Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am now dumber for having read this.

Wow.  Thanks, Fox News for not only uneducating sheeple on how to prepare for a storm, but to make a backhanded comment towards those who do.  I guess I'm not a survivalist without my bunker and iodine tablets.

Here are the 4 "gadgets":

1st.  You mentioned a crank radio, then complained that it wouldn't completely charge your iPhone.  It would have been nice to mention that the crank radio is usually used for the radio.  Just saying.

2nd.  You mention an LED flashlight.  Please complain about the price.  Since you mentioned the above radio has a built-in LED flashlight, couldn't you use the radio for looking for stuff too?  And my flashlight that lights up Chicago used 2 AA batteries and I used it for a month before changing batteries, so why are they plugging a model that uses 8 AAA batteries and is good for 24 hours?

3rd.  A lantern.  A rechargeable, electric lantern.  How freaking dark does it get?  All they mentioned so far is stuff to light up the night.  Here's an idea:  use the crank radio (you need it to hear the news) and some of those solar outdoor lights.  I got 20 of them lining my driveway.  If I need to, I can leave them out during the day to charge and bring them in to use each night for houselight.  And it is cheaper than all this garbage.  And maybe a oil lamp and/or homemade candles.  But then again, I'm not trying to be a yuppie.

4th.  A solar charger.  Good, because the iPhone battery might go dead and then noone gets to play Angry Birds on the phone.  Really people?

You got 3 gadgets for lighting up a house.  And 2 that can charge your iPhone.  Seriously, when I was out of power for 2 weeks for Hurricane Gustav in 2008, we got a small generator for the fridge, on demand hot water heater, and some A/C.  If you wanted to charge your phone, you plugged it into the car.  Cars still work in a power outage.  Just run the engine for a few minutes to charge the car battery, then let the phone charge for an hour.

Good to see that none of the "gadgets" included a non-electric can opener, a gas BBQ grill for cooking, or a Steripen for water sterilization.  But I guess as long as you can see, and use your iPhone, then everything will be OK, because food and water aren't important if you are trendy.


Fox News Article.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I prep.

There is an article on Yahoo news about a Navy SEAL that was killed a short while back.  I've never been in the military and never plan to, I have immense respect for those who defend my right to write this blog and to live as I see fit.  

Man's best friend mourns death.

The following is one of the commenters:

"this guy is NOT a hero, he's just a casualty of war his death was caused by bad luck THIS guy died in a helicopter crash OK it's not like he used his body as an armor to help save his buddies from a grenade and besides I'm sick of all you veterans talking about fighting for my freedom that's BS my freedom is backed by the Constitution your fighting and alleged sacrifices ain't shit"

The above person is sadly a growing trend of moonbats and mouthbreathers growing in this country.  

I prep because one day his ideals will become mainstream.

I prep because one day I will have to defend my lifestyle from people like him or her.

I prep because people like him or her is leading this once-great county to its' doom.

I hope and pray that the above commentator will one day, even for an instant, realize how wrong they are.  Probably the split second before a biker gang takes their life for a gallon of water and a can of green beans.  

This guy made me sick to my stomach.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Katrina-- Storm Day (Part 3)

I’m not sure where I got this bit of information at, but I wanted to mention it before I get to the storm day.  I think Monday morning Blanco, the governor, hadn’t declared an emergency yet.  As a Democrat, she hated Bush.  She hated Bush so much, when he came to Baton Rouge to speak at LSU for commencement, she left the state for the weekend.  She made it clear on several occasions that Bush is not wanted in our state.  Anyway, Bush got on the line and told Blanco that she had 6 hours to declare an emergency or he would nationalize the state National Guard and take over.  She finally caved in.  The mainstream media portrayed Bush as slow moving to respond to the storm, but the truth was the governor wasn’t allowing the President to bring in FEMA or emergency help.  Partisan politics at its worst.

Woke up to a howling wind, around 6 am.  Rolled over, checked the tv.  Power is still up, internet is working, and we still had cable.  But I knew it couldn’t last.  Living in the older area around LSU means above ground power lines.  Every bad storm causes the lines to fall.  Checked on my roommate.  She was still at the winding down hurricane party across from the pool.  The apartment complex hadn’t done much to prepare for the storm other than put a flyer on everyone’s door saying that they recommend evacuation, and to clean out your fridge before you leave.  Oh, and they are not responsible for damages to your apartment or vehicles.  Some place. (I actually still had the flyer on the refrigerator 4 years later.  I thought it was that stupid that I shared it with others that visited.)   They left all the furniture around the pool out, which makes great projectiles when the wind picks up.  We were already a steady 40 mph from the east.  I threw all the furniture into the pool (it keeps it from flying away, and with plastics, it won’t damage the bottom). 

