Friday, September 30, 2005

The Houston Press Blog of the Year

The Houston Press announced that Off The Kuff is the 2005 Blog of the Year. Chuck gave me lots of support and advice when, I was first starting. Congradulations Chuck.

Tom DeLay Indicted

Tom is now an official indicted co-conspiritor. I believe I'm one of the few conservatives that dislike Tom Delay. I find him is hypocritical and morally challanged. He defends the pork, and hasn't taken any lead in creating an honest goverment. As a Texan, as a Republican, as a leader I have always expected better.

However, I am not as pleased as some about the indictment. There has been no proof presented to us, by the very politically motivated prosecutor. A good prosecuter can get a ham sandwich indicted. Ronnie Earle has been out to get Tom DeLay and has been all too public about his personal dislike for the man. This sure smells political. The act of indicting Tom DeLay is a political victory, it trashes the man and robs the House of its effective majority leader. This looks to be a nasty can of worms, and its going to get worse as this thing develops.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Something Learned

I've learned a lot about a lot of things this week. I learned things about myself about emergencys, and even about the blogosphere. I shouldn't be surprised though. I was removed from my comfort zone and into a situation that I hadn't quite been through before, of course I learned some things. Some lessons in life are pretty hard sometimes things come pretty easy. I've been lucky these things were learned pretty painlessly.

  • I learned that a disastor plan is a good Idea. Equality and I have discussed a hurricane evacuation plan many times previously. We discussed the conditions we would leave and the timing.
  • I learned that a good plan is always subject to change. We always thought we would evacuate to Victoria or San Antonio. We went to Dayton instead.
  • I learned that what is most important is not always what cost most money. We left my computer and some very expencive collectables. Brought Honey ruok's cat and Coco, Equality's and mine. We brought photographs. and a radio. No hi-fidelity electronics. Lots of clothing, lots of food, and lots of water. We left with 2 cars.
  • I learned that local Goverments are more important than national or even international polititions. The local people are the ones that determine the day to day things that effect our lives and safety. FEMA didn't give us any guidance, Our County and City goverments provided the leadership. Governer Perry did provide some support, but it was secondary before and after the storm. On the evacuation routes it was local authorities who took action and provided shelter and water to those who were stranded. State and Federal support came afterwards and was much apreciated, but at the beggining and over a very large area it was the locals who were primarily in charge. Most of us - Bloggers in particular debate and pay lots of attention to what happens in Washington DC. Maybe we need to watch and support those who at hame just a little closer.
  • I learned the blogosphere has an amazing dynamic, Laurence Simon found my blog and started a chain reaction that caused my blog to get dozens of links, thousands of hits, and tons more attention than it would have normally have received. My blog recieved a new start last month and the search engines aren't as generous to me as they used to be. And I thought an Instalanche was huge.
  • I learned how lucky I was. So many folks had it much worse than I had it. One women had her elderly mother at the same hotel us. Her mother was on oxygen generation equipment that had a 15 hour battery supply. She was faced with the choice of staying at the hotel where we would lose our electricity or evacuting on a bus to Austin, no guarentee how long the bus ride would be. ( The local authorities came to her rescue and offered her a shelter with emergency generators) The hotel also had many Katrina evacuees who had no real home to go to after this storm.
  • I learned that almost everyone is a pretty good person. All the lines, and doing without, most people were still polite and kept up their good spirits. I heard some storys, but I never saw any meaness or unkind acts.

Maybe as a result of all of this I'm just a little bit smarter. I can use all the help I can get.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mary Mapes, Stuck on Stupid

It's been a year since the RatherGate story broke. I thought maybe Mary Mapes was perhaps just a little enthusiastic. or biased. It looks now as though she is just stuck on stupid. Rand Simburg lays it all out for us.

Rita Fallout

Blog Houston points out that Ken Hoffman finds a little irony.

And how come fuel trucks couldn't make it to Houston, but Tom DeLay and Sheila Jackson Lee had no problem getting here? The wrong bags of gas got through.

All in all I think our local leaders did pretty well. We need to go over what happened and ask some hard questions. Like "Who really should evacuate?" and "How do we handle the traffic of 3 Million people all leaving at once." I have to admit though I did feel a little bit of pride when Mayor Lyda Thomas got up and spoke to the national press , she represented us Galvestonians to the rest of the world.

Perry didn't hurt his image none once he got rid of the preppy look. I think that he might have been talking to Michael Dukakis, Dukakis' sweater became Perrys baseball hat.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gaining Normalcy

I left for work this morning a little late. I just needed the time to gather a few things and I wanted to be out at 7:00 to get some gas. Gas proved not to be a problem. The first gas station I passed was still closed. The next a Diamond Shamrock was busy but no waiting. I filled up took 5.8 Gallons that filled my 10 gallon tank I don't have to worry about gas for a couple of days. On the way to work I noticed about half the gas stations were open, with no real lines. My concern of not having gas was groundless. I got into work and found we had enough people to be functional. The first part of the day was putting everything in place from our earlier preps. Computers unwrapped and reinstalled and file draws put back in the cabinets. We found that we had no internet. We made calls to the cable company and they promised someone would be out within a couple of weeks. It turned out the real problem was a cheap switch that we use as an extender died. Replaced it and we were up and functional. I talked to some customers who didn't seem to realize that we were in the hurricane zone and had evacuated. Most were pretty understanding on why we might be a couple of days behind.

