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Monday, September 29, 2008

Private Space Flight - Beam Me Up Scotty


Private Space flight has just become a reality. It may even save NASA the embarrassment of our astronauts hitching rides on Russian (or Chinese) space vehicles during the 5 year gap between shutting down the shuttle in 2010 and the launch of its replacement in 2015. Who wants to hear "Welcome aboard Comrades! We accept only Rubles!"

SpaceX, a private company financed by a billionaire who founded PayPal, has successfully put a payload into Orbit. This is GREAT. It is so American.

Entrepreneurs in space is a good thing. Space flight should not be the exclusive domain of governments. Government development programs take too long and cost too much. They depend on funding that is often erratic and unpredictable.

Getting private companies involved will increase access to space and cut the costs of putting payloads (and people) in orbit -- and beyond. It opens the door to space manufacturing, tourism and cheaper transport of satellites that we depend on for weather information, communication, etc. Can a lunar hotel (or hot dog stand) be far away?

Perhaps the 2001 Space Odyssey movie which had the main character taking a "Pan Am" flight to the moon is possible in our lifetime. But instead of Pan Am, the company who does it may be called "SpaceX" -- and/or "SpaceShipThree" (the British Richard Branson's company).

That could give investors who lost their shirts on Wall Street higher ground to jump from. The Dow lost over 777 points today ("Heck of a job!")

Beam me up Scotty!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jetman's Solution to Houston Traffic


I have a solution for Houston's notorious traffic - all of us need to get a jetpack like the one used by "FusionMan" to fly over the English Channel at 100 mph.

Just imagine - no more hour long commutes or worrying about accidents and dead traffic lights slowing you down! Just strap on the jetpack, grab your briefcase and leap into the air, faster than a speeding commuter!!

No more road rage! Just make sure you don't fly with your mouth open in case of intercepting flying bugs.

Now, where can I order one of these jetpacks?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Avoiding disaster

I narrowly avoided a disaster yesterday - maybe it was a power surge from utilities being hooked up. But a little foresight saved the day (it would be nice if government did that).

When I went to work on my laptop it gave an error message - after several attempts to boot up it finally reset itself to the factory start-up -- and deleted over 40 gigabytes of information, documents, pictures etc I had stored on it! YIKES.

But all was not lost - because a couple months ago I subscribed to a $5/month service with "IDrive" which backed up my computer to an online storage nook. Without it, I would have had to start over from scratch.

As it stands, the computer is being restored from the online site - even though it will take two days for all of the information to be transferred. That still beats the alternative.

Moral: Always have a (online) backup! It sure beats the alternative. You never know if your laptop is going to crash, get submerge by a hurricane or get stolen. At least this way, all is not lost even if your computer is.

I recommend everyone, including businesses and government agencies do the same thing.

Foresight does seem to be missing where it's needed. I went to several downtown buildings that had windows blown out during IKE. Two of them, one at 1111 Louisiana next to Centerpoint, and the other at the Wells Fargo building, told me that they had banned hurricane film on their windows. What? Our film with attachment would have kept those windows from blowing out even if they had been broken by flying debris. From a liability standpoint, it is NUTS not to use it.

I was agitated enough that I went to City Hall and voiced my concerns over this short-sighted practice. I'm always amazed when common sense seems to be missing in action. But then common sense seems to be a dying art. We'll see what develops.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

$700 Billion Bailout vs 11 Days No Power for 500,000


Eleven days after IKE cut power over 500,000 Houston area people are still without power, including some of my team members. Being "in the dark" gives one clarity - like seeing a proposal to bail out investment firms with $700 billion without oversight, in a rush. Yet no one mentions that just five (5) of the investment firms paid out $39 BILLION (with a "b") in bonuses LAST YEAR. Why should taxpayers pay for these? If you had those bonuses repaid, the taxpayer burden would drop dramatically.

Having endured 6 days of no power, I had had enough of being a "caveman." I can't imagine 11 days of no hot showers, air conditioning (it's been in the high 80's again), etc.

