Archive for September, 2005

Sep 21 2005

Cool Present from Work

Published by under Biking,Declan,Friends

Look at the cool bike computer the folks at work got me!

They got me some cool cake too:

Thanks guys!

Click here for the rest of the pictures.

3 responses so far

Sep 19 2005


Published by under Declan,Elaine,Fun

Look what Elaine got me for my birthday! And look what it did to my hair!

She took me to Catalina on a helicopter! She looks thrilled:

Here’s the view from our room:

Here’s the view after we drank a lot:

You can kind of see the moon reflecting off of the ocean…

Click here for other pictures from this adventure.

Thanks E! Kiss Kiss! Love – D

One response so far

Sep 08 2005

Katrina Dome Account from a Coworker

Published by under Current Events,Friends

UPDATE: This was also published in the San Diego City Beat.

This is from a coworker named Paul Harris who was stranded in New Orleans on vacation during Katrina. Some of it is upsetting, fair warning…

I arrived Fri. 8/26 in New Orleans. On Sun. 8/28 I was awaiting word
from the New Orleans Mayor to see if the city was to be evacuated. The moment he gave the order I hopped in a cab to go to Amtrak and Greyhound. The cabbie said it looks like they’re closed. I said, “no way” and had him drop me off. Sure enough both were. (I later learned that both had closed on Saturday, 2 days before the hurricane. I also learned that people were flown in to the airport on Saturday but not informed that there would not be flights for them to leave on after Saturday.) All rental cars were gone and no hotels or motels seemed to be open.

I knew the Superdome was available for “special needs” people. This meant medical needs, but I walked the block or two and spoke to a police officer who directed me to the other side of the Dome. There I saw about 400 people waiting for the doors to open at noon. I finally got in the Dome around 3:00PM and found “choice” seats. No, they weren’t on the 50-yard line, but I had two seats to myself and was under the overhang in case the roof blew off. Two other guys joined me. I think we were all happy to have the mutual support. Best I could tell is they were Nawlins natives who were homeless, recovering addicts.

I would estimate there were about 10,000 people inside the Dome by the time the hurricane was supposed to hit on Monday morning. Everything seemed to be orderly. An official made an announcement Sunday evening about meals being served by section & people were appreciative. The following two speakers could not be heard. The crowd consisted of many homeless people, drug addicts, families with children and ethnically was probably about 75 – 80% Black, 15 – 20% Anglo, and 5% other. People seemed to be getting along fine and integrating well.

We all sat in stadium chairs that were padded, except for some people who had planned better and brought mattresses and a few, tents. We lined up for food, which took about 45 minutes. It was prepackaged military rations with a pack inside that you add 2 ounces of water to and it heats up the chemicals to warm your entree. It was all fine and I was thankful to have that food and water. Being a vegetarian one would need to hunt around to find veggie packages but it was usually not a problem.

Around 6:20AM was when the brunt of the hurricane seemed to roar through and the electricity went off. There were back up generators but we no longer had air conditioning and only about 50% of the lighting. Two panels of the roof of the dome blew off, each probably about 10 feet X 10 feet and some water was then getting in. Since the winds blew the water horizontally there was not a huge downpour but those seated in some areas had to move. Eventually the water that did get in spread throughout much of the inner lattice-work of the Dome. With the exposed air, you could hear the storm and there were now some fears that all of the roof might blow off. At this point one’s imagination could start to run wild. I would guess that the brunt of the storm lasted for about 6-8 hours?? It was difficult to keep track of time if one didn’t have a watch. To keep busy or amused one could walk around the hallways of the stadium but you were prohibited from going up to the 3rd or 4th levels or outdoors. Still there were plenty of interesting people to see, many of whom could easily have been on the Jerry Springer Show. It was amazing though how many families were there with their children.

Prior to our entry there were Army National Guards present in the building, frisking people and checking all our belongings before we had entered, as well as passing out food and water (2 – 3 times a day). I don’t think it was till Monday afternoon that I saw any military with their AK-47s. The appearance of these were a bit unsettling to many of us, but would later prove helpful. I believe it was Monday afternoon that I first heard an officer say that he expected that riots might break out on Tuesday. I kind of shrugged off his comment as being paranoid. Hours later though, I was thinking along those same lines. What was developing was a mini-society that was starting to mimic William Golding’s classic book, “Lord of the Flies”, about a group of shipwrecked kids who form their own government and means to survive.

