Things are definitely back to normal here; the sound of (sigh) some girl singer is coming from Sorena's room, where she and three friends are singing and developing their own dance routine to some benighted pop song. G. is in the TV room, a Star Trek movie theme emanating from that direction, while I'm editing pictures and writing this in the kitchen with my laptop plugged in, no longer worried about the battery power running out. Outside, the ubiquitous sound of chainsaws continues. It's been a constant during the daylight hours since about 7:30 yesterday morning.
The refrigerator is restoring the chill to the foods within, and G. and I are discussing whether to cook all the meat today or perhaps some today and some tomorrow. We're grilling, dammit, he scored two more bags of charcoal this morning and by God, we're going to use them. It's the Atkins diet for us, and for many in Virginia and North Carolina, for the next few days.
Last night I slept with earplugs in. The otherwise silent night was violated by the sound of the neighbor's generator, which got louder as the night wore on, but which ran out of gas sometime before dawn. Heidi and I were indignant this morning, as were G. and the other neighbors last night. It wasn't that the neighbors had electricity and we didn't. It's that they had noisy electricity. We couldn't forgive them for that. Then again, we figured that if they bought their generators after the ice storm of '98, where we went for 36 hours without power on Christmas Eve and Day, then they're just fools, because it will take them decades to recoup the thousands of dollars they paid for the generators. This is the first one since '98, and at 43 hours, the hourly rate the neighbors paid for having noisy electricity is far higher than I'd ever pay.
While I was editing this, two sounds there's been precious little of have returned: Trains and planes. The sounds of civilization are temporarily drowning out the crickets and frogs and katydids from the swamp out back. The quiet was short-lived and rather annoying, but it was nice while it lasted.
Last night, G. and I walked over to the neighbors' to pick up Sorena, who was watching a videotape with friends via the modern miracle of car battery attachments and the neighbor's refusal to give up on television-as-babysitter even during a blackout. We could see the stars better than we'd ever seen them here. It's been so long since I've seen stars I couldn't tell if I was looking at Andromeda or Cassiopea. G. couldn't remember either, so we shrugged and enjoyed it, and pointed out Mars to Sorena and explained how you can tell whether you're looking at a planet or a star.
I put together a photo essay of Isabel during and after. Most of the pictures were taken around this small-town development and the roads nearby. It's pretty typical of the kind of damage many, many people around the state have experienced. The link above is the high-bandwidth page, for low-bandwidth, click here.
Thanks to those of you who sent messages of concern. G.'s got a very good head on his shoulders, and kept Heidi and me from doing anything stupid, like exploring the block after we thought the worst of the storm was over Thursday night. Someone else did that in a town not far away, and was killed by a falling tree.
You get a mighty healthy respect for what the wind can do when it gusts over 60 mph and takes down 200-year-old oaks. But I'd prefer if I didn't see it up close ever again. One hurricane per lifetime is more than enough. permalink
The power came on mere minutes ago here at Heidi and G.'s house. The power is still off at my apartment complex, though the water is back. However, now there's no phone service. I'll be here for the foreseeable future.
Dinner last night was the remaining meat from my freezer, which had defrosted enough to warrant immediate cooking. But since I have a gas stove and a couple of gallons of filtered water, I boiled my eggs, broccoli, and green beans before heading back over for more dinner grilling.
The laptop is charging as I type this. I imported the pictures from my digital camera and will be putting up a few photo pages later this afternoon.
Overall, this hurricane was horrendously damaging. It wasn't a very severe one as far as wind speeds are concerned, but we've had record rainfalls this year, and in fact, had a drenching downpour only last week. So when the winds hit, the big hardwoods and trees without taproots couldn't stay standing. And the big ones, as everyone knows, do the most damage when they fall. The domino effect took out many more trees; in Heidi's backyard, the oak took with it at least two more good-sized trees. Across the street at their old house, if only the one had fallen, it would not have hit the house. It was the two that it took down with it that landed on the front porch.
There are still hundreds of thousands of people without power, and some will be without it for up to two weeks. (Here's hoping I'm not one of those "some.")
Oh, and for the past two nights, hurricanes were featured prominently in my nightmares. Gee. I wonder where that came from.
