Man in the Mirror
Accountability | Fixing ME | Week 3 Day 6 - Friday 12/2/2022
NOTE---I had been doing this all on Facebook but I decided I'll create a blog instead. So we're kind of joining this story "in progress."
NOTE---This blog post is rather uncensored.
Anyway, let's get down to it.
Week 3 Day 5, Friday 12/02/2022: I really didn't want to be there tonight. I still have a headache and blah blah blah. But I went.
I'm now at 9.91 miles on the week, so if I push it on Saturday I can still meet my goal of 12-14 miles for the week. Which ain't great by any means, but it's 12-14 more miles than I walked 3 weeks ago.
Did a full upper-body set on the Cybex machines after the treadmill. I hate that I'm only doing 2-3 plates for my reps. Most men would be lifting 3 times that much.
Since I'm doing this whole journey publicly, for this blog I'm going to share something personal. Stop reading now if you want.
The man in the picture above. Some days I really viscerally hate this man. Many days I am that man's worst enemy. Oftentimes he can't do much of anything without f##king it up. I don't like the way he looks. He's fat and old, and is not going to win any beauty contests. When I did medical transcription work in my former life, he would be labeled "deconditioned," "obese." And diabetic, duh, because of life choices. I believe he has the charisma of a doorknob.
I RARELY ever share selfies, because I hate the way I look, and NEVERRRR a "body shot" like this. It took a LOT for me to share this... I don't blame yall if my friend count drops.
Throughout August and September, when I would get home from work, I'd fall asleep in the car in the carport. I'd put the car in park, and then an hour later Nathan would be banging on the window to wake me up. There were a couple of days that I did not remember driving home from the school; I would remember being AT the school and I'd remember being AT home at suppertime, but nothing in between. One time I caught myself running a red light in Whiteville. I had 'zoned out' and realized, when it was too late, I was running the light. No harm, no foul, but ... it was one of those "WTF" moments, you know?
I mentioned it to my therapist at one of my appointments, and he said that's not a good thing. He asked me to schedule an appointment with a medical provider to get things looked at. But I didn't at first.
Finally around the first part of October, he told me if I didn't call and schedule an appointment, he was going to do it himself. Fine, I scheduled an appointment with Ashlee Allensworth at Whiteville Medical Associates. At the initial visit, they did a fingerstick, which was 465 mg/dL (for those unaware, a "normal" blood sugar for a non-diabetic person would generally be between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL). This was at about 4 PM, after work. So... hell yeah, the diabetes monster is out of control. Then she did a full blood battery and the real "holy shit" occurred: My A1c result -- 12%. That's critical. This means that over the past 3 months leading up to the test, my average blood sugar was running north of 300 mg/dL. A normal, non-diabetic A1c (known as the hemoglobin A1c) is less than 6%.
It took a while for the reality of that number to set in... and the depression got real. It got even more real when I got this damn Dexcom meter and I was seeing numbers north of 400, sustained, day after day.
Ashlee called me and needed to schedule a relatively urgent follow-up, but I ended up rescheduling because of work. I don't like using PTO because my afternoon class needs me there to teach. Anyway, I saw her and she's like... dude... this is bad.
I told her if we just left this all alone, didn't do anything or change anything, what would the timeline be?
"A couple of years." "First you'd lose your legs, probably within a year or so, you'll go blind, your kidneys will fail, and that'll be that."
Hm. Would I live long enough to see Nathan graduate high school in a couple of years?
"Probably... but I don't like where this conversation is going."
I told her that before I got that meter I was blissfully unaware.
She said, "yeah, committing slow suicide."
In a couple of years nobody'd notice the difference. /shoulder-shrug/
She started me on Farxiga, which brought me out of the 400s and down to the upper-200s to mid-300s. Tim Duncan, our church leader, voluntold me to get a membership to Bodyshapers. So I did... it ain't cheap... so if I'm spending this money (that I really don't have), I've GOT to make the most of it and be there more often than not. The first few times on the treadmill, it was about 1 to 1.25 miles over 30 minutes, a DREADFULLY SLOW pace. Everything hurt. But, it's kinda cool, I'm here. Ashlee had said at my follow-up appointment, the fact that I can still feel my feet is rather surprising, but it also means that it's not too late to kind of reverse the trend.
Oh, by the way, an off-label use for the antidepressant Prozac, which I take, is to treat diabetic neuropathy symptoms.
At my most recent appointment, Ashlee put me on Xigduo XR, but it's a high dose ... Farxiga 10 mg and metformin ER 2000 mg. She said this is kind of the last point before we go on insulin. I REFUSE to go on insulin. I'm not going to be stabbing myself in the gut with a needle halfway through my work day. Hell no.
I'm eating better. I'm cutting way back on the diet Pepsi that I consume, and switched from white bread to whole wheat. I still love my Franco's pizza, but John has said he can make a thin crust, and I've found that it doesn't spike my sugar all that bad. Salads are great. I'm still learning, though, and some things will spike the numbers into the upper 200s. Notice I said upper 200s... instead of 400s. I still feel like crap, though, if the number drops lower than about 120. My body is used to being so high for so long that when the number reaches close to "normal," I'm kind of in a state of shock.
I have found support from so many friends. I'm truly grateful for that support and the words and encouragement. I'm glad I started going to the gym; I started talking with a few people there, and Grant Merritt has been good about helping me stay accountable... if I'm not there 2 nights running, he's messaging me saying "get in here."
