Sunday, August 31, 2008

Everything Got to Ride

The wind is stirring ever so gently, so far. I have three cats. One goes a bit bonkers whenever a storm threatens. I brought him in early this afternoon. He is almost climbing the walls wanting to go outside. Every time I get up, he runs to the door.

I was checking on the latest and saw this at the Sunherald:

South Mississippi residents continue to evacuate and seek shelter from Hurricane Gustav on Sunday night. CTA reported 440 people, three cats, one dog and two parakeets were evacuated on school buses to Jackson

Going to try to catch some sleep. It looks like Gustav has sped up and will be making landfall sometime in the morning. It looks bad for Louisiana and New Orleans.

Gustav: Making His Presence Known

The wind started picking up about 30-45 minutes ago. A squall came through about 15 minutes ago.

It has quieted down.

Bad, Bad, News: I-10 eastbound to Mobile closed

MDOT: I-10 eastbound to Mobile closed

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced that hurricane evacuees will be unable to enter Alabama on I-10 eastbound due to major delays from the Biloxi-Ocean Springs area to the Mobile Tunnel. Drivers will be diverted north on Mississippi 63 at exit 69.

Click on the Mississippi Department of Transportation web-site for traffic updates.

Hurricane Gustav: My Update

Co-workers, bosses, and I finished evacuating all equipment and files. Mississippians are taking Gustav's threat seriously. It may well be that we only receive a glancing blow but after Hurricane Katrina, no one takes anything for granted. Businesses are taking necessary steps. The local and state governments are doing what needs to be done and making sure those most vulnerable to threats from wind or storm surge are being evacuated. Boats were being moved to safer harbor. Yesterday, it was mostly pleasure craft. Today, the shrimp boats were on the move.

Shrimp boats on Biloxi's Back Bay heading for safety.

Some were already moored along the intercoastal seaway.

More and more National Guard are being seen on the streets. They were busy yesterday in towns such as Pearlington, Biloxi, Gulfport, and other coastal cities. They went door-to-door informing those in FEMA trailers and Katrina cottages that they had to evacuate.

Click here for information on Harrison County evacuation zones and other information.

Update: For those seeking more information about shelters, transportation, and special needs,click here for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency .


My Shrapnel is hosting Hello and Welcome- Haveil Havalim 180

My Hurricane Worry Release

I can always count on Cute Overload to put a smile on my face. Today is no exception.

I can't even get my cats to keep their food in the bowl!

Gustav: Mississippi-Warnings and Evacuations

It's almost 6:00am. My weather radio just went off and it was what we on the coast have been expecting since this past Wednesday: We're under a hurricane warning.

What is odd about the warnings is they extend east out of the cone of uncertainty.

I had to work yesterday. There's still more to do, so I'll be going in today as well. My son has been doing a lot of the preparations around the house. The only thing left is to pick-up stuff around the yard that can become airborne.

Though the tracking models show a predicted landfall in Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, local officials in Mississippi are taking no chances.

Harrison County(where I live), has ordered a mandatory evacuation for those living in Zones A & B. This link provides maps for Zones A, B, & C.

I'm concerned about the timing of the evacuation orders. At 4:30am, contra-flow plans were instituted for those evacuating New Orleans. I-55 and I-59 in Mississippi will only allow traffic going north. The south lanes will be used for going north.

Harrison County is also opening shelters today.

For those who do not have transportation, the Coast Transit Authority has pick-up points to staging areas. For those who cannot make it to one of the staging areas, for Harrison County, call 228-896-8080. Jackson County residents can call 228-769-3111 and Hancock County residents can call 228-466-8201.

The casinos will be closing at 7:00am.

Hurricane Katrina taught Mississippi many lessons. Even before the official warnings, steps have been executed this past week . One was making sure all the containers at the Port of Gulfport were brought inland. If the worst does come to pass, there will not be the specter of tons of rotting chicken and pork in Gulfport neighborhoods. Those containers will not slam into homes.

Many homes and businesses were boarded up days ago. Fear is a great motivator. That cone of uncertainty may shift further east as the day wears on. We in Mississippi are not taking any chances.

The Humane Society is offering to board pets fort hose evacuating.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Hurricane Gustav: Mississippi's Prudent Move

Some might say it's a bunch a hype but Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is taking no chances. A mandatory evacuation will go into effect Saturday Hancock and Harrison counties for those in FEMA trailers. This order also applies to those in Katrina cottages which are in flood zones. I drove along Highway 90 on my way home from work, some homes and businesses have already been boarded up. This being the 3rd anniversary of Katrina, we know full well what a hurricane can do.