I made sure I had all my electronics unplugged except for a power strip with all the essentials being charged (cell phone, laptop, flashlights).  Looking out the window, Highland Road was empty (this is a main arterial, usually carrying 25k-30k cars a day), with only an occasional pick-up truck driving down it.  I figured that the power would have been out by now, so I took this rare opportunity to make breakfast with whatever I could find in the fridge.  Use it before I lose it. 

Went outside at 8 am.  Winds were up to about 60+mph still from the east.  If you look at a hurricane from space, it a spinning mass with a central “eye”.  The bands that radiate outward have rain, tornados, and more rain hidden in them.  Oddly enough, we were between 2 bands.  We got maybe ½ an inch of rain that entire day.  Areas to the north and south of us got almost a foot, but not us.  It made my hurricane watching more fun.  I brought my computer chair out to the outside stairwell and watched the trees sway, while enjoying a good cigar and strawberry margarita.  The fence to the east of us collapsed onto a row of parked cars.  No one I guess thought ahead regarding wind direction.  My car was on the other side, parked near the apartment building.  If the storm caused the wall to fail, then I would have bigger problems than no car, and the building would shield the car from most of the dangerous debris. 

By now Katrina had made landfall.  This means the eye of the storm is now over land.  In this case, the mouth of the Mississippi River.  If you have never been in the eye of a hurricane, I interviewed someone for a high school paper on Hurricane Camille who was in that eye.  Basically, the eye is the center of rotation.  There are usually no clouds, and the wind is dead calm.  If the storm has 100 mph winds, it will be blowing to the west at 100 mph, then dies out and the sun comes out as the eye crosses.  Most deaths from hurricanes by people that were in the eye are from them going outside to see the damage.  Because once the 20 mile wide eye passes, the 100 mph winds now go the opposite direction, or to the east. 

In New Orleans, they are getting close to 100 mph winds and 8-12 inches of rain an hour.  Most of the larger buildings downtown are getting their windows shattered by the gravel on the larger building’s roofs being thrown by the wind.  The pump building are being evacuated, for the pump worker’s safety, and the levees are still holding, but not for long.  Most of the paths out are impassible, because of the winds.  In New Orleans east, the twin spans of I-10 heading out are being destroyed by the storm surge, which is the water being literally being pushed by the storm winds.  It reaches almost 30 feet in elevation over regular tides.  The city, however, is on the west side of the eye of the storm, and had considerably less damaging winds.  Mississippi was about to get the brunt of Katrina’s fury.

As an engineer, I can explain how the bridges got damaged.  The piers going into the ground are only pounded about 100’ into the ground.  There is a pier cap installed over the 4 or fieve piers drilled.  The roadway, or deck, just rests on top of it, with maybe only a strap holding it on.  The theory is that the weight of the concrete holds the deck in place.  However, with a storm surge of 30 feet, the waves are high enough to crash on, under, and over the concrete.  Once submerged, the concrete deck, not being held down and with air trapped underneath, becomes more buoyant and is susceptible to being moved by wave action.  In Bay St. Louis, MS, the eye passed overhead and managed to not only throw the deck hundreds of feet, it managed to pull out the pylons driven into the ground. 

In Mississippi, the storm surge is about 30’.  The casinos on the coast have been emptied and sunk.  Procedure calls for the National Guard to enter the casinos once a mandatory evacuation is ordered and help secure the barge as the vaults are emptied and money and chips are escorted to a more secure location.  These barges have a few feet of water underneath and would be thrown over Hwy 90 and beached usually over the highway, causing traffic issues and looting (anything on the highway is considered public domain).  The solution is to sink them.  They are pretty hard to knock onto the shore once they have been sunk, and either way, the damage has been done.  Just less damage if you sink them intentionally. 