The buildings on one side of my Seabrook condo have power - the buildings on the other side are dark and still out of power.

TV has been showing images of the first residents to get back into Galveston - only to find anything below 6 feet was washed into a debris pile. In their rebuilding efforts it is clear that Galveston buildings need to be elevated at least 10 feet, maybe more if we get hit by a CAT 3 storm (or higher). That should be part of any Congress rebuilding plan if they give Galveston the requested $2 billion.

Otherwise it will all wash away again in the next storm. We need to do the same all along the American coasts. Storms are getting strong. Texas Gov. Perry has refused to endorse the "hardening" of our utilities - which means the whole process of losing power for weeks while trees are pulled off poles will continue. It is a shortsighted decision. It could be a long term plan but it needs to happen. We need to start taking care of Main Street if we want to prosper. Main Street has been left out of the Paulson plan.

Traffic lights are still out everywhere and the toll roads are free and clogged to the max. We are one mass traffic jam as gas is now available but being able to move is hindered by the lack of timed lights.

And it appears that the gas shortages in Atlanta and now Tennessee is due to IKE's damaging pipelines that carry gasoline north and east to those areas. It's more confirmation that hurricanes are national threats, just just a coastal one. Power was knocked out from Texas to Ohio due to IKE.

We need to invest in upgrading our infrastructure to avoid these outages in the future. Government, like business, should "plan ahead" instead of just doing bandaide acts that don't solve the problem or prepare for the threat we know will be an annual event. We can't repeal the laws of nature or make future storms go away.

So we either keep rebuilding and living like cavemen and women, or we act like intelligent human beings and upgrade our building codes so we don't have to live primitively unless we really want to go camping for weeks at a time.

We need leadership that will invest in Main Street, not just Wall Street -- and giving billionaires a free pass. If you agree, let Congress know.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

IKE - Damage all the Way to Ohio







What is so amazing is that a hurricane (IKE) has caused even OHIO to lose power for over 5 days - not to mention the Midwest mess it also caused. Hurricanes are NATIONAL disasters, not just local ones.

There is a GREAT article in today's Houston Chronicle by Peter Brown, a city council member who argues that we need to rebuild Houston as a sustainable city. The link is at my blog below. Mr. Brown's ideas make sense and should be followed nationwide, not just on the coast. He recommends burying power lines, upgrading building codes to raise the minimum floor level and using "wind-resistant glass."

That must include using products that upgrade currently-installed windows to be wind resistant. I saw so many blown-out windows yesterday throughout Houston that could have been kept in place with our Armor Glass security film.

Council-member Brown's approach is on target and a sensible way to prepare for the next storm to minimize the damage and power outages. Nine (9) days after IKE over 1.3 million Houstonians are still without power. Ohio residents have endured the same mess for days. Council Member Brown's suggestions apply nationwide and should be followed. (Many of those people won't be able to read this until they get their power back).

After doing a damage survey yesterday I volunteered for the Mayor and made a run to drop MRE's at a senior citizens facility in Houston. I have posted a couple photos.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back in Seabrook - New Meaning of "House" Boats


Photo: Michael Fjetland - view of south shore of Clear Lake next to channel leading to Galveston Bay. The boat is a 'new' addition.

I am back in Seabrook - the Clear Lake condo has power but this building is the last one that does. The rest of the buildings are black. People have generators on balconies. The people in the next street have a giant tree blocking the road, so they have to use a special gate through Pirates Landing to get out.

Across the lake, giant boats rest next to two houses that are next to the channel leading from Clear Lake to Galveston Bay. It's a new meaning for "house" boat.

I'm leaving to volunteer for the Mayor of Houston today. Amazingly, the power is still out for over 1 million people. The other amazing thing is that IKE also knocked out power in OHIO for over 5 days and flooded Midwest farms. Hurricanes have National impact...

IKE Tests Hurricane Film on Galveston Bay



Prior to Hurricane IKE, Armor Glass International installed hurricane security window film on two houses in Seabrook, TX located on Galveston Bay. Here is a photo showing the difference --Armor Glass film is on the (intact) houses. Their windows were not breached. This is where IKE's storm surge hit the hardest in Galveston Bay.

