Wednesday, November 28, 2001

In a couple of hours I'll be flying for the first time since September 11. I'm not nervous about the flight, but I am anxious about the situation in the airports (going from San Jose to Phoenix) - how much hassle it will be, how long the delays will be, etc.

Saturday morning I'll fill you in on the adventure, and anything learned.

(Weather forcast: Days in Phoenix/Tempe area are ten degrees warmer than San Jose - Nights are ten degrees cooler. Outlook: Sunny.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Today's Mercury News included an empty grocery bag with instructions to fill it with "nutritious, non-perishable foods" and bring it to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The paper included the following note from the Publisher:
"Dear Reader,

"The economic downturn and events following the Sept. 11 attack have affected many people in the Bay Area. There's an easy way for you to help those with the greatest needs..." (Read the rest of the note)
I want to thank the Mercury News, and congratulate them on this meaningful show of community leadership.

In other news, I neglected to comment on the latest results from the Microsoft anti-trust suits. The software behemoth has agreed to donate software and used computers to low-income schools as part of its bid to not be broken into several smaller companies. Before anybody jumps for joy over the donations, consider what "used computers" means. Support, anybody?

Let's see... Microsoft's "punishment" for monopolistic practices is to place their software into schools, one of the few markets where Apple still has dominance. What's next? Punishing Peeping Toms by sending them to nudist camps?

Monday, November 26, 2001

In case you needed any more proof, Economic Panel Says U.S. Has Been in a Recession Since March. Now all those people who are out of work, and those of us who were lucky enough to find new jobs (at less pay than we had last year), can stop blaming ourselves. (That was meant to sound sarcastic, by the way).

Well, the weekend is over, the in-laws have gone home, it's another busy week at work, and it's damn cold outside. At least it stopped raining, but winter has definitely arrived. I think I need a new coat.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I haven't posted since Wednesday. It's been an emotional and important few days with my in-laws, and I'm going to see if I can describe some of what's been going on, without invading their privacy too much.

My sister-in-law (my wife's younger sister) has been estranged from their parents for about six or seven years. Until this last Wednesday, it had been nearly three years since they'd even been in the same room. She lives about half-an-hour from us, in Santa Cruz. The parents live down in Malibu (about 400 miles). We (Leslie & I) have been in touch with her sister all along, and have in some situations been stuck in the middle, messenger, position.

The sister and parents began communicating again by letter only a few months ago (before 9/11). After 9/11, Leslie and I decided to try inviting all of them to have Thanksgiving with us, just to see if we could get them altogether.

The sister declined the Thanksgiving invitation, but it led to two invitations from her: For us all to have brunch in Santa Cruz with her on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, and for the parents to join her at her counseling session on Friday (yesterday) to discuss their problems.

We were all nervous going into Wednesday's brunch, but it went very well, and by the end everybody seemed genuinely relaxed and pleased to be with each other. This was the first time the sister and the parents had been together in nearly three years, and their first communication that wasn't by short, written notes. As we left the cafe, the sister sounded very sincere as she apologized for not being able to join us on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Leslie, her parents, one of friends with no local family, and I all had a great Thanksgiving dinner with much laughter, but the Friday session was, of course, on our collective minds.

Leslie & I drove her parents back to Santa Cruz on Friday and dropped them off at the counseling session. We drove out to West Cliff, overlooking the beach, and spent that very long hour watching the surfers. When we met them again, outside the counselor's, the three of them looked like a family again, and were continuing to talk, and even smile.

We first all went to the sister's house (the parents had never seen it), then to the Saturn Cafe, where we sat, talked, laughed, had a small snack, and just hung out together, as a family, for a couple of hours beyond the scheduled meeting.

Today's plan was for the sister to come over here, to Los Gatos, to meet us all for brunch - an additional meeting, not in the original plan. Right now, however the rain is coming down in buckets and there's a powerful wind, so I'm not sure if she'll make it. It's only 25 miles from here to Santa Cruz, but the mountainous stretch of Highway 17 that separates us earned its nickname "The Haunted Highway" from people crossing it in weather like this. Hopefully, it will let up in the next hour or two and allow this reunion to continue.

Whether or not we do all get together today, the last few days have been an historic event for the family. It doesn't solve all the problems, but it makes broad steps towards a reconciliation that has, at times, seemed an impossible dream. And that's my Thanksgiving story.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

"Give thanks. Then give."

