Saturday, November 17, 2012

3664 This is a title?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks."
-- Francois de La Rochefoucauld --


I saw the second squirrel today, and some seagulls/terns, and also our resident hawk.  We're getting back to normal.


Believe it or not, I've never tasted a Twinkie. I've always been more of a Tastykakes gal.


There are a lot of places around here where you can drop off donations of clothing, food, and necessities for people who have lost everything to the hurricane.  They don't check your status when you go there to get stuff, and there are some people who lost nothing who are going to the centers and "shopping" for freebees.  Daughter says some people she knows are actually bragging about the cool stuff they picked up.

These people are despicable.

It reminded me of ExMIL#2.  She ran a program at her church, a collection drive and distributing stuff to needy families.  She was so very virtuous that she saw nothing wrong with going through the donations and pulling out things she liked to give to friends and family.  She had a heap of clothing in her kitchen one time when we visited, and she invited me to go through it and take anything I liked.  I was horrified.

A friend who had volunteered at a Salvation Army store told me that the workers there go through new donations as soon as they arrive and pick out the best stuff, either for themselves or to sell on eBay.  At least there, they are expected to pay for the items.  They just skim off the best first.  And of course, they set the price.


Lots of people have taken the civics test I linked in the previous post.  Thank you for participating!  I'm not surprised that you've done so much better than average.  I'll give y'all another day, in case someone has not yet taken it but wants to (and no fair reading the comments before you take it), then I'll revisit the topic.

Friday, November 16, 2012

3663 Civics Test

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see."
--  Arthur Schopenhauer  --


Here's a civics test.  It's not supposed to be easy.  There are 33 multiple-choice questions, and it should take maybe 10 minutes or less, depending on how long you think. Some answers can be figured out by logic, even if you are unfamiliar with the topic.

The website reports that average score is 49% and college professors average about 55%.  People who had been elected to public office scored lower than average, but it was a small sample and they hadn't asked what public office, so there's no information as to whether they were U.S. senators or local dogcatchers.

Please take it, leave a comment with your score, and note which question(s) you missed.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

3662 The hurricane reading list

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence."
-- Henrik Tikkanen --


The 11 days without electricity were almost like a vacation to me.  A camping vacation, maybe,  but a time without distraction.  There were lots of things I could do, but I was too cold to do much of anything beyond huddle with a candle and a book.  You know, those people in the city who rioted after 5 days without electricity - I'll bet none of them were readers.

I had a few books I'd recently purchased but had not yet read.  When I'd got through those, I started on the "good" books - the leather-bound gold-trimmed volumes, classics and signed modern classics that had been sitting in the bookcases for so many years unread but looking good.

Click on the title for a synopsis and reviews from other readers.

Where the West Ends: Stories from the middle east, the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus, Michael J. Totten.
Interesting, sometimes funny.   Michael is a journalist.  This is the tale of some highly unusual travels through the listed areas.  Recommended if you are interested in history, cultures, and in understanding how history affects culture.

Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, Jimmy Carter.
I don't care what anyone thinks of Jimmy Carter as a president, no one can deny that he's a truly good man.  I adore him.  I wish more Americans were like him.  In this book he warns that fundamentalists, both religious and political, are deliberately blurring the lines between politics and religion, and warns that the result is an intolerance leading to an erosion of our nation's basic human values.  It was published in 2005, and it's frightening that what he saw then is even more true today.  Highly recommended.

A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, Reza Kahlili.
This book was absolutely and utterly engrossing.  Amazing.  Also the most frightening thing I've ever read, and I'm not exaggerating.  Kahlili (not his real name, and of course that's not his photo on the cover) was born and grew up in Iran.  He became disillusioned when, after the revolution, the mullahs did not live up to their promises.  He saw "his" Iran destroyed, and decided to do something about it.  The real story of what goes on in Iran is frightening enough, but the really scary part is what the real intention of the mullahs is and how they're going about it.  It's not what you expect.  Very very highly recommended.  Read the info at the link.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke.
I saw the movie when it first came out, at a drive-in theater (long ago replaced by a mall) in Kingston, NY.  The visuals in the movie were amazing for a time before computer-generated animation, and still look good on a TV screen.  Now imagine it at a drive-in, where the screen dissolved into a black and star-spangled night sky at a time and place with little interference from ground light.  Amazing.  Beautiful.  However, no one understood it.  At all.  (And those who claimed they understood, we considered supercilious a-holes.)
I recently heard that the book was much better.  Not as pretty, but it explained everything.  So I finally read the book.  Hey!  It really does!  It's a good read.  Absolutely nothing is confusing.  So if you were confused by the movie, read the book.  It's well worth the time.