The fore cast track for Hurricane Gustav is to land close to Vermillion Bay in Louisiana. This is to the west of New Orleans. Gustav is still days away. Some people I know that live in New Orleans are not waiting for mandatory evacuation orders. That is good news. Gustav's track can change. The cone of probability stretches from the Florida panhandle to Texas.

Hurricane Katrina: Mississippi 3 Years Later

Much has changed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I've become resigned to the fact that when Hurricane Katrina is mentioned, it will be as New Orleans and the "Gulf Coast" and Mississippi will not be mentioned. It still bugs me because we have been through so much.

Rebuilding is progressing at an amazing pace. There are still areas many which look as nothing has been done. There are some who when visiting for the first time have the impression that not much has been done. They see it without the knowledge what it looked like after the massive storm surge and winds of Katrina receded, They did not see the utter destruction nor the massive clean-up.

I see streets being rebuilt one house at a time.

Hancock County took the full-force of Katrina and is the slowest in rebuilding. Jackson County had the least damage and is almost fully recovered.

I live in Gulfport located in Harrison County. The further west you go, the slower the recovery. Towns such as Pass Christian and Long Beach are rebuilding but there still much to be done. Biloxi's Point Cadet, on the eastern tip, hasn't seen much rebuilding.

Map from Wikipedia

We've done a lot to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers have helped and stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we pulled down mold infested sheet rock. As a community that stretches 66 miles from Lakeshore Mississippi in Hancock County to Moss Point in Jackson County, we stood together and vowed we would rebuild, better and stronger: together. And we are keeping that vow..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gustav: Deja Vu

I'm experiencing an extreme case of deja vu. Three years I went through the preparations I'm doing now. Staying late at work to make sure there are sufficient backups. Getting my home ready. Last minute run to the store for pet food and cleaning supplies.

Coming home, I see the gas stations with the long lines. The stores are jammed pack and oddly enough the item that is running out first is pop tarts. You can't beat them for a quick breakfast when you're without electricity.

In the next few days, depending on the latest fore cast tracks of Gustav, traffic on the interstate will increase with those evacuating from Mobile, AL, New Orleans, and from the coastal areas of Mississippi. Highway 49 will have traffic backed up for miles.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and if some of the fore cast models prove accurate, Monday we could be facing a storm as damaging as Katrina. That is hard to imagine.

Another thing, even though Katrina's anniversary is on a Friday, she hit on a Monday.

Gustav: Controlled Panic

There is a controlled panic along the Mississippi Gulf Coast today. Small wonder, that little track takes it into my hometown. Gustav maybe 5 days away but tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We are getting ready. Our public officials are getting the word out and as Gustav gets closer and it becomes more apparent that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still under the cone of being hit, MEMA(Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) has plans in place to evacuate those left in FEMA trailer parks and those who do not have transportation. We'll get a recorded message from Governor Haley Barbour alerting us to be aware. Local officials will open shelters and the call for evacuations will be given in a timely manner. In short, the people of Mississippi and its officials are prepared if Gustav comes knocking on Labor Day. It doesn't help matters when I read things like this.

Gustav was weakened when it it Haiti. Five people lost their lives. Mississippi is and will be preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Meeting the New Rabbi

I like our new rabbi. He is a good fit for our community. Rabbi Ira Flax has a booming voice and led us with a great deal of gusto. He was the rabbi for my congregation in the mid 80's, so he knows our needs.

Being Prepared-Gustav

Gustav, now a tropical storm, is days away. Mississippi Emergency Management officials began urging Mississippi coastal residents to prepare as though Gustav is a Cat 3 heading directly to us. This is very good advice.
some of the items you need to have on hand:

Review your hurricane plan, including your evacuation plan.
• Make sure you have family emergency contact numbers and emergency supply kit essentials.
• Review coverage provided in all insurance policies; make sure all insurance paperwork is included with documents for evacuation or stored out of harm's way.
• Prepare your home for a storm.
• Make sure you know how to shut off your gas, electricity and water. Hurricane kit
The following is a list of hurricane supplies you might need for the storm:
• Non-perishable food
• Drinking water
• Medications
• Battery powered radio and/or TV
• Flashlights or lanterns
• Extra batteries
• Manual can opener
• Disposable plates, cups and utensils

There are many other items on that list. Click here for the full list. There are some things that I recommend that aren't on the list:

Mousse-It keeps insects out of your hair

Plastic grocery bags-There are many uses for these. Don't throw them away.

Bleach-A few drops can make suspect water(in a gallon jug) okay to drink. It also is essential for disinfecting while trying to maintain a clean without running water and electricity.

Clothes line or twine- You may find yourself having to wash clothes by hand(9 days!!!)


