Drivel that cannot fit in a single panel comic.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Barnes and Noble website says Star Trek: Titan - The Red King is available. Why isn't it at my local store? I suppose I could order it off the website and wait for delivery but I want it now! I'll check the store this weekend.

This weekend I'll attempt to overcome one of my fears - quoting a price for my art. I will finally answer those e-mail inquiries regarding commercial use of my clip art.

I dislike placing a dollar value on my art. It is not the "art should not be contaminated by commerce" mentality that holds me back but rather a fear of rejection and/or ridicule. I'm afraid that the price I quote would prompt the prospective customer to say, "You want how much for this crap? No way!" Now the person did make an inquiry so I assume that they are willing to pay something for the use of the art. I hate guessing.

I need to overcome this if I want to make any kind of living as an artist.

I have looked at other clip art sites and checked on their prices.

I've been working on some ideas for marketing my art. I need to write them down and place a plan in motion. I'll talk to Walter about this. If I want to do something - I make the time. It is time for me to do something about my career.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

According to Barnes and Noble's website, Star Trek Titan - The Red King is scheduled for release on September 27th. I went to my local Barnes and Noble yesterday and did not find it on the shelf. I will go again after work and before my meeting and see if it appears today. I should recheck the website to verify the release date.

You know it was damn hot in your city when CNN Headline News mentions it. Bryan reached 103 degrees F yesterday. Today it will be a bit cooler at 100. The weather service predicts a cold front coming in and lowering temperatures to the mid 80's.

I need to review my grammar and brush up on my writing skills. I know this is just a blog but I don't want to be a part of the decline in language. Bad enough that some poorly designed website use my clip art; I don't want to add poor writng to my cyber-sins. I feel compelled to keep more formal writing alive on the internet. Reader comprehension is a bonus.

The above text translated to 12 year old AOL user:

Translator URL -

Monday, September 26, 2005

Which Monty Python sketch character are you?
You are the Abuse Clerk. You dish out verbal abuse all day long as the customer keeps paying. AAH, what satisfying work!
You are the Abuse Clerk! You dish out verbal (and
some physical!) abuse all day long as
the customer keeps payin'! Aaah...such
satisfying work!

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, September 25, 2005

This weekend I watched two DVD movies, A Shark Tale and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Both movies included Sir Mix-a-Lot's, "Baby Got Back". That song has really gotten around.

Sir Mix-a-Lot's song has an important message, whether black or white, gay or straight, male or female, we all like big butts.

This week I ran 19.26 miles, burned 2,337.5 calories and weigh 162.2 pounds. I ran 5K on Monday in 35:37, 4 miles on Wednesday in 45:04, 5K on Thursday in 34:18 and 8 miles on Friday in 1:33:00. Tuesday I did 228 Hindu Squats, 24 Hindu Push Ups and held a Back Bridge with hand support and my nose touching the mat for 33 seconds.

Goofy spam names and Zen Koans:
Grandfathered H. Christs
your willingness
Tea love dogs! Very love;)
A child waits for you
No trees were harmed in the making of this floor.
Original opposed to our genuine reeplica = the same.
Depo Yonetime ve Lojistik Egitim Seminerleri - Izmir
Welcoming good products web.
View cruel
Authentic Non-Authentic Zone.
breathtaking supplies. army
Completes range of famous repliica.
Truly healing results!
Desire Tudors? Eshop instantly.
top supply zone. nicholas
Wesley want to take the dog
Sara love horse! (in the ZOOFEVER exlusive) only! tutored
Sara love horse! (in the ZOOFEVER exlusive) only! mobster
Polka dots are okay on clowns, not curtains.
Sara love horse! (in the ZOOFEVER exlusive) only! illogical

None of my family's homes received any damage. My mother has power but no water. My aunt and uncle have water but no power, my father has no power and is staying with someone that does have power. My sister has no power.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I got in touch with almost everyone. I left a message with my dad. Everyone is fine. They are without power and there are a lot of downed limbs and trees.