The Litigators, John Grisham.
I don't like some Grisham books.  Yeah, they're well written, but I sometimes find the characters annoying and the situations and attitudes infuriating, the more so because they are too real, too much the way it really works.  This one is a bit different.  The three main characters manage to find themselves in a situation that's WAY over their heads.  Sometimes incompetence is endearing.  (Well, when it's not real life, anyway.)  It was a good read.

At this point, I ran out of newish books that were not ponderous political tomes.  So I browsed the shelves of leather-bound pretties.

The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone.
I first read this back in 1968/69.  I don't know whether it was because I was young, or because I was dating a Yale-educated electrical engineer from Naples who spoke five languages so I was fascinated by Italy, whatever, anyway, I thought it was great then, so I decided to reread it.  I didn't make it far before I gave up.  Mr. Stone seems to think it's important to describe in excruciating detail every wall, every building, every doorway, every cobblestone young Michelangelo passes on his morning walk to the shop where he is apprenticed, and worse, he seems to take a different route every time.  Aaaaagh!  Basta!  Enough already!
Maybe I should skip a few hundred pages in and see if I land on some meatier stuff.  Just ... not this year....

God's Little Acre, Erskine Caldwell.
When this book was first published in 1933 it was a scandal.  Terrible.  Banned in more places than Boston.  Caldwell says it's just a story, no "lesson" in it, but I was fascinated by the contradictions in Ty Ty.  He wants scientific methods, then captures an albino to "conjure" for him.  (Everyone knows albinos can find gold, so that's "scientific".)  He wants peace in his family, then says and does things that cause calamity.  Everything is a contradiction.  A good character study.  It's worth reading, but not worth rereading, so get it from the library.

Goodbye, Columbus and Other Stories, Philip Roth.
(The title on my book is slightly different from the title on the offerings, but it's the same book, same stories.)  Pretty good light reading.

And then the power came back on.

3661 Warnings

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Actions lie louder than words."
-- Carolyn Wells  --


I was going through the backlog of email I hadn't been able to handle during the 11-day no-power no-internet period.  I found an email from Verizon Wireless listing emergency charging stations and all kinds of other assistance.   Email?  They KNOW what my cell phone number is!  They KNOW the power is out.  So they send email?  What tiny mind decided to send emails to people they know don't have power?  Like, they think everyone checks email from cell phones?  I KNOW they know how to make robot calls, but that seems to be reserved for "your bill is ready".  Piss me off.  On the other hand, I shouldn't be surprised.  It was Verizon who sent info on how to reset your FIOS WIFI if you lost internet connection after the storm.  The info was a link to a website.  Wow.  That's thinking ahead....not!


The following is a repost from Sunday, June 14, 2009.  Somehow, after the hurricane, I thought it was appropriate to repeat it.

If you love something, set it free.
And if it flies away, run after it and kill it.
Saturday night I accidentally watched "earth2100". Apparently ABC aired it on June 2, and then repeated it late last night. I was on my way to bed when I caught a bit as I was turning off the kitchen TV, and was fascinated, and ended up watching it all the way through.

The story is told as comic strip panels (or as the non-readers call it, "graphic novel" format, bleck, and no, that doesn't make comic books sound any more intellectual, sorry, good try but no cigar, beeeeep, thud). The Wikipedia entry linked above pretty much covers the story. It is speculation, science fiction, depicting a possible future.

I found it depressing, because global warming or not, human causes or not, whatever one's opinion or theory, much of the ball is already rolling - the water problems in the west, the melting of ice caps, overpopulation, the cutting of rainforests, the movement of tropical flora and fauna into temperate areas. No one can deny any of that. It simply IS.

The scariest part to me was the thawing of tundra, which would release massive amounts of methane. I hadn't thought of that before. If the glaciers and polar ice are melting (and they are, NOW) how long will it be before the tundra thaws? Is that a tipping point? Or have we already passed it?

By the time it was over, I was glad I had no grandchild. Even if things don't go as the movie suggests it might, I have a feeling the future is grim.

Since then I've read various opinions of "earth2100" from both sides of the global warming debate. I am disturbed by the number of people who just wave it off. They say it's a natural cycle, no big deal. Well, yeah, no big deal to the earth and cockroaches. They'll continue. But will we?

