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August 06, 2008

Thank You Peoples.....We're Fine

I know it is the time of year when Matt Drudge puts up headlines that give you internets reader peoples a heightened sense of concern about Pile and your favorite think tank the esteemed The Ebb & Flow Institute.

Tropical storm Edouard (yes Matt it could have strengthened into a hurricane) turned out to be what you folks up north might call a rain shower. We are fine. We hunkered down. I like to hunker down. I like to say I am going to hunker down. I wish there were more occasions to hunker down. Hurricane season is the only time I ever hear people say they are going to "hunker down".

I now have a system in place to hunker down. In the pre-hunker phase I send the wife to the grocery store with the other courteous shoppers preparing to hunker down to pick up fifteen gallons of milk and a box of beer, while I make room in the refrigerator.

When she gets home four hours later, we hunker.

Hunkering got me reminiscing about Hurricane Rita (Katrina's less well known red headed step sister) when I made the decision to cease hunkering and evacuate.

My notes on that ordeal are below what we big time bloggers like to call the fold.

Originally posted September 27th, 2005

An American Refugee

Hello Institute patrons, please allow me to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers as the Institute had to be evacuated prior to Hurricane Rita. What follows is a harrowing and completely true tale of how I, Pile, lead my staff, family and pet to safety under incredibly adverse conditions.

A few weeks ago when the "evacuees" from Hurricane Katrina were being bussed into the Astrodome I saw one of them being interviewed by the local news, he made a comment that has stuck with me. He said, " refugees....., people are calling us refugees......, I ain't no refugee, I'm an American citizen". After having fled natures fury myself, I can't help but disagree with Mr. Evacuee. Being on the run from high winds and rising waters knows no citizenship, race or creed, it only knows the medium rare human instinct of survival, while being courteous to others who have been forced from their homes of course. It only knows that.

On the evening of Wednesday September 21st it became clear to me that I was going to have to make a decision about what to do regarding the approaching storm. It became clear because people kept asking me "Pile, what are you going to do? Evacuate?". I have to say, at that point I was not prepared to leave the Institute unguarded and vulnerable. Our world Headquarters is approximately 60 miles inland, so I thought we could ride the storm out. Besides, Academy Sports and Outdoors was having a sale on Remington Street Howitzers, and the prices looked pretty good. This combined with the fact that there was not a motel room available anywhere in the western United States led me to the decision to stay put.

During my customary Thursday morning sitrep briefing it became clear to me that the situation had changed almost overnight. Rita had been upgraded to a category five, with sustained winds that made it the fifth most powerful storm ever recorded. The Institutes computer modeling had the storm on a track that would push a storm surge right up our drive, past the valet parking and through the Institute gift shop. As many of you know this is a think tank that employs a wide variety of peoples, one of whom you might know as The Onlette, is only six months old. While I have been instructing The Onlette on free market economics and college football I have not yet taught her to swim. I felt the weight of the Institute, not to mention the world, riding on my shoulders.

Some Chairmen of think tank Institutes are born to be great leaders. Others, it would seem have a swirling storm of high winds and rain thrust their great leadership on their staff and family. And pet. I made an announcement over the intercom system that we would be evacuating. I instructed all personnel and pets to put their important papers in a fire and flood proof lock box, move all computers and electronics off the floor and onto a counter or high shelf and prepare to leave.

My wife, the lovely and immensely talented Mrs. On and I, loaded two coolers full of lunchmeat, Red Bull and beer, and put them in the family car along with clothes, toys, a fourteen month supply of diapers, a telephone answering machine, dog food, three gallons of filtered tap water, an emergency car tire pump, two loaves of bread and an umbrella. We were ready to leave the think tank Institute that we both had devoted our entire lives to.

Before all electronics were disconnected and moved to the relative safety of a higher counter or shelf, I had been watching the Institute's local media monitoring device. I was acutely aware of the stand still traffic on the major hurricane evacuation routes. Thrusting my leadership on my family and pet I made my first major decision, we would not be taking a freeway out of town. We would head west on any farm to market road we could find until we got to I 35, from there we would head north to Dallas, and then on to visit some friends in Oklahoma City.

