Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sugar, Caffeine, & Aspirin

Something drives me to squeeze every second out of my life. Personally, I believe only boring people live long enough. The rest of us die far to young to do everything we'd like to do. With that demon chasing me I hardly sleep. Usually I go full-blast for two-three weeks or so then collapse asleep at the supper table.

I basically survive on sugar, caffeine, and aspirin. Oh, and the daily can of V8 Juice. It sounds unhealthy, but I seem to be doing well, and better yet I get to do so much.

For instance, in the last seven days I did the following:

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Went to the Rocky Mountains outside Denver.

Because one can't spend four days straight at the Denver convention center...
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meeting fellow oil-people...

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And learning about the latest innovations in oil field technology.

Then it was home again to a family that missed me. The shorter days of Fall mean we are entering prime toad-catching season. Miniwether lives for this time of year. Mambowether just likes to make faces at the toads.
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She's not licking it.

Saturday found us at the dragon boat races. Luckily the tradition of human sacrifices is no longer a part of this sport event.
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Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!

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Artistic shot of dragon boats.

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The races were cool, but a duck's feather was cooler.

Meanwhile, my solar hot water heater was baking away.
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250F, not bad.

All the fallen trees gave me a chance to teach Miniwether about the biology of trees. However this quickly degenerated into burning stuff with a magnifying glass. After burning wood for a while she looked up at me and asked if she could try to burn ants. I swear in must be some sort of genetic trait that flows through every human's DNA!
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Burn baby burn!

Sunday found us joining up with Clark and family at the grand opening of a "Nature Area" in a new, local master-planner community. This area can be summed up as "Nature for people who really don't trust Nature". For instance, look at the tree with the sign.
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It's made of fiberglass. There are millions of trees down around Houston but they use fake trees at this nature area. The nature trails were paved, the lake was lined with cement.

Oh well, the girls liked the critters.

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Bunny!

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Armadillo!

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Vulture!

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Lizard!

It's now Sunday night again, season 3 of the new Doctor Who series is playing in the DVD and I'm about to toast up a package of poptarts. Tomorrow morning will be here soon and I'll be needing to solve assorted oily sciency stuffs, teach my girls about the universe, meet with the head of the Equipped to Survive Foundation, and generally burn up my life. Works for me.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lessons from Hurricane Ike

The following is from a collection of posts I made over on the Equipped to Survive forum. It covers everything I learned from Hurricane Ike. Some of the information is repeated, sorry about that.

The Storm:
Ike was a huge storm in size which luckily diffused it's power somewhat. The eye passed 22 miles to my east as a class 2 hurricane, though it was only 1mph under what is considered class 3.

Our neighborhood was hit with a constant windspeed of 72mph for over twelve hours. During that time we suffered gusts up to 97.75mph. It took about five hours to go from no wind to the 70mph winds. It took another 4-5 hours to drop back down from 70 down to zero.

There was little rain during most of Ike, less than 5 inches in our neighborhood. However, another storm front hit as Ike was leaving and this storm dropped another 10 inches of rain in a six-hour period. 15 miles to the west received 19 inches of rain post-Ike. This resulted in minor flooding.

There was almost no lightening with Ike, at least in my location. The exploding transformers made up for that with a very impressive light show.

There were reports of tornadoes, especially to the east of the eye. There are indications that we might have been hit by some micro-twisters, but I have not been able to confirm this.


Our Damages:
As mentioned earlier we had twelve hours of 70mph winds with gusts up just under 100mph. At this speed rain was being blown horizontally. This resulted in water trickling in under the windows exposed to this wind. Placing towels on the windowsills soaked up this water and prevented any damage.

My two-car-wide garage door no longer stays open, to get in/out I need to prop it up with a stick. The garage door's spring was replaced this summer and there wasn't a problem before the storm. The door itself has some warping, but I'm not sure how this could affect the springs. The door was not braced or re-enforced in any manner.

A strange water stain appeared on our kitchen ceiling.

Many oak and loblolly pine trees are down in the neighborhood. Which ones survived and which ones fell seems to be very random. In most cases the root ball was torn out of the ground rather than the trunk breaking.

About 1 in every 10 house suffered some sort of roof damage. In most cases this was just missing shingles, but the tar paper remained. Some cases the bare plywood roof was exposed. The damaged sections were all under 15'x15' in size and usually limited to only one section of the roof. No roof in the neighborhood is over 12 years old, most are less than seven years old.

