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Friday, August 31, 2007

Flashes of Light

Woke to flashes of light this morning. No, not gun fire. The dark lake was being up lit like a light show. Some of the lightning was in a section of some very strange looking clouds hanging low over the lake. Yet there was no thunder.

It counts as a dramatic end to August, the month of the Dean scare.

The good news is that the feudal-thinking Taliban have released the last of the South Korean missionary hostage, after killing two of them. No doubt the Korean government paid $$$ to get them out.

What puzzles me is why they were over there riding around in a bus in a war zone like they were going on an outing in London or something. What mission were they on in a dangerous place like Afghanistan? Why didn't they have security?

If they were over there trying to convert people than they need a reality check.

And if the South Koreans really were there to do volunteer work than where were the S. Korean troops and security they should have had protecting them? The Taliban are everywhere once you are outside of the capital Kabul.

The problem isn't the ordinary Muslims living in Afghanistan - it is the extremist Taliban who impose their narrow view on the others. They don't want Muslim girls going to school (and are willing to shoot a few schoolgirls to prove it) or a secular society. It's a power struggle between moderates and extremists.

So who else is running around Afghanistan that might be kidnapped next? This is the country where the real planner of 9 11 has his base, with Taliban support -- Osama bin laden. Do you think he cares about foreign missionaries trying to convert Muslims in a Muslim country?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Threats from Nature than Man

A recent report says this: "

Seven (7) times more people’s livelihoods are devastated by natural disasters than by war worldwide, at the moment.

So, despite the Iraq war, Darfur, etc. -- natural disasters (like Katrina, Tsunami's, earthquakes, etc.) are causing seven times more grief to ordinary people worldwide than war.

So the threat from a hurricanes, floods, etc has caused more damage to people's lives than 9 11. Think about it.

So while terrorism is a problem we need to focus on natural disaster preparation (and relief) even more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Turning Wine Into Water

Photo: Greece fires threaten site of original Olympics

You recall the bible story about the first miracle, when Jesus turned water into wine.

How about turning wine into water? A man in Greece who ran out of water to fight a fire threatening his house had to resort to using his wine to keep the flames from destroying his house. "Honey, can you pass me more of the Blanc de Gris? Do we have any red left?"

We should immediately provide an airlift of Pinot Grigio to help out - especially since the fires have threatened the ruins of original venue of the Olympics (a time when athletes didn't juice up on steroids to break records or kill dogs for fun).

Boo on the Atlanta Falcons owner for even considering rehiring Mr. Vick or any player who thinks killing dogs for sport is cool. Paying anyone $100 million who thinks "fighting animals to the death" is ok is sick and sets a bad example for the next generation of young Americans.

Why are we paying millions of dollars to the people like Paris Hilton and Michael Vick who set lousy role models for kids who look up to them?

I think I'll take a bottle of wine and head for Greece to fight some fires instead...

Monday, August 27, 2007

A rare solution

I've been hearing some interesting things when I talk to people about window security. On Thursday a business owner who happens to be a Mayor of a large city advised me that his people had looked for a solution for two years - but none of the options looked easy or inexpensive until they heard about XO Armor.

In this case an engineering company had spent months looking at the building and were recommended drilling a bunch of holes, etc. Even though the glass doors would have been unprotected.

With XO, the doors are covered with everything else. You can still enjoy the glass view, yet know that its working 24/7 to keep out burglars, UV, heat and 150 mph debris. They pose no threat to your security with XO Armor on the windows, unlike just plain glass.

From news reports, if we leave Iraq with Maliki still in power, Iran wins. This will pose a threat to our own security, as much as mother nature's storms do. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Perfect Storm - Extremists of all stripes

If you didn't catch the "God's Warriors" series by Christine Amanpour (on CNN) about the extremists of the world's three major religions, I suggest you check it out -- even if it is a 6-hour program.

Something I discovered from the program: Extremists from all three religions --Muslim, Jewish, Christian--had one thing in common: The idea of mankind taking an active role in bringing about Armageddon.

Never mind that such things ought to be avoided by people -- and left to God's. Nope. These folks want to speed up the clock. In their minds, killing for God is ok and speeding up "the end" is also OK (personally, I think God would object to people using his name to kill other people).

Which brings me to the point:

With folks wanting to encourage destabilization of the a world stuffed with weapons, conventional and nuclear, then future security efforts are a must.

That means personal security as well as things governments do (and can't do).

And personal security means XO Armor.

