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Journal Journal: Rita - over, no real damage 4

Turns out that from our end, it was nothing.

We rode out the storm; mostly wind, a bit of light rain, and some green lightning (I was unable to get a picture of it--boo!), and that was it.

Saturday, the cable was out, so no TV or internets. We drove back to our place, hauling back the cans and water.

Observable damage:

  • A handful of trees had lost limbs,
  • One abandoned car dealership's canopy was torn from its mounts and was lying on the ground,
  • A store's fabric sign was ripped,
  • Two large flags (10-15 ft/3-4.5 m in width) were ripped and the ends were tattered, and
  • There were a billion leaves on the ground.

No mass destruction here, and the end result was (besides the green lightning) no worse than a normal Spring storm... in summer.

It is still as hot as hell (~90 f/32 c), so we didn't even get a post-storm cooling. :(

Wireless Networking

Journal Journal: Rita Update - more desertion 7

I updated the flickr, as I took a few shots on the freeway (they're the last three). It looks like everyone who was going, is gone, because there are nearly no cars on the freeway.

Now it's just us chickens left.

This will probably be it for my updates, as one of the SO's clients invited us to stay at her place. If they have internets, then I'll try to post more later (assuming the power stays on, yadda, yadda).

If not, see you on the other side.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rita Update - Houston is boarded up

We took a walk around last night and took some shots: check it.

It is really weird - the place is like a ghost town. We saw a few people walking and there were a handful of cars, but the majority of folks are gone.

The newsman said Rita will probably drop to a Cat 3 right before it hits, and she's sliding East towards Louisiana, but we'll still get much rain and wind.

I found a nice site with graphs and charts and Google Earth Hacks has some nice Rita overlays (use the site search for 'Rita' as the links are not working).

Updates as they come...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rita Update - found more water, gas is really hard to find 1

I invited one of my Guitar mates to crash at our place if his caves in - he lives in a really flimsy place (aluminum roof), so if the wind blows hard enough, it will probably go. I also spoke with our next door neighbor to let her know to bang on our door if she needed anything, but she said she was going to stay with friends in north Houston.

The SO took me to work in her car this morning, so we can preserve the gas in the Prius. Since the Prius has nearly a full tank, we'll use that if we have to go to Austin, San Antonio or Dallas because it can go father on less. According to some of the people at work who have friends/relatives who've already left, Dallas is close to 20 hours away (normally 3 1/2) and San Antonio/Austin are about 12 each (normally about 3 as well). I guess most people are going north. Meanwhile, I-10 is a parking lot (picture).

On the way to work, we stopped at the local grocery store and they had water bottles coming out the wazoo! We picked up three cases, so that should take care of the water needs for at least a week.

Every gas station within a 2 mile radius of home is kaput. We didn't want to drive around any more and waste gas trying to find gas, but the SO found an actual operational gas station after she dropped me off. Yay!

The Gimp

Journal Journal: Rita update - gas is running out, cash is gone 8

Coming home from work today was weird. All of the traffic out of town was clogged and just an awful mess. Going in to town was like there was no one alive. My trip usually takes about 25 minutes, but this time it took under 15. I always get off the freeway on an earlier exit and then take the side-streets around the mess (the exit ramp that is closest to me is the worst), but this time, there was---literally---no cars on the ramp at all.

Later, I passed 7 gas stations on the way back from guitar practice:

3 of them had long lines, stretching into the street, blocking traffic. No one seemed out of control, just everyone was trying to get their gas and go on their way.

4 of them -- all Shell stations -- were sold out. Some had plastic bags over their pump nozzles, others had some kind of red plastic placard locked onto the nozzle. Many people kept driving into these stations, probably because they figured they'd found the ONE station in all of Houston that didn't have lines, but they quickly drove on when it was obvious that there was no fuel to be had.

The banks have all but shut down. A co-worker's husband was unable to get cash this afternoon. They live on the west side of town--Katy--where everyone who is leaving to San Antonio or Austin will pass through.