In Mississippi, the storm surge is taking its toll on the coast.  For every mile of land, the storm surge loses 1 foot of water.  With a 30 foot storm surge, and an elevation of 15 feet north of the beach and Hwy 90, I estimate the first 15 miles inland was flooded.  Almost every house in Pass Christian within a mile of the beach was wiped off the face of the earth.  When we visited after the storm, it was gut wrenching to see an area wiped off the map.  Literally.  The death toll was considerably lower on the Gulf Coast than New Orleans because of mentality.  On the Coast, where I went to high school, it was never about if the storm will come, but when.  It was never “God will move the storm somewhere else, and we can stay,” but it was when the storm was project to hit anywhere remotely near the Coast, we got the heck out.  Every time, because this time might be the big one. 

The Mississippi Attorney General also filed suit against all insurance companies as the storm made landfall.  He demanded that all companies made good and paid out to replace all of the covered houses.  The big debate after the storm that held up rebuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was over what caused the home damage.  Was it the wind or was it the storm surge (water).  It sounds so stupid, but homeowner’s insurance covered damages done by wind, but the flood insurance covered it if the damage was caused by the water.  How moronic is that.  They fought and fought over it.  Neither wanted to pay, and would spend millions to trying to prove it was the other’s problem.  And these homeless gulf residents were the fodder in the middle. 

So there I was, around noon, on the side of the road, in an enclosed little bus stop, enjoying the howling wind.  The debris that was being blown about was picking up.  More leaves, small branches, papers, and trash.  A big branch about a quarter mile west fell into the road, making it impassable.  I watched a big 4x4 pickup truck come barreling down from the east, going about 70 in the 45 mph zone, when he just barely missed a car pulling out of their driveway.  That truck had to be driven by the biggest moron in town.  He wasn’t heading in the direction of a hospital, so I can’t imagine the reason for his hustle, but I had made up my mind in that moment that if he would have hit them, I would have tried to save the people in the little car first, then the truck.  It was really weird to think that, but at that moment, I knew that all bets on medical help would be off and I would have to triage on my own.  I was just glad the truck swerved and slammed on the breaks to miss the tree in the road.

I had a friend in Student Government, who had a job with the Governor’s office.  She was one of 6 people in the state who could sign checks bigger than $1 million and had the special seal and green pen.  She told me she was at her apartment near school right before the power went out and she heard a knock at the door.  She looked out the window and there was a Humvee with several National Guard troops, in full battle gear.  They “escorted” her into the Humvee and took her to State Emergency Operations Center.

12:15 pm.  The lights go out.  My cell phone has no service.  All circuits are busy right now.  The wind is maxing out right now and the wind direction is changing.  This means the storm is passing to the east of us and the worst is over, but we are due for more wind for 6 or so more hours.  I think we maxed out about 80-85 mph.  A good number of trees on Highland Road have fallen, no power, internet, or cable.  Phone service is overloaded.  For the first time ever, I am at home and completely cut off from the rest of the world. 

5:00 pm.  The partiers have fully awoken and noticed their beer and whisky supply has diminished from last night.  Panicking over their lack of foresight and their stupidity by opening and closing the freezer once the power went out, they have decided to use a BBQ grill and grill the contents of their freezer in the breezeway.  I had some ground beef set aside in the fridge so I could eat well that first night with my zip stove on my porch, but I decided to watch how the other half devolved in hours.  They had corn dogs they were roasting.  With cans of veggies, various meat, and another had a very sad time trying to cook a microwave meal on the grill.  These are people in college, and basic cooking skills were as foreign to them as ancient Sanskrit.  It was better than tv.  The storm had mostly passed New Orleans by now, and I had a windup radio.  There was no music anywhere, even those... national feed stations.  It was nothing but weather updates and people phoning in with power outages and downed trees.  Not like calling in the power outages helped.  95% of the east half of the state was without power.  Places in town hit harder would be without power for more than a month.  There was several stations we got from New Orleans and they were talking about levee breeches.  I called my dad, who was retired by then, and checked in with him and my grandparents.  To this day I remember asking him when they will be able to stop the flooding in New Orleans.  His answer was “when the water in the city was a high as the lake.  Then they can plug the leaks.”

6:15 pm.  The power comes back on.  I know, I really suffered.  But I didn’t lose my head.  All my food was still good, nothing was wasted on the BBQ grill.  Internet came back on, but no cable.  I know it sounds like a petty thing, but in the age of information, it’s important to see how the area fared from the storm.  NO is dominating the news, no word yet on how Mississippi fared.  I think this was the time of the first reports of the Superdome being a haven of rapists, murderers and other people just trying to survive. 

