Monday, October 31, 2005
Seriously, TGG has had a profound affect on many people and I'm one of them. I don't think I took up any completely new ideas from him but I know for certain that his website and thought provoking essays have reinforced what I knew to be right all along. I didn't get to donate to his piece of marble or the new firearm. But I would have, had I known.
I would like to find more fellow scooter riding bloggers to link to, so I am open to suggestions. If anybody knows of a fun blog that I should be linking to, please leave me a note in the comments.
Dad asked if I couldn't ship him down some electricity, since there is still no promise of power coming in before 22 November. I told him I had an empty 5 gallon paint bucket that I could fill with electricity and mail him, if that would be enough to be effective. Dad said if I would fill it with 220 volt electricity, that he could split it down to house current level and make it last twice as long after it arrives...
His bronchitus is getting much better and he was well enough to go to church yesterday. I was able to tell him thanks for my new dulcimer as well. He says when I get schooled up and playing well that he wants an autographed CD and a percentage of my music sales... Which I gladly promised!
The BSU and I snuck out Friday afternoon for the first viewing of the movie North Country. Its a "based on a true story" of one woman's fight to work in a northern Minnesota mine without being victimized by the oppressive sexual harrasement that was rampant from the company president to the mine floor. Charlize Theron plays the lead and its a pretty decent story though I found some parts of the trial scenes near the end to be highly implausible. But its a decent story and we had a good time at the theater before heading off to Wal-Mart for grocery buying.
Finally, I sat down for a little television on Saturday night and noticed something odd. Or maybe not so odd- I watched numerous commercials for cat food and kitty litter during my viewing time. Do you suppose the paying advertisers choose to show their ads for kitty products on Saturday night because they know that cat owners- present company included- are home , watching tv with a cat on their lap? I'm thinking so...
At 5 million bucks, it will get left undone.
The family room did not get painted with the 2nd coat. We used Sunday's sunshine to get just about ready for the impending winter season. The camper did get winterized, drained, reparked behind the carport and covered with the silver tarp. Noah mowed and mulched the yard while I gathered and redirected leaves. The garden hoses, sprinklers, gloves and garden tools that were around in the yard are all put away. I cleaned the furnace filter and stuffed the cold weather plug into the swamp cooler duct in the hallway ceiling.
Only 35 degrees this morning on my way to work, so my scooter commuting is probably through for the year. Which means I'll be moving the scooter out to the workshop for the winter real soon too.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I spent all of Saturday just painting the bathroom! And I have to do it again in just a minute. I did have to recaulk a window panel, remove a sun-destroyed privacy panel, sand and scrape the double-sided tape holding it in place, tape all the tile work and patch some marks on the walls, but still, all day? Yes, all day. By the time I had the first coat of paint completely on, I was whupped. Cranky, hungry and my back was hurting.
So, I get to do it all over again today. Homework? Not this weekend...
Friday, October 28, 2005
Now I have the chance to learn to play! You see, I'm now the proud owner of a dulcimer, the mailman left it today. Its a surprise present from my Dad, who kept mum about this throughout several recent calls.
Somewhere along the line the instructions fell out, so I have no idea how to tune or play it. But guess what, there's dulcimer instruction books for sale on that internet thingie! Tomorrow I will be making a book and cd/dvd selection and purchase and then I can start making my spouse crazy with my melodious song efforts!
Thanks Dad! The BSU says thanks too, though I think she didn't mean it just the same way...
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Go wish her well.
Get better Karen!
He says it is really quiet in his neighborhood. Nothing but the sound of generators and the occasional chainsaw is spoiling the quiet. He also says it my be 3 weeks before all the electricity is restored! Yikes! The local Home Depot was open for business but the line to get service was more than a block long! Apparently the store is open for business but not for browsing and people were lining up at a side door where they were either being escorted to the part of the store they needed materials from or the HD employees were taking orders and then pulling the material without letting customers in the store at all. Dad, not being one to stand in line for much of anything decided his garage door spring could wait for another day.
You can see pictures of local damage from the home page of West Palm TV and read about the cleanup efforts.
He doesn't need to be doing much while he continues to get better from the bronchitus but I know it must be tough for him to sit back and not be out picking up, cleaning up and assisting others with their hurricane damage. He will get his chance soon enough.
For those that don't know, its a 2000 Ford F250 Super Duty Crew Cab. It will be 6 years old in January.
Tires, one set of 4
Brakes, one set of brake pads, 4 wheels
Airfilters, three, maybe 4. I finally bought a Fram AirHog permanent one.
Windshields, 4, including the one busted in the roll-over.
Transmission filters, 2, with fluid flushes.
Antifreeze replacement and system flush- once.
One failed axles seal. I cut it reinstalling an axle myself.
One failed spare tire cranking device, replaced under warranty.
One set of 10 spark plugs- the originals.
Gas mileage- still 13.5 MPG.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The company's new, improved time recording system just allowed me in to record my time after 7 or 8 attempts since yesterday.
I've got to run to Sam's Club for coffee in a few moments. Later I'm going to be stuck in a meeting with the visiting VP from the company that will make me at least 1 hour late for tonight's class!
Another buddy Loc bought that stainless Officers Model last night after I decided against buying it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. But that's ok, there's more guns out there for me to consider!
Monday, October 24, 2005
Especially since it was in the dealer's showroom, not out on the road someplace. But I did get to sit in one and have a good look around. I give it two thumbs up! It looks like a really fun roadster, not to stripped down and not overly plush. I think I prefer the Chrysler Crossfire styling better and I know that the SRT version is fast, so I prefer it to the Pontiac.
If I were in the market though, I'd have to try them both before plunking down my money!