My mother is going to check on her house. I'm a bit concerned about the debris from her neighbors damaging her house. The people across the street have the stereotypical redneck yard complete with a working vehicle and a two non-working vehicles of the same model that serve as parts cars. Last time I visited I thought about taking pictures and sending it to Blue Collar TV for their redneck yard photo contest. One of the cars was being protected by a discarded mattress.

We have clouds. No rain. A little bit of wind. A free three day weekend.

If my mom needs help cleaning up I'll take some time off and go down there.

My town has about 8,000 in shelters and another several thousand in homes and hotels. The city leaders are trying to manage the exodus.

A couple of links to a sad dog story:

Since everything I had to do got cancelled I'm having difficulty with the free time. I could use this time to draw or work on my clip art CD or clean up my e-mail box or answer some e-mails or do the dishes or laundry or clean the bird cage or clean the house or pull weeds from the flower beds or many other things that I now have time to do but I don't feel like doing anything.

Maybe a meal and a walk will get me out of my funk.

I'm glad that my family is okay so far.

Friday, September 23, 2005

My sister did not make it very far. She was on the road for 9 hours and only made it a distance that is usually covered in an hour or less. She turned back and will be riding it out at my dad's house.

On the current track my family may not get hit as hard as previously predicted but power most likely will be lost and there will be damaging winds, rains and tornadoes.

I'm being a bit of a lazy bum. I updated my website. For some reason I could not bring myself to do last night. Got caught up in watching MXC. I couldn't take any more Rita coverage.

I ran this morning - it was a great run and I felt really strong. For some parts of the run it felt like I was gliding.

Dog training and adoption has been cancelled for tomorrow. I'm going to arrange for Lola to meet a potential adopter sometime this weekend or next week.

After taking a nap this morning, I ate breakfast and watched more news. I still did not feel like doing much but decided that getting dressed would help motivate me.

I've been thinking about Objectivism a bit lately. I find it amusing how much the cold reality of natural disasters is bitch slapping the heck out of this philosophy. Objectivism is great on paper. I even thought it was the great thing that would help humanity achieve its potential but then I grew up. In my opinion advocating Objectivism after the age of 35 is a sign of either immaturity or employment at the Ayn Rand Institute. I wonder if self-interest is an acceptable reason not show up at work at the Ayn Rand Institute? Something tells me that the Ayn Rand Institute would be a lousy place to work. Salary and benefit negotiations would certainly be a bitch.

The flaw in Objectivism is that a substantial portion of the population is stupid and the invisible hand of the market cannot cull the stupid fast enough to prevent chaos.

I have a shallow understanding of Objectivism. I'm sure it would make more sense if I really studied Ayn Rand's works but I have a life and sleeping pills to take care of my occasional bouts of insomnia.

Goofy spam names and Zen koans:
Lactose Intolerance: Who's at Risk? (tonight on Channel 13 News at 10:00)
Chagrin T. Swampier
savvings precise judicature
give your partner more pleasure
When it comes to refinancing, there really is no time like the present.
Activate your super human abilities without effort - new technology! (I don't know, what if my super human abilities are useless?)
Make talk a reality with a second mortgage quote.
Medical insurance helps you take care.
Unbelievable Mortgages for Americans (Believable Mortgages for Non-americans)
my white teeth
Guaranteed to Get You Up and Keep You Going (A kick in the butt in a bottle)
Help the UN cultivate peace; Free bracelet today (Wear a bracelet and a war lord or brutal dictator loses his weapons)
Amount Higher Than Expected
It's the perfect time to visit New England (It would be great if I could get a flight out)
Samuri stock Info (So that is what happened to the Samuri)
Fix your situation Kenneth
Discover Reality Dressing at Spiegel...a collection for every woman, every age
Flowers can say what words cannot express.
Hot chick, ready for you
Very Urgently
You will love this watch...
Buying American: Houses!
I am still waiting for your urgent response
It likely will be the last day the 50-year-old federal appeals court judge appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- and the last chance for Democrats to press him on a range of hot-button issues (This was the subject line of some spam promoting cheap Rolex watches - this person needs a beating. It would be in my self interest to beat this person.)