Tensions seemed to be rising, rumors and misinformation spread. There was no longer any central communication from the organizers to the residents that could have put people at ease. Simply announcements such as “There is no need to worry. We have tons of food and water”, would have gone far to easing some worries. I personally decided at this point that this was going to be one of those landmark times in my life that I was going to be tested, to learn from the pain, and to grow stronger from it all. More
and more I viewed this situation as a combination of a reality show consisting of Fear Factor, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and of course, Lord of the Flies.

We knew that the #1 priority had become search and rescue and not to get us out, which made sense at the time. More and more rescued people poured in to the Dome. You heard horrific stories of people losing family members, of being up to their necks in the water before some volunteer on a small boat saved their life. Tear jerking stories abounded. Our only contact with the outside world was through one or two radio stations that people with boom boxes were playing, but the stations didn’t have much
information and were relying on people in the community to report in.

Meal lines began to grow and instead of 45 minutes it was becoming an hour to an hour and a half wait. People began cutting in line and shoving. The military was beginning to lose control and was clearly understaffed. Even though the military was in charge, they seemed to not have any more information than us. And many of the Dome employees and the military had lost everything they owned and didn’t know the status of their loved
ones. They too were becoming prisoners in the Superdome and expressed their frustrations at their Commander In Chief not coming to their assistance. We heard talk that we would be getting out Tuesday and buses would vacate us. I can’t remember how many times we heard various false promises. After the hurricane very few cell phones worked I managed to find one working one and offered a woman $10. to call my friend, Keith in San Diego to let him know I had survived. After hanging up I did regret not telling him at that time to please alert all the media possible and my congressperson that a storm was brewing inside and that I too was beginning to realize that hell was going to break loose.

Food lines grew to 2-3 hour waits. There was little control over them and shoving matches broke out. There were some people who were the scum of the earth inside that Dome but the vast majority were good, law-abiding, caring individuals of all nationalities and races. Still we all knew that we had to get out of there soon as we were going stir crazy. The toilets had all filled up with waste. I do not exaggerate when I say that every toilet on first and second floor was overflowing their rims with fecal matter. Urine permeated the floors and was tracked up and down the hallways by thousands of people. Elderly and families with young children were forced to sleep for days on cardboard soaked with urine and feces on the tile floors. What began as a place of rescue was turning into Alcatraz Prison. We could not leave. We could not escape the horrific odor of human waste that spread throughout the building. People were smoking in the bathrooms. People on respirators and with asthma had to endure this killing behavior of others. More people poured in to the Dome and still no good communication other than hearsay about what else, “the busses were on the way.”

We then heard that the levee had broke. We also heard that a man had either been shoved or committed suicide inside the Dome. Rumors took on a life of their own. We heard that a 10-12 year old girl had been raped. Either the general assumption or the spoken word was that it was a black man raping a white girl. Was this merely a reflection of the general racism existing in America or was it fact? Then we heard that he had raped two young girls. Then we heard he had either broken their necks or slits their throats. Then we heard it was a white man on a black girl who committed these atrocities. To this day I still don’t know the truth.

People usually left their belongings where they were sitting when one would go the bathroom or the food line. You would either trust your neighbors or didn’t really care because by this time you just wanted to survive. I kept my wallet and camera in my front pockets at all times as they were my most valuable possessions. Everyone by Tuesday morning was complaining about why people outside couldn’t hear our pleas. Why in the world was no one rescuing us? Why wasn’t there better planning? Why was the military so woefully understaffed? Why did we believe we would run out of food and water? Why couldn’t someone pump or even dig out the fecal waste from the toilets? Why hadn’t FEMA had thousands of busses lined up in neighboring states waiting to come in and take us out? Why didn’t the medical facilities have medicine after the first day? Why couldn’t the military recreate the Vietnam airlift to save us? Why couldn’t we even get some toilet paper?