I'm working on my Masters degree for Science Education. I *LOVE* my job, every last bit of my job, every minute of every day. I can clock in at 7:30 AM and forget everything else going on in life. I have ninety-nine (? I think that's the number) 7th graders. I teach a couple of small-group Math classes, for students who are sometimes on the struggle-bus and need some extra help. When I'm not doing that, I'm assisting in the Science classes. For 5 weeks I ran the 7th grade Science classroom while we were in between certified teachers. It was the greatest 5 weeks I have ever spent. I was other-worldly tired and half the time I felt like I had no clue what the hell I was doing, but it was a taste of being in the major leagues. I knew it was temporary and I was okay with that, but ... not gonna lie ... coming back after the fall break and resuming the old position was a little tough.
My final course for the first semester in my Masters program really pushed my resolve. That, combined with the sudden health crisis and a bunch of other things ... I'm very much overloaded. Some very good friends, along with Ashlee and my therapist Jonathan, were like, "uhm, you're doing this."
A final bit of motivation came quite recently. Our ELA teacher had her students write an essay about someone they admired. One student wrote extensively about ... me. I was given this essay, and as I read it, I fought the tears. Eventually the tears won. Of all the people in the world this student could write about, the student wrote about me. This student's words, that neat cursive handwriting on that sheet of paper, I have read over and over again. The student said I could just "throw it away, it's okay, I don't mind." I said THAT request is DENIED. It is taped to my desk so when I have that 'feeling sorry for myself' moment, I can look down and re-read that essay yet again.
My admin coach at the school asked me right after our September break what one of my goals was this year, and I told her, "move the needle." Well, reading that student's essay, and talking with some other coworkers, friends, and relatives of students, I've done that and then some.
So... ugh. This is going on and on and on and I need to shut up.
My son needs me. I'm his only parent since his mother died. I still believe to this day (it has been 6 years, 3 months, 17 days) that the wrong parent died, but that's neither here nor there. As for my son... I'm not getting into any public details but ... my son needs me. And he will need me alive after he graduates high school. I also have ninety-nine 7th graders who need me, and apparently I do matter to at least some of them.
I need to fix me. I'm a very broken individual. And I'm going to be selfish. I have to fix me, or I'll die. And that's not my being melodramatic or any other bullshit, that's being real.
I'm doing this for me.
And for 1 here at home.
And for 99+ at the Classical Charter School of Whiteville... and my work family.... and that student who wrote about me, who now has a friend for life.
I promise that future blog posts won't be as long. Thanks for reading and sharing the journey.
If my sharing this publicly helps one person to think about making a change in life, then it's worth it.
Thunderstorms... all thunderstorms... are dangerous and can be deadly. They are also quite beautiful.
A thunderstorm is simply a tool our dynamic atmosphere uses to stay in balance. Like everything else on Earth, they go through a life cycle, from beginning to end, birth to death.
What is a thunderstorm? Simply put, a series of updrafts and downdrafts. The American Meteorological Society defines a thunderstorm as "a local storm, invariably produced by a cumulonimbus cloud and always accompanied by lightning and thunder, usually with strong gusts of wind, heavy rain, and sometimes with hail."
We've had a lot of thunderstorms over the past several days, so I thought I'd do a "Science|Saturday" post to provide a "peek behind the curtain" on what makes a thunderstorm. This is NOT to be used as a complete, detailed text on everything thunderstorms, but will provide you with a basic understanding of one of the many processes in our atmosphere.
This is a long post with quite a bit of reading, but I tried to make it as "plain English" as I could.
To develop a thunderstorm you must have warm, humid air at the surface, an unstable atmosphere, and a trigger to move air upwards to that unstable level. The trigger can be anything from a cold front to surface convergence to an old outflow boundary to surface heating and free convection.
A "bubble" of air (called a 'parcel') is lifted to a level where moisture condensation begins and latent heat is released. (Latent heat is energy that is in a hidden form which changes a solid into a liquid or vapor, or a liquid into a vapor, without changing the temperature.) Once the latent heat is released, the buoyancy of the rising air is enhanced. Much of the energy for thunderstorm development comes from this release of latent heat, as this is what allows that "bubble" to remain warmer than the surrounding air over great vertical (up-and-down) depths. Once the rising "bubble" is able to pass the transition level from stable to unstable, rising air within the cloud becomes warmer than the surrounding air and it accelerates upward, which helps to bring in more air from below. These rising air currents are called UPDRAFTS. A growing cumulus cloud is observed in this stage. The early stage of thunderstorm development is dominated by updrafts.
Eventually, the processes that transform a cloud of small droplets into precipitation-sized drops take over and the cloud particles (liquid droplets and ice) get so large that the updraft can no longer hold them up and they begin to fall. As precipitation falls below the cloud base, it encounters a region of the atmosphere that is unsaturated. Thus, some of the liquid water and ice evaporates on the way down to the ground. This is called EVAPORATIVE COOLING. Falling air "bubbles," containing precipitation, can become colder than the surrounding environmental air due to this evaporative cooling. In a sense this is opposite to the unstable updraft. Falling air parcels that become colder (and more dense) than the surrounding environmental air will accelerate downward, causing more air from above to follow. This evaporatively cooled air, which accelerates downward, is called a DOWNDRAFT. Most thunderstorms produce downdrafts, and if conditions are right, they can be quite strong and destructive (such as a macroburst or microburst). Sraight-line wind damage occurs from thunderstorm downdrafts. When downdraft air hits the ground it spreads outward and moves along the ground, as a GUST FRONT. That blast of cold air hitting in the face just before the onset of a strong thunderstorm is the gust front.