Charlie, my boss,who was in Massachusetts called again, he will be in tonight as scheduled, but he is coming to a home without electricity. The electric company says he will be without for 3 to 6 weeks. I don't know what he is going to do. I think he will be able to get a generator.

A few others of my coworkers are still without electricity, They are staying at friends, but have no idea when they will get power again. Its slow, but normalcy is coming. It doesn't creep up, but happens in steps. Electric is one of these steps.

Those folks to the east of us have even farther to go. This storm for us was really pretty minor compared to what those to the east are going through. I have met a lot of people from Port Arthur and Groves. I hope they are alright.

I consider blogging something I normally do for myself. It's a means of expression, I get to flesh out my thoughts and document things that I come across as I journey through life. The fact that it is a public forum normally is almost incidental. This week has been extraordinary. Friends and family have used this little forum to keep track of our progress. Some of the big boys have made noticed this humble little blog, Michelle Malkin noted us, CNN spoke of us, I've been contacted by a Houston Chronicle reporter, and by Sky News in England. Lots of other blogs have linked to me, I'm so appreciative and honored that anyone cares and takes the time to to read what I've had to say.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Home Sweet Home

We lost our power in Dayton early in the storm at around 9:00 PM. and were without it up until when we left at 10:00 AM this morning. The storm had not wound up to its peak yet, and I was blogless because my internet connection went down.
The Rita increased intensity all through the night, I don't know what the official wind speed was, but I have been through enough huricanes to recognise 80+ mph winds. We had hurricane force winds from about Midnite till around 10:oo am Saturday morning. When we eventually ventured out we saw some damage, but nothing widespread. Lots of broken branches, a couple of shattered storefront windows, a few torn up sheds and metal canopys. Although the whole town of Dayton was without power the damage was scattered and mostly minimal. A good sign. We listened to the reports as they came in Saturday. The first reports were of the three buildings that were on fire near the Strand. It was good news to us, because Galveston Fire Department was able to fight it. This meant to me that maybe the storm wasn't going to be as horrific as it might have been.

Reports later indicated that I was correct in being optimistic The Storm veared off to the East and we were on the cleaner side. Although Mayor Thomas banned people from coming into the Island, They did announce that they are opening it Sunday morning as 6:00 AM. We called our home and the answering machine dutifully answered. This meant we not only had a phone, but we had electricity in Galveston.

So we stuck it out all day Saturday with no electricty. It was hot, without the AC, but we had pleny of food and warm water. Our electronic marvels helped entertain us and kept us comfortable. A Grundig D cell powered radio kept us informed. A battery powered DVD player entertained us with a movie. My little batteryless windup flashlight guided our way through the dark after our traditional flashlights failed. The only comfort we were really missing was hot food and air conditioning. Last night was pretty uncomfortable.

The storm had kept us awake most of the night before so we were pretty tired. Last night we tried to sleep but it was very warm. We kept the door open a crack, but couldn't open it all the way because of the cat. We packed throughout the night for our trip home. We took our time in the morning packing up the car and left by 10:00 AM. We noticed on the way out some downed trees and electric lines. As we pulled into Baytown we saw electric on, some businesses opened even some gas stations opened. I checked in at the shop dropped off the backup drives and engineering computer. We started the last leg home. LaPorte, Seabrook and Texas City looked pretty good. I noticed that the tide was still a couple feet higher than a normal high tide but I didn't see any extensive damage. Just the occassional ripped out canopy and downed palm tree. As I pulled into Galveston I found the occasional dockside bait shop torn up, and a covered dock that was shredded, but all and all the damage wasn't widespread.

We got home and found very little damage. Ruok's back window on here Jeep was blown out, and some of the plants were pretty banged up. The only structual damage so far was a fence board that came loose, My fault I tied a plumeria to it for support.

Coco is glad to be home, and I've got a lot of cleanup to do. I'm feeling pretty good today about it. Even thogh we dodged the bullet on this one, I still will get out of town again if a Cat 5 looks like its aimed this way. I don't ever want to take chances with the full force of one of them.

Friday, September 23, 2005


We were just getting settled in for the storm, nice and quiet. Suddenly an obnoxious alarm goes off. Inside its beeping outside its honking. The fire alarm. Aww crap! I must have set it off with my cigar. No, I don't have one lit. We gather the cat, and the camera and step outside apparently its not me that set it off someone pulled a box, a bored kid probably.

