John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Thursday, August 12, 2004
Look at the purty colors ...

Sucks to be us
If you go to the Permalink, and then refresh the page in your browser, the radar image will update with the latest available image -- as long as the NOAA web site in Melbourne is doing its job, that is.

[updated 8/14: Click on the links for the current NWS radar imagery from Tampa, Melbourne or Key West.  The radar image shown above now is the one I snarfed up right before Charley made landfall on 8/13 and I unplugged and packed up the PC.]

You can also go here to see the radar imagery from Havana, Cuba to Mondo Melicious, FL.

Or, you could always follow this guy around Florida in real time.  He has a CCTV mounted on top of his truck and is wirelessly updating the images (several per minute) here.  It's sort of hypnotizing to watch him drive around.

Here are some Tampa area tower cams.  Facing West (gulf).  Facing East (city).
 Gulf  City

When you refresh this Permalinked page at Thunderstorms, these cams will also update, if there is a new image available.  Don't expect to see to much after dark, though.  Okay, Sparky?

It looks like the fun starts Friday.  They're talking about evacuations here.  With winds over 100 mph, it looks like we're all in for a real sloppy blow job from Charley.

Hurricanes in the Imajica

Sucks to be us
Well, I imagine some of you guys think I'm just being clever.  I was going to put an advanced publishing date/time on a blog entry for sometime Friday afternoon and just say, "If you don't see anything on Thunderstorms for a while, here's why."

I just snarfed this image off of WTSB, a Tampa / St. Pete TV news station.  It shows the projected path of Hurricane Charley.  I figured I better blog something now, just in case I can't blog for a while.  The power has been going on and off intermittantly for two days because of the storms from Bonnie.  I can barely keep a dialup connection, but I bitch about that all the time, so I haven't mentioned it.  They should have named this storm Clyde instead of Charley -- then the headlines would be "Bonnie and Clyde hit Florida".  Heh.

I really shouldn't joke around.  It's serious enough that old Jeb has already declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm making landfall in Florida.  They are evacuating the Keys.  I don't have a cell phone service any more and this land line is only good for local calls (for this dialup)  -- so, if someone could call Melicious and let us know how her and Leah are doing in Fort Myers today and tomorrow, I'd appreciate it.  It looks like her neighborhood could be toasted first and that worries me.

I'll try to keep some blog-like info going here.  I may have to leave.  Helleena has already told me she may be in a sort of lock down at the nursing home where she works Thursday and Friday.  They have generators, obviously.  If that happens, I don't think my little electric power chair is going to be the best vehicle for me to use during a hurricane to get my dumb ass out of this house, down the road and somewhere safe ...

I'm going to get some rest for a few hours right now, just in case I spend all day tomorrow trying to pack up my little worldly possessions -- which would be fun since I'm totally wired on coffee at 3am now.  Another fine day in the Imajica.  Simply Crap-tastic! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Compassionate Conservative Fatigue

Seahawk down at the Combat Hospital
A typical photograph of the thousands taken everyday in Bush's Iraq might not even get my attention in the constant blur of images to which we've all been exposed over the past year.  However, this photograph, just like every photograph in Bush's Iraq being taken, will forever capture and memorialize for eternity when the world changed completely for some everyday person.  Maybe you know that person, maybe you don't.  But, maybe that person is your co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, or someone in your family.

This particular photograph depicts soldiers from the 31st Combat Support Hospital off-loading the wounded in Bush's Iraq.  It was used for an ABC news reporter's story about Combat Fatigue among the medical corps.

It is no new discovery that people who care for other people in a stressful environment can suffer phsychological and emotional problems.  These problems can then manifest themselves in any range from emotional detachment or outward coldness as a psychological survival mechanism, or simple anxiety, stress, and anger.  Police officers can snap and lose it.  Emergency Medical Technicians can get burned out.  Even Certified Nursing Aides working in Nursing Homes can be totally stressed out.

Nobody's Home
If you've ever clicked on the name Helleena on the TAG board or in the blog comments at Thunderstorms, and then visited her blog, Life at Work, you can read some first-hand accounts of how stressful working in a nursing home can be for her.  If you haven't done that recently, I'd like to point out her second Life at Work blog entry -- the first one obviously saying, 'welcome to my new blog' -- is entitled What will break your heart and make you smile at the same time.

Helleena's CNA stories are not unusual.  Unfortunately, it is altogether very normal and business-as-usual in nursing homes all over the United States.  Besides visiting Life at Work, one need only read some of the description of Tom Gass' book Nobody's Home to get some idea of what is like for CNAs:

Gass brings the reader into his sterile building with its flat metal roof and concrete block walls. Like an industrial park complex, it is clean, efficient, and functional.  He is blunt about the institutionís goal: as long as the staff keeps those faint hearts pumping, the life savings and Medicaid dollars keep rolling in. With 130 beds in the nursing home, the owner grossed about three million dollars annually. As a relatively well-paid aide, Gass made $6.90 an hour.

