~ Tim's ~ Nameless ~ Blog ~

Thursday, September 27, 2007

ENR: Engineering News Record

It's a magazine for us engineering and construction types. Not the type of place you'd expect to find a heartfelt story like this one:

"It happens daily in my mind, like that convention they used in old movies of the calendar pages turning to represent time passing. As I drive through different parts of town, the pages flip at lightning speed, and only I know the stories, people’s faces and details that cram the day boxes on the calendar. As the pages flip, my emotions run the gamut – loss, sadness, frustration, anger, stress, fear, relief. I turn onto Fox Drive, which happens to be around the corner from where some friends used to live. They moved to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and swore they would never come back to “the parish.” By the time I walk down the driveway, I am exhaling a huge, mind-clearing breath and thinking, this has been a helluva two years."

Read the full story by Angelle Bergeron at:
Two Years Later, Men Still Moved to Tears

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dawn

000
WONT41 KNHC 201956
DSAAT
SPECIAL TROPICAL DISTURBANCE STATEMENT
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
400 PM EDT THU SEP 20 2007

A RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INVESTIGATING THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IN THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO FOUND A BROAD CIRCULATION CENTERED ABOUT 115 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA. THE AIRCRAFT WILL CONTINUE TO INVESTIGATE THE LOW THIS AFTERNOON...BUT THERE ARE NO INDICATIONS YET THAT THE LOW HAS BEGUN TO ACQUIRE TROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS. THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY WITH THIS SYSTEM REMAINS LIMITED AND DISORGANIZED. HOWEVER...THIS SYSTEM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD OVER THE WARM WATERS OF THE GULF OF MEXICO. ALL INTERESTS ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF COAST SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN

----------------------------

The sky was black and only faintly blue on the horizon when I stepped outside this morning. The cats capered happily past me emitting squeaky meows as they ran out to greet the day. Dawn--the eternal symbol of hope and a fresh start, slowly peeled the darkness from New Orleans. Stars faded and disappeared.

I walked down the three steps from the FEMA Travel Trailer and stepped onto the concrete walkway. The walkway extended another 15 or so feet, and then vanished into rubble and dirt and low-cut weeds. Until about two years ago, I would have been walking this concrete path in the other direction at this time of morning. I would have been walking out looking for the newspaper, or perhaps leaving my house to go to work.

But that house is gone.

I am amazed by the sky this morning. We have had several clear, bright days in succession this week. Hot, but not too hot. Humidity practically unheard of for New Orleans. Absolutely wonderful weather.

It will not last, because the nature of nature is change. I know this day will pass. I know this FEMA Travel Trailer will one day be taken away. And perhaps most importantly, I know this time of trial will pass, too.

Despite this fabulous string of beautiful days, my colleagues and friends are worried about the weather right now. All of New Orleans worries. A thunderstorm in Florida with 30 mile per hour winds demands our fearful attention. Once bitten, twice shy I suppose, and Katrina took a huge bite.

We watch the tropical weather reports much more closely nowadays. We have the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center in our list of web page favorites. We study the maps like Allied strategists planning the invasion of France, and sift through the weather reports with the intesity of a baseball fan poring over the box scores.

But for now, the air is still and cool, and the horizon stretches around my neighborhood with ever brightening arms. We must embrace this day, even if it is just the calm before the storm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Digitize me

I am identified
By my number
My insurance company knows me
By my number
SBA has my paperwork filed
By my number
I have a name
But names do not matter
Road Home can only talk to me
If I can give them my number
The bank is happy to serve me
By my number
The grocery store will give me food
If I give them my number
The more numbers we use
The more numb to humanity we are
I have a name
But I'm nobody without my number
The day is coming soon
When we will all be fully digitized
And the only digit I will give you
Is the middle one

0101000001101100011001010110000101110011
0110010100100000011001100110111101110010
0110011101101001011101100110010100100000
0111010001101000011001010010000001110111
0110100001101001011011100110100101101110
0110011100101110001000000010000001001001
0010000001100001011011010010000001101010
0111010101110011011101000010000001100001
0010000001101100011010010111010001110100
0110110001100101001000000110011001110010
0111010101110011011101000111001001100001
0111010001100101011001000010000001110100
0110111101100100011000010111100100101110
0010000000100000010100000110010101100001
0110001101100101001011000010000001010100
0110100101101101

Monday, September 17, 2007

The view from K-Ville

K-Ville premiers on television tonight. Folks here in New Orleans have been looking forward to it for many weeks.

