Archive for September, 2005

Now for something a little lighter

You know those joke emails? I just got this …

You Live On The Gulf Coast If

  1. You have FEMA’s number on your speed dialer.
  2. You have more than 300 ‘C’ and ‘D’ batteries in your kitchen drawer.
  3. Your pantry contains more than 20 cans of Spaghetti Os.
  4. You are thinking of repainting your house to match the plywood covering your windows.
  5. When describing your house to a prospective buyer, you say it has three bedrooms, two baths, and one safe hallway.
  6. Your SSN isn’t a secret, it’s written in Sharpie on your arms.
  7. You are on a first-name basis with the cashier at Home Depot.
  8. You are delighted to pay $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
  9. The road leading to your house has been declared a ‘No-Wake’ Zone.
  10. You decide that your patio furniture looks better on the bottom of the pool.
  11. You own more than three large coolers.
  12. You can wish that other people get hit by a hurricane and not feel the least bit guilty about it.
  13. You rationalize helping a friend board up by thinking, "It’ll only take a gallon of gas to get there and back."
  14. You have 2-liter coke bottles and milk jugs filled with water in your freezer.
  15. Three months ago you couldn’t hang a shower curtain; today you can assemble a portable generator by candlelight.
  16. You catch a 13-pound redfish – in your driveway.
  17. You can recite from memory whole portions of your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  18. At cocktail parties, women are attracted to the guy with the biggest chainsaw.
  19. You have had tuna fish more than 5 days in a row.
  20. There is a roll of tarpaper in your garage.
  21. You can rattle off the names of three or more meteorologists who work at the Weather Channel and every single newscaster and reporter at all of the major stations in town.
  22. Someone comes to your door to tell you they found your roof.
  23. Ice is a valid topic of conversation.
  24. Your "drive-thru" meal consists of MRE’s and bottled water.
  25. Relocating to South Dakota does not seem like such a crazy idea.
  26. You spend more time on your roof then in your living room.
  27. You’ve been laughed at over the phone by a roofer, fence builder, or a tree worker.
  28. You don’t worry about relatives wanting to visit during the summer.
  29. Your child’s first words are "hunker down" and you didn’t go to Ole Miss!
  30. Having a tree in your living room does not necessarily mean it’s Christmas.
  31. You know the difference between the "good side" of a storm and the "bad side."
  32. Your kids start school in August and finish in July.
  33. You go to work early and stay late just to enjoy the air conditioning.
  34. You get phone calls from family members saying they’ve found bread at a store 6 miles away… and you hurry to get there.
  35. You wait in line for 45 minutes for a loaf of bread and don’t mind because at least you have bread.
  36. A battery powered TV is considered a home entertainment center.

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Wow – words fail me.

Words fail me.

While the world concentrated on New Orleans, Mississippi rolled up its sleeves

If you haven’t seen any of the aerial photographs taken right after Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, these pictures from the Sun Herald tell a harrowing tale.


The link leads to a large Flash movie containing a photo slideshow and comments. Please be patient while it downloads.

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The gas stations are just taking the P155!!

Quit with the stupid games and show us your prices!

The day before Katrina hit, all the gas stations locally took down their prices from those huge big signs they have in the forecourt. Now, a month later, most of them (well, of the few that have reopened) are still not showing the price they plan to sell their fuel at.

I could be cynical and say they were trying to hide big price rises so they could stick one over the evacuees as they left town before the storm.

Or I could be charitable, and assume that they just were being cautious and were making sure their precious numbers did not blow away when the high winds arrived.

Either is possible.

But why, a full month after the storm, are they still not showing their gas prices?

It’s an interesting game … do I want to join the line (queue for us Brits) and take a risk on waiting 10 or 20 minutes just to discover some outrageous price? Or shall I drive on to the next place to see if they are going to admit to their price.

Fortunately the lines are shorter now than they were … actually they are almost completely gone. But at one stage people were forced to wait in line for several hours – in 95-100 degree temperatures – and would have paid any price.

I thought there were laws that required retailers to clearly show their prices. Maybe they think they are serving the letter of the law by showing the price in the little window of the pump, but they are certainly not serving he spirit of the law.

In Gulfport there are maybe three or four gas stations showing a price, ranging form $2.45 to $2.79. As far as I can tell this is a lot cheaper than in most other places in the USA, but of course most places are not showing any price at all.

Maybe they are charging high prices, and maybe they are not. I have no idea what they are charging, and you can be assured I won’t know until they display their prices again.


Because there is no way I will be going into the forecourt before they quit playing games and start to show their prices. I just wish a few more people would do the same …

It’s not as if they have had the courtesy to improve our skyline by removing the hideous big signs proclaiming that they are there to sell us fuel!

