Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Anyone back to normal life yet? I considered myself a pro at hurricanes, but after Katrina, people are so nuts that we all look like amateurs.
We are finally back home and trying to get things back to the same level of disarray they were in when we left. Looks like we have some damage to the house. We lost a few pieces of siding on the facial boards. Also, looks like the water moved the slab and opened up a crack a good bit. Other than that, we are in good shape. Now we just need to get unpacked and settled. The schools around here are still closed though, which means Christian and I are taking turns going to work and watching Neo. That makes it a little harder to get back into the swing of things.
Overall, we had a great evacuation. I constructed a "coon-ass camper top" on my truck that worked pretty well. We loaded up all of our stuff and headed to Dallas. Vince and Amy did a wonderful job of dealing with the refugees in their home and we had a great visit with them and Ethan. Wow is that kid smart. He can count to 20. He knows all his colors. His vocabulary is astounding. And he didn't want me to tell his parents, but he's working on a cold-fusion powered anti-matter ray gun in his closet. Not bad for a 2 year old.
While there, we went to the park with the boys and also had 2 mini birthday parties since Neo and Ethan were unable to attend each other's party. Pics from the trip are here.
Speaking of birthday parties, we are going to have to postpone Neo's 5th birthday party. We are not exactly sure of the date yet, but we will let everyone know a couple of weeks before.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I know many of you are concerned for our safety since hurricane Rita seems to be heading straight for us. I just wanted reassure everyone that we are preparing to leave and head for Dallas. Thanks for all of the support and advice. We will be calling everyone from the road and when we get there.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Last night on Jay Leno:
"And a big announcement today from FEMA. They say they now have reason to believe a hurricane may have hit New Orleans. They cannot confirm any of this."
A few guys from work and I decided to take the day off today and go downtown to volunteer at the Astrodome. What a great day it was. I feel like we genuinely helped, albeit in a small way. Our group was split up, but the group I was in started off by picking up trash and old food from kitchens. After that, we were asked to distribute water outside. We worked outside for about 2.5 hours, but the on and off clouds made the heat tolerable. Most people were appreciative and thankful.
I even handed out water for while next to this guy. He is a rapper known as "GLC" and he was traveling with rapper Kanye West (who was apparently on damage control after some controversial statements he made last week). He was a great guy and he was able to connect to the people more than we were able to.
It was a great experience. I met people volunteering that had came from all over the country, such as Illinois, California, and Minnesota. Meeting those people made me think that taking one day off of work and driving 30 miles is not so inconvenient.
I'm glad we went. It made me realize how amazing the effort of the people has been. The donations are enormous. People are still volunteering. People are giving up homes, cars, time, and themselves to help others and that is truly amazing. Last week I was ashamed of my country. This week, I realize it is not my country I am ashamed of at all. This country is incredible. It is only the government I am ashamed of. After seeing up-close the efforts and selflessness of the American people, I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be an American.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It was a very relaxing, long weekend. Christian was off in Vegas for a bachelorette party. Also, Neo went to Nanna and Pappa's house to visit for the weekend.
That left me... and the theater room. It all started Friday. Friday morning, Greg came over and helped me out. We ran the rest of the speaker wire through the attic and also ran a couple of network cables. He is a pro at soldering audio connections, so it was great to have his expertise to solder all of my RCA audio connectors. That let us finish the RCA patch panel on the front wall, and on the side wall. Here is a pic of the front wall audio panel.
Greg also brought over his tools and worked in the garage to help make me some closet rod mounts for the closet. They came out great. Thanks a million Greg.
That night, I stayed in the attic pretty late trying to tie in the power to my closet receptacles to another circuit. I finally found a circuit that didn't have much on it, put in a junction box, found a wire, and spliced into it. Later on in the weekend, I would figure out that the wire I had spliced into was acutally a three-way wire connecting two three-way switches. I had to get back in the attic on Monday to redo the connections.
On Saturday, I put on one last coat of red paint on the walls. You have no idea how painful it was to open up that darn can of paint again. But, I did it. It's over. Later in the day, John came over. We were going to go help out and volunteer at the Astrodome, but the volunteer shifts were all filled. We put together some clothes and canned goods and drove downtown and made a donation.
On Sunday, John and I put up the new blinds in the room and also installed the sconce lights on the walls. The room is finally nearing completion as far as construction is concerned. Here is a pic of the back wall. To put it in perspective, here is a shot of before, and after. More pics of the room are here.
