Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti, Pacts and Theology

A friend from my high school pointed me to a three part series of articles entitled "God, Satan and the Birth of Haiti" written by a licensed Church of God minister to a Haitian-American Church.

I found the articles quite interesting, and especially the closing comment in part three that pointed out how ridiculous it would be for anyone to enlist the biggest slave holder in the Universe (Satan) for aid in throwing off the chains of slavery, a historical ploy being discussed in both historical documents and now in blogdom and television.

According to the author of the series, the Haitian did no such thing anyway.

If you are pressed for time, and just want a quick snippet of encouraging history, just check out the text under Haiti's First Steps After 1804 here. in part three of the series.

Meanwhile, I'm currently curious about something:

Why didn't a shake of that magnitude damage the entire island, instead of just Haiti? It surely is a geographic quirk, but one I haven't been able to identify as of yet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Need for Lifelong Learning

I believe in Lifelong Learning.
It is very important to continue learning new things as we age.
I, for instance, learned from the Lifelong Learning catalogue that "Zombies are invading neighborhoods all across the country".

That seemed like a pretty broad statement to me, or at least it did until I went looking for a picture of a zombie (just in case they were right about this zombie situation...I needed to know what a zombie might look like nowadays) and came across this:

This is serious.

My parents, daughter, and grandkittens all live in San Diego!

The course description read:

Zombies are invading neighborhoods all across the country but we can help you prepare for them. Our Zombie expert gives you the tools you need to protect yourself from these creeping disasters. Whether you're just starting to plan your defense or you already have some measures in place, you will not want to miss out on this opportunity. When the Zombies knock out your power or initiate devastating natural disasters, you'll be able to face them confidently and with the weapons you need to defeat them.
Wednesday, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM; 5 sessions starting January 13, 2010, ending February 10, 2010
Tuition: $39.00

The zombie problem must be WAY bigger than I originally thought: When I went online to sign up just now, it turned out that the class was already full.

Save me Obama. You're my only hope.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


(click on the above pictures to see complete maps)
So Haiti had a big one...7.3. It sounds like it was just awful...and a tsunami could still be happening. A hospital has collapsed, houses have been tossed into ravines, and who know what it is like there right now as I type.

Lately I've been having earthquake buzz brain. Lately I find myself checking the news, checking the quake maps. My parents live right on top of a major fault line in San Diego; we live on another major fault line in Utah, and memories of the 9.2 "Good Friday" Alaskan earthquake of 1964 and Santa Cruz area earthquake of the late 1980's still leave me with a sense of awe at what the earth can do.

The Alaskan earthquake had a rippling effect down the western United States coastline. My husband remembers being in Washington state and watching a school bus rattle on the road, then tip over.
I remember being evacuated.

It was the first time I had to consider what I would take with me on a moment's notice. Later I got to think through the question when evacuation due to a storm was required. (I quickly learned that I actually could not take all my photo albums!)

Since then my thinking has enlarged: not only do I consider what I would take with me in a car at a moment's notice (think wild fire, toxic spill), I also think about what I would take if I couldn't take a car. I think about what I would need to stay put for awhile without access to water or grocery store goods. I think about what those scenes would be like in summer and winter. I think about what it would be like to flee or stay in cases of natural disasters, and also menacing situations involving people.

I think about what Bernie and I and the cats would need in each situation.

My girlfriend lived through the 6.5 earthquake known as Loma Prieta. Her neighborhood clung together, cooking outside, and waiting for word from loved ones. She marveled that she had just come in one door and not another, as the other doorway usage would have had her being hit by a falling chandelier. Everyone was glad they could come together over outside barbeques as they cooked up the contents of their now useless freezers.

I saw the damaged freeways, and the impassible areas. When someone said "you can't get there from here" they really meant it.

Bernie and I have had quite a few conversations over the past few years about evacuations and isolation. Just in case you are interested, here are some of the things we have learned:

1. Have a rolling suit case filled with necessities.
(It is really hard to think clearly in an emergency. Don't wait to think through and assemble this until the moment it is will forget important items! Stock the case way ahead of need.)

Include a few hundred dollars in small bills; in a crisis situation stores will not be able to use
plastic card readers or make change.
Have a list ready of things that you will need to grab: medicine, family heirlooms/jewelry, camera chips (I never wipe my chips now...I know I can carry chips but not necessarily my computer or albums)
Have key phone numbers and addresses and significant papers (birth certificate, passport, deeds, bank acct numbers) listed and stowed in waterproof bags. Make copies, then add the originals to the list of things to grab.
Have DETAILED maps of the area up to 100 miles. Trust me: Main road gridlock in emergencies, only knowing alternate routes will enable to you get out with minimum gas usage.
Have basic hygiene kits: waterless cleaners, soap, toothbrush/paste, sunscreen, pain killers, band aids, anti-infection creams, toilet paper....
Water purification tablets
Matches, flashlight, candles
Can opener
Some high calorie dense foods that are small.
Work gloves. Duct tape. Cap with bill. Extra socks, underwear.
You can find various lists on the Internet...and it is interesting to compare what is suggested.
If possible, ask if you can have a two month supply of all prescriptions. One goes in the roll on, and rotates with each prescription fill.

Once you figure out what you think you would absolutely need to survive in an evacuation situation, pack your rolling case. Add food, pet food if desired. Add a back pack for each person.

Check to see make sure you can lift the case into your car. (No guarantee that the man of the house will be home when the need arises.) If needed, you can unpack and repack once you have lifted the case.

Add sleeping bag, more clothes, more food, more water...etc etc.

Once the absolute necessities of the case is loaded, you can add to the load until you must leave. Remember...gridlock happens. Evacuation spaces fill. Don't be the last one out of Dodge!