What do you call the day after Thanksgiving? It's a Friday that most of us get off as a holiday, but what holiday is it? That question has finally been answered as the Holiday formerly known as "the Friday after Thanksgiving" has been christened "Giving Day."

"Continue the spirit of Thanksgiving by celebrating Giving Day," the Giving Day website suggests. They don't tell you what to give, or to whom, but give ideas on how your time, money, old furniture, and commitment can help for some cause you believe in.

They explain the new "holiday" in three easy steps:
· Step One: Make a Giving Day Commitment - Do that today by thinking about what causes are important to you, and how you could help this week. Write down your commitment on your to-do list for Friday.
· Step Two: Begin on Thanksgiving - Get the word out by sharing your commitment and the concept of Giving Day with your family and friends over Thanksgiving dinner. Don't be shy, remember how appropriate this is on Thanksgiving.
· Step Three: Follow Through - On Friday write that check, or sign up for those volunteer hours, or drop that old stuff at Goodwill, or whatever else you committed to.

In the spirit of Giving Day, I'm challenging everybody who reads this to call their local food bank and find out what they still need for Thanksgiving, then bring it to them today. I just dropped off a 20 pound turkey on Saturday, and may try to do another drop today.

Find out more and get ideas on how to celebrate Giving Day: Giving Day (.org)

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

You perform a selfless act one day. While asleep that night, the "powers that be" grant you a reward. You are allowed to be a witness to three events, anywhere, at any time – any three events you wish. What are they?

Well, that's an interesting journal prompt. I don't know if the scenario is very believable - usually when I think about such things it's more the result of magical powers, I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched style - but I'll take a stab at it.

· The signing of the Declaration of Independence (Remember that not everybody signed it on July 4, 1776 - It traveled around with people adding signatures for years. So, I'll have to travel around with it).

· The first moon landing (Of course, to witness it properly, I'd have to already be there on the moon, beating Neal Armstrong to the punch - That's one big step for Ken!).

· The assassination of John F. Kennedy (I want to arrive a couple of hours early, set up some video cameras pointed at some key locations, and find out what really happened).

And now, the news:
Family Counts Cost of U.S. Food Aid 'Bomb' - US Aid package crashes through roof of home: "We'll do a test and feed it to the chickens first and then see if we can eat it."

Monday, November 19, 2001

Yesterday my brother, Miles, and I went to the Auto Show in SF. No, I'm not buying a car at this time, it's just a "guy thing" to go to the auto show and pretend. Attendance was good, but not as strong as previous years. Whether it was because of the economy - people can't afford to even fantasize about new cars? - or because of terrorism - they're afraid to be in public spaces? - I can only guess. But their loss was our gain, as we were able to get into all the cars of our choice without fighting any crowds.

A few notes:

Cadillac - What the hell's wrong with these people? Of course, I was never one to fantasize about Cadillacs to begin with, but damn these things are getting ugly. Luxury cars that have the front end and grillwork of a truck? I don't think so.

Chevy, Pontiac, Buick - Crap! It's not just Cadillac, it's the whole GM family that's emphasizing the front grill, doubling the size of the logo, and looking uglier than ever. GMC has taken over the corporation, and there's nothing that isn't truck-like anymore. No wonder Oldsmobile was the line they cut: no trucks. - Bad news: Chevy's not going to make the Camaro Z28 after this year. I'll have to buy one - not as a mid-life crisis car, but as an investment: it's sure to be collector's item.

Acura: I used to think of Acura's as just overpriced, dressed up Hondas (not that Honda isn't overpriced on its own), but I did sit in a little RXS that got me rather excited.

Saturn: Ignoring their new SUV (which, for an SUV, isn't so bad), I was pleased with their lack of changes for the coming year. A good product that's still looking like an excellent value. I'm not ready to trade in my '98 SL2, but I would consider owning another Saturn if I did.

Mazda: Zoom, zoom. That Miatta is one highly affordable little sports car. If I'm going to have a mid-life crisis and buy a two-seater, this would fit the bill without breaking the bank. Something to think about.

VW: I've owned two VWs in the past (an '84 Jetta and a '94 Fox), and would enjoy getting into another. At this display I was fantasizing a Jetta for Leslie and a Passat for myself.

Audi: Of course the little TT is another great mid-life crisis car, but the whole line appealing. If you want to buy me a car for the holidays, anything Audi will do - from the smallest to the largest.