Actual Zen:
"Before enlightenment chopping wood, carrying water
After enlightenment chopping wood, carrying water."
Zen Proverb

Thursday, September 22, 2005

My sister is headed to Dallas to stay with our brother. He's going to call me when he hears from her or when she arrives. It is a 5 hour trip under the most favorable conditions.

I've been trying to call and the lines have been busy.

Walter bought some supplies and will get some more later today. It is projected that we will get 75 mph winds.

I look out my office window and see blue sky and sunny weather. The high temperature is going to be 101F.

We will be moving computers to an interior office before leaving.

The buildings on campus are solid. The third floor will be covering their equipment because the roof leaks and the basement will move theirs to "higher ground"

The waiting is making me anxious.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thanks to Rita, my workplace will be closed on Friday.

I'm suppossed to take in an additional foster dog from the Houston SPCA. I haven't heard anything yet. It is taking hours to get out of the Houston area.

I hope my sister and her boys decide to come up and crash at my place. According to the projected path my area will get some nasty weather but not nearly as nasty as the coast. At the very least, I'm sure she will go to our aunt's house. I'm expecting a call in the morning.

I hope my mother, aunt and uncle change their minds about riding Rita out. They are 70 miles inland but this is a category 5. In 1983 they got hit pretty hard by Alicia and she was a category 3. At least my mother will be at her sister's house rather than her mobile home.

It is the waiting that is bothering me.

Walter stocked up on some supplies and will get some more tomorrow.

I'm going to attempt an extremely early run on Friday morning. If I had to go to work Friday, I would not consider it but since Texas A&M will be closed, I can suck it up and then go home, shower and go back to bed. 5:00 AM! Whew!

To anyone who says this is yet another punishment from God, please shut up. Houston has a gay community but it also has Joel Osteen. This is going to hit the righteous and unrighteous.

Despite some of my doubts and jokes I do believe in the power of prayer and positive thoughts. Please send some to Texas.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Goofy spam names and Zen koans:
best goods families portray
Neal N. Church (funny!)
There's Nothing Like a Hot Oil Penny Stock
Realize total and absolute power and domination in bed with your partner (Once you achieve that then take on the world!)
complete stocks bodyguard
Damien H. Ash
To make textile product for you to save your cost. (Small Q'ty is OK)(all)
To make various parts for you to save your cost. (Small Q'ty is OK)(all)
The perfect companion for your digital camera. (Great now my stuff is receiving dating site spam!)
Morsel C. Elopements
Linda, Does a 6 Figure Income Scare You?
A wife drinking piss inn this movie from Bra
Virgin mantrap for serious people
Imagine your neighbor family having sex altogether in a quiet summer evening.
every one is going for this now chartreuse

Thanks to Cox I had to update this morning rather than last night.

A Dish Network salesman was cruising our neighborhood saying that Cox was going all digital and would not make equipment available to those with analog equipment to view the digital content.

Walter had more questions for the saleman and he wanted me there as well. The salesman said he would return. He never did. I guess the saleman did not feel like answering questions.

Salesmen hate Walter because he asks questions and can do math. The credit card telemarketers really hate him and his ability to do math.

On the other hand, I'm not as incredulous and can be too polite in turning people away. That is why the Jehovah's Witnesses keep coming back. The Watchtower makes a fine bird cage liner but there has to be a better way to obtain copies. The Watchtower is just the right size for Salvador's cage.

I do have a certain admiration for Jehovah's Witnesses. They persist in going door to door and are still nice to people who are not at their best. I've answered the door many times wearing droopy boxer shorts and a t-shirt and my hair a mess. Once, I noticed that I was scratching an itch located on a body part that I would not scratch in public. I was in my house - scratching in inappropriate places is one of the privileges of being in your own space. The JWs were on the porch, they were not yet in my space. They were only taking my time. The JW's just talked, smiled, offered to pray for me and resupplied Salvador with bird cage liner.

The JWs persist in this door to door thing despite some of the ruder tactics people use to get rid of them - perhaps it is not so much as service to their God but something they do for their own amusement. Maybe their worship services consist of sharing the funny things they saw and heard while canvassing neighborhoods.

