Hammer Time

We’ve been through a few hail storms over the years. I rather regretted not contacting the insurance company to have a look at the roof after seeing many of our neighbors getting new roofs on each occassion.

We knew our roof was getting to a point where it would need to be replaced and were dreading having to pay for this out of pocket.

Before Hurricane Ike we did have an inspector come out and have a look and he said it would only be a matter of a few years before replacment would neccessary.

After Hurricane Ike plowed through we noticed a lot of loose shingles in the yard and called our insurance company to have a look and they declared the roof a total loss and are paying to have it replaced (less our deductable).

I’m home now listening to the pounding of hammers as the old roof is ripped away and the frame is being prepped for new decking and shingles.

Dooley is terrified and probably learning some new sound effects and some conversational Spanish.

New roof being installed
New roof being installed

New roof being installed

New roof being installed

New roof being installed

New roof being installed

New roof being installed

New roof being installed

Post Ike Post

Traffic Cop

Traffic Cop

As the city struggles to recover from Hurricane Ike, more and most people are hitting the roads. Driving to work, running errands, etc. Of course with a lot of the city without power there’s a lot of traffic lights that are just dark. Traffic during peak hours, while not all that great on a normal day, is extremely bad as those who barely (if at all) qualify for a drivers license vainly struggle to sort out the de facto 4-way stops that plague even the shortest trip on any given surface street.

Today was the first day I’ve seen the local police out directing traffic. It helps, but there’s still a lot of congestion. As I was driving into town this evening the traffic on 59 headed out of the city was the thickest I’ve ever seen it. And that was at 8:00 pm.



I swung by KPFT to see how things were going. I’d heard that the station had gotten back on the air on Friday and actually played “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles repeatedly for an hour. For those not in the know, this was the first song played on KPFT when it went on the air on March 1, 1970.

As of now the station is on the air and returns to the normal schedule first thing on Tuesday morning. We’re actually hijacking our own Internet connection to send the signal to the transmitter over IP until we get things sorted out with the microwave.

Of course this means Technology Bytes will be back on Wednesday which gives me the happy. Anything to return my own sense of routine and normalcy goes a long, long way.

I Can Has Electricity

I Can Has Electricity

I Can Has Electricity

Why is this man smiling? Because power to the house was restored at 5:00 am this morning. I awoke with a start when the hall light came on and the ceiling fan started spinning. I was like a child on Xmas morning running around the house declaring that Santa had been here.

I was shouting “Power! We have power!” which startled and confused the crap out of Cynthia who was sleeping soundly.

Earlier yesterday evening I had borrowed a generator from a neighbor who had his power restored the other day and had hooked up the TV and enjoyed some quality time with my TV and a box fan. I was not extremely confident in the generator so I turned it off prior to going to bed as I imagined how horrible it would be to burn the house down after making it this far.

Dooley was in much better spirits this morning, greeting us by repeating “Good Morning” and “I Love You” over and over.

If you had told me we’d be without power for six and a half days I wouldn’t have believed you. And I certainly didn’t think I could go that long in the Houston heat. The cool front was a blessing, but it still wore very thin. Once the power came on and the initial rush of joy passed I began to sag quite a bit. I’m still very tired and this load off my mind has allowed the fatigue to come to the surface.

Yes, I shaved the “Ike Beard.” That was my agreement with the universe.

Hurricane Preparedness Drinks

1 1/2 oz. Absolut Ruby Red vodka
1/2 oz. vermouth
Prune juice
Combine vodka and vermouth in cocktail glass. Fill remainder of glass with equal parts clamato and prune juice. Stir. Drink. Ask next-door neighbor whose ficus tree blew over and crashed onto your roof– even though you’d warned him for months to uproot it–if you can use his bathroom. Repeat.

1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. rum
1/2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. gin
Sweet-and-sour mix
Splash of fruit juice
Combine vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon and gin in a tall glass. Fill remainder of glass with sweet-and-sour mix and splash of juice. Stir, then garnish with an inverted drink umbrella. Drink during peak storm hours, and vow not to believe anyone who tries to tell you the hurricane that flooded your garage and destroyed your shed was just a Category 1.

1 oz. cinnamon schnapps
1 sugar cone
Pour the schnapps into the sugar cone. Every time you hear a TV weatherman say, “cone of probability,” bite off the end of the cone and down the shot. If you hear Weather Channel StormTracker Jim Cantore say it, drink two shots consecutively. (they should change this to the “Cantore Zone”… damn him.) Have you ever noticed that, despite all the cone of probability talk, if Cantore is parked in front of your house your ass is toast?)

2 oz. Midori
2 oz. rum
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
After your home loses power, combine Midori and rum in a cocktail glass. Add a scoop of the vanilla ice cream that is melting in your freezer. Stir, and drink through a straw.