In a calm, intelligent and matter-of-fact style, Gass describes his often unpleasant daily routines. He cleans, feeds and dresses the patients; tries to converse with them, although they are often senile; and mostly, attempts to preserve their dignity

Click here to visit the website of Captain Andy Houghton
Trying to actually care for people in an environment that seems to cause injury, impede care, and reward these overworked caregivers with low wages is stressful -- whether you're talking about a CNA in a Florida nursing home or a Combat Medic in Bush's Iraq.

"We call it compassion fatigue," says Lt. Col. Sally Harvey, a U.S. Army psychologist. "It's the cost of caring day after day. Our staff experiences many of those same emotions that our patients do. Some people can get depressed, can feel overwhelmed. It's very much akin to what we call battle fatigue for soldiers who are out there on the front lines."

Every photograph, whether in the news or on the cover of a book, tells the story of someone -- a real person -- someone you might know.  And, sometimes it captures the moment when your life changed forever.  My personal experience over the last few years causes me to see my mother in that wheelchair, alone in the hallway, and is why I dropped everything to come down to Florida to care for her.  Even looking at that book cover  -- even a year after my mom's death -- makes me want to start crying all over my keyboard, right now.

When I look at the photographs taken in Bush's Iraq, I get so angry.  What a fucking waste.  One of the soldiers being off-loaded from the Seahawk in that ABC news photo is could be someone like Andy Houghton, a real person with friends and family.  He was injured when a rocket-propelled grenade slammed into his Bradley Fighting Vehicle on July 10th while on a routine patrol in Samarra, Iraq.  He just died on Monday.

I'm fatigued from Bush's so-called compassionate conservatism.  I'm fatigued from looking at photographs of Bush's Iraq.  If I hear another brain-dead Fox News commentator ask us, "Do you think we should be reporting on more goods news stories from Iraq," I'm going to scream at the top of my lungs as I shove their talking head back down their Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole.  Honestly, for fuck-sakes!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Serious Americans know ...

Eureka Stoltz rules!
The talent behind Serious Americans knows this upcoming election is an important one.  That's why these hip animators, writers and web designers decided to do something about it.

Serious Americans' archive of humorous and satirical short animations is an absolute treasure and I laughed my ass off at their insights into the political reality and non-reality that we're all exposed to in the media this year.

For example, their latest short Running Mate is friggin' hilarious!  Meet intrepid news anchor Eureka Stolz who has to try to keep a straight face while reporting on events surrounding the George W. Bush re-election campaign, his administration, and his White House press releases.  If you can't get enough of Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, then pretend Eureka Stolz is doing the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim weekend update show.

The RNC is gonna be sweet!
That's my neighbor in FL, I swear!
Thanks for the political party, Dubya!
It's not like Bush, Cheney, and everyone and everything else associated with Dubya isn't simply easy fodder for criticism, parody and sarcasm -- but it really is.  Think about it, if I can consistently bash Bush, he's making it pretty friggin' easy, don't you think?  It doesn't take a rocket surgeon, for chrisakes.

Serious Americans gets the message out beyond just Bush is bad.  They have two extremely witty get-out-the-vote animations that I honestly expected to see the NBC The More You Know rainbow twinkle across the screen at the end of it.  Serious Americans has this important message tailored for the guys and the ladies.

Don't worry, Serious Americans knows you don't like to be bogged down with the facts of the Republican non-reality all of the time.  They like to party, just like you.  Check out the ongoing conversations at their political partyThese two slackers remind me of people I know.  I bet they'll remind you of someone, too.  I can really relate to the Serious Americans sense of humor.  Man, I'm so glad I checked out my PRweb XML feed, this morning -- you never know what you'll find there.

I heartily suggest you check out the animations at Serious Americans before it becomes too widely known and the servers get too bogged down.  You know how that happens.

Click, Look, and Laugh -- and then remember to vote, okay?

Monday, August 09, 2004
Aliens versus Predator

In politix, everyone makes you want to scream
You get to vote this next Friday for the Alien or the Predator and I'm not even talking about Bush or Kerry!  But, I think the upcoming AVP movie's tagline, "Whoever wins ... we lose," seems just awfully damn appropriate if you'd truly prefer giving Badnarik or Nader a shot at the presidential debates or the White House this year.

For those of you who are too young, or are thankfully not such a Sci-Fi phreek like me, let me tell you that this particular film is extremely long awaited, whether or not it becomes a big hit.

If you'll just imagine Wayne and Garth sitting on the couch in their basement making Way-back Machine noises for a moment, I'll tell you as much as I can.  It all started when Sigourney Weaver first ran around the Nostromo in her panties on the big screen when I was but a young lad and that image has been with me ever since ...