Propane grill or camp stove-Much better than charcoal grills. You don't need to store bags upon bags of charcoal

Pet food

There are other things you should be doing now as well. Cleaning out your refrigerator and freezer that may not be past expiration dates. Time it so that it is done when garbage is scheduled to picked up next day. If your power goes out for days, these items will be the first to spoil and if there isn't garbage pickup, you will have a bigger mess to deal with.

Keep your laundry up to date. Scrub your bathtub. The bathtubs need to be filled with water once it appears very likely your area will be hit. This water can be used for pets, yourself(see bleach), flushing the toilet, and other purposes.

Once you are under a hurricane warning, items in your yard need to be secured. Shutters, plywood, etc. need to be placed on windows. If you in an evacuation zone, EVACUATE! Do not be lured by the seductive fallacy that if your home/street didn't flood during a previous hurricane, it won't flood during this one.

Many of us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are going through a controlled panic. Quietly, yesterday, we began filling up our cars and trucks. Some businesses have already started moving frozen inventory to cold storage faclities in Hattiesburg and Jackson.

In other words, many are fearful of what is in the Caribbean and might be paying us a visit Sunday or Monday. But the fear is not paralyzing us. We are getting the job done to protect ourselves.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cocktail Hour

... for animals:

Hurricane Gustav: Yikes!

I don't like the day tracking nor the computer models on this one.

Blowing in the Wind

I saw this photo by AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD and wrote an email for the Sound Off section:

On your web-site, I saw pictures of Highway 90 covered in sand. After Hurricane Katrina, the seawall steps were once again exposed and you had to go down 5 or more steps to reach the beach. Since the beach has been replenished, there are only two steps necessary to gain to access to the beach. To me, it would seem this contributes to all the sand blowing around on Highway 90 now. It also reduces the elevation and negates protection from the seawall.

I doubt if this one will be published. It is the third one I've written concerning the seawall and how the beach was replenished. I question the wisdom of reducing by 4 or more feet the protection the seawall offers. I also had questions if this contributed in any way to the severe flooding from Hurricane Katrina's storm surge along the beach front. The seawall is 26 miles long and is supposed to protect cities from Biloxi to Pass Christian. When my family first moved down here in 1969, you had to go down 6 steps, which is about 6 feet to gain access to the beach.

In the years since then, during beach replenishment, the sand was brought in and it only took two steps to gain access to the beach. It makes the beach more accessible to tourists and locals but I think it destroyed the purpose of the seawall. I cannot help but wonder if damage from Katrina's surge would have been less severe to some homes if there had been just 4 more feet of protection the seawall once offered.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Loving Us to Death

I've been trying to write this post for awhile. Many thoughts run through my head. There is the lies such tactics are based on. There is the inherent deception involved. They are literally trying to love Jews to death. They do not even really understand that the message they preach is not based on the words of the most famous Jew in the world, Jesus, but rather on Paul.

The message of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, burying the dead, etc are all basic tenets of the Jewish faith.

They lie in so many other ways. If their message is to be one of their supposed truth, why do they have to lie and employ deception? Why are the churches of such liars and deceivers made to look like synagogues and why are the rituals during services disguised as Jewish? If the message is one of truth, why all the lies?

With this realization, these highly motivated missionaries developed an entirely new and remarkably simple approach to Jewish evangelism. It goes like this, "When you're becoming a believer in Jesus, you are not converting to another religion. On the contrary, you're becoming a 'fulfilled Jew' or a 'completed Jew.' After all, Jesus was a Jew and his followers were Jewish; therefore, believing in Jesus must be the most Jewish thing you can do."

Messianic "synagogues" do not observe Christian holidays. You will never find a Christmas tree or blinking colored lights around December in a Messianic congregation. Instead, these missionaries celebrate Jewish holidays with a "Christological" spin. Throughout the world, Messianic congregations hold elaborate and well-publicized Passover Seders.


At first glance, a Messianic Seder table appears quite traditional, with all of the customary essentials: Seder plate, matzah, and wine. Once the ceremony begins to unfold, however, even the most uninitiated will immediately realize that something is askew. Participants are told that the wine at the Seder table represents the blood of Yeshua/Jesus, and the matzah represents his body. Do you know the real reason why Jews have three matzoth at the Seder table? To represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Do you know why the matzahs are perforated? Because Jesus was pierced through when he was crucified. Why does the matzah have stripes? Because Jesus had stripes across his back as a result of the beating he endured during his trial. Why is the middle matzah broken? Because Jesus was brutally broken on the cross. Why is the matzah wrapped in a white towel? Because Jesus was wrapped in a white burial shroud. Why is this middle matzah hidden? Because Jesus was hidden away in the tomb following his crucifixion. Why is the matzah brought back at the end of the meal? Because Jesus will return in the Second Coming at the End of Days.

