Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh Yea, The Real Reason Storms Get My Attention

Shrinks have had their theories on this, none of which help me cope with civilization. I'm at my very best, or have been in the past, when something like a hurricane hits.

I am good at preparing with minimal materials, and when the traffic lights go blowing down, streets are largely impassible, power is out, and all that, I am at my sharpest. Not sure why.

Maybe it is the leveling effect when everyone is having to work things out without the usual outside resources. It all gets down to the basics. The powerful and wealthy can't travel that road any more than anyone else. Problems that need solving arise, and I never felt so much energy as the last time I was in that circumstance. It puts most people into a sort of shock, but it makes me clear headed, energetic, and, I suppose, helpful.

After all, the City of Miami did give me a certificate of appreciation. I still don't know why. I have made up stories like how I saved babies who were drowning in the bay in the middle of the storm, and stuff like that. I was too busy to remember.

My car was blocked in by a downed tree which just barely touched the bumper, so I got on a bicycle and made my way around to deal with problems of friends and relatives. I guess I felt in control. In immediate storm aftermath the only rule is shoot looters and dump the body down the street. I soon had the tree out of the way, but I accomplished plenty on the bike. It was better than trying it by car for a day or two. Roads were bad. I got medicine for people, gave a cop the real story of what happened in a traffic dispute I witnessed. Cut a tree up so emergency vehicle could get through. Gave the national guard some 2 cycle gas mix, just a peddling fool back and forth.

So, for awhile, I lived by my wits and my rules, and had no confusion. As soon as things go back to normal, I am again less confident and far less enthused about my purpose and life on this planet. Too bad I can't see man-made societal structures and institutions as forces of nature like a storm, or as things that just are, like trees in the road--deal with it accordingly--but I can't seem to do it.

I wish I was up in Bobbyland or on the Outer Banks to help prepare, and help in the aftermath.

People with front loaders and stuff will show up from Georgia and all over. Many will be ripping people off, charging a fortune to remove a stump and doing bad work. People in aftershock feel compelled to say yes to the first charlatan who offers to fix something. I hope the storm people will be patient and resist the temptation.

The big ass storms take a long time to clean up. One place can take a month. You figure an acre full of tropical trees like mango, plus oak and all these other large tropical things I can't name, can be a hell of a task. Especially since you have the house in the way of any easy path. All that stuff gets cut into smaller stackable pieces and you make a ten foot high by hundred foot long stack at the road's edge. Maybe 15 feet deep. And you try not to wreck what survives of the sprinkler system while you are at it.

The saddest aftermath thing is to watch, like I did, a lady pull a perfectly good couch out the front door and hose it down and throw dirt on it, put it back in the house and break a window pane so she could get insurance money.

If a Hurricane Is Headed Your Way

Number one, do NOT hole up with a bunch of people and throw a drunken hurricane party. That only works when no one decides to drive drunk in the storm, climb a tree to experience the full ambiance of the occasion, or use fire as a means of illumination if the power goes out. It only works if you aren't getting that much of the brunt of the thing.

A powerful hurricane blowing through the 'hood is not reason for celebration. Being on top of things is, but not drunken celebration. Of course I have little tolerance for drunks anyway. Reminds me of dark days in the past, and I hate the flow of conversations and emotional dynamics.

The last thing you want if trees come through the roof or sticks break windows is to be in the middle of a bunch of drunks. If you've done your best to batten down the hatches, taken measures to secure the property, planned for power outage and possible flooding by having ample light sources, exit plans, easy food, plenty of water and all that, then just relax and slow your system down. You can't change it by constantly expecting some earth shattering info from the weather channel in the middle of the fray. They said the hurricane was here 30 secs ago, and it still is--look outside.

Don't expect light trailers, flower pots and anything with significant surface area to stay put on its own. Stow those things inside that will fit, and tie those other babies down. If you have trees that could go onto the house, depending on size and such you can tie them off to one another in order to influence the trajectory of their fall. I've done it and it works, but you have to think and look at it for awhile. It usually takes tying up high in one and down low in the other.

I can't stress the tying down of things like camper trailers enough. When Hurricane Andrew was about to hit southwest Miami I helped a guy tie a camper down. He was more in a hurry than I was and it was his so I did it his way. The early gales were blowing in and it started to work on me. I went back and tied it the way I thought would work--overkill in his mind. I finished when things were getting way to dicey to hang outdoors. Within the hour the first tree in their yard blew down. I was trying to sleep. My girlfriend comes in all aghast, "John, a tree blew down!!"
Did it come through the roof or in the house?
So, do you want me to go outside and put it back up? This is not a thing I need to know right now. By morning there will be more trees down.

