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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Sunday, September 26, 2004
Hurricane Jeanne Hits Florida

Hurricane Jeanne hit the Florida coast a little before midnight about the same place where hurricane Frances made landfall.

[0100 hrs] I made an animated GIF of Hurricane Jeanne Hitting Florida from NWS service radar images out of the Melbourne center.  I'll try to update this blog entry as long as I can stay online this morning.  Back to scurrying around the house.

[0300 hrs] I've been watching local WKMG TV weatherman, Tom Sorrells, all night.  You guys from the Detroit area may remember him.  I think his was on WDIV.  We've been in between feeder bands here, for about an hour now.  I took a quick-but-relaxing hot shower and shaved.  From my experience with the power outage from Frances, it could be days before we have hot water again.  The reports of power outages are moving north toward my area.

New hurricane drinking game rules: you not only have to do a shot when someone says, Hunker Down, but you also have to kiss the person next to you when someone says, Feeder Band, and remove an article of clothing when someone says, Eye Wall.  Well, now that you're drunk and we're both naked ... Muahahaha!  Okay, fine.  I'm getting dressed again.

The radar is pretty clear right now, but the sustained winds are picking up strength.  The current projected path of Jeanne is a straight line from Fort Pierce, on the Atlantic coast, straight through Disney and then turning north as it nears the gulf coast.  They're predicting Jeanne to still be a category 1 hurricane as the eye cuts through the southern part of our county, later this morning.

They're supposed to lift the curfew at 6am, but I guess that depends on whether they can safely patrol.  Local6 (WKMG) just showed six different traffic cams around Orlando and Orange county that showed absolutely no vehicles on any of the freeways.  Brevard county just had a report of a roof ripped off an elementary school used as a special needs shelter.  They had to evacuate 320 physically disabled people sheltered there to the community college.  That has to be just craptastic for those folks.  I'm back to scurrying around the house again.

[0500 hrs] I've been chilling out for the past two hours.  The worst of the hurricane is supposed to start around dawn and go into the afternoon in our area.  The sustained winds have been growing in strength and I think we're now in the constant rain event, too.  They're predicting 5-10 inches of rain.  Gusts are sounding a little unnerving but I haven't heard any loud crashes of branches or trees yet.  Power has been browning out and the winds have knocked the dialup connection offline multiple times.  If the power remains on after day break, I'm going to check out some web cam sites, but it's likely they could be down and offline from lack of power in their area.  Less scurrying now.  My evacuation gym bag is packed, but I think I'll likely just stay at home and deal with it.

[0700 hrs] Helleena got off to work okay. The weather is like one loooong, strong thunderstorm for several hours now.  Power flicked off, but (obviously) it's back on.  For how long?  The wind and rain are constant and getting more horizontal.  The gusts are gustier.  I'm hearing some thunks and clunks of some debris hitting things outside now.  I can't decide whether to stay awake and be quietly stressed out or just give in to fatigue, fall asleep, and wait for a crash-bang to wake me up to something exciting or important. 
  Battered but not beaten

[1700 hrs] Well, as you might have figured out, Jeanne made her way into my area and the power finally got knocked out this morning.  The weather people predicted the worst hurricane winds and rain were going to begin in my area around daybreak and go on all day as Jeanne made her turn north.  Since I'd been scurrying for the previous 24 hours, around 11am I just decided to ride out the brunt of the storm by sleeping through it.

Luckily, I wasn't stirred awake by any of Jeanne's crash-bangs.  Oddly, what woke me was the surreal digital female voice of the answering machine as it initialized itself when the power came back on.  I was more than just a little disoriented for a few minutes there.  Was I awake?  Check. Still at home?  Check.  Daylight?  Check.  Oh, now I remember ... there's a hurricane still raging outside.  Maybe I should put some clothes on and hobble around now?  Good idea.

Then the power winked back off.  Crap.  Somehow sensing I was awake, Helleena called her cell phone.  Her nursing home residents were a little frazzled, but everything was okay so far.  I explained that I had just woken up.  That is a code phrase that we both use with each other.  It means: Don't expect me to be coherent, or pleasant, or remember anything you tell me.  After a few minutes, I was awake enough to realize that I had neglected to make any coffee while the power had still been on last night and fill up my thermos pitcher.  Crap again.

[1900 hrs] Before it got dark, I decided I should do some recon and make a sitrep should Helleena call back before coming home later tonight.  I looked out the Florida room stormdoor and noticed the bright green plastic jack-o-lantern I had hung on the horizontal half of France's tree last week was MIA.  I wanted to look for it.  Branches were still falling out of the sky, though.