Thanks to Greg and John for all of their help. You guys have helped me out tremendously.
Friday, September 02, 2005
My last post made no mention of Hurricane Katrina, because like many of you, I thought New Orleans had just been saved. The hurricane had turned east, and the predicted storm surge went way down which meant that the levees should hold, and things would be ok.
But, we were all wrong. The worst case scenario was not for the levees to break in a Cat 5 hurricane - the worst case scenario is one where people let their guard down, the storm passes, and tens of thousands of people are left stranded in the city.
And even that is not the worst case. The real worst case is the above situation, and a government that fails its people. This has been a complete and utter failure of our government at every level.
First there is the people. Looters and thugs shooting at rescue workers - my God. These people need to be shot on the spot. I don't care how hungry they are. They are causing the deaths of hundreds because rescue workers and volunteers are refusing to go in. They are causing the suffering of thousands. But of course, this was completely predictable. Everyone knew how much poverty and ignorance runs rampant in New Orleans. People saw teenagers killing each other for a pair of shoes when things were normal. They were shooting at police. Why would they suddenly become sane and law abiding when there is catastrophe in the air? The government was simply not prepared. They should have had military in the air as soon as helicopters were able to fly and military and supplies on the ground as soon as they could be down there. It didn't happen. And now, there are animals roaming the streets shooting at the innocent... animals that are shooting at people that are giving themselves to try and help others... animals that are, as far as I am concerned, not worth saving.
Local officials knew how vulnerable the area was, and yet mandatory evacuations came very late for some areas. In a city like New Orleans, those people should be the most prepared city on the planet for flash floods and hurricanes. Images on TV show nothing but failure in this respect. Not only were the evacuations late, but they were not prepared to place those who could not leave their city on their own. New Orleans knows how many people live there without transportation, and yet, they had no plan to get them out of the city. Instead, they decided to leave them in the city, in the Superdome. Shame on you New Orleans.
State officials knew how crucial the city of New Orleans is to the state (it practically is the entire economy of the state) and yet it was not given the protection it deserved. There were only two things protecting the entire city: the levees, and the pumps - and BOTH of them failed. Shame on you Louisiana government. You have failed, and continue to fail your citizens. I lived in Louisiana long enough, and know enough Louisiana history to know that you have ALWAYS failed them. You have completely depended on the federal government to walk in and solve your problems when you should have been prepared to handle them yourself.
And federal officials... my lord. FEMA and its leadership have been beyond failure. In fact, I believe it is criminal. An agency designed and funded to do nothing but be prepared to respond to a catastrophe. And this wasn't an earthquake, or a nuclear bomb, or anything else where people could understand some miscommunication and confusion... this thing spun around in the gulf for a week! This thing was a Category 5 hurricane! This thing was headed for a city below sea level! What the hell does this agency do? I mean, these people should be prepared for the flooding, the winds, the damage, the looting, the criminals, the lack of cell phones... these are not excuses for an agency such as FEMA! This is their job. They have been a disgrace to this nation. The president authorized the director of FEMA to ask for anything - that everything was on the table and that he would get anything he asked for - and yet... days later, people are dying in the street. Shame on you federal government. You were not prepared. And stop talking on TV about all of the great things you are doing. You are failing. As we speak, you are doing an atrocious job. Stop getting on the damn TV and arguing with reporters about how great of a job you are doing. Turn on the damn TV you morons... does that look like success to you?
If I sound furious, it is because I am. This country is vulnerable, and we just sent out a broadcast message to every ignorant terrorist in the world that we can be brought to our knees by breaking a damn levee.
This country, the richest nation in the world, can send a laser-guided bomb through a window almost anywhere in the world within hours, and yet, we somehow cannot get food, water, and transportation to one of the biggest cities in the United States to save our own people. What a shame.
And we haven't begun to feel the effects of this. These failures of our governments will cost us... the people... in immeasurable ways. The economy and framework of this nation have been dealt a huge blow by the failure of our elected officials.
I hope that people think about this when they vote to hand over other things to the government. Maybe they will offer you cheap phone and internet service. Maybe they will offer to provide you healthcare. Maybe they will offer an agency to oversee some industry to protect "the people". I hope people remember this and think about what they can expect from our government - someone who has the power to make mistakes and not be accountable... someone who does not compete with anyone else... someone who has a track record as they do.
For those that are fed up, visit http://www.lp.org