Thursday, September 29, 2005

I don't know when I'll get a chance to post this. The dsl line has been down for days, unlike Katrina where the dsl was back working long before the phone line.

Sunshine has been very interested in reading for the past week. She's been bringing books to lessons for me to read to her. It started with a picture word book and has moved on to The Pokey Little Puppy. She's shown a little interest in math as well, but she has trouble telling me if three items are more or less than four items, even if those items are pieces of candy. She's either not that interested or not that greedy.

Brighteyes will be going through a series of book changes in the next month. She'll be starting Spelling Workout B and Draw, Write, Now 2 in the next week and starting Singapore Math 1B and ending The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading in the next four weeks. We'll go back to the Second McGuffey Reader when she finishes the phonics book. She zipped through the McGuffey Primer and the First Reader, but hit a wall when she got to the Second Reader. She was trying to memorize all the words instead of learn them phonetically, and she was intimidated by the length of the readings. She's since learned the value of phonics and she's not afraid of a two-page reading any more. Last week she started reading the two-page spreads we summarize for History and Science herself, although she lets me help her with the unfamiliar words.

The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems is popular in Literature. The girls love the longer poems, especially W.H. Auden. Brighteyes thrilled to Auden's "Night Mail" today. She wanted to read it herself, but was put off by the English spelling and Scottish terms. She wants to memorize a poem or two from that book, if she can find any short enough.

Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" was a hit a few days ago, and started the girls to talking more about their own dreams. I have told them about places my husband and I have visited together in Dreamtime. Maybe they will find their own way to those places as well.

We're covering the animals in order of evolution for science. We look at the pages in the Usborne World History book on the evolution of animals, then find a modern equivalent in the Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia. So far it's been Microbes --> Jellyfish --> Worms. I'd like to make a earthworm farm, but as hot and dry as it's been I haven't seen many earthworms in the garden. We may have to buy some at a fishing supply place, and I'm not sure where those are around here. Next week we'll cover Simple Shellfish and look at my childhood seashell collection. The week after that it'll be Jointed Shellfish, probably Lobster/crayfish.

I've been relying on the internet for coloring pages of animals, instead of buying coloring books. That's not a bad idea, when the internet is working. But now the DSL line is down, and I haven't downloaded the pages I need for the next few days. Grrr....

The big problem lately has been fussing. Sunshine has been throwing huge fusses over the next step in going potty, going potty without anyone watching her. She doesn't understand that if she's dependent on someone else to tell her and stand around watching her, she's not doing it all by herself, which is the goal. Probably in responce to Sunshine's potty fusses, Brighteyes has been throwing fusses during lessons if anyone talks around her, brushes up against her or even breathes too loudly. This touchiness doesn't leave me a lot of opportunity to teach Sunshine her lessons. With all the fussing going on, Mommy is fussed out. Hopefully now that the weather is down in the 80s I'll be able to get them outside more often, and they can burn off their energy fussing instead of playing.

Update: We're covering early humans in History. Yesterday Brighteyes picked up the Magic Tree House books on Sabertooths. Today was the first day it was below 90, so I sent them outside to hunt for mammoth bones. They went for it. Yippee!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Gee, you think maybe Southerners in general and African-American New Orleanians in particular may be decent people after all?

Not if you listen to the hodgepodge of rumors that pass for journalistic reporting these days.

Rita and the Demo

I don't know if the DSL will stay up long enough for me to post this, but here goes. Seems there's a major trunk line down in Texas.

We did a silversmithing demo in the face of Hurricane Rita Saturday. As part of our obligation to the Mississippi Craftsmen's Guild, we have to do an outdoor crafts demo in Jackson once a year. When we first discussed the event with the Guild, they asked us to demo for a whole weekend and offered to put us up in a hotel room. Our faces lit up the way only the faces of parents of small children can at that idea. We looked at our calender and picked the last weekend of September for the demo. Summer's heat would have broken by then, and the weather looked like it would be pleasant.