I also had an immediate obstacle to overcome.  The top of another tree was laying in front of the stormdoor.  We must have been in between feeder bands (kiss-kiss) because it wasn't raining, but the winds were absolutely howling through the trees.  Part of my open carport was a bit torn up from the treetop coming down.  I put on my bricklayer's hardhat, hacked up the treetop with my machete and hobbled the branches down to the empty lot next to me.

Now that I had cleared the door, my driveway, and the street in front of the house from branches, I hoped I could go look for my poor little missing jack-o-lantern.  Clearing the debris away reminded me of the many, many times I had to start at my door and dig through a foot of freshly fallen snow to make a path to the outside world in the Detroit area.  Putting the situation into that kind of perspective, combined with the knowledge that tomorrow will likely be a fairly typical and pleasant, 80-degree day, put me in a fairly happy and positive frame of mind.

As I was clearing the debris away, my positive mental attitude was rewarded.  The power came back on (and has stayed on so far).  With my hardhat on my head and my digital camera in my hand, I hopped into my HFD electric scooter chair and quickly ventured around my block.  I was glad to have thought of wearing my hardhat -- more of  the same treetop came down and blocked the road that I had just cleared in front of the house.  I nonetheless ventured out in the chair for a few minutes.  I took the battered flag photo, above.  Before I could make it around the little block though, a squall started dumping rain on me.  I scootered back home as fast as the chair would scoot, without finding my missing jack-o-lantern.

I hope to get out tomorrow and take some digital pix for your gawking pleasure.  One mobile home on the next street over from me, apparently owned by a snowbird and unoccupied at the moment, softened the landing of a huge tree.  It's completely crunched and destroyed.

[Headphones] :: You done lost your good thing now - B.B. King

Saturday, September 25, 2004
Hurricane Jeanne is coming

Save bandwidth - Recycle your grafix
Fucking hell, fucking hell,

Stressing all damn day.

Oh what fun it is to hide

Or just to run away! Hey!

Hurricane Jeanne is coming to town.

She knows if you've been good or bad.

I think she heard me taunt her last week. Doh!

I'll try to update this entry as circumstances permit.  Here are the sites I'm keeping my eye on as I scurry around the house today:

Already blogged - Hurricane Charley links from last month
Hurricane Track - Mark and Eddie are friggin' nuts. Updated videos.
NWS - Melbourne Radar

[1500 hrs] Helleena went to the nursing home to work the afternoon shift.  She's scheduled to get come home tonight, get some sleep, and then be back for the morning shift at 7am.  I haven't decided whether or not to evacuate and spend the day entertaining her residents yet.

[1900 hrs] It started to rain pretty heavily.  I visited the National Weather Service web site. 'Eye' definitely see Jeanne on the Melbourne radar, now.  She is about 50 miles from shore with an eye of 50 miles in diameter.  Many have evacuated or hunkered down. (Drink,  Melicious!)  It's going to make landfall after dark, so I'm not checking for beach web cams.  I'm continuing my scurrying.

[2100 hrs] Argh.  I just read this on a local NWS site:

. Hurricane warning in effect.
. Flood watch Saturday and Sunday.
. Tornado watch until midnight.
. Strong winds. Rain and isolated thunderstorms. Heavy rain likely at times. Lows in the mid 70s. North winds 35 to 40 mph with gusts to around 65 mph becoming northeast 45 to 55 mph with gusts to around 90 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 100 percent.

More scurrying.  Evacuate or hunker down? (Drink, Melicious!)

[2300 hrs] Still have power.  I made a fresh pot of coffee.  Helleena got home okay.  She's crashing out until morning.  I'm on guard duty over night.  I'm glad I don't have any beer or SoCo in the house.  The local TV news did a man-on-the-street report in which either the reporter or the man-on-the-street said hunker down more than a dozen times in two minutes. (Drink, Melicious!)  It would be worse if your drinking game required you to do a shot every time the weather man said, "Feeder Band".

[Headphones] :: The thrill is gone - B.B. King

Friday, September 24, 2004
Effin' RANT: Rather Annoying News Television

Now, like his hair, the truth is many shades of gray
The latest big news scandal should only reinforce the obvious and constant complaint coming from all the ingredients and constituencies that make up the U.S. political melting pot -- the post-World War II tradition of objective journalism is either fubar or officially dead.

If you're not hip to the military slang term, fubar, which became popular around same the time that George Dubya Bush was celebrating his short timer status in the National Guard by pretending to work for the political campaign of his daddy's friend, Alabama Senator Winton 'Red' Blount and getting fubar drunk every other night -- about the same time which these infamously fake memos cover, the Vietnam War era of tie-dye, Jimi Hendrix, and LSD, -- fubar means fucked-up beyond all recognition.