During the last storm (Ike), they opened the Superdome up as a shelter for those who couldn’t evacuate.  They looted the place.  They stopped up the toilets until they flooded.  They ripped cushions out of the seats.  They stole tvs, equipment, and anything that wasn’t bolted down.  After Ike passed, it took $10 million dollars to fix what thousands of “victims” destroyed.  Why wouldn’t they do the same now?

The radio station in NO (WWL) is now starting to take phone calls for missing people.  The station goes all night and into the next day with people calling to see if their loved ones are all right.  Some of the cell towers have been flooded out and are off-line, and very few phone calls can go in or out as far away as Baton Rouge.  Text messages become the preferred way to communicate.  I think it is because the system can hold the message until the phone gets reception, then downloads the message to the phone.  Several friends in the apartment complex make contact with their families this way.

Baton Rouge is starting to double in size starting tonight.  When the wind dies down, people that were sheltering in the surrounding areas start heading toward BR to get ready to return home to NO tomorrow.  The parking lots for anything near the interstate heading south to NO are full of RVs, campers, trailers and trucks.  All waiting.

But tomorrow is another day...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Six flags N.O., damaged by Katrina

Hey everybody,

A good friend of mine and part time photographer just came from New Orleans East and did a photo shoot of the six flags park there.  It was damaged from Katrina in 2005 and has not been touched since the storm.  It's a pretty eerie idea of what downtown _______ can become after the Golden Horde has left town...



Zombieland-- 6 Flags N.O.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Part 2 of Hurricane Katrina: Setup of the History of N.O. and the night before.

New Orleans.  It’s got a colorful history.  Geology there is even more colorful.  Below is a pretty bad map of the city, but it is important because it shows the major neighborhoods of the city, so when I get into the geology of the city, it starts to make sense.  

Here is a better view of the whole area, but it shows flooding 2 weeks after the storm.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.  I just have it so you can see the whole area.

The French Quarter was settled first.  FQ, Arts, Bywater, and the CBD are all on the ancient flood levee, created by the river.  It’s the highest area, so it doesn’t flood.  Elevations are still below 10 feet, but much better than the rest of the town.  North of all that, and south of the lake, it was all tidal marshes.  Every summer, grasses, reeds, and other plants would grow.  In the winter they all died.  In the spring flood, these plants would be covered with 6 inches of silt from the flooding Mississippi River.  Wash, rinse, repeat for millennia.  As the peat gets pushed down by subsidence (the weight of the dirt on top), it slowly gets firmer.  There is no bedrock for miles under the city of New Orleans.  So now you have an alluvial basin of a city built of layers of jello and pudding.  It grows to about 4 feet above sea level.  New businesses and new housing need to be built come early 1900’s.  Out to the swamp to drain and clear it.  Now add concrete foundations, levees, roads and that weight takes a toll.  In the 1980’s before GPS, surveying in the NO area was near impossible.  The concrete benchmarks were sinking into the muck.  The city was subsiding at almost an inch a year in some places.  The silt and plants cycle had been destroyed and the water pumped out.  New Orleans had become a bowl between the lake and the river.  It’s still so bad, one of my professors still teaches a class on how to use the sophisticated benchmarks for the city to get the proper elevation. 

The outer areas of the city that were developed in the 1900’s before air conditioning were quaint places to live until the newer areas with central air were built in the 1950’s.  The older houses became the slums and ghettos.  The Ninth Ward (pronounced “night wad”), parts of Uptown and Carrollton, and Gentilly all became slums.  In the Ninth Ward, people sitting on their porches could look up and see the boats pass overhead on the river.  Never made sense to me, living 10 feet below sea level, up against the river.  But the housing was cheap, and the gov’mint paid for it.

Now here’s where many would call me racist.  But it’s the truth.  New Orleans and surrounding area has 1.2 million people in it August 1, 2005.  80% is black.  Easily half to 2/3 are on welfare.  It’s an extremely poor town.  It’s a dying town.  Their waterworks is piss poor.  Remember the settling ground?  Imagine lead and steel pipes under all that.  Due to the saltwater intrusion, NO gets its water from the Mississippi River.  Yes, the river that 38 states dump their sewage in.  Yum.  In NO, there is a sewage treatment plant across the river from the water intake pipe.  30 or 40 miles upstream at Waterford 3 nuclear plant, the EPA allows them to dump water taken from the river to cool the coolant pipes back into the river without treatment. 