Chrysler: Leslie likes the PT Cruiser, and this was my first opportunity to get in one and check it out up close. I must say I was pleased, which doesn't always happen when I look at Chryslers.

BMW: With all the emphasis in this show that was put on SUVs and other truck-like vehicles, and other stupid design choices, I must say that BMW is one company that still gets it. Yes, they're now making SUVs, but they didn't let that take over the whole line. These are cars you can live in. And you might have to, seeing as the price tags for some of them would be a healthy down payment on a house. I'll take a Z3 for my mid-life crisis days and an M3 sedan for the rest of the week.

Ford/Lincoln/Mercury: The new Ford T-Bird is on my list of fantasies. I was also pleased with the Mercury Cougar for some thrills.

Saab: A perennial favorite, for good reason.

Well, I'm sure there others - I drooled over a lot of leather - but that's what I can remember off the top of my head this morning. I (hopefully) won't be looking for a new car for myself for a while, but Leslie's had her Toyota for 11 years, and we need to start thinking about her next car sometime in the next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2001

Well, yesterday I went and did it! I bought a DVD player. It's a TEAC five-disk changer with very complicated remote with tons of buttons and things (it scares Leslie). After a rather lean year, I felt the need to do something crazy and add to our entertainment system. After many weeks of research and deep thought, I just did it.

First disk: Monty Python and the Holy Grail Special Edition. Lots of fun; listed to rude commentary from Cleese, Idle, & Palin, watched the Japanese version with poorly translated English subtitles, the Knights of the Roundtable number re-shot with Legos, the BBC documentary on the making of the movie, and there's still many more things to play with over the two-disk set. These DVDs are fun!

And, of course, I have a wish-list for disks I'd like to have:
· Citizen Kane (w/ extra documentary feature "The Battle for Kane")
· The Godfather (full set)
· This is Spinal Tap
· The Kinks: One for the Road

Of course, I wasn't completely greedy yesterday. I also bought a 20-pound turkey to drop off at the food bank for their Thanksgiving holiday food drive. I still feel just a little guilty about blowing $150 on a toy, but I suppose I could have done a lot more damage than that.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

From about January of 1987 to June of 1989 I lived in a studio apartment in North Hollywood. One "furnished" room with a bathroom and a small kitchen, it was not the smallest apartment I've ever had (that would be in Santa Cruz), but it was the most depressing place I've ever lived.

Tucked into the corner of Sherman Way and the 170 freeway, it was also directly under the flight path into the Burbank/Glendale Airport, not too far to the east. Looking out my window, first time visitors would duck wide-eyed as they saw the approaching planes, afraid they were so low they'd hit the building.

The complex itself was a sea of concrete without so much as a single tree, shrub, or garden, or even two square feet of bare earth in which to plant any of the above. Rising from the concrete were eight identical buildings, each with twenty (or more?) identical apartments, with the same tacky, pressboard furniture with the green naugahide accents.

My upstairs neighbor ran a drug lab. Poorly. Several nights a month there'd be the noises of several people working in the apartment from about 2 to 5 AM which sounded not unlike a bowling alley. Several other nights each month there'd be the sounds of him getting the crap kicked out him and muffled shouts about the location of the money.

About the best thing that could be said about that apartment was that it was within walking distance of the K-Mart and a strip club. But that's a story for another day.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Is this really the "return to normalcy" that we've been waiting for? Gary Conditt is back in the news. Enough said.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Well, the Taliban have been routed out of Kabul, but don't fret - Our leaders assure us that the lack of an enemy is not a deterrent to continuing the war effort for some time to come.

In fact, our good friends and allies in the Northern Alliance may well turn out to be perfect for the role of the enemy as news of atrocities comes out of the cities that they've liberated. There's no real surprise here: The reason the Afghani people originally welcomed the Taliban is that they put an end to the kind of violence and anarchy that the warring factions of the Northern Alliance had put them through. Of course, I'm not one to say "I told you so" - but I think I did.

The big problem now will be one of "nation building." Remember, it's not really a "democracy" when it's installed by a foreign conqueror. We're actually disadvantaged by the quick fall of the Talilban because there's no clear sense of any local and sane group that could run the country. There's local, and there's sane. Just not together.

In other news, an online writer buddy of mine, Doris Lane, has a new blog: Neptune's Daughter Blog. Give her a visit. She's witty and intelligent and kindly quoted from my Veteran's Day ramblings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

First, all donations to the Red Cross 9/11 Fund were to go to victims of the September 11 attacks. With donations higher than anybody could have imagined - far greater than donations for any previous disaster - the Red Cross announced they might hold back some of this money in a reserve in case of any further terrorist attacks.

