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Hurricane Digital Memory Bank December 5, 2005

Posted by Leita in Florida, Hurricane, Internet, News, Southern Living.
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Lest we forget, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank is a repository for stories, images and files related to the 2005 hurricane season. Complete with a Google Map, too. Browse or submit your own experiences and help historians accurately record this hellish season.

Here’s the note they sent me:

Greetings,

On a recent web search we found your blog postings that relate to the recent hurricanes. We at the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (http://hurricanearchive.org) invite you to upload your postings or stories to this public database as part of a nationwide memory bank that will help historians write the history of these storms. A collaborative project between George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, the University of New Orleans, and the Smithsonian Institution the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank is collecting, preserving, and presenting the stories, images, and responses of the devastating 2005 hurricane season.

If you decide to contribute, your stories will be credited to you and you will retain copyright over that data. When we display images, blog postings, or podcasts, we also create a bibliographic citation as a reference for those using the memory bank for research. If at any time you change your mind, you may contact us (info@hurricanearchive.org) and we will delete your materials.

Still wondering who we are and what we do? This project builds on prior work by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, and other partners such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, to collect and preserve history online, especially through the ECHO (http://echo.gmu.edu) project and the September 11 Digital Archive (http://911da.org). Check out these sites and see what you think.

We are collecting all types of information, and we encourage you and your friends and family to submit stories, documents, images, or audio files through our website: http://hurricanearchive.org.

Thank you!
Hurricane Digital Memory Bank Staff

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“New” Orleans Turns on City-Wide Wi-fi November 29, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, Hurricane, Internet, Politics, Southern Living.
19 comments

Who deserves free wi-fi more than New Orleans residents? Me, but that’s okay… after watching a city drown while residents suffer and die partly due to communication breakdown I’m all for anything that directly addresses the problem.

Remember, it could happen to your city, too. There are few places in the U.S. safe from Mother Nature’s wrath. Plus, every time a community goes wireless it pisses off the privately owned utility companies and that alone simply Makes My Day. I just paid my cable bill and to be frank, it sucks, but I’ll hold that rant for another post.

Want to ensure it happens in your area, too? Write your state and local potentates. Do it soon because they’re currently eying legislative bills that’ll stymie any chances of making it a reality.

Already running in the French Quarter and the business district, the article claims the whole city will be hooked up in a year.
Here’s how it works:

The system uses hardware mounted on street lights. Most of the $1 million in equipment was donated by three companies: Intel Corp., Tropos Networks Inc. and Pronto Networks. The companies also plan to donate equipment for the citywide expansion. Tropos is connecting the system to the Internet at no charge.

The network uses “mesh” technology to pass the wireless signal from pole to pole rather than each Wi-Fi transmitter being plugged directly into a physical network cable. That way, laptop users will be able to connect even in areas where the wireline phone network will take time to restore.

The system will provide download speeds of 512 kilobits per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency. But the bandwidth will be slowed to 128 kbps in accordance with a limit set by Louisiana’s law once the city’s state of emergency is lifted at an unknown future date.

The service will remain free for residents and businesses after the state of emergency ends.

From: Big Easy Launches Free Wireless System (via Yahoo).

Some balk at the idea of reconstructing an entire city built on oatmeal and wallpaper paste for a levy but what would it cost to build a city from scratch? Plus, it would be a butt-ugly BlandTown.. reason enough to support the efforts to bring back a city deserving whole volumes of the country’s history.

With phone service still hit-and-miss in New Orleans; I wager Skype and Vonage will see a little peak in new customers, eh? That has to hurt the phone companies, even if it’s just a smidge.

Now, how about Mississippi? Let’s see some wi-fi in Biloxi! Since the big-boy utility companies cannot justify the cost/profit on their bloated spreadsheets, there’s plenty of room for tender young companies to squeeze in and provide wi-fi for smaller communities.

I’d pay a local tax just for the chuckles knowing how many people would dump their utility company’s broadband service.

Heh. I’m chuckling now just at the thought…

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War, Dinner, Katrina but No Crabs and No Beach House November 24, 2005

Posted by Leita in Florida, Hurricane, Life in the Woods, Southern Living.
1 comment so far

Heading into the kitchen for the day and packing for a quick trip to Georgia tomorrow to visit some soldiers fresh back from the war.

I’d rather be on the beach or dangling toes off a dock on the bay, dangling string and chicken necks to feed the crabs and ultimately, myself. I had to turn down a three-day freebie beach house stay due to prior plans, thanks to the Army keeping them on call all weekend.

“Yes, soldier, you may spend Thanksgiving with your family, but only if they live nearby because we may call you at any moment even though you’re stateside. Happy Holidays, but don’t go anywhere!”

What a pile of holiday crap.