Dad's always stayed home whenever a hurricane hits and he has a pretty good scheme for getting everything secured and battened down. And he always comments, "Oh, we got some rain and a little wind...". Today's message was, "We survived. Not unscathed but we survived." They lost some fascia and soffit trim off the house, several fence panels will need reverticalization and his Rubbermaid storage shed took a beating.
Now if his week+ bronchitus would just get better! He's been sick and on the couch and he's working his way through a second dose of antibiotics without sounding much healthier for too many days now. And now he's going to want to be outside fixing stuff instead of resting to get healthy!
Get better Dad!
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I really could not pass up this Kel-Tec P-11 pistol. Its the big brother to the P3AT pistol I already have. Anyway, This P11 was in the pawn shop case @ $159, $180 out the door counting taxes and background checks. On Gunbroker.com, new ones are $269 + $20 shipping.
Close examination after getting it home tonight shows that this gun has had no more than one box of shells run through it. Really. The magazine is unmarked and the parts of a Kel-Tec that get shiny through operation show barely any marking.
In comparison to my P3AT, I really like the slide hold open on an empty magazine and the much improved locking pin. It has white, 3-dot sights and looks like a brand new pistol. I can't wait to clean up the tiny bit of shooting grime that is in it, lube the rails and take it to the range!
Tonight, when I went to pick it up- there in the glass case, was a stainless, Model 80, Colt Officers model, in 45ACP. God's caliber, just as designed by John M. Browning himself. Its $600. That's a fair price but more than I can just plunk down. But there's always layaway!
I mean, I really need a 45, right?
That doesn't stop the machine from being beautiful though! Take a look at all the pictures and see if you don't think it looks terrific. It still needs a front fender, but other than that- its gorgeous!
Ok Honda, what are you going to do?
Yea, verily, didst the people wander in the wilderness of the Ether, and didst cry out with one accord, Give us the rich goodness of the Possum, and let us hear his words, which are oft times many, and confusing, and cause us to cast up our hands in exasperation.Read the whole thing. Its a classic!
But lo, evil wast about, and caused the Possum to have to labor, and toil, and travail, and complain, and kvetch,
And caused his hands to not touch the keys of his keyboard, nay, not the period nor the tilde, nor even the space bar.
And the people grew weak, and couldst not tarry long at the well of the Possum,
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
It looks like the downstairs painting project is not going to be finished before I leave. Last night I finished the ceiling and got one wall and a half finished in the family room. Maybe I can get the family room portion completed tonight and tomorrow and leave the hallway, stairway and bathroom for another weekend.
To my reader from Wisconsin with the direct line to Son Kye, Daughter-in-law Sara and Grandbaby Astin- thanks for passing on the news yesterday. I was completely baffled how Kye knew the unfortunate news when he called last night, since I hadn't called him first.
Anyway, it works well and the shrink-to-fit plastic makes for a nice tight, clear window.
I mentioned a couple posts ago that I thought I had just 9 classes remaining. I was wrong, its 11 classes remaining. That's 5 full terms plus one class, or one full year before I'm done. Hopefully I'll be able to take 3 classes one term to get them all done.
Next week starts the new term. I'm signed up for Systems Engineering & Analysis and COntract Management & Law. Classes are Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 7:15. The fun news is that I'm going to be sharing classrooms with Cindy, Lisa and Melissa. So that should make it fun!
My grades? A's of course. Still only one B since I began almost 2 years ago. My GPA is 3.93. Fair enough I guess...
Monday, October 17, 2005
I also shipped two coloring books and a new box of 64 Crayolas. The spouse was remembering her childhood and the times she stayed at her sister's house. Theirs was a mighty poor family when my spouse was little but her sister, who was older and married and had her own place, always had a big box of Crayolas. And she would spend time coloring with the younger girls and showing them the intracacies of shading and mixing colors and generally being creative with the younger girls.
That's what my spouse was remembering about her sister. So I bought her two coloring books and a fresh box of 64 Crayolas. They will arrive tomorrow with the meds. Its a lousy birthday present but maybe they will refresh and reinforce some good memories about her sister.
I don't expect that I'll be going to Oregon. I think there will be a pretty low key memorial service for the remaining sisters. The sis that died asked to have her ashes spread on the Oregon beach and I don't think I need to go for that.
The BSU is number 6 in a family of 7 sisters. If you are from their little town in Oregon, you would have known them as The Clark Girls. This morning sister number 2 died as a complication of surgery. She died of an aneurism after stomach stapling surgery in a hospital in Mexico. The sisters are in shock and serious distress. The only fortunate aspect is that her adult daughter was with her and (hopefully) will be able to manage her mother's return to Oregon for burial.
The BSU is packing, I have to run to the pharmacy to get scripts filled and then take her to the airport about supper time. And I suppose I'll be flying up myself for a funeral later this week. I think my painting project is going to be extended...
A man goes into an adult entertainment shop and asks the clerk for an
"Would you like male or female?"
"Would you like Black, or White?"
"Would you like Christian or Muslim?" This question confused the man . .
He replied, "What has religion got to do with it? It's an inflatable doll!"
"Well," explained the clerk, "The Muslim doll blows itself up!"
Friday, October 14, 2005
I've tried Googling this stuff without success, so I am very open to assistance. It is about 1/2" wide, the outer portion is permanently fastened down and the inner portion snaps in and out, trapping the shrink plastic between the two halves. If you know where I can buy some, please leave me a comment or an email.
My Dad helped me out with a problem I couldn't solve last week with Home Depot. I tried twice to locate at HD the Damp Rid hanging bags that I used last year to keep my gun locker dry. Each time the HD staff could not help me, partly becasue I didn't remember the product name. My Dad knew the product name and with that, I found a clerk that could dig around in the HD computer nad find what I wanted. I bought the 3-pack! If you want any Damp-Rid products, they are above the thinners and paint cleaners in the paint section...