One house lost 2-3 planks of their siding, exposing the insulation beneath. I'm not sure if the siding was wood of hardiplank (cement-composite wood).

Each yard in our neighborhood is surrounded by 6' tall cedar-plank "barricade style" fences. Sections of these fences were blown over. In each case the fence broke at two posts. The posts were not up-rooted. The broken fences stayed where they fell, they did not become missles. Nor did I see any individual cedar planks missing from fences. These fences are 7-12 years old.

No windows were broken in the neighborhood except in one case where a branch from a falling tree hit it.

The large amount of broken branches clogged the storm-sewer drains slowing down the escape of water. However, the water never got deep enough for me to go kayaking down the street. frown (I had stored my kayak inside the front door in hopes I could take her out)

Yards will filled with small and medium (2" diameter) oak and pine branches. The trees were partially stripped of leaves, needles, and pine cones.

I and a few others had boarded up some of my windows. In light of the lack of damage I probably will not board up next time unless I think it'll be a class 3 or higher.


Interesting Tips/Facts
1. Power began flickering at my house around 10pm and went off for good at 4am. After the first flickering I cut the breakers to everything but the room I was in. This was to protect them from the power surges as transformers blew up.

2. Before the storm my neighbors and I set up a walkie-talkie connection between the houses which was monitered through the entire storm. This allowed people to call for help, but also just to chat for comfort.

3. Rechargeable spotlights were invaluable during the storm. However when you shine one out your window the reflection was so strong that you couldn't see past it. About half the houses had spotlights and we quickly figured out that we could use the walkie-talkies to direct the spotlight from another house to light up the area you wanted to see.

4. Garage doors make a weird humming noise in high winds.

5. The water in your toilet can be used as a crude barometer. The water level in the bowl dropped as the low-pressure eye moved closer and closer. The water level rose again after the eye passed. I want to sell pressure-calibrated toilets to people in hurricane zones.

6. You can't hear a really big tree fall during a hurricane unless it hits your house.

7. Wash all your clothes/bedding/towels before the storm hits. There's no telling when you'll have another chance.

8. Keep a large supply of crappy towels on hand. We used to have lots of beautiful white towels. They are now a large supply of crappy towels. blush I ended up using towels to stop water coming in through the windows and doors, ooze seeping out of the freezers and fridge, wiping off after playing in the rain, etc...

9. Keep a small notepad with you at all times! Something will occur to you but if you don't write it down you'll forget it. It's also critical for writing information down that you hear on the radio.

10. Keep a flashlight with you at all times while the power is out. This means during the day and night. You will constantly find yourself hunting around in dark closets, garages, etc in your house and other people's houses. It's a pain to have to go and find a flashlight all these times.

11. It gets dark inside the house well before it gets dark outside. That's another reason to always keep a flashlight on you. You will be spending a lot of time working outside and it'll get late. Then you'll have to stumble around inside your house looking for your flashlight when you do go in even if it's still light outside.

12. Those little cylume lightstick braclets are awesome for marking you flashlights, radios, water jugs, cat, furniture and other stuff you need to see in the dark. Amazingly, ones I activated on Friday night were still glowing faintly Tuesday night! They are really cheap right now for Halloween so by several containers of them. Also, they come in assorted colors so you can assign a color to a particular type of thing (yellow for flashlights, blue for water, evil green for cats, etc...)

13. Set your house up like a blind person lives there. In other words, have an assigned spot for everything and when it's not in use return it to that spot. That way you'll always know where a particular radio/flashlight/axe are and you won't have to hunt for it in the dark. It took me two days to figure this tip out. blush

14. According to the Red Cross insulin will last for one month at 86F. I thought it had to be kept cold. I'm not a diabetic, but when I heard that information I wrote it down in my notebook to share with y'all.

15. Don't dump your water right after the storm. A friend in another part of town had filled up all their bathtubs before the storm. After Ike passed the water was still on so they drained the tubs and took baths before going to bed. The water was turned off during the night, they are now hauling water from a pool three blocks away to flush their toilets.

16. Scoop out the kitty litter during daylight hours. It's really hard to do by the light of a flashlight.

17a. If you have a generator running outside you still better also have a carbon monoxide detector in the house.
17b. Keep an eye on the direction of the wind. The people right next door to me were running their generator on their back patio. During the night the wind shifted direction and started blowing it's exhaust into their house. Luckily their CO monitor when off and woke them up in time.

18. Where there are damaged roofs and downed fences there are nails. Where there are nails someone will step on one. This results in a 14-hour wait in the emergency room.