It looks like we dodged the bullet on this one. Rita took a turn a little more to the right. It looks like she will make landfall near Sabine Pass at the Texas Louisiana border. Just two days ago I anticipated lose my house and every thing in it. Today I have hope that it will be undamaged.

The evacuation is not without cost. So far 29 people died evacuating. 24 died in a bus explosion when a brake fire was fueled by the oxygen the patients needed. Another 5 elderly died in Winnie from the stress caused by the very long hot drive. Our neighbor tells us her best friends mother was among the 5.

Mode Shift

Everyone seems to be pretty much where they will stay to ride out Rita. The roads are quiet, and its hunker down time. Earlier this morning we went into town. Nothing was open. The weather was nice with clear skys, It got warmer with patchy clouds, a little bit cooler than it had been for the last couple of days.

Its starting to rain now. Its a light rain that comes and goes. The wind is enough to cause leaves and scraps of paper to fly around. Its not all that unpleasant, but the seems to be deteriorating quickly.

There isn't much to do, watch for the storm, and watch TV. Every little nuance of Rita is all so important. So far things look good, If the storm stays to the East and doesn't do anything unexpected, my home will survive. For now we watch, we wait.

Coco doesnt seem impressed at all. I normally prefer pelican blogging, but this one time I'm going to join the cat blogging masses.

A Coincidence

Tropical Storm Allison was devastating, particularly in Houston. We did pretty well in Galveston. Rain drains pretty well off a sandbar. The Salvation Army made a call for bed linens. We had a pretty large bunch of extra linens and Equality dropped off a carfull of bedsheets and pillow cases. One particular set had an odd print. They had never been used, but was several years old none the less.

Equality noticed the sheets of one Katrina evacuee couple loading their car, it was the same pillow cases. She asked the couple about the sheets, and they confirmed the Salvation Army donated the sheets to them.

Its just nice to know that a donation was used and even appreciated by someone.

Good Rita Resource

"This blog is full of crap", is a good location to find information and storys about Rita.

The Calvary

It was pretty quiet this morning. US90 was just about empty. Some people were packing up to move to higher ground. Port Arthur is still projected as ground zero. The quiet was interupted by 5 buses and around 3 DPS cruisers. They were on their way to Beaumont and will return here, then to Austin. They offered a ride to anyone thats wants one. Some people are stranded because they have no gas, One woman was concerned about her mother who is on Oxygen, the equipment has 10-15 hours run time on batteries. They will be leaving.

Its a tough decision, but I think we will stay here and ride it out. Its all about flexibility, staying here gives us more options after the storm has passed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Captain Jim is OK

Captain Jim dropped a note to let us know he is OK, Only took him 21 Hours to drive 80 miles. We wish Him and New Dawn a safe return to normacy.

From Parking Lot to Vacant Lot

I don't know what happened. All last night, and all day today the traffic at US 90 here in Dayton was either completely stopped or crawling. They were at a complete stop for at least an hour at one point. We noticed about an hour ago that trafic was moving slow but steady. A few minutes later it wedas moving briskly, a few more minutes and the trafic was very light.

Something is either very wrong or hopefully very well. Maybe they just got the traffic moving and the queue has ended. Channel 2 is reporting that I-10 has improved tremendously. So maybe this is great news.

Over at BlogHouston Ann is giving kudus, to the authorities despite some of the problems.

There are estimates that more than 1 million people are trying to evacuate. It appears that some people are evacuating who really don't need to be -- they are in areas where they could ride out the storm relatively safely, if they have taken precautions (none of Harris County is under a mandatory evacuation order; residents in flood-prone areas have been asked to voluntarily evacuate). But some Houston city officials have gone on air begging people to get out and then late last night the storm track took a turn for a dead on hit at Galveston/Houston. Plus it was a Cat 5 at that time. It scared the hell out of many people (me included!) and many people probably decided at that time to get out.

AND we had the oh-so-recent Katrina disaster on our minds. How much of Houston/Harris County resources are either not here or have been depleted due to Katrina relief efforts?

Yeah, state officials probably should have opened the contraflow lanes earlier and maybe Houston should not have called for voluntary evacuations til later. But I think all these things piled on together to make this a very difficult situation for Galveston/Houston, where 1 million + people are trying to get out on evacuation routes that were not built to handle that volume of cars. City, county and state officials are trying so hard to save lives -- in direct contrast to NO and LA officials -- and I feel like I have to give them credit for that.

It looks like a lot of the Katrina evacuees here at the hotel have decided to be relocated to an evacuation center. apparently the Rita folks have decided to hunker down here.

The Mother of all Traffic Jams

The traffic everyone is experiancing yesterday and today is monumental, common travel times are 12 hours for 50 miles are reported as being pretty common. Cars are running out of gas, and engines are overheating. Cities and Countys have ordered mandatory evacuations. There doesn't seem to have been much concideration to the fact that the roads just can't handle an evacuation of this size. The photos here were taken outside my hotel. Most of the people in the traffic have been on the road for many hours, and still have 50 or more miles to go. These are about 20 hour trips with no gas available. Hmmm. Beaumont is calling for evacuations to Luftkin, the same place all these people are going.

