Friday, July 23, 2010

Fire Update

Dear Everyone,

I am happy to report that things have gotten better since last month. I have received so much support from family and friends, from my work at St. Thomas and my running friends in Houston that how could they not?

CHESS UPDATE: Chess is a happy dog again. The veterinarian has given him an all clear on any and every issue from the fire. He is off all medicine and gallivanting around the Breuers’ house like he owns it. He is playing (rather roughly) with Winston, the Breuer’s chocolate lab. They play tug of war with ropes and toys, they play keep away with whatever the other dog wants, and their games of chase are epic. In other words, Chess in heaven and he’s getting into some trouble. While I was away at a family reunion, he managed to chew up Beth and David’s comforter. …I don’t know who feels guiltier about this, me or him, but we’re both truly sorry.

HOUSING UPDATE: Thanks to a colleague of mine, I have found a nice place to stay while my house gets rebuilt. Michael Lynch is a physics teacher and soccer coach at St. Thomas. His parents have a garage apartment near the medical center. They have graciously opened that space up to me for the upcoming year. I might have to watch their three dogs on occasion, but I think Chess would love that anyway. This location will also allow me to continue my training with friends and colleagues in and around the Houston area. The commute to work is only about 25 minutes according to Mike who did that drive everyday while in high school. Taking into account the breakneck speed at which most high school drivers attempt and factoring in the increased traffic since 19--, I still think I can get to work in under forty minutes.

DONATIONS: Many people have offered all sorts of items to me since June 22nd. I have been offered dog crates, water bowls, refrigerators, bicycles, beds, clothing, etc. My plan is now to purchase a larger storage facility as the apartment I am moving to is already furnished. I am trying to write everyone, but my inbox was flooded for a while and I might not have contacted everyone immediately. For this, I apologize. It has been a rather hectic (yet grace filled) month.

DANSTOCK: Chris Wardwell is a theology teacher at St. Thomas and one of my closest friends. He has organized a party at the Mucky Duck which he has called “Danstock - Three Hours of Peace, Love, and Dan.” I am deeply touched by this and I am also very excited about the party. The information is listed below. I hope to see you there!


Dan Green

Danstock - Three Hours of Peace, Love, and Dan
Time August 14 • 12:00pm - 3:00pm


Location McGonigel's Mucky Duck
2425 Norfolk Street
Houston, TX


Created By Chris Wardwell


More Info Danstock
Three Hours of Peace, Love, and Dan

As many of you know, our friend, Dan Green, lost his home and all of his belongings to a fire this summer. Dan often uses his artistic talents to benefit others: as the drama teacher at St. Thomas High School he spends countless hours working on the student productions; as the director of the videos for Round Up (St. Thomas' fundraiser that provides financial aid for many of the studen...ts who would not otherwise be able to attend school there); and as a crucial member of the teacher band, No Late Work (that often plays at Round Up), in which Dan sings and plays guitar.

SO let's celebrate his love for music at Danstock!

Here are the details:

"Danstock" will be three hours of peace, love, and Dan (and a whole lot of fun and good food too!). We would love for you to join us!

We will have three bands playing including The Dragliners and... a special guest.

Included in his losses in the fire was Dan's much-loved guitar. Because Dan has given so much through the arts, we'd like to give him back some of that "art." We are holding a benefit to raise money to buy Dan a new guitar.

Saturday August 14, 2010
Noon - 3:00 pm

McGonigel's Mucky Duck
2424 Norfolk St., Houston, Tx
McGonigel's Mucky Duck has been nice enough to host this. They serve great food, so come hungry and show our thanks by eating lunch there.

How much?
We will be accepting donations at the door. Every gift, regardless of the amount, will be appreciated. The money will go to buy Dan a new guitar and to cover other costs he is facing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I've seen better film on teeth #1.

Another Flashback. ...Sorry, I'm on vacation.

The following is my review of the worst movie ever made. I'm writing about my family this week. It takes some time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 11:01am | Edit Note | Delete

At World's End should have been called: We Don't Know What We Are Doing -Part 2.
Nothing about this film worked. The plot was nonsense, the acting overdone, and the exposition everywhere. It was a train wreck from beginning to end …except that train wrecks generally occur because of one or two problems. A better analogy for this disaster of a film would be that it was akin to the black plague. The disease was everywhere, infecting all, one was safe.

