Quotes: … George W. Bush goes to church …

“He got right into it,” Lewis said later, adding that he had learned only a few days before that Bush would attend the service. “Our intention was just to provide an environment in which he could be spiritually fed,” Lewis said. “He seemed to be relaxed and fit right in.”

The congregation had not known that the former president and first lady also would be coming, Lewis said. “That was a treat.”

At one point, the pastor called Bush ‘president-elect,’ prompting shouted corrections from his congregation. “Did I miss something?” the pastor deadpanned.

“I did that on purpose, because I’ve heard a lot of jargon about the ‘president-select,’ ” said Lewis, 39.

Although he voted for Al Gore, the pastor added, now Bush is “our president. . . . My team lost. But I’m a team player.”

… in order to have a prayer in 2002.

Bush has a strong incentive to succeed in his effort to repair relations with African Americans: politics.

“Going into 2002, we can’t have 5 to 9 percent of the black vote, said Bill Dal Col, a Republican strategist. “In the Senate, we have 20 Republicans up [for reelection] in minority-heavy states. We need those votes. If it’s not turned around it could definitely impact the Senate.”

Bush’s advisers are confident that he can boost his standing, much as he increased his share of the black vote in Texas from his first to his second election. “Historically, the way this has played out is Republican challengers get very little of the black vote when they win,” said Ralph Reed, an outside adviser to Bush. “But once they’ve won the election, if they’ve done a good job working with the African American community on a few critical issues, whether it’s health care or education or poverty, they are usually able to raise their numbers into the low to mid-20s or even higher.”

Part of Bush’s problem was beyond his control. Black voters strongly backed Bill Clinton and were driven by the improved economy to support his understudy, Vice President Gore. At the same time, tough television ads sponsored by the NAACP and others spread doubt about Bush’s racial record.

Still, several of Bush�s actions, most notably his vigorous use of the death penalty in Texas and his visit to Bob Jones University, worsened the situation. Some recent actions have exacerbated matters, particularly the Ashcroft nomination. “You can’t embrace us and stick a thumb in the eye at the same time,” said Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League.

Even allies say some of Bush’s efforts to improve his standing with African Americans since the election have failed. Robert Woodson, a prominent black conservative, said Bush�s speech before a group of black schoolchildren on Martin Luther King Jr. Day fell flat. “Don’t just go into a school and do nice, fuzzy things. He can�t just have a meeting � he’s got to put some policies in place,” Woodson said. He also said Bush’s naming of black candidates to top posts did little to help. “Republicans can’t get away with symbolism,” Woodson said. Democratic symbolism is more effective, he said, because “Democrats have a history” of support.

Blackout blues: … and how some of the locals are handling it. Apparently, I’m not as bent out of shape as, say, some real Net slaves. Then again, I haven’t had the power cut out anywhere near me (touch wood). And some slightly better adjusted people (the ones with real lives) are doing their thing just the way I hope I would do it.

“I just have to tell you, I felt lost,” said Rosanne M. Siino, whose power failed for two hours last week, leaving her without e-mail � and pacing nervously � at her home office in Scotts Valley, near the Santa Cruz mountains. “Thank God for my cell phone.” “Everything we do is dependent on technology,” said Ms. Siino, a marketing consultant who telecommutes to San Francisco, 80 miles away. But her woes go beyond the practical. She has a short attention span, she acknowledged, a need for Internet speed � fed by a culture grown dependent on a round-the-clock stream of digital blips and pulses.

“When you’re not on computer,” Ms. Siino said, “you may as well cut off your arm.” …

Armed with cell phones, laptops and handheld computers, people can switch to temporary, mobile mode when the power fails at their homes, offices or home offices.

Or perhaps, at their cafe offices, like Simple Pleasures, a neighborhood spot in the Richmond district of San Francisco, which went dark for an hour last week. Its toaster and espresso machine down, the cafe was reduced to selling regular, low-tech drip coffee, but life and commerce did not stop for patrons. Several kept chatting by cell phone; one woman, oblivious, typed away on a new translucent orange Macintosh laptop.

Earthquake in India: … and the New York Times can’t decide whether the affected region is in the east

It was that kind of day across much of New York yesterday for Indians from Gujarat, a state in eastern India.

… or the west

A devastating earthquake struck India’s western state of Gujarat today, then shook the rest of the subcontinent from top to bottom. About 2,000 people died, and hundreds more were missing or injured, officials said.

… but the list of places to contribute emergency funds is always a classy move.

I read about it last night. Ankita called home, and her folks in Delhi were all right. Many thanks to Christine and Shannon for checking in.

A-pop is on and poppin’: … So I’ve been caught sleeping on Asian pop music. Should’ve known what was up when I saw this earlier today. Now I’m hunched over my iBook, making my wrist sore punching up Coco Lee and other stuff on Napster. And that other track? Damn catchy — ah, those guitars, the Janet-style “Nothing Really Matters” vibe and those reed-thin massed vocals. Curse you, Ernie! Curse you and your fiendishly catchy MP3 recommendations!

Longplayer: … ain’t a piece of vinyl, but a sonic banquet “good to eat a thousand years.”