The weather is looking promising for tomorrow and Kenny says he can get a pass to go to the desert again since his spouse already has plans. So I think we will go back and shoot at jackrabbits again. I still need to find a local source of 7.62 X 39 ammo until I get a bunch mail-ordered in. Which means I may have to do a little running around this afternoon...
The contractor should be done with the family room renovation this afternoon. All that remained was the texturing of the new sheetrock and then it will be ready for me to prime and paint. I'll be painting the entire basement; bathroom, family room and stairway, so I can get started about anytime. The bedroom will be a project all to itself.
Last night, after many weeks of grumbling from both of us about the BSU's clock radio on her nightstand, we finally went to Circuit City for a replacement. She wanted a simple, no radio, travel alarm clock, which she eventually picked out for just a few bucks. Its a tiny, ugly little clock with absolutely no charm. She said this morning that it went off as intended last night but I didn't hear it.
I predict less than 10 days will pass before she tells me she wants a different clock! This new one isn't lit unless you push a button so you can't just roll over and see the time. Its also so small that it will get knocked off the nightstand and disappear under the bed causing one or both of us to cuss. We'll see if she keeps it...
Son Noah is back to doing work-study as a mechanic at Tony Divino Toyota as part of his nearly finished Job Corp training. He's already been promised a job there when he does finish in another month or so. He is mighty excited about that prospect though he knows that he will spend the first few months in the lube rack before getting promoted into a regular technician position. And he's thinking about how he will spend his money... right now he has been making noises about purchasing one of these.
I've counted and recounted my remaining classes until I get my degree. Nine classes is all I have remaining! Nine! If I can continue to manage two classes per term, I will be done one year from now! I have to admit to being excited about being able to see the light at the end of this Logistics Management tunnel. I am still considering diving headlong into the Masters degree tunnel once I clear this first one but that's not certain yet, at all.
I did ride the Phantom yesterday but it was mighty cold in the morning. I wimped out today and am sorry now, its a beautiful day. I suppose its about time to buy a bottle of Sta-Bil and get the scooter and the mowers and trimmers all treated.
The swamp cooler got covered up and drained for the year and I even added some antenna mast brackets to it so that wehn we put up the Christmas star in a few weeks we will be able to avoid the rope and lashing struggle that has been part of our holiday decorating for 5 years. So much of the winter preparation is either done or underway.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
1) In the field of television, what job would you most want and why? This includes entertainment, news and sports.
As a kid, I knew what job I wanted on television, I wanted to be the guy that announced the password on the Password game show. It seemed like the perfect job- sitting at a microphone, behind the set, reading the passwords slowly and clearly with an authoritative, announcer voice. Imagine having a job that required you to say, "The password is...horsefeathers." It had to be the perfect job. Heck, I figured if the script writers could give me the list of words on Monday morning that I could record a week's worth and be done before lunch time. Now? Sign me up to drive the "live-on-the-scene television broadcasting van. Except that the hours are lousy it can't be too tough, drive the truck, crank up the satellite transmitter, wait for the getting-rained-on reporter to do their 2 minutes on the 10 oclock news, then pull down the tower and drive back to the studio.If you had to make a living performing live--that’s right, live on stage--what would you want to do?
UPDATE: The other job I'd like to do? I want John Melendez's job as the Tonight Show announcer. He seems to have the easiest job in Hollywood! He does the introduction at the beginning of the program and then he sits there on his chair, does one goofy wave when Jay recognizes him at the end of the monologue and then- nothing! The guy does nothing! Except for having to live and work in California, it seems like it would be perfect. Heck, he doesn't even have to be the straight guy for most of Jay's jokes, Kevin the bandleader gets that duty.
I would also love working in the graphics arts department for the Tonight Show. They come up with the funniest fake book covers and skit props that almost always make me laugh. And they have to do it fast, to keep up with the script and joke writers, it seems like it would be a dynamic and fun place to work.
This one's easy. I want to have a regular segment related to tools and manly gizmos on The Man Show! It could be like Tim Allen's old Tool Time but reduced to just a 5 or 10 minute segment. An assistant like Heidi would be essential.If you worked in the movies, what job would you most want and why?
Stunt driver. Or maybe a stunt coordinator and explosives preparation specialist. Driving fast or making things go "Kaboom" would be just fine, thanks!
The upper part of me, the part covered by the coat, stayed plenty warm. My legs are still cold, an hour and a half later! I might just have to slip my ski pants over my pants if I want to keep riding a few more weeks.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
As predicted, the carpet shopping has begun in earnest. We have been out a couple times looking and have settled on a general style and color, now we just need to find the right one... I've measured it out to be 40 square yards, including the stairs, or 360 square feet, depending on which store's measurement and pricing we happen to be looking at.
Its tricky this carpet shopping, since there is such differences in warranty time frames and the distraction of doing the math between square feet and square yards to figure out what the real price might be. Plus each store has a different method for figuring pad and installation costs, so getting a apples to apples comparison between stores is a real pain.
But, there's no rush since I'm paying for this upfront and not financing anything, so it might still take until Christmas, (as I predicted) before new carpet adorns our family room floor.
Sunday afternoon the BSU and Son Noah and I all went to see the new Wallace and Gromit movie, Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I really enjoyed the irony of getting in line at the theater with all the other parents and their kids while we stood in line with our 21 year old kid. It turned out to be great fun for all of us.
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was a terrific movie, a fun cartoon. I was only vaguely aware of Wallace the cheese-loving whacky inventor and his loyal but silent sidekick dog Gromit but we had seen the previews over the past weeks and the story looked like too much fun to ignore. The BSU even claims not to like the claymation style of animation that makes W&G possible but she agreed to go see this movie without any reluctance.
She liked it much more than she expected to! That's right, the BSU, who by her own admittance doesn't have much of a funny bone, liked The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. That's pretty high praise from the spouse!
