Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One small step -- wait -- nevermind

Imagine my delight to read that finally Prez Bush II has pulled his cranium from his posterior and updated the CAFE standards for pick-up truck, SUV and van fuel efficiency.

The Bush administration issued new rules Wednesday ratcheting up gas mileage requirements for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans, for the first time covering the largest SUVs on the road like the Hummer H2 and Chevrolet Suburban.

The new fuel economy rules, covering 2008 through 2011, would save 10.7 billion gallons of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicles sold during the period and go further than an administration proposal issued last summer, officials said.

“The new standards represent the most ambitious fuel economy goals for light trucks ever developed in the program's 27-year history,” said Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Ladies and gentlemen, even if this is a huge stunt to nudge Bush's approval ratings up a notch, I'm okay with that, given the outcome. But 2008??!! Isn't that waiting a bit too long? I mean, it won't take effect until the Bush is out of office. That doesn't make sense...

But, along with good news, bad news is almost always certain to follow:

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is sending undercover officers into bars, issuing citations or making arrests for public intoxication – even if customers haven't left the building.


The news reports have described how the TABC was issuing more criminal citations to rein in people who could be a danger to themselves or others – especially by driving drunk.

Lawmakers who oversee the commission said they generally agreed with the agency's increased emphasis on public safety.

Some also said accounts of certain arrests suggest the program should be reviewed to check for abuses and to measure its effectiveness. Among those arrested was an Arkansas man who said he drank "no more than six" beers at a hotel restaurant before he retired for the night to his room in the same hotel.

Arresting someone while they're drunk in a hotel bar, WHERE THEY WILL STAY THE NIGHT, MIND YOU. Just to let you know, his superiors fired him after his arrest for public intoxication, all because the TABC, or for you Europeans, the agency that regulates who can serve alcohol to whom and where, they just want to be nannies. Bastards.

UPDATE: TABC nixed the bar stings because of loud, sustained public outcry. That's one thing about Texans, we sure do know how to bitch!

Stronger stomach than I thought

Our new workaday routine starts with a loud alarm at 6:30 a.m. and a large cat on my chest soon thereafter. Once she's sufficiently goaded and meowed me awake, Dave and I roll, slump and pour onto the unforgiving hardwood and pad our way toward our first cup of coffee. Two shakes of splenda and a splash of cream dives into my solemn pool of fresh-roasted Sumatra. I run my fingers through my tangled mop and with half-closed eyes we head towards the lavatory.

"You ready?" Dave posits, with a wry half-smile. I flip him the bird. Of course I'm not ready. I haven't a coat, nor lunch, nor patience. I scrambled into the Jeep, clad in heels and a dress whilst trying my damndest to avoid a telling run in my stockings.

But it's still a great morning, because I get a sendoff at the train station from Dave. "Have a great day, I love you!" he says through the window, followed by a blown kiss. I tell him to get out of here, knowing that he's already late, but still glad that he's there. A sip of Sumatra, then I trounce down the escalator as the southbound train enters the station. We embark toward downtown.

Caught up in thought and cloistered on the crowded Cedars station terminating train, it was a rare day that I opted to people-watch instead of read or knit. Sitting on a side-faceing bench, hunched over a paperback novel was an at-home-dyed strawberry blonde looking towards the chasm of 50. Every few minutes her shriveled, leathery mitts would haphazardly aim at her mouth and she'd proceed to gnaw her fingernails until she was satisfied with their length. After her lips had curled back down to shroud her smoke-stained teeth, she'd pick the remnants of her fingernails from the tip of her tongue, turn the page in her paperback and repeat.

Directly in front of me there were two black girls, one wrapped in an oversized jacket and the other cradling a half-used roll of bathroom tissue. They talked over each other for five mintues and then one of the girls railed a disgusting, mucus-filled, phlegmy cough. The train doors opened and she rushed towards them. She leaned her head back and then thrust her body forward while gripping both poles at the stairs leading up from the platform and onto the train. As she heaved out of her mouth came a white glob of mucus, which shot across the platform and stuck to the wall.

She then sat down and blew her nose. And then again, she blew her nose. And once more, she blew her nose. Each time she would discard the wadded bathroom tissue on the floor of the train car without a care as to what poor person would have to pick up after her. Once she was satisfied with the amount of snot that had exited her sinuses, she pulled out her lip gloss and a pencil and then picked out pieces of loose tobacco from the cigarette packs she stowed in her bag from her pot of gloss. After picking out the tobacco, she smeared the caked glob onto the carpeted seat next to her, closed her bag and exited the train.

But at least I got a good sendoff at the station, right?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Now is the time...

Today is a perfect opportunity to point out that I was right. A statement from the Iranian government unequivocally shows that the U.S. has serious diplomacy issues. Our outright rivalry with this Islamic government and our unparalleled dependence on foreign oil has doubled the power that their government weilds over us.

According to the New York Times, in a statement to the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian government said, "The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain," the news reports said. "So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll."