By the time it was all over it was clearly evident that the only thing that kept that camper from blowing into the house were the extra lines I added. Do not think in terms of the least in such cases. You never regret over engineering such things.

Having experienced many major hurricanes growing up, and being responsible for major cleanup since age 9, and because I like to give advice, I thought I'd offer this public service announcement. It is certainly of more value than telling you that taking the stairs rather than the elevator burns more calories. Seriously, if you have to be told that you are probably a burden on society and everyone around you. Why would I want to prolong your life? Boy I am mean.

Oh, and do not assume government agencies will take care of you and that they are there to think for you. Use your own head and if the water is getting high, start figuring ways to get out of it. And for God's sake don't claim you wanted to evacuate but no one (meaning government agency) showed up to give you a ride. In other words, do the opposite of almost everything the press showed people doing during Hurricane Katrina.

Unless I lived in a really flimsy house, about the only reason I'd evacuate is if there was strong change of a serious storm surge which would put me under water. Or if I had a helicopter. If you do have a helicoptor and it is not parked in a very solid hangar, I suggest flying it out of there asap.

I'm hoping for the best for all areas in the path. Bizarre that I was just out there on that side view window of North Carolina, Ocracoke Island, and my buddy Joel was saying that the way they've built up some of the outer banks they are fried if the big one hits. So, there we are.

People will be in shock that three story stick houses on tiny islands in the Atlantic suffer greatly when hurricanes hit. They are shocked every time it happens, and it happens a lot. They'll probably come back with four story stick houses.

Once Upon a Time in Tallahassee

I went to FSU for two reasons; they accepted me by about Halloween of my senior year of high school and I was too lazy to jump through the hoops where I should have gone, and if I did not go right into college I would have no student deferment from the DRAFT (truly a dirty word in this context). Could have been 1 2 3 what are we fightin 4, don't know, don't give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam. Many of my friends and acquaintances went. Many got injured and a few never came back alive. I wasn't a protestor. For one thing I never hated the military just because they had short hair.

The period of time in question was the hippie era. Contrary to what you hear, the seeds may have been planted in the earlier 60's but it did not catch on big time until late 60's through early 70's.

No free country should have a draft, and no free country should enter a "limited police action" in which people can get hurt, go crazy, and lots of money is wasted. Thank you to all those who made Korea, Vietnam, Bosinia/Kosovo, Iraq, and all the others possible and a way of life. IDIOT BASTARDS.

If we conducted personal home security the way we conduct our "defense", people would be raiding other neighborhoods on the grounds that they are likely thieves and home invaders and if we wait they'll get strong and kick our ass.

Or we might go there because they just don't do things right and it isn't fair to their residents. Who knows

Sorry. This was supposed to be about a stout little Mr Potato Head of a man who was my first engineering professor. He covered the basics to get everyone up to speed on reading engineering drawings and drafting techniques; finding true angles and lengths from drawings of parts and such.

I think his name was E F Kumpe. Dr. Kumpe. Like most of my favorite teachers, he was so distant from pop culture or any thought of being cool, he had no clue what people were talking about if they made reference to even themost well known of things.

Dr Kumpe had a cheerful aspect but it wasn't like a smile in which he was smiling at anyone, but more just an expression of pleasure that most of mechanical engineering fits very neatly into Newtonian physics. He would get an extra twinkle in his eye after explaining something like the concept of a point in space. It is there but takes up no room.

The coolest thing he did--professors could smoke while teaching back then--was to take a huge, prolonged drag off of his Benson and Hedges 100 menthol cigarette, and never visibly exhale any smoke. He hit that thing like it was a big joint. His one drag would burn the cigarette halfway down. Then he'd commence to talking while using a wooden calipers that had chalk in both ends.

He'd walk that sucker all over the board which contained the plan in question, and with increasing rapidness saying, "this distance equals this distance, this distance equals this distance...", and pretty soon it just sounded like he was whistling--sss, ssss, sss, sss.

Oddly, what I learned form him was directly applied to a job I had later on. No one else in that place could find true angles and such on blueprints of exhaust systems for yachts. Well the prints showed the exhaust in the yacht.

The whole last half of this got lost due to connection issues. Here on ballistic mountain, it is no simple matter if you don't have satellite tv.

I'm not going to re-write it, but it was the best entry I've ever done and would have radically changed the world for the better, saving mankind at least 300 years of heartache, trial and error, uncertainty and over-use of helmets.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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