Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hurricane preparations

OK, we've seen it three times in the last few weeks, and many, many times over the years. Folks in Florida and the Gulf Coast are shown on TV news scrambling to buy plywood at Home Depot so they can board up their windows to protect their homes from the impending hurricanes.

I have a stupid question: Haven't these people ever heard of shutters?

Shutters were invented, oh, centuries ago to protect windows from major storms. They're pre-cut, pre-hung, and conveniently hinged so that all a homeowner need do is close them and latch them in place. There's no need to make a last minute dash to the lumber yard, no need to spend hundreds of dollars and hours of work every time a storm approaches.

Out here in California we are smart enough to prepare for the unexpected. We bolt our houses to their foundations, we keep a stock of emergency food and suppplies on hand. We never know whan an earthquake will strike, so our building codes and personal practices make us as ready as we can be.

If anyone in Florida or the other Gulf states is reading this, can you answer my question for me?

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The Twelve Days of George Bush

On the first day of George Bush here's what he gave to me:
Halliburton in a date tree.


On the second day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the third day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the fourth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the fifth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the sixth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the seventh day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the eighth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Eight new departments
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.

On the ninth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Nine angry allies
Eight new departments
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the tenth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Ten Fox cheerleaders
Nine angry allies
Eight new departments
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.


On the eleventh day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Eleven friends appointed
Ten Fox cheerleaders
Nine angry allies
Eight new departments
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.

On the twelfth day of George Bush, here's what he gave to me:
Twelve spending programs
Eleven friends appointed
Ten Fox cheerleaders
Nine angry allies
Eight new departments
Seven no-bid contracts
Six secret meetings
Five sweetheart deals
Four broken treaties
Three tax cuts
Two Mideast wars
And Halliburton in a date tree.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

The Hotel Del Monte will be saved!

Last year the US Navy presented plans to demolish two wings of the historic Hotel Del Monte, which is now part of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

For those not familiar, The Hotel Del Monte is a prominent Monterey landmark with a massive red tiled roof which can be seen from miles away. The original hotel was first built in 1880. It burned down in 1887 and was rebuilt in 1888. The center section of the hotel burned down again in 1924 and was rebuilt in 1926, leaving the 1888 wings intact. It is these 1888 wings the Navy wanted to demolish and rebuild, a process which they said would save $13 million dollars over retrofitting the existing buildings.

But the hotel is tied to many significant developments in Monterey's history. Among these were the introduction of the railroad to Monterey, the development of Pebble Beach, and it started the local tourism industry. Over the years, the hotel hosted numerous dignitaries and celebrities before being sold to the Navy during WWII. It also played a role, albeit an indirect one, in saving the Carmel Mission from oblivion. It is as important to local history as Colton Hall or the Royal Presidio Chapel.

I posted an emergency alert on my website providing contact information to protest the demolition. I know that at least a few of my visitors made the effort. Unfortunately, the Monterey City Council was less helpful. They were more worried that the Navy might close the school if they didn't get their way, so the council sheepishly voted to endorse the demolition plan. Shame on them!

But good sense has prevailed. A few days ago I received an official (and somewhat cryptic) notification that renovation was now the preferred plan, and that demolition was no longer being considered, due to the public opposition and the building's eligibility for registration on the National Register of Historic Places. Today's Monterey Herald confirmed this.

Thanks go to the United States Navy for seeing the light, and to the people who contacted the Navy brass and stood up to protect an irreplaceable historic treasure. Hizzonor the Mayor, Dan Albert, on the other hand, should receive a chorus of Bronx Cheers and a boot out the door at the next election.

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