I, apparently, am the only person on the planet who thought that was a good idea. Forget the bombing of Afghanistan, the firestorms started over the Red Cross announcement were as unprecidented as the original donations were. Okay, the Red Cross said a couple of days ago, if you don't like that you can request a refund of your donation. Now, they've retracted that statement, and again announced that all donations will go to 9/11 related victims.

And there was much rejoicing. At least until the next disaster, when people look to the Red Cross and can't figure out why they're broke. Frankly, most people have a highly unrealistic idea of what nonprofit organizations do and how they work.

Fox News' O'Reilly has been spouting off about incompetent nonprofits because they might actually want to take a portion of those donations to cover overhead. O'Reilly conveniently forgets that a big chunk of those donations came by credit card, and that the credit card companies are going to charge the Red Cross, United Way, etc., about 3 or 4% fees on each of those donations. Three or four percent of hundreds of millions of dollars adds up quickly. If that money can't come out of the 9/11 donations it's going to come out of other programs, pure and simple. The only other alternative is bankruptcy. Don't yell at the nonprofits, yell at the banks.

Another reality that most folks weren't aware of, but are now harping on nonprofits about, is that victims don't simply "get the money" - they must apply for the funds through a formal process. To the extent that this is the nonprofits idea, it is only to prevent fraud. The bigger reason for the bureaucracy involved has nothing to do with the nonprofits themselves, it is the idea of the IRS and your United States Congress. You see, those Washington types never trusted nonprofits, and don't trust them to give their money away to people who really deserve it, and so require this bureaucracy "for your own protection." If the charities that are being criticized for their bureaucracy were to just hand out cash without any paperwork, they'd lose their nonprofit status and have to pay taxes on their assets. That's taxes that would have to be paid out of your donations, further reducing the amount that would actually go to 9/11 victims.

Well, I for one am saddened that public hysteria won out over common sense and that the Red Cross caved in. Keeping a terrorism victim reserve fund would have been a brilliant strategic move. It's something the president should have spoken up and thanked them for. Instead, out of one side of our leaders' mouths (politicians and the media) they tell us to watch out for the next attack, and out of the other side they tell us we can't prepare for it. And did I mention that war is peace?

Monday, November 12, 2001

It's a rainy Monday morning, and a holiday for many, but I'll be heading for work shortly. Not that I don't enjoy taking a day off to honor veterans, it's just not one of the holidays we get at CompassPoint. I suppose at some point it was negotiated away in favor of another paid day off - maybe Martin Luther King's birthday, or that extra day off for Thanksgiving. Still, two months after the WTC attack, it now seems odd to not be taking Veteran's Day.

About an hour ago a plane crashed in Queens, NY. It was an American Airlines flight from New York to the Dominican Republic, and it crashed shortly after takeoff. So far there's no suggestion of cause, but I'm not the only one who's first thoughts were of more terrorism. Maybe we'll know more later in the day, or maybe not.

On the news last night was talk that an intercepted video tape, supposedly meant only for Osama bin Laden's supporters, contains the closest thing to a confession yet regarding September 11. Not terribly surprising. According to a Pakistani journalist who recently interviewed bin Laden, Osama is claiming to have nuclear weapons and is willing to use them against us if we use nukes against him. That he has access to the weapons is somewhat believable. That he has a means of delivering them to the mainland of the US is highly doubtful.

So, what to do on this day to honor veterans? Go to work and continue to live my life to the fullest, without worrying about terrorist attacks. Be grateful that those who are veterans survived their service. And pray that those who are fighting now in Afghanistan will soon be veterans rather than combatants.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

"[Creativity] is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." - E.L. Doctorow

I suppose that's true, and has generally been my [somewhat limited] experience. Of course, sometimes I wish it were different. I sometimes wish I knew exactly where I was headed and that the writing was just a technicality. But each time I think I've got the story mapped out completely in my mind before I sit down to type it out, I find myself taking turns and going down avenues I'd never even imagined on the map. Sometimes I'm as shocked at what my characters say and do as my readers are.