First there was the question of what aspect of silversmithing to cover. The site is basically a picnic area with a crafts store. Smithcraft involves fire, water, noxious chemicals, big heavy pieces of equipment and lots of little parts that can get blown away by a good breeze. That's why smithies were invented in the first place. Finally we decided to take some mold-carving and pewter-casting supplies.

Then Katrina blew in and blew away our hotel reservation. All the Jackson hotels were full of refugees from the coast. We reorganized for a day trip.

Rita thought it was a good day to go visiting as well. When we dropped off the girls with their great-aunt for the day, her house was full of cousins from Texas. That was the most people we saw all day. Jackson was practically deserted, except for the turnoff to the mall which was so packed traffic had backed up onto the interstate and ground to a complete halt. We saw maybe a dozen people and spent most of our time watching the sky, waiting for the second band of rain to start . The first band would just be a prelude, but the second band would announce the storm was immenent.

The second band arrived around 3 p.m. We picked up the girls and found out they had learned a frustrating but important lesson in the pack behavior of children who attend schools. Then we came on home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Silversmithing Demo at Ridgeland Crafts Center

We'll be doing a silversmithing demo for the Craftsmen's Guild at the Ridgeland Crafts Center on the Trace Parkway on Saturday, September 24, 2005 from 10-4. We're supposed to be there from 12-4 on Sunday as well if the Guild can find us a hotel room, but we don't have any confirmation of this post-Katrina. Come by and see us if you can.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Steppin' Out

It's been a busy week, and I've fallen behind on my posts. I'm typing this in short bits between times when I'm so tired my face hits the keyboard. We actually had two trips out this week that did not involve grocery shopping. I may keel over from the shock.

Since we moved up here several years ago we've been busy having babies and building houses. If I wasn't changing a diaper I was swinging a hammer. There wasn't much time for a social life. In addition, the area we live in *cough, cough* has individuals who pride themselves on the lack of social opportunities present for those who aren't Conservative Christians.

Wednesday we had a Homeschool Park Day. It was very fun. The girls had a blast, and as the organizer it was quite a feather in my cap -- literally. One of the children I met brought me a handfulls of duck feathers she had found and I wove them into a feather cockade for my straw hat.

The more stressful event was our first show in years. There hasn't been a good local art show close by since before we moved here, and we were too busy to travel. (We don't set up at flea markets and kiddy shows. We found out the hard way people don't go to those events to buy anything over $5 -- at least not in Mississippi.) But this year our town put on an art show for the first time in 25 years, and we were invited.

First off, we couldn't find a babysitter. This meant my husband had to do the show alone while I stayed home with the girls and caused ill feeling on both our parts.
Then all our gear had to be pulled out and spruced up. Last week we were up until 12 and 1 every night getting the cases ready. Then the organizer called and announced the shindig Friday night was going to be a suit-and-tie event, which resulted in a mad scramble through the closets, to the dry cleaners and to the mall Wednesday night after Park Day.

The mall was a strange trip. After twenty-five years of painfully ugly clothes and accessories, there was actually stuff in the stores I liked. There was plenty of georgeous dressy blues, purples and my beloved aquas on things that swung and sparkled. In previous years I've walked through an entire mall without seeing a single thing I liked, even among the neutral basics (ask my husband sometime about the infamous White Blouse hunt.) I'm not used to seeing clothes like that in stores, only in my dreams. All of a sudden frugality got a whole lot harder. After all, it might be another 25 years before I saw them again.

The show itself was -- not as good as we hoped nor as bad as we feared. The crowd loved our jewelry but weren't expecting it, so our sales were almost nonexistent. Even then they were better than just about anyone else's sales. Still, first year shows are typically slow, so the odds are good next year will be better. And we do have our basic setup ready for action again, so hopefully there won't be such a mad scramble for the next show.

Prayer to Laughter

I'm glad I found this. I needed it.

Prayer to Laughter

Oh laughter
Giver of relaxed mouths

You who rule our belly with tickles
You who come when not called
You who can embarrass us at times

Send us stiches in our sides
Shake us til the water reaches our eyes
Buckle our knees til we cannot stand

We whose faces are grim and shattered
We whose hearts are no longer hearty
O laughter we beg you

Crack us up
Crack us up

John Agard

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

ABCs and 123s of spiritual development

Science asks: just how does religion help children? The answer goes back to William James and James Fowler, big surprise there. William James is the only person I've ever seen come close to studying religion in a sensible manner, asking exactly how various faiths dovetail with various personalities. I'm glad to see science is paying more attention to the positive effects of religious experience and not simply cataloging the negative.

