Thursday, December 30, 2004
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Thanks for your concern. My family and I are doing OK - we were not
seriously affected by the tragedy. A lot of friends known to us were not so
lucky. Even though my parents live close to the coast, they live about 2
miles from the sea and we were not impacted.
No amount of adjectives or superlatives are adequate to describe the
extent of the damage. Even the television lense does not do justice to the
enormity of it. Given that dead bodies have been in sea water longer than
24 hours, they are heavily decomposed and have become a major health hazard.
Hospital mortuaries are simply not equiped to handle the dead bodies.
Given the health hazards involved, mass burials and cremations are now
happening in several districts. However, they continue to find bodies in
places that were not accessible till now.
It so happens that the major highway that runs to the South of the
country hugs the coastline. It is an extremely scenic route but given that
it runs so close to the coast, it has made relief operations extremely
difficult. That particular road is unpassable for vehicular traffic in
certain areas. That has been the most significant impediment towards moving
to certain areas. One particular train was blown away from the railway
tracks and carried away. Almost 1,200 people in the train were killed. It
was only yesterday that relief workers were able to get to that place to get
the dead bodies.
My friends and I have been collecting items to distribute to the people
affected. I live close to an Air Force base that has become a central point
in the relief effort to areas that are still not accessible by land. They
continuously ferry relief supplies to the affected areas and bring back dead
bodies of tourists and other identified bodies. It is still somewhat
chaotic since the sheer volume of the tragedy has overwhlemed logistical
lines. We have delivered items to this base several times and will take a
bigger convoy of relief items by land tomorrow to several impacted
If there is anyone that can help the relief effort, I would like to
encourage them to do so. I can provide some relief agencies in the US that
will collect and send them here. Anything that is provided will be
valuable. Even a small donation in US Dollars go a long way when converted
to the local currency here and will help the people to get back on their
Thanks for your concern - please encourage anyone who is willing to
contribute to help us out in this time of great need.
I’m not entirely sure why Christmas absolutely wears me out every year. This year was worse than ever that way. I was driving back from the airport after dropping off my sister and her husband last night and I could barely stay awake – at !!! I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of a bunch of things (in no particular order):
1. Hyper-intense shopping – No matter how much “early shopping” you’ve done, admit it, you continue spending enormous amounts of time/money being a consumer – right up ‘til you wrap the last gift @ on the 24th. This is a major reason why I delay any Christmas purchasing until 3-5 days before the 25th. Yeah, I get that ups the stress level a little, but it seems more efficient. Next year I’m looking into handing my friends and family dollar bills until they seem satisfied instead of going shopping.
2. “Holiday Food” – (this one may not apply to you, but it does to me) This includes candy/junk food that you would never allow yourself to eat during any other time of the year. What is it about holidays that makes it right to eat like this? Why do we feel compelled to give each other more and more of this stuff as if we’re gonna starve without consuming 1.5 pounds of pure chocolate and an equal amount of ham? Can it be any surprise that this is why the #1 New Years resolution is – Lose Weight? If we’d just eat in December like we did in July . . . anyway, you get the point. Oh yeah, and this type of eating isn’t exactly energy-creating after the first couple minutes.
3. Coordinating time with relatives and friends – (as if you’ll certainly never see any of them again) I chuckle at the phrase “herding cats,” but I think getting a large group of relatives to generally “head the same direction” is way harder than the cat thing. We dealt with folks from 15 month olds in diapers to senior citizens (in diapers). While we genuinely love ‘em all, I’d rather eat our artificial Christmas tree than try to keep everyone constantly happy. I will say that this part of Christmas went better than I expected (much thanks to my wife), but it’s still pretty tiring.
4. Christmas without cable – You can typically seek rest and solace by staring for a few hours at the tube, but without cable, there’s very little to stare at during the Navidad. You got re-runs on the Networks, “Christmas Specials” which combine the considerable talents of Clay Aiken and Barry Manilow on the same stage, and TV News updating us hourly on how much we’re spending at the malls. (how exactly are we supposed to use that information?!) This will be my last cable-less Christmas.
5. Daddy stays home with the kids – I’m not kidding when I say this was the most tiring part of Christmas “vacation” this year. On several occasions my wife left in the morning to run “errands” while I took care of the three kids. Sounds simple enough. But by the time she returned. (sometime after I’m sure) I was a walking zombie. All the neighborhood kids (numbering roughly 1,348) chose to grace us with their sugar-enhanced presence (augmented by natural kid-Christmas-giddiness), also my 3-year old chose twice to um . . . #2 right there on the kitchen floor – and walk in it! I’m an ok dad, and I take care of the little-ones a lot, with no problem for hours & hours, but for some reason on the “daddy days” the last couple weeks, by about I pretty much shut down. I tried to talk my 5 year-old into getting me a warm glass of milk and tucking me in. (He just laughed and took his 37 closest friends up to my room for wrestling practice)
Yeah, I could absolutely list a lot more, but I can tell you I had a little hop in my step as I strolled into work this morning. We had a ton of fun this Christmas, we really did, but I’m glad we only have this brand of fun once a year. Cuz I need a nap!