On the other hand, damage to me and mine was minimal. I'm very grateful for that. permalink
No power at Heidi's, no power or water at my apartment. I'm gathering up my food and more clothes and heading back to Small Town North of Petersburg and South of Richmond.
A 200-year-old oak tree fell in her lot, but didn't take out anything but more trees. We made it through with minimal damage. Many were not so lucky. I have tons of pictures, but no battery power. Looking for an internet cafe with power.
More later. permalink
Coals work in a wood stove just dandy, and we had a decent dinner by the light of many candles and kerosene lamps. I have pictures with and without flash, but I suspect the ones without flash will be impossible to see.
We keep thinking the wind gusts have died down, but then we hear the sounds of wood cracking and we think another tree is going to come down. As there are no electric or mechanical noises, perhaps the sound is merely magnified. It's past time for the worst to be over. G. says he thinks the gusts are in the 30-40 mph range. My untrained ear says it's much more. I'll have to check online to see what the current wind gusts are at 9 p.m. in Small Town North of Petersburg and South of Richmond.
I'm feeling far less nervous now than I was several hours ago. That would be because we broke open a bottle of wine long before dinner, and it had quite the relaxing effect on me. When last we listened to the radio, we heard scary tales of trees down all over Richmond and in the vicinity. The Sprint PCS network goes in and out on me, so yes, if you have my cell number, you can call mebut I can't guarantee I'll hear more than one word in three. And I have about an hour's worth of laptop battery left, no, Wind Rider, I will not be jumping into an AIM chat room.
When the power went out, Heidi and I were in the midst of giving her poodle a new clip. He's half-shorn, and I have every intention of getting a picture once daylight returns. I took several pictures of the scenes here, but won't be able to post any more until I have a bit more time to edit them down. With any luck, the pictures of Heidi playing Frontierwoman Cooking Dinner By Candlelight came out fine.
I have no idea if the power is out in my neck of the woods, but I'm sure that I'm far more comfortable here than I would be at home. Well, except for the lack of electricity. I put a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave, just to test it. Yes, the power was out. permalink
We lost power about 5:30 here in Small Town South of Richmond and North of Petersburg. The wind gusts have been averaging (we estimate) about 60 mph, but there have been a few that we think reached the 75 mph we were warned about. A giant oak in the back lot is down (not in Heidi's property, but it took out a few of her trees on the way down). The dogs are terrified, and frankly, we humans are a bit nervous ourselves.
I've got about two hours of battery backup, so two or three posts is all you're going to get. It's about 6:30 now, and we're going to try to cook in the wood stove. With some foresight, we cooked the potatoes early. With a little more, we'd have the chicken ready too. Ah, well.
I brought supplies with me: Flashlight, candle, battery powered radio. We have kerosene and lamps and plenty of candles, and I did bring microwave popcorn, but I suspect we won't get a chance to pop it.
Sorena, Heidi's daughter, is in her room playing with her Gameboy. Power outages won't mean much to her until the battery dies, and she finds out she can't charge it. permalink
I'm safe and sound at Heidi's, but the drive goes on my top ten list of scariest drives ever, and that includes driving alone as night fell across the mountains of Washington State, and the thunderstorm that dropped 200-year-old trees on the road one Friday night as I left my mother's house in Elizabeth, NJ. (Turned right around and went back, too. Those trees were huge.)
Part of the reason I delayed my trip was procrastination. Then it was because workers were being let out at noon and one p.m., which made me decide not to sit in traffic. But that let the storm get a bit stronger, and by the time I started driving out of my development, it was a little nerve-wracking. Chippenham Parkway was fairly empty, but the wind swayed my Jeep in a few places, giving me a pretty healthy respect for the storm.
Not, of course, healthy enough to prevent me from grabbing the digital with one hand and snapping some pictures. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Not very smart. I suppose you never drive with one hand, ever?
The scariest part of the ride was driving the small backroads into Heidi's development. Lots of tree trash on the streets, and lots of fervent prayers that the big limbs stay on the trees until after I've driven under them. But I made it safe and sound, and had to beep my horn instead of calling on the cell to get the garage door open for me. The network was maxed out. I told my brother to read this page to keep up with the news. I had a feeling the cell network wasn't going to be able to handle the weather and the extra load.
