Friday, September 30, 2005

Aggie Evacuations

This is the famous Loupot's Bookstore, right across the street from campus on Northgate.

Their hurricane party

The email said this photo was taken in Texas.

Texans went a wee bit too far into survival mode in the days before Rita. I talked to the owner of a local gun shop about the rush and he expressed a mixture of awe and disgust at the whole matter. His store was packed all day long with weirdos like my husband buying up more ammo. Everybody here had Friday off but the guys couldn't drive to the gun range to shoot it off because there was so much traffic on the freeways.

Too bad they didn't take a picture of all the annoyed wives standing in the background.

School District Sued in Class Action Lawsuit

A new development has occurred in the "it's their fault" debate on the lack of education observed in black students. Many private foundations have sued school districts in an effort to get them to bolster the achievement of black students, but this is the first time a judge has allowed a class action lawsuit.

More than 20,000 Pinellas black students can stand together against the school
system in a lawsuit that alleges they are not being properly educated, a
three-judge appeals panel ruled Wednesday.

The school district defended itself with the same research that is available across the country. The newspaper cited povery, distrust of white folk, and excess television watching in black families as factors the school district has no control over.

I'm so tired of hearing "poverty" as a reason. In truth, their educational values often define what they expect of their children and how they teach their children to act towards a teacher. Their educational values is what is making them poor, not the other way around. There's no reason that a poor student couldn't learn just as well as another. But if their parent never tells them to do their homework, then the student will never learn.

It's culture, not race! I'm glad to say I think most of my friends already know this. The skin color gene does not influence the intelligence gene! We all think of Asian immigrant students as being the geeky, studious students who are always on top. But in reality, African immigrants have attended college at a higher rate than all other immigrants. There are many, many smart black people out there that are probably just as tired as I am of these annoying race arguements.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

How to help Louisiana

To help the people of Louisiana, I propose that the state of Texas annex the state of Louisiana. Most of their citizens are already here and for some reason, don't want to go back. I'm sure they'd even feel better if their old state became part of their new state.

And look at the history behind the situation too. Texas and Louisiana used to be part of the French new world land grab. France was one of them and if it wasn't for those pesky Spainards, we might be eating Creole food instead of Tex-Mex.

I'm sure that all Louisiana people have realized the value of having gun values. Looters would might change their mind when they realize that everybody has become a Texan.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mr. Weatherman

Have you ever noticed that there is no person that we forgive more often than our weatherman? Right now, after promising me a hurricane, he tosses record heat on me but dangles a cold front for the rest of the week on the television for the rest of the week. I walk home everyday in the dripping heat dreaming about that beautiful 80 degrees high he has promised me.

Weatherman are too much like politicians. They promise all sorts of stuff they can't deliver and can never take any of the blame. But I love my weatherman! The face of every town, small or large, is the friendly weatherman, trying to spin the latest predictions into something that will make our day look better. The weatherman is like a psychologist for the entire city. No matter the problem, he has an answer.

Here's the latest from the NOAA Hurricane Center:


Somewhere along the way, I've become the weather geek that my mother is. She's the one who added this NOAA link to my favorites while staying here as an evacuee. Other people on forums I know took great pleasure in posting the whole paragraphs twice a day to update everybody. Will I sink that low? No way.

Last year Florida got 4 hurricanes and this year so far Louisiana has only been hit by two. I just keep wondering if more are going to hit Louisiana!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Good Day at School

Today was a GREAT day in class for me. Today was the first day that I didn't have to call security to remove students from my classroom. Class was calm and many students pledged to be good again. After a couple day in suspension, they really wanted to stay in the class! A couple more are still doing their in-school-suspension right now and will be returning in a couple days.

:) I'm happy and so much less stressed than usual.

Moral Dilemma

There are so many problems produced by the rising gasoline costs. This week Georgia suspended school for two days because of a lack of fuel. Other rural school districts are considering four-day weeks to save money. I'm sure that this is causing a great moral debate inside some districts. Should they "risk" our students' education in an effort to save money?

However, I am also considering the many moral delimmas that gasoline prices have on me too. Should I walk to work or go ahead and drive the 6 blocks? Should I drive the kids to the library or just let them read the books I already bought? Should I drive to Blockbuster to pick out a movie or subscribe to Netflicks now?

But the biggest question has me stumped: How much should I tip the pizza man now?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Just in case you were wondering but I'm sure you weren't...

There are two tropical waves out thar' that the NOAA National Hurricane Center is watching right now.




Never blink. Never close your eyes. Never look away. Since you and I can't do it, just log onto the Hurricane Center anytime to find the status of what's heading our way next.

But at least we can rest at ease through Tuesday because of grown-up high school geeks who get kicks out of watching and predicting the minute details of weather.

Side Effects of Rita

I laughed at FoxNews's extra large caption on the website proclaiming "Western Louisiana Swamped." After all, that's merely mother nature returning the land to it's natural environment- swampy!

I'm sorry for all the rain, tornadoes, floods, and other inconviences that Hurricane Rita has graciously bestowed on other Americans across the Eastern Continent. The rains of Rita never got to my county. The radar showed them in the county beside me but the Brazos Valley's slice was two enjoyable days of beautiful cool weather and a fun-loving breeze.

We're paying for it double now.

Yesterday the high was 104 and right now its 105 outside. My husband went to start the van at 4pm and nothing would work! The radio wouldn't play, the windows wouldn't roll, and scarily, the van wouldn't start. After opening the doors for a couple minutes, the van finally started. Hubby's just that the "Oh crap" stress moment to pass now.

Rita took such a big chunk of air with her that now an equally impressive amount of air must come from somewhere to equalize the pressures. As Rita heads north and east, the winds are now coming out of the west, directly off the hot Texas desert. The heat is still here and now humidity has returned with fresh moisture from the Gulf reaching into our area this morning. Heat advisories are now in effect with FEELS LIKE temps up at 108 and climbing.

Now, when the mayor of Houston says "STAY AWAY" because there's no electricity, water, and sewage in your part of town, maybe you'll do it next time!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Beating the Traffic Home

My family packed up this morning, left, and have already made it back home into the southwest side of Houston. They both have electricity at their homes and gas left over in their tanks but will hang out at home. My mom lives right by Beltway 8 @ 59 South and my sister lives in town not to far from Beltway 8 @ 1-10.

Thanks for visiting me! If go through this all again just two weeks from now, I hope to you again!

Straw Poll

Was the evacuation a success?

No- it was a failure: All the men in my house

Yes- it was successful: All the women in my house

I wonder if a Harvard expert could explain this one...

EDIT: I've messed this posting up and I've tried to fix it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Party

My hurricane party is in full effect now. The drinks are chilled and the nachos cheese is warm. I've been watching the soda and beer stock at Walmart all week long. They've reloaded the beer aisle 3 times this week alone. We spoke to the beer delivery guy today, who was refilling the store again only 2 hours before they were about to close. He said that this is the last the beer and they won't have more to fill until Thursday. Yikes!

My area has only a 50% chance now of even getting tropical storm force winds. I went ahead a filled the bathtubs with water but didn't put any tape on the windows. The motorcycle is still outside but we blocked it in a corner to protect it from the wind. Then we parked the minivan right beside it to offer further protection. A couple of my neighbors expessed concern about our motorcycle. Thanks for caring!

My good friend Jennifer with 4 other people in tow, was stranded in the worst possible place in Houston. She was one of the unlucky ones that got stuck in the I-45 HOV lane. When I called her yesterday afternoon, she reported that she'd been on the road since the wee hours of the morning and had forgotten her phone charger. They were smart enough not to burn gasoline by idling and had spent the day under the 101 degree sun without air conditioner. Her plans were to go up to Oklahoma and stay with her father but that was looking pretty bleak. I told her that she had friends in Bryan she could rely on.

And this morning I was able to help her immensly. She called to tell me that she'd only made it to Huntsville, just under 2 hours normal travel from Houston. Her friend's vehicle was down to a quarter tank and there were cars everywhere, filling every parking lot who were unable to go on.

She wanted to take State Hwy 30 to our area and asked if there was gas. Information about gasoline was something I could supply! Yes, our town still had gas at the beginning of the day. We made emergency plans that I should fill up a gas can and take them a couple gallons if they were not able to get all the way here. With the Lord's blessings, they did make it to Bryan, filled up, and continued North on their trip. I had offerred them a place here but Jennifer's mother wanted to continue. No matter how old you get, you still have to listen to your mother.

The gasoline in town disappeared this morning. There are still a couple here and there but you have to know somebody who knows somebody to be able to find them. I learned recently that the Shell down the street still has gas. They had gotten their normal delivery so were able to continue selling to everybody. They sold gasoline at a rate of 1000 gallons/hour. The teller was in shock.