Photos show that both houses survived IKE with no window damage. You can see that the houses on each side of our test houses were destroyed. Once the windows are breached, it's all over for structural integrity.

A photo is also on the bottom of the Armor Glass home page at: www.ArmorGlass.com

Had IKE been a CAT 3 instead of a CAT 2 storm, we would have had more wind-borne debris breakage of windows that leads to structural failure in these storms. IKE should be a wake up call that we need stronger building codes and 24/7 window protection, not outdated plywood. Armor Glass has shown its product provides real security to property owners even on the front line of a hurricane.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 6 IKE Aftermath - Shock of Caveman Whose DOW stock drops 450 pts

Photo: Destroyed house on Galveston Bay/Seabrook, TX

What a Caveman Does When DOW Drops 450 Points

When you have been a caveman for nearly a week without power, and emerge from the darkness to hear that the DOW has plunged 450 points, it makes you think that maybe it was better not having power. Or maybe it's a way of seeing the light even more clearly.

Last night a weird event occurred. Sometime around 7:30 p.m., in the dark, a light came on. I wasn't really sure what it was for some time, since I was whacking weeds out of trees when it happened. It seemed so alien. What is that bright light? Hey, I can actually WASH all the dirty clothes!

But it isn't uniform. People I know a few blocks to the west and east in the same area of Kingwood still do NOT have power. The one thing that has saved us was a cool front that dropped high's into the 80's. If not for the cooler temps 1 million sweating, powerless people would be shooting each other. I saw utility trucks from Georgia and Florida yesterday. THANKS!

After days of getting only battery-powered local news about us, us, us, I was finally able to get cable and real NATIONAL (and world) news -- like Dow plunging 450 points off a cliff. At that moment I decided that maybe it was better being in the dark with no news. Then this morning it is announced treasury bills yielded the smallest price since World War II. The dollar used to be worth more than Europe’s Euro – now it is the reverse. Want to check out my cave?

But then most people seem to be in the dark about what is really going on even when they have power. Maybe the solution is to totally unplug America. The current picture of the hangover that comes after a drunken Wall Street that let things get out of hand can only be appreciated when you have been in the literal dark a few days. It makes you wonder why our leaders that let Wall Street drive the economy to this state, with us and our kids’ future in the back seat. America's financial security is in serious jeopardy as a result.

Another thing I noticed last night. Despite the return of lights last night it took FOREVER for the generator people to realize it -- and turn off their droning machines. One is still running this morning. But at least it's not next door and all the neighbors don't have to listen to it with open windows anymore - until the next outage. Some restored power has gone out again in places in Houston.

I had to go 30 miles to find gas yesterday - at I 45 and Rankin near the airport. The next door fast food McDonald's and Popeye's were 20 deep in people wanting something more than an MRE or dry food. Everyone stayed civilized even in the jammed gas line.

Now that my fallback shelter has power and I have some gas I have to go clean out a dead refrigerator at a still powerless Seabrook. The boat is now out of the pool.

Now I can do something to help others who are in worse shape.

We need major reforms and major change if America is to get back on the right track to lead and succeed globally. If you don't think so, spend a few days in the dark. It will make you see the light.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

IKE Aftermath: Day 5 With No Power. Cavemen smell bad


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

9 a.m. Day 5 after IKE with no power – of 1.5 million in our area still sitting in the dark. Photo: HEB line in Kingwood stretches forever, waiting on ice.

It was surreal last night driving through black streets lined with dark houses lit by candles or a generator. We are getting more reports of federal people here to “help” us turning away from the Reliant Stadium POD a HEB grocery truck that showed up to donate goods. Heck of a job.

What happened to the State of Texas “pre-positioned fuel trucks” that were supposed to step in during a major disaster like this? They are nowhere to be seen. The folks in Galveston have it the worst of all – total devastation. Don’t forget that it is also part of our port system.