The whole movie seemed vomited forth from the deep recesses of some terrible marketing place specilaizing in spawning singularly crap. Of course, this is what most people had the good sense to predict. Still, there is something about me that likes pirate movies and I had just watched Treasure Island at the Alley the day before.

As with the other two films, the opening was filled with intrigue. Dozens and dozens of people walk single file on their way to the gallows. A chorus rises and every damned soul sings a song calling for justice.

At this point I thought, “…maybe.”

But no. …no, no, no. The plot oozed forth, slowly, sluggishly, like so much venom and bile from the kraken ...who at least had the good sense to die off screen.

I would take time to describe my disgust with every single scene –random and confused, clever but not smart, visually interesting but bereft of purpose, defaulting and settling for disgusting, etc. However, that would suggest I cared enough about the universe of Pirates to try and make sense of the story they offered.

All I’ll offer is that the climax of the movie occurs amid a maelstrom created by Calypso, the goddess of the sea and the betrayed lover of Captain Davy Jones. The East Indian Trading Company is there, Davy Jones is there, …ah who cares. Perhaps it was intended, but I rooted for the maelstrom -the perfect metaphor for the plot, the development, and the frenzied, out of focus action, etc. I wanted every character dead, really dead, not brought back to life dead.

...I wanted Calypso to pull a lever and flush the entire pirate universe down the proverbial commode.

It wasn't funny, inspiring, good, fun, enjoyable, or entertaining on any level. I hated every single second this story stole from me because I liked the initial concept so much. The directors and producers and actors and story hackers should all take a lesson from the Krakken.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In honor of the flooding

The following is an article I wrote about nine years ago after losing my car to a flash flood. In honor of recent events and the current flash flooding, I present this flashback. Apologies for the misuse of an adverb.


June 15, 2001, 2:54PM
Dan Green

Things learned from a flooded freeway

Dear Everyone, I don't know if you've been following anything in the news besides the execution of Timothy and the obnoxious L.A. Lakers, but we've had a bit of flooding down here in Houston. I've been in flash floods before but I think it's safe to say I've never experienced one as incredible as the one brought about by Tropical Storm Allison.

There I was last Friday night, leaving my girlfriend's house (yes, that's read correctly -I'm no longer "Platonic Dan") and heading back for my apartment eager to get to sleep and out of the light drizzle I'd been driving through all day. Thankfully, the sanctuary of my little Acura Integra made for a pleasurable cruise from her house to Interstate 10 west. Tuning into the radio stations, I knew that Interstate 10 was the only highway that wasn't experiencing traffic jams or severe weather so it seemed likely that I'd have an easy 13 mile journey to my apartment....Damn my hubris.

12:06 a.m.: Static:
The first sign of trouble is the radio. Regularly, the reception around Houston is as clear as a whistle but in this case, the rain and the static have taken every other word. For a moment I am entertained by the game, filling in my own words for the song which I thought was "Freeze Frame" by the J. Geils Band (a perennial classic). As a cautionary tactic, I decide to reduce my speed from 70 to 55. However, the other cars and 18 wheelers around me barrel onward.

12:08 a.m.: The Clue I Didn't Pick up on Until Later:
I casually notice that there are no cars, SUVs, or trucks heading in the opposite direction. In my head I'm thinking it's because two of the highways in that direction are closed...

12:10 a.m.: The Moment of Truth:
Visibility is somewhat difficult but part of that is because I'm now riding to the left of an 18-wheeler's back wheel which is spraying my car continuously with water picked up from its treads. My wipers are working full throttle but it's to no avail. I begin making up my own song about 18-wheeler jerks but am interrupted in mid-flat-note by the emergency broadcast system. It is not a test. Both Interstate 59 and Interstate 45 are closed as is the city's loop on the east side. I deduce that the problem is behind me as I'm heading west but I reduce my speed to 35. The people around me follow suit.

12:15 a.m.: The Chevy Blazer:
I-10 is a four lane highway heading west through the city. I am now in the third lane (2nd from the center median) as I'm predicting the traffic will spread out for the upcoming loop division (some four miles away). A 1989 Chevy blazer cannot take the speed that everyone is choosing to go so it exits the 3rd lane and proceeds to pass us all on the left. I called him several unfriendly words at the top of my lungs. Suddenly, the Blazer begins to shimmy. It starts to skid and slide sideways. It is now hydroplaning and I am pressing down on my breaks firmly (It is approximately 10 car lengths ahead of me). Ultimately, the Blazer skids to a halt and sits still as I pass it (now at a cautionary 20 miles an hour).-Deductions I made from witnessing the hydroplaning:
1) Water is accumulating in some areas so be careful.
2) If you see any big puddles, exit.
3) Stay close to the median so as to avoid the puddles at all cost because your Acura can't handle it.
4) The guy driving is an idiot.