Yesterday Lowe's in town was expecting more emergency supplies to come from Austin. They told all their customers that the truck was due at 1pm and quite a crowd was waiting. When 1pm came and went, the store manager contacted the driver to find out where he was. The truck driver had made it all the way to Hearne and then decided to turn back because traffic was too bad. Now mind you, Hearne is north of Bryan so he would have been going the opposite direction of the traffic mess. He was only 20 minutes from town but went all they way back anyway. The manager at the store almost busted a blood vessel because he was so angry!

We have almost every supply imaginable (except a propane stove) but needed ice this morning. We sent the guys out around town but they were rather unsuccesful. One convience store said he was out of ice but a truck was due to deliver in about an hour. The guys waited it out but it still wasn't showing. Suddenly a woman walks up, opens the ice container, and pulls out a bag of ice! OOOPS. The convience store owner, quickly realizing his mistake, told her that our guys had already paid for the ice and he couldn't sell it to her. That was a great help! He gave us 80 lbs of ice for only $4.

There are only a couple stray clouds in the sky right now but the wind is blowing steadily. We're all tired and everybody is heading to bed. I have friends in the little town of Splendora who live in a mobile home whom I've been unable to contact at all. They're probably in a shelter right now but I can't help but worry. When I hear from her next I'll be sure to yell at her for not calling me and for not showing up on my doorstep!

Later everybody!

Has Houston dodged a bullet?

We all want to read deeply into the maps on television but the reality of hard cold numbers don't lie.

The strike probablitities for Port Arthur and Galveston are still the same:


A few of the weathermen have been trying to emphasize the difference between a wobble and a turn. Neil Frank, who was an old dog at this stuff already 10 years ago, says that hurricanes move along the path at a wobble all the time. If you continue to extrapolate the data (make a straight line out of the dots for all you non-math folks), the storm is still aimed mainly at Galveston.

I may not have a boring day after all.

More later!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stuck in Houston

See update below!

My mom praised the efficiency of Texas' evacuation plan for the coastal area. It worked perfectly and right now, the whole city of Galveston and surrounding communities, are completely empty. TxDOT switch the highway lanes and controlled problem exits so that everybody could leave. It worked perfectly and efficiently and should go down in history as such.

They only forgot one thing....

Nobody in their right mind could have predicted the massive turnout of evacuees from the Houston area. The plan never include a total evacuation of the city of Houston. Yes, almost the whole city of Houston is leaving. We're probably seeing evacuation rates well above the 60% they normally expect. The ones that are left right now are either diehards or just can't get on the freeways to even get out of town.

All the people that were supposed to be at my house are still in Houston. In a wise move, they decided to stay and wait until TxDOT completed the opening of the contra-flow lanes. That has started to alleviate the problem but not totally. One of my good friends got stuck this afternoon on the HOV lane, a walled off lane for carpools. She'd been in the same location for 45 minutes without moving. They couldn't run the AC much and simply sat under the 102 degree sun.

Up here in BCS, the bumper-to-bumper traffic flowed through our city at 45 mph. Tonight, it was completely clear with cars racing towards Waco. They couldn't stop here- our 20 shelters are already full with 3500 people.

Louisiana may be known for it's gambling but Texas sure isn't. People are leaving in droves. I think I scared my friend so badly that she might evacuate our own town! Some of my family is wavering back and forth between staying and leaving. I know it's a hard choice. All the people in counties south of Galveston had already evacuated. I'm sure that none of them will say that it wasn't worth it.

There's no business worse than predicting the path of a hurricane. Already, evacuations have been cancelled due to the change in course. The worse senario that I'm hearing is that Katrina will hit Galveston dead on and then stall out over the area with buckets of pouring water. Lots of businesses, especially hospitals, installed huge flood doors on the underground parking lots and basement businesses after Allison blindsided us.

You just need to live your life by that old proverb, plan for the worst and hope for the best!

update 1

My family left Houston 2 hours ago and they're finally half way here. My sister was actually doing the math to see if she would have enough to make it the full 100 miles to my place. They have 18 more miles of super slowness on Hwy 290 and they are home free on Hwy 6 to my place. Since they are not familiar with the many backroads of Texas, they decided not to take them and stuck to the main throughfares.

They are in the tail end of this evenings evacuees. The roads within Houston were completely clear for them and they didn't hit the traffic blockade until well out of town. This is great news for anybody that wants to change their mind and leave now. As much as I want to breathe a sigh of relief and say Houston/Galveston got lucky, I'm not quite at that point yet.

Hint! Hint! Hint!

Little Updates

I'm blogging Channel 13 news out of Houston in between classes.

The computer models are starting to show that Rita may slow down a bit and work over the land slower than originally predicted. That means extra rain before and after the hurricane goes through.

The next forecast for movement will released at about 4 pm today.

There are delays at the airport because the screeners are not showing up for work. They are bringing in extra screeners from other cities. Continental and Southwest Airlines will be not be charging fees if you cancel a ticket for this weekend.

The waters have already started touching the sea wall in Galveston.

Right now it takes 6 hours to get from Downtown Houston to our outside loops. (Houston has two loops.)

The traffic is inching along at 3-4 miles per hour.

Update 2:
Hwy 290, the way to get to my house is in deadlocked. Good luck to my relatives. They're gonna try a back way but good luck.

The traffic on I-45 heading north is now up to 100 miles long.

TxDOT has announced that they will be getting more gasoline to people in Houston. The rumor is that the Pentagon is involved in this attempt to get gasoline in.

Galveston Mayor: "I have requested 1500 National Guardsmen and at least 2 search and rescue units to be sent to this area immediately after the storm."

One hundred busses have evacuated 3200 people. The last bus is about to leave.

"The evacuation appears to be a success."

The mayor is stressing that the governor is the one that is calling her and asking what her needs are. She's also talking about their liason with FEMA.

At this moment, the projected path puts Galveston on the clean side of the storm and that is making the officials a little bit happier.

Now the Governor is having a press conference. He's asking everybody to be calm and patient. They are working to counterflow the highways. Gasoline trucks are coming- they are part of the plan that was laid out before hand by Homeland Security.

They're trying to come
Essential Needs
Texas Preparations
Visitors this weekend daughter?

They're trying to come

It takes 10 hours to get from Houston to College Station right now. Today, TxDOT is starting to open the freeways in the same direction to allow people to get out. People are running out of gas on the side of the road, cars are over heating, and they're having to stop and sleep in parking lots even though they're only 50 miles from home.

My mom and dad filled up their gas tanks yesterday morning but my brother didn't fill up his. There's very little gas to be found so they'll be leaving my brothers car.

My sister didn't decide to evacuate the city until last night. I wonder what exactly finally convinced her to go. Was it the description of what would occur when a peice of debris hit her giant bay window? Was it the idea of living off of nothing but fruit bars and crackers for a week? I bet it was the idea of going without AC for a week!

I still have friends and family that haven't decided where they are going. There's no wood to cover the large windows and sliding glass doors on the many Houston homes. Even here in Bryan, we'll be making a board to cover the larger windows with carpet, cardboard and tons of Walmart plastic grocery sacks.

Class is starting so I can't add anything more. I'm ticked that we're in school and everybody south of us got Thursday off too! We're just getting Friday off.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Essential Needs

My good friend over at Quintessential Me has a post up about the niftiest, portable phone charger on the market. It runs on a AA battery and will give you up to 3 more hours of talk time for every battery. Mokru has a picture of it over at his site.

I think I need to go buy one. That's great for after the storm.

I've discovered a fantastic new product that makes all other temporary cell phone batteries obsolete. It's called charge2go.

It's a casing for a single double A battery that plugs into your phones charge slot.This product is supposed to give you three hours of additional talk time, but the real beauty is that everyone needs AA batteries every now and again, so running into store x and picking up a pack is both inexpensive and not a big deal.

Lets face it. We all run out of charge at inconvenient times, but at the costs Radio Shack charges for disposable chargers and batteries, we forego the 'need.' I think the company is a branch of Duracell. Now that is a smooth move indeed.

Day 1 & 2

My long term substitute job has now begun and boy, it's a doozy.

On the first day I had to write up two students and call security once.

On the second day I wrote up one student and called security twice. I had a student steal something from my class yesterday and that was a big mess.

I'm working to get control and hope this all comes together. The teacher next door to me says I'm doing a great job and she's thrilled to see that I'm trying to work through my problems. *sigh*

Texas Preparations

You can read and visually see how Galveston would look like with a Cat 3, 4 or 5 hurricane at the Houston Chronicle's website. I had posted about this special report before but now it's suddenly more important. Take a fun look at the possible ways that the government could make the hurricane move!

CNN did an interview with Governor Perry of Texas that you can watch concerning Texas' plans and preparations. Here are some quotes I'm sure that you'll never hear from some other unnamed states' reps.

