to if you are feeling too good about yourself and want to feel rotten.

I read a review of this album and it kept going on about how Duncan Sheik picked up where Nick Drake left off. No, no, no. I believe that Duncan Sheik was influenced by Nick Drake: listen to the descending chromatic scale on Sheik's "Little Hands" and then to Nick Drake's "Chime of the City Clock" from "Bryter Later" and you can hear that. But Duncan Sheik just did not get the quirky, bittersweet feel of Drake's work.

Fortunately, I ran so long that the album ended and I went to the next one on my MP3: Matthew Sweet's "Altered Beast". Magnificent. First off, after my 45 minute maudlin-fest with Duncan Sheik, the first few crunchy distorted guitar chords of "Dinoasaur Act" were a welcome breath of fresh air. And "Devil with the Green Eyes" covers some of the same material that Sheik does, but does it in a more appropriate, "NRRRGGG ROCK AND ROLL!!" style that makes you run faster, not throw yourself off of the bridge.

This is the album with "The Ugly Truth", which is pretty well known. There are two versions, the first one kind of a tongue-in-cheek hill billy version and the second a tongue-in-cheek rock and roller. I don't know which one actually released, but I like both and believe they should not exist separately.

I read a review that gave Sweet some grief for his song "Holy War" (from "Girlfriend") saying that it was dated because it protested Gulf War I. How lucky for Sweet that his song is completely appropriate again. Maybe if we keep electing members of the Bush family into office, we can continually come up with half-assed excuses for attacking Iraq every ten years or so, and Matthew Sweet will never go out of style.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Daniel Clapping/Power Ranger

This is just a nice picture of Daniel. We were at the Renaissance Festival a few weeks ago and some knight whalloped the daylights out of another one. Daniel Clapped.
This is how Daniel dressed for Halloween. We wanted to make his costume, but he *really* loves the Red Power Ranger, Jack.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sarah McLachlan/World on Fire

Check out this: A music video by Sarah McLachlan. The video cost $15 to make-- the rest of the $150,000 it would have normally cost was given to charities:

I've always liked Sarah McLachlan. The first time I heard her was on a Nettwerk Cassingle with their up-and-coming artists (wish I could get my hands on that again).

That year I went out and got "Fumbling Towards Ecstacy". If you don't have that album, you should go out and buy it.

New topic: Barcelona

I've just put my old writings about my first months in Barcelona into the blog. Little by little, I'm going to try to move everything into the blog.

I did a fair amount of writing when I first moved to Barcelona. I had never heard of blogging, and actually started out by just sending emails to all of my friends. Eventually I realized I could move the stories to my web site.

Anyway, enjoy. The category is Barcelona: Spanish in 56,000 painful lessons

14:42 Chasing a Philadelphia Tour Bus / Marine Corps Birthday

I really didn't feel like going running today. After a week off during the move, I just had a hard time accepting the idea of going out in the cold and running. But as I told my boss on the way out the door, I could easily turn a week long hiatus into a two year hiatus. So I went running.

Nothing special about the run. I chased a tour bus for a while, which is fun. Once the carbon monoxide kills off the first thousand brain cells or so, you really don't mind anymore.

I forgot my MP3 player at home, so no music. I saw a flag at half-mast and remembered that yesterday was the Marine Corps birthday. So I thought about that for a while.

I was in my unit's honor guard for the Marine Corps birthday twice. The second time I did it I had already applied to and been accepted into the Peace Corps, which was just plain weird. I mean, both organizations have virtually the same purpose (extending policy via other means) but very different ways of carrying it out (killing the locals to get their leaders to change *their* policies vs. teaching the locals how to do better with technology so maybe the next generations' leaders will be friendlier to the US).

So here's health to you and to our Corps. What can I say, even though I'm a pinko tree-hugging pacifist, I'm proud I was a Marine. We did things other people just dream about. As Rocky Horror said, "Don't Dream It. Be it."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The drive back - Stephen Hawking/A Briefer History of Time

The drive back from New Orleans was at times fun, at times monotonous, once or twice hair-raising. I had hoped to keep the passenger seat of the car pretty much empty, but of course ended up with the car full to the gills with tchotckis that would not fit anywhere else. So I drove 1300 miles with one hand constantly pushing stuff back onto the pile in the passenger seat.

The first thing to strike me as I drove east on I-10 out of the city of New Orleans was the damage from Hurricane Katrina extending well east of the city. I did not realize how far east the damage went. There are not so many residential zones there. But I saw an entire car dealership flooded out, for example. I wonder what a car dealership does when it floods.