19. Just because someone has a chainsaw doesn't mean they know how to use a chainsaw. The stunts and stupidity I saw with saws was mind-boggling. I watched one guy start cutting through an 18" thick limb but before it cut all the way through the wood split and the section he was cutting dropped three feet down to the ground. However, it was still attached the rest of the tree by a 2" thick, 3' long strip of highly stressed wood. He cut through this strip before I could yell a warning. The string sprung back up and nearly removed his face. I warned him again but he said it was okay. The same thing happened with him three more times before he finally started making the first cut underneath the limbs.

20. People will drive through your yard to get around a tree blocking the road. This is very hard on sprinkler systems.

21. If you have a griddle you can cook ANYTHING on a barbecue grill. Never go into an Apocalypse without a griddle.

22. Cargo-shorts styled swimsuits are great clothing to wear after during/after a hurricane. They are quick drying and can be washed while you are in the shower. Keep 2-3 pairs on hand.

23. Devote your energies to first taking care of the food in your fridge/freezer, THEN clean up the yard. blush

24. It is legal to have tigers as pets in Texas. In a hurricane one or more of these tigers may escape. Keep this in mind when you are placing all your raw, spoiling meat in your garbage can.

25. The more aluminum foil and ziploc baggies you have the better off you will be.

26. Your ice maker isn't nearly as powerful as you think it is. Fill every cooler you can find with ice before the storm hits.

27. Thinking "I don't need and D-cell batteries." is your brain's way of telling you you need D-sized batteries. blush

28. Put all your extension cords in an easy to get to place even if you don't have a generator.

29. FEMA-supplied meals aren't very good, it's better to be prepared. Each box supposedly supplied the food requirements of one person for one day. It did not include any way to heat the food. Luckily, I didn't need the FEMA rations.
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FEMA rations contents

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Opened box of FEMA rations.


Mistakes Made:
1. I didn't buy ice before the storm. I rearranged the freezers and filled up all our tupperware with water and froze it. This wasn't enough. I should have filled every cooler and empty spot in our freezers with bags of ice or dry ice.

2. I didn't seal the food well enough against the water from the melted ice. I should have either put the food in big ziploc bags or sealed the ice in heavy-duty garbage bag. I had to throw out a lot of food just because it became water-logged.

3. I didn't fill spare gas cans with gasoline. Both vehicles were topped off, but I had three 5-gal gas cans sitting empty. I figured since I didn't have a generator I didn't need the extra gas (and associated extra risks). Had I had the extra gas I could have helped supply my neighbor's generator with gas. Sidenote: a few days after the storm the company I work for began giving each employee 5 free gallons of gas each day.

4. I didn't put our extension cords in an easy to access location. Again I figured since I didn't have a generator I didn't need the extension cords. However, I could have run cords from my central battery system to other rooms.

5. While I had plenty of tarps and nails in case of roof damage, I didn't have long wood strips to help hold the tarps on the roof. Luckily, I didn't need the tarps.

6. I made my plywood shutters too heavy to install by myself.

7. I hadn't written the shutter's window location on each shutter, I just numbered them and wrote the location on a piece of paper. I then misplaced the paper sometime in the last few years.

8. After the hurricane I spent the day cleaning the yard rather than optimizing keeping my food properly cooled or cooking it.

9. A lot of the food I did cook still ended up going bad because I didn't have enough ice to keep it cool.

10. The first day I didn't realize how quickly it would get dark inside my house while still light outside.

11. After our power came on I took out the batteries from all our flashlights and radios to prevent corrosion damage from leaking batteries. Then while I was in Denver the power went out again, leaving Missewether and the Wethergirls without light until she was able to find a flashlight and reinsert the batteries.

12. Hauled large logs while wearing sandals. Luckily I didn't drop any on my feet.


Useful Tools:
There are lots of hurricane prep lists out there. Here is a list of things I was really glad I had that are normally included on these lists:

1. Xantrex Powerpack 400 Plus. I was able to run a fan and a CFL lamp for 10+ hours using this battery/inverter powerpack then recharge it using my car or the neighbor's generator.
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2. 12-volt fan plugged into powerpack (seen in picture above). This kept me cool.

3. Limb cutter. This cutting tool reduced big branches into tiny bits quickly, safely, and easily.
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4. Aluminum foil, bbq grill and griddle. Give me a barbecue grill and a griddle and I'll figure out how to cook just about anything. Add the aluminum foil and I can cook anything.