Do Jehovah's Witnesses have some kind of JW radar? Has a Jehovah's Witness ever knocked on the door of another Jehovah's Witness? Do the Jehohavah's Witnesses ever knock on the door of Mormans or is there some kind of professional courtesy at work here?

Surely, Google can help me find the answers to these questions. Maybe even a JW with a sense of humor. I've met several JWs in a non-door to door context and they all have been quite nice and possess a sense of humor about their religion.

Being able to laugh at your own religion without condemnation is a hallmark of a "good" religion.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I look different. After church I was going to have the oil in my car changed and get a haircut. Maybe even do something about the gray. The oil change place was closed so I got a color and a cut.

Hair coloring is not as an exact science as I thought. My hair is now a dark coppery brown. It does not match the color sample the stylist showed me. The color sample that she claimed most closely matched my actual non-gray hair color. Perhaps the lighting was poor or she was color blind or both. My hair has never been a coppery dark brown. I have ample photographic evidence.

It will take some time getting used to it. Next time I should plan further ahead and bring a photo of myself with my natural hair color.

I did want to experiment with a darker tone when I was ready. I guess I'm ready now.

Walter reacted well to the color.

I need to post a picture.

This week's book:
Sugar Buzz: Your Ticket to Happiness
Sugar Buzz: Your Ticket to Happiness

Saturday, September 17, 2005

This week I ran 17.19 miles, burned 2,172.8 calories and weigh 163 pounds.

Monday I ran 5K in 37:01, Wednesday I ran 4 miles in 46:23, Thursday I ran 5K in 34:57 and Saturday I ran 6 miles in 1:19:00

Tuesday I did 100 Hindu Squats, 19 Hindu Push-ups and held a Back Bridge with hand support for 20 seonds. Friday I did 188 Hindu Squats, 19 Hindu Push-ups and held a Back Bridge with hand support for 40 seconds. Friday's workout I really got into a meditative zone. Moving the stretching before the calisthenics helped.

Lola ran with me on the 6 mile run. She did quite well. She rested for about 20 minutes in the car, while I took a shower at the gym then we went to training and she ran and played as if she had not run 6 miles. She runs slow but so do I. I need to work on a better watering method for her. She won't be accompanying me on too many more long runs because of the distance and time it takes me to run would conflict with dog training. I'll have Walter drop her off at training and the Woodstock folks can take her to adoption when the mileage increases to that point.

My right calf is sore. Maybe I can talk Walter into giving me a leg massage tonight.

Lola and I will sleep well tonight.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Boy, I'm getting things done early. I went to bed at 9:30 last night. It looks like I'll be doing the same tonight.

I woke up at midnight to pee, otherwise I got a good night's sleep.

Now, I need to learn not to hit the snooze button so many times. For the past two weeks I've hit it two times. This morning I hit the button three times. I'm trying to get it down to one hit. I need that nine minutes to transistion from sleep to awake so unless I'm on fire I will not get up immediately after the alarm goes off.

Spam Zen koans:

I've got my spine. I've got my Orange Crush.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

Walter cleaned the kitchen and washed the clothes. The kitchen looks great.

Spam Zen koans:
chew bran
found a better solution injudicious

I got everything done and still can go to bed early!

Hooray Beer!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This week I ran 17.31 miles, burned 2,220.1 calories and weigh 163.3 pounds.

I started running with Gold's Gym Marathon training. This is in preparation for the Austin Marathon on February 19. Two days before my 37th birthday.

I ran 5K in 32:50, 5 miles in 51:48 and 59:00. I forgot to record my time for Monday's 5K.

I really need to pay more attention to what I eat.

Lola has achieved her Level One Manners Training. She can sit, lay down, shake and is housebroken and controllable on a leash. She also comes when called. If you live within an 1 hour drive of Bryan/ College Station, Lola can be adopted via

This week's book:
The Book of Sick
The Book of Sick

I'm going to do the Sunday Crossword at the Houston Chronicle website then it is bedtime. I like living on the edge.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The team from church that drove the U-Haul to Baton Rouge arrived back in College Station yesterday safe and sound. The trip was longer than they anticipated because of road construction and police.