I drove about five hours the first day. I had only left the house around 3 pm on Monday, and was already exhausted by the time I drove out.
I stayed in a hotel in Atmore, AL. There were flyers advertising jobs in Pine County Alabama for Hurricane Katrina survivors at the checkout counter (no DBA positions I noticed).

The second day was really when I hit my stride. I drove all the way to the west side of Atlanta. By this time I had started listening to Stephen Hawking's "A briefer history of time" on CD. I enjoy this kind of thing, though I don't pretend to have understood the half of it. There were moments during his description of general relativity in which I was absolutely certain that I understood it, only to have it slip away in the next moment.

The last day was odd. The drive from Atlanto to Philadelphia is pretty, and you definitely cross the line frome south to north on this drive. I pretty much tried to just put as many miles as possible behind me until I got to the Washington, DC area.

I realized I was going to drive within a couple of miles of Glen Echo, MD. I had lived in a house there for a couple of years with Charlotte. I decided to drive out and see it.

I drove up and looked, and marvelled at what a child I was at that point in my life. We had lived there together during the first Gulf War. I was a Marine then, and it was a constanty worry that they might figure out that I was cohabitating with my girlfriend, because it was likely I would get shipped to Kuwait. I came back to this house after running the Marine Corps Marathon and after bicycling from Natchez, MS to Arlington, VA. I had turned 27 in this house (Charlotte would have been 44 at that point, though that was a well-guarded secret at the time). And I had left for my assignment in Seychelles as a Peace Corps volunteer from this house. This house meant a lot to me. I snapped a couple of photos and drove on.

The drive between the DC area and Philadelphia is short. I finished off the drive with my last ounce of energy. After a quick meeting I headed home and unloaded the car. It was fun seeing Daniel reaquaint himslef with his toys. He said, "Daddy, I really love you because you brought my motorcycle". I know, it's conditional love, but I'll take it.

Sònia and I got in an idiotic fight over whether we gained or lost as a result of Hurricane Katrina (I think we came out slightly ahead, discounting a lof of hustling and inconvenience). I guess when you're due a fight any excuse will do. This must be normal after being together almost 24/7 since Hurricane Katrina and suddenly not seeing each other at all for 3 days (it still sucked, though).

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Katrina Survivor's Guilt

This morning I went to Sunrise Solutions and saw my old crowd. Hurricane Katrina is still the biggest topic of discussion here- up in Philadelphia, Hurricane Katrina was over about a week after the storm. People are sorry when they hear we came up from New Orleans, but it's not the topic of discussion on every street corner.

Here in New Orleans Hurricane Katrina is still very much alive. People are still dealing with evaporated jobs, insurance, house repairs, lost pets... Everyone is stressed. Relationships are breaking up and there are a lot more divorces.

My friends Val, Mari, and Isaac helped me move almost everything out of the house today. It looks like I will be able to finish this up by tomorrow morning. Mari and Isaac helped even though their house is totalled with 8 feet of water damage. They helped me tremendously.

We stopped for lunch and I talked about what I am feeling: survivor's guilt. Our house is fine. Once I pack up our stuff, I will drive back to our house in Philadelphia and the hurricane will be over for us. But the people of New Orleans will not get over Hurricane Katrina tomorrow or next week or even next year. Parts of the city will never be right again. And parts of many peoples' lives will not be right either.

So I feel guilty because we're out of here. I feel guilty because the worst that has happened to us has been a massively inconvenient emergency relocation. But we lost nothing. If our insurance comes through, we won't even have lost any money.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Mari and Isaac's house - Willie Nelson/Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

I had Breakfast in Bucktown today early this morning, then drove back through Lakeview again to take some more pictures. I'll put some of them up when I get them developed.

I was driving along and snapped a shot of a particularly badly flooded car next to a particularly badly flooded house. As I drove off I noticed a lady drinking coffee on her front porch in the next house. I rolled down the window and asked how she had made out.