This was a day that was taking a toll on my fellow Houstonians, and their pets. Due to the heat, the temperatures were approaching 100 degrees. Fahrenheit. Due to the sudden run on gasoline, most stations were now out of anything one might put in their cars for fuel. Many of my fellow refugees were forced to drive along without running the air conditioner to conserve on precious fuel. We were forced to sit in our car, unable to move around, and endure hour after hour the relentless blast of refrigerated air that pelted our skin like a Chinese water torture. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger I told my family and pet when they inquired if anything could be done about the chill wind blowing in the Mitsubishi. I had heard on the radio that a dog had died of heat frustration on I45 north of Houston. That was a chance, with which I could not take.

We saw many people waiting at gas stations for gas supplies that might not arrive in time. We finally reached I35 in Austin and turned north, but not before stopping at a completely deserted gas station to fill up. I could not help but wonder why I was the only person to get my fuel supplies at a station that had fuel supplies. It was a question I could not ponder long, as a refugee must keep moving.

It was a seventeen hour trip from Houston to Dallas. I was very proud of The Onlette, she handled the situation like you would hope a trainee analyst would. At some point during the trip she began to bogart the Mommy, forcing my Labrador retriever Enid into the map reading, navigator, co-pilot, riding shotgun position commonly referred to as the front passenger seat. Like many people who were faced with adversity in these trying times, she rose to the occasion, as I could not detect any perceptible decrease in the navigation assistance I was receiving. The front passenger seat is just a bit small for a full figured lab to curl up in, so like me she sat up and watched the road until we arrived in Dallas at 6 am Friday morning. Yes, I know it was harrowing for her, but when you are a refugee pet, being tired is a luxury you can not afford.

We grabbed a few hours of shuteye in Dallas, then it was on to Oklahoma City , three more hours to the North. There we slept for something like 37.4 hours straight. Keeping track of time is not a refugee's strong suit. Our friends, or as I like to refer to them, the people running our shelter, took us out for dinner when we finally did wake up. We went to what they call the Bricktown Riverwalk. Oklahoma City has revitalized their downtown in a manner similar to what San Antonio did so many years ago. They have not achieved all the charm of downtown San Antonio but it is very nice. We set out on a trek that must have been hundreds, if not thousands of meters. But refugees do not complain about having to walk to receive a ration of nourishment. Not even if they have to walk past a brand new bar and grill owned by Toby Keith. When a refugee thinks of fine dining, a refugee's mind often conjures up the image of Toby Keith frying up some grub.

We finally arrived at a little Italian eatery, where we were told they could not serve us. FOR FORTY FIVE MINUTES!!! I cursed Bush, and I cursed FEMA, how could they not have planned for this contingency? Then I remembered the immortal words of Tom Petty, "you don't [pause for dramatic effect] have [another even more dramatic pause] to live like a refugee, don't have to live like a refugee".

You damn straight I don't Mr. Petty. I gathered up my family and the people that were operating the shelter I was staying at and marched right down the riverwalk to a place called the Bourbon Street Cafe. They only had a twenty minute wait, not to mention a delightful India Pale Ale on tap. We ate a meal in solidarity with our fellow refugees from New Orleans. A little dish they call Etouffe. It is pronounced [ay-too-fay], I know this because it said so, right on the menu, AY-TOO-FAY.

It was good, I enjoyed it. It was served with dirty rice, which was also good, but it made the whole dish a bit too rich. It would have been much better to serve it with a scoop of plain steamed rice. Such are the trials of An American Refugee.

Posted by at August 6, 2008 08:25 PM

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I've got some excellent recipes for milk and bread soup whenever you're ready, Pile.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 6, 2008 10:06 PM

No kidding? I would like to see plural excellent recipes for milk and bread soup!

Posted by: Pile On at August 6, 2008 10:37 PM

A gourmet! Francesca Plural-Excellent is renowned through the length and breadth of Witherspoon Street in Princeton for the ambrosial delights of her milk and bread soup recipes.

"A most-refreshing change from the quotidian brie-and-chablis fondue one normally encounters at these affairs." -- Arthur Smytes-Busch, local soapbox orator

"An enchanting concoction! I'd give it Both Thumbs Up, but they're otherwise occupied at the moment..." -- Leslie Silkenthongue, proprietress of Silkenthongue's Pole-Dancing As Therapé

"Needs more oregano." -- Guido "Buzzkill" Panorama, third packing crate from the left

Posted by: BillT at August 7, 2008 02:44 AM

You ghouls!