1 1/2 oz. Goldschläger
1 1/2 oz. apple brandy
1 pack Sugar in the Raw
Combine Goldschläger, apple brandy and sugar in cocktail glass. As you drink, seriously contemplate moving your Yankee ass back to New Jersey where it belongs.

1 1/2 oz. rum
5 oz. Jolt Cola
Combine ingredients in a cocktail glass. Drink while trying to figure out how the heck you’re supposed to go two freakin’ weeks without television and AC.

2 oz. Kahlúa
2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
4 oz. rum
Serve in a 6-ounce glass and laugh-cry deliriously as the mess spills all over the countertop.

2 oz. Blue Aftershock
4 oz. Sprite
Combine in a cocktail glass with crushed ice you received after waiting in line for three hours at a mall parking lot. Take a deep breath, sip and scream like a little girl when the cold beverage hits your tongue. Repeat.

1 oz. Jack Daniel’s
Splash of sarsaparilla
Rock salt
Load both barrels of a shotgun with rock salt. Climb to the roof of your house with gun, bottle of Jack Daniel’s and can of sarsaparilla. Fill shot glass with Jack and splash of sarsaparilla. Watch for looters. When you spot one, blast his ass with rock salt. Drink shot. Repeat.

1 oz. Goldschläger
1 oz. Rumplemintz
3 oz. Jim Beam
Splash of vermouth
Combine Goldschläger, Rumplemintz and Jim Beam in an empty soup can. Add splash of vermouth. Drink. Remove chain saw from garage and attempt to cut up fallen tree limbs in yard. Ask neighbor to drive you to hospital when it all goes horribly wrong.

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1 1/2 oz. vodka and Midori
1 1/2 oz. vodka and Galliano
1 1/2 oz. vodka and grenadine
Pour each ingredient into a separate shot glass. Serve one to yourself and three other people. The person with the clear shot of vodka drinks first. The person to his right drinks the Midori shot, and so on. If somebody drinks out of order, develop a quick case of road rage and beat the living crap out of him.

1 1/2 oz. Curacao
2 oz. pineapple juice
Splash of lime
Combine ingredients in a leaky paper cup and serve. Wait six to eight months for someone to repair the cup. If you’re impatient, hire an unlicensed, out-of- state contractor to do the job for an exorbitant sum and pray he doesn’t hurt himself in the process.

1 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort
2 oz. sloe gin
Tonic water
One week after the storm has passed and your neighborhood is still in ruins with no sign of help on the way, combine Southern Comfort and gin in a cocktail glass. Fill remainder with tonic and add a dash of Angostura bitters. Serve with a nut brownie. Before drinking, raise the glass and say the toast, “Doing a helluva job Brownie.”

Day 5 (still no power)

Candle and Radio

Candle and Radio

The Jensen radio you see in the above picture has been running pretty steady in the same two Double A batteries since Friday night. Pretty amazing. Also our primary source of information and entertainment at the house.

Cynthia and I are getting a little loopy. I was telling her about the tiger that’s running loose on Crystal Beach and she said “imagine some poor couple, surveying their flattened home and she turns and says ‘oh honey, we’ve lost everything…but at least we have each other‘ ROWRGRRAHHH! OH MY GOD!”

Puts things in perspective for us. Yea, we have no power and probably won’t have power till next week. But the weather has been good so we’re not drowning in our own sweat. The house is basically fine. There is an end in site and we have fared pretty well.

At least we aren’t looking at a concrete slab where our house used to be and having to avoid being eaten by a tiger…

Speaking of being eaten alive, the Life Boat Sketch by Monty Python has been running through my head. Cynthia’s always happy to learn my thought have once again turned to cannibalism.