The levee system.  Man, they found a big enough cross after the storm to nail the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on.  But after all the flooding of Hurricane Betsy from 1964 (My grandmother told me the story about the coffins floating down the street from the cemetery and the hundreds of people that climbed into their attics to avoid the rising waters, but died from not bringing an axe to make a hole and the rising water drowned them all.), the USACE decided to upgrade the levees to something better. 

The 2005 levees were designed in the mid-sixties and built by the USACE.  From what I understand from questions I asked when our engineering club at LSU toured the USACE center in New Orleans in 2008 (we picked up 10 engineering students from VA Tech and was sponsoring them for their first football game after the shootings—most of the shootings were in the Engineering building.  Another story for another time), the USACE built the levees and turned over the operation and maintenance over to the New Orleans levee board.  ‘Nuff said right there.  NO is so corrupt, it makes Chicago and D.C. look pristine.  Entire cemeteries vote in every election and no one can so anything about it.  Anyway, the levee board is a plum assignment, if you can get on board.  In the 40 years or so, they managed to plant trees on the levee, do no maintenance, build parks, marinas, and other money making ventures.   From what I heard, they picked someone’s brother as the engineer to verify the levees when they needed them. 

Remember a while back about the city and marsh and pumping of water and subsidence?  It goes for levees, too. 

While I give you a good foundation about the city and the causes of its’ demise, there are a few more points to remember:

·         Since most of the town is below sea level, and the levees are above sea level, you have to pump the stormwater up and over the levees.  Most of these pumps are over a hundred years old.  Still really well maintained.  But can only pump one inch of water out of the city an hour.  NO gets 60+ inches of water a year.  Hurricanes like Katrina can dump up to a foot an hour if it is bad enough.  These pumps are usually manned, and are powered by various means.   If backup systems fail and the pumps get submerged.... no more pumping.
·         The Mississippi River is 95.0 miles long at the French Quarter.  USACE built the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO or Mr. Go) in 1965 to shorten it and to make it a straight line rather than the meandering path the river usually takes.  The saltwater path killed a lot of the swamp vegetation and made a narrow path much wider. 
·         From what I read, the city has to declare an emergency and ask the governor for assistance from the National Guard.  The governor has to release the National Guard troops to the President before he can declare an emergency.  I may be confused on a bit of this, but remember that Louisiana is the only state under Napoleonic Code, so lots of our laws are screwy.  Regardless, Nagin was a Democrat, and so was our governor Blanco.  And Bush was Republican.

So where was I?  Oh, yes, August 28, 2005.  I’m prepped, my grandparents have evacuated to my dad’s house north of Houma, LA, and the streets are packed with people either finishing their preps, evacuating north, or coming into to town, evacuating from the south. 

Now I have to mention, if you have ever been in a hurricane, the 24 hours before landfall are the calmest, clearest, most beautiful days you can imagine.  Not a cloud in the sky, humidity is low, and little wind.  But we all know that has to change, and change in a hurry.

As the sun set, the clouds started rolling in.  I will wax philosophic for a moment on them, because if you’ve never experienced it, hurricanes are the closest a weather system will ever be to a living organism.  The clouds move very fast, and in a circle, and all together.  I will try to find my pics this weekend, but they do no justice.  I have a picture of the clouds in downtown Baton Rouge, just before sunset, when the sun is low enough to reflect off the bottom of the clouds.  By now, the storm is probably 400 miles wide, all spinning counter clockwise.  All in one fluid motion.  Really, if you have the chance, watch video of the clouds.  It is both a breathtaking and terrifying moment it’s arrived and you are stuck until it passes.

By now, it’s 10pm, Sunday August 28th  It’s project to hit New Orleans by 10 am tomorrow.  I check my preps once more, locating them closest to my bed, so I can grab them in a hurry if I have to bug out.  I’m on the second floor, corner apartment of a brick building.  I feel safe knowing I’m the top floor and have two window for egress if necessary.  My roommate has taken off to go the neighbors to enjoy one of the many hurricane parties.  They can’t possibly stay up for the next 24 hours to see the whole storm and drink like that.  I decide to wake up early to be rested and see the storm pass overhead.  The wind is slowly picking up to about 30 mph from the south and I know in the morning it’ll be 80+ from the east, then the north as the storm passes us.  Time to hit the rack.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chavez wants his gold back... now.