This is why I was so upset about Ann Coulter and her message about being a "perfected Jew". The actions of groups like Jews for Jesus and many Evangelicals are some the most abhorrent forms of anti-Semitism. It shows an utter contempt for us and does not entail a love for fellow human beings. It is a show of desperation that these people have to lie and deceive in order to get their message of "love" across. These Jews for Jesus and other Christian groups trying to pretend they are Jews in order to ensnare Jews are pathetic and are no better than snake oil salesmen.

Torah Atlanta has many great resources on how the Tanakh has been distorted. Jews for Judaism is another great resource.

All I can think is that groups like Jews for Jesus have a real identity crisis, otherwise why would they need to practice deception. They are desperately trying to love us to death.


Haveil Havalim-179

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Benefits of Fay

I have been enjoying the benefits of Tropical Storm(now depression) Fay all day. The windows have been open and the air conditioner off. It has been a pleasant 72F and the breeze, with occasional wind gusts has been a nice change from the suffocating 90's and high humidity. It was raining this morning. Now, it is just nice and cool, though cloudy.

Learning Curve

Fast learner!.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Will She or Won't She

Tropical Storm Fay has Florida in her embrace right now. Massive amounts of rain have fallen. She is slowly heading back west. There appear to be no steering currents to send her on her way in a decisive manner. She is almost just drifting. She is becoming less The Joker and more the biggest Pain in the Neck(or another adjective).

Fay, Fay,
Won't go away
Wants to stay and play
She's very fey!

A shout to Mississippians living on the Gulf Coast: Yesterday, did y'all get Governor Haley Barbour's phone recording stating the Mississippi Emergency Response System was being tested?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ninjas: Good on Rollerblades

But they can't compare to pirates. This band of pirates has captured the city of Fort Walton Beach 53 times!

Booty rained down, shots rang out and airplanes roared overhead as hundreds cheered and chugged.

Once again, in the end, Billy Bowlegs took over Fort Walton Beach.

"As consolation, I'm going to let the mayor touch my sword," the decorated pirate captain (a costumed Brock Fisher) said Saturday after storming Fort Walton Landing and overtaking the city's militias.

Ninjas may have great skills as warriors but pirates have more fun.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heads Up Gulf Coast

First of all, Tropical Storm Fay is a head-scratcher. She couldn't be like other tropical systems. Oh no. Not her. She just couldn't intensify over water. She has to be special and intensify over land!

I'm beginning to think she's a bit of a drama queen as well as being The Joker.

The computer models keep showing a trend that shows her heading our way. In fact, the latest model shows her taking one of the most heavily traveled roads: I-10.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast and southeast Louisiana are still extremely vulnerable to tropical systems. Hurricane Katrina devastated vast areas of marsh lands in Louisiana and damaged barrier islands off Mississippi's Coast. In Mississippi, other buffers such as buildings and trees are no longer there. Thankfully, there are only 435 FEMA trailers left. This vulnerability is one of the reasons I follow these tropical systems so closely.

Many know how to prepare their homes to keep their families, pets, and property secure. But what about businesses? It is very similar to preparing for your home. And in many ways very different. One of the things I do in the event we are threatened is first make multiple back-ups, usually three. These back-ups are given to three different people. The server is taken further inland to a hunting camp my bosses own.

The rest of the computer equipment is secured and along with essential files such as general ledgers, accounts receivables, accounts payables, insurance policies are secured and taken off-site.

Too extreme you may ask? Consider this, many businesses including hospitals had vital records and equipment destroyed due to flooding.

The steps taken are modified depending on the threat. Where I work, we are extremely vulnerable. Our offices are still the trailers we've been renting since Hurricane Katrina hit. Our factory has been rebuilt and plans are in the works to start construction on new offices.

Normally, we would only implement the above measures for storms Category 3 or above. But if Tropical Storm Fay looks to be heading our way, we will treat her as a major storm.

Yesterday, while here in Mississippi, I watched as the first bands from Tropical Storm Fay passed over Plant City Florida. My aunt lives there. Aunt Dixie is a very strong women in her 70's. I still worried about her. My Mom talked to her and was told all was okay.

Some may consider this to be too much worrying over just a tropical storm. But there are those that understand. When Tropical Storm Edouard was heading to Port Arthur Texas, I spoke with someone in its path. In the conversation, I told her a lot of us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are now afraid of even tropical depressions. She replied it was very understandable because of what we went through on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina. Katrina put fear in us and in many ways that is good thing. There is little complacency about these systems. However, there is a danger creeping in. Some are beginning to say if my house didn't flood during Katrina, it won't flood in other storms. That was a mistake many made with Katrina. They thought because their home didn't flood during Camille, it wouldn't flood during Katrina.