Happy T’giving, folks. Remember the people who lost homes from Hurricane Katrina; many are spending the winter in tents (and worse) along the Gulf Coast. Say a prayer for them and for the kids fighting overseas, maybe some of both will be home come Christmas.

Peace.

Soon-to-be Hurricane Gamma Groans Her Way Through the Tropics November 14, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Hurricane, News, Southern Living.
2 comments

…which, according to the National Weather Service, is a stong indication coastal residents should prepare for a dual blow since Gampa shouldn’t be far behind.

Walter Anderson’s Art Finally Getting Attention November 13, 2005

Posted by Leita in Art, Design, Hurricane, Life in the Woods, News, Southern Living.
2 comments

Earlier, I wrote about Mississippi artist Walter Anderson, whose art was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina. I wrote letters, dozens, to the media and art organizations to try and get the word out about their plight but received no replies.Walter Anderson's art - used without permission but with lots of love and respect.

“There are hundreds of pieces of artwork left, and each one needs to be evaluated, treated, and cleaned by a professional conservator. The family will do whatever is necessary to preserve this work. But we’ve lost our homes, we’ve lost our livelihood, and this is expensive work. What’s more, time is short. The longer each peice of work goes without attention, the less we’ll be able to save.”

From: The Walter Anderson family site.

Since then, The Washington Post, NPR and others have featured the Anderson family’s struggle to save his work. The Today Show ran a segment on the family but I can’t find anything about it on the website. Grrr… they’ll get a letter today. John Anderson’s essay “Katrina’s Destruction of Shearwater Pottery” can be found on the family website.

A brief bio on Walter Anderson is here. His wife, Agnes Anderson, wrote a fascinating book “Approaching the Magic Hour,” that can be purchased here.

I won’t stop writing letters and I won’t stop praying for this lovely family and the gifts they’ve given us all.

 

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Reeling in Jeb – Florida Nixes Plans for Offshore Oil Drilling November 11, 2005

Posted by Leita in Florida, Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics, Southern Living.
1 comment so far

Panhandle (aka The Emerald Coast) Floridians guard their beaches to the point dogs are only allowed with permit and even then only for a couple hours in the morning and evenings. Street and home lighting cannot be turned directly onto the beach to allow hatchling turtles a better chance of getting to the water and not in traffic. In Grayton Beach, vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach, but only property owners and only with a permit sticker.

A year ago, a pro-oil drilling politician could not be found in Florida. But increased pressure from Governor Jeb Bush and a group of conservatives led by California Republican Richard Pombo had some lawmakers rethinking the “let’s keep the beaches white and the tourists happy” mentality. It seemed inevitable as pump prices and hurricanes pushed them toward allowing oil and gas drilling off the East Florida pristine coast.

A year ago it wasn’t a republican/democrat issue in Florida. Today, it still is not and, at least for now, the beaches are still sugar white and the water still emerald green and clear.

But it’s not just Florida’s beaches:

The measure would replace the current patchwork of bans on energy exploration that cover the eastern Gulf and much of the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. Instead, drilling would be allowed along the entire Outer Continental Shelf, but states could vote to block drilling within about 125 miles of their shores. (Source: The Orlando Sentinel)

Not because some GOPs didn’t try, though. The defeated plan was a compromise to keep drilling 125 miles off the coast.

The proposal that was killed Wednesday night would have allowed Florida’s Legislature and governor to oppose drilling within 125 miles off Florida’s coasts, but open up drilling beyond the 125-mile mark, including millions of acres that have been long-sought by the oil and gas industry. (Source: The Miami Herald)

But some stood their ground. Crossing over the Republican/Democrat line, politicians such as Rep. Connie Mack, a Republican from Ft. Myers, drew a line in the snow white sand in Florida yesterday and despite pressure from officials who (erroneously) claim Gulf drilling would decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil, voted no. Another, Rep. Katherine Harris, a republican from Long Boat Key is actively lobbied to remove the offshore drilling measure before it reached the House floor.

Both Florida senators, Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D) oppose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

So who was pushing the measure so hard it seemed inevitable?

Governor Jeb Bush, who was opposed to any Florida offshore drilling at all when reelected in 2002 and Rep. Tom Feeney, Oviedo. Also voting for the drill was representative Adam Putnam of Bartow, Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Jeff Miller of Pensacola, all Republican. In all, eight republicans out of the 25-member congressional delegation voted for the compromise.

Jeb’s reaction to the bipartisan vote: “It’s a temporary victory politically, but it’s not an ultimate solution.”

Feeney, who in a nationwide released video created by “a business group,” extolled the virtues of offshore drilling, stated the measure would “…protect our beaches and also allow Americans to have a steady supply of affordable gasoline.” Feeney didn’t explain how coastlines would be protected because no one has a plan yet.

It’ll be okay, I’m sure pro-drillers will come up with something later. Maybe following an accident or after a hurricane sends Valdez-quantities of crude into the Gulf.

