Archive for the 'Disaster & Recovery' Category


Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Here in the Dallas area, we can get pretty smug about our distance from any coastline, and thus the low likelihood of being threatened by hurricanes …

That is, until one is predicted to come barreling up the middle of Texas right toward us with just a little loss of power, still having tropical storm strength as it reaches Oklahoma.

At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. Then they began predicting that Hurricane Ike would make a sharp right turn just north of Houston and give us only 50 MPH winds and 100% chance of rain, measuring from two to four inches.

Now, at about 2 PM on Saturday, it’s scaled back to an 80% chance of rain for the whole Dallas area, with only an inch or two of precip and 30 MPH winds.

And for my little burb (about 35 miles NNW of downtown Large D), it looks like we’re going to get Mr. Jack Squat.

All that water to go around, and none for us?

That could change, of course, but for now I’ll set my attitude meter at Smug with a side of Envy.

UPDATE: It’s now 10:30, and we probably got a little over an inch of rain, and little wind, so I’m happy

But we took all the herb pots off the patio for nothing …

On Weight Loss, Tornadoes & TV

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Okay, so it’s not March any more, but, rebel that I am, I’m trotting out the shamrock icon one more time for this miscellaneous stuff:

I wanted to post this while the posting’s still good: As of last Sunday, I’m below 190 pounds (189.8, to be exact) for the first time since the months following my surgery two years ago. At any rate, my size 36 khakis are fitting nicely, and maybe even a bit loose. That means I’ve now got about 12 pairs of khakis that fit, and three really loose ones.

The amazing thing is I’m losing weight while unemployed — that is, while having too much time on my hands, time that could be used sit around and stuff my face. I’m also surprised since the past four months were not only the coldest of the year (when it’s toughest to get outside) but also the most fattening.

But I’m managing to keep to my walks almost every day, since we’ve had lots of warm days lately, and I’ve been keeping my daytime meals small, so that seems to have done the trick.

The only problem is that my wife reminded me that she doesn’t like skinny men, so I’d better not overdo it.

So I had some ice cream and she feels better about it now.

Yesterday morning we discovered that the TV in the computer room was totally dead (probably a dead power supply).

And what’s a computer room with a TV? NOTHING, that’s what! A BIG FAT GOOSE-EGG-LIKE ZILCH!

So anyway, I went out to check prices on TV. But since there were storm clouds rolling in, we checked the local news stations for the weather. The local CBS weather guy said, “We’ve got a few little clouds up in Denton county”, that’s where we live, “but what we’re really concerned with is down here in Burleson” (60 miles to the southwest) “where this situation could easily spawn tornadoes”.

So I went on to WalMart, and as soon as I was back in the TV department, my wife called on my cell phone and told me that the tornado sirens were sounding. “You don’t hear them?” she asked. “I hear about 40 TVs, and piped-in music. I’m toward the back of the store!” Nobody else in the store was panicking, so I wasn’t going to perform solo. I just figured stick close to the sturdy looking shelving, and the second anything hit the building, I’d have an edge on ducking under it.

As soon as she heard the sirens, she grabbed her purse and the phone and a flashlight, and herded Bristol and Molly into the bathroom, then called me to see if I had pulled a Dorothy yet.

Anyway, nothing happened, but I learned I can’t trust the local weather wizards to know what’s going on.

Anyway, enough about life and death matters, back to what’s really important: Replacing the TV in our computer room. I found a passable small Samsung at WalMart, but we wanted to check at our local resale store before spending the big bucks.

Long story short: I found a fairly recent model 20″ Panasonic for $9.99.

It’s a combo TV/VCR and the VCR part doesn’t work, and they didn’t have the remote …. but hey, NINE NINETY-NINE!

It actually took some work to get working — and in this case the tech support guru was my wife, who sacrificed a fingernail to freeing the VHS tape (Star Trek, The Original Series) that was stuck in it, and then stopping the tape ejector mechanism from making a constant clattering sound — and more work to get it programmed — again, it was my wife that found the solution on the internet, and without losing a fingernail this time — so there was indeed some “sweat equity” involved …


We got an $8 remote at Dollar General — again, my wife’s doing (this could give a geek a complex) — and now we’re back up and running, entertainment-in-the-computer-room-wise, so we’re happy.