"We're prepositioning a sustantial amount of assets, whether it's 5000 National Guard troops, 1000 Department of Public Safety Troops, and aviation assets."

"Texas has been practicing these types of evacuations for the last 4 years."

" We have a really great working relationship"
[referring to their Homeland Security Department Heads, area FEMA directors, and local level government. ]

Here in Bryan, I've gotten some water for storage but I don't plan on needing a ton of water yet. We're far enough inland that the water supply won't be severly affected. All the city water is pumped from the ground. If the electricity goes off , the city can't pump more water to replace the lost water. This fact was made evident a few years ago when the power in the city went out for just 3 hours. It shocked me to learn that the city towers were more than 60% emptied in that short time. There was no water pressure. I took that lesson to heart and have always had a small supply of water on hand.

Other Texans are preparing by trying to decide how much beer and nuts they need for their hurricanes parties.

I need to pick up some Diet Coke. My mom will dehydrate if she doesn't have Diet Coke to drink.

Visitors this weekend daughter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Gadget of the Week V

Week of 18 Sep 2005

The bungee net. One of motorcycling's finest inventions. I find myself waxing nostalgic as I am about to replace the only bungee net I have ever owned. I bought it seven years ago.

A bungee net can stretch to accommodate anything. I have strapped everything from small folders and clothes to my large army duffel bags to my pillion seat. Bungee nets have great versatility, fit under your seat or a pocket when not in use, they are cheap, and you can color coordinate with your bike if you wish.

It's probably the best $5 I have ever spent on motorcycle gear.

Electrical gremlins: Update

Well, last week I picked up the bike. Great to have it back. I taught a class last weekend. Boy did I feel rusty after not being on a bike for just a couple of weeks. And some people think they can hop on a bike after 10, 15, or 30 years and ride like they used to when they were young. Anyway...

The regulator/rectifier was replaced. It seems that this particular piece of hardware had shorted so badly that it had melted itself to the bike and its wiring harness. To remove it, they had to excise it. A new regulator was installed after new connectors were wired back into the harness. How fun.

One question though. Why didn't they happen to notice this sort of obvious defect earlier on in the process? It was melted!

Too bad I gassed up shortly after the gas station had its tanks filled. Now I need a new fuel filter. *sigh*

All I Wanted Was A Nap

A couple of Fridays ago, I had gotten home from my study group a lot earlier than planned and decided to pick everyone up. The kids were walking home from school. I first saw Sonia about 3 houses away from home, walking with a few friends. Jarod was another 3 houses back swinging a stick around. Whitney was poking along about half a block behind Jarod. She was with 2 other kids.

I pulled up near each and told them to get in so we could go pick up their mom from the high school. I have done this many times before. It really isn't a big deal, but usually the kids ask if we can drive their friends home too. A lot of kids walk home along our street. I said "no" because we weren't going straight home. Off to the high school!

It really isn't that far for her to walk, but I thought I'd pick mollo up to make her day a bit easier. We managed to get there about 2 minutes before she walked out.

Then we went to the house of one of the kids' friends and picked up one more. Off to our house for a little Friday fun!

I had spent about 25 minutes driving to make the whole circuit.

I had had a long week and my early arrival actually provided an opportunity to make up a bit of lost sleep. I decided that I would take a nap. I usually don't do naps. It messes with my schedule. But before I could execute my plan, there was a knock at the door.

One of Bryan's finest was standing on my doorstep with our apartment manager and one of the neighborhood kids my children play with and go to school with. The officer introduced himself and said he was looking for Whitney. It's very strange to hear the police officer standing at your door asking for your 5 year old daughter. He went on to explain that one of the girls walking home with Whitney saw her get into a strange van on the side of the road. She told her grandmother, who in turn talked to the manager and finally called 911.

At this point I knew that this was a misunderstanding, but I was surprised since this little girl was over at our house almost more than at her own house. She knows me and I expected that she would recognize our van since it is parked about 20 feet from my front door. When I had picked Whitney up, I waved to her.

I said, "No, I have her. I picked her up myself." Then I called her out of the bedroom. "This is Whitney. She's fine. I have her. I picked her up in my van. It's the same van I always drive," (if I am driving anything on 4-wheels.)

BPD had nearly a dozen officers looking for my daughter and my "mysterious white van" for about 45 minutes. Well, I pointed to my van and told him that was the van in question and I was the man.

I am glad to have concerned neighbors. I am just embarrassed that I was not recognizable in my van. Maybe next time I'll just shuttle back and forth on my motorcycle and pick up the kids. Just don't tell their Grandma. ;)

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Church Shelter in New Orleans

What follows is a long email from a pastor who kept a small church shelter up and running in the midst of the New Orleans crisis. I have emailed the pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church and confirmed that it is true.

An update regarding St. Paul in New Orleans directly from the horse's mouth.--------------

Here is a brief report if you could send out to others I would appreciate it. I am away from my home computer and my office currently does not have a connection that works: )

You would have been proud of the church being the church and the community connected. By Saturday we were serving 200 meals a day out of the kitchen in the basement. People in the Marigny were donating all sorts of things for us to use. We received nothing from outside. We had no running water or electricity, but we did have gas. You would be surprised how handy swimming pools came to be. We bailed out water for flushing etc. and with a filter and boil the water was ok. We had generators running, refrigeration and a TV with all the latest useless media coverage. We had to make an agreement among ourselves to hold hands when we met a reporter so we didn't slap 'em. We were blessed by God in the midst of it all and the church was surely serving the community.

Security was a huge issue. Roving gangs of looters and druggies were breaking into places and attacking people. On Saturday we took in a woman in her 70's who had had a stroke and had had her house broken into and she was beaten up. She said, "You just cannot imagine what happened to me." When of the guys said that's a code for you can very well imagine what they did to her. We were pulling security at the church armed and night and careful during the day. We were protecting and housing around 35 people with kids etc. from the neighborhood. We were feeding most of the neighborhood.

On Saturday NOLA PD came (for the first time) and told us we would have to leave. They are not my heroes to say the least. Rachel, our daughter, and her fellow EMT's were deserted by officers in the projects of NOLA. They were forced to walk out over the Mississippi bridge over to the west bank. Last I heard she is attached to a MASH unit and working there. Mike, our son-in-law was working at Charity -- trauma center for the city. They were having huge problems with security there also. They all evacuated to Baton Rouge.

Anyway, as one group of NOLA police were telling us we had to leave, another group at the other corner were telling us that we were doing better than the shelters were at taking care of folks and to stay. The whole issue bacame moot when around 8 pm or so ten--that's right 10 -- SUV's loaded with national guard troops and border patrol agents rolled up with lights flashing, go out with their M 16's and told us we are getting you out. We cannot control the area, and the gangs that were down close to Poland Ave were now at Louisa -- about 6 blocks away. They have automatic weapons. We have busses reserved, how many do you need? You have an hour.

We gathered what we could -- about 100 people from the church and community and under armed escort were brought out. Some of the folks are in a shelter -- where God knows. The place we were going was filled as were the next two. At 4 am we let the bus go as it headed toward a shelter 20-30 miles north of Opelousas. If that was full it would be Shreveport or Fort Smith AR. We have heard from many of the members of the church and so far know of no casualties. One family was pulled from their rooftop as the water rushed in and caught them. There are a great many that we have no idea of their whereabouts.

I am working out of Grace Lutheran Church in Houma. I hear that Trinity in Baton Rouge is the current HQ for the Southern District. The church building is heavily damaged. It will need a new roof and the bell tower lost three sides and almost was unattached. The bell dropped somewhat and at evening prayer on Friday we could not ring it. It was nice to have a service of prayer that night. All the shutters need replacing, but we only lost one of the stained glass windows, and it really only needs some slight repair. As I have tried to get across to the Synod folks all that stuff in insured and it is only stuff. One cannot insure the ministry. I am working on getting relief for staff etc. I have spoken with Matt Harrison briefly and have made it clear we want and need to return and be part of rebuilding the community. We have had many offers of support and Kelly Bedard at Grace has told me that they are setting aside funds for church worker relief.

I know that you will hear a great deal about buildings, but buildings are not the church. I do not know how we'll rebuild this ministry at the present time, but that is my issue and it is always our calling. We have all sorts of stories of grace, of love, and mercy in our midst. We came together in a way that was pretty cool. When the Muslim store owner is praying with us in church after working at feeding the community, and a First Sergeant from the Israeli Army drives a car out with an ELCA pastor and my youngest son, saying, "I'll listen to you about Christianity if we can talk about Judaism too." And people from the community say that "our church" is taking care of all of us I know that I had a glimpse of what the church is supposed to be at its best. Sometime I will be able to share some stories, but trust me, God has been working here.

Blessings and peace Dave

Visitors this weekend daughter?