I haven't had a chance to pick up my mail, and I'm on a less-than-56k modem line when I do, so new Axis additions will take a bit longer. The worst of the Isabel is supposed to hit between five and eight p.m. It's about 3:30 now. I'll be back with more details.
And my beloved Jeep is safely esconced in a brick and cinderblock garage built partly into a hill. Whatever else happens, I don't have to worry about my car. Phew. permalink
I'm guessing that I won't be able to watch what happens to my favorite characters today. Not that that will change my regularly-programmed taping of them. Looks like my area is going to get about 40-60 mph winds, with gusts up to 75, and 5 to 10 inches of rain.
The rain has begun to pick up. A drizzle at 7:30 is a hard rain at 10:30, soon to become a windy downpour. I'm stopping for breakfast, having had my worries soothed by Maintenance Guy (a different one again), who came to put the screen door back on. This gentleman was your typical southerner, who was politely telling me that I'd probably be fine not taping my windows, and that I'm not really in a zone that the management corp. is worried about flooding much, and you could tell if he weren't raised to be so polite he might have chuckled a little bit at my questions. "Six of one, half dozen of the other," was his response to my query about taping the front picture window. "That's safety glass. It'll break into a thousand pieces if anything happens to it."
When I told him the name of the town I was planning on going to during the storm, he said, "They're gonna get it worse than we will," and he seemed to think I was a bit nuts for wanting to go there. We agreed that they'd probably lose power first, but I've already been with them during a sustained power outage. It was during Christmas several years ago, horrible ice storm, no power for 36 hours, and damn, as I was typing this, the power just flickered in my apartment. Time to go, I think.
Overall, I want to be with friends. This storm is making me nervous. Sure, it's all fun and games leading up to the Axis of Isabel, until somebody pokes out a window with flying storm debris. I'll be blogging the rest of the day from Small Town South of Richmond and North of Petersburg, conditions permitting. And my outgoing email is hosed, though my incoming is not. The Axis can still take on new members, but cannot email Glenn about my Hurricane Guide. (I'm going to add a new one later today.)
Anyway. Time to go. Hurricane's a-comin'. permalink
The post below has been updated, and my email server is acting up. So instead of sending you all a letter, I'll post it here:
Wind Rider is blogging from the Virginia coast. Bill Cimino is calling her a big, fat, nasty bitch. I'm inclined to agree, as my sleep has just been interrupted far earlier than I wanted it to be. Wound up staying up past two, and the garbage truck came by three hours earlier than usual (smart guys, avoiding the wind tossing the trash around everywhere, thank you very much, Mr. Duck), putting paid to my sleeping until nine. Tig wants to go out, and thought it's only raining slightly and not very windy, the last time I let Tig out on a rainy morning, he came back with a dying robin. As I am in no mood to clean up robin feathers and blood again, I am ignoring the constant yowls.
And I am trying to decide if I want to weather the hurricane here by myself, or if I'm going to Heidi and G.'s. The big problem is how much I intend to worry about limbs being driven through the windows of my apartment while I'm not home. My brother wanted to know what difference it would make, really, if I were home and the picture window blew out. He's got a point there; I have no plywood and am reasonably sure that the maintenance department would not be as timely as I'd like them to be. But then again, I will worry if I'm not here to see what's happening. Worry might explain the current discomfort in my stomach, though usually not getting enough sleep does it for me, and really, five hours is not enough sleep for anyone.
I think I'll take a shower and see how I feel after that.
There is also the thought that if our area is going to lose power, Heidi's house is going to lose it before mine will. She's further south and, well, her town is what we from NJ call "the sticks." And then there's the no-cable modem-thing. I have to borrow their AOL connection to blog.
Yes, I think I'll have to think this one over after a shower and maybe breakfast. But if you're trying to call me later and get no answer, try my cell, and no, I'm not publishing the number on my blog. That message is for people who already have it. permalink
I'm pretty sure I terrified a young, just-out-of-missionary school Mormon this afternoon. I heard a soft knock on my door and voices, leading me to believe that Heidi and Sorena had dropped by before Sorena's cello lesson. But when I opened the door, there were two young men, wearing name badges clearly identifying them as Mormons. The newbie asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes, and I looked at him and said, "Jewish. I'm Jewish, and quite happy that way," pointing to the Star of David around my neck. Of course, this did not deter him one whit. But he made a fatal error. He hit a few of my hot-button topics.