Monday, September 12, 2005

WTM First-Grade Botany Review

Last month we finished the botany recommendations for first grade from the Well-Trained Mind. They boiled down to, "Do six botany projects from Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening

The book is great. It has 87 botany projects including nature studies, gardening, building tools, herbalism, cooking and economics for people with big backyards and no backyards. But since you only need 6 lessons it's overkill. You barely scratch the surface.

The girls had no interest at all in building tools. They liked gardening and nature studies, but herbalism was the hands down favorite especially after I explained how herbs were used for food and medicine.

We did:

1) Placing a white flower/celery stalk in colored water to watch it turn colors.

2) Making sun tea.

3) Making hot herb tea the regular way.

4) Planting seeds and watching them grow into seedlings.

5) Sprouted bean sprouts.

6) Was going to be looking at pond water under a magnifying glass or watching yeast grow, but the girls begged to make crystalized flowers instead. Since I want to cover animals in order of evolution, we'll make microbial life the first lesson on that one. My husband wants to pull out his microscope and do it up properly. He won't have time for that until next month, so I'm looking in vain for free coloring pages and activities on microbes as I type.

You can substitute any other 6 "experiments" (making compost, tasting herbs, preparing fresh vegetables to cook, ect.) involving plants that you can find in a library book or online. I like the botany book we got, but for just covering 6 lessons it was a waste of money. You should be able to find 6 lessons online for free.

The girls enjoyed their botany lessons. They loved doing experiments. I asked them if they wanted more or if they were ready to move to zoology. They hesitated a little, but they were too curious to go on and learn about animals. There's not as many experiments with those lessons. We'll have to find some, or find some other way to make them interesting.

Back to passes-for-normal

The heat is back, the drought is back, and we were back at lessons today. Brighteyes didn't want to at first, but after trying it she soon found that she liked it.

Sunshine is really getting into coloring. I found some downloadable pages with extra-big spaces and she's experimenting with blending and adding details with crayons.

Speaking of coloring, I found some prehistoric art coloring pages in a 59-page free coloring book for Pagan children I downloaded a while back. We colored them after meeting Homo sapiens sapiens in History today. I haven't relocated the URL for that one yet, but I'll post it when I find it. There's also a coloring book of prehistoric symbols available that we'll be using later, just click on "Petroglyphs".

This afternoon the girls made stick puppets by drawing pictures, cutting them out, and stapling them to popsicle sticks. Brighteyes set up a shadow theatre for them with a broom, a sarong, and a flashlight. I'm thrilled, but we need to work on the meanings of words and phrases. For instance, "Mommy's taking a nap" doesn't mean "Sit down next to Mommy on the bed and begin a major craft project, talking as loud as possible, and pausing every few minutes to show Mommy something or ask her to get up and get you some craft supplies." Yep, we're definately having a problem with definitions here.

This weekend the girls went to the birthday party of a cousin at a park in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Mississippi. There were four families present including ours. One of the mothers chose not to speak, but of the other women present I was a full-time homeschooler, the second mother had recently homeschooled her daughter for a year while sending her younger child to school and the third mother was currently homeschooling her 14 year old son while sending her younger children to school. All of us were homeschooling for secular reasons. I was impressed with how pervasive homeschooling is becoming.

And for those of you following the Soap Opera Mom just forwarded me the picture of her and my sister at the wedding which my sister emailed *her* and not me. I tried to figure out the exact proportions of stupidity and meanness that went into that gesture, but I don't have enough data to work with. All I know is that it's Too Much of Both. This morning Mom informed me that, "When you left for collage you left this family" 21 years after the fact, and that "You are the one that needs to make A LOT of changes." I fear my father's death has taken the brakes off her sense of drama. My sister's line boils down to, "I knew you were going to be mad, so the fact that I was correct about you getting mad confirms that I made the right decision by not inviting you to the wedding." My husband thinks this line is her favorite justification for everything. I think I smell a self-fulfilling prophecy here.