A thunderstorm begins to die when its energy supply of warm, humid air in the updrafts is cut off. Once that energy supply no longer exists, the storm dies. Just like your car will no longer run when there is no more fuel in the tank. Lighter rain may continue to fall for a short time as updrafts are no longer holding up the larger cloud particles. Sometimes the spreading cold air at the surface (gust fronts) can initiate new thunderstorms tens or even hundreds of miles away.
ORGANIZED CLUSTERS / SEVERE STORMS:
Most severe thunderstorms are parts of clusters or some other organization that allows updrafts to continue. Merging gust fronts (also known as outflow boundaries) is one such way this happens. Where these boundaries meet, there is an area of CONVERGENCE at the surface, which forces air to rise. To understand convergence, imagine a perfectly smooth swimming pool. You are standing at one end and your friend is at the other. You both drop a rock into the water at the same time. Eventually the water ripples will reach each other. The point where the water ripples reach other is convergence.
If the atmosphere is unstable at this convergence, new thunderstorms are initiated quite easily. This is the mechanism that produces multi-cell clusters of storms, similar to what we've seen over the past several days.
Here are a couple of radar screen grabs showing this "in the real world."
Most often severe thunderstorms require VERTICAL WIND SHEAR to form. Vertical wind shear is a situation where the winds change in speed and/or direction at different altitudes. Meteorologists use a SKEW-T diagram to look at vertical wind shear. Favorable types of vertical shear interact with thunderstorms to enhance and maintain vertical draft strengths. Thunderstorm squall lines can form in areas where the vertical wind shear is such that the wind speed increases with increasing altitude.
"Hang on, Chris, you're losing me here." Individual thunderstorms are moved (or steered) by the winds at roughly 18,000 feet above sea level. This number isn't absolute and can vary under different situations. If the wind speeds at this level are faster than the surface winds, a steady supply of warm and humid air moves into the storm. This causes new thunderstorms to develop as the original storm dissipates. In truth, squall lines aren't the same "original" thunderstorm; however, are new storms that generate following the same procedure that you read 231 hours ago at the top of this long post.
"SO WHAT MAKES A STORM SEVERE?"
The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorms based on hail size and surface wind gusts.
That's it. That's the criteria.
Lightning frequency and intensity have no bearing on whether or not a storm is severe. All thunderstorms produce lightning.
Rainfall intensity has no bearing on whether or not a storm is severe. ANY thunderstorm has the capability of producing flash flooding.
In August 2021, the National Weather Service came out with a three-tier system to classify severe thunderstorms. This helps to distinguish low- versus high-impact events.
Hail is a form of frozen precipitation. Hailstones usually measure from 0.2 inch to greater than 6 inches in diameter. Hail forms in thunderstorms with intense updrafts, high liquid water content, great vertical height, large water droplets, and where a good portion of the cloud layer is below 32°F (0°C).
Hail is composed of transparent ice or alternating layers of transparent and translucent ice. These layers are deposited on the hail stone as it travels up and down through the cloud, suspended aloft by the powerful updraft of a storm. The upward motion of the hailstone ends when its weight overcomes the updraft and it begins to fall.
When looking at straight-line winds in a severe thunderstorm, we talk about microbursts. A MICROBURST is a small very intense downdraft that descends to the ground, then spreads out along the ground as a strong winds moving away from the microburst core.
Microbursts can produce wind speeds of greater than 150 miles per hour and thus are capable of causing significant damage.
Microburst winds can be stronger than the winds observed in some hurricanes and tornadoes.
Because microbursts and tornadoes are both associated with severe thunderstorms, it is common for people to mistake microburst wind damage for tornado wind damage.
Lets take a closer look at the microburst image. When that massive amount of rain and hail, along with very dense, cold air, falls from the cloud, it can't go THROUGH the ground, so it flows out in a 360° direction. These winds can and often do produce damage similar to that of a tornado. They can SOUND like a tornado when they're occurring. That is part of the reason they are often mistaken for tornadoes. National Weather Service officials do storm surveys after storms and they can discern, by looking at the damage path (especially from above), and know instantly whether or not a tornado occurred.
That'll conclude this post for today, congratulations if you have made it all the way through. You are now competent on thunderstorms and have a greater understanding of how they develop and how they "work." Our next "SCIENCE | saturday" topica will be supercell thunderstorms and what sets them apart from what we looked at today.
This is a rant.
So our leader (we all know many others are pulling the strings) is talking about a 3-month suspension of the federal gas tax to "help ease the burden."
Every little bit helps, yes, but in this case, it's not going to make that much of a difference... and may actually make things worse longer-term.
According to whitehouse.gov, the federal gas tax is 18 cents per gallon of gas, 24 cents per gallon of diesel.
So if you're paying $4.99/gal gas, it'll go down to $4.81. Over 10 gallons of gas you'll save $1.80. 20 gallons, $3.60. 20 gallons at $4.999/gal = $99.98. Shave off $3.60 and you're all the way down to $96.38. Woo.
I'm no mathemagician, but that ain't much.
According to TCSFuel.com, "semi-truck fuel tanks come in varying sizes, but they hold an average of 125 to 300 gallons of fuel." So for this argument, I'll err on the high end (since I don't know squat about tractor-trailers). The 24 cents per gallon will make a bit more of difference there, but still, looking at the big picture, not that much.