Myrtle (not her real name) had been employed by Tulane as an administrator. She lived in a middle class house in a middle class neighborhood up until Hurricane Katrina. Not that you could tell by the look of it now. She and her husband and dog were living now in the rotted shell of that house without electricity. All light was provided by a coleman lantern. She had made her coffee on a butane stove. When I first walked up, I was worried about the dog: it looked like it had once been a pit bull. But this pit bull was hungry and tired and dirty and was not ready to harm anything at all, much like Myrtle. Myrtle was dirty from head to toe and talked with an expressionless monotone about the endless bureaucracy that seemed to change what was required to get her out of this mess every day. She talked about a sister who had come from Tennessee to help and who left after two days because she couldn't handle living in the third world with her sister and who could not understand why her sister just sat there when there was so much to be done. She talked like her world had collapsed and she was resigned to living in that collapsed world for the rest of her life. I looked around at her destroyed house and the view from her porch of uncollected garbage and abandoned cars and houses and I also wondered how she would ever get out of there.

My friends Isaac and Mari called and wanted to get together. I said goodbye to Myrtle and tried to think of something helpful to say. I ended up just saying goodbye.

I drove out towards Isaac and Mari's house. I got a bit lost as most of the old landmarks I used to find it by were now gone. I drove past a little side street and saw a huge tree toppled over by a crushed car. It looked so bad that I pulled over to take some pictures. A car honked its horn at me and I saw that it was Isaac and Mari driving up the street. I pointed at the scene of devastation as they parked. Then I realized that the house I was photyographing was theirs. I could not recognize it. It was completely destroyed, a rotting shell of the place I had gone to with Sonia and Daniel for dinner and parties.

We entered the house and Mari handed me a dust mask. The floor was still mushy with water. The walls were covered with mold. It smelled like an old feed store. Their beautiful garden wsas lifeless, yellow, dead. Incongruously, their lemon tree was heavy with brilliant yellow lemons.

We looked at the destruction a while longer and talked about the labyrinth of insurance inspectors, FEMA inspectors, contractors, and corps of engineers inspectors they were having to negotiate to decide whether their home was completely destroyed or not. I could save them the trouble: their home is completely destroyed. But their spirits were good. After a few weeks of being in shock, they had realized that this was what their house was like and they would have to push ahead in spite of it.

We drove out to see the part of the levee that had been breached. It was an insane jumble of cars hanging from impossible angles (including three Volkswagens that looked like beetles on their backs that could not right themslves), houses that had simply exploded from the force of tons of water rushing out directly behind them, and mountains of trash.

I left them and went back to pack more boxes.

The whole time I was driving through the city of New Orleans, I was thinking of Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground". It's a song about a man who falls in love with an angel who is somehow addicted to this world, and how his love heals her to the point that she can fly away and leave him forever. I kept thinking about the beautiful lady that this city had been, and how her wings now seem hopelessly broken.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

20 more boxes, un año más

I'm taking another break. I've go another 20 boxes packed and I'm still not done with the books! My brain is trying to hurt my back.

I put on an old Mecano album. I was packing a box when "Un año más" (One more year) came on. It's probably Mecano's best known song, and it always makes me think of the innocent kid I was when I decided to go live in Spain. I put down the box I was carrying and just started crying. I hate having to pack everything up one more time. I hate being here and knowing that hundreds of people died less than half a mile from here. I hate not being standing at my desk designing data models. I've only broken down like this once before since Hurricane Katrina: when I heard that the house I grew up in in Texas had been destroyed by Hurricane Rita. The fact is that I'm the luckiest hurricane survivor ever-- I ended up with a better job, a nice house, and undamaged possessions. Somehow that doesn't help.

Katrina's wake/packing up

I just got Blackberry coverage here in New Orleans, so I can blog a little. I'm in our old house, packing up. I've finished 25 boxes, and that's just about half of the books! I wish we would have gone to the library more.

Yesterday I landed at MSY airport at about 10 AM. I had left my car in the parking lot, so the bill was $670 dollars, but the airport waived all costs incurred after Hurricane Katrina, so I only paid $10! God bless Louis Armstrong International Airport.

I found that a ready way to strike up a conversation here was to ask how people's families had fared in the Hurricane. I've heard a little of everything. One fellow was just quiet for a while, then said, "Bad. We lost everything." Others were living with friends, or had managed to clean up the upper floor of a two story enough to live there. Some were sleeping at work. And some were like me: no damage at all, just a lot of hustling to get things back together.

I had lunch with my coworkers from East Jefferson General Hospital yesterday, since it's on the way back from the airport. It was nice to see them. Everyone had evacuated. One was living with a friend because his house was flooded, but the other three were in their houses. I didn't realize how much I had missed them until I saw them. They're a good bunch of guys. Life goes on at the hospital without me.