And that, I suppose, is the beauty of the whole thing. If the actual writing were just a technical exercise, simply typing up a story that was already whole, it wouldn't be half as much fun, as rewarding, or as painful. Sure, the roadblocks that send you on these tangential paths are frustrating, but they often bring us to places more incredible than we'd imagined while dreaming the story up in the shower.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

I spent the last two days at the annual conference of CAN, the California Association of Nonprofits, and it didn't leave much time for posting here - I apologize.

This conference normally draws about 500 attendees each year, and this year's expectations were for about the same. Except only about 250 showed up. Fear of travel and of being in public spaces was believed to be the excuse given by most of those canceling.

Today it's been raining off and on, and by about 4:00 it was already so dark I thought it was getting towards 7:00.

A big decision made: I need paper in my life. Yes, after about 2-1/2 years of using the Palm III as my only organizing tool, I've gone and refilled by binder with paper for scheduling. I dread having to transfer my address book back to paper, so I'll probably carry the Palm within the binder for a while and use both.

I found I needed more note taking capacity than the Palm allowed, and was carrying that, plus a folder with paper, both in a briefcase. In other words, for the convenience of the Palm I was carrying around more weight than if I just used the damn Franklin planner binder and took notes in it. So there you go. So much for technology ruling the world. Or my life.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

You are having an intimate dinner party for 5, Who would you invite? No, not family, friends or business associates. People from the arts, sciences, history, movies, dead or alive?

When John F. Kennedy was president, he hosted a dinner at the White House for Nobel Prize winners. Gathered were the greatest minds alive at the time. In his remarks to the group, JFK said something to the effect of, "This is the greatest assemblage of brain power this room has ever held since Thomas Jefferson dined here alone." Jefferson would be first on my list.

On Jefferson's tombstone no mention is made of his having been president, or secretary of state, or any other office or title that he held. What it lists are accomplishments he left behind: Author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the statue of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and founder of the University of Virginia.

When Jefferson was president, one of his dinner guests had to be sneaked in the back door because he was considered too radical and dangerous. That was Tom Paine, author of Common Sense ("For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king") and the American Crisis ("These are the times that try men's souls"), two publications that did as much (or more) for the cause of American independence as Sam Adam's little Tea Party in Boston.

After the American Revolution Paine went on to France where he got involved in their Revolution. At one point during the French Revolution, Paine was imprisoned and marked for death - a fate he narrowly escaped. By the time he returned here, this country had moved past its revolutionary furor and failed to welcome him back properly, with the exception of Jefferson, who had to sneak Paine into the White House for dinner. Paine can come to my party too, but he can use the front door.

While we're on a revolutionary track here, we need to segue into somebody with a sense of humor. To fill that position I'll invite Abbie Hoffman, the performance artist clown prince of the 1960's revolution, Hoffman took political action to the next step of media event. As much as the mainstream press hated him, they had to cover his outrageous acts (like levitating the Pentagon to exorcise its demons). Hoffman, working on the Hollywood adage that even bad publicity is good publicity, played the negative coverage into a platform for his views on equal rights and ending the war in Vietnam.

To provide a little music I'll add a one-time associate of Hoffman's, John Lennon, as my fourth guest. He can help with the music and the humor level, as well as participate in the political discussions.

I think I'll round off this particular evening with a guest who was simply too intellectual for Hollywood, Orson Welles. After creating his greatest [completed] film, Citizen Kane, at age 26, Hollywood turned on him. He couldn't make the pictures he wanted to, and was often reduced to filming second rate scripts to survive. Even those (see Lady From Shanghai) he turned into classics. Eventually he turned his back on Hollywood, and the world lost out on sharing in his creative genius.

So, that's the five for tonight's dinner party. Ask me again tomorrow and I may have a completely different list. I didn't think too much about the guests until I typed each name. Better planning would have resulted in a few female guests, too. I apologize for that. In fact, is it too late to call Grace Kelly? Oh well. Maybe next week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Do you have a name for your car? If so, what is it and how did it gets its name? If not, what would you name it and why? Could it be Christine?

My first car was Sherman. It was actually the first car for two of my friends and myself. It took three of us to own it, and it cost less than $100. During high school we bought it off our film teacher and mentor in exchange for doing yardwork and gardening and some small amount of cash. We cleared away the jungle that his property had become, and dug out the remains of this ten year old (a 1968 or '69?) Pontiac station wagon the color of L.A. sunshine (primer gray with rusty brown splotches).

To start Sherman required getting beneath the car with a crowbar and pushing the flywheel into the correct position where the one remaining gear would catch the ignition. Not too elegant a move on dates, but it worked, and it got my buddies and I out of my mother's car.