The K is for Katrina, of course.

But it could just as well be for kennel, which is what it must be like to live in one of those FEMA Travel Trailer cluster parks where people are stored for some future undetermined purpose.

Or it could be for keister, which is where many of us landed after getting thrown out of our homes, our schools and our jobs.

Some of us, feeling abandoned or shortchanged by our fellow Americans, may think K-ville comes from the kiss-off we believe we've been given. I don't think that's the case. To be certain, a few compassionate conservatives have told us to kiss-off, but so many more have been generous that I'd rather think of their example of kindness.

But perhaps K stands for Kingfish, as Louisiana's populist Governor Huey Long was called. His legacy of Robin Hood-style government casts its long shadow over us to this day. Or looking at more recently elected officials, it may be a nod to the kickbacks extracted by greedy politicians such as Oliver Thomas and Edwin Edwards. Scum of their ilk have helped cement our reputation as among the most politically corrupt places in America.

However, I'm sure a few of you will see that K and think instead of the junior senator and his alleged kinky habits. Or of the free display of knockers exposed by drunken, out-of-town women on Bourbon Street.

Please, spare us.

If you read the newspapers, you'll be convinced K-Ville gets its name from the daily killings here, a sad statement of the social breakdown in some segments of the population and of the kill-or-be-killed rules of the drug trade.

I’d like to think that K stands for karma, that mystical principle that says what comes around goes around. The idea that as you sow, so shall you so reap. I see my city struggle in so many ways, and I know that if we deal with each other fairly and honestly, we will all benefit. And I hope that those beyond New Orleans who help us will themselves be helped when they are in need. I don’t wish ill upon anyone, but I strongly wish to see mercy served to those who are merciful.

But sadly, that K is just Katrina, that miserable hurricane that ruined so many lives two years ago. It will be difficult to think or talk of New Orleans without linking us to Katrina for many, many years. The water has been all pumped out and stinky refrigerators are long gone, but the stain and stench of Katrina will remain for a generation.

Perhaps the day will come when we'll have to be reminded what the K in K-Ville stands for.

If we’re lucky.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hang on to your hat

I could hardly believe it.

I was looking at a display for new roofing shingles at Lowe's. I was at the big box since the corner hardware stores are closed on Sunday. I wasn't shopping for shingles, but I was drawn by the pretty display which included large photographs of pretty houses showing off their new roofs.

And in the bullet-list of benefits was the shocking claim that these shingles were designed to withstand winds up to 60 miles per hour.

Sixty. Six-zero.

Who in the New Orleans area is buying these shingles?

Other shingles in the display promised protection up to 70 mph. What??

Doesn't everyone know that a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale has winds from 74 to 95 mph?

And it gets worse. You’ll only get the promised protection if the shingles are installed properly. Although the instructions are clearly written on the label of every pack of shingles, don’t count on a contractor doing a proper installation job. I know of two people who read the instructions on the package and then watched the laborers proceed to do almost everything wrong. Both had to browbeat their contractor into following the proper installation procedures.

So for everyone who bought cheap shingles and had them installed improperly, how much wind can your house withstand? Hope you never have to find out.

Recall how many Blue Roofs you saw after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA reports they installed temporary tarps on nearly 100,000 houses under their "Blue Roof" program following Hurricane Katrina.

And aren't we fond of pointing out how minor the wind damage was in our fair city? Yet look at how many damaged roofs we had. (NOAA reported a maximum surface wind speed at New Orleans Lakefront Airport of 60 mph, with gusts up to 75 mph!)

I guess we know why now. Sixty miles per hour shingles? How crazy is that?

The current building code for the New Orleans area is 130 mph. That's according to the International Residence Code adopted by the State of Louisiana.

So if state law demands 130 mph, the question is not merely who is buying these substandard building materials. The question is also why is Lowe's or anyone else selling 60 and 70 mph shingles?

I suppose you could use them for other than residential construction. You might want to put them on your detached garage or garden shed. You might want to put them on a child's play house.

Sadly, that is not what is depicted in the pretty color photographs in the Lowe's display. They show these substandard shingles on the roofs of upscale homes. That is patently irresponsible and perhaps even dangerous.

We all want "Category 5 Levees"--I hear it on the radio and read it in the paper all the time. But Category 5 hurricanes also have winds of 155 mph or more. What good will tall and strong levees be if the houses just get blown apart by the wind?

How can anyone expect the rest of America to take us seriously when some of us are installing roof shingles that will not even survive a Category 1 hurricane?