According to reports the collection point in Baton Rouge was very grateful for the items. They had a warehouse full of clothes and very little else. It took 8 people 2-1/2 hours to unload the truck. The supplies were going to a suburb south of Baton Rouge. A decent amount of cash was also left in Baton Rouge.

The truck was left at a Baton Rouge U-Haul facility per the instructions of U-Haul in College Station. The U-Haul in Louisiana was glad to take the truck. They have none.

I need to get the two-way radios that the team borrowed.

A screen shot of the Bush Administration disaster list (from The Daily Show):

For those with poor vision, the list:
Major Disasters of the Bush Administration
Abu Graib (check), Bin Laden (check), Chalabi (check), Deficit (check), Enron (check), Failure to find WMDs (check), Halliburton (check), Iraq (check), John Bolton (check), Katrina (check), Locusts, Mars attacks, North Korea, Osama and Jenna, Pregnancy: Osama and Jenna, Queer revolt, Rodents of unusual size, Syrian War, Tigers, Unicyclists - Nuclear, Voldemort, WWIII, X-Rated tape: Osama and Jenna, Yam shortage, Zero people left on Earth

This list is a parody of the list of hurricane names that the National Hurricane Center releases before each hurricane season. Here is the 2005 list (Atlantic):
Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma

Ophelia is spinning around off the east coast of the United States. Katrina will be retired.

For more information check out

Walter could be used in 2010 (Atlantic) and Linda could be used for a Eastern North Pacific name in 2009.

I'm waiting for a hurricane Dakota, Destiny, Madison or Sheniqua. Jesse Jackson would get his panties in a bunch over that last one.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yesterday afternoon, I volunteered at church to man the donation point for Katrina victims.

The truck is going to Baton Rouge. I don't feel like working right now because the logistics are kind of up in the air. This is distracting. Later this afternoon, I will be taking the truck to U-Haul to be checked out and see if it is worthy to drive 375 miles. There might be some extra unloading and reloading.

I'm actually taking the afternoon off but I'll be even busier between a meeting and dealing with this truck.

When I was a part-time retail slave I thought nothing about taking long road trips with minimal planning. Of course none of these road trips involved 2 tons of relief supplies. One road trip did involve me sleeping in the open bed of a pick up truck while it sped up Interstate 35. I was younger and felt much less mortal.

Walter met a couple from New Orleans, while he was at work. They are staying in some of the long-term housing. They said that they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Texas. The couple are musicians and are looking to replace some equipment. This couple apparently is one of the better off people from New Orleans, they offered some money to the people providing the housing but it was refused.

Similar sentiments have been expressed about Texas' generosity and hospitality in the newspapers and other media.

Several refugees have decided to call Bryan/ College Station their new home.

One of the cool side effects of our church's work with the Salvation Army/ United Way is the mention of our church on mainstream radio and television. I was thrilled to hear the name of my church on a radio station that I actually listen to. There are many people who need to hear the Unitarian-Universalist message who do not listen to public/ community radio. They need to know we are here.

In my church when the subject of radio advertising comes up - it is always let's advertise on KAMU/ KEOS. Yeah, the cost is small and it targets the kind of people who might like our message but our church has preached to what we percieve as our choir but yet they don't come or they visit once and are never seen again. I say, lets spend some extra money and get our message out to more people. We need to stop making assumptions about who would enjoy our church and who wouldn't.

People in our church do feel a bit isolated from the rest of the community because their beliefs are a bit out of the mainstream of our community. We connect to each other but in a lot of ways we have isolated ourselves from the community at large. I'm hoping this Salvation Army/ United Way project will be the first of many events that connects us to the larger community and spreads goodwill about the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Update: a new team has been assembled to take the truck to Baton Rouge. Walter will provide them with two-way radios for the trip. Some members of the church has generously chipped in for gas.