24 cents per gallon x 300 gallons is $72. If diesel is already $5.60/gallon (pretty much what it is here), 300 gallons of that comes to $1680. Shave off $72. Woo. Now of course nobody is filling those tanks from completely empty, but you get the point.
The North Carolina gas tax is 38.5 cents per gallon, according to igentax.com. South Carolina and Tennessee are 26 cents per gallon, Virginia is 26.2 cents per gallon. Georgia is 29.1 cents and Florida is 19 cents. (Source - https://igentax.com/gas-tax-state/#table)
For gasoline, North Carolina has the highest state tax in the southeast. I will give the devil his due, our main roads are for the most part in pretty good shape, nicely paved, lines painted, etc. Our secondary roads, they're absolute trash in most cases, but that's another argument for another day.
(According to NCDOR.gov, "Effective January 1, 2017, the motor fuels tax rate is set at a flat rate of 34 cents per gallon multiplied by a percentage. The percentage is plus or minus the sum of the annual percentage change in state population for the applicable calendar year, multiplied by 75% and the annual energy index percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, multiplied by 25%.")
NC has a diesel tax of 38.5 cents/gal. Add that in with the fed's 24 and you have 62 cents/gal. Over 300 gallons, that's $186.
A few drops in the bucket. Every little bit helps, yes, but..........
In case you were wondering, per the igentax.com website, the highest gas tax in the nation is Pennsylvania (57.6 cents/gallon) followed by California at 51.1 cents/gallon.
Sadly, suspension of the tax isn't going to lower prices in the long term. According to TaxFoundation.org, "the savings from zeroing out the gas tax would likely be enjoyed at least in part by producers, rather than passed entirely to consumers. Even if savings were passed to consumers in the form of lower gas prices, it could make the misalignment between demand and supply worse—-reducing taxes on gasoline could spur further increased demand for gas, and in turn, higher prices."
If you still really believe this is a "Putin price hike," well, you're entitled to believe what you want, even if you're wrong. Sure, some of this is the fact that we're no longer buying Russian oil, but prices were spiraling upwards long before the first shot was fired in Ukraine. Remember, our president, on his first day, shut down the Keystone pipeline and subsequently placed crippling regulations on oil companies. Because that's what his masters told him to do.
Want to TRULY help people? Cut income taxes, slash business regulations, especially on oil companies. Open it up and drill, baby, drill. We have enough resources right here in the US to be energy independent (again) and put thousands of workers BACK to work. Restore the pipeline(s). No, the effect wouldn't be immediate -- I believe we're going to have these prices through at least the end of the summer -- but increasing supply, using THE ABUNDANT RESOURCES WE HAVE HERE instead of relying on enemy states, would be huge.
And don't talk to me about 9,000 leases or whatever the left's talking point is on that. Even a few minutes' thought on that causes one to realize that there isn't oil on all of those lands, and with the crippling regulations the left keeps placing on oil companies, what incentive do they have to do anything? Why would they risk even MORE regulations? I wouldn't.
The Dems' stated goal (and yes, our inept leader said the quiet part out loud in recent days) of getting everyone to electric vehicles... I'm glad they believe we have a power grid capable of plugging in however-many-million electric cars every night. You think your light bill is high now?! Get yourself a $55,000 electric car and plug that baby in every night. But it'll help the environment! No, it won't. Where do the resources come from to build those batteries? What happens to the batteries when they eventually wear out?
But at least I'll save $2.46 per 13.7-gallon tankful in my Cruze. Woo.
My son and I were gifted tickets to see the Atlanta Braves on July 20th. I decided to upload the pics as part of a blog, broken down into three groups -- the stadium tour, downtown images taken by Nathan, and then the game.
Here's part 1 - the Battery and around the ballpark, and then the ballpark tour. Click/tap on each to enlarge. Some images are captioned.
There are a few I want to post as standalone....
Nathan wanted to go into downtown Atlanta to see the sights. He handled the camera while I drove. These are a selection of the pictures he took. Again, click/tap on each to enlarge.
Finally, there was a baseball game, in which the Washington Nationals defeated the Braves by a score of 5-3. The key highlight was a home run by Brian McCann into the Chop House in the 7th inning. These pics are both from the "good" camera and my phone. Nathan took nearly all of these pics. Again, click/tap to make 'em bigger.
It was a wonderful experience, one that we wouldn't have been able to have had it not been for this friend. I spent more money than I should have, but as someone once said, money can be earned back, but time... can't.
Why Would You Want This?
DISCLAIMER: I'm writing this from the comfort of a home-away-from-home. After convincing from family and my landlord, I made the decision late Thursday / early Friday that my son and I need to leave Whiteville. I have been fortunate enough to have been fed and watered, have had air conditioning and a comfortable bed while the storm raged wind, blinding rain, and tornadoes over the city and county I call home.
I write this with the full realization that a great many people have not enjoyed such luxuries. Including people I know and love... people who had National Guard troops show up at their door telling them, "you're leaving now."
I will try to be as sensitive as I can with my words. And with most things I attempt in life, I will likely fail. If your feelings get hurt, that's your problem. End disclaimer.
A meteorologist friend of mine in Virginia stated before the storm struck that they had individuals on their Facebook friends list upset that the storm wasn't hitting there.
Let me repeat that... they were upset... that the storm... was NOT... going to strike their location.
I've been furious and kind of stewing over it since my friend stated this.