One blogger pooh-poohs "earth2100" as fear mongering:
"If you have tweens and teens, this is one show they don’t need to view. Let them live their lives hopeful and knowing our world is ok – because it is, and it will be for their kids. If we all believe that, we’ll take the necessary steps to ensure our futures."
"Knowing that our world is ok ... we'll take the necessary steps"? Um, that doesn't compute.

And that's the problem. I don't think we will take the necessary steps.

We waste water, and large parts of the country are drying up. We waste oil, but, hey, I NEED my Hummer. We pollute the air, but hey I can buy those allowance thingies and keep right on doing it, ok? We cut down rainforests, and then wonder why weather patterns are changing. We refuse to acknowledge there's any problem until it affects us directly, then we want the government to fix it.

Easter Island once had a thriving population. The island had plenty of fresh water, and was heavily forested. And then, for some reason, possibly in part to raise all those stone heads, they cut down all the trees. That changed the ecology of the island drastically, in a bad way. And then all the people died. One of the lines I remember best from "earth2100" was (paraphrased), "I wonder what the person who cut down that last tree was thinking as he did it?"

I can pretty much figure out what he was thinking: "But *I* need it! I'm cold! If I don't get it, Joe will, so I may as well."

Replace those big stone heads with dollar signs. Would we have done any better? Been any smarter?

(Everybody wants their little piece, and the Earth as we need it might die the death of a thousand nibbles.)

I have absolutely no faith in mankind's ability to "take the necessary steps". The human race is too selfish, too greedy, unable to think ahead, and when they don't already know what the solution is (and have not been assured that a solution, when found, won't require deprivation on their part), then they will deny that there is any problem until it's way too late.

There IS a problem. Forget the words "global warming" if they bother you. Forget "Al Gore"; this is not a political discussion. Look at what IS happening, and what the results of that *might* be. How sure do you have to be to even consider it? By the time you get to 60% sure, it's too late.


I searched briefly, and the only place I could find "earth2100" for safe free viewing was on YouTube, in nine parts. I thought ABC might have it available, but they don't. Part 1 of 9 is here: Starting there it should be easy enough to find the other eight parts. (Actually I prefer movies in parts. That makes it easier to wander away and pick it up again later.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

3660 Sandy - the second week

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time;
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
-- Sidney J. Harris --


Continuation.  From my paper notes:

Mon, 11/5

Still no power.  They keep moving the estimate out.  It's literally freezing outside, and there's a classic nor'easter predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday.   My house is COLD!  My usual body temp is 97.5 or so, and my body is very heat-conserving - when I'm cold, blood flow to my skin and extremities shuts down.  I get chilblains when I get too cold.  As of today, I've had it.  I'd feel better if we'd get some kind of hard believable estimate.

[Now, I know there are people who, as of 11/14, as I'm posting this, still have nothing.  People with small children in poorly insulated buildings with no heat and no hope of any for weeks yet.  People running out of food with no stores open near them, and no transportation.  People sleeping on floors in shelters.  I know that, and I know I should feel grateful that things worked out comparatively well here.  But that doesn't change the fact that on 11/5 I was COLD!  And miserable.]

I want a hotel room!  (I discovered that with no phone book, and no internet, and a stupid-phone, it's a bit difficult to figure out how to make calls.)  I know that refugees and utility workers have filled most of the hotels with power anywhere near here.  I started calling the most expensive hotels first, figuring they'd be the last to have filled up.  Surprise - there are no rooms available anywhere within 70 miles.

Ok.  Put another pair of socks on and take another bath.  Between the hot baths and the chilblains, my skin is going to fall off.

We finally have some gas stations open along that 4-lane road.  Odd-even rationing.   Long lines, including people with gas cans trying to get generator fuel.  Luckily, Hal has about 280 miles worth already in his belly.

Neighborhood kids are sad - no Hallowe'en this year.  The Governor had postponed Hallowe'en to today, but with no heat, nobody wants to be opening doors repeatedly.

Mail today.  Still no checks.  They are now a week late.

Tues, 11/6

Neighbor George's generator is ancient.  It makes grinding noises.  He had set it up just under my bedroom window.  Oddly, the sound doesn't bother me.  Something about the key or timbre.  It sort of doesn't register in my ears.  Except that now it has begun backfiring.  That amuses me.

Voting day.  All the polling stations have been combined, all voting will be at the township hall, where there's limited parking.  I figured there'd be cars lined up waiting to get in, and hours-long lines inside.  Big surprise.  I parked in the lot, and when I got in, there was only one person ahead of me at the booth for my district.  Kind of sad.