Fortunately, the hurricane grade film when applied with the special DOW caulking includes blast protection -- from things like car bombs. I went to a building yesterday where they had searched for a solution to protect their windows for two years. They were facing an expensive operation by a contractor who wanted to drill a bunch of holes in their building, to support heavy shutters that don't cover glass doors and don't work if not closed. They thought XO Armor was a perfect solution --a film on the inside of all the glass. Easy to install and 24/7 protection, plus cutting out UV and heat loss and potential burglaries... I've got it on my windows.

With people actively trying to bring about the end of the planet we should expect more bombings and other stupid acts. In Iraq, Muslims are now killing other Muslims. Everyone has become a target. New York, Washington, London, Paris, Madrid, Bali - are just the beginning until people like Osama bin laden (and Time McVeigh) are out of action and fashion.

While we strive to minimize stupid thinking and the poor excuses being used to kill each other (including the inexcusable, sick, barbaric act of fighting dogs to the death), it is also wise to protect yourself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Erin's Rampage - And Putting It in Global Perspective

Photo: Collapsed bridge in China

It's odd but tropical storm Erin is killing more people than Category 5 Dean has - and it continues today in Iowa and Minnesota. Erin has caused floods that has drowned over two dozen people.

We should count ourselves lucky. Our recent mine disaster killed six (plus 3 rescuers) -- China's killed over 175 men when a mine flooded.

And the Minnesota bridge collapse that killed a dozen people should be considered against the bridge collapse in China -- in which over 47 people fell to their deaths.

In both cases there is a similarity; gross negligence. And poor leadership.

In Minnesota officials ignored deficiency reports for 17 years. In China the bridge was built without supporting rods so it would look "authentic" as an old stone bridge. Gross stupidity by those in charge is what we have in common.

Check out the new "Sky" feature of Google Earth. I hear it lets you take a tour of the universe.

Speaking of which, I have to fly. It is becoming a whirlwind...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Hurricane That Killed in the Midwest

No, not Dean. Erin --which was more of a tropical storm than hurricane when it hit Corpus Christi last week -- has killed 25 people over 1,000 miles away. It dumped over a foot of rain that drowned people and caused property damage as far north as Minnesota!

So, hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. They affect people across the country. Imagine if Erin had been a Category 5 like Dean when it came ashore in South Texas.

Just before Dean hit, I was getting frantic calls from people "wanting XO Armor now." That frantic feeling seemed to stop when Dean drifted south. People need to realize that another one of these brewing up is just a matter of time. Preparation takes time and we need to be acting as if another one could show up next week - because it could.

Luckily Dean is heading for a sparsely populated area of Mexico after just missing Cancun. Don't expect luck to strike twice in the same place.

Did you see the report on the CIA mess up before 9 11? Truth is, even with people paying attention it could happen again. The Internet is alive with people trying to recruit future terrorists (not just from the Middle East).

I have had glass office towers asking for XO Armor to give them car bomb protection. Hospitals need it to continue operating 24/7 even in an emergency without blowing in water and glass debris from breached windows. Schools and homes need it to keep glass out of the kids feet when tree limbs or baseball's come flying...

In the good side: Brad Pitt showcased a replacement house in New Orleans -- in the Lower 9th Ward flooded by Katrina -- that uses solar panels to cut electricity use by 75%. If every house built used this technology energy consumption would plummet and people would save huge amounts of money they now pay for power. I wouldn't mind paying 75% less than the $250 I spent on lighting an apartment last month.

We don't reach the height of hurricane season until late September. Anything is still possible.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Category 5 Hits Mexico - Will Next One be as Big?

It's confirmed that Dean hit Mexico as a Category 5 - the biggest hurricane since Andrew hit Florida in the early 90's. Whole buildings can get shredded at 160 mph.

The question is, with the ice sheets shrinking and global warming no longer a moronic debate, how many more big storms will we get from here on out? In other words, with the planet hotter and having to throw off more heat via hurricanes, will the next ones tend to be larger Category 4 and 5's? Very possible.

I have to run out for meetings all day, but I sense people are thinking "it's over" I can relax now.

Big mistake. The peak of the season isn't until mid-September, and anyone within 100 miles of a coast is vulnerable.

I got XO Armor put on my house yesterday. A benefit I didn't realize was the sound dampening - it's a lot quieter inside than it was before. And the installer found one sliding glass door that seemed newer and was a lot weaker than the others. Now it can keep out rocks, flying street signs, dead tree branches at 150-plus mph, etc.!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Out of the Woods? Not further south

Photo: Cancun, Mexico - Over 20,000 US tourists are trying to get out of Dean's way. Another 60,000 were supposed to be there over the weekend

After the last entry I found out that my friends were able to get the last plane out of Jamaica with their 5-week old baby, just before Dean rolled in with 145 mph winds. They said some interesting things about local hurricane preparation efforts.