Link to article

Nice.  First the stock market, then this.  I guess Chavez is another rat jumping ship.  Some look at him as crazy, others look at it as another sign....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hurricane Katrina, T- 2days to about T-48 hours to landfall, Part 1 of many

Hurricane Katrina, T- 2days to about T-48 hours to landfall

You will have to forgive me, it’s been five years.  Some of the events and timelines are a little fuzzy as some of the finer details start to be erased by the passage of time.  Below is the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast for August 27, 2005.  By then, I had finished my first week of my sophomore year of college at LSU, and was picking up extra hours in the wind tunnel lab for LSU’s Hurricane Center. Ironically, we were doing wind loading testing for the East Jefferson Parish Hospital in NO.  When the hurricane watch (HW) has been issued for south Louisiana, a multitude of events begin.  I’m sure that local and state emergency agencies had been working full time since the storm entered the Gulf.  (Actually, each May, the state does various emergency drills, from traffic flow to hospital triage.  Me and several friends usually volunteer to be bodies going into the ER.)  The hurricane watch triggers the mandatory evacuations (ME) of the lower lying areas, which include everything south of the Intracoastal Waterway (IW) from New Orleans to Morgan City.   Voluntary evacuations (VE) are issued for pretty much everything north of that to Interstate 10.  This is the point that everyone starts to go nuts. 

To give some plane of reference, I was living at the time in Baton Rouge, 65 miles NW from NO up I-10.  My grandparents lived 30 minutes SW of NO down US 90, 5 miles north of the IW.  My high school is in Bay St. Louis, MS.  If you look at the NHC map above and follow the coast of MS from LA, the first “bump” along the shore is the bay of St. Louis, and Bay St. Louis is on the western shore of that bay.  (Hurricane Camille in 1969 put 20+ feet of water in the school and church.  The school is located on the shoreline.)  My family background at the time was my mother was a travelling ER nurse located in Oxnard, CA at the time, but transferred the week after the storm for an assignment with FEMA, vaccinating personnel going into NO after the storm.  My father, over the years, was Director of Public Works for St. Bernard Parish (NO East), St. Charles Parish (Parish just west of NO), and Asst. DPW for Baton Rouge for decades.  He was retired at the time.  Actually, this was the first hurricane that I had been through that my parents were not manning Civil Defense or the ER. 

Back to me.  When the HW was issued, I biked home and started prepping.  Every May, I get a BOB and a bug in kit ready for hurricanes.  I started filling my freezer with gallon Ziploc bags of water.  The theory was, when the power went out, the ice blocks would keep the contents colder for days, and I could drink the water if necessary.  I also prepped the BOB again, with stuff for my roommate, who had just moved here from VA.  Her first hurricane and I knew she had no earthly idea what to do.

The stores were packed, and were cleared out in hours.  Home Depot and Lowe’s were flooded with sheeple buying plywood, nails, tarps, batteries, generators, anything they could get their hands on.  It was busy, but no fights and looting...yet.  Here in Tigerland (the suburbs surrounding LSU where the students live), the liquor stores were being emptied in a hurry.  I think I went down the street to the liquor store to get a frozen strawberry daiquiri bucket for the freezer and a couple of cigars.  Several of the students from northern areas were packing up and leaving, while the students with parents from the south were getting ready to receive their families.  The smart people were evacuating the southern areas before contra-flow started. 

Contraflow is a process designed by one of my college professors where all lanes of the Interstate and highways are rerouted to go one direction.  It cuts the evacuation time in half.  Now, you must realize that NO is surrounded by water: Lake Ponchatrain to the north, the Gulf to the east, Mississippi River to the south, and the Bonnie Carre spillway to the west.  The only way to enter or leave NO is over a bridge.  With that being said, the only routes out are:
·         Lake Ponchatrain Causeway, heading to the North Shore area, I-55 to Jackson, MS
·         I-10 E, heading to Baton Rouge
·         US 61, heading to Baton Rouge
·         Huey P. Long Bridge, US 90, heading south (Not an option)
·         Greater NO Bridge, US 90, heading south (Not an option)
·         US 90, heading east, only 2 lanes out of town (Not an option)
·         I-10 W, heading to Biloxi MS (not an option), heading to Jackson, MS

The not an option roads either lead to a ME area or to an area that is heading towards them to evacuate.  Now, 1.2 million people are in the greater NO area and have the above roads to use.  The inherent problem wasn’t how to get out, or when to get out, but rather if I want to get out.  When the order to evacuate was issued, the smarter ones left when the traffic was lighter.  Everyone else took their time to leave.  The reason was economics.