A few restaurants are now open, so I ate lunch out and doggie-bagged half for dinner.  I think I'll do that every day now.

I'm running out of candles, only two left.  Hit a bunch of stores.  No candles anywhere to be found.  But in Home Depot I found a battery-operated LED lamp that runs on four D-cells.  Of course, there are no D-cells left anywhere.  As I was headed to the checkout with my lamp (hoping maybe I had some D-cells in a closet somewhere), a just-arrived case of D-cells, still on the pallet, was opened right next to me.  I snagged 2 8-packs.  I'm set for life!

Estimate for power is now Saturday.

My slab is getting colder, and Jasper is still unhappy.  "Fix it, Mommy!"

Wed, 11/7

The traffic lights came back!  The intersections are now open!

Remember that nor'easter?  I think it's here.  It's quietly snowing, 2 pm.  And it's sticking.  They were predicting a lot of wind, so this is a bit of a bust, but hey, we'll take it.

We have still seen NO utility trucks in this whole neighborhood.  Not even a glimpse of one.  Wires are still down blocking some streets.  We are now the only section anywhere around here with no power.  Keyport was clobbered, as shown in the video in an earlier post, and THEY have power!  It's maddening to drive three blocks north or south and see streetlights and porch lights.  And to see people sitting in warm living rooms watching TV.  Like, why are they more deserving?  Why are we ignored?  NO FAIR!

Wow.  One can get very personal and very emotional about stuff like this.

Mail - the checks arrived!

Thurs, 11/8

Woke to a few inches of snow on the ground.

BTW, cell phone reception has been odd since the storm.  I've called Daughter, and it rings and goes to voice message, and then when I shrug and walk across the street, she says it didn't ring, AND my message isn't there.  Several of her friends said the same thing, that they called or texted her, but there's no evidence that it went anywhere.  I have also made a few calls outside, to upstate NY and Pa, and they seemed to ring at the destination, but there'd be no answer and no switch to voicemail.  But other times it'd work fine.  Someone said there were towers down and the remaining towers got overloaded, but even so, one should not have got the impression the call went through when it didn't.

Daughter and Hercules are spatting over the generator.  He wants to still restrict it to a few hours in the morning and evening to save propane.  She points out that tanks are fairly easy to find now that fewer people are on generators, not like earlier when you couldn't find propane anywhere.   She thinks it's unfair that he sits in a warm office all day, with lights and radio and everything, and then thinks he can dictate unnecessary conservation to her.  Frankly, I agree with her.

No garbage collection again.  We've had one collection since the hurricane, and that was on an unscheduled day, so no one had their garbage out.  We can usually hear the trucks on the next street over, so we can rush our stuff out, but with all the generators running, we can't hear them coming.

Speaking of generators, the exhaust is settling close to the ground, and I can feel it affecting my breathing.

Fri, 11/9

Saw the first utility truck on our street.  George ran out and flagged him down.  Guy says today, with luck.  Just in time.  It's 50 degrees F mid-day in my house, colder overnight.  I was about ready to improvise a fireplace in an unused corner of the living room.

Electricity came back on at 6 pm, and has stayed on.

I opened the refrigerator for the first time since the hurricane started, and the smell was so bad I immediately slammed it shut again.  Not a spoiled meat smell, more a rotted vegetable smell.  I'll clean it out on Sunday evening, ready for (I hope!) Monday's garbage collection.

Lost from the freezer:
The above is just from the freezer.  Add from the refrigerator a large bunch of kale, fresh (heh, not so any more) asparagus,  carrots, celery, opened yogurt which was probably edible but had absorbed that terrible odor, boiled eggs, deli sandwich meat, opened mayonnaise, creamy horseradish sauce, grape juice, cottage cheese, cream cheese, half an onion, half a jar of three bean salad, etc.

P.S. - Yes, that's Eggo waffles.  I refuse to be embarrassed.  That's the first Eggos I've bought in like 15 years, and they're for the Nugget!


So, today, 11/14, things are looking more normal (of course, I'm speaking only for this area).  Stores are restocking.  Most restaurants away from the waterfront are open.  Sadly, many of the most popular, the ones with ocean-front or bay-side views, may never open again.

This morning, I was awakened by birds chirping.  The little birds are finally back.  Oddly, the seagulls and terns are still missing, and no geese have flown over since the Monday of Sandy.  Yesterday I realized that part of the reason for the odd quiet the first few days after the storm was the absence of airplanes.  We are on the flight path for the NYC airports, but so far out that when the planes pass over, they are very high.  But there are never fewer than three high planes visible at any moment, so even though they aren't loud, it's a constant low sound, always present.