Alien (1979): Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, and the crew of the mining transport vessel Nostromo are unexpectedly brought out of hypersleep on their journey home to answer a distress beacon signal coming from a passing planet.  They encounter aliens created by the twisted mind and imagination of H.R. Giger on planet LV-426.  Sci-Fi horror action ensues and a Ridley Scott cult-classic film dynasty is born.

Aliens (1986): After surviving the nightmare on LV-426, her long journey home and 57 years of hypersleep, Ripley is back in civilization. Unfortunately, humans have colonized LV-426 during that time and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is then recruited as an military advisor with the Colonial Marine unit tasked to investigate when communication suddenly stops from the LV-426 colony.  On their bug hunt, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Apone (Michael Biehn), Hudson (Bill Paxton), Ash (Lance Henrikson), and Burke (Paul Riser) find one little survivor, Newt, and try to escape this James Cameron film version of alien hell.

Predator (1987) - This original Sci-Fi action film by John McTiernan also goes with the nasty alien vibe but, here on earth.  Maj. 'Dutch' Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarznegger), Maj. George Dillon (Carl Weathers) and Sonny Landham (Jesse Ventura) are some of the commandos that find themselves being hunted by this alien predator in a South American jungle.  No disrespect to the successful and beloved Terminator series but, this film was actually one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best movies.

Predator 2 (1990) - The difference between this Stephen Hopkins sequel and the original film is like playing outdoor paintball with Michigan militia wannabe teens hiding in the woods of Hell Survivors in Pinckney and playing urban paintball against the wanna-be gangstas running into concrete walls in the dark at the Paintball Arena in Pontiac.  It's all good.  No Ah-nold but, it is a pretty cool flick set in a near-futuristic Los Angeles when LAPD Lt Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) takes on the Predator.  At the end of this film, an Alien skull is shown on display in the trophy room of the Predator's space ship.  The Aliens vs Predator idea was now in everyone's head but, first to develop a story about the idea was Dark Horse comic books.

NINE friggin' DVDs!!
Alien 3 (1992) - Because of an Alien stowaway onboard the ship, Ripley, Hicks and Newt make it off LV-426 only to crash land on Fiorini 161, a corporate prison planet where the inmate-exiles have formed a religious cult.  Hicks and Newt are dead.  Ripley and the inmates try to survive until help can arrive, along with the prison guards that don't need or carry any weapons to defend themselves.  When the alien starts running amok, they all go into McGuyver mode and improvise during most of this film until the Weyland-Yutani corporation shows up.  Realizing the corporation's true motives and intentions for her, Ripley does a full-gainer into a tank of molten lead rather than make another movie with director David Fincher.

Alien Resurrection (1997) - Just like the title of this Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie sounds, Ripley is back via the wonders of genetic engineering as Lt. Ellen Ripley clone #8.  It's been 200 years since some Ripley DNA was salvaged on Fiorini 161 but, the government is trying to breed aliens onboard the U.S. Marine vessel Auriga.  Ripley clone #8, a human-alien hybrid, along with some black market human-host-for-alien smugglers (Ron Perlman, Winona Ryder, et al) try to survive once the inevitable happens -- the aliens escape the lab and run amok.

That gets you up to where the Aliens versus Predator movie starts off next Friday but, I have a feeling many of you phreeks already knew the backstory.  So, here's the AVP plot summary by Harpster_2004 at IMDb:

Set in the early 21st century on Earth, Charles Weyland, an industrialist billionaire, leads an archaeological expedition in Antartica.  Using thermal imaging satellites, Weyland believes to have discovered the ruins of an ancient pyramid temple that predates the Egyptian and Aztec pyramids buried under the ice.  Once inside, the team finds the remains of humans with holes in the rib cage and the remains of facehuggers, meaning that the possibility of the temple being uninhabited is very unlikely.  To make matters worse, five teenage Predators are coming to the temple to perform a coming-of-age ritual that involves fighting to the death with the aliens.  Soon, it becomes clear that only one species is getting out alive.

The AVP movie is just icing on the cake for the many Sci-Fi fans of this idea and concept.  You've got many published books and a variety of video games to check out besides everything else, like the movie trailers and film clips galore.  Some of you may remember I use to have a side section link for a while that would take you to the website of H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist who designed the Alien in the first place.  Unlike the earlier movies that were all rated R, Aliens versus Predator is only rated PG-13.  However, that still means Parents Strongly Cautioned because Some Material May Be Unsuitable for Children Under 13 due to VIOLENCE, LANGUAGE, HORROR IMAGES, SLIME AND GORE.

All in all, AVP is not as bad for your kids to watch as what is not shown on the nightly news or always told to you by the politicians and their propaganda corporations, I guess.

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