Yes, we’re partying like it’s $9.99.

I was supposed to bring this up on Monday, but better late than never: Go to Renny’s site to see how they celebrate April Fool’s Day in Norway.

3 Short Items

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Three quick things, since I’m not going to spend a lot of time posting today:

1. Video of the San Diego wildfires, taken by an actual resident of the area:

2. I’ve been meaning to post this for months, and keep forgetting: G4TV’s Morgan Webb has a … um … videoblog? I don’t remember what the term is, but it’s called The Webb Alert, and it’s really insightful as well as entertaining (bonus point: she’s not difficult to look at), so check it out.

3. One thing I’ve been doing instead of posting today is exchanging emails (and, in many cases, some very interesting information!) with my now-ex-coworkers, and the latest of those ex-cowerkers was none other than a frequent commenter here, FractL, who proved over a year ago that she was smarter than me by getting a job elsewhere. FractL and I have similar tastes in music, so I had a lot to rattle on about.

So maybe I’ll post more tomorrow, after my camera battery is charged back up (that’s excuse #4).

Something Wicked

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Thirty-seven years ago today, three things happened: The Beatles released “The Long and Winding Road”, which would be their last U.S. #1 single; an F5 tornado hit Lubbock and killed 26 people; and actor Nicky Katt (Boston Public, Boiler Room) was born.

Was this just some kind of freaky coincidence? Yeah, that’s what they want you to think …

Seriously, though: I remember what I was doing that day, the day Lubbock got hit. I was living 50 miles away, finishing up my freshman year in high school, and about halfway through Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I read it by candle light that night, in my aunt and uncle’s basement, when our electricity went out.

I never finished the book, and never read it after that night.

It was spooky enough as it was, and after that night, I was too creeped out to go back to it.

Have you got any weird memories like that?

Quick Miscellaneous Topics

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Some quick things:

1. If you haven’t been checking out G4TV’s coverage of E3 like I suggested, you really should, especially if you play video games.

Yesterday they had previews of the upcoming Zelda game, and it looked sharp.

2. This is big TV week, of course: Last night was the next to last Lost of the season, and man of man was it good: We got some real answers, Claire’s “psychic” appeared in someone else’s flashback, and the show returned to the mystical undertones that made it so much fun early on.

Tonight were the “supersized” finales of My Name is Earl, and The Office. I was out on my lung-walk so I haven’t watched Earl yet, but I saw most of The Office, and let me just say this: The inevitable finally happened, in the final minutes. About time.

Also, Steve Carrell’s character still needs a railroad spike through his skull. Now more than ever.

3. This one for my own future reference: Two nights ago there were a couple of tornadoes in the next county over, killing three people and obliterating 50 houses. This is Texas, so we’re fairly used to this sort of thing, but it’s still unsettling to have it hit so close.

In fact, it was 36 years ago today that a tornado killed 26 people in Lubbock, close to my hometown — just two weeks after another tornado took a huge bite out of Plainview, which was even closer to me.

At the time I had a pen pal in London (named Ingrid, BTW), and after I told her about our weather adventures, I think her preconception of people in Texas was less of cowboys on horses, and more Dorothy’s family running for shelter in the Wizard of Oz.

4. Also for future reference: Yesterday we had our twice-annual tour of our Japanese distributors — only two days after moving into our new offices, so of course it was total chaos … (Hey Vickie, remind me to tell you about the little meeting we had today about something yesterday; you’ll get a good laugh. But let’s use our home email addresses … )

Post #29 of 36: 2005 TV Top 10: #4

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

We’re closing in on my top shows of the year:

#4. Hurricane Katrina news coverage — When the hurricane was over, we thought it was, well, over — but the worst part was just starting. TV is full of shows that try to fabricate drama, but nothing spells the real thing like the near-decimation of a major city, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Regardless of what Time magazine says (naming Bono and the Gateses as People of the Year — what’s up with that??), this wasthe biggest story of the year, maybe of the decade.