This evening my mom called and asked me if I wanted visitors this weekend. She seemed to be hinting at something but I didn't quite get it until she laid it all out for me. She was asking if everybody could come evacuate to my house if Hurricane Rita gets bad.

My family is all in Houston and I'm a mere 100 miles away from where they live. We'll probably stick it out at my place for a week or two if Rita is only a category 4 storm. But if Rita gets too bad, we'll have to leave too!

The day after Katrina flooded New Orleans, I quietly said to myself, "You know, the worst thing that could happen now if for Houston to be slammed by a major storm. Sometimes it hurts to be smart.

The last major hurricane to hit the Galveston/Houston metroplex was Alicia all the way back in '83 or '85. I can't exactly remember because I was just a wee little thing then. I do remember the tape Mom put on the windows and the long wait. Since then, huge mansions have been built on the Galveston beachfront. Three-story beach houses are not uncommon. The beach houses have gotten higher though. The older ones almost look shallow compared the high-beamed supports for the newest ones.

If in fact Rita becomes bad and you see pics of Texas that look something like Mississippi, you can rest assured that I'll be okay. My family is a bunch of scouting nuts and survival experts. I used to think it FUN to go backpacking and carry all my own water with me.

Oh and there's one other weird thing that happened after Katrina. There was a rush at Walmart last week for basics by people in this town. Suddenly, water and canned food was in high demand. The stock boy I spoke to said the store was the emptiest he'd ever seen. People were seeing the devestation at New Orleans and reacting by preparing themselves here.

More later!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Planned Parenthood Helps Themselves

Who is surprised by this?

New Orleans, LA ( -- Pro-life advocates say Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion business, continues to exploit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The organization previously said it would provide morning after pills to victims, instead of food or shelter, and is now raising money off of the hurricane for its local abortion centers.

On its national web site, Planned Parenthood solicits funds for Hurricane Katrina support efforts. In fine print, the abortion advocacy group explains that all of the money raised will be used to support its local abortion businesses.

Under a headline "Help Those Affected by the Hurricane," Planned Parenthood admits that "100% of your tax-deductible contribution will go directly to helping Planned Parenthood affiliates."

"Your support is particularly important right now because Planned Parenthood is facing a truly tremendous number of challenges in the courtrooms, in Washington, D.C., and in our clinics," the abortion business says on the hurricane donation page.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Something to do on Saturday

If you're perusing my blog on a Saturday, then you obviously have time to burn. Here's a link that has been tested and proven to take up many hours of daylight and sleep.

Disclaimer: Reading this page tends to produce loud raucous laughing which in turn, attracts people who want to read over your shoulder. The person who posted this link takes no responsibility for the side effects caused by the over-the-shoulder reader's bad breath.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Math Joke Friday 4

Sorry everybody that I completely forgot about a math joke for y'all last week. I'm sure that everybody was so sad.

In honor of my new teaching gig, I'll give you a teacher math joke.


L.A. Math Test

City of Los AngelesHigh School Math Proficiency Exam


1. Duane has an AK47 with a 30 round clip. If he misses 6 out of 10 shots and shoots 13 times at each drive by shooting, how many drive by shootings can he attempt before he has to reload?

2. If Jose has two ounces of cocaine and he sells an 8 ball to Jackson for $320 and 2 grams to Billy for $85 per gram, what is the street value of the balance of the cocaine if he doesn't cut it?

3. Rufus is pimping for three girls. If the price is $65 for each trick, how many tricks will each girl have to turn so Rufus can pay for his $800 per day crack habit?

4. Jarome wants to cut his 1/2 pound of Heroin to make 20% more profit. How many ounces of cut will he need?

5. Willie gets $200 for stealing a BMW, $50 for a Chevy and $100 for a 4x4. If he has stolen 2 BMW's and 3 4x4's, how many Chevy's will he have to steal to make $800?

6. Raoul is in prison for 6 years for murder. He got $10,000 for the hit. If his common law wife is spending $100 per month, how much money will he have left when he gets out of prison and how many years will he get for killing her since she spent his money?

7. If the average spray paint can covers 22 square feet and the average letter is 3 square feet, how many letters can a tagger spray with 3 cans of paint?

8. Hector knocked up six girls in his gang. There are 27 girls in the gang. What percentage of the girls in the gang has Hector knocked up?

Last Shelter in Town Shuts Down

The last shelter in College Station was shut down today. This is good news because the aid workers here were quickly able to organize housing for all the people in the area.

Using the Lincoln Center as a shelter was part of a collaborative countywide emergency plan established more than a decade ago to respond to such emergencies as a hurricane hitting Galveston.

"We've been practicing for this to happen,"

Gerling said. "We've had this game plan for years. That's one reason we were able to respond so well. We had done it a million times on paper, but this time we were dealing with real people and real emotions."

There were only a few problems at the shelter up here. A transvestite was arrested and later released when he insisted on using the woman's restroom for all needs. We haven't had the problems with addictions that the Houston shelters are dealing with.

The Houston workers are trying to get everybody into housing there but I worry because there are a lot of neighborhoods that have open apartments because they are so scary to live in. I've heard that families are getting vouchers worth $600 a month towards housing but in Houston, that will barely get a 2 bedroom apartment.

Already I can see the effects of volunteer burn out. We were looking for something as a scout pack that we could do but there was no interest in helping. Our best thought was a book drive but we are crushed on all sides with other drives. There was just did a school supply drive for new students. In the coming months around the corner Americans hold the winter coat drives, Thanksgiving food drives, and the Christmas toy drives. Now that the refugees are in housing, they will start to blend in and some of their needs may go unmet.


Look what I got in the mail today! It would be really awesome if I could write a whole essay with a liberal slant and win that prize.

Hello, wants you to win scholarships! The deadline is approaching
for the following scholarship:

TITLE: ACLU - Freedomwire Stand Up For Freedom Contest - $5,000 Top Prize!
- Deadline October 4th.

TO APPLY: Log-in at by going to:

We hope you enjoy Good luck in reaching all your
educational aspirations.

-The Team

I'm a realist- money is money no matter where it came from. Personally, I don't understand why the government turned down the offer of 10 million barrels of oil from Iran. It's not like we're going to change our stance on their government's dealing over a tiny bit of oil. Offers of charity can be accepted even if you hate the person. Governments all over the world are usually happy to accept our help even though they can't stand us.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Second Flood

While New Orleans is still being drained, a new flood is decending into the bowl. The lawyers are coming and quickly filling the courts with new and exciting garbage for us to read. The AG of Louisiana made the news the other day as he filed negligent homicide charges against two nursing home owners.

Here's a round-up of a few of the lawsuits that are being filed:
Class-action suit filed against oil companies
NEW ORLEANS — Two area lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against major oil and gas companies on behalf of victims of Hurricane Katrina. The suit blames drilling activities throughout Southeast Louisiana for destroying hundreds of acres of wetlands that served as natural barriers for New Orleans.


“Everyone has been talking about the failures of the state, local and federal governments in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,” said Val P. Exnicios of Liska, Exnicios & Nungesser. “We believe it's the right time to pinpoint who's essentially responsible for the devastation caused by Katrina in the first place — the major oil and gas companies, who haphazardly dredged thousands of miles of exploration and drill site canals throughout South Louisiana to extract oil and gas. "

As I recall, the whole City of New Orleans was built on those natural wetlands (formally known as swamps.) There was NEVER a natural barrier! They had to drain the swampland to create the dry land in the first place.

He's one of the few that aren't blaming President Bush for the disaster though. That doesn't quite make him my friend though.

Miss. sues to force insurers to pay all hurricane damage
JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi on Thursday sued insurers to force them to pay billions of dollars in flood damage from Hurricane Katrina, saying standard insurance polices have led homeowners to believe they are covered for all hurricane damage, whether from high winds or storm surges.

To deny coverage to those whose homes were wiped out by the storm surge, but lacked flood insurance, is "taking advantage of people in the most dire straits," said Attorney General Jim Hood, who filed the lawsuit against five major insurers.
My homeowners policy clearly says that flooding that comes from the outside is not covered. Since I happen to be a member of one of the top five insurance carriers, I'm sure that their insurance policy is one of 30 million duplicate copies, probably even printed on the same press.

Please don't think they are doing this because they love their people and truly believe they are being denied justice. If this lawsuit were to succeed, then the insurance companies would pay everything....and the state would pay nearly nothing to help rebuild. :) But wait, would the insurance companies actually pay? They would probably go running to Congress to get the funds to pay off the people. That means, the people who would be paying for everything would be you and me.