"Are you a messianic Jew?" he asked.
"No. I'm a real Jew," I replied.
He paused a moment. "Well, we love the Jews," he said.
"No you don't," I responded a little heatedly. "The Mormon Church is baptizing Jews after they're dead."
"We don't do it anymore."
"Yes you do. You were supposed to stop, but you haven't yet."
"Yes, but try to see it from our point of view." He was definitely sweating by this point.
"No, try to see it from my point of view," I told him. "It's offensive."
"But ma'am, they're being given a chance to decide whether or not they want to accept Jesus."
"They're dead!" I said, my voice rising. "How can they decide when they're dead?"
"Well, that depends on what you believe happens after we die," he said.
At that point, I decided to stop wasting my time, told him I wasn't interested in any more discussion, and closed the door. I think the next time, I'll just tell them that there's no soliciting allowed in my complex and if he doesn't leave, I'm going to call the police. Probably a lot faster than arguing. permalink
More down below. But folks, a link back will help me keep track of y'all later. I actually hadn't planned on expanding the membership beyond the original post, but then people started emailing me, and it's so difficult to say no.
And I just noticed something else: Are there NO left-leaning bloggers who want to claim membership in the Axis of Isabel? What, you don't like me, you don't live in the storm path, or you just never read my blog? C'mon, people. If you're in Isabel's path, you're eligible for the Axis. Email me. permalink
The membership is growing (check the post below), and the path of the hurricane has shifted. I just turned off the Mark Warner press conference, which, when I started watching it, was today's episode of General Hospital. Hey, that was Elizabeth rolling around on the floor getting hot'n'heavy with Nikolas. And she's married to Zander! I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. (Zander. Now there's a man I wouldn't mind going through a hurricane with. Baritones make me melt. Sigh.)
So I checked my lantern flashlight. It's not working. I'll go check my car flashlight, which was working a month or two ago. And I made some ice, and I'm filling my empty plastic gallon bottles with water filtered through my Brita, which makes me remember why I retired my Brita (I think I once celebrated three birthdays while waiting for the pitcher to fill). ((You know, I knew a couple who kept a Brita pitcher in the fridge and got downright nasty if you didn't fill it up immediately upon pouring yourself a glass from it, which, in my mind, completely negated the keeping it in the fridge part. And was, like, rude. Probably part of the reason I'm not friends with them anymore.))
I have washed my clothes. They need to be dried. I have yet to pick up the vaccuum cleaner, but that's because, well, I hate housework. But I did remember to buy cat food, so if the house floods, an 18-pound bag will get ruined.
April pointed out that it's rather a lucky thing my drain backed up last week instead of, say, my finding out tomorrow that the drain needed to be snaked. And writing this post made me realize I need to do a few other things. I took my hibachi and metal milk carton off the patio. I put the patio screen door inside, because it's been off its track pretty much since I moved in, and I got tired of it so I just stuck it aside and ignored it. Gonna be a bitch to vaccuum around.
Well, I'm off to the Post Office and one more Ukrops trip. When I get back, I'll tell you all about how I just scared the hell out of the newly-hatched Mormon missionary boy who made the mistake of knocking on my door and trying to evangelize me. permalink
UPI, which appears to be the least biased news service in existence, has an analysis on what should be done with Yasser Arafat by Claude Salhani, their international editor. I particularly like that while he points out that Arafat was elected, he does not preface it with the ridiculous "democratically."
He does use the old "personal enmity" chestnut to describe the relationship, or lack thereof, between Ariel Sharon Arafat, but I think you'd be hard put to find anyone in Israel with a lick of common sense that doesn't loathe Arafat.
What is it with Republican presidents and guarantees not to kill Arafat, anyway? Aren't they supposed to be the anti-terror party? Thanks so much, Ronald Reagan. Thanks so much, W. Now we have to hope the bastard dies of natural causes. permalink
Many of you may be wondering exactly how you can tell if Isabel has hit. The following is a list of things that you can use as a guide if you're really stuck in a hurricane,.