But for me, the real treat was the short movie playing before the feature, The Night Before Christmas starring the Penguins from the movie Madagascar. [BTW, I can not find a decent link to this film! Updated when I do.]I loved the penguins from the Madagascar movie and thought they were the best part of the movie. Now they have their own 10 minute feature! It’s a heart-warming story of Penguin Private's effort to share some holiday cheer with the lonely polar bear, his disastrous trip for a last minute gift, a cranky old lady, a vicious little dog and a daring rescue by the rest of the Penguin squad, ending when Kowalski finally gets to blow the old lady’s apartment door with his always hidden, but ever-present stick of dynamite. “Kaboom?” “Yes, Kaboom!”
All’s well on Christmas night and the polar bear gets to share in the eggnog with his new friends.
The movie earns two flippers up!
On an editorial note, it must be said that Dreamworks has flagrantly plagiarized Possumblog Terry’s intellectual property by stealing his oft-repeated Cornaguin idea and using it in this movie. Sure, they replaced corn meal with Bisquik in the penguin creed quoted at the beginning of this post, but you must admit that the preparation of penguins as food with a coating and deep fat frying is an original Possumblog idea. I was floored by the obvious plagiarism when I watched the movie and laughed out loud at the joke that was so obvious to any regular Possumblog reader, (or irregular Possumblog reader, for that matter). Little did I know that the Possumblog Kitchen was working on new, super-secret recipes for Emperor Penguin that included Bisquik but you can read about the news release here.
Anyway, the three of us had a great time at the movies, eating popcorn and candy Dots and laughing at two fun movies. I really recommend you load up your kids, no matter what age and head out to the movies for this great double feature!
So, Steve, congratulations and I'll be looking for a good cigar to arrive in my mailbox, since I can't find a government sponsored excuse to come to Austin. Give our regards to Mom and take her a big bundle of flowers!
Welcome to the planet Maxwell!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Next term is just two weeek's away and my schedule will be Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 7:15. I sure hope the instructors leave some room for work turn-in through the weekends because going every night won't leave much time for homework between classes. It does appear that I am entering my last 5, 8 week terms before having all my graduation requirements. That is very exciting!
I have to give credit to a website that really helps me with my homework, Accuradio.com. I listen to this online radio station nearly every night while doing homework. I like the Motel California and Listening Post channels best but this month they have a special, Classic Rocktober channel that I am really enjoying. If you have a high speed connection and a tolerant network manager, I really recommend Accuradio.
The Two Best Quotes EVER ...
(1) "What the American people have seen is this incredible disparity in which those people who had cars and money got out and those people who were impoverished died." -- Ted Kennedy on Hurricane Katrina
(2) "Ditto" -- Mary Jo Kopechne
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Mostly it was a day of cordite aromatherapy through repeated burning processes. We did go out and kick some sage brush and shoot at some jackrabbits. Note, I said we shot at jackrabbits, only one was actually dispatched to bunny heaven.
After that it was a chance to try out the new SKS assault rifle which pleased me very much. The gun works perfectly, has negligible recoil and seems might accurate from the first shooting. The trigger is the worst I've ever used though, I will tell you that! Sure, it has that 2-stage military trigger that has some bit of free travel before engaging the mechanisms, but then it actually moves back more than 1/8" before releasing! You just have to keep squeezing and squeezing and just about the time you pull your head off the stock and wonder what's wrong, it goes bang! Other than that, the rifle is perfect. It is such a good condition specimen of this old rifle that I might keep it perfectly stock and get another one to tinker with. Or not.
Kenny gives me such a ribbing about not keeping things stock, which he claims is the best way to ensure proper functioning. But hey, everything can be improved with a little customization! The SKS will probably suffer the same fate! I do believe I'll keep it mighty functional, but really, do I need a bayonet for going to the range for target shooting?
So the SKS was a hit with everyone and the air rifle works dandy too. We all got some exercise and some time outdoors and we were loaded up and headed out before the rain started. So bonus points there!
I've got to go out now for a Kohler shower control knob since mine fell apart in my hand yesterday. I've also still got to get a haircut and there are guns to clean. And one more week's worth of homework to do!
Friday, October 07, 2005
Homework for tonight's class. Some questions from the chapter end to answer and a 1-pager paper.
Haircut. I'm way past due for getting a trim.
Purchase coffee for the coffee bar at work. That means a trip to Sam's Club.
Purchase ammo for the SKS, 7.63 X 39. Lots of it because there's a shooting trip planned for tomorrow. It needs a carry case too. That's a trip to Sportsmans
WhorehouseWarehouse or Impact Guns.
Contact Steve about the status of the Escort and see if its ready to be picked up.
I should buy more .223 ammo and a brick of 22LR as well…
Maybe I'll get time to finish that Purchase Request for the tech data I'm trying to get updated...
That picture makes a pretty dandy desktop photo BTW!
I mentioned yesterday that the contractors were coming to the house, and they did show in the afternoon. We are having the support posts removed from the center of our family room! We have only been in this house 6 years and tolerating the two load-bearing posts and the pony wall between them every day since moving in. The BSU finally stomped her foot and said she wanted this work done as her birthday/anniversary present, and, so, we are getting the work done.
The previous owner had the basement finished into a family room at least a dozen years ago and he had a nice job done. Except he left the two support posts in the middle of the room! The posts really limit our ability to locate furniture the way we want it and forces the room into being two rooms instead of one large room. So, today the posts come out! Replacing them will be a 12 foot, laminated and doubled beam, the same as used for garage door framing.
To accomplish this, the carpenters are installing a temporary wall on each side of the support beam area. That will keep the ceiling and the floors above from sagging. Then the old beam and posts can come out, the sheetrock under one side of the new beam's support gets cut away to allow the new beam to swing into position and then everything gets fastened securely back into position. On one side of the post is a furnace duct that will need refastened to the new post. And then sheetrocking back to a ready to paint condition.