How can you joke about milk and bread when so many of the BushHitler's victims are still suffering? Can't you see this man is in torment? Clearly he is experiencing aggravated post-traumatic stress disorder. This is just another crime we can lay at the door of those criminals in the Ovoid Office.

I long for the day when an Obama administration will finally make it possible for the People to convene witc...err... tribunals - perhaps even Nuremburg-style tribunals - and justice will once again rain down upon this fair land!!!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 7, 2008 05:08 AM

You ghouls!

No, 'm. Us is all *guys*...

Posted by: BillT at August 7, 2008 05:26 AM

I understand Pile's pain. I was in Boston with MathLad, looking at colleges, when Global Warming reared his/her/its ugly head and threatened my home. I watched with angst, and with my kids, as Edouard made his practice run right toward Galveston. Of course, I remembered that afternoon several years ago when Little Tropical Storm Allison started turning in the Gulf, and came on shore later that day to dump three feet of water on Houston,devastate the Houston Med Center and cost the Houston economy over $5 billion. Of course, we recovered from that because we have competent city government, but I digress.

I thought to myself, (because who else does someone think to?) that Edouard looked like a little pansy, but so did Allison. So, should I stay in Boston, high and dry, or return to stare down Edouard and rejoin my spouse in protecting the House of Math?

I decided to be like one of those storm chasers, and fly into the storm. We had to endure winds in excess of 3 mph for most of the day, and will have to water the lawn again in about 7 days.

We hunkered down, like Pile, and are better people for it.

Posted by: MathMom at August 7, 2008 08:09 AM

We had to endure winds in excess of 3 mph for most of the day, and will have to water the lawn again in about 7 days.

Of such courage, legends are born.

And myths.

And thongs that are thung to the young...

Posted by: BillT at August 7, 2008 08:41 AM

We must erect memorials to such courage. I proclaim August 6th to forever be 'Hunker Down Day.' It will be celebrated with song, dance, lotsa adult beverages and stories.

Posted by: Cricket at August 7, 2008 09:28 AM

Saint Larry of Munson blesses you all, children. Let us give thanks and sing.

Posted by: MikeD at August 7, 2008 09:44 AM


Thanks for mentioning Larry... I've been sobbing so much at all the references to hunker down, what with Larry retiring, that I've had not one moment, until... oh I guess now, to consider the udder tragedy inherent in storm preparedness.

With all the attendant modifications to hive behavior brought on by the thoughtless and selfish use of house boats, private jets, modern transportation, agriculture, electricity, medicine, personal hygiene, clothing, toiletries, etc. I'm left with a chilling sense of hopelessness for the possibility of meaningful climate change management, as if someone had just danced on my recycle bin.

Not to mention the current Congress and their failed agenda. One which did not push for legislation to ban Sol from spotting and the funding to further study the possibility of containing Bos taurus methane production. Where are the promised change agents to lead us forward to the past? Leadership that will promote meaningful biographical publications?

Ahhh what were we talking about? Oh yeah! Carbon credits! Or was it FEMA? No, no it was, ahh, we don't want a hand out, just a handful, wrapped in freezer paper if you please! Unless this is Nawlins, then make it a bag full.

I hear that the Dems are taking the BO campaign into RedState territory, so I need to take the pickup to the home improvement store to buy my plywood before the big blow... Save the panes!

Posted by: bt_what-me-worry_hun at August 7, 2008 11:35 AM

...to consider the udder tragedy inherent in storm preparedness.

Kinda places one on the horns of a dilemma, dudnit?

Posted by: BillT at August 8, 2008 09:11 AM

"Kinda places one on the horns of a dilemma, dudnit?"
True, but now that the kids are gone, I'll combine the nutrition of milk and bread into one convenient, easy to carry item. A keg of beer.

Which, btw, recycles as a flotation device in case the the water rises to roughly the level of the Appalachian trail in Jawja. Somewhere betwixt .47 and .85 miles above sea level, minus the displacement of AlGores houseboat, Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile and William Jefferson's freezer.

Posted by: bt_withaflotationdevice_hun at August 8, 2008 11:26 AM