Second Sailor: Yes. We can’t go hold out much longer, sir. We haven’t had any food since the fifth day.
Third Sailor: We’re done for, we’re done for!
First Sailor: Shut up, Maudling. We’ve just got to keep hoping someone will find us.
Fourth Sailor: How are you feeling, captain?
Fifth Sailor: Not too good … I … feel … so weak.
Second Sailor: We can’t hold out much longer.
Fifth Sailor: Listen … chaps … there’s one last chance. I’m done for, I’ve got a gammy leg, I’m going fast, I’ll never get through … but … some of you might … so you’d better eat me.
First Sailor: Eat you, sir?
Fifth Sailor: Yes. Eat me.
Second Sailor: Uuuuggghhh! With a gammy leg?
Fifth Sailor: You don’t have to eat the leg, Thompson, there’s still plenty of good meat … look at that arm.
Third Sailor: It’s not just the leg, sir.
Fifth Sailor: What do you mean?
Third Sailor: Well, sir … it’s just that …
Fifth Sailor: Why don’t you want to eat me?
Third Sailor: I’d rather eat Johnson, sir. (he points at fourth sailor)
Second Sailor: Oh, so would I, sir.
Fifth Sailor: I see.
Fourth Sailor: Well, that’s settled then. Everyone eats me.
First Sailor: Well … I … er …
Third Sailor: What, sir?
First Sailor: No, no, you go ahead, I won’t …
Fourth Sailor: Nonsense, nonsense, sir, you’re starving. Tuck in!
First Sailor: No, no, it’s not just that …
Second Sailor: What’s the matter with Johnson, sir?
First Sailor: Well, he’s not kosher.
Third Sailor: That depends how we kill him, sir.
First Sailor: Yes, yes, I see that … well to be quite frank, I like my meat a little more lean. I’d rather eat Hodges.
Second Sailor: (cheerfully) Oh well … all right.
Third Sailor: No, I’d still prefer Johnson.
Fifth Sailor: I wish you’d all stop bickering and eat me.
Second Sailor: Look! I’ll tell you what. Why don’t those of us who want to, eat Johnson, then you, sir, can eat my leg and then we’ll make a stock of the Captain and then after that we can eat the rest of Johnson cold for supper.
First Sailor: Good thinking, Hodges.
Fourth Sailor: And we’ll finish off with the peaches. (picks up a tin of peaches)
Third Sailor: And we can start off with the avocados. (picks up a two avocados)
First Sailor: Waitress! (a waitress walks in) We’ve decided now, we’re going to have leg of Hodges …

Life In The Aftermath

As Hurricane IKE approached, we left one hummingbird feeder out until sunset as two of the little guys kept feeding till the bitter end. We were pretty sure they were enjoying their last meal with no knowledge of what was about to hit them.

Oddly enough, we lost power around 8:00 pm Friday night. Wind was not blowing, no rain, nothing. Just a distant “poomph” as the transformer that fails with some regularity failed for apparently no reason. The lights in the houses across the street continued to glow warmly. Curse them.

As the sun was going down Cynthia and I were sitting outside marvelling at the wind as it started to build. The trees were swaying and rustling in the wind. I was pretty sure this was going to be a bad night. We had our supplies and Dooley and Mr. Zippers had been moved into the interior hallway so as to protect them should a window break.

At one point (long before the storm) the trees in front of our house got hit by a strong gust of wind and bowed to 45 degree angle. At that point we moved inside to ride it out.

As you might imagine, things continued to deteriorate. The wind picked up and was pretty much a constant howling as it whipped around the corners of the house and tried to find its way inside through any seam or crack. This went on for hours and hours.

With no power we only had out battery operated radio to keep us informed. It’s one of those radios that receives TV band so we could tune into the network news stations and get an idea of what was going on. That thing was our lifeline and the best hurricane supply in our arsenal.

About the time the storm was hitting us full on I fell asleep, just exhausted. Cynthia was not so fortunate. I felt bad abandoning her to my own slumber, but knew I would need my strength the next day during the cleanup.

When the sun came up, the wind was still gusting pretty strong but definitely dying down. Cynthia looked out the back window and exclaimed “there’s a birdy out there!” I braved the outside to go into the garage and get the feeders and re-hang them. As I was looking around I noticed a large branch from our flowering Pear tree had broken off and landed in the yard. the house was fine as was the garage. The fence was down in the back and along the driveway.

As I was hanging the seed feeders and the hummingbird feeders a wren zipped in an landed on the door to the garage to watch me.



And literally within minutes there were dozens of sparrows up on the roof of the garage



After I went inside the house the sparrows moved in



And most surprisingly, TWO hummingbirds!

Wet Hummer

Wet Hummer

Wet Hummer

Wet Hummer

Wet and bedraggled, you know they had a rough night. I can’t even imagine how they survived, but they did.

After awhile, Ricky and Lucy put in an appearance





Watching them has been a HUGE moral boost. With no TV or Internet the bird show has enjoyed some high ratings at our house.

It’s Tuesday and we’re still without power. The neighbors across the street got theirs back on last night so we’re hopeful. The neighborhood HEB opened and we were able to get some ice and some more supplies. We’re holding on. The cold front has been a GODSEND! Lows in the upper 50’s last night with low humidity. It’s bearable.

Obviously we’re anxious to put this behind us and grateful it was not a whole lot worse for us.

At work now. Internet access and air conditioning is good for the soul.

I want a hamburger.

We’re OK

Power went out at 8:00pm Friday.
It’s Sunday and there’s still no power. IKE was a diect hit and just about EVERYONE lost power.
2 million cutomers, lights out.

Posting this from a laptop on dialup. Battery is failing so gotta run soon.

Good news, the hummingbirds survived. I don’t know how, but they did. Lots of birds when we put the feeders back out.

Pray for electricity!