Since the contractor's job finishes at the ready to paint condition, you might guess what my next task will be- painting the family room... That will be during the week between classes in two weeks and no doubt include the stairway and hallway.
I sense a period of extended carpet shopping in my nearly immediate future. I'm certain the Christmas tree this year will be dropping needles onto brand new carpet. And I'll certainly replace the ugly light fixture that I've hated for 6 years!
UPDATE: The posts are firewood, landfill material, all gone! I actually have before and after pictures but I failed to get the camera and cable into my bag this morning. The difference in the appearance of the room is remarkable. The work's not finished but I expect the contractors will be through this afternoon. They had the new beam in place and the raw sheetrock up before closing time yesterday and the first coat of mud smoothed on most of the places that needed it.
I'll still have to do the painting when its all done but so far, the work I'm paying for has turned out really well. And the BSU confirms, we will be carpet shopping as soon as the painting is completed...
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Where's the dang Animal Planet when we need them?
1. Do you usually need a clock to know what time it is or do you have that “time sense”?
My "time sense" is fair-to-middlin accurate but I keep a watch on my wrist most of the time. I take it off whenever I don't care to know or don't have to be anyplace- camping for instance. When I'm camping, I don't need to know what time it is, so I take off the watch and only concern myself with dinner time.2. Can you estimate the time tasks will take or are you always off?
I'm pretty good with time estimations and cost estimations for tasks. I know for certain that any home improvement project will take exactly twice as long as the time I've allowed to do it and will also cost twice as much money as I have allocated.
3. Will you do today what you can put off until tomorrow?
Normally, yes. If I get it done today, there's more blogging time available tomorrow!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Anyway, thanks for visiting. Come back soon.
Reason: So you guys had presence the entire time? Through the storm there was always at least some Louisiana National Guard in the building?There's much more and it sheds interesting light on what we the public were being told by the media and what the real story was on the scene. Seems to me the MSM is being pretty slow to give the public updates to this continuing story.
Bush: Always. There was hundreds of Louisiana Guard guys there, yeah.
Ray Nagin Is still a jackass!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Kenny's going to pay the fellow for both of them tomorrow, I'll buy mine from Kenny over the next couple weeks. I'd just buy it this week but there is a contractor crew due in my family room in a couple hours. But that's another post...
UPDATE: In the comments, you can see that Kenny already spoke for the one Ruger 10/22 that ended up being for sale. Instead of the Ruger I'm buying a SKS, complete with scary flash hider and bayonet and a Crosman pellet rifle. Both of them are as new as possible and in excellent condition. And I can get them both for a dandy price, so... more rifles in the gun locker!
Read the whole thing...
Command: Category 4
Lt Col Randy Coats, 333d Training Squadron/CC
Command. There's no better job in the world. After seven years in jobs with “command authority” and two squadron commands, I figured I had a good idea what command was all about. I was wrong. What changed my mind? Four words--"Shelter Commander" and "Hurricane Katrina."
From 28 Aug - 2 Sep, I lived with 730 of my "closest friends" in 50-year old Bryan Hall at Keesler AFB, MS. It was my third stint as a shelter commander, but it was unlike anything I had experienced before. As life slowly returns to normal on the Gulf Coast and I reflect on the experience, I've come to appreciate the unpredictability of command and how much an event like Katrina can change people and communities.
First, you have to understand some basics. My shelter is a unique animal on Keesler. Most shelters here are dedicated primarily to one unit. Mine is not. I have all the active duty and family members from a wide variety of units--two training squadrons, CE and Security Forces (and prisoners), 100+ Marines, communications students (NCOs and roughly 60 Lt's), 150 NCO Academy students and their faculty, and 50 international officers and their families. The building is an old nuclear fallout shelter, with no windows and no shower facilities. With that setting in mind, I offer the following memories and thoughts on Hurricane Katrina.
25 Aug (Thu): One of my sharpest young MSgt points out Katrina "may grow into something over the weekend" and suggests we update our shelter/evacuation data sheets. I admire his enthusiasm, tell him “that's not a bad idea", then promptly forget to do anything because Katrina's not headed our way at all and I've got other things to do besides worry about a piddly Category 1 storm.
27 Aug (Sat): Two CAT meetings. Katrina has strengthened and is headed our way, due to arrive Monday afternoon. Tentatively plan to open shelters Monday morning. I remember the MSgt's words and begin repeating every officer’s golden rule--"Never ignore a SNCO…Never ignore a SNCO."
28 Aug (Sun): Turn on CNN before heading to 0800 CAT. Radar picture shows Katrina is Category 5, taking up the whole Gulf of Mexico and headed straight for us, due to arrive before dawn Monday. "Never ignore a SNCO…Never ignore a SNCO."
- 1000: Initiate full recall and order all personnel to evacuate or shelter NLT 2100. Many people out of town for the weekend. Accountability is a nightmare.
- 1700: Open the shelter. People/families begin arriving. Have to stop two refrigerators, one 21" TV set, and three mattresses at the door. Students (of all ranks) drafted to help carry bags into the shelter. People told to bring food and water for three days. Most bring food for two days; smokers bring cigarettes for twenty days. Have to break the news--no smoking inside the shelter and once you're checked in you can't go outside (Hotel California rules).
- 2200: Doors locked and boarded up from the outside by CE (one door in an alcove left uncovered).
29 Aug (Mon):
-0500: Winds howling; can hear them best through vents in bathrooms at the end of the hallway (It didn’t sound like this during Hurricane Ivan)
0800: Shelterees (hereafter referred to as "the Natives") start moving around 0800. Smokers looking for nicotine fix, but remain calm.
-1000: Local news reports indicate rising waters, violent winds. Plywood ripped from external doorways (I start getting uneasy; plywood has never moved in previous storms, much less flown away).