A Trip to Baytown

I went to Baytown this morning took me about 25 minutes. The traffic going south was light but the traffic heading back to Dayton was terrible. 146 is a two lane road with shoulders. North bounders were using not only their lane and their shoulder but the south bound lane and shoulder too.It was a bit unnerving.

I got into the office and shut down our main server, grabbed the engineering computer and covered some files. I left to come back here via a different route. Basically my plan was to go to FM 1942 then head East on US 90. The only problem was that even though US 90 is a 4 laner it wasn't moving at all. So far I've used ao the Eastbout a half tank of gas, and I don't know when I'm going to be able to gas again. Well it's supposed to be an off-road vehicle. Today it was, at least for the last 3 miles.

It looks like Rita nudged its projected landfall to little more to the East. Tgis could be the needed break I have been looking for

Yikes ..

The new projected path is now predicted to make landfall at High Island. For all practicle purposes, this puts Galveston and even Dayton in the direct path. We aren't on the projected "dirty side", hopefully we won't get the full brunt of the tidal surge.

The traffic has been horrendous. Equality talked to a man who drove 10 hours from Texas City to Dayton this morning. His cat was sick, and he was coasting on fumes trying to get gas down the road. He's trying to get to his family in Livingston and doesn't know if he'll make it or have to stay in his car on the side of the road. I am supposed to go to Baytown this morning, Coming back will be an ordeal I don't look forward too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dayton Refugio

I went off to work this morning after a long night of packing, stashing and buttoning down. I drive a little Suzuki Sidekick. I packed up Coco and some food and bowls for her, a large suitcase with enough clothing to last the two of us for a week. Equality was to meet with me in Dayton later. Her car was packed to the gills, and she had ruok and Honey, her cat, as passengers.

I took Coco into the office with me and she spent the day in the conference room hiding in a bookcase. People came and visited her throughout the day, but she wasn't in a sociable mood. I spent the day battening down the hatches, putting plastic up, and elevating what we could. Some people showed up for a short while, only to leave for higher ground. The whole area was under evacuation orders. We had a small staff, and everyone including myself was gone by three. I packed up Coco and left for what is normally a 30 minute drive north to Dayton. It took 2 1/2 hours. The traffic crawled on the mostly 2 laned highway 146. Folks seemed to take it all in stride as we poked along. Most of them had farther to go then I. I let Coco out of her kennel and she sat in my lap most of the way.

When I got into our hotel we had to sneak the cat in as they have a no pets policy. Equality made sure that ruok and I had plenty of food, and we all find ourselves quite comfortable. Coco is settling in and finding the most comfortable locations.

Dayton isn't far enough to completely get away from Rita but it shouldn't hit here with full force, the hotel seems soundly constructed and we feel pretty safe. Tonite the weather is hot and the sky is clear. No indication of what the weather will be two days from now

The Evacuation

E-Day. Crunch time. Coco (the cat) and I are to head out in a couple of hours. Everyone I've talked to on the island is planning on heading out. Home are boarded and shuttered up. Its hard to believe that its only Wednesday and this storm isn't expected to reach us until early friday morning. So far Rita seems have its sights set on Port Lavaca about 100 miles to the Southwest of us. That puts us on the "dirty side" of her. They are predicting at 10 ft Surge tides, maybe more. Bad news ... My home is 9 1/2 ft above sea level.

Having second thoughts about going to Baytown. Equality and ruok will meet me this afternoon in Dayton, It will be a little dryer there.

I believe it there is a big difference between us on the Texas Gulf Coast and those in Lousianna, Our local government has been planning for this for many years. Preparation isn't going to save much property, but it is going to save lives and prevent some misery.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Packed and Ready to Go

Cleared the yard of things that can fly in the wind. My patio has always been another room to us so there was a lot of furniture and stuff to pack away. My yard has some metal furniture, I don't think the wind can catch it. I hope I'm right.

when I got up this morning Rita was a tropical storm, a little while later it was a real hurricane. A couple hours later it was a catagory 2 hurricane. A little while ago it changed to a catagory 3. Tommorrow it's expected to be a catagory 4, a very serious storm. All this is because of the magic of the Gulf of Mexico with water temperatures in the 90s.

Not looking real good for us folks on he Texas coast for Friday.

Getting Out of Dodge

It is time. Time to get out of town. Rita has been upgraded to a Huricane then to a Cat 2 all within a couple of hours. Its still at least 3 days away, but its now is the time to prepare. We are now buttoning down everything thats loose. Pool Chemicals and most of patio furniture inside, The plastic chaise lounge tossed into the pool. The Aramcos pulled closed. I always hated those things, today I'm grateful for them. Its a lot of work to do in just a couple of hours. Tomorrow I leave for work, The cat is coming with me. Equality follows in the afternoon with ruok and her cat. We will meet at a hotel in Baytown that will be our home for a couple of days. Hopefully Saturday we will come home feelling sheepish because Rita has bypassed Galveston.