This, folks, is why its so important to me that my daughters have a chance to grow close to each other. There's enough soap operas and bad drama in this world already.

Gil Thorpe

The comic strip Gil Thorpe is playing the old 1980's plot, "geek tries out for football team", a version of the old "geeks vs. jocks" plot. The updated twist is that the geek kid is a homeschooler who comes to the high school for their extra-curricular activities.

I never really understood the "geeks vs. jocks" plot, mainly because of Lance Bagley. Lance was the quarterback and the star player on my high school football team, which made it to the state playoffs. He was also a die-hard glasses-wearing geek with a positive self-image. Lance was relatively small compared to most of the hulks on the team, fast as the wind and most important he could think on his feet. Whenever the offensive line would get bogged down by the other team, Lance would figure out how to reach the end zone and he usually made it. Lance's friends tended not to bother Lance's other friends, even though we had nothing else in common.

Some folks object that this storyline portrays all homeschoolers as geeks. I look at it another way. Are the writers really trying to say that today's public schools are now so hostile to geeks that they can't imagine one surviving Milford High? Hmmm....

As a comics geek, I'm drooling over Frank McLaughlin's art. Very few illustrators actually know enough anatomy and perspective to handle the old action-adventure style well.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Our Journey to Homeschooling Part 3: The Unschooling Experiment

Part 1

Part 2

During the years which we prepared to become parents and homeschoolers we studied up on unschooling. The only other homeschooling technique I knew about was correspondence school or a pre-packaged curriculum, and we were adament that we didn't want other people to make up our children's curriculum. We devoured unschooling books, subscribed to Growing Without Schooling and prepared to be facilitators, not teachers, of our children. We would not be tied to a schedule, but follow their interests.

The Goddess must have been laughing her head off.

I will confess that after a few years of reading about unschooling I began to have a niggling doubt bothering me which asked, "Is it really true to say that there is nothing you know that is important for your child to know? After all, you knew when to teach them to feed themselves and go potty. Might there not be something else that you know is important for them to learn about at a certain time? You can safely say that a certain type of structured schooling is bad for all children. You can safely say that no child needs to have his or her learning completely structured. You can safely say that certain children are best off being completely unschooled.
But to derive from those premises that unschooling is best for every child is an overgeneralization." But I ignored it. Everyone said that every child loved unschooling so of course my children would love it too, and that was a good enough reason to stick to it.

So I filled our house with books, learning toys and learning manipulatives and let my children at them. I read to them every day. They loved it! They blossomed like flowers. I was patting myself on the back that, just like with Bradley classes, breast-feeding, co-sleeping and attachment parenting, I had made the right call.

Then Brighteyes turned three.

She was already memorizing words and baby books, but the process was slow. She knew there was more to reading than that. I tried to hang back, watch, let her figure things out for herself and just give her help when needed.

My actions made her furious. In her eyes, teaching her was part of my job description. I had showed her how to hold a spoon, dress herself and comb her hair. I was not getting out of showing her how to read. When I tried, she got in my face and screamed, "TEACH ME NOW!"

You can't get a more explicit child-directed directive than that.

Then we went through a phase where she was constantly barraging me with requests to drop everything and "Teach me X right now!", "Teach me Y right now!", "Teach me Z RIGHT NOW!" about a dozen times a day no matter what I was doing. "Um, we do lessons in the morning and arts and music after tea-time," I pleaded in self-defense, before realizing to my horror that I had just reinvented the much-dreaded "schedule". But I can't handle dropping everything and changing direction several times a day. I don't have time to follow her around constantly ready to help when needed, and I don't think it would do her ego any good. So I set aside specific blocks of time when I'm available to answer my children's questions and help them with their projects. At other times of the day I may be able to help or not, but those times are reserved for their needs. Setting aside a specific time of day when the girls are promised my undivided attention for academic learning and another period for my undivided attention for arts-and-crafts projects makes everybody a lot calmer.