However, the article continues...
In Louisiana, a group of homeowners sued 16 insurance companies Thursday, asking a state district court to rule that neglect and wind damage caused the flood that inundated thousands of homes in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Breaches in the levees which ring the city allowed the water in, so the floods were not caused by an "act of God," according to the lawsuit.
Okay, if you really didn't catch it, I will sum up what this group is asking the courts to do. They want a judge to rule that the flood that resulted from Katrina was not an "act of God". If this one lawsuit were to succeed, the ruling could become the precendent, and it would effect every single lawsuit currently filed.

Apparently, Louisiana is one of the easiest states to sue in due to a different legal system, but I have no idea of the detail of this.
Many suits will be fought by attorneys who have been displaced from their offices by hurricane damage. They and other Louisiana lawyers will be in big demand because theirs is the only U.S. state in which the legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code rather than British common law. Some of the U.S.' most successful plaintiffs' lawyers are based in the Gulf Coast region.

The Houston Chronicle has a fair article describing the huge barriers the lawyers must overcome to sue the government.

One legal question will be what problems were foreseeable — for example, whether the entities responsible for the levee could predict the flooding would occur. If the damage was foreseeable, the chances of a lawsuit succeeding would be greater.

Another legal question surrounds reliance — what promises were made that people relied upon in their actions. For example, if the promise was that the levees would hold to a Category 3 storm, it would not work to argue people were promised they would hold for a storm like Katrina.

On the good side of things, the House quickly passed a bill that would give volunteers better protection from liabililty, even if they weren't officially part of a volunteer organization. Now we need the Senate to approve it. And we need a miracle if we think that this bill won't be passed with a ton of pork added to it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tom Delay

This man has managed to open his big mouth again. He really gives the outside world a bad impression of Texans. Even Texans recognize that this little representative is just plain trouble. In 2003, Texas Monthly magazine gave him the honor of being one of "Texas' Worst Legislators." This was a first for Texas Monthly because Delay earned the title even though he's not a STATE representative. He was just so meddlesome in our state legislature that he earned this award.

However just this week, he pulled in a ton of money for the Port of Houston. I guess that's why we keep him anyway.

Here's links to the many reactions across the blog world about this newest statement. And La Shawn Barber hasn't even posted yet. With the 9th Court of Appeals banning of the Pledge of Allegiance and this statement from Delay all in the same day she might have gone into a state of shock right now. Somebody should call her.

Boots and Sabers: "You have GOT to be kidding me."

Right Wing News: "Holy mother of God!"


Ophelia Doesn't Effect the Movie Rental Business

This will give everybody a laugh. John Hawkins over at Right Wing News is living in the Carolinas and got hit with that annoying little hurricane today. Here's one of his updates:

3:38 PM After taking a nice, refreshing nap, I woke up and was amazed that I still had power. At that point, I had to decide what to do: work on the page? Read? Clean the house?

No! I am a blogger, I'm a journalist! I have a responsibility to report the news! Of course, maybe I should have thought about that before I took a 2 hour nap, but that's water under the bridge at this point.

It was time for me to take action, so I asked myself the question every blogger should ask themselves when they're in the middle of a disaster: what would Geraldo do?

Immediately I grabbed my digital camera, got Patton the storm chasing dog, and hit the road looking for downed trees, flooded areas, and old ladies who needed to be rescued.

But after hitting the road, I found that the damage wasn't that bad. There was no flooding in any of the low lying areas in my immediate vicinity. There were lots of limbs down, but that just doesn't have the same visual impact as a whole tree laying in the road. I did see a porta-potty blown over in a ditch, but how bad is that unless you're in it when it goes over?

So fortunately, it looks like my area -- at least so far -- is going to come out of the storm pretty well. In fact, there were even a few businesses that have already opened back up. Walgreens? That made sense. But, there was a movie rental place open. Who rents movies in the middle of a hurricane? You know what would have been funny? If I had stopped in, gotten a membership, and then rented a copy of "Twister" and left.

I used to work at Blockbuster Video and I wouldn't be surprised at all if this was their shops that was open. And the fact that people were renting there is also no surprise. Blockbuster opened a mere 2 hours "late" on Christmas Day but my manager would get evil glares from the waiting crowd. One day, a tornado was spinning a mere 20 minutes from our town but people were casually coming in to rent. I was the manager on duty that day and spent half the time starting out the window, running emergency plans through my head.

If people can't even plan ahead to pick up a movie the day before a holiday or the day before a hurricane hits, how could we possibly expect them to actually prepare for a real disaster? You know, the kind where they can't pass the time by watching old movies.

And sorry, but Twister was probably already gone. People tend to rent movies that pertain to the news of the day. After 9/11, there was a huge rush on airplane movies like Air Force One and Executive Decision.

I hope they gave the workers extra pay at least.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina-Related Murder Charges

I saw this coming and I'm glad yet sad at the same time. Nursing homes are required by state law to have effective evacuation plans in Texas. I'm sure that the same holds for Louisiana.

In the nursing home case, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti charged the husband-and-wife owners of St. Rita's with 34 counts of negligent homicide for not doing more to save their elderly patients.

"The pathetic thing in this case was that they were asked if they wanted to move them and they did not," Foti said. "They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these people."

I wonder if this is the case made famous by the man in charge of Jefferson Parish, who cried on national television.

You can read the full article by clicking on the title of this post. I wonder if I'll ever be able to write like this reporter. The author only had about 6 lines concerning the nursing home but added tons of other info about the disaster including the ports, the pumps, the mayor, and of course, Pres. Bush.

Astroworld to Close

It's sad- the end of an era that spanned almost 40 years. Many people reminisce sadly at old buildings that used to be their favorite dance halls and movie theaters. I guess hubby and I now have a place like that too. Everytime I drive by the lot, I will sadly think of the highly visible roller coasters that would herald the fun taking place there.

Our class attended Physics Day at Astroworld but later that day, my boyfriend and I went to a dance. My sunburn from that day is bright and clashed with my lipstick. I still have the pictures on the wall anyway.

The night after prom, my boyfriend showed up way too early in the morning and dragged me out of the house. He then blind folded me and drove all around Houston for almost an hour in an effort to confuse me. Boy, was I surprised when we were in the Astroworld parking lot. As a prom gift, we were going to Astroworld! But it got even better when he dragged me over to get pictures for our season passes! So, my morning-after-prom status, with pins still in my hair, is eternally preserved in picture on my id. :) We spent all summer there, going on all the roller coasters constantly and eating funnel cakes.

And the only reason I can talk about old boyfriends is because I married this one!

The land that Astroworld is located on is now worth more than the park. Attendance is low and the parent company Six Flags is $2 billion in debt.

Mollo: Red Cross Volunteer: Expiration Date: n/a

I went to work at the Red Cross building in town yesterday and didn't expect much. Our area had pretty much taken care of everybody. They'd all been registered and given their Walmart vouchers. Quite a few of them are moving into housing, even across the street from me. So working yesterday was supposed to be rather easy, merely answering the phones for all the people calling in. They expected more calls about donations than people asking for help.

However, when I drove into the parking lot, waves of people had to move so that I could get to the very last parking space. Another group of ten people lingered right outside the door. The inside of the tiny building was packed. They had to take a chair back from somebody so that I could sit and answer phones.

The organization was perfect- by the refugees, not the Red Cross. The Red Cross was completely blindsided by this new development. Apparently, the whole Vietnamese community had organized carpools and groups and sent them all up to Bryan to get processed instead of staying at the mess in Houston. The old phrase "boatloads of Vietnamese refugees" has a completely new meaning to me now! Almost every one of them spoke English and there were plenty of helpful translators for the few with heavy accents. A self-appointed herald helped Rick call out numbers in his native language.

Sharon, the leader of this small band of volunteers, worked hard to call everybody in and get enough trained workers. Slowly, the pace of processed people picked up. We had processed 80 people and groups but I was passing out waiting ticket #126 when I left. Vietnamese people were calling for driving directions from all different areas of Houston, Bellaire and the Woodlands. I started telling them that they had to wait until tomorrow but they were still welcome. The Red Cross never says, "Don't come here." In fact, the workers said that they would be staying as long as possible to get as many as possible through the process. They wouldn't be kicking them out at 5pm sharp like a business. Sharon was really worried that they were going to run out of 901 forms. I hope they got their shipment today like they expected.

The American Red Cross fills just one tiny niche of the entire help process. They only provide emergency relief- enough clothes and food to make it through tomorrow. When you have absolutely nothing, the Red Cross will be there. They give you a voucher to Walmart to get basic clothes and food of your choice. The United Way and government programs pick up the process from there. Our town set up a one building as a one-stop shopping experience for all other needs- donations, housing, medical info, FEMA, and other programs. We tried to send as many people as possible over there because they were giving vouchers there too but there were just too many people. Rick said this was probably the busiest day in the Brazos Valley Red Cross chapter's history. Wow.