We all grew more frustrated and angrier and a first year high school sociology student knew that even if someone was not of criminal mind, the average person could only handle stress so much without falling into the temptations of either becoming a looter, cutting in line, a backstabber, or freaking out. What the unpreparedness was creating and then slow response to this situation was a time bomb waiting to explode. I later learned that during a less severe hurricane many years ago, there was rioting that
broke out in the Dome. Hadn’t government officials learned their lesson?

To keep busy one tried his/her best to sleep in the chairs. Or you walked around or stood in the food line. The monotony was deadening. I tried my best to amuse myself, look at the positive and tell jokes to keep up the morale of others. I knew that the worst thing was to hang out with negative people or to dwell on the worst-case scenario. I prepared myself mentally for what escape routes I would take if things went crazy, but I did my best not to dwell on these things. I was going to learn some important lessons about human nature and myself from this experience one way or another damn it!! I chuckled to myself when I realized that my friend Nancy Nguy and I had tried out for the Amazing Race TV show and were not selected but in reality I was now living it. Where was Nancy I thought to experience this “wonderful” hellhole? I also laughed when I thought of others who may have joined me on my vacation in New Orleans but decided they couldn’t make it. Would they have hated my guts had I talked them in to this adventure? Ahh, the imagination is a wonderful and powerful tool.

On Tuesday I was approached by Lars from Denmark. He asked if I wanted to join the group from the International Hostel who were sitting together. I thanked them but said probably not. I still felt comfortable with my two boys from the hood. Besides I didn’t want to contribute towards more segregation. A couple hours later I returned to my luggage and discovered that a few pieces of my food were missing from inside the zippered pocket.

At this point I knew that Tim, one of the homeless guys had to have taken it. Had he merely asked I would have shared. I didn’t make a scene at this point but simply told Tim and Kurt that I ran in to some friends from California and was moving from section 149 to 113. They were cool with that; no hard feelings. Days later I was to discover that Tim had not stolen a thing from me. I had put that food in a different pocket. Nevertheless, my mistake may have saved my life. And Lars from Denmark may have save my life. And so many different things that occurred may have saved my life, but by this point I had no hope of any government saving my life.

I joined the International Group made up mainly of 20-30 year old travelers from Britain, Australia, France, New Zealand, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Canada and Haiti. Out of about 100, there were three Americans.

From appearance I would say that about 5 of the group were black, 5 were Asian, 2 Hispanic, and the rest white. While I won’t say we stood out in the Dome, if it was better lit, we definitely would have. I still had mixed feelings that we should not be creating our own island, so I sat near the group but integrated myself with a black family on the outside fringe area. After word of the rape, the International Group decided that the males in our group would surround the females in our group. I thought this was a bit paranoid, but I agreed to relocate slightly.

Late Tuesday a few people were starting to break into vending machines and even to concession stands to steal ice. It wasn’t total anarchy but things were definitely sketchy. But the saving grace was that we could go outside for fresh air. The military seemed to be just as upset as all of us were over us being abandoned and not knowing if we’d get out in 2 days or 2 weeks or would starve to death. Our intensity of anger towards FEMA and the Administration understandably grew. We truly believed that we might die because of inaction and lack of planning. Spoken and unspoken, most of us knew that if our resources and soldiers were not in Iraq, we would have had more than enough support for our troops.

Fortunately a Staff Sergeant Ogden saved our group of 100. I am thankful beyond belief for the work he did in arranging to get us out. I do not know if he did this because he liked us or he knew we were in danger or if it was racism or if he realized that if one of the International students was raped or murdered that would be a huge embarrassment for President Bush. I may never know the motivation but I was happy to find out that we would be somewhat secretly escorted out by armed military to a different location. My mind filled with so many different thoughts. What right did we have to leave when many of these people had families with them? What right did we have to leave when we weren’t even Orleanians? What right did we have to leave? We felt pain for the people left behind. We knew they were living in hell. We cried for them internally but were jubilant that we were leaving. We were told not to talk to anyone, not to smile and to just walk in a single line. I felt the Israeli army was saving us after being held hostage. My vivid imagination said it was “Raid on Entebbe” all over again. We were told that a riot could break out once others left behind caught wind of our “favoritism”. We did make it out through some stressful moments.