Why on Earth would ANYONE ...WANT... this kind of storm to hit? What kind of sick individual would wish what has happened in [[Whiteville, Lumberton, Riegelwood, Lake Waccamaw, Tabor City, Nakina, Leland, Wilmington, Loris, Longs, et al]] to hit... ANY location?
I know meteorologists and storm enthusiasts... and other general idiots... who look forward to the wild weather hitting, so they can chase the storm, or maybe ride around taking pictures, getting lots of shares, getting their name in print, making it look like they're some kind of special. They have nothing at stake, so it's "fun" to them. They don't have a home in the direct path, or loved ones in the direct path. So they don't care. They're only doing it for themselves, their goal is not to "inform" or to help people. Their motivation is purely self-interest and name recognition.
A certain famous "extreme meteorologist" comes to mind, and a certain famous meteorologist from a national weather-related broadcast network comes to mind.
Those mentioned above are different from meteorologists who look at these once-in-a-generation storms as tests of their forecasting skills, wall-to-wall, non-stop work. THOSE are meteorologists who ARE trying to help protect people, who are trying to inform the public, working to help keep people informed and safe. Whether or not the public follows their recommendations is another story altogether. They don't look forward to the destruction and devastation caused by a potentially cat-4 storm striking.
There are members of the public who assume the meteorologists are "over-hyping" the storm... stating that we're somehow making it sexier than it would be... that what was then a category-FOUR storm with 140 mph winds... somehow it just "won't be THAT bad."
The storm weakened to a 2, and then a 1. So from a wind standpoint, SE NC and NE SC dodged a huge bullet. Got very, very lucky. (By the way... "category" ONLY has to do with the wind. Not the volume of rain coming, or the forward speed of the storm. A hurricane's category rating is exclusively based on wind speed. As we have seen, a 2 or a 1 can bring about just as much devastation as a 5.)
Meteorologists didn't get it wrong. Florence was every bit the badass as she was advertised. The winds came and went, and the rains continued. And continued. And continued. Then they stopped for a bit... and then Florence went out with a bang with tremendous rainfall and tornadoes... just to add insult to injury.
My county is still recovering from Hurricane Matthew two years ago. Long-promised recovery funds are still sitting in someone's pocket in Raleigh. Because politicians. It'll be my pleasure to vote against the good "governor" Cooper at the next election.
While people wait, Florence came along and left Columbus County lying on the mat, desperately holding on to the bottom ring rope to stop the referee's count.
Cities and towns were submerged.
The beautiful Lake Waccamaw showed a devastatingly angry side, rose over her banks, and destroyed nearly everything in her sight.
Picturesque White Marsh raged over roads, through neighborhoods, and as of this writing STILL blocks major roads east of Whiteville.
Soules Swamp submerged a large portion of downtown Whiteville. Small businesses, still recovering from Matthew, have received a brutal body-blow.
Some will rebuild (again), some may decide to cut their losses, take the insurance money, and run. I certainly wouldn't blame them.
The eastern half of the county still remains largely isolated from society.
The National Guard, fire departments, first responders, and many others selflessly worked to rescue innocent people from the rising flood waters... from their own homes.
Imagine yourself sitting in your living room with waters rising all around you... desperately hoping and praying those National Guard troops get to you before you drown? .....in places where it never floods?!
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
The power has been out for many days... in 90-degree heat... with humidity... with nighttime temps in the mid 70s.
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
Farmlands ruined by nearly 30 inches of rain. Crops lost. Thousands and thousands of dollars and an entire summer's work lost. Sure, that's what insurance is for, but still....
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
People in one of the emergency shelters had to be re-evacuated and taken to another place... and were told to leave the stuff they had at the shelter behind. They had to be emergently re-evacuated because the shelter was damaged and water was rushing in.
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
Trees down, power lines down... countless trees and power lines. Old trees that have been around for decades... down and killed. Absolute destruction everywhere. Roads impassable. Roads washed away, destroyed, and it will be many weeks before they're open again.
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
Homes ruined. COUNTLESS homes ruined by the flood waters. That's not something you can just shop-vac up and call it done. Water ruins the sheet rock, the studs, the carpeting, the flooring. Mold develops. All of that has to be torn out and rebuilt. Yeah, for the most part, FEMA or insurance will cover the repairs, but.....
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
All of your belongings destroyed by the flood waters. Those photo albums that got submerged in feet of sewage- and insect-infested water. Irreplaceable family heirlooms destroyed. Things you've had for generations, passed down from long-deceased family members. Will FEMA money or insurance replace those?
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
Rivers cresting higher than they have ever crested in recorded history. The water rolling downstream... devastating areas with a new wave of flooding a couple days after the storm is gone.
Tell me again WHY you would WANT this to happen in your area?
Where's that "extreme meteorologist" now? Oh, last I heard he is still in Wilmington because there aren't any roads open in or out of the city. Good for him. Maybe he can do something to help homeowners pick up the pieces. (But I'm sure his fame gets him free services wherever he wants to go.)
Where's that famous guy from that national TV network? Oh, the storm's over, and so is his work. He got to flex his biceps on TV, make himself look great, pretend to care..... but now that the REAL battle begins, seeeee ya.
Gas is in short supply in some areas, while other areas are able to get back on their feet a little more quickly. Food and life necessities are critically low in some areas. People who are normally "spoiled" in life now have to enjoy MREs, sleep on cots, or a floor. People are still in the dark, they're hot, smelly, and exceedingly short on patience.
Please... PLEASE tell me... WHY you would WANT this to happen... not only in your area... but in ANY area?