Jamaicans do things differently. My friends room had a balcony OVER the water. In a hurricane the hotel procedure is to take off the balcony, move the furniture upstairs, then OPEN the main doors -- to let the storm winds blow THROUGH the hotel! They were glad not to be there to witness that. Imagine the debris and water blowing through the building at 140-plus mph! They wouldn't need to do that with XO Armor.

Now it appears Dean is going to hit south of Cancun - so we may be out of the woods on this monster. But not so for the folks in its path further south. And don't forget, the remnants of "Erin" is killing people and flooding from Oklahoma to the Midwest - a long ways from the coast.

Last night I was "flying" over Jamaica and Cancun tracking the storm. Although I'm a pilot really I wasn't flying in a plane but I saw Havana and Kingston as if I was in a small plane . You can do the same. Download the (free) Google Earth program. Then type in the name of the place you want to see - and fly over, zoom down to even see cars, etc. At the top you can even "slant" the angle to go from satellite view to airplane view.

On Google Earth I even "flew" down the infamous Baghdad Airport road. Check it out to see what the folks from Belize to Tampico that are facing a potential 145 mph winds.

And while we may be out of the woods on this storm, others will come. You can't repeal the laws of nature or geography. Hurricanes are earth's way of spinning off excess heat build up, and we remain on the coast.

Living with plywood is not being prepared in the 21st Century.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friends in Jamaica - 5-week old baby and Hurricane Dean

Photo: Category 4 Dean on the doorstop of Jamaica - coming our way

A Houston couple I know went with their kids and a 5- week old baby to vacation in Jamaica last week. They are now stuck there as Hurricane Dean is expected to hit with 145 mph winds (Category 4.)

Since yesterday dialing their hotel phone number generates a "You have reached a non-working number..." The phones didn't work yesterday and aren't working today.

The last word from someone who was able to get through before being cut off in mid-conversation was that the hotel was moving them to a "castle" located somewhere inland.

Riding out a storm with a 5-week old wasn't on the agenda. Last week there was not Erin or Dean when they left. When the storm blew up, they weren't able to fly out and the airport is now closed. Not having phone or Internet word from them is driving the family nuts. It could be days before we know what's happening to them. There are many other tourists in the same boat.

After Jamaica, Dean will continue coming our way. Stand by for updates..

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dean Is Rolling Down "the Slot"

Photo: Saturday at 3 pm - Not a single pool lizard in sight. This shot is as odd as an alien sighting.

Dean seems to be rolling right down the "slot" that puts it in the Gulf of Mexico next week. The only issue is where the steering currents will push it - from northern Mexico/South Texas to Louisiana.

We aren't the only ones with a disaster in the making. Poor Peru. After suffering an 8.0 earthquake, the U.S. is sending a few military doctors and $100,000! Not even a measly $1 million to help. Not even a statement of concern by the President. Morale: If you have a major disaster, don't expect us to do much, especially if we are on vacation! Our leadership could at least try pretending to be concerned about other folks' disasters. No wonder why America is not liked very much worldwide.

Speaking of which, Texas Governor Perry wanted a "Hurricane Czar" to dictate decisions when a storm like Hurricane Dean/Katrina rolled in. Thankfully, the regional leadership is not in favor of leaving it in the hands of one person. They are taking a communal approach.

I don't want a political appointee calling all the shots in a disaster. We don't need a "HeckofAjob Brownie" being our "Hurricane Czar." The local county judges and Mayors need to have input and were elected to look after their community. Good call on their part.

I'm getting XO Armor installed on my windows Monday afternoon - just in time for Dean's arrival in the Gulf. Then, if it swings our way, I can watch 2x4's, street signs and tree limbs bouncing off the windows instead of having sheets of rain and shards of glass destroying everything inside the house. A 2x4 --or street sign--will go right through that plywood people have been using!

With XO Armor installed, my windows can take a hit at 150 mph with a 2x4 and I'll still be dry instead of picking glass shards from my feet and wood chips from my teeth - because XO will stop storm debris from breaching the glass. Predictions are that Dean will be at least a Category 3, maybe 4 --Katrina was a high 3.

If it hits we'll need more than time to "duck and cover."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Report from Clear lake After Erin

Photo: On the morning "Erin" hit, this was the sky to the east in Clear Lake.

I spent the day yesterday in Clear lake when Erin moved ashore down by Corpus. I figured being 200 miles away meant that we'd get some rain and that's about it.