Chances are good that if Tropical Storm Fay does head our way, she will be at most a minimal hurricane. But because of the conditions that exist here and because of a profound respect for these storms, it will not be treated as a joker.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay: A Perplexing Joker

Yesterday, it looked as if the projections on the track Tropical Storm would taking were in consensus. Today, Fay remains ever The Joker. After causing deaths on the islands of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, she crossed over Cuba. She mad landfall on Key West. This morning, she has made a second landfall, 50 miles southeast of Fort Meyers.

Where she will be in the next 5 days is the question. It is possible that The Joker will make a u-turn after passing over my Aunt Dixie's home in Plant City and visiting Disney in Orlando. Some of the models show her entering the Gulf of Mexico in a day or two. The new 5 day forecast shows the potential of Fay, The Joker, heading into the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday, one of the computer model runs showed Fay striking the Mississippi Gulf Coast close to this coming weekend.

All of the models show Fay taking a bend to the west at some point. Each differs when and as to the degree.

As with previous tropical storms and hurricanes, if you are in that cone, you really need to pay attention. And don't wait until the last minute to prepare. Everyone needs to have a basic emergency kit consisting of food and water to last at least three days. The best thing to do is to have those supplies on hand long before any emergency threatens.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Does there become a point when self-criticism causes more harm than good? Is there a tendency to reflect more on the bad than the good?

Strange questions to ponder while watching Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

This movie is so unabashedly pro-American that I doubt anything similar could be made today. I cannot picture any of today's stars singing these lyrics from Strictly USA:

Go to a picnic, go to clambake,
Go to a bar tent, or county fair,
You'll be the happy resident,
Maybe get to be the future president,
Take a man like Abraham Lincoln,
Take a state like I-O-Way
Take a sugar-cured ham, a candied yam,
Or take your favorite Uncle Sam,
And shout a big hooray, it's strictly USA.
You never can know a country
Till you know the folks, see them
In their own native locales.
If you wanna see young acorns
Growing into oaks, you gotta
See the fellas and gals.
And inspecting extra special,
A bunch of merchandise,
The all-American Cow wins the prize.
Your All-American man is nice young man,
He is a handy man in a pinch,

Self-criticism is supposed to rectify short-comings but if criticism is not tempered with self-pride, it can become self-destructive. Can anyone picture the Dixie Chicks singing the above song?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hurricane Camille: 39 Years Ago

Today is the 39th anniversary of Hurricane Camille. Three years ago, I this post about Camille. It's hard to believe that when I wrote it, Hurricane Katrina was just a blob of thunderstorms in the Atlantic and 12 days later would destroy much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We rebuilt after Hurricane Camille. It took almost 20 years. We are rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The pace seems maddening at times. It isn't going to take 20 years this time. Most of the rebuilding should be completed within the next 5 - 7 years.

Tropical Storm Fay: Still the Joker

The computer models last evening and this morning showed Fay hitting Florida anywhere from Apalachicola to points south. Now, some of the computer models are beginning to show Tropical Storm Fay taking a more westerly course:

My advice, people from Mississippi to Florida need to keep an eye on Fay, The Joker, and have plans in place. Has anyone been watching the Weather Channel? Where's Jim Cantore?

The above is the latest cone of probability from the NHC.

It's That Time of the Week!

Tome for Haveil Havalim 178: The Tu B'av Edition.

Friday Wasn't the Best Day

I've been having problems with a tooth for over a month. I decided Friday to call the dentist about it. The pain has now reached the point that I'm having trouble eating. After being on hold for over 30 minutes, I decided Fridays aren't the best days to try to schedule a dentist appointment. I will make one tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Image from

The Joker Has Been Named!

The Joker is now officially Tropical Storm Fay. The computer models have been showing a more westward movement:

The The Weather Underground shows the 5 day fore cast as of this afternoon:

The eastern edge of Mississippi is in the potential cone. And at this point, that's all it is: Potential.

People along in Florida and those on the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico need to keep on eye on this joker. Though it hasn't happened with the tropical storms/hurricanes thus far this year, once these systems enter the Gulf of Mexico, they have the potential to turn into monsters.

Contingency plans need to be made. Check your emergency supplies and check to see if anything is lacking. If you plan to evacuate, plans need to formulated.

The Joker Who Still is Not Named

Invest 92 is still joking around. It was expected to have been declared at least a tropical depression yesterday but the Hurricane Hunters didn't find closed circulation. Meanwhile, radar indicates it does have tropical storm strength winds.