This prep work reminds me how much this place, and the things that are within these walls, mean to me. More important though are the people, and safety of those meeting up with me in Baytown. When it comes right down to it we aren't taking much with us just water, clothing, kitty litter and food, amd some essential supplies. Just what will fit into the two cars.

1,000 miles and closing in.

Rita is still just a Tropical Storm and its 1000 miles or 5 days away. Last night folks in Galveston were lining up at gas stations to top off their tanks. Hotels are booked for a hundered miles. Yeah maybe we are overreacting. New Orleans is enough to scare the crap out us!

We booked a room and are ready to bail out by tommorrow. Its looking better this morning the projected land has shifted to theSouth East toward Matagora Bay. The projected landfall location for her is going to wander for a couple days. We will watch, We will run away when its time

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas has Seen the LIght

There were some lessons learned from New Orleans and the good people of Galveston said "Oh my God, That could be us!" There was no plan that I knew of to get folks off the island that can not drive. Since Katrina, though the city and county folks have tightned up a few loose ends in the evacuation plans. Wednesday the City plans on loading up the busses and getting people out of town to safety. It looks like Mayor Thomas isn't taking any chances, and is ready to take positive action:

"The City of Galveston has arranged for approximately 80 buses to help evacuate our citizens who depend upon public transportation," said Mayor Thomas.

The buses will leave from the community center in the 4700 block of Broadway and head to shelters in Huntsville.

Evacuees will be allowed to carry one suitcase and their pets on the buses, but the pets must be in carriers or crates. Pet owners should call 409-763-8477 if they need a cage or crate.

The mayor urges island residents on prescription medication or who are undergoing treatment to make advance preparations.

"I'm urging citizens to do the following: If you are on medication, please call your physician and ask for a 3-month supply...; you may also ask for your treatment plan if you're on chemotherapy, dialysis, any of those kinds of consistent treatments; please take your valuables, any deeds to your properties, any insurance information...," said Mayor Thomas.

The number to call for more information on the evacuation is 409-797-3710. Anyone who needs to ride a bus, should call that number to alert the city.

The latest tracking map has Freeport as the most likely spot for landfall around 7 a.m. Saturday.

Paul said Rita could become "a Category 3 or better, winds of 111 miles an hour or better" as it moves over the warm Gulf waters.

Now I don't know where they are planning putting all these people in Huntsville, but the town is best known for all its prisons. Folks are encouraged to take their pets with them.
Update: Changed the number in the quote. It looks like a typo from KHOU

Rita Sets a Heading Toward Galveston

Rita is still only a tropical storm and she is still several days away. itLooks like its drawing a bead real close to us here in Galveston You can bet we are going to be watching this one real close. These days we are all a little more nervous about these things than normal.

For now we will watch the keys, it probably won't gather much strength before then. We hope they escape the wrath and fury we know they can bring. Expect more hurricane blogging for the next couple of days.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Attention Tom DeLay

Tom we know you can't see the lard for all the pork, so Glenn Reynolds found some fat that can be trimmed.

The Mayor and Admiral Disagree

Nagin is telling the folks in the French Quarter and in the Garden District to come on home. While Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen isn't so sure that this is a good idea.

Mayor Ray Nagin defended his plan to return up to 180,000 people to the city within a week and a half despite concerns about the short supply of drinking water and heavily polluted floodwaters.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, head of the federal disaster relief effort, said Saturday that Nagin's idea is both "extremely ambitious and "extremely problematic."

I understand that they both have different opinions because they both have different motivations and perspectives.

Admiral Allen wants to get his work done quickly and efficiently and get out of there as soon as he can. As folks move in, priority's change and those areas with people in it will change the priority's. Folks needing electric and water, or health services could take priority over clearing the and cleaning up the most devastated parts of the city. Disease outbreaks could change the whole focus of the recovery operation.

Mayor Nagin wants his city back. New Orleans, is out of money and it is incapable of generating more. The Federal government is pumping lits of money into the city, and will probably bail out the city government, but he needs cash flow now. Without people in his city, he won't be able to justify funds to run a city with no people. Not only that, he needs to pull off having an election in November. This not only involves having voters, but the poll workers and personal. The most important thing that Nagin understands is that he needs people to do the real clean up and construction that is required. Before anyone can even start rebuilding there needs to be food water and gasoline. The small businesses that supply the basic needs is the basic corner stone to recovery. They need to feed and supply a workforce. Nagin needs to get small businesses in the French Market/Quarter and the Garden District up and running as soon as possible.

What seems to be happening though, is that there is no communications between the Nagin and Allen. A meeting is planned for Monday. I would think Nagin could have waited until after the meeting before announcing the repopulation.

Allen, who planned to meet with Nagin on Monday, said federal officials support the mayor's vision for repopulating the city, but he is concerned about the mayor's timeline. "Our intention is to work with the mayor ... in a very frank, open and unvarnished manner," he said.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Geeky Software Notes.