I was reunited with my computer manuals (you don't really know how well you program until you have no reference materials!) I said goodby and drove towards New Orleans.

One of the guys suggested that I drive through Lakeview on the way home. In Metairie, I saw some roof damage and garbage on the streets, but Lakeview was horrible. I drove down one block where I was the only living creature on the street. There was a pile of garbage at least 20 feet high occupying the entire median. Everything was uniformly grey-brown, the color of dust. Trucks and cars were abandoned in the middle of the street, no one able to move them inover 60 days. I saw a house with a waterline just under the roof-- then I looked around and saw the same waterline on every house, every light pole, every abandoned vehicle, about 9 feet up. It must have been hell.

I drove back through the French Quarter, the part of New Orleans that people most associate with New Orleans. It had not been so badly damaged, but there were a lot of houses that were completely destroyed, or had the roof caved in. There was a fine dust everywhere. It felt like a ghost town, or maybe an old mining town. It seemed like most of the people I saw were from out of town: carpenters, FEMA inspectors, Acupuncturists without Borders volunteers offering their services for free. There were also several large makeshift campgrounds set up, tent cities for the unexpectedly homeless.

I drove on to Algier's Point, our neighborhood. By this time I was delirious from sleep-deprivation (I had been awake since 2 AM central time) and was having trouble negotiating traffic. People drive terribly here anyway, but people are all driving around like zombies, distracted as I was. I passed a bad accident just past the Fisher housing project. The projects themselves were empty. I wonder where all those people went.

I drove down our old street and parked in front of our house. How very strange to see it. It was as we had left it-- no damage at all. The DirecTV dish was still on the roof. The palm tree in front was perfectly fine. Our garbage cans were where we left them. It was a bizarre contrast to the total destruction I had seen in Lakeview.

I caught a quick nap and started packing boxes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

On my way to New Orleans to get our stuff

I'm in the back of a taxi, bumping along to PHL airport. It's early, 4 am. Aside from being very tired, I'm looking forward to being reunited with my stuff, a few friends, hitting a couple of meetings, and some alone time to think.

I'm a little apprehensive about what I will find. A lot of our friends tell us that New Orleans looks like a war zone. Of course parts of it looked that way already. But apparently there is a lot less vegetation, and the city has always been quite green.

I'm almost at the airport now. This driver is about to jump into hyperspace.

Friday, October 28, 2005

22:35 - Independence St to Italian Market - Alanis Morissette/Jagged Little Pill

This was a nice, fast little run. Surprisingly, these streets are not so crowded at lunchtime. I went pretty fast-- racing cars and such. Nice.

If my body were a car, there would be a rattle coming from my right knee. I blew 75% of my ACL and crushed the back half of my miniscus about 10 years ago practicing Tae Kwon Do (I muffed a landing after a flying side kick). It hasn't troubled me much, but now it's doing funny little things-- it hurts to kneel (I am daddy, therefore I kneel) and now I'm just noticing a little pop along the right side. Yipee.

Alanis Morisette is surprisingly good. Even more so for having been a little girl when she made this album (which makes it even cooler when she sings, "you're thinking of me when you fuck her", l'amour! l'amour!). There is a guitar bridge (2:29-3:05) on You oughta know that sounds a lot like the intro of Aeroplane by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The beginning of You Learn sounds just like part of Sexuality from K.D. Lang's album "All You Can Eat. Both of these are surely just coincidences (if I'm not mistaken, Morissette's album pre-dates both of these), but the similarities were striking.

Anyway, a solid album. I'll be listening to this one again.

By the way, I just ran up against the censor in my blog software. To turn off censoring in Geeklog, edit the config.php file in the blog directory and set this line to "0", not "1":

$_CONF['censormode'] = 0;

Thursday, October 27, 2005

33:03 Ben Franklin Bridge - Nirvana/MTV Unplugged in New York

It was a beautiful, sunny, chilly day here in Philadelphia, and I couldn't help but go for my favorite run. It's straight, long, featureless (except for the jail you run right over on the New Jersey side)... wonderful. I mean, I like running on a forest trail as much as the next guy (maybe more-- I used to hash after all), but failing that, I want something that won't interfere much with my train of thought.

Nirvana performed the concert captured on the MTV Unplugged in New York album in November 1993, 12 years ago. I reckon I got to the age where I listened to popular music regularly when I was about 13 years old, in 1977. So kids these days are listening to Nirvana with the same time lag that I had then when I listened to The Beatles or The Hollies or The Beach Boys. It's pretty old school for them.

