Thursday, September 29, 2005

Travel Blogging

I'm in a hotel
in Ciudad del carmen,
Mexico, today,
tomorrow and
maybe next week too.
All I've seen
of the town is the office and
the hotel, but it looks like
other tropical south american cities.
Just with more street flooding
than usual.
(photo is of Carmen during landing
at the airport)

Unfortunately I didn't win the lottery last night so I
had to come down here for some presentations that
I have to give in spanish, I guess it could be worse
I could be required to do the presentation in my
underware. (the presentation went ok, I felt so
nervous I wanted to projectile vomit onto the
conference table, but luckily the feeling passed.)

Updated on Sunday:
Now I'm in Villa Hermosa, which is nicer. The hotel
Camino Real is nice, with a superduper breakfast buffet.
Only the Sofitel Santa Clara in Cartagena has a better one.

I've got a fairly intractable problem though, I'm supposed
to be here on tuesday, also in barbados for the next week,
also in Denver on Wednesday and Thursday. So the quit
or get fired index is screaming towards red. Oh well,
come on Powerball!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Some crow pie for the Mainstream media

Not only was Katrina a failure for all levels of government,
the media did a poor job all around, undersensationalizing
before the storm: (from my blog, when I was live-blogging
the news the sunday before the storm)

CNN Sucks

I'm watching CNN again and in the last 12 hours they've shown
the anti-bush screed about bad intelligence 3 times! The approaching
disaster in New Orleans could be just about as bad as the Tsunami was,
but they've had 36 hours of warning about the story.

oversensationalizing what happened in the dome and convention center
That the nation's frontline emergency-management officials believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the news media and even some of the city's top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent.

The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees -- mass murders, rapes and beatings -- have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong -- bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

as well as not explaining who was really responsible for what. This
'where is the federal help' screeching will have the long term impact of
over-federalizing of all levels of disaster relief. Just what we need,
more government. Thanks MSM.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

"Nobody hurt he says"

My answering machine picked up when I called
this morning, so we must still have power in Katy.
Now I feel a slight amount of pussy-remorse, like
maybe I fled too far and too fast ahead of a storm
that didn't really do anything. Oh well, I'll get my
"Big P" tattoo when I get home. I'll wear it with

It looks like southwest louisiana got whacked
pretty good, especially the cameron area. This is
really unfortunate for the price of natural gas,
because as you travel west of grand isle, the offshore
production becomes more and more gas heavy, until
offshore texas it is all gas. The East and west Cam
offshore areas produce a lot of gas.

Also Cameron is a large port and support base for
offshore operations. Before this month I would have
said that the big three are Venice, Fourchon and
Cameron, LA. Now two of the three are wiped out,
and Fourchon was damaged. This will slow down the
return to normal operations and add a big lag factor
to the return to prestorm production.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Safe in Sanata Fe

Well we made it out of Houston, luckily we flew
out of Hobby Airport on Southwest. It was total
pandemonium as around 15000 people were there
and apparently the TSA were staffed for 25

I thought I was being clever, just bringing carryon
luggage, we'd dash in and grab an eticket from one
of the machines that are partially hidden from
novice travellers. We eased our way through the
massive checkin line, got to a machine and had our
tickets faster than you can say 'knife'. I had a smirk
of victory as we kept walking around the curve to
the security check-in, and the smirk turned to a frown
when I saw the massive security line. We made
our way to what we thought was the end of the line,
but it was more like we stood in one place for a minute
waited for a line to move and merged. (ok, we cut)

It took 2 1/2 hours to clear security, but we moved
most of that in the last hour when Southwest flew
a planeload of agents from dallas, they arrived and
manned the non-security positions at the checkpoint
which allowed more metal detectors to be manned.

Southwest is one of the smartest and best-run
companies around. The TSA is what you get when you
have another 100,000 federal employees, a bunch of
people killing time until retirement , "oh a storm is
coming? I'll take annual leave today, I've built up 120

Anyway, enough bile for today. We made our plane with
minutes to spare since they held it 40 minutes. We made
our connection with seconds to spare, and now we're
taking our ease at my sisters in Santa Fe. (to me one of
the prettiest places in the world.)

West houston should come out ok from this storm, just
light damage and maybe street flooding if the projected
rain happens and the storm hits in port arthur. My
wife was right when she insisted on flying out (and found
a dogsitter), if we had driven to louisiana we'd be doubly
screwed, hit by the storm and we just heard from a friend
that there is no gas to be had for love or money.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Perfect Storm?