It is aptly named The Joker. All computer models yesterday indicated it going over the Bahamas and up the East Coast. These models have since changed. The cold front pushing through doesn't seem to be deflecting it.

The latest computer models:

29 Years

The City of Gulfport has been very fortunate that its police force acts in a professional manner. It is also very fortunate that it has been 29 years since a Gulfport police officer was killed while on duty. Yesterday, a motorist ended that remarkable streak when she struck the motorcycle Lt. Rob Curry was riding.

The area is heavily congested and people tend to take chances when even the tiniest gap in traffic occurs. Accidents occur frequently. The stretch of Highway 49 from Airport Road to St Charles Street is jammed with businesses and motorists. People take chances and accidents occur frequently.

Motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable. People tend not to notice them even in the best of circumstances.

The City of Gulfport mourns the loss of Lt. Lt. Rob Curry. May his family and friends be comforted.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Joker

Even before Hurricane Katrina, my co-workers and I kept on eye on the tropics. Today we do it even more so. So it shouldn't be surprising that we've been following the ups and downs of Invest 92L, or as Dr. Jeff Masters at the The Weather Underground calls it The Joker.

See this thing has had so many ups and downs, it's funny. Yesterday, once again, it was expected to dissipate. The day before it was expected to be a tropical depression.

And like a true joker, today or tomorrow morning, it is once again expected to be a tropical depression. Day by day, the NHC map has changed from red(high probability of development) to yellow(medium probability). See the lovely shade of red:

Even though surrounded by dry air from the Sahara, The Joker refuses to quit. Good news, for the Gulf of Mexico region at least, the latest computer models show The Joker heading for the Bahamas.

The bad thing is, even as a tropical depression, the heavy rains usually associated with those systems can cause heavy rains in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The flooding has the potential to be deadly to those in the mountainous regions.

Yesterday, the computer models were showing The Joker heading between Florida and Cuba and then into the Gulf of Mexico. A cold front coming through has changed that scenario. Keep alert on the East Coast.

Eighth Wonder of the World!

Eighth wonder of the world
• It's my understanding the only two man-made structures visible from space are the Great Wall of China and the curbs on U.S. 90 in Gulfport. Is that true?

The Ninth Wonder of the World would be all the hot air the Gulfport mayor's and city council have generated for the pas ten years. That's the real culprit for global warming!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just Some Pine Trees

Around a year ago, I posted about a developer about to build some some duplexes and quadplexes. I know the need for new homes to be built in areas that aren't prone to flooding. And this is a good area. Nothing much had been done since then. Yesterday, the backhoes were lined up and the pine trees were still standing. Pine trees can be a nuisance and I didn't think I would miss them. It was a shock when I drove up the road and saw nothingness. The pine trees were gone. The developer kept his promise and didn't cut down the oaks and other trees. It still looks barren.

In a few years, it will look even more different and there will be many more people. Another developer has started building some apartments at the south end of my road.

I'm not sure how I'll feel with having over 200 new neighbors. I've grown accustom to this quiet neighborhood. And the pine trees.

At least many smart people are moving away from rivers and the coast. These areas saw massive flooding from Hurricane Katrina and insurance costs are making many flee to areas north of I-10. I just have to keep telling myself, it's just some pine trees.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saving the World

I've come to really enjoy watching HGTV's My House is Worth What?. Not only are there those who seem to really believe buying a house with interest-only payments in order to sell it at a higher price, there are those who want to "save the world". There was this one couple who spent between $300,000 to $400,000 on making upgrades to their house. Oh sure, they used a soy product to insulate the wine cooler they had installed. They various paints and products that are supposedly green. No mention of solar panels or of solar-powered water heaters.

This couple wanted their home to be worth over $850,000. Was it to further enhance the greenness of their existing home? Was it to install the solar panels necessary to be almost off the power-grid? Was it to install solar-powered water heaters?

No, to all the above. They wanted their house to be worth that much so they could sell this one and then build a totally green house.

They want to "save the world" by bulldozing up more acreage and hauling in green materials from across the country. Sounds like a plan, not.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Jewish men traditionally sing this song to their wives at the Shabbat meal. Beautiful:


Me too

Laid Back

Mythbusters had an interesting show last night. In it, they tested to see if driving under stress makes one use more gas. Tory and Grant did the tests. Tory is high-energy and Grant is super laid-back.

Before the first test, Grant was given a bunch of puppies to help him relax. Tory was given a massage. Both were laid-back and ready for the test drive. Grant ended up using more gas than Tory.