Software has been a big topic here. Lots seems to be going on.

Forté Agent 3.0 just came out, and its just been followed up with 3.1. I have been a beta tester for Agent, and I like it. The next step will be 3.2 and it is supposed to have multi-pop capabilities. The multi-server news capability is a long awaited feature and I'm glad its now available. I think its too late to salvage the email part of Agent its just too far behind. The biggest lacking is in contact management or address book.

Today an address book is more than just a list of names, but consist of work and home addresses, several email address' Home phone, work phone, cell phone and pager. Sometimes even a spouses name. One program that does this well despite all the other problems associated with it is Outlook. The newcomer on the block is Thunderbird. It has great spam blocking capabilities, A real nice Contact and Address book. The nice thing is that data can be imported from MSoft Outlook. This is completely free no strings attached software. Although I'm using mostly Gmail and Agent for mail home computer. I've switched at work and Equality is happy with Thunderbird on her laptop. It also has about the best RSS reader I've used, and an adequatet news reader. The RSS reader is as good if not better than any of the other free dedicated RSS aggrigators that I've used.

There has been lots of chatter and exitement in the blogosphere about a program called Flock The only problem is that the program doesn't exist, its not even in beta yet. Never the less, there is lots of enthusiasm for this yet to exist software. Its called "social" browsing. New Scientist explains:

A “social” web browser has been created to meet the needs of a new generation of web users who want to edit, comment on and share web content, rather than just peruse it.

With the underlying capabilities of a basic web browser like Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Mozilla's Firefox, the new browser, called Flock – after the buzz it hopes to create – adds features specifically designed to make writing, editing, sharing and displaying web content faster and easier.

“The problem is that the web browser has remained fairly stable over the last 10 years, but the web has changed quite a bit,” says its creator, Silicon Valley-based Bart Decrem, who left the Mozilla Foundation to build Flock. “It has gone from a collection of static documents into something that has a largely social dimension to it.”

By seamlessly integrating tools for blogging, photo blogging and shared bookmarks into the browser, he hopes Flock will be the first browser to meet the needs of the next generation of collaborative, social web users, which currently number over 10 million and call themselves “Web 2.0”.

Sounds like this has the capabilty of putting web design and blogging in the hands of anyone with webspace. I didn't think anything could be easier than Blogger.

I've written about softWIRE before. A neat free programming aid for C# & Visual Basic .NET, It is a quick and dirty way to program applications. I've been using version 5.1 and have created some real nice Applications with just a couple of hours investment. Softwire is now selling a version 6.0 for an introductory price of $499 soon to be $995. The new version offers more waveform analysis, but little more that I can see. Although their website doesn't advertise the free version anymore, It is still available on their FTP site as DAQ Software CD.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

When Republicans become Democrats

In 1994 A Newt Gingrich/Tom DeLay designed overthrow converted the House of Representatives from a Democratic controlled house into a Republican controlled house. The promise we voters were given was the "Contract with America". 11 years later it's pretty hard to tell the difference between a Republican controlled House todaye and the Democrat controlled house of today.

Tom DeLay seems pretty satified with budget, all the pork, laden packages including bridges to no where, that the Alaskan people don't want. Yet ole Tom claims that there isn't anything to cut? Looks to me that Tom isn't seeing too clearly these days.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget. Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem Possible. "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing. Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

Perhaps Tom has been in Washington just a little to long, He can't see the lard for the pork.

Update: Via KGB Report Bloggedy Gook has a good posting on Congressman DeLays inability to find any fat to trim.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Some Thoughts about Rebuilding

New Orleans has a long road to find normalcy. The timeline seems irrationally long weeks, months, years, maybe never. Yes, some have even proposed just giving up on New Orleans and bulldozing it into a toxic waste dump. Some of the people that have come here to Texas have already found jobs, permanent housing and expressed intentions of staying. Others have shown impatience and want to go back now. The biggest obstacle to rebuilding is going to be is where are you going to put the people, to do the massive rebuilding. Although the infrastructure seems to be coming on line quickly, roads are being drained and cleared, and electricity is coming on yet, water and sewage may be the most important services, and are unlikely to come on quickly. The oil and chemical industry is crippled not because they are damaged, but because there is no one around to run them. Getting workers to rebuild without a place to live is going to involve strategy similar to musical chairs. Homes have to be available, to get work done so that more folks can be brought in.

The first real crisis that no one has addressed yet is coming in November. How are they going to have elections? Absentee ballots I suppose, perhaps absentee candidates. New Orleans voters are scattered all over the country, one has to be concerned that the voters will be uninformed about the issues and the candidates. The voters didn’t do such a wonderful job when they had local access to the candidates. To those who plan on returning, this could be the most important election of their lives. The people of New Orleans now must realize just how important local leadership is, and its now about to become even more important as a new city is built. They are going to live with decisions good and bad for many years.