Right now, I'm unusually tired. I went grocery shopping while tired, sweaty, crampy and hungry. I've dealt with 3/4 of the list. I'm going to bed early and will see the truck off in the morning.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The state of Texas has taken in nearly a 1/4 million Hurricane Katrina refugees. Our, Governor Rick Perry (Aggie and possessor of the finest head of hair among the governors of all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories) has declared that Texas shelters are near full capacity and has started airlifting people to other states.

Governor Perry (well-coifed Aggie) has busted the myth circulating among those opposed to population control that the entire world's population can live in the state of Texas.

Texas is nearly full. We cannot house the entire world's population. Use condoms.

In case, you are skeptical of the fineness of the locks of the Governor of Texas, take a gander at the photo I've posted. Do a Google image search and you will find that our Governor is always well-coifed regardless of the situation.

I challenge residents of other U.S. states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to attempt to prove that the Governor of the great state of Texas is not the most well-coifed Governor from among the 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

Texas may rank at the bottom in many respects but damn, our Governor has great hair.

This week I ran 20.25 miles, burned 2382.5 calories and weigh 163.2 pounds. So far this year, I have ran 527.19 miles and burned 65,390.5 calories.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm volunteering at the Salvation Army's collection center that has been set up at church. There might be a road trip. I had no idea that being able to drive a standard transmission was such a valuable skill.

One of the TV stations talked about our collection on the 10:00 news. There was a brief clip of me talking about our mission and how this ties into it. I attempted to tie this to our first UU principle because that was the first thing that came to mind when asked. It came off well, I think.

I have a deep voice.

I'm tall, I have a deep voice and I'm married to a man named Walter. Holy crap! I'm Maude! Thankfully, my life is nothing like a Norman Lear sitcom. Otherwise, I would have to kill myself or others. I could not take all the shouting. I would do whatever was necessary to stop the shouting.

I'm an INFP (Meyers-Briggs personality type) and this type wants a kinder and gentler world and will kill if necessary to make that happen.

To close this entry - this week's book:

The Red King (Star Trek Titan Series), Vol. 2
The Red King (Star Trek Titan Series), Vol. 2

I'm eagerly anticipating Sept. 27 - the day when this book hits the shelves.

Friday, September 02, 2005

To those who are claiming that Katrina is a message and/or punishment from God because of the sins of the Gulf Coast, kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Do you think God, the creator of all things, is not capable of performing surgical strikes? Man has weapons capable of destroying my house without destroying my neighbors.

There is talk about a festival, that was going to take place this week in New Orleans, celebrating homosexuality and how God sent the hurricane to put a stop to it. I think God is capable of telling time. If He wanted to send a message I think He would have sent the hurricane during the actual festival. This week not last week. God works in mysterious ways, I guess.

Men have signed treaties against corporate punishment and retribution (i.e. punishing the whole population of a place for the actions of a few). Man has declared it a "war crime". Check the Geneva Convention. Do you believe that a compassionate God is a war criminal? In the Old Testament, when God destroyed places He spared the righteous.

Of course, God is above men and should not be judged by men's standards even if God, according to some of his believers, is not capable of doing things that his creation has mastered. I believe God is the best in us not the worst.

It is human nature to want an explanation for things but there is no reason that Katrina landed where it did. Just weather conditions and dumb luck. The suffering in the aftermath is man's fault.

So please STFU and help and uplift your fellow human and stop draining marshes. God put them there for a reason.


"Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the
beaten. And seeing them, he cried, 'Great God, how is it that a loving
creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?' God said, I
did do something. I made you."
- Sufi Teaching

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Walked 3,664 steps/ 2.74 kilometers.

Bryan - College Station is hosting a fair number of Katrina refugees. There are three shelters and several collection points. The Unitarian-Universalist Church will be one of the collection points Saturday - Monday.

Our schools, charities and social services are dealing with evacuees.

Here is an article I read about in another forum. It is a non-hysterical criticism of the handling of the situation in New Orleans.