Before the second test, Grant was given one of those fish foot massages. Seeing as he has a phobia about fish, this put him under a lot of stress. Grant was given another massage, this time by a male. Both were made to drink large quantities of coffee or energy drinks and then told they couldn't go to the bathroom. Kari had a few other things that made the test drive as stressful as possible.

What was surprising in both tests, the laid-back Grant used far more gas than Tory. He also used far more gas than the first test. And another thing that shocked me, the laid-back Grant, in the second test almost ran over the person who was participating as the "difficult" pedestrian. He didn't appear to have even slowed down. You would think that a person not prone to stress or outbursts of anger would be the one who could most effectively deal with stressful situations and remain calm. It appears the opposite is true.

In your experience, who do you perceive as being able to handle and work-through stressful situations best: Those who are laid-back or those who have occasional outbursts of anger?

It is a timely question. McCain has been criticized for having occasional outbreaks of anger. Obama is perceived to be very laid-back.

When Physicists Rap

.... it will rock your head!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Republican members are still hard at work trying to come up with a viable energy plan while the Democrats have gone on vacation.

The Democrats seem to hold with this:

It's not too surprising since Barack Obama's plan consists of this:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Making the Leap

Like all kids, my son struggles with the added responsibilities of becoming an adult. He is slowly making the leap to maturity. In many ways the passage to adulthood can be likened to reaching a maturity in our relationship with G-d. In Numbers, the Israelites have wandered in the desert for 40 years and have been shedding the poison of slavery. In last weeks Torah portion, Mase'ei, we are given a breakdown of the number of stops made. They are now poised to make the leap in the Land. They will do so without Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. The miracles of manna, water gushing from rocks, and being led night and day by a pillar of cloud and fire will not be there. The Israelites have reached maturity and no longer need these things. They have been given the Torah which includes the oral tradition. They have been given a guide on how to conduct themselves and how others are to be treated. Each one is responsible for his own actions. Maturity has been reached.

Shimshonit at Jews by Choice reflects on this idea of maturity:

And yet Judaism, at least as I see it, is not like most other faiths. Judaism boasts—and demands—a level of maturity not always seen in other religions. Jews are responsible for their own actions, and are required through a clear process to atone for their own sins against others and God. They have traditionally been required to be literate and learned, rather than reserving that education for their clergy. Rather than being encouraged to reject this world in favor of some transcendent state or a world to come, Jews are mandated to embrace this world wholeheartedly (pain, joy, and everything in between) and to improve it as much as possible during our time here. And we are expected to follow the commandments we are given through our own free will. (Yes, there are punishments stipulated for transgressing them, but the reward of being holy and having our own land are enticements rather than threats.)

Early in my teaching career, I was asked to help a high school classroom full of evangelical Christians to understand the Jewish religious outlook better. I prepared answers to their questions in advance and when I was finished my little talk, a hand shot up in the third row. "Do you believe in the Devil?" the student asked. I paused a minute, trying to think of any stories I knew of in the Torah where the Devil looms large. I answered that Satan plays a very peripheral role in Judaism, and we don’t really think about him much. (I’ve since learned from the Book of Job that the Satan is actually on Hashem’s payroll.) "Then why be good?" she asked. I was aghast. I had learned to be "good" (moral, ethical, whatever) without benefit of much religion in my house, but here was someone for whom goodness could only be learned out of fear of punishment. "Because it’s the right thing to be," I answered. I didn’t want to be rude, but all I could think was, It’s what distinguishes grown-ups from children, and a religion fit for a grown-up from a religion fit only for a child.

I recall the many times the Catholic priest urged those in the pews to have the "faith of a child". He may have meant that just as we as children had faith that our parents would take care of us, so too would G-d. The phrase places people in the role of being perpetual children. This creates a tension, for as adults, we know or should know we are responsible for our actions and amends must be made.

We have to do the right thing. And when we fail, amends must be made to those we have harmed. It is accepting responsibility and making the leap into maturity. This is what our ancestors did in the 40 years of B'midbar and it wait we strive to do today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Safe Neighborhood

Mister Roger's Neighborhood isn't glitzy. It doesn't have a cacophony of sights and sounds to teach children. And yet, it is one of the most loved children's shows. His quiet voice was just as reassuring as his routine of changing his sweater and shoes after he walked through the door on his show.

You just knew you were in a safe place where the pain of growing up with alcoholic parents, divorced parents, being painfully shy, or being different, or being a latch-key kid seemed lessened. His message of it's okay was far more important than the craft projects and other educational lessons.

He provided 30 minutes of a safe world for kids who didn't know what it meant to have a home where there was a lot of chaos. More and more homes today are filled with chaos and Mr. Roger's safe neighborhood is needed more than ever. PBS has made the decision to cut the show.