The Toledo Blade has an article on some of the options for New Orleans:

The city’s rebuilding would take place in stages as well, with the most intact areas scheduled for protection and refurbishment first. The worst areas would be last on the list, but reconstruction could only begin after the neighborhoods were raised above sea level.“Let’s do what they did in Galveston: bring sediment in, and fill these areas in. Take areas that are minus 10 [below sea level] and make them plus 10.“Let’s say we could raise 10 square miles back to plus 10, with good soils, uncontaminated soils. This would be a huge area for brand new sewer, power, underground lines, with homes raised a little above the ground, and industrial parks. You have this blank slate.’’Leonard Bahr is the director of the Applied Coastal Science Program for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. He suggests two other sources of fill for New Orleans’ lowland: the rubble from demolished buildings and mud from rivers elsewhere.

Ideas like this are not only going to take a lot of money, but a lot of will. The local government hasn’t shown us much confidence in its ability to lead and manage the massive amount of money and resources needed.

A Hero Named John.

A riveting story as John logs his adventure:
My name is John and I live in Central Texas. I have served in three different military components totaling 25 years of service and I am recording this story for posterity. All opinions are the author's and if you disagree with them, that's really too bad.
This is a man who packs up his duece and a half going where others are leaving. His incidents with shooters and Gangsta's are very telling about whats happened there.

Innocence of Youth

Just thinking outloud.

I haven't been paying much attention to local MSM non-Katrina stuff lately. On my sidebar there is a summary of headlines, from Channel 13 an ABC affiliate. I noticed all grouped together these 4 articles:

Is it coincidence, or are our morals all going to hell. Perhaps the MSM is just reporting these stories more. None of these stories are getting much attention. We are all focused on Katrina, and its aftermath. These stories, I guess, are small potatoes. Still when we talk of human failures and responsibilities. Where are the human failures at there worst? These stories, or in the Katrina fallout? In the Katrina story we can put some blame on the forces of nature of which mankind has no control.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Religious Persecution in China

Rhymes with Right blogs about some outragous actions in China.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cruise Ship Shelter Plan Abandoned

A plan to shelter Louisiana evacuees on the Carnival cruise ships has been cancelled. It was a great plan. Housing for 4000 people. Lots of public transportation real close to UTMB, and lots of recreational facilitiies on and off the ships. The only problem is the the folks don't want to go.

Some Carnival Corp. representatives this week traveled to Houston shelters in an attempt to answer questions evacuees had about taking refuge in the ships.

Federal officials say they never expected such resistance.

But some shelter residents, traumatized by the destruction they saw in New Orleans, said they feared being near water again. Others, who the storm separated from family, said they were reluctant to leave Houston shelters until they reconnected with relatives. Some said they didn’t want their lives uprooted again.

“I think they wanted to know about the ships and what it’s like,” said Tim Gallagher, a Carnival spokesman. “It was becoming apparent that some of them were not familiar with cruise ships.

“With everything they had been through, the unknown perhaps was a little daunting.”
I really don't understand their reluctance, seems a way of making the best out of a bad situation. Doesn't matter, its not up to me to understand.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Polarization of Katrina

The blame game has begun, and there is plenty enough blame to go around. There were shortfalls at all levels. In a way there has to be short comings. Any reaction so massive and unprecidented is going to have its glitches. At the national level there were shortcomings. Its important we learn what went wrong, This is how we learn and modify our plans to make them better. Glenn Reynolds notes:

Make critical infrastructure survivable: I think that one of the key failures was the collapse of the New Orleans Police Department's radio system. Here's the story on why:

Tusa said the police department’s citywide 800 MHz radio system functioned well during and immediately after the hurricane hit New Orleans, but since then natural gas service to the prime downtown transmitter site was disrupted and the generator was out. Transmitter sites for the police radio system “are also underwater with the rising water and [are] now disabled,” Tusa said.

Owners of the sites that housed police radio transmitters would not allow installation of liquefied petroleum gas tanks as a backup to piped gas, meaning generators did not have any fuel when the main lines were cut, Tusa said.

Radio repair technicians attempting to enter the city were turned away by the state police, even though they had letters from the city police authorizing their access, Tusa said.

This is absurd, and I'm pretty sure it's the major factor leading to the disintegration of the New Orleans Police Department.

What makes me uncomfortable with this, is that The 800Mhz trunk systems in this area are just as vulnerable in the same way. The trunk systems are are a centraly controlled system the central radio system is what allocates channels and bandwith when the central system goes down Mobile to Mobile systems won't work. I believe that all municipalities are going to look at their comunications and harden them with redundansies and alternate power sources.

Although the Feds had some failings I tend to agree that its not all GW's fault and there is nothing to be gained by going after his head. Ben Stein has more to say about this.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

OK, So I won't call them Refugees

I always thought a refugee was a fleeing person who was seeking safety, or refuge if you will. Seem as though some folks took exception to my calling evacuees "refugees". Folks were claiming "They are Americans, not refugees." Of course they're Americans, but "They are fleeing to safety weren't they?" I wasn't implying they weren't Americans, or suggesting anything demeaning was I? Well, according to Mirriam-Webster, there is an implication of national border crossing.