It was a real-life disaster movie, a real-life soap opera times a million. It was hard for me to watch anything else when Katrina aftermath coverage was on TV.

Post #9 of 36: The Scrounging

Monday, December 26th, 2005

Check this out: Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out.

Apparently capitalizing on the current trend of Disaster Chic, this volume tells you how to keep your dining standards high, even when you’re struggling for existence. Offerings include Shiitake-Happens Mushroom Soup, which should give you some idea of the spirit of the project.

The Disaster WILL be televised

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Here’s something I forgot to mention yesterday about the impending hurricane:

Steve from Look at This sent me this link to a webcam set up in a bait shop 50 yards offshore at Gulfport, Texas, directly in the path of Hurricane Rita. You’ll be able to watch a direct feed of some of the storm’s destruction, because, according to the site, “We do not expect the pier nor the webcams to survive.”

As of this morning, the first cam is already showing a Java error, but the second one is still up. If you look closely, you can see the hanging nets swaying, probably because of the waves hitting against the pier.

It can only get worse, so stay tuned …

Tuesday Night Grab Bag

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

It’s almost halfway through September, but there’s still no sign of autumn temperatures. But we’re used to it, so let’s do some quick things:

It’s Presurfer‘s birthday today, so drop by and send your regards! Even if you don’t see this until tomorrow, go over and say hi to the old guy …

Most people need a hot cup of coffee to start the day, but not me: My eye-opener is a big 32-ounce tumbler of iced tea, so thick with tea oils that it has a nice brisk bite to it. Even in the winter I consumer hot drinks only sparingly.

Why do I bring this up? Because when I got to work this morning, I spotted something in my half-finished tea: It was a dead moth.

Oh joy.

I just hope it fell out of the tree I parked under at work, and hadn’t been floating in there from the beginning.

More work matters: My department discovered that we need a typewriter — seriously, a TYPEWRITER, I couldn’t make this up — so I was designated to go make the purchase: In part because I’m the most office-technonology savvy person in the office, and in part because I get stuck with the crap work that nobody else wants to do.

It worked out well though, because I finished up the transaction tout-suite and swung around to The Wife’s beauty shop for an impromptu visit.

It made both our days.

But back to the purchase: When I went into Office Depot, the older guy who greeted me said he didn’t think they had the archaic devices, but another employee was able to lead me to the Stone Knives & Bear Skins department, to show me the two models sold by the store.

The reason we needed one is that some federal agency requires a paper form in four parts with carbon paper; I took a form with me to the store to test-drive the display models to make sure they could handle the Bueaucracy Test.

Oh wait, I remember the federal agency now: The USDA. Hmm … is it a coincidence that department that runs the Forest Service (and thus is probably having its strings pulled by the timber industry) is requiring massively dead-tree forms in the age of electronic data transfer?

They’re probably in the pocket of the carbon paper lobby too …

I’ve previously mentioned that Flickr photos with the tag of “Lubbock”, my old stomping grounds, were a bit thin in number, but these days that group is starting to fill out nicely, due in part to Flickr member Steven Segraves, who has recently posted photos of Lubbock’s part in the Katrina relief effort, with which he is doing volunteer work. I for one was interesting in seeing photos of the evacuees’ living quarters.

Segraves is also one of the few Lubbock bloggers of whom I am aware, so check out his site,

One more thing: Regardless of whether you’re for or against John Roberts being on the Supreme Court, there’s one thing that bothers me, that I haven’t heard anybody else bring up: Shouldn’t somebody actually serve on the Supreme Court for a while before being nominated CHIEF JUSTICE???

Regardless of what I think about Roberts’ qualifications or views, I can’t help but feeling, with him being rushed up to the head of the line to be the Chief so quickly, that the country is being railroaded into something — kind of like how Halliburton has been handed billion-dollar contracts without having to bid. Doesn’t the news media pay attention to these things?

Red Cross benefit by “Lost” cast

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Check out this Flickr set of a Red Cross benefit starring the cast of “Lost”.

(Previously: “Lost” on Wikipedia.)