Mary: August 2005 Archives



Thinking about the tremendous effort that will be required to clean up New Orleans, repair the damage, rebuild, and maybe build a new levee system. Would they rebuild the city without building a new and stronger system of levees and pumps? The only logical alternative would be to abandon the soup bowl altogether, it seems--but people aren't logical. They rebuilt San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906, after all.

In fact, rebuilding San Francisco was such a major task that it provided the work that brought my in-laws' ancestors to this country from England. Here's a snip from the family history, as told by a distant relative:

"Alice married Frederick in 1906 and they had 4 children. Now in 1906, Alice's oldest brother, Charles Henry, emigrated to San Francisco to help rebuild the City after the earthquake. He returned to England for a visit in 1923, the year his father died. He must have told his family compelling stories of life in San Francisco, because that same year two more of Alice's brothers traveled together to the US. The following year, Frederick & Alice and their 3 boys set sail for the US on the "Leviathan" - arriving in New York on August 12, 1924. Frederick gave his occupation as "Motor Engineer" and they listed Marlow as their last address in England."

Frederick is my son's great grandfather. I heard about those "compelling stories of life in San Francisco" from my father-in-law years ago. Charles Henry told his siblings that you could "pick fruit right off the trees" in California.

So did the rebuilding of San Francisco require more workmen than were available among the survivors? Will the same be true in New Orleans? I wonder how many construction workers will head down to the gulf coast in the months to come.



I thought New Orleans had escaped catastrophe when Katrina passed by to the east. Now it seems the water is still pouring in. It's hard to wrap the mind around the loss. How long will it take before the city is back on its feet again? How will they pump the water out? I feel sick about it.

Maybe I've missed it...


I haven't heard mention of any plans for Bush to visit New Orleans. Don't presidents always visit disaster areas?

and gone again :(


Well that was nice, but too brief. Mike was home for about 38 hours, total. He slept, unpacked, played with the dog, played on the computer, slept, did some laundry, repacked, and left for Charlottesville a couple of hours ago.

Now the summer is officially over, for me: Mike's back at school. This summer has been a whirlwind of travel, with Mike in China and me going here and there, a couple of times with very short stops at home in between trips. Unpack, do laundry, sleep, pack, head back to the airport.

Mike seems to lead a charmed life sometimes. He got in his car and it started right up. I don't understand it. Six weeks ago I'd have sworn it had a dead battery. What do I know? I've only owned and driven cars for, um, 37 years. Not only did his Saturn start, the Rodeo started too, without transmission problems. He drove down in the Rodeo today so he could take a TV and a bedframe and various other large items. He'll come back in a week or two and trade the Rodeo for the Saturn.

So, he'll be back for a weekend one or two weeks from now. :)

UPDATE: he called a while ago; he's back in Charlottesville, getting settled into a new apartment with his roommate-of-the-past-two-years, Joe.

I forgot to mention that Mike came home with a collection of 80 DVDs from China, which didn't get confiscated, and a new Dell laptop, which he didn't declare. While gone his ISP bill went 3 months overdue, and when he called to pay by credit card over the phone this morning he didn't get charged a late fee. The customer service rep cheerfully asked if he'd like to start the service up again. Charmed life, I'm tellin ya.

Mike's home :)


and he's sitting right next to me, playing World of Warcraft, lol.

I know much more now about his summer. I wish he'd blogged about all this, but he didn't think it was interesting. It may not be interesting to our readers, but it's certainly interesting to me.

He was never given the chance to take another placement test and change classes--nobody was. Contrary to what they'd been led to believe, there was never another evaluation done. So the tuition we paid to Columbia was a ripoff--he won't get credit for the classes. He wrote a scathing review of the program at the end of the summer.

He's not the only one. Only about half the kids in the program were from Columbia. The rest were from schools all over the country, Stanford, Yale, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Univ. of Michigan, even West Point. His class was a dumping ground for those non-Columbia students after the class he wanted to take was filled. No students from Columbia were in his class. He claims to speak much better Chinese than many of the Columbia students in the class he was supposed to take. Oh well.

He made a few good friends; one from the Univ. of Chicago, one from Princeton, and one from the Univ. of Georgia. Unfortunately he met them just a bit too late to accompany them on a trip to Tibet, bummer, but he has pictures from one of them, which I'll post if/when he gets around to uploading them.

He's been regaling me fairly continuously with accounts of life in China. For instance, we went out to lunch today, and he talked about eating in a restaurant in China. A waitress brings one menu for the table, then stands by the table waiting to take your order. She doesn't smile or greet customers. She doesn't get tips, so there's no reason for her to be friendly. If you ask her to recommend something, she'll shake her had no, or point to the first item on the menu. Each dish is brought when it's ready, so everyone gets their food at a different time. When the waitress leaves a dish at the table, no one thanks her.

Grocery stores: no fruit juice, and no cheese. Every part of every animal is sold in the butcher's section.

I noticed right away that he hadn't gotten a haircut over there. He wasn't willing to take a chance, even though haircuts cost only 45 cents.

We're hatching a plan to go to China and Tibet together during the summer after he graduates. Oh boy!