During those eleven days with no TV or internet, I know I should have taken advantage of  all the otherwise wasted time to get some stuff done here.  But - I was cold!  I read almost every moment.  Not moving and not exposing body parts, huddling next to candles, was much nicer.

I have about 80 books lined up on the Kindle, and was disgusted that I couldn't read them, because I couldn't recharge the darn thing.  New and lasting appreciation for paper books!   Future post - what I read.

Oh, free piece of advice - don't buy a used car for at least the next two years.

3659 Sandy - the first week

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution,
no law, no court can even do much to help it.
While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."
-- Billings Learned Hand --


Continuation - More from my paper notes after the hurricane:

Tues, 10/30

1:30 pm - 68 degree F in the house.  There's a feisty little garter snake in the back yard.  He seems very frightened.  Usually the garter snakes slither away when approached.  This guy coiled and struck repeatedly.  Poor guy's probably lost, disoriented, and cold.

We have many squirrels here.  I haven't seen any yet since the storm.  There are no birds, either.  Except for generators, it's very quiet.

Wed, 10/31

Guy across the street is related to someone in the state police.  A police car pulled up and delivered a large very heavy box.  Generator?  They cut the nylon straps off the box and left them lying in the street.  That pissed me off.

No mail delivery since Saturday.  I'm worried about my checks.

A neighbor came to my door.  She said a water dept person said to spread the word that water was going to be shut off, so we should store water.  Daughter split the street with her and went door to door.  I stored water in multiple containers and in plastic-lined cardboard boxes in the bathtub.  About three hours later I got a "Code Red" cell call from the township saying it's a false rumor, please stop calling the township and police department about it, the water is fine.  I asked Daughter if she was now going to go back to all those doors and tell them it's ok.  She snarled at me.

George says the local big chain grocery store is open - sort of.  Hercules and I went. Surreal experience.  Lights maybe one per aisle.  Dark.  Empty shelves.  They had a full dairy section, though.  I tried to buy yogurt and eggs, and they chased me away from the shelves.  They were pulling everything from that section, including wrapped blocks of cheese, and throwing it in dumpsters.  Pissed me off some more.  Unbroken free-range eggs do not need refrigeration, and you can be even surer by cooking the yolks solid.  I mean hey, farm eggs often sit under a hot hen for a few days before they're collected.  And unopened yogurt with live culture and no fruit or sugar added doesn't need refrigeration, either.  Throwing it all out is a terrible waste, when lots of folks have no food.

Here's something that drove me crazy, another complete waste ---

First you have to understand NJ roads.  Four-lane roads are almost always divided and don't allow left turns off them, only rights. There are openings in the dividers only at larger crossing roads.  That means that if where you're going is on the left side of the road or you'd like to turn left at one of those intersections, you have to pass it and keep going until you get to a "jug handle" on the right, where you can curl around, kind of like one quarter of a mini-cloverleaf.  This means that although the store you want to go to is practically across the street, you will have to drive sometimes several miles to get to it, and then several miles the other direction to get back from it.

The grocery store (also my bank and a few other stores) is on the corner across from where the only remaining way out of our neighborhood dumps on to a divided 4-lane.  It's less than a mile from my house.  I've walked to it.  Normally, I just cross the 4-lane road and turn left off the side road into the strip mall.  Hercules and I were shocked to find orange cones across the intersection.  Traffic lights were out, so the police had made the entire road divided all the way north and south!   To get across the intersection, we had to turn right and drive north until we came to a street where we could go under the 4-lane.  Then to get back home from the store, we had to go south until we got to a place with an overpass over the 4-lane.  The trip, normally about two miles, came to 8.5 miles.

The complete waste?  1.)  There were no gas stations open, and people were desperate for gas for generators, so hey, let's make them waste gas!  2.)  At every impassible intersection there were a minimum of two police cars, usually three, with the cops sitting there making sure no one tried to go through the cones.  Uh, I understand that the traffic lights were out.  I don't understand why the cops weren't simply directing traffic.  I mean, there were at least two of them there anyway.  Don't they teach traffic directing in cop school any more?  Heck, it's more fun to waste gas, I guess.  And it's not like it's dangerous - the school crossing guards could show them how.

That absolutely thoroughly freakin' pissed me off to the point of screaming.

The neighborhood kids are sad.  Hallowe'en has been postponed to next Monday, by order of the Governor.   He's a bit optimistic, methinks.