5. LED lamp and rechargeable spotlight. The lamp lit up a room using six LEDs and three AA batteries. The spotlight was able to light up my neighbor's place four houses down.
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6. Walkie-talkies. House to house communications gave safety and comfort.

7. 7gal and 2.5gal Aquatainers. I could move the big one easily, but Misseswether could only use the smaller one.
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Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures of Ike

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Sunset on the Night of Ike

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Before the storm. Note the realy big tree to the right of my neighbor's house.

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After the storm. The tree missed my neighbor's house by less than a foot! It ended up blocking the road. Rather than go around the block the other way a number of jerks decided just to drive around the tree through our yards. This is hard on the sprinkler system.

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Displaced possum. This critter was hiding under the fallen tree pictured above. It wasn't very happy. I didn't poke him with a stick.

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Spring Creek flowing at over 12,000cfs. My normal launch point is twenty feet underwater in this picture!

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The unprepared masses. This picture was taken Sunday morning, about 18 hours after Ike had passed. This was the first gas station in the area to open. A line of cars stretched back over a mile from it and there were always at least 200 people in line to pay $4.00 per gallon for their five gallons of gas. A number of fights broke out between the people. It was a fun place for a prepared guy like me to go for entertainment purposes.

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The floating party begins. Sunday morning we gathered next door for omlets and margaritas. This kicked off what turned into a four-day party as we went from house to house eating each others food and drinking. Oh, one night we had tango lessons, too.

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Supper Sunday night. The power had been off for 12 hours and I needed to start cooking food to avoid losing it. No way in heck was I going to let two pounds of shrimp go to waste. Shine and I managed to eat all but four of these shrimp.

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Coldn't let the bacon go to waste, either. Mmmm, bacon. Sidenote: if you have a grill and a gridle you can cook ANYTHING. My neighbor managed to make cinnamon rolls on this! Trust me, never go into an Apocalypse without a gridle.

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Stacks of meat being cooked in foil. Mmmm. thirty pounds of meat... I really don't think I've eaten such mass quantities of wonderful food since Misseswether's and my honeymoon cruise.

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Third night of the party was at my place. I made fatiajas and dirty rice. For those of you visiting from Equipped to Survive forum, note the zippered binder in the lower right-hand corner under the small, yellow book. Yep, that's The Binder.

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My beans and okra were trashed, but they seem to be struggling back now

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Water damage to the kitchen ceiling. This was about all our house suffered, but many neighbors lost roofing and siding. I don't have ny pictures of damage to other houses as I felt that was an invasion of their privacy. About 1/3 of the house suffered roof damage and 1/10 of the trees in our neighborhood are now cut up piles of wood sitting next to the road awaiting pickup by the debris removal teams.

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FEMA emergency rations. I didn't need to go to any of the FEMA supplied points, but a neighbor brought me one of the food packs. These boxes contain one day's worth of food for one person. I was hoping to get some military MRE's for hiking, but instad they were passing out the above stuff. Bleah!

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Wednesday morning the power was still out at home but on where I work. As I pulled out of the garage to head to work I saw this beautiful sunrise. While at work the power came back on at home. It made me a little sad, I was having a great time!

I'll write more about my experiences with Hurricane Ike soon. I learned a lot of useful lessons that are worth passing on to others.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike update 9/18/08: Power is Back

The power was on when I got home from work yesterday. It made me a little sad. I was having a great time.

Oh well. Misseswether and the girls will be home tonight. They missed the whole thing.

Our home computers are still sealed away. I'll try to get them set up again tonight and post a bunch more over the weekend.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Update from Merriwether!

Hey y'all! Still no power back home. I'm at work (using the term very loosely) today.

It's been an amazingly fun four days. Sure the power is out but all the neighborhood has banded togehter and set up a huge, floating block party. We've been stuffing each other with food from our freezers (Sunday night I ate almost an entire 2lb bag of shrimp). There's a lot of trees down in the neighborhood and some damages to people's roofs. Our house suffered minor damage to the garage door and the trim around the back door, but that's it.

I have a bunch of stories and pictures for you but you'll have to wait a bit longer. I can't upload the pictures to my flickr account from work.

Okay, I really need to crack open my cement cells in the lab and see if my experiment worked. You'll have to wait a bit longer for the complete rundown/picturees of my adventure.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update from Misseswether

Talked to Merriwether. He is on day 3 of the big neighborhood block party. No power. No land phone. Spotty cell coverage. Intermittent tap water. Home supplies excellent. Encountered a possum. Spring Creek still over banks. It's good to be prepared.