WRONG. Two people died at a Randall's in Clear Lake city that I usually stopped in when going to work. At the time I was in a yacht club during a lunch event, watching the sky turn black and rain poured so hard that the boats were invisible outside the windows.

And that was a glancing blow - Erin was a weak storm and far away, yet the impact across Houston stopped traffic dead. Cars were underwater at 288 and 610. When is the city going to put flood markers on these low areas so drivers can see what they are getting into? Let's not wait until more people drown to do it.

And now Hurricane Dean is coming next week and we are in the cone of possible hits. We only have a few days to prepare. If Dean gets anywhere nearly as close as Erin we (and not just the coastal areas) are in big trouble.

Get prepared.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Forget Erin; It's Hurricane Dean to Worry About

Erin is rolling over Corpus Christi today - no big deal. The potential killer storm is Dean - which is ALREADY a hurricane way out in the Atlantic.

And its tracking down the "slot" which leads to the Gulf of Mexico. Here is the latest projected path of Dean.

So by Monday we could be looking down the barrel of a Category 4 storm with most of Texas as a potential target. OR it could end up back in New Orleans. Who knows. Keep your eye on this bad boy.

Any day we'll be releasing a major announcement on XO Armor. Two weeks ago people were still thinking they had all the time in the world to get it. Now we have maybe a week before a major storm hits somewhere in our area. And every year will be like this.

People are vulnerable until they have XO Armor protection. There really isn't anything else like it - about the only other thing is heavy shutters which still don't keep the glass from breaking and keep you from seeing what is happening outside. XO Armor can take a 200 mph hit with a 2x4 in a storm and still not penetrate your window...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here Comes Hurricane Trouble Houston

We are looking at the possibility of a Hurricane 5 getting into the Gulf of Mexico if Tropical Storm Dean continues on its present course. Next week could see it on our doorstep. Those folks who put off looking into XO Armor to protect your windows from hurricane debris are running out of luck fast.

And this. On Monday some nut drove by the KPFT radio station and fired several bullets into the building - nearly hitting a DJ in the head. When installed in layers, XO Armor stops bullets. See for yourself at this link.

I don't have time to call people on this; if you want XO Armor protection you are going to have to contact me. The bottleneck is installation, so don't expect to jump to the front of the line if you wait too long. Houses, hospitals, offices -- ALL are vulnerable. Once debris breaks a window the winds can take off the roof, not to mention the glass and water all over your pets, kids, computers, etc.

The day I have warned about is coming.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Texas Toast

After two months of solid rain in June and July, August has been a hot blast. Thank god for the nice break from a summer that is usually ALL heat. it was almost 100 today on the lake.

Mr. & Mrs. Duck have disappeared with the rain. I suspect they are in Maine or vacationing in the south of France.

I found a video of a speech I made 20 years ago, to a college group, on the need to be internationally aware as a population if we are to compete with countries whose citizens travel and have a global experience base (like Europe). The link is to the last couple minutes.

Twenty years later, the message remains the same. The U.S. has yet to achieve the level of global thinking required for us to maintain our leadership in this much more competitive century. It will require a smart, Global strategy.

A global, forward thinking President, for example, might propose to have Algeria's budding solar energy grow enough renewable energy to take Europe off Russia's oil, for their security. Russia has been known to cut supply to make a political point.

Only a more worldly education by the public will lead to voters picking competent leaders who know the world - to us to survive in this global century of opportunity -- and potential terrorism -- both on a scale never before seen by humanity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Kidnapping in Texas

A woman was driving on a public highway in East Texas with her 18-year old cousin. A man she never met pulled up and fired a shotgun, hitting her cousin in the head, killing her and blowing off the driver's arm. Then the man kidnapped her and beat her.

Now she has no health insurance and is struggling under our health care system (Texas public health car is ranked 49th out of 50 states, nothing to brag about).

This story struck me because if XO Armor had been installed on those car windows, the shotgun pellets could have embedded in the glass instead of killing her cousin. It could have avoided this tragedy. People need more protection from creeps like this (and I'm not even talking about our struggling health care system--yet).

It's all about security. We are still setting up dealers to handle these markets. Let me know if you have an interest.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A 22 year dream - Teacher in Space

Sometimes a dream takes decades to come true.

It's a dream delayed by over 20 years for Barbara Morgan, set to join the Endeavor crew in space today as the first "teacher in space." It's a program that stalled in 1986 when Challenger blew up with Christa McAauliffe, the first designated teacher in space.

Funny how life works sometimes: the backup becomes the first. But it was the first who opened the door to the backup teacher next in line.

We wish Barbara and crew the best of luck. Our children need to get focused on space, math and higher sights than watching Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan's antics. It will take a new generation of scientists and teachers to keep America in the lead globally.