And as I mentioned briefly above, yes, a group has moved into an apartment right across the street from me. And I expect more because there are a few more open apartments in the buildings. They are a family of 13, shoved into a small two-bedroom apartment. Other friends can be seen coming and going during the day. They had a barbecue the other night and it got a wee bit rowdy. But that's what happens when you're under such tension- you start fighting with even your friends. I went over last night and gave them a toaster, a muffin pan, and some kid size cups. There were two very tired men there and 4 little boys running around. Half of them were wearing Aggie t-shirts. Clarence shook my hand and asked for our prayers. He said that the family had been well taken care of by the people here.

Also, I think the people of Louisiana have solved the "evacuee" vs. "refugee" problem. I've always referred to the people who got here before the storm as evacuee, reserving the refugee title to those who left under duress. But the people who called in always referred to themselves as a "Louisiana survivor." Hey, that will work for me too.

Welcome to Texas survivors. What took you so long to get here?

Yeah, I ride a...


The wonderous world of email. How would I spend my day without it?
(Boy it must be late!)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Texas A&M Discriminates Against Motorcyclists

If you ride, you are not to be accommodated at Texas A&M. On-campus students paying hundreds of dollars for a parking space are not allowed to park their motorcycles in the garages, even if the bike is their only form of transportation. If you chose to park your properly registered motorcycle in a car parking spot in any lot on campus, you will be cited. If you are a visitor to A&M on a bike, you can ride around campus, but heaven help you if you should actually want to get off and go walk around for a while. Texas A&M Transportation Services is just waiting around the corner (on scooters no less) to whip out a ticket to offenders.

(According to mollo, this is the whiny part, but how do you sound when you are on your soapbox?) Motorcyclists aren't second class citizens any more than anyone of any given race or creed. How long would this sort of behavior be tolerated if it were blacks or hispanics banned from using the garage? How about if they banned trucks or SUV's? Catholics? Talk about a can of worms.

Parking is a high commodity in Aggieland. Seeing the phenomenon of the parking lot shark is a remarkable behavior. Some students leave 2-3 hours before class to secure an adequate parking spot a mile and a half from their classes, nevermind the fact that they only live 3 blocks from campus.

I don't attend Texas A&M anymore. I used to. Parking used to be more flexible. They used to let motorcycles park next to the bicycle racks. You only needed to be sure you bought your parking sticker. Unfortunately, as already indicated, I can't visit since I can't park anywhere. I don't have an A&M parking sticker since I am not an A&M student, they don't accept Blinn parking passes, and I can't pay for a garage space because they won't let me. I can't even park long enough to go to lunch with my wife on campus.

That said, I have recently made a few trips to parking garages in Houston's Medical Center. They allow free parking to bikes if they can go around the parking arms and park in special areas marked off for bikes on every level. Each motorcycle parking spot is about 20'x20'-ish. Not very much space, but there were 5-6 bikes in each one. Some levels had two areas. That's quite a space savings.

Motorcycles and scooters are recognized the world over as a congestion reducing alternative to public transportation. Bikes take up less space in traffic and are allowed to move through clogged traffic. Motorcycles also cause less wear and tear on road surfaces. Many European countries recognize this by allowing bikes on toll roads at no fee. Try telling that one to an American toll road authority and watch them laugh.

If you want to drive into London's rather congested downtown area, you must pay a toll. This program was implemented a few years ago to tame the snarling traffic and encourage more to take advantage of the excellent public transportation. Since bikes are so space efficient and economic, they are allowed into downtown at no fee.

Texas A&M doesn't necessarily need to offer free parking to bikes in the garage, but paying customers shouldn't be turned away on the basis of what vehicle they operate.

Texas A&M isn't the only body out there doing this sort of thing. Here's an example taken from a high school.

AMA members and other active motorcyclists in Crisp County, Georgia, are working to reverse a policy that prevents students from riding motorcycles to the local high school.

The issue arose when the principal at Crisp County High School denied a student's request for a parking permit because he wanted to ride a motorcycle to school. The principal then went to the school board and the board passed a policy banning students from riding motorcycles to the high school, even though students have been allowed to do so in the past.

Also, the policy does not apply to faculty and staff, who can ride to the school. The ban didn't seem right to AMA member James Musselwhite, himself a 1962 graduate of the same school.

"It kind of made my blood boil," he said.

Musselwhite and other motorcyclists in Crisp County are working to overturn the ban. One of those is Jim George, the president of ABATE of Georgia, who happens to live in Crisp County, a small, rural county in south-central Georgia. Both Musselwhite and George spoke against the ban at a subsequent school board meeting. "The school principal made the statement that this policy was not discrimination," Musselwhite said. "A motorcycle in the state of Georgia is the same as a car, with all the same regulations. And we feel it is discrimination."

Musselwhite said he has talked personally to the members of the school board to try to convince them the policy should be reversed, but he's fighting an uphill battle, even though some of the board members ride motorcycles themselves. That other riders would go along with such a policy was the biggest surprise, and disappointment, to Musselwhite.

"In cases like this, the best approach is grassroots action," said Terry Lee Cook, the AMA Government Relations Department grassroots manager. "Local elected officials pay attention when their neighbors, the people who vote them in and out of office, let them know they're doing something wrong. And that's what motorcyclists in Crisp County are telling their school board."

The AMA will continue to work with local motorcyclists on the issue.

© 2005, American Motorcyclist Association

How 'bout them apples? I hope Texas A&M 's newly recognized motorcycle club can *ahem* coax some sense into these folks. It amazes me how many long-bed duallys are driven a few blocks to class. Do you know how many bikes can park in that kind of space? If a quarter of the driving student body switched to riding bikes, the parking lot sharks would become extinct. Well, only if Texas A&M started letting bikes park in regular lots. And then there's the gas savings...

Gadget of the Week IV

This gadget has been unfortunately delayed due to a very large test and the necessary studying. I think I bombed the test anyway. Bummer.

Week of 11 Sep 2005

Pit Bull's SS rear stand is one everyone can get along with. It has the capabilities to be a spooled stand or a standard one. All you have to do is flip over the top supports. This rear stand will also adapt to almost any width bike out there. Yes there are some exceptions out there, which is why Pit Bull has such a large selection. But in any case, Pit Bull is all about providing a sturdy lift for confidence in what supports your ride while working on it. There is generous room for wheel removal and chain maintenance.

If you are going to lift the rear, you may also wish to lift the front. This forklift front stand is great for wheel removal. You'll need an attachment if you want to remove your forks. But really, how often do you need to do that?

Sorry, I am a cheap son of a gun. One of these days after I win the lotto (I would need to start playing first) I'll have that dream garage. In the mean time, I will continue to save a boatload of cash by removing my wheels when it is time for a tire change. If you didn't know, swapping tires by taking your motorcycle to a shop can cost upwards of $100+ just in labor. I can get tires installed for $15 per wheel if I remove the wheels from the bike, and the shop will put the job at the top of the list since they don't have to spend time on taking the wheels off. Cheaper and faster. Not bad.


Today I'm working the phone lines at the Red Cross office. They called yesterday asking for people and I said sure. Maybe I'll learn some cool insider info to post here. :)

My mom has been really busy in Houston working with a church group to feed the hungry. She's one of the many workers who have been trained to serve and feed people at the George R. Brown convention center, one of the major shelters in Houston. Her stories are very interesting and I'd love to post them there. I promise to keep bugging her to email me the details so I can publish it here.

Paramedics' Perspectives

Hubby has a fellow motorcycle friend who was called up as part of the Texas Task Force to go to Louisiana. He tells his unique story on the motorcycle forum under his nickname of txmedic. He has an understanding of how the emergency response system works that many people aren't familiar with. He was part of the real deal, one of the paramedics on the famous I-10 overpass. What I'm posting here is merely the introduction. He has a play-by-play and pictures of what happened to him on the days there. I started highlighting the important info but there's too much! Go read it. It's enlightening.


It's no secret that Hurricane Katrina is probably the biggest single natural disaster since Galveston Hurricane almost 100 years ago. Let me set the stage for the enormity of this event.

New Orleans has a metro area of about 1.3 million people. It has a majority black population and an unemployment rate of about 25%. The eastern 3/4ths of the city are below sea level and surrounded on three sides by water. All that keeps New Orleans dry are a series of levees holding back Lake Ponchartrain, and the Mississippi River. Prior to the storm, the mayor issued a mandatory evacuation order for the entire city of which about 250,000 failed to heed. Most cite the inability to leave as lack of transportation or money. What was left was the poor, elderly, infirm or not very bright. Judging from the abandoned vehicles everywhere, many ran out of gas in the middle of the city and could not get anymore.