The only consumers of the American News Media Product that are surprised or disappointed by Dan Rather's Memo Gate are the 50+ year old baby boomers who grew up during the warm, fuzzy, overly-protected innocent years of American culture with the notion of objective journalism as a evolutionary reaction to the obvious government propaganda in the media during World War II.

Investigative journalists and news organizations were the government watchdog.  Their job was to cut through the propaganda of government and beauracracy.  It was journalism that exposed Watergate, illegal and corrupt acts of politicians in the U.S. government, and caused U.S. president Richard M. Nixon to resign. Watergate is the origin scandal, patient zero, after which all subsequent political scandals in the U.S. reported in the media have been cutely named something-gates.

Everyone else on the planet understands the obvious bias in the American News Media Product. Younger consumers, people living outside the U.S., and students of politics, media and culture of all ages are not overly surprised or outraged by memo-gate, or Rather-gate, if you prefer that name.  While yellow journalism may only be a history question on a pop-quiz, it is the reality of american news media again.  News media outlets around the planet carry some agenda or bias.  They may be the mouth-piece of that particular government, or the mouth-piece of any political party within that government, or the mouth-piece for causes and groups not yet represented in the government.  The American News Media is no different.  Conservatives will tell you.  Liberals will tell you.  I'm telling you.

Most people that lived through those Cold War years, then the Vietnam era years, and then Watergate, would tell you that it was very disturbing and troubling.  It marked an end of innocence.  The U.S. goverment had won the big world war for liberty, peace and democracy.  It was actively protecting the good people of the world from the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union, the communist aggressors, and the assured destruction of mankind with nuclear inter-continental ballistic missiles during the Cold War.

If the idea of objective journalism really was an evolutionary reaction to blatant government propaganda, the current psychology of the American Samizdat marks a slide backward into the slimy journalistic puddle of goo out of which it had once crawled.  But, does it matter?
Journalism changed that comforting notion.  A single photograph of a naked child running down a nameless road in Vietnam on fire from napalm made the average person think twice about the wisdom of the Vietnam War.  Journalists exposing military lies at the highest level turned unquestioning patriotism into civil dissent.  Watergate was just the final blow for goverment credibilty but it was a benchmark of sorts.  While it was troubling for the people living and dying during those troubling times, most people appreciate the fact that someone investigated, someone reported, someone told them the ugly truth.

Wednesday, 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning author, Anne Applebaum, makes a good case that it does not matter -- as far as television news is concerned -- in her Washington Post column, Rather Irrelevant (registration required: use bugmenot to read it, or register). She begins:
Try as I may, I am unable to conjure up a single shred of nostalgia for the once-fabled network evening news programs. Walter Cronkite is a name to me, not a symbol of reassurance or stability. Edward R. Murrow is a historical figure. As for the hallowed idea of "the six o'clock news," it means nothing: In my adult life, I've never had time to watch the daily news at 6 or 6:30, at least not with any regularity. When I watch television at all, I switch without any particular loyalty from CNN to Fox to C-SPAN, depending on who is doing the talking, and I feel reasonably cynical about all of them.
Anne Applebaum's column is worth the effort to jump through the online registration hoops at the Washington Post in order to read, no matter if your favorite media watchdog or commentator hangs out with Noam Chomsky or William F. Buckley.  [Update: Watch RealVideo C-SPAN interview with Anne Applebaum discussing this topic.] But, since she makes some astute observations which just happen to agree with my own (snicker), I'll quote her conclusions here for you:
What became clear, as the story wound down to the inevitable apology on Monday night, was that Rather and his fellow network newsmen are stuck in a Vietnam/Watergate-era time warp. Most of us regard network anchors as faintly pompous talking heads, people who read other people's prose off teleprompters. But the anchors, rather extraordinarily, still regard themselves as the conscience of the nation. They aren't mere "journalists" who have to use authentic documents to prove their allegations but rather people whose fame and large paychecks and unchallenged power entitle them to some kind of automatic credibility, even if their documents are fake.

I'm sure we'll see this episode as the final collapse of network television's dominance over the news, and the final triumph of something else, something that is in some ways better, in some ways worse. On the one hand, the media are reverting to a more combative, pre-television norm, a time when partisanship was normal and you picked up your newspaper in the morning with a clear idea of the writers' opinions -- which did at least allow you to compensate for them. On the other hand, in this more competitive, post-television age, partisans expend a great deal of energy fact-checking others, and have more outlets on the Internet, on the radio, in the press and on TV for their findings. You don't like Rather? Click on You don't like Fox? Read Al Franken.