The images below are courtesy The News Reporter and various contributors, and other sources such as Facebook.
Tell me, again, why you are such a despicable individual that you'd WANT this to happen.
Go ahead. Click on them and enlarge. Take a good look.
If you ARE someone who would want this to happen, and are somehow connected to me on social media, unfriend me, block me, whatever it takes. I want nothing to do with you.
But What Do I Know?
I've been wanting to write for a while, and a close friend (actually a couple close friends) suggested I write. But struggling to decide what to write about.
Until February 14, 2018, when Nikolas Cruz, with cold murder in his heart and no amount of humanity remaining in his soul, caused the lives of 17 people to come to an end. And politicians getting on the TV assuming they alone have all the answers.
I don't profess anything. I'm the least qualified of anyone in America to write about how to "fix" the wiring in these kids' heads... that causes them to commit such an act. But the First Amendment allows me to opine on the subject.
You can make up a million-and-one new gun laws. Maybe perhaps we could actually enforce the ones we have now.
But here's the thing:
Nobody can stop evil people from doing evil things.
Their hearts are corrupt and damaged beyond repair.
Shooting up a school is no different than an ISIS operative lobbing off someone's head.
The person doing it has been broken of their humanity. Their heart has been destroyed.
Until you somehow "fix" the root of a person's heart, this kind of thing (or similar) will continue to happen, over and over again.
Socialism isn't going to stop it. Books upon books of gun laws isn't going to stop it. Maybe it will slow them down, yes, make it a little harder...
...but if a person is truly set to do evil, they'll do it.
And it's a conscious choice on their part to do the act.
When a person takes the time and money to buy a weapon (or multiple weapons), either legally or illegally, they take the time to plot out an attack, they physically take themselves to the location, and carry out the attack.... that's all a conscious choice on their part.
All of the other factors that politicians and brainless "celebrities" like to endorse -- the gun, society, Donald Trump/Republicans/GOP, the green grass, depression, drugs.... none of that matters anymore.
The person carried out a deliberate act.
Of their own volition.
Someone who is "crazy" doesn't plot out something like that.
Blaming anything/everything else... that only provides the actual killer with aid and comfort. You make excuses for them. You're helping them.
Me? I think "fixing" the problem should start at home. As parents.
Parents... not "society at large"... have the responsibility of raising their kids. Monitoring their social media accounts. Being educated on the latest text-message shorthand acronyms. Staying one step ahead.
Society/government should not be the mommy and daddy. If you think they should be, then why don't we just surrender all children to the State the day after their born? Why not?
By saying it's society's role or government's role to raise children, essentially that's what you're advocating. You're jettisoning your own responsibility as the parent.
If the two of you created that child, why can't the two of you be responsible for raising that child? Teaching little Johnny or little Suzy right from wrong. Rewarding them when they make correct, good, and honorable choices, and lowering the boom on them when they don't. That's how they learn.
Parents tell their child not to touch the burner on the stove... but you let them do it because that's how they learn. They learn, real quick, "Shazaaam, that kinda sucked. Maybe mom and dad aren't as dumb as they look."
And yes, this should even include invading so-called "privacy" such as a journal/diary, or their room, or their computer / phone / tablet.
An article on Fox News documented that a Washington state grandmother likely thwarted another tragedy by reading in her grandson's journal... he had made "upcoming and credible threats" of a plot to attack a high school. Turns out he had the means and capability. But she had the courage to invade his so-called privacy, alerted law enforcement, and now the 18-year-old is in jail. Where he belongs.
Setting rules and boundaries, and initiating punishments when those rules or boundaries are broken.
NEWS FLASH: As a parent, you're not your child's "BFF." They are not "equal" to you in rank in the household. "That's not how any of this works."
Kids don't respect authority because they're being brought up not to respect authority in the home. You're the parent. You're the authority. They're the child. It's not a democracy.
NEWS FLASH: Your child shouldn't automatically get everything they want, even if they stomp their foot and throw a temper tantrum. Shove them in their room, shut the door, and let them scream it out. They'll survive.
NEWS FLASH: Giving little Johnny a firm pop on the behind or speaking to him in a sharp, loud voice when he steps out of line isn't going to make little Johnny the next Nikolas Cruz. On the contrary, it'll probably make him a better citizen.
We didn't have school shootings "back in the day," even though there were gun racks in every pick-up truck. Children learned how to handle and fire weapons... at a young age... and also learned to respect the instrument that was in their hands.
We didn't have school shootings "back in the day" ... because parents were allowed to actually discipline their children without the fear of some government moonbat in a suit showing up at the door with their own guns drawn... because you dared pop little Suzy on the rear end when she stepped over the line.
There are some societial influences... society isn't totally blameless: We didn't have school shootings "back in the day" because we didn't have video games and music that glorified such actions. Not one time did Pac-Man or Qbert pick up a gun to shoot another kid. Super Mario fired little fireballs at jumping turtles with wings. I'm not aware of any piece of music or rap before the 1990s that advocated gun violence and killing people for sport. Instead of playing violent games and listening to violent music, kids were outside playing in the dirt, drinking from a garden hose, hitting a ball with a stick.
But guess what? They also played cops-and-robbers, and good-guys-and-bad-guys, and cowboys-and-indians (without being called racists!), all without having the impulse to kill everyone in sight (for real).
I myself got plenty of beatings as a child. I very much remember what it was like getting the yard stick (that was the "switch" of choice in my household growing up). In actuality I probably should have had even more beatings.