If you are a local and you read this, I would be grateful to hear from you if you know anything of the legality of not showing prices like this. Just click the Comments link below and follow the instructions.

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Want to work on the coast? No problem!

It seems like even the small number of businesses that are open
cannot find enough people to do the work they have …

Drive past any open business, be it MacDonald’s, a pharmacy, a gas station or a pawn shop and you can almost guarantee you’ll see a sign that says something like “Open and hiring”.

The local newspaper is full of adverts for welders, truck drivers, temporary office workers, cleaners … and professional jobs too – need a nursing job? Want to be a salesman? An insurance adjuster? Companies are offering free on-the-job training for truck drivers!

Local job agencies have signs outside saying they have upwards of 300 jobs to fill. Local radio claims the local unemployment service is inundated with jobs.

In short – if you want to work, there is work there to be had. All you need to do is go get it. Right now it probably helps if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty too …

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Things are still a long way from normal

Some times it seems like repairs have come a long way – but they have so far to go.
Even now it is hard to grasp the full scale of Katrina’s destruction!

Amy and I have been maintaining a semblance of normality over the last couple of weeks, but this morning I was struck by how far from normality we really are. Here’s what was going through my mind.

Firstly, we normally go to a local gym each weekday morning before we start work. Our gym lost its roof and suffered considerable damage from Katrina, so right now it is closed so they can rebuild. We have to travel an extra 15 miles or so to go to a different gym – a gym that we found quite by accident when we were unable to go to a second gym that is normally our backup!

Secondly, as we travel along Pass Road through Gulfport and Biloxi, I am struck buy the fact that fewer than 10% of retail outlets and businesses appear to be open. Can you even begin to comprehend what that is doing to the local economy? Thousand and thousands of people are missing, scattered about the USA now that their homes are destroyed or unfit to live in. But hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses have been equally badly affected. The local newspaper, the Sun Herald, published an article today that said, among other things,“Of the 171,000 dwellings in the area, more than 65,100 homes, or 38 percent, are destroyed and an additional 38,000 sustained major damage”. 65,100 homes destroyed!

Thirdly, with all those businesses closed, there are few restaurants open (most with very restricted menus), only one movie theatre within about a 50 mile radius, few grocery stores, only a small number of banks, roughly 30% of gas stations … etc, etc. In other words most of the places where people normally go for neccesities, luxuries and entertainment are all gone. Even those people who were lucky enough to be barely touched by Katrina are now being starved not only of their luxuries, but many of their necessities.

Why was I so struck by all of this? Monday will be 4 weeks since Katrina hit. Almost a month. In nearly 4 weeks the teams of people repairing services to our homes and businesses have done unbelievable work, returning electricity, phone, water and sewerage services to almost everyone who can receive such services. But no amount of wonderful work by those people can possibly speed up the repairs to homes and businesses, or replace those that were completely washed away. It really is going to take years to make repairs on that scale.

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Rain hits the Mississipi coast

This is really the first rain since Katrina was here!

Over three weeks since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, we finally got rain today. This might have been good news but for a series of less-happy facts:-

  • The rain is the northern-most tip of Rita, so this is the harbinger of much worse weather that will hit land to the west and north of us.
  • Much of the coastal flooding has still not completely receded.
  • New Orleans is absolutely not ready to take another storm – it won’t take much to create fresh flooding and to burst the levvies again.
  • The rest of the coast is not ready for another storm either. Most of the storm damage has not yet been made secure. Many, many buildings still have no kind of roof or even a tarpaulin to protect them from further damage.
  • What debris there is that has been gathered together is mostly piled at the side of the road waiting for the local goverment or FEMA to collect it and take it away for disposal – it’s going to take little more than a whiff of wind and a few drops of rain to start spreading that debris all over the place.
  • If we get anything more than about 10 mph winds, a lot of that debris will be flying around causing new damage.
  • Fresh rain will encourage fresh mosquitos – they have not yet been as bad as some had predicted.

On the plus side – there has to be a plus side, right?

  • The fact that a lot of the debris has not been cleared away means that most of the coast is smelling bad right now. I reckon at least some of that smell will be eased as the rain washes a lot of the cause of that away. Although making it wet will most likely make it worse than ever in another day or two 😦
  • There has been a burn-ban across the 6 southern counties of Mississippi, and no dound in Alabama and Louisiana too – making it impossible for people to dispose of their own debris. This may well be lifted. OK I know it’s a bad idea to encourage people to burn all their storm debris, but for many in outlying areas it will be the only way to clean up.
  • Nature needs a drink. I have mentioned a couple of times how pleased I have been to see trees regrowing their leaves. I am sure a day or two of rain will help to fuel that regrowth. It will be nice to see the trees with their clothes back on, providing us with a less-bleak view of the world, and of course some shade form the relentless sun.