I have to say, I never really got much into Nirvana. I had a personal interest in Kurt Cobain because he (supposedly) blew out his brains just a half a year before 15 Jan 95... which is special.

After having listened to the album, I understand why I never really got into them. Really, I just don't like their music very much. If their songs sum up any kind of angst that I may be able to relate to, it's all a lot of angst I stopped thinking was cool on, well, 15 Jan 95.

I found myself breathing a sigh of relief when I turned off the MP3 player at the end of the run. Sorry, that one comes off to free up some space for something else.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

25:12 Ben Franklin Bridge into Camden - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts ClubBand

What did people think about before the Beatles? Really, think about it-- one day, no one in the USA had ever heard of "Albert Hall" and the next day any kid on any street corner could tell you exactly how many holes there were in it (4000).

It rained today, which was actually just fine by me. Running in the rain makes me think, "yeah, I'm really a runner, I'm soaking wet". Thank god for thermoplush. Rain makes me go faster-- let's face it: run fast = shorter run.

I happened to have Sgt. Pepper's queued up on the MP3. The Beatles really were the limit. Sure, there was rock and roll prior to the Beatles. Sure, they ripped off Chuck Berry (hey, Picasso copied Miro and Dali, too). But Sgt Pepper's just hangs together so well... it's not a story, really, more of a continuous feeling. The Grateful Dead gets it, too, and some Dave Matthews. But The Beatles did it so well that it feels like they invented it.

I heard this album the first time when I was just five, two years after it came out. My brothers saved up and bought it, and we sat on the floor and listened. I really liked When I'm sixty-four and Good Morning, but got embarrassed at the heavy breathing at the end of Lovely Rita.

Thirty-six years later, my favorite tracks are Getting Better and She's leaving home. Also Within you without you whicj must have been a pretty different sound in 1967. I think what I really like about them is the instrumentation-- what is that high, repeating guitar note on Getting Better? And She's leaving home has no "Rock" instruments that I can hear.

I finished the run just as A Day in the Life came on. I thought about when I played this for some friends when I was in Peace Corps (it is surprisingly hard to play on an acoustic guitar). I got a little sad thinking about John and George being gone now. The thought occurred to me that someone, somewhere, is thinking about the Beatles, always. Someone is listening to one of their songs, or reading about them, or wearing a shirt with their faces on it. Would that I were as alive in life as John and George are in death.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Yesterday I talked with a moving company about setting up our final move from New Orleans for the 2nd of November. I have to get plane tickets, etc. Then New Orleans will essentially be done for us.

We also got the good news that our car that is parked in the Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans is safe and we are only being charged for the days leading up to the hurricane.

Last night I stayed home with Daniel while Sonia went to her English class. He was sad because Bebe and Ricardo had gone back to Spain after a two week visit. Eventually he cheered up and we played with his cars a little. We took a bath and told fart jokes, and ate dinner together.

After Sonia got home we put Daniel to bed and chatted. It was a quiet moment. I was preparing my lunch for work and suddenly was just overwhelmed by a sense of exhaustion. Exhaustion from something always left undone, something always wrong, some last phone call to make before going on to the next task in an endless series of tasks. I just want all of that to be over, to get back to a life that is more or less okay.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

28:00 Through the city - Nick Drake/Bryter Later

This was about 28:00, because I forgot to turn off my dang stopwatch. Down Arch and Cherry towards the Ben Franklin Parkway and back. I don't know why I try to run in the city so much, because I have to stop all the time and dodge cars. Although dodging cars can be a little fun. And I guess it's always fun to blast off from a street corner at top speed and see the people say, "wow".

I was listening to Nick Drake's Pink Moon on my MP3. My buddy Bill from New Orleans turned me on to Nick Drake. It's some beautiful stuff, really weird, tortured, wistful. You listen to it knowing that the man who made this music was a genius but that something was very Wrong about his life. It's no surprise to find out that Nick Drake killed himself, albeit possibly accidentally, by overdosing on anti-depressants.

I think my favorite Nick Drake song is From the Morning from Pink Moon. It sounds like someone who has reached acceptance that maybe he won't be making it to the next morning, but that's okay, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

33:00 Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden, NJ (85 bpm cadence)

A nice day for a run, a little too hot for my running jacket-- on the other hand, I like to sweat some.