The wethergirls are really missing their daddy, however, I'm glad that we don't have to be there, even though this single mom thing is tough.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike: 2:06am, 9/13/08

Flashes of light in the distance. Thought it was lightening.
Nope, transformers blowing up.
Fascinating.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 1:50am, 9/13/08

Intermittent power outages.
Some branches down in front yard.
Hurricane-force winds still several hours away.
Cat really annoying.

The next time the power goes out I'm shutting stuff down/unplugging it. I don't want to lose the router and modem to a power surge.

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 1:20am, 9/13/08

Okay, now we are getting hurricane. 60-70mph winds are the main thing, rain is still light but getting worse.

The noise is...disturbing.

The tree across the street is still standing but the worst is yet to come.

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 1:00am, 9/13/08

Wow. It sounds like a train just flew over the house! Acording to the news the eye has just hit land down in Galveston. Almost 1,000,000 people are without power n Houston and the guy from the energy company just said it'll take weeks to get everyone powered again. Transformers are blowing up all over Houston and some of these explosions have caused buildings to burn down.

I'm hoping to last until the eye goes over me. That should be an interesting experience.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Wow, 682 Visitors on 09/12/08

Hi everybody!

-Merriwether

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike: 12:00am, 9/13/08

Another brief power outage knocked out my connection. Had to reboot stuff. Still not too bad outside, mostly wind.

I'm about ready to sedate the dang cat.

Cut power and breakers to AC units to protect them. Also turned off breakers to garage and outside electrical outlets.

Ate a banana. :-)

All is still well.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 11:30pm, 9/12/08

Rain started. It's falling horizontally east to west.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 11:15pm, 9/12/08

Good news, the latest projections have the eye passing about a mile to the east of me. This means I'll be on the kinder, gentler side of Hurricane Ike. You can follow Ike using the google Earth .kmz file named "gebweather". It displays the projected path with updates every ten minutes.

www.houstonhidefromthewind.org has dropped it's forecast of wind in my neighborhood to only 79mph steady with gusts maybe 15mph higher. Sweet relief, indeed.

All is still well.

-Merriweather

Hurricane Ike: 10:30pm, 9/12/08

First power flicker. Trees are starting to whip around. There's a huge oak tree looming over my friend's place across the street. It's on the east side of his house. I can't help but think it's going to fall on his house. We set up a rescue plan if it does fall...

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 8:4pm, 9/12/08

There was a beautiful sunset, all read and orange across a destroyed sky. Now it's dark and the wind is howling. It's blowing at 45mph with gusts up to 60mph. The bad stuff won't arrive for another four hours. No rain yet but I can smell it coming. Shine is still freaking out. Last I heard Ike had grown to a class 3 hurricane. For some reason I can't get this computer to recognize my camera so I don't having any photographs to show you. Too bad my Mac is packed away now. I'm not going to spend time troubleshooting this dang PC right now.

I'm in Spring right off I-45 near he border of Harris and Montgomery counties. Like I mentioned earlier I'm almost 75 miles inland from the coast. I should be okay. There's a safe little nest witing for me under the stairs if it gets rough.

More later.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Brief note on my location/preperations.

I'm over 70 miles inland from Galveston Island. Thankfully all that destruction is nowhere near me. I'll get high winds, maybe as high as 100mph. There's no danger of my house getting flooded. It'll be a noisy, scary night but ultimately not dangerous.

I'm pretty sure, anyway...

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 6:30pm, 9/12/08

Just finished biking around the neighborhood. There are hurricane parties on every block. I love this neighborhood!

I'm just hanging out now, maybe I'll take a nap. Things are supposed to go bad well after midnight and I want to be awake for it. Maybe I'll have more interesting news then.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 3:30pm, 9/12/08

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Shine is hiding.

Misseswether's cat seems to be freaking out. He's running around, jumping up on stuff and wailing at the top of his lungs. Then he takes a nap before starting the hyperactivity over again. Hmmm. I'm thinking this isn't a good sign.

Right after my previous post a neighbor came was frantically pounding on my door in need of help. Turns out he wanted to swap three of his warm beers for three of my cold ones. It's important to have one's priorities straight. It reminds me of last time when Misseswether ended up baking a birthday cake for another neighbor. People know we're prepared.

The news said a 10-year old boy was killed this morning when a tree fell on him. Supposedly his parents were chopping the tree down so the hurricane wouldn't knock it over on to there house. That sucks. I'm really glad all the Wethergirls are safe in California.