We were escorted to the adjacent basketball arena next where we helped with the “emergency room” set up for patients brought there. Our work was incredibly sad, but we knew it was needed and brought us some peace. The next day we were “smuggled” out to the Hyatt Hotel, where we encountered more scary moments where we thought we might die. A woman rushed into the hotel screaming, “They’re here, they’re here!” We ran in fear practically creating a stampede. It was a false alarm and we were admonished for freaking out.

It was there, at the Hyatt where about 25 members of the International group, almost entirely white, stole beer from behind the bar with crazed abandon. I heard a black woman from another group say in anger, “Your group is filled with looters!” The words struck a chord and were right on! And the full circle of the Lord of the Flies had come to pass.

Later two others of our group surreptitiously returned a tray of brownies they had stolen from the Hyatt Hotel.

Finally we made it out of the Hyatt under armed guard after more false hopes. We wrote our thoughts on plywood inside the Lobby. Many of these involved our thoughts towards the Federal Government and how their inaction had almost lead to our deaths and positively led to the mental illness and deaths of many others. There was zero question about this point.

On the journey to Dallas the bus in front of us overturned and one person died and 17 were injured. Our bus driver saved people from that bus and was one of the many heroes in all of this. Would the nightmare ever end?

Please, treasure your loved ones. Be prepared for disaster. Know yourself. Know who you are capable of becoming.


Paul Harris
4802 Kesling Court
San Diego, CA 92117

One response so far

Sep 06 2005

Budget-Strapped Navy Christens U.S.S. Doritos In North Island Ceremony

Published by under Fun,San Diego

Check out our local The Onion ripoff,

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Sep 06 2005

SignOnSanDiego’s User Submitted Photos Site

Published by under San Diego

When I was looking through the San Diego Union Tribune’s SignOnSanDiego site about the Penasquitos fire, I saw that they have a feature for user submitted pictures. Pretty neat!

It’s called “A day in the life of San Diego.” Check it out!

No responses yet

Sep 05 2005

Rancho Penasquitos Fire

This is not what you want to see when you are heading out for lunch…

Here’s a great shot of a tanker dropping fire retardant:

Reminds me of a couple Octobers ago.

Here are more of the PQ fire pictures.

Here’s the Union Tribune article.

Pictures from others in San Diego.

Map of the fire. Our house is just to the left of the map.

Here’s a Google Earth overlay KMZ file for the fire.

Smoke blowing East.

Aw! Looks like some 14 year old kid started it. From the Union Tribune.

One response so far

Sep 05 2005

The Bursting Point by David Brooks of the NYT

Published by under Current Events

Great Op-Ed piece in the NYT by David Brooks

The Bursting Point

No responses yet

Sep 03 2005

Local way to help with Katrina

Here are 2 immediate disaster relief opportunities that I received via a coworker and the SD Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters. If you have any contacts to help address these needs, please directly contact the numbers listed below.

Opportunity 1

Friends & Family, a north county ministry, in partnership with Green Oak Ranch, will soon be providing housing opportunities for Gulf Coast families who need shelter for the next few months. Phil Harris of Friends & Family reports that the Ranch has graciously allowed the use of RV pads, with full hook ups. Working with International Relief Teams, they are now preparing Green Oak Ranch and need your help with the following:

a) 10 – 15 RVs in good condition loaned for the next 4 – 6 months or donated outright.
b) 10 – 15 churches that will commit to care for a family during their stay (approx 10-15 families).
c) Faith individuals or groups who will provide food, clothing, counseling, support, etc.
d) Contacts with RV/Trailer dealers who will lend the use of portable housing for the next 6 months.
e) Business people who will provide jobs and/or job training.
f) Medical professionals who will donate services to these families.

Please respond as soon as possible with a call to 858-204-9643.

Opportunity 2

Teresa Manley, chair of the local Community Firestorm Recovery Team (CRT) which has coordinated recovery and rebuilding assistance to fire survivors throughout the county for the last 2 years through resource centers in each community, has been asked to come to Mobile, Alabama to assist with the development of a similar coordinating team and resource facility there. Teresa and her husband Dan, co-owners of Angels Landing in Julian, along with their EMT-trained daughter, will be leaving on Monday for 2-3 weeks of work in Mobile and need the following:

The use of a SUV or similar vehicle for the next 2-3 weeks (their preference is to drive a vehicle with considerably less mileage on it than the 218,000 miles on their Expedition)
Donations of bottled water, bug spray, and hundreds of gift cards they can take with them.