12:16 a.m.: The Warning and the Waiting:
As I drove towards the 610 loop, I saw a blinking yellow sign which read, "Expect delays at the loop." Within a half a mile of that sign, I found myself at a standstill underneath the T.C. Jester Boulevard overpass, out of the rain for the moment, stuck in a typical Houston traffic jam, singing the words to "Desperado," (much to the amusement of a Vietnamese woman as I later found out). There are trucks in front of me, vans, other sports cars, and several large cars. There are also tankers and other big rigs behind me. I'm not going anywhere for a while-if only there were a Snickers bar around.

12:20 a.m.: The Cop Lady's Request:
A cop in the 2nd lane rolls down her window and flags me. She ask very politely if I wouldn't mind "scootching over" towards the median even more because she's noticed the water level rising around us. I acquiesce ever so graciously.

12:25 a.m.: The Rising:
The cop is now out of her car, moving things out of her trunk. Hers is the only "car" in the 2nd lane. The rest of the vehicles are rigs of one kind or another. She seems perturbed. I don't like angry cops so I try to ignore her (truly my finest hour). Water is now accumulating underneath my car. I get angry with the truck driver behind me because first, his lights are on and flashing right into my mirror and secondly, he is driving forward sending small waves into my car's exhaust. Has he no conscience? Is he just pure evil? Other drivers also jeer at him. We are united in our disgust; a very reputable mob mentality. Suddenly, a Nigerian man calls to me and ask if I have water in my car. I check. Nope. We both sigh relieved.

12:30 a.m.: The 1st Wave:
I've been relaxing for a moment, my seat eased back, the car off, listening to the rain. My foot has been resting slightly on the clutch. I decide to sit up and stretch. I put my foot down and I hear a splash. There is a centimeter of water in the car. "That's not so bad," I think. I can have this thing cleaned out tomorrow and it'll be as good as new. I just gotta hope that the rain will stop. Looking out into the night, I study the rain and come to the frightening conclusion that the rain can go on a little longer. A motorcycle weaves its way by me through traffic without difficulty. I am jealous of the Chinese kid in the Prelude who rolls down his window for the sheer delight of shooting the finger at the motorcyclist. "Why didn't I do that?" I ponder.

12:35 a.m.: The Hard Fought Loss:
I grab a coffee mug that I've had in my car since mid-May and start bailing water out. I also grab a water bottle and using my trusty scout knife, cut off the top to have a second water bailer. My father's voice echoes in my head as I remember my sailing days, "Bail! Bail! Bail! Bail!"
...He would have been proud of my effort. Water is now nearing the top of the seat cushion. It seeps in with greater ease than my ability to send it out. I notice an Irish tape floating underneath the center console. It serves as the catalyst for one of my finer barrages of expletives-directed primarily at myself and the rain. "You stupid idiot! You stupid %$#@** moron! AAAAAAAAGGGGHHH! Of all the *&##@ luck! %%&$$^% this rain! *&@#% this car! *%##@ this night!" Thankfully, the neighbors couldn't hear me.

12:40 a.m.: Abandoning Ship:
I am now out of my car and loading things up into my backpack · anything I can salvage. Other motorist are out and about doing the same thing. The water is now above my knee. I put everything on top of my back speakers and go watch the flood from the median. There I visit with the Vietnamese family, the Chinese kid (Steven), the Nigerian who lost his alligator shoes, computer, dry cleaning, cell phone, and CD player. Typical questions: Are you insured? Can you believe this? When will it end? Did you hear any warnings on the radio?

12:50 a.m.: THE MASS EXODUS:
The rain is now up to the window of my car. The electricity shorts out on it, causing the alarm to sound for the first time in nine months, much to the delight of my neighbors. I frantically search for my alarm control and drop my keys. Reluctantly, I immerse myself into the water. Using my toes, I manage to retrieve the keys but I am 100% soaked in the process. Thankfully, other people's alarms are sounding as well and the hatred for me is short lived. The alarm fails to respond to my control but eventually it cuts itself off (it would do that several more times). I study the water and realize that it's still rising steadily. I go to my car, open up the hatchback and retrieve everything I can put in either my backpack or my Snoopy pillowcase. Then I carry them above my shoulders over the median to the southern bank of the TC Jester overpass. Other people follow suit. Some draw allusions to Moses, some to Noah, and some to INS and the Rio Grande. Andalé Muchachos!