My SO was able to get cash, though. She told me that the manager at the branch she went to wasn't letting any teller swap money (i.e., trading another teller a hundred-dollar bill for four twenties), so what you got was what you got. By the time she left the bank, all but one window was closed (the other tellers ran out of cash). I think all the ATMs are dry as well.

I don't believe you can buy water here, unless you are very lucky and time your visit to when the delivery truck arrives at the store. On the way to guitar practice, I stopped by a "high end" supermarket (Eatzi's) to get a snack, and I noticed that all their water was gone. This isn't some cheap old Ozarka or whatever; these waters easily cost more than $1.50 for a bottle ("designer water").

Debian

Journal Journal: Is that the best you can do? I'm down here--come and get me! 3

(cross-posted to fark)

Here in HooVille, people are paying attention probably more than usual because of Katrina. I hit the supermarket last night to grab some stuff to round out our pantry. Wow - almost all of the cans were gone, and there was not one bottle of water on the shelves. A clerk brought out a pallette of bottled waters while I was standing there; I grabbed two cases before the gathering crowd attacked.

My SO reported this AM that the lines for gas are very long. My car is full, but her's is about 5/8ths full. We'll try topping her off this evening (hopefully the stations won't run out!)

This afternoon a coworker had to go to Lowes (Home Improvement store) and reported that they were completely out of generators (idiot people, where are you going to get gas and an electrician to hook up your home circuits?).

I checked my email and found this little jem:

From: "City of Pearland" <dschielke@ci.pearland.tx.us>
To:
Subject: Important Message from the Mayor
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2005 12:20:27 -0500

This is an emergency message from the office of the Mayor of the City
of Pearland. A very serious hurricane is approaching the area. There is
a significant probability that it will impact Pearland. Mayor Tom Reid
has issued a mandatory evacuation for those in flood prone areas and
for those who reside in mobile homes or other non-sturdy structures, and
for those with special transportation needs to leave as soon as
possible. In order to avoid heavily congested traffic conditions and limited
available routes, residents are urged to leave prior to 6 p.m. today,
Wednesday Sept. 21.

For those in need of transportation, buses will be available at 2:30
this afternoon at Jamison Middle School, 2505 Woody Rd. (immediately
north of 518 across from Frost National Bank), and Pearland Jr. High East
(one block north of 518 on Old Alvin Rd.) Persons who wish to leave but
are unable to get to those locations may call 281-652-1953,
281-652-1954, or 281-652-1960. For detailed information, go to
www.cityofpearland.com.

9/21/05 11:30 a.m.

Well the problem is that the entire "city" of Pearland IS A FLOOD-PRONE AREA!

So, all you who are also in the path, stay safe and dry - don't be the fool this year who kills him/herself by driving into the water on the submerged road.

Updates as they come...

The Matrix

Journal Journal: Houston Gas Price: $2.99/gal 13

Holy COW - I'm now paying just over $17/week!!!

This is totally outrageous. I mean, just a few weeks ago I was paying $14-15/week.

With my car requiring a fill-up every two weeks, this is going to be a major burden. My gas mileage has sucked a lot because I have to run the A/C all the time (thanks to the 100 degree -- sorry, 115 degree heat indexed weather).

I would consider riding a bike, but there's no way I could pedal the ~ 22 mile one-way distance to work every day (assuming I could take a shower when I got to work), 'cause it would take too long and I have too much stuff to haul (laptop + books + guitar).

Dang this sucks.

Classic Games (Games)

Journal Journal: Hillary vs. Video Games: a "fair and balanced" perspective 4

Actually, it isn't: Hillary is calling for a $90 million dollar study of the effects of video games, and she's wrong, wrong, wrong. (Note: I'm the Alabama Chapter President of the Elect Hillary '08 to Bust Your Hillbilly Redneck 'Values' Club, so be warned... I might be biased.)

Anyway, the Steven Johnson over at the LA Times sums it up nicely.

In effect, video games are valuable because they teach kids to think.

Of all the games that kids play, which ones require the most mental exertion? Parents can play this at home: Try a few rounds of Monopoly or Go Fish with your kids, and see who wins. I suspect most families will find that it's a relatively even match. Then sit down and try to play "Halo 2" with the kids. You'll be lucky if you survive 10 minutes.