Nathan has it easy in my home, yes. I'm nowhere near as strict as I should be. But he knows right from wrong, and he also knows very well when he crosses a line ... it doesn't end well for him. While he has it easy, my home is still not a democracy. It IS a dictatorship, and I am the judge, jury, and executioner. He doesn't get a say in the matter. Like I said, when he DOES cross the line, it usually ends up with tears on his part.
No... you don't beat your kids to the point of submission or numbness. That, too, crosses a line. There's punishment, and then there is abuse. A pop on the behind is the last resort.
The movie, "A Christmas Story." When Ralphie drops the f-bomb at dad. He ended up with that bar of soap in his mouth. I'm honestly surprised that's allowed to be shown today... I'm amazed some leftist group hasn't come out condemning that as blatant child abuse.
Actually if we do that a little bit more, 8-, 9-, 10-year-old kids wouldn't have language saltier than brine.
What does any of this do to "fix" the corrupt, wounded hearts of kids now? Nothing. That's where we probably should be more proactive.
It's unfortunate, but having armed security at schools, OR arming the teachers and staff. Have them undergo extensive background checks, and when they pass the checks, train them, and arm them. I'd have no problem if I pulled in the parking lot to drop Nathan off at school if I saw Mr. Worthington with a piece holstered on his belt. It would actually make me feel quite good.
Metal detectors at each entrance/exit. Locking down once the school day has begun... having a "double entry" where you enter one set of doors and are met with an armed 'greeter' to find out who you are and what you want, and then step through the metal detector.
Yeah, our schools will seem like prisons, but if it keeps the kids safe, I'm all for it.
But that doesn't FIX the problem.
"Lets make this law" and "lets make a new law" -- none of that works. You'd think these idiot politicians would get that. As I said much earlier, all the laws in the world aren't going to stop someone who woke up this morning with cold murder in their heart. They're going to do it. The only hope is to have the courage to stop them before they can act upon it, like the Washington state grandmother.
The answer, in my view, doesn't lie with the State. Politicians only care about themselves and getting rich. A large, large part of fixing the problem starts at home.
But what do I know?
Mississippi State University is the only school (that I'm aware of) with all-online programs for bachelors (and masters) degrees in meteorology. In 2010, when I decided it was time to change the direction in my life course, this was a perfect fit for a then 37-year-old nobody from a no-name town who wanted to make something of himself, and maybe provide a better life for the family.
Some people derided my decision about online schooling, saying it was a "soft choice," implying that the coursework is somehow easier. I assure you, it's not. There are a myriad different ways it's more difficult. Make no mistake, distance learning is very convenient. I don't have to spend my days in lecture halls and commuting to/from a campus. I can do my homework... "whenever"... as long as it's submitted by the due date and time. That's where the easy part ends.
On the other hand, it's harder because you don't have a professor right in front of you to ask a question, or a classmate, etc. The detractors say, "well you can use your book (or Google) for your tests." While that technically is true, there are time limits on the online tests, and if you think you can look up the answers to multiple essay questions or 100 M/C questions over a 50-minute time limit, you give it a try. You still have to know the material.
A distance-learning program such as this allowed me to continue working my regular job, allowed me to continue being a husband and father, and allowed me the flexibility of doing my coursework at 2 in the morning, as often was the case. It allowed me to pursue the opportunity to take a lifelong hobby and make it (hopefully) a career... or at least open some doors to some other opportunities that were not going to come my way continuing to work in a dying industry. I knew a change needed to be made, but I also knew that I didn't want to just "settle" for working some minimum- or low-wage job somewhere, and being miserable in the process. I was already achieving that particular goal... especially the misery.
But that's not the point of this blog.
I caught wind recently of an individual retiring from the news media who apparently has a pathological hatred for everything Mississippi State stands for. I'm honestly not sure what his claim to fame is. I don't want to give this
"in-duh-vidual" any press by listing his name, but suffice it to say I had never heard of him before today, and I'm already glad he's retiring... the world is a better place. For the sake of this blog, we'll just call him "Dan." "Dan" wrote in his blog that, quote, "we’ve watched a small university in America’s poorest state become an online factory for TV weather guessers."
While "Dan" certainly is entitled to his opinion -- we still do have the First Amendment -- his comment shows a high level of ignorance about the Mississippi State Operational and Applied Meteorology programs. Calling us "weather guessers" is an insult to the years of math and science that we study to earn our degrees. (It's the same level of insult when someone says we're wrong 70% of the time but still keep our job.) I'm sure there are many who have "earned" a watered-down degree, those who developed a sharp command of "how to use Google to answer test questions" -- but I'm sure that occurs everywhere. (I personally watched kids at Southeastern Community College with their phones in their lap during exam times, every few minutes looking up to see where the instructor was, and then quickly thumbing something on that phone. (I always wondered why teachers weren't more suspicious of kids looking down at their crotch during test sessions.)) It's okay, these folks will be exposed the first day they get a job someplace and have no clue what they're doing.
But I digress. You have to put in countless hours of homework and study and test-taking and lecture-viewing to earn the degree from Mississippi State. I can personally attest to the joy and tears that have come on this rollercoaster ride. I have worked very hard over the past several years to earn my degree.
A few tidbits about the Meteorology programs at Mississippi State:
"This program focuses on the study of atmospheric processes and climatic variability. Upon completion of the program (operational emphasis), students will have met the coursework requirements for the National Weather Service, the private meteorology sector, or they may continue their education in graduate school. Students choosing the program with the broadcast emphasis can also work for the National Weather Service and also earn the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval.