On Sunday night/Monday morning, Hurricane Katrina made landfall just a few miles east of New Orleans as a category 4 to 5 storm with winds of up to 170 mph. Two of the levees failed immediately, and several more failed in the coming days. 85% of New Orleans was under water. Help was sent as soon as the request was made by the mayor (necessary for FEMA to take action officially). FEMA arrived and requested the details for the emergency plan, only to find out the city has none. Period. 30 % of its police force never showed back up, most of its fire apparatus were lost rendering the firefighters as casual observers. The EMS service was vastly understaffed and under funded. They call all their assets to bear, but lack the manpower, resources and training for mass casualty response. The Mayor appears on TV bashing the government for an ineffective response.

Chaos reigns supreme as FEMA sets a plan in motion. They headquarter in the relatively undamaged, but utilityless headquarters of the New Orleans Saints. Help is requested from a series of state run task forces specializing in disasters. The mobilization begins, and help starts to arrive within hours of the request. Texas Task Force 1 was on the road within 90 minutes. By Wednesday, there are thousands of State Task Force members, law enforcement officials, military and medical assets based out of FEMA HQ. Like the fiasco in constructing the Tower of Babel, no one can communicate because they all have different frequencies on their radios. The circus begins, and it is a race against time, people will start to die from dehydration and exposure within a couple of days.

Rescue Operations are to run from 0630 until dark due to concerns about the remaining citizens. Shots are heard regularly but are later determined to be signals for help, not attacks on rescuers. The citizens are however, pretty hard on themselves. Eleven hours of daylight should be pretty good, but remember the tower of Babel. The rescue effort for one location involves boats from numerous agencies as well as volunteers, medical resources, manpower staff, law enforcement from dozens of different agencies, military, aircraft, and supply logistics people. All of which have to be informed every day what they are supposed to do and whom they are working with. It takes hours to get offsite, convoy and then construct an actual plan with all the commanders you meet for the very first time while standing on an elevated roadway.

This leads us to my particular group. Austin and Travis County sent a medical strike team composed of 40 firefighters and paramedics from all over Travis County and one from Sam Bass Fire. They ranged in abilities from paramedics, to flight nurses, to EMT's. Preparation for the trip began the week before Katrina hit the coast, and all we had to do was wait for a request for service from either FEMA or the state of Louisiana. Neither came until Tuesday when Acadian Ambulance service called and asked us to help. The call came at 2100 so a decision to delay until the following morning was made.

There's also another account of paramedics from the perspective of the New Mexico team, who were stationed at the Superdome. Now this is VERY interesting because of the timeline they describe. They were at the Superdome and in communication with FEMA while the worst of it was going on. The medical groups were all ordered to evacuate when the flood came but the New Mexico team stayed, even into the days without water.

Hesch was dumbfounded by what he saw around him. Disaster teams from otherstates evacuated.

"It was very unique because they were yelling for us to get on the bus," Hesch said.

But Mike Richards, an Albuquerque doctor who heads the team, replied, "No! New Mexico isn't going anywhere!"

....Alone, the New Mexico team -- and one doctor from New Orleans -- set up a full-scale acute medical-care clinic by 11 a.m. in the basketball and hockey arena, which is connected to the Superdome by a causeway. The sick and injured from the Superdome came to them. Some had head injuries. Some had gunshot wounds. Some had cuts on their bodies from walking through the water-filled streets. Some had gone cold turkey off their medications.In the space of 40 hours, the staff treated 800 to 1,000 patients. Hesch said he sutured wounds under the light of his headlamp.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing at Medpundit, another of my favorite bloggers. The good doctor talks about the oddities in this report compared to what we understand from the media.
Does this sound right? They brought 20 tons of supplies to the Superdome on Tuesday, the day after the hurricane? That's a fast response, and lots of supplies. So what the heck was going on in that Superdome, anyway? All this time I thought people were stuck in there because of the flood waters, but the media and volunteers seemed to be coming and going. And if the media and volunteers were coming and going, why couldn't they get supplies to them? Why did they make people stay there? Crowd Control?

Friday, September 09, 2005

I hate middle schoolers!!!

I had my first substitute job at a middle school the other day and came home screaming mad. (This was the "good" middle school- I already know to stay away from the other one!) I've never had so many kids backtalk me in my life. I would have passed out detention to half the student body! One class had a couple "packs" that wouldn't be quiet. In first period one of the good students would not sit down. She must have had that "restless leg syndrome" that's being advertised by pharmacutical ads. (One in ten have it!) When I told her to sit down for the hundreth time, she looked at me and said, "I don't think you like me. Do you?" My reply was, "You and I don't have a relationship. Now sit down." The teachers in the lunch room were laughing hard at this.

I survived the other periods too. In fourth period, I took the two of the boys started to throw little paper balls at each other and I made them stand up alone. They were grumpy but eventually settled down. For some reason, there were only 6 kids in 5th period but they shoved the a whole class full in 6th period. So I went from the beautiful calm of 5th period to the hellish enviroment of 6th period.

The teacher had warned me that this class was "a little rowdy." Har Har. Sixth period wouldn't even shut up enough for me to introduce myself. I made one boy stand up and tried to get control of the rest of the class. Well, that boy suddenly threw his pencil across the room and ran out of the room, slamming it behind him. The slamming got the attention of the other teachers who came and talked the class down. They left but five minutes later, the chatter had already begun again. I caught a boy throwing a paper ball across the room, and while I was trying to write him up for detention, the chatting turned into a roar again. Then I caught a boy totally cheating off another boy. I had to call for an escort for them to go down to the office but instead, the principal just came and took over. I don't know if he wrote the boys up or not.

Even though it was terrible, the teachers and the principal all patted me on the shoulder and said it was okay and that it wasn't my fault. But geez, it sure doesn't feel like that. Even the highschoolers give me problems at times. Today I was teaching Pre-Cal and Calculus and there were a couple people that just wouldn't shut-up. There I was, going over homework and doing the lesson and they were so rude and disrespectful.

I think my problem is the teaching. I don't think the classes are even used to a substitute that will teach and go over the homework. I hope I did a good job with the Calculus and Pre-Cal classes. But it's hard to get class participation when just a few are acting up. It makes me worry about when I in control of my own classroom for my upcoming long term assignment. :(

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Electrical gremlins

Well, the bike is in the shop again. More electrical troubles. I picked it up last Tuesday and it made it until Friday morning on the way to class. I only pushed the bike a block or so, but that really doesn't make me feel that much better.

25 August 2005
I took off to go to class, but I left my sunglasses in my van. mollo started work today as a substitute teacher. I intended to get my glasses out of the van at the HS parking lot and then head out for class. As I pulled into the left turn lane to get into the school's lot, my dash went blank and the engine stopped. I squeezed the clutch in and coasted to a stop, just barely making it into the schools lot. I wound up taking the van to class and getting the bike towed. I checked the battery connections and fuses, but didn't see anything loose or obvious. I could turn the key on sometimes and get some, all or none of my dash to light up. I was guessing it was grounding out somewhere. Since the bike has a history with electrical gremlins (though none in the last year and a half) and is still under warranty, I plan to get things taken care of professionally.

Lunch rolls around and I make it over to drop the key off at the local Kawasaki shop who had so promptly arrived to tow the bike. They hadn't looked at it since they needed the key. No problem. I get a call back about 45 minutes later with someone saying, "Hey dumb*** your battery cables were loose. Come get it." Not a very reassuring call. I knew I had checked the cables and they were sound.

I finished up at about 5pm and headed over to pick it up. I coughed up the required fee for tow and inspection (non-warranty stuff) and hop on the bike to take off. mollo has already taken off at this point. I get to the end of the driveway, signal to pull out and notice that my blinker indicator isn't going off. So I press the button again. Nothing there nor is the signal blinking. Then the dash's lights, LCDs, and needles do a chase around the dash (think chasing christmas lights) and the bike dies without even leaving the driveway.

All righty then! It's a pretty small parking lot (only 10-15 spaces) and the front of the store is nothing but floor to celing windows but nobody in the shop notices or is willing to help a customer push his freshly "repaired" bike back up the driveway to be looked at again.

[nostalgia]I miss Bob. He was my mechanic in SA. I trusted him to deliver, and he always did. If there was ever a problem, he stood by his work and never charged a penny more than he promised. Anytime I took my bike in to be looked at, he detailed the bike at no charge. That isn't a small task. I don't really (ever) wash my bike. Bob cleaned every nook and cranny. He even cleaned my rear shock and spring. Quite a task. *sigh* I'll have to post more about Bob another time.[/nostalgia]

30 August 2005
This time the diagnosis was that the battery was damaged. It had tested great earlier. Now it was very weak and it goes into great discharge if you tap it. Something inside the battery broke. Whether it was the cause of everything or a symptom of something else, we shall see later. I got a new battery under warranty and took off with it about 5:30pm. I actually rode it to and from school as well as a couple of errands on Wed & Thr.