1:00 a.m.: The S.S. INTEGRA:
People point out which car is going under first. The Hondas, Acuras and Mitsibushis will go, no doubt. Somebody has a BMW roadster too. People delight in watching it go under. We also notice that all of the truck drivers are staying with their rigs. We hate the truck drivers. Now we are one collective, using each other's cell phones, shaking our heads in unison, borrowing each others dry stuff. For the moment, it is okay to be under the bridge, out of the rain and the water, watching the spectacle. I notice that cars are floating into one another a little bit. All that can be seen of my car is the sun roof. I think to myself that I've now lost one car to black ice and another to a flash flood. Nature 2, Me zip.

1:10 a.m.: The Flash Flood:
Somebody calls out that they just timed the water. It's rising a foot every ten minutes. We all sit there with our mouths open.

1:30 a.m.: The Truck People:
The water is at least 6 feet deep now. It has covered a Landcruiser and an Astrovan in the last few minutes. Trucks start blowing their horns much to the dismay of those of us sleeping on the embankment. Our group finally figures out that some of the truckers are in trouble and we go to help. The truck drivers' rigs are now shorting out and they are escaping rapidly. We form a pretty weak firemen's line to help those of them that are escaping to the Southern bank. I saved a blanket.

1:50 a.m.: The Guy Who Couldn't Swim and His Family:
One Trucker honked on his horn for several minutes until finally people figured out he was trapped inside (His locks were electrical and the electricity wasn't working in his rig.) Once the door was pried open, he grabbed his two boys, ages 8 and 4, and tried to carry them to our embankment. His back had a slipped disk that he was taking medicine for, so the weight of both children caused him some distress. Also, he was not a very strong swimmer. Already wet, our group decided to help out as much as possible. We managed to get them all over to our underpass safely.

1:55 a.m.: The Fire:
It was a good thing that we got the family out of their rig because a small fire broke out inside it. Ultimately, the electrical fire grew ten feet tall and enveloped the entire rig. We all sat there in disbelief. The man hugged his children tight and prayed. No one said anything for a while. 2:00 a.m.: Let's Get the Hell Out Of Here!:
I have never seen lightning so close in my life. Less than 200 yards away, lightning struck the tail end of a tanker which was floating high (I later learned that it was empty). Everyone screamed. A security guard exclaimed that there was a Texaco Station behind us if we wanted to leave the shelter. I yelled at the top of my lungs, in Batman fashion no less, "To the Texaco Station!!!!!" Like a band of Gypsies we grabbed everything we could and made our way up the embankment to a shelter that had already been discovered by about 200 other people.

3:00 a.m.: The View.
Tankers and 18 wheelers are floating into one another now. I-10 has been renamed by us as "Bayou 10." We worry that the rain will continue and we'll have to seek higher ground again. It is approximately 6 feet to the top of the "levee."

I stayed up watching the news, watching the rain, hearing horror story after horror story. I found a bed for the two kids that were saved by our group. I bought a Tylenol for the guy with the bad back as he had to stand up. I cursed the manager of the Texaco station for kicking the children out of the dry bay of his garage. I consoled the Nigerian 38 year old who was uninsured and worried that his Dad would explode. I cracked jokes with some gang bangers who were exceptionally polite (they were from Beaumont no less). I spoke Spanish for the better part of the evening with two life insurance salesmen from Colombia. I drank Yoohoo Sodas and ate Funions, something I hadn't done since 7th grade.

The rain didn't stop until 7:30. Houston amassed 22 inches of rain in 7 hours, this after being flooded partially on Tuesday night. The area where I was camped out received the brunt of it in the city as it was the section of I-10 right next to Buffalo Bayou which had already overflowed from the Tuesday downpour. My car was approximately sixteen feet under water. I would have been okay with all of that had I not found out that the police made a special trip to TC Jester to help a trucker move his cargo to higher ground. I was told the cargo was Ross Perot's nephew's Lamborgini Countache. It sat there atop the TC Jester overpass, directly above my submarine. The entire gas station was anxious to see it fall into the water. Justice would have been served. I wasn't picked up until 9:30 and I couldn't get home until Sunday.