Steve Gregory over at wunderground's weather blog is
awfully impressed with Rita, calling it the perfect storm
and pointing out that he's never seen the computer models
predict an intensity so strong before. One intensity forcast
brings the storm to 180 knots, which is approximately
205 mph.

In the 6 hours I just slept, the model guidance has shifted
right 30 miles at least, with some of the models moving
much more towards Louisiana. Our plans have changed
as well, a neighbor that is staying here in Katy will watch
the dog, and we're flying to my sister's in New Mexico.

This is probably a good idea now, much better than lafayette
since several tracks now take the storm to the sabine river
while they are leaving the track guidance near to galveston,
on the 'west edge' of the model envelope. gah!

Good luck to all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Which way you gonna run?

I'm watching the weather channel and trying to figure
out which way to run. We live about a mile from I-10
on the far west side of houston so I had been planning
on the easy escape, I-10 to San Antonio,
then the flight across the desert, west or northwest.
Now in order to get out of the power outage area we'll
have to go very far west or north. it looks easier to
brave the traffic cutting across houston and head back
to lafayette. At least the number of friends/family is
increasing in that direction, but if the storm changes
it's mind and goes to SW LA then we'll have to keep
running. Into an area without gas or much infrastructure.

hmmm. 'tis a puzzlement, but I'm being helped by my public
declaration of never again after the last storm, so the question
is not whether, but where.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Panic sets in

I just made a trip to Kroger on the way home from the office
to see if I could top up our hurricane supplies. the place was
fuller than normal, like a satuday morning, but not packed.

When I passed the water aisle there was nothing...just bare
shelves where my cool refreshing bottled water should be,
no evian, perrier...nothing. I grabbed a couple 12 packs of
coke and sprite, and a case of beer, then I saw her. She was a
slender blond, about 40, very nice, and she wouldn't meet my
eyes, and her cart was full of water! I pushed my cart a little
faster in the direction she came from and I struck gold, a crowd
of about 20 people standing around a guy unloading a pallet of

I pushed into the crowd, "how many?" he asked me breathlessly.
I hesitated then said "3", since I already had some water at
home. He loaded up my cart and I walked away, with my cart
full of water, beer, poptarts and granola bars. When a young woman
tried to catch my eye as she oggled my water, I looked away and
slunk out of the store.

Tranlated for pirates - Arrrr!

Yesterday was talk like a pirate day (september 19th) so in honor

of this, here is my previous post translated by the pirate translator

at mediocre minds

Storm T'ssed Seas

I spent the day today flyin' from Barbados t' Houston and
on the Miami leg we flew through the outer edges o' Rita
I took a picture from the cabin window where I could see the
whitecaps t'ssin' on the surface. (Aaaarrrhhh!!!) T' see whitecaps from 25000
feet, it must have been bonnie rough down thar.
(I can't find the usb cable for the camera, doh!)

The airport in Miami was packed as south florida drained of
tourists, 'n the TSA people thar didn't even pretend to
speak english Was Cuba evacuatin' too?

On the radio here in Houston they be talkin' 'bout evacuatin'
from galveston as the over-reaction t' Katrina sets in People
will evacuate, the storm will go t' mexico, then next time they
won't evacuate thus completin' the storm cycle: Fear-overreaction

Our house seems well built, 'n we're on bonnie high ground
(for coastal texas) but we're still goin' t' haul dungbee Just not
until the cone o' uncertainty be less than 1000 miles.
Me cycle be more like: watchful waitin', shit in one basket, dog
in car, haul dungbee. (Aarhh!) repeat as necessary.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Storm Tossed Seas

I spent the day today flying from Barbados to Houston and
on the Miami leg we flew through the outer edges of Rita.
I took a picture from the cabin window where I could see the
whitecaps tossing on the surface. To see whitecaps from 25000
feet, it must have been pretty rough down there.
(I can't find the usb cable for the camera, doh!)

The airport in Miami was packed as south florida drained of
tourists, and the TSA people there didn't even pretend to
speak english. Was Cuba evacuating too?