Fuel shortages, if they do exist, stem mainly from refineries damaged during this year’s hurricanes and to a larger extent, worldwide demand. Drilling more oil and gas from the Gulf would not alleviate the pump prices and heating oil bills and who says it should be solely the responsibility of the United States if it is indeed a worldwide crisis?

Although not sworn in, oil company moguls at a Senate hearing Wednesday did explain why the price of fuel was going up at the same time their coffers stretched to hold the $25 billion in profits earned last quarter. Actually, they didn’t, but they unblinkingly admitted it was not their fault.

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Panoramic View of Biloxi After Katrina October 6, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Hurricane.
1 comment so far

From the Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/katrinapanos/biloxi01.htm

Mississippi Art Hit Hard by Katrina October 6, 2005

Posted by Leita in Art, Hurricane, Southern Living.
6 comments

I didn’t post here yesterday.

Too stunned, I suppose, after reading about the art of Walter Anderson in Mercury News.

Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965) was an artist from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. If the name doesn’t ring a bell chances are his style will. He inspired many artists who wound up more famous than he ever wanted to be. He just wanted to paint. And draw. And make pottery. And write. And sail.

Anderson’s output was staggering. He worked in oil, watercolor, pen and ink, and pencil. He sculpted in wood, crafted furniture, carved and decorated pottery, and cut large linoleum blocks for print making. He also produced stained glass and hooked rugs. For Anderson, art was not a product but a process, a means of experiencing the world. His drawing, prints, and watercolors celebrated the natural rhythms of the weather, the seasons, the sea, and the cycles of plants, flowers, and animals. His abiding interest in nature combined with his strong sense of design and color, his avid intellectual curiosity, and his bold imagination have made his works distinctive and timeless.

Mainly, he wanted to be left alone.

Almost a neighbor, his favorite haunts were mine, too. Horn Island, Petit Buoy Island. Anderson’s interpretation of the Gulf Coast and his belief that art stems from Maugard’s The Seven Motifs inspired me to pick up pen, graphite and paint pretty darn late in life. His wife, Agnes Grinstead Anderson, wrote about her strange husband in the book, “Approaching the Magic Hour.”

As Katrina made landfall, I feared his work–much of it fragile watercolors–would be damaged. It was. Locked up on the family grounds, the floodwater and wind breached the vault, slinging some of it into the trees and soaking some in water and mud. His son estimates 90% of Anderson’s works were damaged.

The Anderson family believes his work should remain where it was created so Anderson’s work remains in his family’s private collection and does not qualify for federal money to restore it. Some pieces, including a portion of the Walls of Light, were donated to the Walter Anderson Museum, also located in Ocean Springs. Those pieces survived. They’re not wealthy; just like many along the coast they grieve over the loss of their old family homes while struggling to save Walter’s work.

Wade through the links above and soak up the images. If you know anyone who is proficient in art restoration, let them know.

Pray for this beautiful family.

 

 

 

DOD’s Secret Katrina Inquiry October 4, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, Hurricane, Internet, News, Politics.
2 comments

From: The Independent Online Edition.

A confidential inquiry commissioned by the Department of Defense details why the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina failed so miserably.

Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to “sneak off post” to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

Worth a read, the analysis also blames former local government officials who redirected funds earmarked for flood management and used it on voter-popular projects. Military generals from several states were also held responsible for denying requests to go to the affected states and volunteer.

The purpose of keeping this “independent and critical review” confidential is….?

Houston Death Toll “A small, small number” September 28, 2005

Posted by Leita in Hurricane.
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The number of Rita-related deaths is an estimated 31 today, according to the Houston Chronicle, not counting the 23 nursing home evacuees who died in a bus fire in Dallas County.

Beverly Begay, chief investigator of the Harris County medical examiner’s office, explained the death toll in her skewed perspective:

“Considering around 2.8 million people evacuated within a short amount of time, this is a relatively small, small number,” Begay said.

No, no, it is not.

Traffic in Harris County gridlocks on a normal workday, common knowledge to everyone in and around Houston. In Galveston there are three routes off the island but I-45 North toward Houston was the only FEMA approved evacuation route. The other two were not mentioned, either would have taken drivers out of the area without the need to travel through Houston.

More about this here and here.

In a sick replay of Hurricane Katrina, government officials gloated over their well-planned hurricane response days before Rita made landfall. Now they claim it wasn’t so bad afterall. I doubt the people who waited in 100-degree heat agree nor do I believe the families grieving over their dead think it was a success.

All this while people in remote areas of Texas and Louisiana continue to wait for rescue. I am tired of pointing fingers; it is not in my nature. But Katrina v.2.0 makes it impossible not to feel an impotent anger that will not subside until the officials responsible can prove they really do give a damn.