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Mobile information about Hurricane Rita

As I write, it looks like Hurrricane Rita is going to hit Huston

My heart goes out to all of those who were affected so terribly by Katrina, only to have another hurricane chase them out of their place of refuge. Thousands of people are having to flee from Huston and other parts of Texas as the storm seems to be chasing many of the people who were most severely hurt by Katrina.

This morning I found this page of links to mobile friendly web pages giving information about Rita. If you are on the move and have access to the internat via cell phone or PDAphone these links may be useful for you. You should find they work fine for PC and Laptop computers too, but they may look odd as they have been optimised for the small screens of PDAs.

The page had been put together by Bev Howard. The idea is to encourage officials to make this sort of information available. Here’s what Bev says about it:-

I’m winging this one, so page is being constantly updated… for the better hopefully… check back


Suggestions and feedback will be appreciated.

PLEASE! If you think this minimalist approach is a good idea, pass the link along to as many other mobile users as possible and as many people along the texas/la coast asap who have the need, both mobile and non mobile.

I have a local counter to support the need, so, the more visits during this event, the more likely NHC will pay attention. The counter only updates if you “reload” on the ppc so it should reflect mobile hit’s accurately although many browsers are set to reload every time.

If you want Noaa and NHC to provide mobile friendly sites and to let them know their current “text page” sucks, let them know at nhc.public.affairs@noaa.gov

Beverly Howard [MS MVP-Mobile Devices]

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Nature’s recovery continues

I have been fascinated by all the new growth I see everywhere

One of the most shocking things for me when I returned home to Saucier – after seeing all the trees down everywhere – was the fact that almost every leaf was blown off of every tree. I posted a picture oa few days ago showing one of our surviving Pecans sprouting new leaves. Today I snpped a second picture showing the change in only a few days.

Since noticing this new growth, I have been looking out for it elsewhere. I see lovely bright green leaves sprouting everywhere At this rate we will have lots of trees with normal-looking compliments of leaves in another two or three weeks. For many that will be just in time for Autumn – oops, Fall 🙂 – but for the live oaks the plumage should be here to stay.

The single sad thing about this is the number of trees I have seen that are lying on their sides, doomed to be cut up and burned over the next few months, but still valiantly putting out new growth. My wife spoke to a tree expert about this earlier in the week. He said that the trees will, unfortunately, grow themselves to death. They will quickly outgrow the ruined roots that remain in action and essentially starve to death 😦

County assistance with clean-up?

We discovered this week that we should be able to get official assistance with the cleanup. Most people here in Saucier are not wealthy, but 5 acres of land is pretty normal for a typical household, and even the most meagre plot is an acre. Many older families have several tens of acres.

Everyone has lost many trees, but if we individually call lumber companies individually to get trees taken away, they will not be interested in clearing a couple of trees from a two-acre plot, or even 5 or 6 trees from a 5 acre plot, or if they are interested the cost would be prohibitive.

My wife Amy spoke with the local chairman of the marchants association and they have plans to gather together a town meeting to see if we can go forward and find a contractor or group of contractors who can help the entire town of Saucier clear away the worst of the trees.

As a possible added bonus, maybe they can help us get this tree of the little trailer we have on our property. Then we can quickly make it available to one of the poor families who are now homeless!

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I forgot one bonus from Katrina


Scores and scores of billboards were destroyed by hurricane Katrina. It’s been great not having these huge, ugly, garishly-coloured, grammatically aful advertisements!

Sadly, yesterday I noticed several of the casino-owned billboards north of I-10 on highway 49 have begun to sprout new adverts. I couldn’t tell you what they say becuase I treat them the same way I do adverts on web sites – I ignore them!

I also noticed yesterday that at least one of the huge iron and scteel billboard frames that was knocked down was being replaced in Gulfport.

I sincerely hope these things are banned as part of the suggested swathe of new zoning abnd building codes. They are ugly and they destroy what could be beautiful views all over the country. At the very least they should be banned in places like Gulfport and Biloxi.

Besides – I am sure that a significant percentage of the building damage that occured as Katrina scoured her way through the coastal towns and northwards was caused by debris torn from the billboards! I saw several buildings badly damaged by huge billboard columns that had fallen onto them…

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Desktop replacement

Mobile computing? Detatchable screen!

This is the ultimate desktop replacement!

I was surfing around trying to get back to normal when I spotted this http://www.i4u.com/article4084.html and my gadgetosis nerve started itching!!!

I have wanted something like this for a long time. So has my wife, Amy, apparently 🙂

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