Hurricane Ivan was projected to hit NO on September 16, 2004.  The evacuation order was given.  Contraflow was started, and most of the city evacuated.  Since it was the first time the system had been tested, there were glitches.  The hour drive from NO to BR took over 16 hours.   There were no hotels and no shelters set up.  When people got to BR, instead of heading north, they camped out in parking lots and wherever they could find.  The storm turned east and hit Pensacola, FL, sparing NO.  However, the residents thought God would save them again and didn’t want to evacuate and waste money and time in the masses leaving the city.  They would be the equivalent to passengers on the Titanic standing at the bow, staring at the iceberg, thinking “the ship will turn, the ship will turn, the ship will turn...”

10pm.  The NHC changes the Hurricane Warning to a Hurricane Watch.  We will be hit.  LSU sends out an email cancelling school for the next week.  The LSU/ASU football opener is still on for next week in Tiger Stadium (we had to get our priorities straight, after all).  That night traffic was starting to pick up a lot outside the apartment as people started to prep or get out of dodge.

7am, Sunday August 28, 2005.  NO is under mandatory evacuation.  Contraflow is in place.  Louisiana State Police (LSP) has it set up.  From NO to BR, after the I-55/I-10 split in LaPlace, all 4 lanes of the interstate is flowing towards BR.  Every exit is blocked by the LSP.  No getting on I-10, and no getting off.  A few exits are open, but only so far as to allow people to gas up, go to the bathroom, and get back on the interstate.  This prevented the refugees from trying to camp out along the road, swamping all the small towns.  Every room in hotels and motels are booked. (Actually, the second that storm hit the gulf, every room south of Memphis on the coast becomes booked.  People learn to plan ahead.)  500,000 cars cross the Miss. River Bridge on average in BR every day.  Now it flows to the west, carrying NO with her.  That means that traffic is now on the surface streets and add that to the panic traffic, it makes the town a mess.  However, once you cross the Miss Bridge in BR, the interstate becomes 2 way again, so people are crowding the area over there looking for refuge. 

The kids at school are all organizing “hurricane parties” in the apartment complex for Monday night.  Local reports say that beer and liquor is no longer to be found in BR, along with bottled water, generators, and flashlights.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Debate a Liberal

I’m lazy today.  I’m more in the mood for a good laugh.  The following is from the “Red Shtick Magazine” from Baton Rouge, LA, way back in 2010.  I wrote it.  I write for them once a month.  The name of the magazine is a twist on the name of Baton Rouge (Red Stick in French) and the fact that it’s all comedians writing in it about satirical things (the Shtick part).  It’s like my personal therapy every month, where I can write about whatever grabs my attention.  The column used to be called “Party of One” until I got married, but now it’s “The Wright Wing” based off my last name and the way my conservative side has emerged.  If you are really bored, check out my past work.  You’ll get a good laugh. 