On the radio here in Houston they are talking about evacuating
from galveston as the over-reaction to Katrina sets in. People
will evacuate, the storm will go to mexico, then next time they
won't evacuate thus completing the storm cycle: Fear-overreaction

Our house seems well built, and we're on pretty high ground
(for coastal texas) but we're still going to haul ass. Just not
until the cone of uncertainty is less than 1000 miles.
My cycle is more like: watchful waiting, shit in one basket, dog
in car, haul ass. repeat as necessary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Back in Barbados

Oh well, I thought I would be free to be at home and
enjoy my home and family for another week, but plans
changed and I had to zip (if an 11 hour trip is zipping)
back down to barbados for the next project.

I had a pretty good week at home though. My parents
have power again after only 10 days in the dark. I thought
I'd have to make a trip over to Picayune to pick them up,
but it was going to be tricky because there is still little
to no gas to be had south of Jackson, MS. Luckily I wasn't
needed and I won't have to strap a 50 gallon drum on
top of my camry. The downside is I won't get my entry
in the redneck olympics, my past events have included
transporting a matress on the roof of my car while holding
it with one hand.

Sharon over at domestic engineer has another operation
upcoming, so my hopes are with her, and if any readers
are practicing christians you can add her to your prayers.
I doubt my lapsed catholic prayers do much good.
Or just go read her site, she's a reliably great writer.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11th

Winds of Change has the best links to 9/11 stories
and it's aftermath, including the story of Rick

Lyrics of Men of Harlech from Porphyrogenitus:
      Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
      Can't you see their spear points gleaming
      See their warrior's pennants streaming
      To this battle field

      Men of Harlech stand ye steady
      It cannot be ever said ye
      For the battle were not ready
      Stand and never yield

      Form the hills rebounding
      Let this war cry sounding
      Summon all at Cambria's call
      The mighty force surrounding

      Men of Harlech onto glory
      This shall ever be your story
      Keep these fighting words before ye
      Cambria (Welshmen never) will not yield

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Who runs Barter Town?

Instapundit linked to a poll
that says that 54% of the

people in the US don't think
that the New Orleans area
should be rebuilt as it was.
That the flooded houses
should be relocated elsewhere.

I don't agree. New Orleans
with just the central business
district and the french quarter
will be just an adult disneyworld,
and it will quickly lose the
character that made it New Orleans.

South Louisiana does have something that the rest
of the country needs and wants: Oil and Gas production
and refineries. The era of cheap gas produced by polluting
Louisiana while the enviro-nuts in california get a free
ride is over. Embargo. Who runs Barter-town? We do.

New Orleans should be rebuilt, houses can be raised or
rebuilt above MSL. The land can be raised above MSL
as was done for Galveston after the 1900 hurricane,
if they could do this in 1900, we should be able to do a better
job now.

Rebuilding New Orleans should be part of a comprehensive
plan to restore the surrounding barrier islands and the delta,
even if it means losing some towns down in the delta, or suburbs
like St Bernard Parish. All of this can be paid for out of revenues
from offshore oil production, which averages at $4.3 billion/year.
Also, a 5% tax on gasoline refined in Louisiana would generate
billions and have the added impact of making other people build

This doesn't have to be just a disaster. A city on a newly created
hill can be rebuilt, maybe not as big as it was but better.

Friday, September 09, 2005

boudreaux-thibideaux joke

Thibideaux said "Hey Boudreaux, if I slept with your wife
and got her pregnant, and she had a baby, would that make
us relatives? or what would that make us?"

"Even" said Boudreaux

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Blame game and tribal speech

There is no way todiscuss apportioning blame for the
outcome of the Katrina disaster, because we as americans
have become so divided into tribes of differing beliefs,
with different a priori assumptions and effective communication
is no longer possible between different tribes.

Political discussions could be as between Sioux and Mohawk,
with a few common words such as "Tatonka" and "Watahe",
but almost all other words are charged with different meanings
to different tribes, and this quickly leads to wars of words
and arrows, and almost no topic is safe but baseball.

I'm listening to CNN playing in the other room, and it sounds
like Nancy Pelosi is shrieking about how bush is at fault, it seems
to me he is at fault whenever a sparrow falls or a flower fails to
bloom according to Pelosi.
But if he were to extend his hand and try use the power
necessary to protect all sparrows and flowers, then she would
call him hitler and a nazi.

Senator Pelosi is from the tribe that wants continuous 24/7
federal protection from all ills. But without being too intrusive,
eg, not in the bedroom or in abortion clinics, etc.