First, you have to have a list of things you need to have during a hurricane. Forget about all the official lists you've been seeing, and don't worry about those FEMA schlubs. They don't know that you really need:
Okay. Now let's assume you get up Thursday morning and would like to know if Hurricane Isabel has struck your neighborhood. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Now, if you want an even faster way to tell if you're in a hurricane, turn on your television set. If the screen stays blank, it's a good bet that you've lost electric power due to the storm. Here are some other ways to tell if you've lost electric power:
Let's assume Thursday has come and gone, and it's now nighttime. You have gone to sleep in your darkened, quiet house, mostly because you're bored stiff without being able to play computer games or watch TV or read easily because damn, reading by flashlight is a pain in the ass, isn't it? Next time you're going to remember to get the gas lamp, aren't you? Well, here are ways to tell if you've lost power in the middle of the night:
The Axis of Isabel will be posting more helpful hurricane guides as need demands. permalink
Are you a blogger in the path of the hurricane? Are you tired of wondering when, if, and how hard it will land?
Or are you just plain tired of the hype?
If you answered yes to one or more questions, then you're eligible to be a member of the Axis of Isabel. Here, going solely by their physical locations, are the current members:
Note: This post will be updated for the next day or two as new members are added
Now, if you haven't gotten your flashlights and batteries yet, you may be s.o.l. Bottled water is a scarce commodity, and I hear plywood is about gone in the coastal cities. And stock up on the junk food; I'm making another run to the market tomorrow for justin. Actually, it's because I ran out of Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs, which are my favorite breading for chicken, so I'm going tomorrow to pick up some more. And because it's going to rain on Thursday, so I'd rather shop tomorrow.
Frank J is too far south to be part of the Axis of Isabel, and Glenn Reynolds is too far west. But if they really want to be in another Axis, hey, I probably won't turn them away. Puppies and monkeys can die in hurricanes, too.
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
LT was a mighty sailin' man
weather was just beautiful
They laughed at the Richmond battle film,
Apologies for the lightness of blogging, but last night was a lot of fun. Wind Rider and I picked up LT and Mrs. Smash and met Will Vehrs at Famous Dave's, which was an extremely good barbecue restaurant. (Honest, Will, it was Wind Rider's fault we were late.)
I'm on my way out the door to pick up the Smashes and take them on a tour of Richmond. I expect we'll cruise Monument Avenue and take a picture out by the Jeff Davis monument. (Sorry, Tom.)
I'll probably get a chance to post something before I have to teach class today. And anyway, the hurricane's a-comin'.
I so love the American media. Now that some kind of big disaster-like event may strike Americans, the rest of the world is shoved to the background. Yasser who? permalink
There are many important subjects awaiting discussion, and I'm really sorry Imshin's getting frightened right now (don't be, Imshin, I really don't think they're going to assassinate the old bastard, though I wish they would). But I'm about to shower and change and get ready to meet Mrs. and LT Smash for dinner, and before that, I have to brush up my resume and bring it to Kinko's with me to get some decent copies made for distribution at a job fair tomorrow.
So instead, I will write about the results of my shopping trip for hurricane necessities. I already have most of the things I need. I went for batteries and forgot whether my CD player is C or D size, so I didn't buy any. I bought a 9-volt battery for my clock radio, one roll of masking tape, and then I went to the supermarket. All of the cheap gallons of bottled water were sold out. I was standing there staring at what was left and realized that I can just fill my empty plastic gallon bottle that I've been saving for, like, months and wouldn't have even remembered I had if my kitchen hadn't flooded last week (ain't irony grand?). And my Brita pitcher, and my water bottles, and then that's quite enough, thank you. It's not like I can't drink, say, Coke. Or walk to the 7-11 when the storm is over, and get whatever I need. I mean, really. Am I going to be trapped in my apartment for weeks, unable to get out, dying of thirst because there's no drinkable tap water?
I think not.