I ran with my Finis Tempo Trainer. It's a little metronome beeper that clips to your clothes and helps you maintain a cadence. I think it originally was designed for swimmers, but it's good for running, too. I got it off of the page.

The ChiRunning book suggests that you try to run with a cadence (i.e. step frequency) of between 85 and 90 bpm. That's faster than most runners do, although apparently 90 is what a lot of professional runners run at. The idea is to minimize the time your foot spends on the ground; this helps you avoid injuries. It also forces you to shorten up your stride, which is also good, because it keeps you from over-striding and actually pushing back against your calves and knees.

The one thing that is a little bit of a drag about the metronome is that you can't really listen to music while you're using it. I felt that today, because when I was heading home, I started tiring out a lot and was really having to concentrate to keep my cadence up and my form good. I started getting a little negative self-talk (that happens when I'm tired), which I usually can get out of by turning up my MP3 player.

So probably I won't run with the Finis Tempo Trainer every single run, but it seems good for reminding me to watch my form when I'm tired.

Monday, October 17, 2005

32:19 Ben Franklin Bridge - Miguel Bosé, Velvetina

A beautiful day in beautiful Philadelphia. Cranked up the headphones on my MP3 and listened to Miguel Bosé's Velvetina album.

I like Miguel Bosé. You have to hand it to him, he started out as the Spanish equivalent of David Cassidy and turned into the Real Thing somewhere along the way. He was relevent to la transición and la movida, appeared in a Pedro Almodóvar film as a transvestite judge, and just when you weren't sure that you could take him seriously, he started reinventing himself on every album and producing music that made you wonder about why you weren't thinking about such things.

To top it off, the guy come right out as a proud bisexual and went on to date Ana Torrojas to sweeten the deal. Is there such a thing as too cool?

It was encouraging and strangely validating as a father to see that my three year old son's favorite song was the first track on this album, Ójala Ojalá. He would not let us turn it off. He asked a lot of really uncomfortable questions about the video (is there a war, Daddy? Why does he have a cross but no one else does, Daddy?). Daniel can sing parts of the song, even the bits that drift through Italian, English, French, and back to Spanish.

Friday, October 14, 2005

20:00 Around Old City w/440 Hz tone on MP3

Warning: this is a bit geeky...

I've always had a good ear for tones-- I can go several years without hearing a song and sing it in pitch. If I would train my ear better, I guess I could say I have perfect pitch.

So I've always had this idea of listening to a 440Hz A tone on a regular basis to train my ear. I realize some people like to use a slightly different frequency for A-- no argument from me, this is just the tone I get off of my pitch fork. This actually works pretty well-- I can hit a 440Hz A pretty consistently.

I had this idea of generating a reasonably long 440Hz tune as a sound file, loading it into my MP3 player, and listening to it for long periods of time. A perfect time for this would be while I was running-- I'm a captive audience at that point, and running always puts me in a kind of meditative mood anyway.

So I needed to generate a 440Hz A sound file. I found a command to do that on a Linux machine:

sox -w -s -t .nul /dev/zero 440.wav synth 300 sine create 440

This creates a 51MB file, so I guess you could actually just make it a minute by replacing the 300 with a 60. It's just that there is an annoying skip every time the MP3 player loops back around to play again, and I wanted to minimize that.

I created the .wav file, then transferred it to my MP3. I was all set.

I took off running from my office in Center City in Philadelphia. I didn't take a particular route, because I did the bridge yesterday-- besides, I just like running around Philadelphia and learning the streets. I turned on the MP3 player and put it on a constant loop with my new 440Hz sound.

The first thing I noticed was that it put me into a very weird place, mentally. I normally have a lot of mental chatter (this must be what "hearing voices" means)-- I try to shut it off, usually unsuccessfully. The tone kind of blocked that out. The second thing I noticed was that my perception of this constant frequency, constant amplitude sound varied a lot. I can actually "perceive" it as higher or lower. The file is a simple sine signal.

Finally, one very unexpected effect was that, without the monkeys chattering up there, I ran faster! How very odd. I was able to concentrate on my form (I learned my running form out from a book called ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer), up my cadence, keep my posture erect, and strike mid-foot, not on my heel. Nothing hurt, and I had a sensation of running fairly effortlessly. Nice.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

33:35 Franklin Brige into Camden, NJ

33:35 - from my office at TRF at 718 Arch, past the Mint and Independance Hall, over the Ben Franklin into New Jersey.