Thurs, 11/1

Quarterly real estate taxes are due today.  I went to the township building with my check and stub, undated because I wasn't sure the office was open.  It was, and the clerk was shocked that I was there to pay my taxes.  Apparently, no one else did.

61 degrees F in the house today at 2 pm. I LOVE my bed.  With the good comforter on it, I'm warm as toast at night.  During the day I'm wearing warm snow boots and multiple layers, and a hat, and I'm still cold.  I've discovered that a hot bath will actually keep me warm for a few hours after.  The worst part is getting dressed in the morning, climbing out of a warm bed to mid-50s, and putting on cold clothes.  I've been going to bed at 8 or 8:30 pm, when the house starts to cool down, and then reading by candlelight.  (I put a fire extinguisher next to the bed.)

The parkway is open, so Hercules was able to get to work today.  He's is in the IT department of a utility holding company.  He spent most of the day on the phone lining up hotel rooms for the thousands of visiting utility workers arriving from all over the US and Canada.

Today is garbage collection day (Monday and Thursday).  People hopefully put their garbage out.  It was not picked up.

Today was the first sunny day since Sunday.

Fri, 11/2

Windy today.  Temperature outside dropping.  The garbage trucks came by, but of course everyone had taken the garbage back in.  Sigh.

House is still getting into low 60s during the day.  I am pleased that the house seems to stay about 20 degrees above the outside temps.  Daughter and Hercules have the small generator on a few hours every day, and they have an old furnace in the basement used by the previous owner to heat just the basement that doesn't depend on electric start.  They're using that, and it's been keeping their house in the higher 60s and low 70s.  Daughter wants me to come over to their house "to get warm", and to sleep there, but I have horribly insulted her by refusing.  I'm cold, but fine.  And I know that we can't spend much time in each other's company before she starts "reading negative into" everything I say or don't say, and getting bitchy.  So, thanks, but I'm ok.

The Nugget has been on antibiotics and decongestants since before the storm, when she was diagnosed with a head cold, croup, and 2 infected ears.  She'd been doing fine, but late today she suddenly spiked a 102 fever, and was very lethargic.  The lethargy worried me more than the fever.  Worse, the antibiotic would run out tomorrow.   Pediatrician's office gets no answer. 

Sat, 11/3

The original township estimate was that we would get power today.  Most business along the highway have full or partial power.  Some residential neighborhoods are back up. 

Daughter called pediatrician, and they were open!  But, they're in triage mode.  Nugget isn't at death's door, so they just called in a refill on the meds.    Nugget seems to be feeling better anyway.

I saw the first squirrel today.  I am pleased that he's the young one who caches in my lawn.  I figured he was hungry, so I threw him some peanuts.  No other squirrels showed up, so I suspect he's the only returnee.  I wonder where he was.  Seems like if he was just sheltered under a shed or something, he'd have been back sooner.

Still no birds.  That's beginning to feel weird.

Mail delivery today.  Still no checks.

Sun, 11/4

Some birds are back!  Daughter's bluejays, both the male and the female.  George has a pair of cardinals who nest in his eaves and like to sit in his birch - the female was in the birch this morning.  Haven't seen the male yet.  The robin who nests in a branch over my driveway is back, the female, anyway.  Still none of the noisily cheerful little birds yet.

Temp will go below freezing tonight.

All the residential neighborhoods around us have power.  We still don't.  Something about a substation destroyed or something. We feel neglected.  Seeing the lights of others makes us feel even colder.

Food - I've been eating yogurt, cheese, eggs, oatmeal, grits, those no-refrigeration vacuum-sealed dinners (they're supposed to be heated in a microwave, but do just fine in a pot on the stove), canned veggies, stews, soups, peanuts, cookies, and lots of fruit.  On Wednesday's excursion to the grocery store I found no-refrig bacon.  Expensive, but actually quite good.

I drove down some of the streets along our waterfront, past where the sea wall ends.  It's so sad to see house after house with all of the family's possessions piled on the curb.  Furniture, bags of clothing, toys,  appliances, chunks of soggy drywall, mattresses, books, photo albums, carpets, all of it.  Back in 1999 when my house burst a pipe and flooded, I was able to save almost everything that wasn't cloth or paper.  But my stuff just sat in a foot of clean water (well, clean until the mold started).  This stuff had been literally battered back and forth in several feet of filthy water.  Big difference. I appreciate our sea wall even more. be continued.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

3657 Sandy - the day after

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish."
-- Euripides  --


Continuing the Sandy saga:

Tues, 10/30
8:00 am - I walked down to the sea wall to see what had happened.