2. Have a backpack filled with necessities.
This is a subset of what is in the rolling case. Figure out how much you can actually carry on your back. Make a list; store the list in the rolling case. If the roads are shot, you might have to hike out. You might be able to bike out (motor or pedal power) in which case a back pack is your best bet.

3. Have supplies for at least a week in your house.
Water, food, meds.
Think about doing without power.
Think about doing without water.
Think seasonally: what if it was winter? Summer?

That scenario isn't too troubling...until you stretch it a bit. Water isn't just for drinking. Think about it for a bit. How will toileting be managed? Washing bodies and utensils?
How would it be to be without power or water for a month? Could you stay, or would you needd to leave? Where could you go?

Or what if where you are was inaccessible for a month? Washed out roads...broken roads...

Remember: If you don't have power, neither does the grocery store or any place else that supplies goods and services. If you can't get out...don't plan on anyone getting to you anytime soon.

Kansas City has just one of many emergency plan out in cyberland. You can look at their guidelines here.

How crazy could it get with an earthquake situation? I remember reading about how Alaska had the earth split open, houses would fall deep into the opening and the split would close, the house never to be seen again.

The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were felt over 50,000 miles, and cause the Mississippi River to run backwards from Louisiana, the shaking rang church bells as far away as Boston and the rattling was felt from Louisiana to Toronto Canada. It is felt that the quakes would have registered at 8.2.

The fault that shook back then is still being monitored, and geologists have reason to think that it could shake again at any time...only this time it will impact major cities instead of unsettled areas. In the next 50 years there is a 25-40% chance of a 6.0 earthquake occurring in the same now densely populated area.

Between ice storms, fire storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods (dam failures happen...) electrical grid break downs, water treatment plant failures, toxic spills, economic/political turmoil...well, not to sound like an End Times gloom and doomer, but really... stuff happens.

Personally, I'd rather be one of the prepared people. I'd rather be someone helping, instead of needing help.

And if you live in a rural area and figure you are pretty safe?
Think a minute about where all the people in the big city closest to you will be going if an emergency hits.

It can happen. I saw it happen personally. You may be suddenly called upon to shelter a family in need. There just are not enough hotels in any area to house everyone from one city.

Are you ready for that?

Maybe you could be.

Personally, I think we all should much as we are able.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh blah, oh rats. Help me, Obama!

Ugh...I just heard on the news that we had the worst air quality in the USA over the weekend. The grey dingy sky sank to the valley floor, then built up until the mountain ranges were nearly invisible. The morning temperatures were in the teens, but on the brighter side, it was warm enough in the weak sunlight that we could sit on the deck to read the Sunday paper after church.
Jeff warned us that January didn't have a lot going for it here. It would be cold, with very little snow, and what is called "inversions" which is some sort of atmospheric trick that creates the terrible air quality. Thankfully, we live above the inversion, a fact that was noted as a highly desirable feature back when we were house hunting.

The snow on our property is still deep, but very icy, and shows deer tracks in front and a series of rat tracks in back. The Norwegian rats dug seeds into the lawn over the summer, and now they are digging them up again, and leaving a brownish smooth half pipe trail through the snow.

Bernie says he will have to trap them soon, now that we can clearly see two of them at work. The little brown rats look up at us with black eyes, faces that are not rat like at all. For awhile we wondered if they were some kind of ferret or other creature, but their rat tails were unmistakable.

We hesitate to set traps; cats and birds frequent the yard, and it would be horrible to find Missy or Gracie or any of the other local cats with smashed toes or muzzle. Everyone that I know who has used rat traps usually find a very much alive rat trapped in the end...and have to dispatch the rat in a bucket of water or with a hammer. Ugh all over again.

But rats WILL breed, and the idea of having a rat family taking up residency in our garage or worse, somehow in our house, is motivation to face the music and get the job done.
(Lovella...if your boys are interested in a trip to SLC, they can revisit their ratting days and get some good skiing in as lodging on us!)

Thankfully there is always something to laugh about if you look hard enough. The Best Parody Song of 2009 (as named by the iconic Dr. Demento) was penned by two lads from SLC, winning out over other songs penned by Weird Al himself.

So without further is it is, your daily laugh to get you through another grey cold January day:


Parody of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna"
Lyrics by M. Spaff Sumsion

Macy Lund: Christmas Wishes
Robert Lund: Everything Else

(sung to the tune of Lady Madonna)

Save me, Obama
Stimulate my life
Please improve my credit, my job, my wife
Bail out my bar tab
Subsidize my rent
Isn't that the point of the government?

Bills and banks and Baghdad are a bummer
Please appoint a breast-enhancement czar
Tell GM I really need a Hummer
And a new car!

Save me, Obama
Fix my abs and hair
Buy my Frappucinos with Medicare
Spank all the bankers
Bring a lasting peace
To the Yanks and Red Sox and Middle East

Stop Shiites from settling fights the mob way
Find me jobs in Fiji and St Croix
Purge the graft from hell-holes like Zimbabwe
And Illinois!

Save me, Obama
Find a cure for gas
Leave your carbon footprint on OPEC's ass
Hug North Korea
Shoot hoops with Iran
Can we ask for everything? Yes we can!

Make each Christian, Muslim, Jew, and Mormon
All join hands and sing Give Peace a Chance
Ending death and spam and global warmin'
And menstrual cramps!

Save me, Obama
Left and Right agree
This is now the United States of Me!

...and I want a pony...and an iPhone...and a two-state solution in Gaza...and a reintroduction of the Dodo bird to its native habitat...and an end to hunger in sub-Saharan Africa...and a weekly six-figure allowance...