-1200: News reports 20+ feet of water in local mall. Natives getting anxious. Smokers getting jittery.
- Power goes out; generators kick in. Not good. CE told us power can only go out if high-tension cables that survived 200-mph winds during Hurricane Camille go down. A/C stops working; ventilation fans stop working. No windows, no open doors, 731 nervous people…in Mississippi…in August. Ask for generator fuel status and burn rate. Have enough fuel for two days.
- Natives who smoke starting to visibly shake; many look physically ill.
- Cable TV goes out. Natives get creative with antennas. Spotted the bottom half of an NCO sticking out from ceiling tiles. Apparently reception is better if you connect a stripped copper comm cable from the TV to pipes in the ceiling. I appoint a safety observer and hope for the best.
- CE reports primary generator has flames coming out of it, so shut it off. Lost internet connectivity. Down to one generator; power only in hallways and a few rooms.
- Water stops running. Toilets overflowing. With medical advice, I brief the Natives on how to use plastic bags for toilet facilities (someone used this method within 10 minutes). Disposal of plastic bags in a sealed building is a concern. Adventurous major goes into the basement and finds 1961-vintage Civil Defense Survival Sanitation Kits. Basically, a 3-foot tall cardboard porta-potty with a hole cut in the top. This does not look fun. However, 44-year old toilet paper (it was dated) is surprisingly soft.
- One hour later: Water comes back thanks to CE heroes going out in the storm to repair pumping station. I hug the first CE troop I can find. Sanitation Kits thankfully not used, but kept on standby.
- CE troops coming off shift report half of flight-line underwater; BX and Commissary 6 feet deep and rising; trees down all over base; CE building collapsed. Natives begin to get the picture--this is worse than Hurricanes Ivan or Dennis.
-1800: Winds still dangerous so cannot open doors. It's hot…it's humid…Natives are getting cranky. Smokers showing signs of extreme duress. One is carrying two unlit cigarettes around. I suggest he tear one open and put it behind his lip for a nicotine fix. He informs me he's already eaten an entire pack and it didn't help. Can't think of anything to say in response, so I pat him on the back and wish him luck.
- Babies and young kids getting grumpy; too hot to nap.
- Barely-visible news reports (on very fuzzy TV picture) report massive devastation in the area. Dead silence in hallway as Natives crowd around the lone TV with a discernible picture. Tension rising.
-2000: Too hot to breathe. 731 nervous people generate a lot of sweat and a variety of smells. Command Post says stay locked down, don't open doors. Natives make strange noises when I walk by. Not sure the "Shelter Commander" badge is a good thing to be wearing right now. First Sergeant reports Natives consider me the embodiment of evil.
- Cops go on shift. The best NCO in the AF is assigned to patrol base housing; he offers to try to check on my cat during his shift (we left her in the hallway of my house).
-2100: Even hotter. Poked my head outside--it's ugly but winds have died down. Command Post says stay buttoned up. Natives mumbling in small groups about how to eliminate a commander. Survival instincts tell me to get some air in here. Posted Marines at every exit and opened all the doors. I'm a hero; Natives love me. Haven't heard "thank you" this much since I put my shirt back on at the squadron pool party.
-2200: Smokers running out of cigarettes to eat. Open a side door and rope off a 10' x 10' smoking area. No more than five people at a time; no more than five minutes. Sucking cigarettes look like blow-torches in reverse. Everyone loves me.
- Nobody sleeps much. Tough to sleep in pools of sweat.
30 August (Tuesday):
-0145: One of my NCOs wakes me up because "Cops want to talk to you, Sir". SFS NCO is direct. "The good news is your cat is fine." Next question obvious. As he hands back my house key he adds, "The bad news is I didn't need this to get into your house." Doesn't quite register…"How'd you get in?" He looked me straight in the eye and said, "I walked through your back wall." That can't be good at all. Looks like a total loss. My wife was on a cot in the hallway. I woke her up to give her the news. Her response? "I guess it'll be easy to pack when we move next year." (She's getting anything she wants for Christmas, forever). Spend the rest of the night thinking of how to stay focused and project a positive attitude given that all my worldly possessions will probably fit in a gym bag. (note: we were eventually able to save most things above 4 feet)
-0700: Bad news spreads like wildfire. Entire shelter knows about my house. Lots of supportive comments as I wander the halls but I see the struggle behind the words--they're sorry for my loss but worry about their own. Their concern for my family despite fears for their own touches me deeply. First time in 19 years I've really had to fight back tears, but I've got to do the commander thing and project a positive attitude. As I walk the hallways I truly feel "the burden of command." My family is safe; I have to push my losses aside for now. These 730 people have no access to information other than what I tell them. I am their link to the outside world. I see them watching me, watching how I react and looking for cues as they try to figure out how they should feel--is the commander scared? Depressed? Worried? Confident? I realize that their mood over the next few days will be a direct reflection of what they perceive as my mood. I've been tested in command before, but never like this.
-0800: Drive to CAT meeting across base. Devastation is shocking. Trees down everywhere. Cars trashed everywhere. Windows out. Walls out. Buildings collapsed. Roofs ripped apart.
-0930: Mass briefing to the Natives. Most uncomfortable briefing I've ever given. Reports indicate widespread devastation. Death toll probably in the hundreds. Power out for at least three weeks. Must begin water conservation. Minimum three months to resume base mission. Will not leave shelter for at least three days. 730 stunned and scared faces focused on me. All are easy to read. (1) realization of how bad it is, (2) fear of what it did to their homes. Worst possible situation for a commander--troops need reassurance I can't give. Struggle to keep my voice steady. Not sure how well I did.