As they plan to leave on Monday (9/5/05), please respond as soon as possible with a call to 619-997-5332.

We appreciate your continued prayer for both of these efforts and for all who are working to assist those impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

With thanks,


Anne Subia
Executive Director

Cityreaching San Diego

Developing and Channeling Resources that Help Congregations Help
Faith Representative, Community Firestorm Recovery Team (CRT)
Coordinator, San Diego County National Day of Prayer Taskforce
PO Box 28912, San Diego, CA 92198

One response so far

Sep 03 2005

SR 56 community connections

Published by under Biking,San Diego

I got this from a friend. Looks like a way to promote bike connectors to SR56 in Penasquitos.

>>Joel Rizzo <> wrote:
>>Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 10:08:49 -0700
>>From: “Joel Rizzo” <>
[To: field deleted by me]
>>Subject: SR 56 community connections
>>Hey Guys,
>>We are trying to propose that several community connectors will be added
>>to the community plans and the bicycle master plan, but we need community
>>support to do this. These are per your requests, and the requests of others.
>>Currently, we are in the study phase, which will hopefully become design
>>and construction for your two connections, one at Carmel Valley Rd an the
>>other Darkwood Cyn/Penasquitos Open Space.
>>Right now, the Rancho Penasquitos Planning Board is split over adding
>>these to the FBA, and leaning towards a “no” vote at this time. The FBA
>>will pay for these through development, so the community will not even
>>feel this, nor will the developers, as the way it is programmed.
>>Problem is, one major developer sits on the RP board and is swaying the
>>vote heavily in his favor, for less development impact fees. This hurts
>>your interests, and the communities, and the City, but we will do what
>>the community votes for. Your Council Member, Peters, always votes in
>>favor of the planning board, so you need to make sure the board votes
>>knowing your concerns. If you want these projects to move forward, they
>>will need your support at the next community meeting, with yourself and
>>as many people as you can muster in your favor. We will be making our
>>last presentation and a vote will take place.
>>We have done what we can do, as we were beat up in the three previous
>>meetings. There is one more, the first Wed of next month, Sept 7th, at
>>the Sandpiper room, Double Tree Golf Resort, 14455 Penasquitos Drive, SD,
>>CA 92129. Meeting times are usually 6:30, but call me for details. Land
>>use meets at 6:30, and the planning board at 7:30, but we meet at
>>different times for whatever reason.
>>I hope you can still make this.
>>City Bicycle Coordinator
>>If not in, call supervisor Brad Jacobsen at 619-533-3045.
>>Joel Rizzo, Jr.
>>City of San Diego
>>Traffic Engineering Department
>>Inter-Agency Coordination
>>Bicycle Coordinator
>>1010 Second Av, Suite 1200
>>San Diego, CA 92101
>>t: (619)533-3110
>>f: (619)533-3131

I did get permission to post this:

Hi – I had this forwarded along to me. Can I post your message on my blog ( )? I’d like to help get word out, but I don’t like posting
someone else’s email without their permission if it wasn’t sent to me

If it’s ok, I’ll also ask if the folks will post it.

Declan Fleming
PQ Resident and Biker

Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 16:03:39 -0700
From: Joel Rizzo
Subject: Re: FW: Bicycle Paths in PQ – FYI – Planning Board

Ok, good luck.

Joel Rizzo, Jr.

City of San Diego
Traffic Engineering Department
Inter-Agency Coordination
Bicycle Coordinator
1010 Second Av, Suite 1200
San Diego, CA 92101
t: (619)533-3110
f: (619)533-3131

No responses yet

Sep 03 2005

Katrina Google Earth Overlay

Published by under Mapping

I grabbed DigitalGlobe’s Aug 31st New Orleans sat image and laid it down on Google Earth:

Katrina Google Earth Overlay v1 kmz file

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