Now more than ever, it should be evident that we should do something, and fast, to wean ourselves of foreign oil. Iran and Venezuela have too much control over our economy, and since our goverment is based on a capitalist model, they have control over our system. It's similar to what business calls a "hostile takeover." An entity with a lot of capital backing buys up shares in a company until they have a majority ownership. Then, since they have more positions on the board and more stake as a shareholder, they can pretty much overthrow the executives and buy, sell or merge, or basically do whatever they damn-well please.

Now, look at how our economy operates. Every time the price per barrel increases sharply people run to the closest filling station like a run on the bank. Today the average price per gallon of gasoline is $2.25 at 8:30 a.m. After this news the price should increase at least 5 cents today alone. If I'm walking to work tomorrow and the price per gallon isn't at least $2.30, I'll be very surprised.

Our addiction to oil makes us so vulnerable, and now is the time for going cold turkey. That means renewed support for mass transit initiatives. That includes expansion and new funds for rail and bus services. Maybe we should take a cue from Europe and Asia and switch to ethanol buses or at least biodiesel. Maybe instead of giving these insane tax breaks to the rich we should more incentives for energy efficiency for corporations and small business, government agencies and individuals.

Now, more than ever, we depend on our government to do the right thing.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cup of tea...

I couldn't get over the feeling of being in the dog house. Tired and stressed and alone, I hunched over my desk and the steaming cup of chai. "Was it my fault? God, I feel like such an idiot!" It plagued me that I had made a mistake. Me. A mistake. It just didn't compute.

So downtrodden and discouraged, I stared listlessly into the tea and the small fragments of dried leaves that swirled at the bottom. The melancholy honey sank to the bottom of the amber-hued liquid.

I knew that this would take some adjustment, I knew the city would change me. I knew that at times I would feel like my life wasn't quite right. I sad epiphany struck. "It's not right. I don't want to do this for long, pushing files about and dreaming of my true dream as proxy could do it justice!" My sickening sadness reached throat and I stirred the steaming chai.

The goals, the dreams and the ideas flashed in my mind. I poured the cream into the cup. The soft white hit bottom and billowed towards the top like a nuclear explosion. The cream cloud swirled in the chai like a beautiful storm. It bounced from the edges of the mug and the once clear amber became muddled and brown. With one final stir the tea became opaque and the tears welled up in my eyes.

It's a cup of tea. This is easier than it looks.

Confession from a rotted conscience

Okay, so I've been feeling kind of dirty lately -- in a bad way. My conscience is wrought with immense guilt, so I have to unload to free my soul from the crushing easement that are my misdeeds.

1) I actually like being deaf sometimes. It's only because pretending that I am listening to someone is sometimes easier and less frustrating than actually listening to them. As most people know, folks are full of bullshit. So, I'm actually sparing myself a lot of grief. However, it sucks to get caught.

2) I am living in sin. Dave is staying at my apartment every night. But you know what? No remorse here! I love it and I'm not going to stop! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

3) I am a philistine. I ate sushi with a fork today because I forgot chopsticks. I can never be forgiven for this, so I thusly accept my shame. I am a pariah...

4) I haven't gotten my tattoo retouched and one side of it is slightly less-inked than the other. I am so tacky...

Please, leave comments to help with my absolution.

Driven by a Dallas morning

It's not hard to get addicted to public transportation, which is one reason I am somewhat apprehensive about moving to an area of Dallas that is not accessible by rail. Boarding a train, unhindered by other drivers, coasting down the silky metal tracks, barreling through tunnels and finally arriving just a stones-throw from the office is like a drug coursing through my veins. It's so soothing to know that I am not at the whim of other drivers, and that my transportation has a schedule free from highway gridlock. It's mass transit freedom; it's bliss.

With my creamy cup of Cafe DuMonde doused with hazelnut creme I jogged from the bus stop to the platform and climbed into the train car and took my seat next to an Indian woman sheathed in an emerald trenchcoat, clutching a local tabloid daily. I settled in and opened Collected Stories of Carson McCullers. We glided through the city under the cloud-dappled morning sky clad with sky scrapers and a horizon cut with highways. People, buildings filling with workers and streets supporting cars and hurried drivers -- everyone had a destination, and by 10 a.m., the downtown thoroughfares are calm, the traffic has cleared and Dallas rests in a mid-morning lull.

There are so many sights from the window of a train car that I feel privy to the lives of a visually fascinating few. A woman walking to the West End in a sweater of a salmon shade and chinos with a delicate crease clutching a small leather bag and a panicked Siamese -- my imagination takes hold and to me she's cradling and cooing her sweet child that shares her lonely downtown abode. They're returning from a harrowing trip to the veterinarian and there's a cool can of tuna waiting for her spoiled companion. The Siamese is the only presence that assuages her loneliness. The Siamese is her defining grace, sharing her life and the remnants of her sanity, of her 30-something charm.

I hop off of the train, giddy from my fantasy, I wave to the conductor and he toots his horn. Skirting the platform as the train disembarks, my Dallas morning leaves port.