- Natives' supplies running out. Most critical shortfalls: food, diapers, baby food, and feminine hygiene products. Issue MREs for adults. Assign "Baby POC" to track baby supplies. Develop new metric for morning/evening briefings--diaper burn rate. 17 infants in shelter x 5 diapers/day & 4 jars of baby food/day. Have one day supply of diapers, two days of baby food, but at least three more days in the shelter. Submit urgent supply request to Command Post. Luckily, Sanitation Kits include 44-year old feminine products.
- Still no cable TV and no internet. Information is life. I average (I counted) no more than 10 steps before someone stops me to ask what's going on outside.
- Lieutenant students offer to take over operation of the Children's Recreation Room. One has been to Clown College; several brought coloring books. First Sergeant asks me later (a) "How come the officers have coloring books?" and (b) "How come some of the pictures were colored in before the children started using them?" Honor of the officer corps is at stake; I quickly assign the Shirt to a meaningless task to distract her. Hope it worked. Best not to ask. (Note: to be perfectly honest, that actually happened during Hurricane Dennis in July, but it's 100% true and was too good a story not to include here)
- Pregnant Native goes into premature labor. Ambulance evacuates her to hospital.
- Another uncomfortable night. All Natives (and myself) report profuse sweating in lieu of sleep. Set up special room with lots of fans for children to sleep in. Authorized Chaplain to take a small raiding party to Chapel next door to get rocking chairs for parents with small children.
31 August (Wed):
- 731 people, 36+ hours with no a/c and no showers. Natives stink. Shelter stinks. Natives convinced everyone stinks but themselves. Shirt reports Natives blame it all on me. Wife asks if I can boost SGLI from here. Tasked my most creative NCO to come up with some way to hose people off. Result: water hose connected to sink in bathroom supply closet, with sandbag walls leading to drain in center of bathroom. No hot water, but showers are a success. Still rationing water--3 minute shower every other day. Nonetheless, Natives can wash away the stink for at least 10 minutes till they start sweating again. I'm a hero.
- Still hot. Two cases of dehydration evacuated to hospital. I'm dehydrated, nauseous, and weak despite drinking constantly. Can't believe I let this happen. Check with medics, but saline solution is in short supply and if I'm still walking I don't need it bad enough. They give me some good drugs to control symptoms. Eight hours, 240 ounces of water (I had to keep track), and 9,000 bathroom breaks later I feel much better.
- Lots of debris around the building. Still dangerous for people to go outside, but Natives are getting stir-crazy. Assigned a team to clear and rope off an area near the building. Post guards to ensure nobody wanders off, then allow small groups outside for fresh air for short periods of time. They love me again.
- Wing/CC reads off list of inbound aid at CAT meeting. Not the same as hearing it on TV. I never imagined that it would mean so much to know that so many people are focused on helping you.
- Baby supplies critical. Wing/CC orders a raid on what's left of Commissary and BX. Deliveries to shelters save the day.
- Another bad briefing to the Natives. Only one way to explain why they can't leave the shelter--tell them the truth as I know it. Looting rampant off-base. Looters in base housing. AF member car-jacked right outside the gate. No gas in local area; $5/gallon three hours away. Chaos in New Orleans is moving our way. Extra Security Forces with .50 cals on HMMWVs en route to help secure the base.
- Natives frantic about their homes. They fear anything that survived the storm won't survive the looters. Try to focus them on aid headed our way. Emotions running high. One woman goes into shock; evacuated to hospital.
- Another sweaty, sleepless night. Natives apparently locate world's largest stock of extension cords. Conservative estimates indicate we're running 500 fans off 5 power outlets and 2,000 extension cords. Confiscated the most impressive daisy chains as a safety hazard. Briefed Shelter Management Team to increase fire checks of the building.
01 Sep (Thu):
- Cannot release people to return to homes overnight due to security concerns. However, must let Natives assess their homes or risk bodily harm trying to keep them here. Strict guidelines for home assessments--provide written route of travel; must have a wingman; no dependents can go; max of one hour to save what you can and return to shelter; must be decontaminated before reentering shelter because many houses (mine included) have sludge/sewage inches deep. Lieutenants do great job controlling departure and decon lines.
- Natives return to shelter. Many are homeless. Commander School never taught me how to respond to "I have nothing left," or how to comfort women and men crying uncontrollably in my arms. Some cried for what they lost, some for what they saw. News reports didn't prepare them for seeing not just their home but their entire neighborhood destroyed, or for the cops telling them the bad smell they noticed was probably neighbors who tried to ride out the storm and were buried in the rubble. My only consolation is that I know how they feel. The stink in the house made me gag; the mud was gooey, sticky, and got on everything. My wife spent years building a beautiful collection of Amish figurines. Seeing the trail of broken figures across two yards (I never found the curio cabinet) was painful to endure. Crabs running across my feet in the bedroom (which scared the bee-geezus out of me) was a comical twist to a non-comical situation.
- In an attempt to improve morale, the chow hall (excuse me, “Dining Facility”) next to the shelter opens for one hot meal of whatever was available. Natives happily wait in line 2+ hours for rice with spaghetti sauce and a piece of bread. After the week we’ve had, it’s like Grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner.
- Third straight day of gorgeous weather. Security still a big concern. My DO reports her neighbors shot a looter (it may not be politically correct, but I applaud their initiative). Natives don't care, they just want out. Shelter Commanders compare notes at CAT—we’re all seriously concerned about tempers rising in the shelters. Believe the Natives are just about at the breaking point.
- Still no a/c. Lots of sweat and little sleep.
02 Sep (Fri):
- Security situation better. Natives' are about worn out. Wing/CC authorizes release from shelters. Six days and five nights we will never forget, and the recovery efforts have only just begun.