I loaded up my MP3 with Joni Mitchell's For the Roses and ran in the rain-- fast. It's been ages since I listened to this album-- back when I was a Marine and drove around in an Orange Volkswagen and lived with Charlotte. I forgot what I was like back then. It's okay running music, not stuff that would normally make you want to run fast, but for some reason it works for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

7:41 minutes in the rain!

Very cold! I ran out the front door with a T-shirt and shorts, and within three minutes had decided something I had not decided for a long time: to cut it short.

I remembered how, when I was a 21 year old Marine, I would run with my platoon in 15 degree weather. How big of a difference after twenty years.

Guess I'm a wuss now. Anyway, I bought a running jacket (my other one is still in New Orleans).

Saturday, October 8, 2005

How we evacuated from Hurricane Katrina

I'm laying in bed, listening to the rain tapping the window of our house here on Rodman Street.

It's been six weeks to the day since we evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. I was sure we would return in a couple of days-- New Orleans had always been spared in the past. I grabbed an extra shirt, my guitar, and (thank my higher power) the laptop.

My parents and brother evacuated to my our house in Lumberton, just outside of Beaumont, Texas. They urged us to evacuate with them, but we had some Spanish friends who wanted us to go with them. It was a hard decision, but in the end I thought it would be better for my family to go with Elena, Beau, and Luis. As it turns out, it was the right decision: Lumberton was directly in the path of Hurricane Rita, and my parents and brother had to evacuate a second time.

We drove to Lafayette to the house of one of Elena's friends, Antonio. We were all doing pretty well until Katrina went to category five and it looked like New Orleans would take a direct hit.

We had all been in an excellent mood, playing guitar and watching movies. But then someone turned on the Weather channel and we all started getting depressed as we watched the Hurricane inch towards our home. After about an hour of this, we were all ready to jump off of a bridge.

At that point, I made the smartest decision of the evacuation: I switched the TV back to Jack Black's "School of Rock". Immediately everyone snapped out of it. Pads of paper came out, and we started planning. Soon we had decided to evacuate further west, to Houston.

I'll get on my soapbox here: I hate the news. My parents are news junkies. During the Hurricane, they had Fox and the Weather Channel on 24/7. When I called them, everyone in the house was depressed. I, on the other hand, had to shush the people on my end and eventually take the call outside, as the Spaniards were laughing (albeit nervously) so loudly. The news is a good thing. We should all watch the news. Then we should turn the news off and go live our lives. Hearing that you are about to take it in the shorts is bad enough without listening to it over and over from a series of vacuous baritones in gimme caps. If you hear bad news enough, it stops shocking you. You come to expect it. You come to believe that you deserve it.

We didn't buy it. We got in our cars and went to Houston.

Elena is a woman from Extremadura in Spain. She's pretty and smart, and just enough sarcastic that you know she's an española. Her boyfriend, Beau, looks and sounds like a Louisiana good ol' boy, but he's got a degree in Physics and a really big heart. Luis is funny and tries to cheer you up even when he is frightened. He has a great smile and was really great with Daniel.

I miss the people I evacuated with.

We were kind of like the party from the Decameron.

When we got to Houston, it looked like New Orleans was really going to get hit. We went to dinner at Chili's and generally had a good time, but wondered what was going to happen to our city.

The next morning we found out. Devastation. When the levees broke, our world changed. We would have been okay to get back to New Orleans and go on with our lives with the damage from the storm (in fact, our house was not at all damaged), but with the flooding from the levee, New Orleans was suddenly a very dangerous place to be.

That Tuesday, I talked on the phone with my boss. He told me that I was officially on vacation, and that when my vacation days were over, I would not be paid anymore. That was sad, but understandable: Phoenix Health Systems just doesn't have the cash flow to float a month of paychecks for the 60 people in its New Orleans office. And it put me in a weird position: I could not take my family back to New Orleans; not with reports of Cholera and Typhoid. I am still not sure about these reports, but I wasn't going to risk it with a four year old boy. I've seen people with Cholera when I was in Bolivia, and it is horrible.

I also could not leave Sonia and Daniel anywhere by themselves. Sonia's English is good, but she is not confident enough about it. Besides, there was a disaster-- I wanted to be with them.

Sonia and I talked it over. By a very odd coincidence, we had tickets for the weekend to go to Philadelphia from the New Orleans airport. We were going to check it out as a place to live, because after Ivan, we had gotten tired of evacuating from hurricanes. We were going to check towns that had direct flights to Barcelona to see if any were livable. We had gone to Atlanta over the July 4th weekend, and I thought it was nice, but too big, hot, and trafficky. So we had tickets to fly to Philadelphia now.