The lessons I learned from this experience:
1) Always carry a toothbrush with you where ever you go.
2) Pay attention to weather patterns.
3) People are generally friendly, once you get past their outer images.
...except for the manager of the Texaco Station at T.C. Jester and I-10.
4) Don't curse people out in a storm ...because you just might end up spending the night with them at a gas station.
5) Keep a pillow, blanket, 1st Aid kit, flashlight, poncho, water and batteries with you in the back of your car at all times (I had everything but the blanket).
6) Don't skimp on insurance ever.
7) Don't end dates early simply because you want to sleep.
8) Drive bigger cars.

In all honesty, I'm okay with what happened. I'm insured. I'm alive. There are people in far more dire straits than I could ever be. This is actually pretty minor now. My car is caked in mud. There are flies all over it, but it's been towed away and I have a claim number. ...I am now looking into trucks again. I'm done with small cars.
God bless everyone and stay out of the rain.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Thoughts after the fire...

I am a very lucky man. I have no cause to complain. While losing my home is certainly traumatic, I’ve been fortunate enough to see love in action from all of my friends and family. Even strangers have gotten in on the act. Truly, I have been so blessed by the outpouring of love and support that it's almost an after thought. ...Oh yeah, my house burned down.

I think this has been miraculous. My dog got out and he’s healthy; the painting I love is safe. Both the knife and two special books with inscriptions from my father are a bit water damaged, but I have them. The pictures of family, running medals, icons, a rosary, and there was even some Powers Irish whiskey in an undamaged pantry – well all of these things are safe.

Now on top of the stuff and the gift of life, I have been afforded another great blessing (a’ la Frank Capra). I've seen first hand what most of us will only see at our own funeral -a profound, loud declaration of love. I guarantee you, It's a Wonderful Life!

But honestly, it is almost scarily beautiful. I am reminded of the centurion who tells our Lord, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed." ...In a very similar fashion, I have to ask / state, "Who am I to merit such support, friendship, and love? I'm not worthy."

But whether the centurion is worthy or not is not his call to make. That is God's call. And whether I’m worthy or not to receive such help is not for me to decide. That’s the decision of my friends, family, and greater community. And thus far, they have showered me with love and support. It has been mind blowing. It has been humbling. It has been awe-inducing. It’s so much to take in, that I don’t think anyone can do it easily.

The unworthiness I feel is connected to my broken condition I guess. If I ever am lucky enough to attain a less imperfect state, maybe I’ll be able to grasp such love with less trepidation. As it is, I am human with limited wisdom and sense …as evidenced by the insurance debacle.

I was talking with my sister about this and we agree that the truth of love is somehow rooted in its capacity to surprise someone with joy. If you ask anyone who has talked to me in the last week, they will tell you outright that I am laughing so much more freely right now. I just am. I keep thinking this must be shock, but it doesn’t feel like shock I’ve experienced before. …It feels like Christmas morning when I was a kid. Love is alive, love is overflowing, love is real.

What I do know now is just so real to me.

…God is good.

Family is good.

Friends are good.

Catholics are good.

Presbyterians are good.

Muslims are good.

Jews are good.

Agnostics are good.

…I could go on, but you get the idea.

I am a heterosexual Roman Catholic man who votes Republican on some issues and Democrat on others and I’ve even voted Green once before (probably in a moment of silliness connected with my last name). I am not married, and I’m as foolish as the next person about certain things –the insurance debacle being proof that I am more foolish than most.

But God so loved me that he allowed me a momentary glimpse of how things work. And what did I see?

I saw people of every creed, nationality, background, and age united in helping me. They might not have done so willingly had they been forced to work alongside each other in a trench, but they probably would have done that too. All have been so gracious with their time, talent, and treasure.

This all builds up to an overpowering feeling. For me, in the fire and the reaction after it, God said, “Hey Dan, Love is everywhere. It is. The people are loving without thinking twice. Do you see the beauty that is the world I created? Do you see the beauty of every person regardless of what ideologies they profess? They all have the capacity to love. They all come from me and I don’t make trash.”

I can’t think of anything that needs to be said besides that. …except that I hope I can pay it all forward with the rest of my life.

The party is coming folks. Chess wants to say thanks!