The Bush administration has been staggeringly ineffectual in its response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in New Orleans. Its failures are painful evidence of how far we have to go in developing the capability to respond rapidly to a mass-casualty disaster. The president's statement this afternoon set the tone. Rather than direct the U.S. military to immediately assist the thousands of people without food or water in the city center, Bush assured the nation that expected gasoline shortages would be temporary and that his father and former President Clinton were ready to pass the tin can to ensure private-sector support for rebuilding New Orleans. As people began dying around the Convention Center, and Mayor RayNagin resorted to issuing a pathetic SOS over CNN, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff spoke empathetically of the suffering of the people in NewOrleans. But somehow he seemed proud that 72 hours after the hurricane hit, only 2,800 National Guardsmen had come to the city. The number is about to reach12,000 by tomorrow. That is awfully late for the people stranded there. Yet Lt.Gen. Russel Honoré, who is commanding the military component of Washington's response, pleaded for patience from the people of New Orleans, promising that the U.S. Army was "building the capability" to help them. Building the capability? How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? Interms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between aterrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of acity uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of NewOrleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for histarget. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort offorced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow. Chertoff's Department of Homeland Security demonstrated today that it couldorganize an impressive press conference in Washington, lining up everyparticipating civilian or military service from the Coast Guard to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promise its cooperation. But on the ground inLouisiana, where it counts, DHS is turning out to be the sum of its inefficient parts. The department looks like what its biggest critics predicted: a new level of bureaucracy grafted onto a collection of largely ineffectual under-agencies. What has DHS been doing if not readying itself and its subcomponents for a likely disaster? The collapse of a New Orleans levee has long led a list ofworst-case urban crisis scenarios. The dots had already been connected. Over the last century, New Orleans has sunk 3 feet deeper below sea level. With each inch, pressure grows along the levees. Meanwhile the loss of wetlands and the shrinking of the Gulf Coast's barrier islands have reduced the natural protection from hurricane winds. The weakness of the levees was underscored in a 2002 wide-ranging exploration of New Orleans' hurricane vulnerability by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, one of many grimly vindicated Cassandras. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which built the levees and continues to manage them, told the paper then that there was little threat of a levee's collapse. But the corps admitted that its estimates were 40 years old and that no one had bothered to update them. The response to Katrina thus far indicates two flaws in the Bush administration's thinking about homeland security. The federal government hasn't learned how to plan for a tragedy that demands putting a city on sustained life-support, as opposed to a one-moment-in-time attack that requires recovering the dead and injured from debris and then quickly rebuilding. And DHS appears unwilling to plan for the early use of the U.S. military to cope with a civilian tragedy. Presidential administrations have perennially underestimated the difficulty of the latter task. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy's top aide, Kenneth O'Donnell, thought it would be easy to deploy troops rapidly to defend James Meredith when he was attacked by segregationists while trying to enroll as the University of Mississippi's first black student. "If the President of theUnited States calls up and says, 'Get your ass down there,' " O'Donnell said, "I would think they'd be on a fucking plane in about five minutes." Kennedy made that call. But then, in spite of O'Donnell's prediction, he watched infrustration as the army dithered for hours before deploying to Oxford, Miss. The Kennedy administration thus learned that the army must be told in advance what to do. As a matter of law and preference, the military does little training for domestic missions. It balks and mutters about posse comitatus, the legal principle that prohibits the use of the army for law enforcement, and leaves the hard work for the National Guard and state and local authorities. This has made sense most of the time. But in an era when we are supposed to be better prepared for an urban disaster, the tradition of allowing local and state authorities to be overwhelmed before the federal government and military step in should have been rethought. Located only three hours from New Orleans is Fort Polk, home of the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry unit with about 3,000 soldiers. Also at Fort Polk is the Joint Readiness Training Center, which prepares military units to respond rapidly to crises abroad. The 4th Brigade has been training for duty in Afghanistan. Why was it also not ready to take on a local disaster scenario in hurricane season? Or at the least, once the National Hurricane Center predicted that the eye of Katrina would come close to NewOrleans, couldn't DHS have deployed the military to help shore up the levees? And in the event of a WMD attack, when there would likely be no warning at all, what is DHS's contingency plan for moving into position the army or the marines to restore order and sustain life? In the wake of Katrina and the breached levee, the answer seems to be not much of one. In the wake of 9/11, that is worse than incomprehensible. It is unforgivable.