More later, with pictures, I hope.

laughing out loud...

| this thread by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. DO READ the comments.

well, that's a relief...

| | Comments (1)

Having heard this time and time again, I believed it. It makes me Very Happy to learn that it's not true. Mormon myth: The belief that the church is the fastest-growing faith in the world doesn't hold up

Thanks to Teresa over at Making Light, who linked to this on her page.

Chat with China

| | Comments (1)

Since Michael bought a laptop, installed AIM and moved into a room with an internet connection, he and I have been instant messaging rather than relying on the blog, so I decided I'd paste today's exchange here for our readers. As always, the conversation is disjointed, since we both type continuously without waiting for a response.

(07:43:07) me: You there by any chance?
(08:46:31) Michael: i am now
(08:46:34) Michael: heya mom
(08:46:39) me: hey hi!
(08:46:49) me: I'm just reading some blogs :)
(08:46:52) Michael: hehe
(08:46:55) me: Hey I saw your post :)
(08:46:59) Michael: oh, good!
(08:47:02) me: Saint's over at Joe's
(08:47:07) Michael: ya he told me
(08:47:10) me: He was so funny yesterday
(08:47:15) Michael: i wrote him an email asking how the move-in was
(08:47:20) me: He growled at Andrew--did Joe tell you?
(08:47:24) Michael: haha no
(08:47:28) Michael: what happened?
(08:47:29) me: Joe and his mom did the moving all by themselves
(08:47:38) Michael: wow O_O
(08:47:41) me: well, I didn't recognize Andrew--he walked over to me to shake my hand
(08:47:54) me: and I think Saint just picked up on my uncertainty about who he was
(08:48:02) Michael: lol!
(08:48:13) me: but then Joe came out of the house, and Saint took off like a rocket and pulled me across the street
(08:48:22) me: He jumped up on Joe--he looooooves Joe
(08:48:26) Michael: haha
(08:48:31) Michael: good im glad he likes him
(08:48:35) me: Then Joe took him inside and he and Jackson both went insane
(08:48:43) Michael: i cant wait to see my dog again =P
(08:48:45) Michael: (and you)
(08:48:48) me: :)
(08:48:59) me: I'm looking forward to your homecoming!
(08:49:06) Michael: ya, less than 2 weeks now
(08:49:09) Michael: amazing huh
(08:49:17) me: I bought some extra-long jumper cables, but I still haven't started your car, sorry :-/
(08:49:23) Michael: lol
(08:49:25) me: I'm leaving today for Arizona
(08:49:32) me: But my flight isn't until this afternoon
(08:49:37) Michael: ah
(08:49:45) Michael: wow ur doing a ton of traveling these days
(08:49:46) me: I thought it was this morning--then I looked at the itinerary again
(08:49:55) me: yeah I know :-P
(08:50:23) me: The gas bill last month was only $33, because the a/c is electric and I wasn't here much.
(08:50:49) Michael: lol
(08:50:58) me: I took the feet of the sofa over to Joe's house yesterday--did he tell you?
(08:51:03) Michael: nah
(08:51:10) Michael: his email was short
(08:51:10) Michael: heh
(08:51:22) me: Oh, I forged your signature on another form--your student recertification for the gov't checks. It had to be in by Aug 15.
(08:51:32) Michael: werd
(08:51:37) me: :)
(08:51:39) Michael: heh
(08:52:02) Michael: my language partner took me to a liquor shop today
(08:52:06) Michael: i saw jameson and thought of you haha
(08:52:19) me: lol omg that's funny. Did you tell him that?
(08:52:25) Michael: (her) ya
(08:52:31) Michael: i said you really liked it
(08:52:32) me: Everytime I see a handle of VG I think of you, mom...
(08:52:39) Michael: but that you liked cheaper stuff more haha
(08:52:43) Michael: LOL
(08:52:44) me: lol
(08:53:06) Michael: what an awful thought .. getting homesick and forcing myself to drink virginia gentleman lol
(08:53:12) me: lol
(08:53:18) Michael: "yuck .. tastes just like home"
(08:53:37) me: hey did you change your class schedule for the fall?
(08:53:41) Michael: nah
(08:53:46) Michael: im gonna see how the chips fall when i get there
(08:53:53) Michael: i can course action into any religion class i want
(08:53:56) me: you're still in chinese 301? ooh, scary
(08:53:56) Michael: so im not too worried
(08:54:11) me: you mean you're gonna try to stay in the class?
(08:54:20) Michael: well, i really have no idea
(08:54:25) Michael: i mean i came out of 1st year and sucked
(08:54:28) Michael: and i dont suck anymore
(08:54:39) Michael: so .. maybe i am ready? or maybe ill be behind but still manage
(08:54:42) me: but you don't know enough vocabulary, do you?
(08:54:43) Michael: who knows
(08:54:50) Michael: yeah i guess we'll see
(08:55:06) Michael: its too bad id probably test into like .. second semester second year
(08:55:12) me: yeah
(08:55:27) Michael: but i cant let it rust