So here was what I picked up for the hurricane: The aforementioned battery and roll of tape, another 12-pack of Coke, a bag of potatoes because they were on sale and I think I'll make potato chips or something while it rains (gas stove, HA-ha), a sweet onion (yum, caramelized onions with dinner), a loaf of bread (I was out), a half gallon of orange juice (ibid.), and, of course, something you should never be without during a hurricane: Two boxes of microwave popcorn.
Oh, crap. I forgot to buy cat food. Oh, well. Tomorrow. permalink
I'm going through some tough financial times at the moment, so I figured I'd blow off my tenant renter's insurance. Got the cancellation notice last week, shrugged, and decided I don't really need it after all.
Now there's a hurricane a-comin'. I just uncancelled my insurance policy.
Just in case.
Next stop: Foremost, to pick up batteries and duct tape, and then the supermarket, to get bottled water. I have a bad feeling about this one. That may be because all the models are pointing it my way. Did you click on the link Chuck sent me? Four out of the five hurricane paths show it coming right this way. permalink
I have no energy this morning. So go read things by people who do have the energy.
Bigwig will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Carnival of the Vanities. I have no idea what to submit for this one; I'll have to read some archives and choose. I'm trying to decide if I can do better than Ngnat's first post.
Kelley's got the Cul-de-Sac up, proving once again that the woman is an insane overachiever in reading blogs. 115 blogs included in the Cul-de-Sac. Good Lord.
Ohmigod, Lair changed the backgrounds again. The red fairly leaps out at you and smacks you in the eye with a sharp object, but other than that, sure, I like it. Absolutely. Really. (You can take the gun away now, there, I posted it.)
Mac Thomason is one of the funniest bloggers on the 'net. Pay strict attention to the titles for his posts, or you'll miss half the laughs. And he writes a lot about Arab. That's Arab, Alabama. He's also the source for all things Moore, in spite of being ignored by Glenn Reynolds for that. Hmph, Glenn. I say Hmph!
And don't miss the adventures of Captain Euro. Mac's got the franchise on European superheroes. No, that's not a contradiction in terms. Why do you ask?
Okay. I admit it. I get too much email. Someone I used to link to sent me a letter saying that he's back blogging regularly again, and a brain-burp is refusing to let me remember his name or his blog, and I can't find the letter. You know who you are; send me another letter and I can put your link in this post.
And oh, yeah. There's a hurricane a-comin'. (Thanks, Chuck.) Well, at least it's not due to hit until after I meet LT and Mrs. Smash for dinner tonight. Downright inhospitable, getting home from a war and then becoming embroiled in a force of nature. permalink
I suppose I really shouldn't be surprised by anything I read in Reuters about Israel anymore, but I can't seem to stop being angry about it. Check out this beaut published today:
Well, that sounds pretty awful. Apparently a palestinian boy simply wandered onto a part of an airport being used as an army base. Sure seems like he didn't know it was an army base, and was shot and killed by the mean ol' IDF forces who like to murder young, innocent palestinian children.
Is there more information later on in the article?
Wait a minute. He entered the army base by mistake?
What's that? He mistakenly joined a group of people who were cutting through a security fence that surrounded an army base airport? And for that, the Israeli army apologized?
Ah. They express regret at the boy's death. They did not apologize for it. The boy did not "mistakenly" enter a forbidden area. He was with a group of people who deliberately cut through a security fence surrounding an army base area.
Funny, Reuters can't seem to read its own articles before lying about the facts. Un-friggin'-believable.
But just for giggles, let's take a look at the same story in The Jerusalem Post.
Look at that. The kid is 14, not 11. He was with a group of people caught cutting a fence around a military airfield. They were called upon to stop, and did not stop. This is apparently not a new thing to the pals in this area; another boy was shot two years ago for the exact same reason, and if you read further into this story, you'll see that there were calls for Arafat's assassination at the very same time. The more things change....
Israel remains on high alert. Seven terror attacks have been averted in the past few days:
Can you imagine? Can you imagine if America kept arresting Al Qaeda members over and over again, confiscating explosives, weapons, grenades, guns? I can't, either. We'd have an all-out war on our hands.
I simply cannot comprehend the world's attitude towards terrorism everywhere except in Israel. Oh, wait, yes I can.
Never mind. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.