One of the other crewmembers on today's flight, Tracy Caldwell, says it was Christa's role that inspired her to see NASA as more than just test pilots - she become a chemist and is now an astronaut.

Ms. Morgan's trip into a new frontier will inspire a new generation like Ms. Caldwell.

Godspeed Endeavour...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Rule of Law - in jeopardy here and abroad

The notion of the rule of law and fairness is in jeopardy, not only overseas but here in the U.S. as well.

Recently I've had people call me after getting notices of "default judgments" which were either faked or obtained via fraud. The faked one involves a case I had in which a guy who sold a house refused to move out after being paid. Then he sued the buyer! After the case was dismissed, the buyer then gets a mailed notice from a lawyer telling him he's in default! When I checked the court records (which were NOT available online so it required a time-consuming trek to Houston's civil courthouse), there was NO default - just an unsigned default the Plaintiff had filed. This is fraud. It happened recently on a case in Dallas - the lawyer took a default without notice despite knowing the defendant had an attorney.

When I call the lawyers to ask WHY they are trying to scare people into thinking there is a default judgment against them when there isn't, they don't return my calls. The public needs to be aware of this. And its not just lawyers - we have other odd things happening in the courts with judges, etc. It is happening right here in America.

On the foreign front, Afghanistan's Karzai was at Camp David over the weekend - saying how much WORSE it was. And yet there sits bin laden across the border in Pakistan's mountains, where they can feed more Taliban thugs to burn schools and cut girls off from education, and worse. Pakistan is still the key, and a major threat if its nukes fall into an extremist government. I saw this happen before - when I was a young attorney who was supposed to go to Iran to work on a naval base being built - since before Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah..

And Khomeini's rule of law was Sharia (religious) law...with the Taliban being the most extreme, like Osama bin laden. Combine that with the Internet and their video editing machine and nukes and the mix is dangerous, and apparently getting worse according to Karzai.

Therefore I recommend that we send one of these "flying cars" to Osama bin laden for aerial testing (such as, will it dodge a missile? Does it have a parachute if flown upside down?).

Sometime isn't working over there either...changes are needed in our system and theirs.

Friday, August 03, 2007

American Obsession - US

The bridge collapse over the Mississippi River in Minnesota was tragic indeed. I drove on that bridge last fall, when I flew through Minneapolis to attend my stepfather's funeral in Iowa.

But after seeing TV news treat it as 100% of the world's newsworthy events of the past couple days I have to say "enough is enough." If we were half as interested in the rest of the world as we are in ourselves, Americans would be amazed how much more the world would like us.

We didn't obsess over the bridges blown up day after day in Iraq. Not even the bombings in London merited 100% of the news when they happened (hey, Paris Hilton was getting out of jail, now that's "important"!). Did nothing else happen in the world the last couple days that was worth talking about? Didn't the Sunnis just walk out of Parliament in Iraq, leaving it dangling on the edge of more chaos?

Maybe people just wanted to focus on some news other than Iraq and the fights in Washington. I can't blame them for wanting an escape but its time to get some perspective folks - perhaps 30 people died in one tragedy in Minnesota.

That many people are killed EVERY DAY by bombers in Iraq. More than that were killed when the Brazilian airliner ran off the runway on landing.

We need some balance here folks. Our obsession with our own tragedies that preempt news from the rest of the world is not healthy. I'm sorry about the loss to the families, not just in Minnesota but Iraq and elsewhere.

Oh yes, we are now obsessing on bridge safety - the heavily traveled I-10 bridge over the Trinity River rates about 50%! I'm not going to obsess on that --I just won't that way in the future without wearing my swim trunks and some 'floaties'!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Good News in Iraq and Darfur

According to Michael O'Hanlon, a person whose opinion I respect since he is certainly not part of the policymakers in Washington says that, surprisingly, things are improving in Iraq. The new strategy is working. The only issue is will it have a chance before the troops come home.

The other good news is that FINALLY a UN force will be going to the Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur. Boy, that took long enough, but finally there is positive movement and action by our leadership that needed to be taken.

We need to also expand the UN force in Afghanistan, as the Taliban continue their killing of innocent South Korean and other foreign hostages. Under their rule women were beaten and even TV was banned - now TV shows are an Afghan favorite. Maybe its the place for the next "survivor" series...

Final note. Just before recessing for the month of August the US Congress criticized the Iraqi legislature for recessing for the month of August. And we learn that in the middle of this, the White House has banned flip flops and Tony Snow can no longer take a cup of coffee to the press briefings.

Ummmm, is it still full moon?