The space between the sidewalk and the access road had been sandy, with lots of plants, with little paths here and there through the plants so you could get from the road to the walkway.  You couldn't see the rocks except in a few places.  Plants and sand are now all gone.  The sidewalk, which is just two years old, has been badly undermined, and many of the slabs are cracked.

In the distance, coming in from the right, you can faintly see a spit of land sticking out into the bay.  I think that saves us from the worst of the waves.

The air would be still for about 20 minutes, and then there'd be wind gusts and rain for maybe 5 minutes, then stillness again, through most of the morning.  Hercules said it was probably the last of the outer spiral arms passing. I got soaked on my walk back from the seawall.

I'm going to do something here that isn't nice.  I'm going to copy photos from another person's blog.  Usually when I do something like that, I send you to the other blog, or at the minimum I post the photo and then link to the source.  I would like to do that here, except that he/she is very specific about the location - and I prefer to be a little more mysterious about where I live.  Deter stalkers, dontcha know.

So, I'm at least being clear that the following are not my own photos.

This is the sea wall after the storm, and gives a better picture of the height difference from the water to the walkway on top of the wall, up to the access road, and on up the bank.  The waves were well over the bank.  The clear area between the walk and the road had been full of plants.

This is at the end of the sea wall (that's the "mesa" in the middle) and where the beach starts.  You may have seen the video from this past summer of Nugget playing in the sand.  There's now no sand left.  There had been large dunes between the beach and the street that runs along here.  The dunes are gone.

To the right, what's left of the beach.  On the left, what's left of a park.  Between the posts (that used to be guard rails, but the rails washed away) is a street, now covered in sand.  All the electric/telephone poles have completely disappeared.

A closer view of the street.  In the distance is a bridge.  See that white house through the trees (under the leaning pole)?  Flooded out.

Please note that there are only three routes out of our neighborhood, and the above street and bridge is one of them.

Here's a video of the town next door.  You'll see a bridge with boats on it.  Yeah, ON it.  There is a huge marina there, and boats were washed up all over the place, huge million-dollar boats stacked on top of each other, all over the roads, yards, jammed into houses, some a quarter mile away.  That bridge?  With the boats on it?  And the leaking gas and propane tanks under it?  That's the second of the three ways out of our neighborhood. (Warning - annoying loud music. Cut the sound.)

These were our "early reports", places we could walk or bike to.  We had next to no idea what had happened elsewhere.

It's frustrating to have no TV, no radio, no internet.  You don't know what's happening out there.  But we saw enough nearby to be very grateful for that miserable little sea wall that bravely protected us from the water.  Our street had one tree down on a roof, and one tree down on the road at the very end of the street near the sea wall.  Streets to the south, east, and west of ours didn't fare so well, but still better than neighborhoods north and south of us.  Multiple trees and lines down here, but almost no damage to property.  Just messy.  All our telephone poles survived.  This gave us hope that we could get power back soon.

Yeah, sure.

1:30 pm - getting trickles of news, like looting hither and yon, don't know what to believe.  We can't get out of the immediate neighborhood.  Two routes to the highway involving bridges are blocked, the third way is open, but it isn't much help to get to the highway, because southbound and northbound are both blocked by trees, boats, and BUILDINGS! on the road.

It's 68 degrees F in the house, and I already feel cold.

1:55 pm - I am confirmed as an idiot.  I just discovered I have hot water.  I didn't know my gas water heater has some kind of non-electric non-pilot-light thingamabob starter.

People are starting up generators.  The big box hardware store has them coming in by the truckload and if you wait in line for enough hours you might be able to get one.  Unfortunately, propane and gasoline is almost impossible to find.  Daughter and Hercules have a very small propane generator which they plan to run only a few hours a day.

I have candles and the gas stove, hot water, some non-perishable food, and lots of books.  I figure I'll be ok for up to maybe four days.

The fates laugh.  It gets worse.

To be continued.

3656 Sandy, continued - she passes over

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stupidity fuels itself.
 -- The Man --


Ok.  I was "blogging the storm" on Monday, October 29, and my last entry was that the lights had flickered.  Then silence for the next eleven days.

I kept on "blogging", though, on paper.   These days I keep notes on everything.  Otherwise it never happened.

From my notes:
Mon, 10/29

2:20 pm - electricity out, switching to paper

2:30 pm - branches in the street

3:15 pm - wind is getting scary.  moaning and rushing and roaring sounds.  People are walking down the street toward the seawall.