Much has been made in the past few years of the networks' "liberal bias." More dangerous, it seems to me, was the fact that the networks held a virtual monopoly over the most powerful form of communication. By its nature, television news has had far greater influence on politics, particularly national politics, than any newspaper or magazine could dream of. For that reason alone, more viewers watching a wider range of channels has to be better for the political health of the country.

I expect the death throes of network news will be long and drawn out, and there will be tedious weeping and wailing while it happens. But once it's gone, think of all that might go with it: the stories that are simultaneously pompous and superficial, the atmosphere that is at once grave and silly, the too-famous faces, and the too-brief stories. With any luck, the really good television journalists will survive and migrate elsewhere -- and the rest of us can channel surf until we find them.

And surf I do.  And surf you must, if you want to catch a few fish of truth swimming around in the slimy pond of yellow journalistic goo.  The only thing I truly regret is the automatic disdain and dismissal of journalism by one side of the political sprectrum when it happens to come from their political opposite.

Tens of thousands of boos and jeers toward Michael Moore during the Republican National Convention may have felt exhilirating to those GOP faithful and made for a few repeatable minutes of tape for Fox News, but to me it was indicative of a sad uninformed polarization of American politics when even John McCain admitted he has not even seen the Fahrenheit 911 documentary film.  No one was happy to read Woodward and Bernstein's investigative journalism about Watergate at the time when they reported and published it, either.  If a movie of the week is made about this time in American politics some years down the road, maybe John Goodman can put on a hundred pounds and portray Michael Moore.  I loved John Goodman doing Babe Ruth.

[Headphones] :: On the Sunny Side of the Street - Louis Armstrong

Thursday, September 23, 2004
Detroit's African Town: Racist?

Xavier laying around Detroit and taking pix

Spotted on Plastic and Tongue Tied: The Detroit City Council voted to go forward with a controversial $30 million annual economic development plan that would fund the creation of a business district called African Town.

Whenever race, ethnicity, politics and money are swirled together in a sentence, it's a good recipe for controversy.  In the metro Detroit area, that's a given.  I've already recycled my plastic opinion about this topic.  Twice.

You'll just have to read those comments to know why I think the whole thing is a matter of perspective.  Whites are editorializing the idea as being racist or illegal.  Besides the Freep link in profwhat's Plastic write up, the Detroit News carps, Council Embraces Racism as a Development Strategy and Laura Berman predicts doom and doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

These clueless crackers must have been too busy putting Dubya bumper stickers on their mini-vans and suburban terrain vehicles that they missed the sea change in Black Politics this year.  It's not like they missed reading a Loius Farakhan communiqué -- Bill Cosby was speaking very plainly about it this summer in a language even a dumbass white bricklayer, like me, could understand.

Is it just that the News and Freep writers can't stop whining long enough to friggin' google up a few phrases and people from their own damn stories to look into this from a different perspective -- or is it more likely that these people wouldn't have much to write about -- if they didn't continually play the race card in the Detroit media like they were getting drunk and playing Texas Hold 'Em on Celebrity Poker with George W. Bush's recently approved election-year tax-cut fun bucks?

[Headphones] :: Black Sunshine - White Zombie and KMFDM

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Ellis Marsalis Sr.

Marsalis Family Jazz CD
According to Reuters News Service, Ellis Marsalis Sr. died Sunday at the age 96 in New Orleans:

"Marsalis was a poultry farmer who converted a barn into a motel in 1943 along the Mississippi River.  The 40-room motel catered to blacks, who were not allowed to stay in New Orleans hotels because of racial discrimination.

The Marsalis Motel quickly became famous for its well-appointed rooms, fancy restaurant and shaded gardens.  Its clients included civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

The motel saw its fortunes turn for the worse in the 1960s when civil rights legislation allowed blacks to stay at New Orleans hotels that formerly catered only to whites.

In 1986 the facility closed and was later demolished.  But the motel also attracted some of the best musicians in the United States, who helped foster a love of jazz among the members of the Marsalis family, including his son Ellis Marsalis Jr., another jazz great."

Shown above is The Marsalis Family CD, released just last year.  Ellis Marsalis Sr's son, Ellis Marsalis Jr, recorded this great music upon his retirement from teaching at the University of New Orleans.  Not only do jazz superstars Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis play on this jazz celebration, but also another Marsalis protege, Harry Connick Jr.

The funeral for Ellis Marsalis Sr. is scheduled to take place tomorrow in New Orleans.

Nah'lins Funeral March

What song do you want the band to play to herald the arrival of your own dirt nap?

[Headphones] :: Banana Split Mix - BaD DoG

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