02 September 2005
On the way to class Friday morning it did it's thing again. Lights on and off for a few seconds, then dead. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I didn't have to push the bike very far, but I was still a bit miffed. I again called for a tow and they promptly showed up to get it. They came in to get the key from me and I was in the middle of my first clinic performance exam! Glad the instructors are so very nice there. That could have been worse.

06 September 2005
The regulator/rectifier is now to blame. A part has been ordered, but it takes a week to get parts in. Neither warranty or shop is willing to pick up the tab on express shipping. There will probably be more to this before long.

So I am out a vehicle for another week. The past two weekends I have been in Houston and mollo has been stuck without a vehicle. This weekend, I am at least in town.

Electrics, can't seem to live without 'em. Sometimes it's tougher to live with them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lutheran Orphanage Lost

Due to Katrina, the Lutheran Church has lost one of it's orphanages and one of it's retirement homes. Bethlehem's Children's Center has relocated all 45 of the children to another home, squeezing them into our Corpus Christi orphanage for right now. The people in the retirement home are all okay but I don't have any information on them. The website of Lutheran Social Services of the South has much more information, including how to help with your time and talents and a donation page.

The Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in a suburb of Houston is currently being used as a shelter. The Houston Chronicle referred to them as the Gloria Dei Lutheran Lutheran Church. ;)

Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School has already agreed to take in 5 students. More students can be taken if some tuition money can be found to pay for them. If you'd like to help Pilgrim you can find their address on their website. Pilgrim is actually the church and school I grew up in. It's very important to give the children know the love of Jesus at this time.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sonia's Picture

My daughter ran up to us last night for big hug. She'd been lying in bed having bad thoughts of what would happen if a flood came to our house. She was scared because she didn't know how to swim. We gave her a big hug and assured her that Mom and Dad would be here to help her. Then we added, "Well, if you don't know how to swim, you need something to float with. You know how to blow up a floaty right?" She was happy with this idea.

This morning, here's the picture she drew. Her toys have built a giant boat out of floaties. And she's pulling a long line of people in floaties. How wonderful Sonia!

Survival Instincts

I think the actions of the people in the devestating areas are as fasinating a topic as the action (or lack or action) by the officials in charge. As I sit on my couch watching, I found myself constantly yelling at the television, "Why don't y'all go and do [....]" My hero is Jabbar Gibson, the young man who drove an empty bus he found on the side of the road and arrived first in Houston. This man is an example of what was lacking in New Orleans. It seems that all of Nike's advertising of their theme "Just Do It" was for naught. There was nothing being done. Everybody was waiting, waiting for orders, waiting for their water in perfect little bottles, waiting for a bus.

The blame game began a couple of days ago and there's plenty to go around. It starts from the bottom and goes all the way to the top.

1. FEMA needs to watch the news a little more. The many statements coming out of FEMA leader Brown showed an obvious disconnect from the reality of the situation. Even President Bush once said he watched CNN and the other news channels to get his info during the war.

2. The state government of Louisiana obviously had no plan for the disaster of the city. They didn't call up troops and have them ready. Mayor Nagin was quoted as saying there were a mere 250 troops present.

3. The City of New Orleans did not provide adequate transportation for the poor to evacuate.

4. The nursing homes and hospitals didn't have good evacuation plans like they were expected too. The first hospital that was fully evacuated was a private hospital that paid for their own way. Their plan went well.

5. The people of New Orleans were unprepared. They were told to bring a 5 days supply of food and water to the Superdome but on the very first day, I saw MREs being the passed out.

6. There was no communication in the city except the radio. Somehow, everybody knew to go to the Superdome and later the Convention center, but they were unable to coordinate from there. Ironically, the only people in the city that had communication were the media, but they too were blind, unable to step up and say, "Use me."

But in the end, watching the people in the Superdome and Convention Center suffer and suffer was the most unbearable. I can't just wait. I would do something. I wouldv'e... I wouldv'e... Well, I would have done a lot. There was plently of water to be had in that city. The idea that there was not enough supplies to feed a tenth of the city for 2 days is ridiculous. The police, the leaders, the people forgot how to tap their hidden resources and treasures.

I hated hearing the word, "...we're here, just waiting for permission to go..." Did you know that President Jefferson didn't have permission to buy Louisiana in the first place? He just did it. I wish those people had the same philosophy.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Gadget of the Week III

Week of 04 Sep 2005

Formerly known as Tool of the Week.

This is for the all season riders out there. The cold months are upon us and nothing spoils a good ride in the frigid (ha-ha) south more than numb fingers.

From Aerostitch
Aerostich Warm Wrap Grips #103

These thin, electrically heated grip pads are made of heat and moisture resistant material and securely wrap over your grips with Velcro. Enjoy riding with warm hands on even the coldest days, without having to install replacement electric grips. Current draw is only 1.6 amps and they pack away easily when not needed. Heated grip pads let you wear lighter gloves for greater control feel on cold days. You can leave them on all winter if you want to. 22 watts. Standard for handlebars up to 36" width, Long for handlebars up to 44" width.
This is Aerostitch's mid-priced heated grip option. I like it since it is a snap to install and remove as the seasons dictate. My third winter with this particular mod is just around the corner. It was an easy install and I really do enjoy having them to use. I did take the easy way out and just wired it up to the battery. I will have to fix that this year. Besides that, installation only requires wrapping the warmers around the grips with the attatched velcro and safely routing the cable from the attachment at the battery (or wiring harness for the less lazy out there) to the handlebars. Be sure to check for an uninhibited range of motion from steering lock to lock.

When it dips into the low 50's and on a trip, on go the warmers. They do a reasonable job down into the 30's. You probably won't want to stay out all day, but a couple of hours can be made more bearable in the 20's.

Brain dominance test

This is an interesting test that I was required to take for a class. It is certainly better than many internet tests out there. Give it a shot.

My results. I had to type them out.

Auditory – 53.3%
Visual – 46.7%
Left – 38.1%
Right – 61.9%

P-Ratt, you are strongly right hemisphere dominant with balanced preference for auditory and visual modes of processing, a very effective mix for creativity and spontaneity while being amenable to direction and focus.

With this combination you are likely a very impatient learner. On the one hand, you deal with large abstractions while you must frequently reduce your processing to one dimensional channels. Fortunately, you also have the attributes of a visual learner so that simultaneous processing is also available to you.

In a similar vein, your right hemisphere fives you an abstract orientation that you are able to link to the organizational and sequential resources of the auditory learner.

You are more passionate than most and have the capacity to be very persuasive. You can detect a great deal by listening to others and this, combined with your intuitive capabilities, would tend to make you an excellent friend.

You are less reflective about yourself or your motivations, unless forced to be. Your tendency is to respond simultaneously to people and avoid a need to have expectations or demands.

Overall, your organization and planning are flexible, and you are successful in “winging it” with sufficient verbal sophistication to blend with your spontaneity and creativity. You will experience discomfort only when situations become too organized or rigid and find yourself wanting to either flee or challenge them.

You may be disorganized with piles of stuff laying everywhere. Unlike the more visually oriented person, however, you have a hard time relocating whatever you place unless you verbally state to yourself where you are putting something and then remind yourself what you are looking for when you go to retrieve it.

I have a left brain? ;)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I didn't know...

Fresh from the Houston Chronicle:

HOUSTON — With more than 220,000 hurricane refugees camped out in Texas and more coming, Gov. Rick Perry warned today that his enormous state was running out of room.
Look, I really didn't realize that this could happen. I mean, it's just ONE CITY that's evacuating. And it's not even that big of a city. If the Hurricane had hit Galveston and the Houston metroplex.... Let's not even think about it. Our city was told to expect 10,000 but because the police force couldn't provide security for all the shelters, we have been limited to a mere 1000.

But if you do want to think about it, you can go to this comprehensive special report again, by the Houston Chronicle. The graphics about how we could change the course of a hurricane were pretty funny.

KAMU and Windows Media Player

The local PBS station is one of only 4 stations I recieve. Everybody else has been watching CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC but I've been hitting reload on my dial-up connection for ages. But now, KAMU has put a New Orleans station up and is running that instead of regular programming. Using the emergency info line, they're constantly announcing the lastest news for our region. I guess that's the power you have when you aren't tied down by advertisers.

I didn't know what was up when a mouse arrow suddenly flashed across the television screen and a menu popped up. It seems they are just playing the streamlined video off the internet. They are using Windows Media Player and putting it up for everybody to see. That's so simple and awesome. Thanks!

In other news,

The local Salvation Army here has asked that all food and clothing be held off. They have no more room!

Carnival Cruise Lines has pulled three boats from service and will house 7000 refugees on them. Two of them are already stationed in Galveston. They are cancelling all cruises and reservations for the next six months. Kudos to Carnival for taking this chance.