Friday, September 23, 2005

Make Me a Levee from the Sky! I Command It!

A concilman from St. Bernard's Parish is accusing the Army Corp of Engineers of not rebuilding the levees properly. Do you have any idea how much time and money it takes to properly design and build a levee, much less fix an existing one? The Army Corp of Engineers patched the levee to keep the water back. It's a temporary patch. Which means it's also weaker than a permanent repair. Would you prefer that they had not patched the levees at all until they could put in a permanent structure? Left New Orleans under water for a couple of months while they gathered supplies and equipment and did some number crunching? Mr. Councilman, when was the last time you were able to build a bridge or a dam or a levee or road of any quality (much less "withstand a hurricane" quality) in two weeks? Under less than ideal conditions? I didn't think so.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Andy linked to an article on the Uncyclopedia today. What is the Uncyclopedia? It's like Wikipedia, only all of the articles are filled with misinformation and humor. Oscar Wilde is apparently it's patron saint. Today's featured article on quantum economics is pretty entertaining. They have a pretty twisted history of the phrase All Your Base Are Belong to Us. They wrote a biography for Anonymous. And they even have an article on The Flying Spaghetti Monster (read this Wikipedia article to see the "real" story behind FSM). And then there's always Zork.

I Can See My Plane From Here!

This is just surreal. The passengers on the Jet Blue plane that made an emergency landing watched news coverage of their flight on the in-flight televisions. At least they turned off the tvs just before landing, but I think maybe they should have changed the channel (or cut off access to that channel) a little sooner. It's nerve-racking enough watching stuff like that on the news when it's not you. And it's nerve-racking enough being in that situation without watching the media hype it.

Better Living Through Thermodynamics

One of my coworkers brought in a self-heating coffee can today. It looks like it heats up using an exothermic chemical reaction. And for those who prefer their drinks cold, there's always the self-chilling beer can.

Staying behind? Have a marker...

Most people, with Katrina images still fresh in their minds, are evacuating as they've been told. But there are evidentally still a few hold outs. One mayor has decided to pre-emptively make the identification of bodies of hold-outs a little easier by asking people to write their social security number and next of kin on their arms and abdomens. Oh, and, if it drives home the point that staying could cost them their lives, that works too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Worst... Timed... Series Premiere... Ever

Invasion premiered tonight. The premise is that a hurricane brings an alien invasion force to a Florida community. It's kind of like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except there's a hurricane and a bunch of horribly prepared citizens who haven't even boarded up their windows when the wind and rain start to pick up. I'm thinking this one isn't going to do too well. Frankly, I'm surprised ABC didn't delay the premiere until further notice.

Johnson Space Center preps for Rita

Johnson Space Center closed as of 2 pm today.

Going for Another Record

Rita's central pressure is down to 898 mb. That's lower than Katrina ever got, which means Rita is now the third most powerful hurricane ever. The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 was 982 mb and Hurricane Gilbert got down to 888 mb in 1988.

Is it possible to just evacuate the entire coast of Texas + Louisiana?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How to Stop the Hurricanes

This hurricane season has been quite excessive. El Nino may be responsible, but not in the way you think. The butterfly effect is making more hurricanes and more powerful ones at that. The solution? Kill all the butterflies. Wipe them off the face of the planet. Don't let their beautiful coloring distract you. Nor their light and fluttery flight patterns. Those wings are weapons of mass destruction. They must be stopped.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Will Survive

That's better. Leaders acting like leaders, citizens doing what they can to help whoever they can. It almost makes me think we'd be better off without FEMA. If people didn't think the fed would rescue them, maybe people would be more likely to step up. (In theory, I think FEMA should be responsible for co-ordinating efforts to help so that one area isn't overwhelmed with help while another gets nothing. Instead, they just seem to get tangled in their own bureaucracy and hinder more than they help when things are urgent. The mayor of Ocean Springs sums it up, probably without realizing it:

"We had our radios. We know how to fill out the FEMA reimbursement forms. We know what we're supposed to do. We were as well-organized as we could be for a small town facing something of this magnitude." (emphasis mine)

It's like Brazil. The paperwork becomes more important than anything else. Even human life. Flexibility is key in a crisis. And a bureaucracy is not flexible.


I plumb fergot about Talk Like a Pirate Day, maties! Oh, the fun me and me fellow scalliwags could have had this day had we remembered! 'Til next year, then, me hearties! Arrr!

Session 416

Why do I do this to myself? I couldn't sleep, again. So I went looking for a collection of videos that I heard are part of a viral marketing campaign for Serenity. And I found them. Oh, dear goodness. DO NOT watch these at 3 in the morning with the lights off, especially the first one. Freak me out, Joss! I actually closed my eyes. Not that it helped - it was the sound that was the problem. I had read that Serentiy was going to be scary (as well as exciting, funny, heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and so on with the fan-gushing). I wasn't sure how (though having the Reavers in it certainly helps). Now I think I'm getting an idea. Can I see the movie now?

What do you mean the release is still two weeks away?


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Philippe and Rita

Philippe is now a hurricane, but will probably only impact Bermuda, if that. Rita is of greater concern. The latest run of the BAMM computer model has her hitting New Orleans, but thankfully, most of the other models have her going further south. Also good (relatively speaking) is that the Gulf waters aren't quite as warm as they were when Katrina exploded in size there a couple of weeks ago. Still, every state with coastline in the Gulf should keep a close eye on this one. The official forcast has her becoming at least a category 3 (though another category 4 will not surprise me) before hitting southern Texas. The Florida Keys have already started evacuations in anticipation of her strengthening before her arrival there.

A little perspective on how this season stacks up against other hurricane seasons: on average, there are 10.6 named storms each year. 5.9 of those become hurricanes, and 2 of those become major hurricanes. So far this year there have been 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. The most major hurricanes in a single season was 8. The most hurricanes in a single season was 12. The most named storms that have occured in a single year since 1944 is 19 (in 1933, there were 21 systems reported, but current naming conventions and modern systemic storm monitoring were not in place at the time). We got to T in 1995. That year, the R tropical system (Roxanne) formed on October 7. It is now September 18. Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma are the only names left on the list. Dr. Gray is predicting 5 names storms for September and 3 for October. We've already named five storms this month, so I'm thinking they've underestimated again. Hopefully, most of the remaining storms this season will do what Philippe appears to be doing and stay out to sea.

Inflated Numbers

I'm participating in something called Fitlinxx at the YMCA. Basically, it helps you keep track of your cardio work-outs and your weight training and creates milestones for you to reach. You can also compare yourself to other participants at your location or all around the country. I'm tops in my gender/age group at my facility, thanks almost entirely to 2-hour basketball sessions each week (because burning over 1000 calories in a single workout when it would normally take me three sessions on the elipitcal to do the same is fun, and everyone else is probably doing it the hard way).

I decided to check my ratings against the rest of the country (not even ranked. d'oh!) and found that the top person has supposedly burned 222,838 calories this month. 222,838 calories in 18 days. That's approximately 12,380 calories a day. Assuming this person worked out during all but the eight hours they theoretically slept each day, that's 773.75 calories an hour. A pound of fat is about 3500 calories. So this person should have lost 3.5 pounds a day, assuming their body didn't also start consuming muscle in it's desperate attempt to support this work-out regimine. So far this month, they should have lost about 63 pounds. Impressive. But I'm thinking they need to see a doctor. Or a mathematician. Those decimal points can be tricky.