Sherman had two stories for his name. The first was that he was named for the Sherman Tank, and that was certainly fitting. But in truth, Sherman was named after Mr. Peapody's pet boy, Sherman, of cartoon fame and the Way-Back Machine.

Next came my "real" first car, a little yellow Mazda RX3, known as My Sharona (it was the summer of '79 and the Knack were at their peak). Sharona was followed by a black Datsun 310 with the name of Sheena, and to paraphrase the Ramones, Sheena was a punk rocker. Sheena bore the license plate LO BDGT, and her theme song changed from the Ramones to the Kinks, Low Budget, but her name remained the same.

After Sheena melted down on Highway 101, just past the exit for Avila Beach, I got Joan Jetta, a gray '84 VW Jetta (obviously), named after the former Runaway, she Loves Rock 'n' Roll, Joan Jett. Not that I was ever such a huge Joan Jett fan, but the name just sort of fit, and I don't question these things.

Joan Jetta proved to be my last named car. My current gold Saturn is only known as the Saturn. I've searched for name, but nothing has come. These things happen in the first days of ownership, or they don't come at all.

Dave and Bill in Sheena
Dave and Bill getting lost in Sheena

Saturday, November 03, 2001

Three little wishes...
  • World peace (Okay, not such a small wish. Sue me)
  • Inner peace for myself and those close to me
  • Health for all I know
Three little mistakes...
  • I refuse to answer this one. Not that I haven't made mistakes, but I'd rather think of the opportunities that came from them and not fill up my life with regrets.
Three small goals...
  • A short story in a national journal in 2002
  • Zero debt by 2003
  • A house by 2005 (there goes the zero debt!)
Three places to go...
  • The Caribbean (specifically Cuba and Puerto Rico, but Jamaica will do. Any island with rum, you know?)
  • Russia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine (the "roots tour")
  • Scotland (I just think I'd like it there)
Three things you've done this year...
  • Lost a job
  • Wrote a lot
  • Found a job
Three small irritations...
  • Stupid people
  • Narrow minded people
  • Surveys like this

Friday, November 02, 2001

FBI Says West Coast Bridges Targeted (Yahoo! News)

Our Governor, Gray Davis, announced this yesterday and within an hour it was all over the radio. Of course, he only emphasized the four possible targets that are in California (the Golden Gate, the Bay Bridge, San Diego's Coronado, and the something Thomas Bridge in L.A.). After all, why bother mentioning that seven other western states were included in the FBI warning? The terrorists aren't dumb, they're not going to waste an action on some stupid bridge in Oregon.

Here, in the Bay Area, we of course assume it will be one of our bridges. The Golden Gate is a symbol known worldwide. We assume everybody knows about the engineering marvel of the Bay Bridge as well. Sure, the Coronado Bridge is nice, but we can't believe it's that strategically important or picturesque. And the whatever-it-is Thomas Bridge in the port of Los Angeles, who the hell's ever even heard of that? Give me a break. Most Angelinos don't even know they have a port, let alone a suspension bridge.

In fact, if the terrorists choose one of those other bridges, we'll be downright insulted. We've got our pride too, you know?

Today, of course, the debate was over how stupid Gray Davis must be to have made that announcement based on uncorroborated reports. The White House scolded poor Gray, then sort of apologized. Gray is just pleased to be back in the news, reminding people that Yes, California does have a governor.

I guess the main reason for my flippant attitude is that I can't see how having this knowledge is going to help anybody or anything. If somebody wants to blow themselves up and take a bridge out with them, there's nothing that can stop them.

Well, almost nothing. Only by thoroughly searching the trunk, under the hood, and under the seats of every single vehicle passing over each bridge could they claim to be doing "all that is possible" to prevent this rumor from becoming fact. But that's not going to happen. To set up such an operation just for the west-bound traffic on the Bay Bridge would back traffic up as far as Davis (the town, not the governor). We wouldn't stand for those kinds of delays.

So, if we're supposed to get on with our lives as normal, and not let the terrorists scare us into bunkering up in our homes, what good does it do to know that these bridges are targets? Most of us already figured out that the Golden Gate would be a pretty good American symbol for terrorists to mark for destruction.

In Davis' defense, if he'd said nothing and one of these bridges is hit, he'd be crucified for concealing information that could have saved lives. And, of course, if one of these bridges is hit, I'll look like a total asshole for having joked about it.

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