Yesterday I helped rebuild a fence for the neighbor with a tree in his house. He’s gone so a neighbor behind us helped me. As we worked he said he is planning to hook his generator up to his gas line – its running on gasoline and will soon run out. I discovered the source of the loud noise outside the bedroom window – their unit! LOL.

The biggest problem is lack of gas stations operating. It reminds me of the 1970 gas lines, except that we have so much crude that the prices are dropping. The bottleneck is refining. So it is not an oil shortage, but a refining shortage. Most of the refineries here were reported as undamaged by IKE – the problem is that they were shut down ahead of the storm and take time to start up, so they have been down for over a week.

I got up at 5 this morning to see about filling up my almost empty tank. The lines of cars stretched over a mile at the few places preparing to open. Without gas, we are a million plus city STUCK on empty. That will even hinder opening the refineries needed to produce more fuel for the entire country. As a former terrorism analyst, I think we should surround the refineries with high walls to keep out both high water and an RPG missile shot from the highway.

I did see utility trucks from Illinois yesterday. Thank You Illinois and all the other States that have sent utility trucks. The Houston area is America’s energy heartland and the sooner it is up and running the better for all. We are also headquarters of Horizon Wind Corporation which is planting wind farms everywhere, and biodiesel plants, to name a couple. All are affected when your refrigerator is off and the local store has no meat or eggs because they would spoil until the power is running the coolers again.

This is a lesson how much we need to diversify our energy sources. We have gas stations with gas but they aren’t open because they don’t have a generator to run the pumps – which makes things worse. Same for the grocery stores – they didn’t have a backup system sufficient to run anything other than lights. We need to get more alternative standby power systems set up.

And generators need to be required to be muffled. They produce dangerous fumes and the neighbor forced to open windows for ventilation will endure endless hours of a lawnmower running top end non-stop. As more people buy them the noise and dangerous fumes will increase. Getting some form of solar panels on houses tied to a battery system would be a greener, cleaner way to keep noxious generator fumes and noise to a minimum.

So, on Day 5 I remain stuck with some cell phone service but not enough gas to go get things done. I am still charging the laptop and Blackberry off the car, and hoping that enough gas becomes available in the next day or two. They are telling us it could be another week of no power. Thank God I can take a hot shower due to the gas heater. If not for that I’d smell like the caveman lifestyle I’ve been living for 5 days now.

I want a natural gas car so I could get around town – we still have natural gas lines working when everything else is down.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

IKE Aftermath - Day 4 - Cavemen and politics

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 4 with no power after IKE. Got the tree cut off the house yesterday. I did manage to get the laptop charged on the car with a converter I bought at Radio Shack yesterday, so here is a short report from Houston and the aftermath of IKE. I will send it out via a connection to the Blackberry, which picks up a cell tower.

Without the battery TV and my Blackberry I might as well be just another caveman because without power you have no communication at all. Right now Houston is an area of over 1 million cave people – over 1.5 million of us don’t have power to watch TV or listen to a radio four days into the event.

Before IKE, when people were “stocking up” it seemed as though every grocery basket in Kingwood was stuffed with four things: Beer, chips, water, and toilet paper – the essentials of life.

Now the big thing is ice and gas. I saw over 300 people lined up at an HEB to get ice -- when you could walk right in to the Randall’s across the street that had food but no ice. Without ice, you can’t keep your food from going bad.

Gas is the other essential – without it you are doomed in Houston where it takes an hour or more just to get from one side of town to the other. We are hearing that gas supplies will be tight all September.

And the generator noise! It comes from neighbors running them and the noise starts to get very irritating – not because I don’t have one so much as the loud racket make. It is like sleeping next to a lawnmower running all night. Thank God the film shield on the windows cuts the noise – if it gets cool enough to close them. They are still running them even with the cold front making it chilly at night.

From my experience I recommend everyone add a portable, battery-operated TV to their emergency kit. If it weren’t for an old black & white battery model (and the internet-capable Blackberry) I’d have no idea what is going on in Houston -- or anywhere else. Problem with that is that in Feb 2009 none of them will work on analog, so new digital ones need to be available on the market.