How to Debate a Liberal
"Red Shtick Magazine, May 2010"
by Mudbug 

I am a man who enjoys a good debate. I like to pick the brains of people both smarter and dumber than myself. I enjoy the rare chances to peer into people’s mindsets and see life from their unique points of view. 
I relish in the knowledge that we can disagree from the start, have a civil and meaningful debate, and still leave as friends. God, I miss the good old days.
Now, I can’t get two words in edgewise anymore before the name-calling begins. Believe me, people: I have plenty of ex-girlfriends and family members to remind me of my place on this planet without you making the crux of your argument, regardless of the topic, the circumstances surrounding my conception and the various reasons why my mother has to hang meat around my neck so the dogs will play with me. 
I lay the blame for the aforementioned problem squarely on the liberals of this country who have been taught by the mainstream media how to argue.
Let’s start with a few assumptions about myself. 
Yes, I’m white, male, and own a gun. I love my country but hate where this country is heading. I hate socialism, the nanny state, and welfare society. 
I earn my money from working hard and don’t like sharing it with people who don’t want to work. I firmly believe that it’s a parent’s job to parent, not the job of Washington, D.C. 
I hate the way I’m portrayed by the liberal media as a hater of the environment, other races, other religions, and whatever they feel like tagging me with to push their agenda. I actually plan to add solar panels and wind turbines to my house. 
I watch Fox News, along with CNBC and CNN, and I read The Wall Street JournalThe OnionThe New York Times, and the Alamosa Valley Courier. I like to get my news from all angles, not just the right or the left. 
I believe that welfare should be a hand up, not a handout. I’m anti-Big Government and pro-states’ rights. I’m pro-choice (more government regulations), but a fiscal conservative. And I will never apologize for what and who I am — an American.
With that said, I had a debate a few weeks ago on Facebook over high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). 
My adversary’s position was that HFCS needs to be banned because Big Corn gets huge subsidies and is poisoning America. He went on to say that farm subsidies go only to Big Corn, and the government needs to regulate HFCS.  
I countered with the facts that farm subsidies keep food prices low and are a safety net for poor farmers, too. I also said that maybe, just maybe, HFCS is in so many products because it’s cheap and we like cheap food. 
The option to get food without HFCS is there, but it’s a personal choice, and I find it hard to believe that HFCS is killing humans. I think that set him off.
He wrote that HFCS was introduced in the ’80s and is the sole cause of obesity in America. 
I mentioned that, in the same decade, we saw the introduction of personal computers, VCRs, video games, satellite TV, and cable TV to give a generation more enticement to stay indoors and not go play outside.
With that, he called me a liar and told me that there are not one but two documentaries by journalism students (who are known to be both knowledgeable in farming and unbiased, to boot) on how Big Corn is raping America. And I believe that was the end of any rational conversation. 
When I questioned the journalism student’s documentary, I was told I was in the bed of Big Corn, watched only Faux News, and was one of those teabaggers.
See, that’s the problem. I can’t point/counterpoint with most liberals, because if I don’t see it their way, hook, line, and sinker, I’m not only wrong, but I become the center of their attack. There is no compromise, no “agree to disagree.” 
If I differ from them, the litany of personal attacks spews with no end. I am just dismissed as a teabagger, less than human, a racist against the president, or misguided and uneducated. 
I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that liberals worship our First Amendment right. It seems to apply only to their right to free speech and opinion. 
My opinions are wrong and need to be stifled until I agree with them. As far as they are concerned, the Constitution and Bill of Rights apply only in furtherance of their cause, and any part to the contrary is outdated and warped. 
I’ve learned to deal with this handicap over the years when it comes to a debate over government with liberals. First, I always ask, “And how do we change that?”
That usually befuddles the ones that are spouting the talking points. That question always pissed off an ex-girlfriend, forcing her to respond with “This is why nobody likes you” instead of a real answer. 
It’s not like I have a magic wand to fix the environment. That’s for making grilled cheese sandwiches.
The next trick is to proudly demand that they cite their sources. Many times, their sources are less then reputable. 
The issue of the environment provides a good example. 
There was a news report out that the environmental paper that won a Nobel Prize was looked at by college professors here in the U.S., and if a student had written it, he would have failed on most of the 45 chapters. They went on to say that most of the chapters’ references were nonscientific magazine and newspaper articles and internet sources. 
When an environmental organization was asked for comment, they said something along the lines of “Regardless, the environment is important.” I guess research and facts are irrelevant as long as the result is in line with your agenda.
But then again, I’m mean and hateful. And I like to club baby seals and spray Freon into the atmosphere. 
The final way I love to end an argument with an unwavering and personal-attacking liberal is the simple smile and nod. The smarter ones usually realize that I have given up on civil conversation, and the stupider ones think they have won, report that to the mother ship, and claim their prize for having converted another “free thinker.”  
Just be sure not to nod when being asked to protest. That’s just the worst.
So, free thinkers, when you are in a heated debate and informed that you are a <insert push-button topic here>ophobe, remember to ask your opponent how he proposes to make it better and to cite his sources, then politely smile and nod. Slowly pray that he hasn’t bred yet as you cash your check from Big Corn for slowly poisoning America.

Link to my article on "How to Debate a Liberal"