3:20 pm - neighbor banged on my door, he's worried about the huge sweetgum tree in my back yard.  It's scaring me, too.

4:00 pm - videoed (is that a word?) the sweetgum.  It's actually twisting in a spiral in the wind, which means it's flexible, so I'm not as worried now.  If that were a brittle locust my roof would already be gone.


4:15 pm - people across the street hurriedly packed up the car and left.  Jasper is worried, glued to my ankle.  "Fix it, Mommy!"

5:05 pm - wind is N to S, flocks of birds flying E to W, don't seem too bothered by wind.  Just saw three kids, 12-14, walking down the street to the seawall.  Got out the candles.

5:10 pm - the wind is odd.  It's like there's a dome about 10' high over us.  Above that, the trees are thrashing wildly.  Below it, the air is still.  There's NO wind on my porch, for example, and the piles of leaves at the curb are undisturbed.

5:15 pm - folks 2 houses down loaded car and left.  I'd be afraid to leave now for fear roads would be blocked and I could go neither forward nor back.

5:25 pm - huge tree fell on house across street and two houses up.  Messed up their roof.  It's very dark.  Would be nice to just go to bed, but not alone....

6:10 pm - Daughter and Nugget are outside!  In street, talking with neighbors.  We still seem to have that ground-level protective dome, but trees are still dangerous.  Neighbor says waves are coming over seawall.

7:20 pm - many bright flashes low in the sky.  First thought was transformers, but then realized it's sheet lightening (cloud-to-cloud).

8:45 pm - where's the rain?  Lots predicted, but it's been no more than a drizzle.

10:15 pm - much quieter outside.

Midnight - asleep.  I slept in the opposite end of the house from the sweetgum.  Was surprised how quickly and easily I fell asleep and how soundly I slept.

Tues, 10/30
6:30 am - awake.  All quiet outside.  All done?

**to be continued, next post**

3655 Snork

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside."
-- Robert X. Cringely  --


I am SO tired of hearing from talking heads that the Republican party "has been decimated" by this election.  The word is DEVASTATED!   NOT DECIMATED!  Sheesh.  Learn the difference, folks.  You're supposed to be highly-paid professional communicators.  Decimated and devastated are NOT the same word.


"We the People" is a section of the White House web site that allows citizens to create and sign petitions on just about any topic.  When a petition garners 25,000 signatures, it gets a response from the executive branch.

 Talking heads are now reporting that "a number of states have petitioned to secede from the United States."

Um, not exactly true.

Yes, there are secession petitions out there for something like 15 states.  However, those petitions were created by individuals, and signed by individuals.   None are from or signed by any state officials.

Texas has already exceeded the threshold for signatures.  That's been cracking me up!

See, you don't have to be a resident of the state to sign its petition.  I wonder if I'm the only person who sees this not so much as a petition to secede, but as a petition to force them out of the union.  I would gladly sign a petition to kick Texas out! (And a few of the others, as well.  See the Snopes article for the list.)

I wonder how many of those signatures on the Texas petition are non-Texans willing to, uh, help them out.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

3654 Clearing out the bins

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and
 evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
-- Steven Weinberg --


Well, it took me all day Saturday to catch up on email, news, and internet stuff.  I get "feeds" for a bunch of blogs and various web sites, and when I was finally able to check Friday evening, I had over 1500 alerts on the queue. 

I spent a lot of today on watching the two "Survivor" episodes I had missed and last Sunday's "The Amazing Race", while battling the laptop which has decided to hang every so often, so that it takes twice as long to do anything.  I also spent some time holding the ladder for Hercules while he got tree branches off my FIOS wires.  Then I dragged some branches out of the back yard, and Hercules helped me figure out why the garage door opener latch didn't want to catch the chain that opens the door.  Turns out I'm just too short to pull the release rope far enough to the side to engage the catch.

Then, finally, I cleaned out the refrigerator.  Power had gone out Monday, 10/29, and I hadn't opened the doors until it came back again on 11/9.  It was pretty bad.  The smell was not of bad meat - it was more like rotted brussels sprouts or something (there was kale and asparagus in the veggie bin, both of which had gone liquid), a smell so bad it immediately filled the whole house, and I was actually afraid it would get into the rugs and upholstery and I'd never get it out.  I slammed the doors shut hoping that chilling and freezing would knock the smell down, but it didn't.  Garbage collection is tomorrow, so I had to clear it out today.  I filled three kitchen-can-sized garbage bags. 

I still want to complain about the storm!

Maybe tomorrow.