But with the TV, all we get is news about ourselves – no national or world news has been mentioned in days. When I heard a snippet that the stock market had fallen over 500 points yesterday, I was almost glad NOT to be getting the world news.

Politics seems a planet away from here. The President is supposed to visit today – thanks but no thanks. We really don’t need more politicians clogging traffic and getting in the way so they can express their deepest concern. If he was really concerned he’d have paid attention to the fiscal crisis that is bringing us to a scary place and would have encouraged us to move away from oil.

What I wouldn’t do for a solar panel on my house right now – something big enough to power something when the main lines go down. Where is the legislation to make this common? Where is the leadership in encouraging every house and building to have its own back-up solar energy supply?

It’s not here and so we sit in Houston, the energy capital of the world, in the dark. Gotta go recharge the laptop on the car again…

Monday, September 15, 2008

IKE’s Aftermath – FEMA Fumbles and Boats in the Pool


IKE’s Aftermath – FEMA Fumbles and Boats in the Pool

So this is what it is like to be in a third world country. We lost power sometime early Saturday morning when IKE came over. It was a howler as a CAT 2. Had it been a CAT 3 we would have lost more than trees and fences. In the middle of the night Saturday a tree landed on the roof from the neighbor’s yard. Luckily it landed at the same angle as the roof, distributing its massive weight over the roof instead of crushing it.

When I walked back to see about a blown-down fence I discovered the neighbor’s tree had sliced his house in two. He said over a camp stove meal we served that he could hear it breaking each set of rafters in a “20-second slow motion version of a tornado.” It now fills up the room which was a bedroom.

We still don’t have power and this laptop needs a charge again. I finally got a converter from Radio Shack that lets me charge the laptop on the car cigarette lighter – then I connect to the internet via my Blackberry which I am also charging on the car system. That will work until the car runs out of gas and it’s getting low.

Today was the first day they let us back into Seabrook. I needed to see if my lake office was destroyed. They were allowing only residents who live WEST of highway 146 to enter (the east side on Galveston Bay is still off limits with debris blocking roads). A resident who stayed for the storm said that it had been “scary” and would never do it again. A boat was in the pool. My third floor apartment was high and dry but had no power. If I’d stayed the car would have been flooded.

FEMA has fumbled again. Three days into it and suddenly they said the State of Texas was supposed to set up the distribution centers (over 40) instead of FEMA – that was news to the Houston Mayor and County Judge. It has learned nothing from prior emergencies. Incompetence seems to rule FEMA and our government for too long. They pay people to do nothing but think about stuff like this -- and they still can’t get it right. Valuing loyalty for jobs instead of competence has left us with lines a mile long at the few gas stations open and another slow fumble from FEMA.

Only 25% of us have power, leaving 1.5 million of us in the Houston area still in the dark.

Yes, cooking eggs on a camp stove and boiling water for instant coffee was fun -- for a day. Then it gets to be old hat. About noon today even a Wendy’s or McDonald’s burger suddenly looked fantastic. Car lines that wrapped around the block were at any of the very few restaurants open. Fortunately the water heater is gas and it is still going, so a hot shower in the morning is possible even if washing clothes is not (that requires electricity unless you want to beat your clothes on a rock somewhere).

Out of juice. More later…

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here Comes IKE

I worked on last minute installations of our hurricane window film until 8 pm last night - at the Lamar Tower in Houston.

And here comes IKE - a direct hit. The good news is that it is a CAT 2 instead of a 3 or 4.

I evacuated from Seabrook to a house in Kingwood that Armor Glass installed security window film for this purpose. A couple of the houses we did in Seabrook are on Galveston Bay, so it will be interesting to see the result - assuming a 20 foot wave doesn't take out the entire house.

I was going to set up a webcam on an old computer at the Seabrook condo but work demands kept that from happening. It has been 12-14 hour days and no weekends for quite some time now.

