Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maybe not "The Road Warrior"...but...

(November 21, 2007)

OK, I have finally settled down enough to write.

The actual trip from Panorama City to Duarte was a month ago. It's taken me this long to get over it. Basically Pacoima does not exist anymore. No, nobody dropped a bomb on it...it just got burnt down. There are conflicting stories about how the firestorms happened. Most locals believe it was retaliation for an ambush killing of two police officers at Glenoaks and Van Nuys. And the Fire Department were basically prevented from responding because, depending on who you talk to, the firefighters were warned not to go near the homes by cops, or the firefighters didn't want to go in because they heard shooting in the area where the fires were breaking out.

Eventually, according to locals, the fires just burned themselves out. By the time we were on our way home all you could see was burnt out buildings. And stray dogs. It made me think about the Mad Max movies. We had to hustle through, but what I saw will stay with me for a long, long time. How many people died there, in the flames? How many people went unrescued? How many families lost what little they had?

If the LAPD started this, or prevented the LAFD from responding, or both, they will have a lot to answer for.

Richie's remission is holding. He's currently mulling a bone marrow transplant, although the risk of complications that couldn't be easily addressed with the current state of the facilities at City of Hope might prove to be the deal-breaker. The wear is starting to show here, as the generators have been kicking in more and more, particularly during the night when solar energy can't be generated. They installed a huge tank for Bio-Diesel as part of the sustainability project.

The tents are gone now, for the most part. The dorm building is open, and so are the houses and apartment buildings that have been bought up. Like I said last post, this is a duplex. The other people who live here are a family with kids -- two boys. I've been working on padded stunt lightsabers (nothing lights up, and the blade is padded with pool noodle foam) as a gift for the boys. The Tandy out here was closing down so I bought some leather so I can set them up with belts to go with them. Since I haven't been able to track down clips and wheels that would hold them (the cell phone type are often too flimsy) I'm doing these sabres Original Trilogy style. (D-Rings and hooks) They love Star Wars, I'm a hopeless SW fangirl.

It seems that smaller school districts like those in Duarte, Arcadia, Bradbury, Monrovia, Temple City and Pasadena have it together better than hulking, overburdened LA Unified. Kids are actually going to school and it's not just glorified day care. LA Unified is so overstressed that basically it's warehousing the students. Ever since the crisis started there has been a moratorium on enforcing the ill-named "No Child Left Behind" nationally. While the "drill and kill" approach is really bad, and we are likely to see some really horrible consequences in college readiness when that generation comes of age, I worry that the generation which is just now starting school is going to have it much, much worse. Like widespread pre-literacy.

Education is going to be essential going forward, if we don't want to go back to the late 1800s. We can survive this two ways: with high or low technology. Considering everything, I don't think I want to go back to the Wild West. But that's where we are headed if we don't educate the children. Ever looked at actuarial tables from that period? They aren't pretty.

There's going to be a huge turkey dinner held for the entire community. I'm looking forward to it. Someone told me once about what heaven and hell looked like. In hell, people had these huge spoons that were too long to eat from. They were seated at a table laden with all kinds of luscious food, and everyone was starving. In heaven, the people figured out what to do with the long spoons. They were just perfect for feeding your neighbor.

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