I might be a tribe of one, but my tribe thinks that the federal
government will be mostly incompetent at any task it puts its
hand to. I think power should be devolved as low as possible, so
that if I have a problem with a government policy, I can go and
throw a rock at somebody to get their attention.

It's difficult to discuss these ideas though with the other tribes.
They say government and think 'saviors', whereas I think " hide
the women and the whiskey, here comes the government".

One way to finally divide up the blame using tribe-free words
would be to conduct a thought experiment: Imagine the storm
had struck new orleans head on instead of a glancing blow. All
the people in the dome would have been killed as it was peeled
open like a big can of tuna. The levees would have been breached
during the storm, instead of the next morning. Tuesday morning
would have dawned on tens of thousands of people floating dead
in the water. (This was what I was expecting to happen, as I sat
on my drilling rig it was with dread and apprehension that I
connected to the internet monday morning)

NONE of this would have been George Bush's fault. The job of
getting people out of the city belongs to the mayor and the
governor. The military would have gotten there as quickly as
it could, instead of the slow motion arrival that it used for Katrina,
but it really wouldn't have mattered. The Mayor and Governor
should have gotten as many people out of New Orleans even if
it meant dropping them off in a field outside Lafayette. It
would have been much easier for FEMA to feed
and water and protect people in an open field accessible by
highway, than in New Orleans where 3 of the four entryways
to the city aren't usable.

If we continue the thought experiment, Bush would have tried
to make a speech or two, but since he is not Clinton and can
not feel anyone's pain, Bush would have been excoriated as he
is being excoriated now.

So, to sum up:
Bush is at fault for being bush. He is not Bill Clinton, and he
refuses to fire people that should be fired. Those are perfectly
valid reasons not to vote for him, but he shouldn't be impeached
or censured or continually attacked in the press.

Governor Blanco was panicky and emotional when steely
hardness was what was called for.
She blocked transport of food and water to the
superdome after the storm but before the levee broke
, because
it was thought that would just attract more people to the

Mayor Nagin was most at fault, he had the authority to evacuate
earlier and more vigorously, and he dropped the ball.

To those of the other tribes, you might have just heard me say
'tatanka' and 'watahe' and disagreed completely, but we can just
agree to disagree. There are more important things to do now,
the Red Cross had plenty of volunteers on monday, but they did
say that next week they'll need more as enthusiasm wanes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Ray Nagin Memorial Park

Junkyardblog has these pictures
of the future monument to
futility known as the Ray Nagin
memorial park.

Junkyardblog has other posts
that show more bus parking
lots under water in New Orleans.
If all these buses (he counts over
500 in this picture and another
picture) had been used around
20000 people could have been
bussed out in one trip before the

In the end there is plenty of blame to spread around for this
disaster though:

The adult population that was stuck in
New Orleans is mostly to blame for their
own plight. Everyone knew what would happen.
Hurricane Betsy gave a demo of what might
happen when she flooded the Ninth ward and
St. Bernard Parish. If you lived in New
Orleans as an adult and had no thought of a plan
except "the government will save me" then you pretty
much got what you deserved.

Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco are grossly incompetant and
if they were honorable would resign their positions. They had total
authority to evacuate the people, to demand that people evacuate,
to shove people onto the unused buses and make someone drive at
gunpoint if they had to. They had no need to wait for FEMA or
Bush or anyone. It was their responsibility to get the people out
of New Orleans and they failed in that.

The head of FEMA should be fired, and so should his boss at
Homeland Security. The Media can start to revise history to make
Bush responsible for everything, but I watched the head of Fema
on Fox last Sunday say that this was the disaster they have planned
for for 3 years, and everything was prepositioned to go in and
save the city. He can backtrack now:

"Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said today. "Then the levees broke and (we had) this lawlessness. That almost stopped our efforts."

Brown said he understood the criticism of FEMA's effort -- U.S. Sen. David Vitter gave the agency an "F" for its work.

"Katrina was much larger than we expected," he said. "Am I frustrated? Yeah, I'm frustrated. You have to remember, this is a war zone. I can assure you we're doing everything we can. It is unacceptable to look on TV and see those people stranded. It breaks my heart."

But this is a lie. If Brown had watched Fox or CNN for 15 minutes
on Sunday that was all that was discussed was "filling the bowl".

Now the long-knives come out as the media begins to blame Bush
for a disaster that has been 40 years in the making. I don't agree
with this answer, there is plenty of blame for everyone though.