We may be losing power so we'll see if we can make an entry tomorrow. IKE is going to be another night storm, so we won't be able to see much of what is happening.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mandatory Evac for IKE - Testing technology

I just heard that our zipcode of Seabrook is under a mandatory evacuation starting at noon today due to IKE. We are going to get a close hit on the "Dirty" side - the one that produces the most storm surge, wind and even tornadoes.

It will be a test of our hurricane window film since we have it on a couple houses next to Galveston Bay - where the surge could be highest, and my condo on the north shore of Clear Lake.

We'll see what it look like after the storm. I'm falling back to north Houston. We are rushing a couple last minute jobs today before we stop to take care of our homes.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

IKE - Texas Prime Target for the Hit

This morning the computer models show that IKE's potential path is mostly in Texas. So Texas will be taking the WET hit from IKE, unless it somehow dips into Mexico.

Do you remember the old sailor saying: "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning" - ? Here's a morning sky photo from the Texas coast this morning -

I missed it earlier when it was REALLY red...

It's going to be another wild week. Gotta run. I will be from one end of the area to the other each day for the next several days...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yikes IKE

Yikes, IKE is coming down the slot and once again within 10 days we are in the "cone" for a possible hit.

I was at the Woodlands Home Show all weekend and I can tell you people have no idea how unprepared they are if a big hurricane does smack us head on. Some do but most would look at the sign that said "Hurricane Protection" and walk on - as if they really had any. I could just see 70 year olds putting plywood on a second story house in a high wind...

I'm running so no time for much detail. IKE has killed over 300 and if the computer models hold out we could be on the WET side of this one, instead of GUSTAV's dry side that didn't give up even a raindrop.

If there is a storm surge my Seabrook could look like Atlantis or Vienna...stay tuned

Thursday, September 04, 2008

IKE Goes From CAT 1 to CAT 4 in 6 Hours - Dallas goes green

I'm watching events from the road, now near Dallas.

Suddenly the Atlantic Ocean is spitting out hurricanes like a Gatling gun. Now Hurricane IKE has made a record jump from a CAT 1 to a CAT 4 in SIX HOURS. What immense power. It is poised to hit somewhere in the U.S. possibly as a CAT 5 – a top end killer no matter where it lands.

Another study has come out which has satellite data indicating that the hurricanes are getting stronger with climate change. Ocean temperatures have increased –adding more fuel for these whirling dervishes. The rapid jump in IKE’s strength supports this.

It ties in to my argument that we need to become both more energy independent, energy efficient and address climate change at the same time -- unless you really don’t care about your kids and grandkids, who are inheriting a sure-failure “oil only” un-Strategy that will result in a bad ending for our heirs and future generations of Americans.

Go ahead, and “pooh pooh” the climate change thing all you want, but doing so is not smart if you care about your kids and grandkids and their future. We are dumping tons of CO2 and chemicals into the air every day, worldwide -- including smoke so thick in Beijing they should have had an Olympic competition for smog belching, and you don’t think this messes with Mother Nature? Add another 2 billion Indians and Chinese people buying cars to drive for the first time, and add those pollutants on top of the brew. Which planet were you planning to move to when this one gives out?

The commentator on yesterday’s entry says it best – we’ll see. From what I hear, the Fed government has NOT been leading the New Orleans rebuild. It has been volunteer based. People have moved back to areas that could still flood from a levee breach. For some reason the electric company keeps putting lines above ground for the next storm to blow down. Now they think it could be a MONTH to get power restored.
Why not bury those lines and avoid this downtime in the future?

Like I said, our building codes and ways of doing things needed to be upgraded.
I just found that that Dallas is going to make buildings 50% more energy efficient. Is Houston next? San Antonio is on a green binge and upgrading its codes. Yet the Dallas folks tell me that owners resist doing it, although cutting their energy use should also cut their expenses (and improve their bottom line) over the life of the building.

People resist the new. It reminds me of when cars began replacing horses and how the horse owners hated those new things that ended up making transportation easier, faster, better.

Now again, we must embrace the new by cutting our energy waste and improve our efficiency – it will create new jobs; make our air cleaner and cut energy costs, which can only be a win-win.