Mr. Rogers is the grandfather many of us secretly wish we had. We must not let him disappear from the airwaves. Save Mister Rogers has links to find your local PBS station. The decision not to air Mister Roger's Neighborhood was made in June 2008. It is not too late to write the PBS headquarters and your local PBS station. Please do so.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

To the South

It has the potential of becoming a tropical depression. In normal times, most people on Mississippi Gulf Coast and in Louisiana wouldn't be too concerned. There are still around 4,000 of people in FEMA trailers in Mississippi. Any threat, even a tropical depression needs to be taken seriously.

People are suffering from PTSD after Hurricane Katrina. We are still in a state of shock from the devastation and the constant rebuilding. Some people have accused us of being whiners and lazy. All I can say to those is you don't know what you are talking about. We have cleared miles and miles of rubble that used to be 100,000 homes(Mississippi homes!). We have been rebuilding lives, homes, businesses, and infrastructure. It is constant and we're managing to get it done in spite of insurance problems, new zoning requirements that came with the new flood zone maps, and labor/material shortages. And most of all, we've done it with the help of thousands of volunteers who gave their precious time to help us.

And most of all we've done it with a great of humor. Some days the bitterness comes through. The sense of isolation gets to us because most of the media focus has been on New Orleans. It is shaken off and the rebuilding continues.


The surveyors were out at the property where our new shul Gulfport is going to be built. The flags are in place and soon, the building will begin. I will post some pictures later this evening.

Congregation Beth Israel in Biloxi has been through some rough times. The shul suffered much wind damage from Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to Beauvior Methodist Church, we've been holding services in their meeting hall. Their help is much appreciated and we cannot thank them enough for their hospitality and help.

That being said, there is a certain weariness that we are not in our home. It has been almost three years since Hurricane Katrina and we need to be in our own place. The days of our b'midbar should be over in ten months. It is possible the construction can be over in time for Pesach next year. Keep us in your prayers that this may be possible.

Since the building plans were approved a few weeks ago, there is many smiling faces and a great deal of excitement. At times, it seemed like we would never get to this beginning.

The new shul will be within walking distance from where I live and I'm going to take weekly pictures of the construction.

Hanging Out to Dry

Frumhouse on the Prairie-Haveil Havalim 176: The Dirty Laundry Edition.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

My Dear, Dear Congress

I see that you have decided to vote yourselves a vacation instead of working out some resolution for the energy crisis we are facing. Queen, oops, should have said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants to save the "world" while ignoring what as Americans are facing and will be facing. The current high prices of fuel are not just seen at the gas pump. These higher fuel prices are reflected in the prices of goods we purchase. Saving the "world" while looking into options other than fossil fuels is laudable.

However, the green technology has not reached a point in efficiency and cost-effectiveness. As an American, I would love to be able to place solar panels on my home. However, the cost is prohibitive at this point. The lowest prices I've seen start at $25,000. That's a big chunk of change.

I don't a hybrid car nor do I need to purchase fuel with ethanol. See, my little car already gets great gas mileage. It also makes less of an impact on the environment during manufacturing. It will also impact the environment less when it comes time to dispose of it.

President Bush and you in Congress have made food prices skyrocket with the drive toward using corn and other food products to produce ethanol, Other options should have been addressed. Corn husks, weed grasses, and others should have been looked out more closely.

Your acts over the last few months indicate a certain lack or desire to help your constituents. It is all well and good to want to save the "world". You voted no on the issue of oil being extracted from shale. You still refuse to discuss opening ANWR.

And the only solutions you propose to ease the situation are so-called green ones. Wind farms, solar panels, and other methods are great ideas but at this point in time, they cannot meet current needs. Unless something drastic occurs in the next years, these methods are still woefully insufficient to meet the ever increasing demand for fuel and energy.

Until then, ANWR needs to be opened. It will take ten or more years for oil to start flowing from there. In the meantime, other options for fuel and energy can still be researched and developed. Perhaps in those years, solar panels will be developed to have a higher efficiency rating and hopefully the prices will come down.

Nuclear plants must be approved now. It takes many years to build them. The US is woefully behind the rest of the world in building them.

Perhaps while you guys are on your vacations, you'll reflect that many of your constituents can no longer afford to go on vacation. They can no longer afford the fuel to get there. Perhaps you'll realize that your focus should not be on saving the "world" but on actually helping those who voted you into office.

In other words, quit trying to sneak Kyoto through the back door. Both President Clinton and President Bush realized Kyoto was very bad for our country while not really doing much to save the "world".

Thank you,

A Concerned Citizen