"The Professional Meteorology Program (PMP) track prepares students for graduate school and/or a career as an operational forecaster. Outside of the core meteorology curriculum, PMP students are encouraged/expected to take courses in advanced mathematics (calculus), statistics, computer programming, Remote Sensing, GIS, and other courses depending upon individual students' interests.
"Recent graduates from the PMP have attended meteorology and climatology graduate programs at the University of Georgia, University of South Carolina, Florida State University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and others. The USDA, the EPA, the Weather Channel, and the National Weather Service also employ our PMP graduates as forecasters." (Miss. State)
Some argue that MSU's program is somehow "subpar" ... or "Meteorology Lite" because it doesn't have the Calculus requirements (at least the program I have enrolled in -- Operational Meteorology) that would be found at OU or Penn. That said, I took Calculus at the community college level, struggled through the course, but ultimately passed the course, so that argument is rendered moot. I understand that the National Weather Service has further calculus course requirements; these courses can be obtained online from various locations, and can also be taken at an accredited community college. Any other coursework needed to obtain the AMS Seal can be acquired via distance learning from various locations. (Broadcast meteorologists use little advanced calculus on a day-to-day basis.)
I don't regret my decision to enroll at Mississippi State University. I regret not being able to be a part of the whole "campus life" experience -- football games, parties, classrooms, etc. -- but the Distance Learning program has served me quite well. I have been able to pursue my dream. In December, I will, to borrow a phrase from Ric Flair, "walk that aisle" at graduation, and my degree will say "Bachelor of Science" .... NOT "weather guesser."
So, "Dan," you can kiss this Bulldog's a**.
Why are we always in such a rush?
It seems that we're always rushing through life.
We spend all of our time with our eyes staring at our phones, that little digital world that we just can't possibly live without. It's sad to go to a restaurant and see two people sitting at a table, no conversation between them, both looking straight down at their phone.
We're rushing to get from point 'A' to point 'B'. We get on the road, we have our destination in mind, and to heck with anyone who gets in our way. Hurry up and get there, now!
We rush through our work day, likely at the behest of a manager somewhere, the manager always demanding more, more, more. The more widgets you produce in that 8-hour shift, the more profit the manager makes. Even if your widget quality becomes somewhat sub-par.
We rush through our daily routine in our homes, because everyone has to be someplace different at the exact same time. Sometimes I wonder if parents forget their children's names because it's such a whirlwind of indifference.
We rush to get our news, and you can get whatever "news" fits your taste! Back to that little digital world we inhabit, where we can get 24/7 news for liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans, jokers, kids, and everything in between. Even fake news!
Back to that little digital world we inhabit... heaven forbid we don't read and respond to that text message right this very moment, even if we're traveling down the interstate. The sender of the text might be upset with that lack of immediate response.
We rush to offend, and rush to be offended.
At every. little. thing.
Why can't things just wait a minute?
You don't exactly "save" that much time by driving 10 mph over the limit for a 30- or 40-minute commute. You save, at most, a couple of minutes. But you put everyone else's life at risk. Is your destination THAT important?
Why is it impossible to leave the phone at home when going to the store, or going out to eat with friends? Does our life depend on keeping that piece of circuitry, plastic, and glass in our hands at ALL times?
Does life depend on responding to the text message that very moment? It can't wait 5 minutes?
Maybe that's where our society is going wrong... we can't communicate anymore. We can't look at someone else's face and talk to them... just simply talk. About anything: The weather, the ballgame last night, the man in the moon.
We can't make a phone call... instead we have to send a text. And we can't even spell out the words properly in the text! Are we really THAT lazy? "I'll c u l8r." Really?
It's a beautiful day today in southeast NC. The sky is a deep, crystal-clear blue. Fields are green, or are rapidly greening. Greens and blues abound today. How many people slow down enough to even notice? What harm is there in slowing down just a bit... maybe allowing yourself a little extra time on that drive to Walmart. Time to "take the back way," roll down the window, drive a little slower, take a deep breath, enjoy the day.
We're wound so tight... I'm sure the idea of slowing down is quite foreign indeed.
How about taking the long way home from work, just this once?
Turn off the GPS and actually look out the window! Guess what? There's nothing wrong with getting "lost" once in a while.
Turn off the phone and actually talk face-to-face with someone! ...or better yet, leave the phone at home.
Is part of problem the fact we're a 24/7/365 society? We no longer work a certain "shift," a set number of hours. We take our work home with us; "bzzzz" goes that phone and we MUST respond RIGHT AWAY.
Unless you're negotiating a nuclear weapons deal with North Korea, whatever the matter is, it really can wait.
My friend Jefferson Weaver posts a blog occasionally that references playing with the dog, making faces at a cat... enjoying LIFE. God gave us LIFE. He gives us everything... EVERYTHING. He granted engineers the knowledge to develop the little electronic nightmare on which you read this blog. He granted people the knowledge on how to build and operate roads, cars, airplanes, office buildings, pianos, supermarkets, restaurants, etc. He granted farmers the knowledge on how to raise crops, like that corn that is starting to come up quite nicely in my local area. The list of God's Goodness is endless.
Why can't we take 2 seconds to think about and appreciate these things?
And be grateful.
I learned in a very severe way late last summer that life is very, very short... really a matter of mere minutes on the grand timeline of the eternities. It's a shame we spend those precious few minutes in such a blinding rush.
Chris. Just... Chris.