The great secret of today's video games that has been lost in the moral panic over "Grand Theft Auto" is how difficult the games have become. That difficulty is not merely a question of hand-eye coordination; most of today's games force kids to learn complex rule systems, master challenging new interfaces, follow dozens of shifting variables in real time and prioritize between multiple objectives. [Emphasis mine]

If Sen. Clinton wants to investigate a violent activity that children participate in, Mr. Johnson aptly suggests she go right for the belly of the beast:

I'd like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids---a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing.

I'm talking, of course, about high school football.

Of course, no politician would go gunning for HSFB; in those tiny-ass towns across the midwest US (I had the unfortunate luck to live in several over the years), there is no more important event than the Saturday-night HS Foosball game. Yes, it may be the devil, but it is their devil, and no Yankee Carpetbagger is gonna take away their Foosball!

Upgrades

Journal Journal: Developer applies to 'eminent domain' Souter's House 5

Payback, beeyatch!

A developer has applied to the city council to get a permit build a hotel on the site of Justice Souter's home. The rationale is that a hotel will bring in more funds to the city than the home currently does.

Souter, if you recall, was one of the staunch supporters of the ruling that allowed city governments to take over private land and give it to another private party if the transfer would result in increased benefit to the government.

Now the best part is that the developer doesn't even have to go through with it. All he has to do is tear up the home, break ground and then "run out of funds". (cue Nelson laugh) Ha-haa!

Update:Fixed title (damn stubby fat fingers!)

Math

Journal Journal: In Soviet Union the Rich Eat You! 5

I always had the idea that given enough hard work and a bit of luck, I could move up into the "upper class." I recently came to the realization that it just isn't going to happen.

Lottery winner? Please, you couldn't even buy your way into the club; the servant's entrance is around the back.

My better half, who runs a personal assistant business, just landed a client who is one of the top muckety-mucks of a F500 company. Part of the deal is they want someone "they can trust" to wire up their house for all kinds of electronic goodness (wireless/wired i-net, cable, stereo in every room, blah, blah, etc). She recommends me, so I go over to their house to see what they want and figure out how much to charge.

Okay, first of all, this house has something like 8 bedrooms (not including all the bathrooms, studies, storage areas, closets, *pant*). And it is just one of several homes they own.

How about the two closets (each one the size of my living room) that hold either the winter or summer clothes for the Missus? Yeah, her shoes have their own room, too.

Oh, and don't get me started on their five car garage. I thought I was in heaven when I finally got a two-car garage (my tools got a home! woot!)

So, I'm looking at all of this, and I'm thinking, there's no way. From what I understand, a lot of it is for "show" -- part of the rich thing is throwing lots of social events. The other part is that they can.

I'm not there, and I'm not sure I could ever be there. Throw down $10k on a shopping spree (clothes!) in one afternoon? No way. Blow $300 on lunch, every day? Get real. Fly to another state just to personally sign some papers, then get right back on the next outgoing flight (tickets all purchased that day)? You must be joking - overnight the papers to me. Hang a Picasso in your Foyer, because you can? I'll see it in a museum, thanks.

The Media

Journal Journal: Who should write laws on marriage? State/Feds? 5

So the Nebraska state law that sripped rights from gay and lesbians to marry, have civil unions...or breathe was struck down.

"Those damn dirty 'activist' judges. Let's kill them all" -- Tom Dee-Lay

Okay, here's a radical idea: the government gets out of the 'marriage' business altogether. No one gets marriages. Instead, you apply for and are issued a civil relationship license and enter into a contract for the same. The requirements for civil contract are the same as they are now: two (or more) legal-age adults, who are of sound mind, etc.

If you want to get "married," then you go to your Church, Mosque, Temple, or Ryan's Family Steak House and get the officiant to mumble the words, light in incense and rattle the beads to complete the ceremony your individual belief system may require.

What about divorce?

That would be written into the civil contract - a method of dissolution/bailout clause/whatever.

For your "marriage," simply go to Ryan's Family Steakhouse and order the #12 without gravy.

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