Change is good and Change is necessary to keep us competitive and productive in a global economy. It is sheer madness not to be building renewable sources of energy while cutting our waste and becoming more efficient to become more self-sufficient and have less negative impact on our climate. This should be done on a “Moon Shot” scale as proposed by Sen. Obama. I hope Sen. McCain will call for the same thing.
Energy independence should be a goal because the efforts we take towards it will improve our country immensely, no matter how far the shot gets.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

GUSTAV Was No Katrina - Would Have Topped Levees by 10 ft

GUSTAV was no KATRINA. It hit the New Orleans area as a CAT 2 and a 12 foot surge– yet it was overtopping levees supposed designed for a CAT 3. KARTINA had a 27-foot surge. Imagine another 12 feet of water pouring over those levees.

New Orleans got lucky this time, but it is still a long way from being prepared. They need to get their wetlands rebuilt and this time listen to the Dutch engineers who came over and offered to help design a CAT 5 system like they use to protect the Netherlands, but were turned away.

We got a few wind gusts on the Texas coast near Houston, and that was it. No rain is forecast for the rest of the week – as Hanna, Ike and TD number 10 form a train spinning up along the same path in the Atlantic.

Now we’ll see if people get serious about preparing by improving their structures to take these violent storms.

One thing is certain; we aren’t going to repeal the law of geography. Tomorrow and next year we will be no further away from the coast, or destructive tornados, then we are today. The threat isn’t going to go away or diminish.

And if we get another Katrina with a 27-foot storm surge, will our systems handle it?
Are our buildings capable of ‘Sheltering in Place’ ? Not yet.

One manager of a large institution who shall remain nameless told me that management had decided that they would wait for a disaster before they invested in the protection our security film would provide. In other words, we’ll take action after the Titanic hits the iceberg.

That puts at risk the public who are using that institutions service-- and their own staff including highly paid doctors. In my opinion, good management and government takes action to avoid the damage and injuries from a foreseeable event such as a storm or explosion.

The cost of one liability suit for injuries or death from flying glass would greatly exceed the cost of installing our protection security film.

I saw video on CNN showing how GUSTAV's winds were peeling off plywood covering windows - leaving the occupants exposed to flying glass and the building subject to structural failure once the windows are breached by flying debris.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav - The scariest Place You Don't Want to Be Right Now

The scariest place to be right now would be that part of I-10 that is built over the swamps from Henderson, LA to just before Baton Rouge – it is something like 30 miles of concrete hanging over swamp water filled with half submerged trees. Right now the swamp tops and the road surface could be on the same level. I would not want to be trapped there now in a car…

I just watched footage on CNN of high winds actually peeling OFF Plywood from a building. I intend to copy it to the website ASAP – it is evidence that the old tech way of “boarding up” is defeated by high winds, leaving the windows totally unprotected from flying debris that will let in the winds that will tear a building apart. Our 21st Century technology is on the inside of the windows, protecting from breach by flying debris 24/7.

GUSTAV is hitting just 300 miles to our east. While it is tearing up Houma, LA, I videotaped a bird emptying a nest just outside the Seabrook Condo on Clear Lake. I had never heard of a bird throwing nesting material OUT of a nest. I always thought they only carried it IN (?).

Following that shot I swung the camera to look current Clear Lake conditions – not anything like what is going on a few miles away that has caused 2 million people to evacuate.

The real test will be how much wind and water hits the new levees. They were only built to take a CAT 3 and GUSTAV hit as a 3 – which is cutting it too close! They should be like the CAT 5 systems they built in Holland, especially since New Orleans is a key U.S. refining and transportation center, linking America’s heartland and its products with the Gulf of Mexico and world ports. Once again, we are shortcutting a prime asset for America. Important flood gates have not been installed, etc.

Standby. Our Labor Day will go on without GUSTAV crashing it, but this should be yet another wake up call to upgrade our building codes and window protection from flying debris. There is nothing worse than being in a room full of flying glass and high winds tearing your house apart during a storm. Same for tornadoes spawned by hurricanes which also throw debris. We could then 'shelter in place.'
video