The wind is picking up but the rain has stopped. I think I'll go for a walk.

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 2:15pm, 9/12/08

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Lunch with the neighbors.

People are starting to get nervous as this storm isn't acting like other hurricanes. It has class 2 winds but Galveston has been hit with a class 5 storm surge. The local weathermen are keep repeating they don't know what is happening.

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Outside right now.

The clouds are whipping by heading straight west. Luckily, that is the most protected side of my house. There's only one window on that side, but it is up on the second floor and it's really big. I have plywood for it but no way to get it up there. It really sucks when the neighbor with the big ladder gets a divorce and moves.

The main brunt of the storm isn't supposed to get here now until about 3am. I might take a nap so I'll be awake for it. Today has been doing the minor prep stuff like putting towels on the windowsills and doing thelaundry. If the power goes out for a few days I want to start it off as clean as possible. I have plenty of food, water, batteries, etc. For a mostly complete list of our hurricane supplies check here.

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Water (bought May 1st every year)

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More water filled last night.

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Windows boarded up. The plywood is held in place with Plylox.
Sidenote: Those are okra plants!

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Outside plants now inside.

We had our first rain a few minutes ago but the wind is holding steady. So far, this has been pretty boring. Hopefully it'll stay that way.

-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 11:45am, 9/12/08

Wind gusts hitting 20mph now. Sky is dark yet Ike isn't going to hit the coast for another eight hours. Current predicions say I'll be hit with sustained winds of 86mph with gusts up to 100mph. I'm pretty sure that'll knock out my power.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 9:30am, 9/12/08

Current projections has the eye of the hurricane passing directly over my house. That should be cool.

Follow the weather here.

Peace be with you.
-Merriwether

Hurricane Ike: 7am, 9/12/08

I've made a HUGE mistake: I accidently bought light beer!

Meanwhile, the weather report has the storm hitting shore straight south of me. Unfortunately for y'all, straight south of me are the refineries which supply 12% of the nation's gasoline.

Fill your gas tanks NOW people because gas prices are about to get high.

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Lesson from Hurricane Rita.

Peace be with you.

-Merriwether

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike

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I think I'm ready.

Meanwhile the Wethergirls are currently gorging themselves on excellent Chinese food over in California. I was supposed to go with them this morning but the predictions at 6am was that our area was to get hit with 80-100mph winds.

Since then, the weather report has gone downhill.

Luckily, I'm prepared. The house is set, all I need to do is fill up some of my Aquatainers and I'm good to go. The storm is supposed to start hitting Houston around 1pm Friday afternoon. I'll post while I can.

Right now though I think it's time for corndogs and a screwdriver (or three).

Peace be with you.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Grokking the Cold Front

If sending your wife and kids to church without you so you can disappear into the borderlands for a few blessed, cool hours after a long hot summer then I don't want to be right. Saturday morning I was caught unaware by the first cool front of "Fall". This resulted in abandonment of all previous plans and replacing them with a day in the park with the girls. Eight hours of running, playing in the sand, climbing, drinking cold root beers, and generally enjoying life. It was a great time.

So of course Sunday I ditched them. Luckily Misseswether understands my wild needs. She took over Mini and Mambo after I finished making them stacks of chocolate chip pancakes. I grabbed my kit and headed off to Spring Creek.

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Why go anywhere else?

The plan was to take just grok a cool morning in the woods and maybe poke around some for edible plants for my edible plants blog. One sees a lot when they are just meandering and I was rewarded with five plants I had overlooked or not known were edible in the past.

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Grokking for the gators.

There is no better time to grok Texas nature than the first cool front of Fall. Oh, for those of you who don't know what grokking is:
Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man.
-Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land.

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Cardinal Flower (Lobelia)
Not edible.

It's easy for me to lose myself in the woods and personally, I think more people should try it. yet as much as I love being there I know I have responsibilities elsewhere. I am not some mindless animal living without bonds to others. I am a human with human connections and I don't have a problem with that, unlike say Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp.

McCandless/Supertramp is the guy the book and movie "Into the Wild" was about. It's the real-life story of a boy who didn't want to be a man. He wanted just to live free without stuff, money, or rules. He died alone in the Alaskan wilderness after surviving for 112 days. Some people think he's a hero and idolize him. Sorry, but that isn't my style. Want to impress me? Get a job, work hard, be a great family man, a great friend to others... That's way tougher than living alone in the woods.

Wow, this post didn't go where I expected.

Peace be with you.