Now we would not be able to make the trip from New Orleans. We decided to try to change the dates on the tickets and go see if Philadelphia would be a good place to live. I called that Tuesday, and they managed to get us out on Wednesday.

We flew out with our ridiculously few possessions. By afternoon Wednesday, we were in the Marriott in downtown Philadelphia. We were clean, safe, together, had some clothes, and a maid. We watched our neighbors waiting on rooftops, dying, on the television. Again, I switched the TV back to PBS kids and we watched Barney and Caillou.

I started sending out emails, searching for headhunters. The first day was a little disappointing-- Google found a lot of dead headhunter links. But I found one-- then another. I sent an email to the USNA alumni association. They sent my resume to a bunch of headhunters.

That Thursday, I went down to Starbucks to get coffee. I asked for a "Hurricane Discount"-- I felt stupid doing it, because obviously I was not starving to death standing in line at a Starbucks. I wondered why I had asked... then I found out. A woman behind me said, "I heard you say you were from New Orleans. My family and I were talking last night about how we could help out. Can I do anything for you?" Her name was Linda. She offered to let us stay in her house. I told her we were set on that, but that I needed to get my resume in front of people. She said she would do what we could.

On an aside, Sonia and Daniel and I had dinner at Linda's house last night. We've been friends since that day she stuck out her hand. Sonia and her really clicked. She's rallied the folks from her synagogue to collect toys and clothes, furniture, pots and pans... they've really helped us out. Her sons, Abraham and Noah, have played with Daniel tirelessly, even though they are both over ten years older than him. Her husband, Ira, has been a generally good guy, and also plays with Daniel patiently and treats him like the smart little guy he is. Linda really has been a true friend.

(To be continued...)

Friday, October 7, 2005

USAA Insurance comes through!

We left our home in New Orleans just before Katrina hit. USAA, after initially balking, looks like it's going to pay up for our evacuation expense!

Thank you USAA! I just got off the phone with a supervisor over at USAA, and it looks like our Renters insurance policy covers our evacuation.

When I called USAA initially, I told them there was no damage to our house. I figured honesty was the best policy here. When I was younger (and more foolish), that had not always been my policy, and all of the "truth management" I had engaged in only led to problems.

Initially, a claims person there told me that since our house had taken no damage, we could not get any evacuation expenses.

I could feel my blood pressure rising, so I asked the lady to have a supervisor call me, then politely got off the line. I actually was less interested in talking to a supervisor as I was in simply ending the conversation-- I never get anything good done when I'm mad.

I talked to a friend of mine who evacuated to Dallas, and he told me that first off, I had to remember I had done nothing wrong here. This was good advice, because some part of me always feels guilty about getting angry. Then he told me to call back and ask for a supervisor.

I did just that, and talked with a nice lady named Deanna. She listened patiently, then put me on hold for a moment. When she got back, she said, bewildered, that she had no idea why the previous person told me we would get nothing. We would receive what USAA calls "Additional Living Expenses", and quoted my policy:

PROHIBITED USE. If a civil authority prohibits you from use of the place where you reside as a result of direct damage to neighboring premises by a covered CAUSE OF LOSS we cover the ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSE or FAIR RENTAL VALUE loss as provided under 1. and 2. above, for no more than two weeks.

So we have to go back and collect up our receipts for those two weeks. But we're covered!

Moral of this story-- if you are a Katrina refugee, get a copy of your policy (you may have to download it from your insurance company's website), and if they tell you there will be less compensation than you think you deserve, nicely but firmly ask for a supervisor. The "we don't pay for that" phrase may just be a way for them to weed out the folks who will put up with paying for insurance that doesn't pay off when a disaster strikes. If you have USAA and you lived in Orleans parish, it seems that they will pay evacuation expenses.

Ben Franklin Bridge - 33:00

Not a bad run-- ran from the TRF office here on 7th and Arch, past the Mint, over the Bridge to Camden, New Jersey.

A little pain in the lower left calf. Style is good, I've really shortened up my stride and increased my cadence, and I'm striking mid-foot instead of on the heel.

Cloudy today. Listened to "Gilgamesh" on my MP3-- the ultimate running book-on-tape. There's a part where Inkidu is trying to convince Gilgamesh to go ahead and kill the monster Umbaba that makes you run faster.