To say that Hurricane Katrina has been a "life event" would be an understatement. During my time running the Bryan Hall shelter I saw the best and the worst of people first-hand. Some sat in their little piece of floor space and watched others work to make the situation better. Most looked for every opportunity to help others and to make our little slice of hell a little more comfortable. I was amazed at how easy it was to read their faces. I could see clearly as fear changed to shock, disbelief, then anger. I watched in amazement as the anger was replaced with a calm sense of resolve and focus to simply move forward and do what needed to be done. From the little boy I found wandering the halls at midnight (obviously looking for a bathroom) to the lieutenants who stepped up, took charge when I asked, and showed all of us what "officership" is all about, every person in that shelter taught me their own unique and valuable lesson about command.
The CE troops and the Cops in my shelter taught me the meaning of dedication. I watched them tramp in and out on shift work throughout the storm and its aftermath. They were wet, muddy, sweaty, and tired. But every time they came through those doors they took time to find someone whose house they checked on and they always stopped by to give me an update on what they saw. To quote a favorite TV show of mine, "They were…magnificent." My Wing/CC described it perfectly a few days after the storm. Some puffed-up colonel called him up in the CAT and said "General so-and-so is coming down there. I want to know who the most important person on that base is and I want their name right now." The boss' response was classic. "Well, colonel, the most important person on this base is a Staff Sergeant with a chainsaw and if you'll give me ten minutes I'll get that name for you." CE and Cops. If you're looking for the heroes of Keesler, I'll be happy to escort you to their buildings.
As for the rest of the folks in the shelter, they were just as amazing in a different way. For all but the first 16 hours of our 6-day adventure they lived in a hot, poorly-ventilated building with virtually no amenities but running water. Most slept on tile floors. All slept in puddles of their own sweat. All spent 5 days not knowing whether or not they had a home to go home to. Yet through all of it, they kept a sense of humor and worked together to make the best of a bad situation. Even in the darkest moments I never walked down the hall without hearing a constant stream of "Morning, Colonel!" "How's it going, Sir?" or "Hey, Sir! When's the beer truck getting here?" I was only chewed out once by a shelteree. I would argue that in a "typical" group of 731 people, I would've been chewed out several times a day at least.
In my 19 years of service I have never seen a better demonstration of the military "family", or a better demonstration of true professionalism. I have to add, though, that what I've seen in the 12 days since has been just as impressive. The base and its leadership have been amazing. In addition to bringing our mission back on-line in less than 3 weeks, we've provided critical support to local communities. At last count, we'd sent nearly 50 missions out the gates to deliver food, water, and medical support. I was the CAT Director when a local cop showed up and said the shelter down the street had an outbreak of diarrhea and vomiting. The boss had medical teams, food, and water on site within 30 minutes. The list goes on and on.
The same is true for my own unit. With more than one-third of my squadron homeless, my troops (military and civilian) have done things that will bring a tear to anyone's eye. Not one single person in my unit has cleaned out a storm-damaged home alone. We've had teams out every day helping squadron members and retirees (and sometimes people we didn't even know) cut trees and clean out flooded homes. They have made me proud to be part of their team and proud to be part of the US military. They have taught me when it comes right down to it they don't need leadership. They are, each and every one of them, leaders in their own right. Leaders with the willingness, the desire, and the compassion to do the right thing without being told. In truth, they don't need a commander, they only need a cheerleader who will give them the support and the freedom they need to do what needs to be done. When I look back in years to come and ponder what Hurricane Katrina taught me about command that may just be the most important lesson of all.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Well, let's call Wasatch Mountain State Park and see if we can get in there. Two quick phone calls on the cell phone, and we were set. We just had to set our compass south, head down I84 and then I40 until the turn off just before Heber City. An hour and a half- tops.
And so we found a dandy nice campsite in the Oak Hollow section, set up and relaxed. I got to loose myself in The Godfather Returns, a new novel by Mark Winegardner. I picked this up on a whim a few weeks ago, have been enjoying it a little piece at a time and finally got to dig in and read it in great big hunks this weekend. Its a dandy story of all the characters from Mario Puzo's original Godfather works. I admit, it was a really good page-turner of a story. I finally finished the last few pages just a little while ago.
We did some sightseeing on Saturday into Heber City and Midway. We visited the Heber Valley Railroad station, though we didn't ride the train, we saw the 2002 Olympic Cross COuntry Ski venue, Soldier Hollow and we had ice cream at a bustling little place that was obviously a locals favorite. We also visited the Heber Valley Aero Museum and had a nice look around at a very fine museum. The portion we got to see was just the main display area, which is tightly housed in a hangar, we did not get to see any of the annexes. Which leaves us an excuse to go back another day!
Sandy the dog was with us and she and I had a nice hike up the nature trail in the campground Saturday morning. In between we had some nice lunches and a nap or two, a good fire in the firepit on Saturday night and steaks to eat.
The weather was glorious and never got too cold or too hot. The maples and oaks were in their finest, blazing colors, (sorry, not my photo but you get the idea) and all in all, it was a perfect autumn weekend. We made the adventurous trip over Guardsman Pass and felt like a Ford Truck commercial pulling our camper up and over that rugged road. Here's another picture I found online of Guardman Pass.
So we made it home safely, the boy had kept the house in one piece while we were away, everything's been either put away or is being routed throught the washing/drying/folding process and I'm showered and shaved. With good coffee to drink... I really gotta get a coffee maker for the camper! Tasters Choice just does not cut it! And the BSU just startled me by telling me that West Wing is on right now, which means she would like me to join her.
So, I will!
Steve looses an unprovoked argument with an automobile while on his scooter! He spent 3 days in the hospital while the medical folks ensured his head was ok. His scooter is wrecked, he says totaled, and based upon his report, it probably is a goner.
Anyway, Kenny is predicting to be back at work on Monday and Steve has emailed to say that he is well on the way towards recovering from his injuries. I hope they both are getting better and healing.
Get better guys!