Main Entry: ref·u·gee
Pronunciation: "re-fyu-'jE, 're-fyu-"
Function: noun
Etymology: French réfugié, past participle of (se) réfugier to take refuge, from Latin refugium
: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution
So there is an element of national border crossing in the word. I think this might be a reletively recent intonation of the word. My apololgys to those I've offended, on or offline. It seemed a good word to describe their plight.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Valuable Information for Refugees into Texas

I found this at the Jarbo Bayou Times

Do you know anyone in Texas as an evacuee from any of the three states Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama? If so, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services will give them 2 months of Food Stamps with no questions asked. All they need to show is a drivers license. This agency will also give you information and locations where they can receive FREE GAS. Also, if you are housing anyone from one of these states you can call FEMA at (800) 621-3362 file a claim and receive assistance for your help. This is valid information directly from TDHHS. Find a location near you
Not only is there help for those for evacuating, but also for those who are helping the evacuees

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New Orleans' Cops Stop Gunmen

New Orleans cops shot and killed at least 5 gunmen who were firing on contractors who were en route to make repairs at the 17th street levee.

Police shot and killed at least five people Sunday after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors traveling across a bridge on their way to make repairs, authorities said.

Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said police shot at eight people carrying guns, killing five or six. Fourteen contractors were traveling across the Danziger Bridge under police escort when they came under fire, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

They were on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to help plug the breach in the 17th Street Canal, Hall said.
None of the contractors was killed, Hall said. The bridge spans a canal connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

No other details were immediately available.

This is not how the story was originally reported. The AP was the sourse of some very incorrect information. Congradulations to the NO police for the trash cleanup

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Galveston To Take More Refugees

Many of the earlier evacueees came to Galveston. Lots of rooms were available, some at reasonable prices. Others at some pretty nice digs. Carnival has leased three of its ships to FEMA, The Ecstasy, the Sensation and the Holiday. The Ectasy cruises out of Galveston, the Sensation from New Orleans, and Holiday is out from Mobile Alabama. The Sensation and Ecstasy will be berthed in Galveston with about 5000 refugees. I am sure the ships and guest will be made to feel very welcome in our town.

Three Carnival Cruise Lines ships have been pressed into service by the government to provide shelter for as many as 7,000 hurricane victims.

The Ecstasy, the Sensation and the Holiday will be pulled from regular use starting Monday at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The cost of the charters was not disclosed.

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said Saturday from Miami, where the company is based, that pleasure cruises were canceled to make the ships available for the next six months.

"I can't put a number on it, but we are displacing people to accommodate the FEMA charter," he said. "You're looking at tens of thousands."

Ecstasy, normally ported at Galveston for four-and five-day cruises, and Sensation, normally in New Orleans for similar trips, will both be pulled Monday and are scheduled to dock and house Katrina refugees in Galveston, Texas.

The Holiday, which normally sails four and five-day Mexico cruises out of Mobile, Ala., will be pulled Thursday and likely docked in Mobile.

About 920 crew members will staff the Ecstasy and Sensation, with about 660 running the Holiday. The Ecstasy and Sensation can each take 2,606 total passengers, while the Holiday can hold 1,800.

"We sincerely apologize to those guests whose vacations have been impacted by these voyage cancellations," Carnival's chief executive, Bob Dickinson, said in a statement. "This inconvenience... will provide desperately needed housing for thousands of individuals affected by this tragedy."

A FEMA spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Saturday.

All Carnival customers with canceled bookings will get full refunds and the opportunity to re-book on any Carnival ship with a $100-per-person shipboard credit.

I hope to get pictures when the ships fill up. I believe the boats are at dock now and are just waiting for new passangers

Houston Proud

Houston always seems to have an inferiority complex. Its just that it is the Nations 4th Largest City, and many of the folks there have always felt they just don't get the respect they deserve. A major Web Site to promote the City is Houston It's Worth It HIWI is a tongue in cheek expression of why its good to live in Houston. There is pride though, and the city can come together and do things well. Houston should be proud today, they came through when they were needed, they are organised, and people are getting taken care of. Banjo Jones has more

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Who's in Charge?

Lawlessness and anarchy in New Orleans. Who's responcible. The leadership in New Orleans is impotent, and no one apears in charge. There is no excuse for not getting food and water into the city and into the refuge centers. People are pulled off the roofs and wandering in, yet ther is no food, no water for them. Where was the National Guard Tuesday and Wedensday? They are only starting arrive today.
"Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses," Nagin said in a statement.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.

"You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people," he added. "You can go overseas with the military, but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.

"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said. "They're telling us they're going to come get us one day, and then they don't show up."

It doesn't sound to as though that those supposedly in charge have ever heard of the Incident Command System Fortunatly the situation at the Astrodome seems organised and structured. So far all seems well run.