(08:55:37) me: oh I know you can't.
(08:57:39) Michael: did you see they pushed back the release date on the 4th george rr martin book?
(08:57:41) me: I'm gonna take the laptop to Arizona--did I tell you?
(08:57:43) Michael: i was angry
(08:57:48) me: no I didn't. bummer!
(08:57:55) me: what's the new date?
(08:57:58) Michael: ya not until late november
(08:58:03) Michael: it was end of july
(08:58:20) me: oh, well I thought it was november all along
(08:58:21) Michael: i still have about half of the 3rd book left tho
(08:58:25) me: I didn't know it had been July
(08:58:32) Michael: ya it was july 31st
(08:58:51) me: There are supposedly going to be 6 books all together in the series
(08:58:56) Michael: ugh
(08:58:59) Michael: noOO
(08:59:10) Michael: this means like 4 years later ill still be wondering whats gonna happen
(08:59:20) me: I was talking to Liz about it, and she said it has taken the author many years to get this far
(08:59:29) me: I don't know when the first book was published
(08:59:35) me: oh well
(08:59:36) Michael: i just want Daenerys' dragons to get huge and wreck everything
(08:59:45) me: oh I'm sure they will!
(08:59:49) me: They'll save the day.
(08:59:55) me: I want to find out who Jon's mother was
(08:59:57) Michael: ya she seems like a good character
(09:00:00) Michael: yeah that too
(09:00:14) me: maybe he's got dragon blood in him, who knows?
(09:00:20) Michael: oo O_O
(09:00:25) Michael: wow good thought
(09:00:32) Michael: thatd be awesome ^^
(09:00:34) me: I'm thinking he might not really have been Ned's--he might have been Ned's sister's.
(09:00:40) me: She was raped, remember?
(09:00:44) Michael: yeah
(09:00:45) Michael: thats true
(09:00:54) me: And he made that promise to her, but we don't know what it was
(09:01:05) Michael: yeah
(09:01:08) Michael: oo good thought
(09:01:09) Michael: hehe
(09:01:12) me: So maybe he promised to keep Jon's parentage a secret, to protect him
(09:01:23) Michael: because he had some Targaeryn blood in him
(09:01:23) me: hehe--as you can tell I've given it waaaay too much thought
(09:01:27) Michael: oo good thought!!!!!
(09:01:28) me: exactly!
(09:01:54) Michael: see, i think less about stuff like that, but rather fantasize about what itd look like if 3 dragons swallowed Joffrey whole
(09:01:55) Michael: heh
(09:02:02) me: lol!!
(09:02:12) Michael: hes gonna get his
(09:02:19) Michael: i hope i dont have to wait until book 6
(09:02:32) Michael: for him to get his ass kicked by a righteous Stark or a dragon heh
(09:02:38) me: well, heh, I won't say anything--just keep reading
(09:02:46) Michael: oo^^
(09:02:58) Michael: im trying to save some of it for the plane back
(09:03:05) me: good idea :)
(09:03:17) Michael: because its impossible to buy english books here
(09:03:31) Michael: the other places with english menus are bars
(09:03:33) Michael: lol
(09:03:37) me: have you tried ordering from Amazon? I wonder if they ship to Beijing
(09:03:45) Michael: bartenders speak better english than professors
(09:03:51) Michael: nah, theres only 2 weeks left
(09:03:52) me: lol!!
(09:04:08) Michael: last night it was a friend of mines birthday
(09:04:17) Michael: and i ordered a fake absinthe and red bull drink lol
(09:04:26) me: fake absinthe?
(09:04:27) Michael: it was just licorice extract
(09:04:30) Michael: and vodka
(09:04:30) Michael: haha
(09:04:37) me: yuch!
(09:04:44) Michael: no it tasted good!
(09:04:46) Michael: hehe
(09:05:00) me: you must be desperate
(09:05:00) Michael: bars are funny
(09:05:17) Michael: i just make incredibly literal translations of drink names
(09:05:19) me: hey can I paste this exchange into the blog?
(09:05:20) Michael: like a white russian
(09:05:27) Michael: i call "a white colored person from russia"
(09:05:34) me: lol
(09:05:43) Michael: hehe, sure
(09:05:47) Michael: change my screen name tho
(09:05:52) me: :-D
(09:05:57) Michael: hehe
(09:06:04) me: well it just shows up as Michael
(09:06:09) Michael: ah you changed it
(09:06:13) Michael: yeah so did i
(09:06:13) Michael: heh
(09:06:14) me: and my screenname shows up as "me"
(09:06:16) Michael: ok thats fine then
(09:06:17) Michael: yeah
(09:06:20) Michael: you show up as "mom"
(09:08:38) Michael: annnyways
(09:08:44) Michael: you made me want to go read lol
(09:08:52) me: okay :)
(09:08:55) Michael: so im gonna pour a glass of wine and start reading :)
(09:09:00) Michael: have a safe flight, love you mom
(09:09:10) me: I've got a ton of stuff to do today. love you too :)
(09:09:17) Michael logged out.

We've had some other interesting exchanges, too, about shopping, language, what have you. Maybe I'll get Mike's permission and paste some of those later.

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