Most homeschoolers I've talked to approve of this arrangement and use something like it themselves, including many unschoolers. A few die-hards expressed disapproval, but with 24 hours in a day one or two hours of structured learning in the morning shouldn't interfere with the girls' ability to teach themselves the rest of the time.

Brighteyes enjoys figuring out many things on her own. However, if I shirk in what she sees as my job of teacher,she accuses me of cheating. She is very energetic and ambitious. Right now she trusts me to come up with ways to channel her energy and ambition into beneficial activities. If I don't she'll find them herself and her choices often involve Catastophic Diagnostic Deconstruction, but right now she trusts me to find neat stuff to do. I have since met other homeschooling parents of children like her who tell me that their children also hated unschooling when they tried it.

That was three years ago. Brighteyes is reading at a fourth or fifth grade level now, and writing and spelling at a second grade level. Sunshine appears to be showing more interest in unschooling than Brighteyes did, so we'll see how well it works for her. I figure we'll try unschooling with Brighteyes again when she's old enough to spell unaided, probably next year. She might be more interested then.

When asked, I encourage every new homeschooling family to try unschooling. It's clearly a perfect match for those families who love it. When unschooling doesn't work for a family that has tried it long enough to get past any bad habits left over from the school system, figuring out exactly why and how it doesn't work is a good first step to finding a homeschooling method that will work for that family.

Concluded in Part 4: At Home With the Classics.
We're starting to reach friends and family who live farther south as their phones work again. Everybody's all right so far.

Brighteyes is too upset for lessons this week. She has done a lot of art, especially drawings. Her father was very impressed with a horse she drew. She followed the instructions from Draw Write Now, but she gave it a deeper and more realistic neck and chest. She experimented with proportion by making one leg of each pair skinnier than the other. She's playing with shading in some of her pictures. She also made a paper doll chain and started crocheting a poncho.

Sunshine has done some drawing as well, and is getting better at directing the pencil. She has wanted a lot of books read to her, and has taken to carrying around a stack of them with her. Sunshine is getting less timid and more talkative, which makes it easier to interact with her. She's also getting sturdy enough for Brighteyes to tussle with, and that's started. Sunshine usually initiates it.

The heat wave is over. We can turn off the fans and even close a few windows at night. The orange butterflies have loved the area right outside the girls' room where the passionflower vine and the honeysuckle grows. The butterflies eat the honeysuckle nectar and the caterpillars eat the passionflower leaves. There's usually four butterflies out there any time you look. The fall flowers are coming along, and it's getting easier to coax the girl outside for nature studies i.e., "Let's look at the flowers!" Autumn's hand feels like a benediction this year.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katie-did-it, didn't she?

We're still all right. Brighteyes is finally over her stomach virus, and while she's somewhat dehydrated she's going about 3/4 throttle. We finally got long-distance phone service back. We're trying to get in touch with friends and family who live south of us, but we haven't reached most of them. The biggest problem is our nerves, so I apologize if this is disjointed.

This was our fourth hurricane. Also, I grew up in Alabama's "Tornado Alley", and I've been through more tornado watches than I can remember. I have great respect for NOAA and the National Weather Service, and I always take them seriously.

We spent our first married year in Mobile. They had two hurricanes that year, and we left. One afternoon, while a hurricane was heading towards us and I was away from home, my husband looked out the window and watched a tornado form in the middle of the crossroads in front of our house. But living there was sorta like household Boot Camp. I learned there's nothing at all wrong with having canned goods under the bed, extra batteries and an Escape Plan.

That experience served as a spur to my husband, who is both a craftsman and a flaming paranoid. The buildings we've put up are all AT LEAST 50% over US Marine Code, and the workshop was over-built to the point that it should survive anything short of a direct hit from a tornado. Most of the area shelters aren't as well built as where we are now.

We don't watch TV. The weekend before we listened to Mississippi Public Radio carry the official weather announcements. I showed the girls the weather radar over the internet, and explained what was coming. Brighteyes started to understand that Something Bad was going to happen, and asked if we could listen to the radio some more. I told her we would turn it on as soon as she got up and listen to it all day long.

She was up at dawn, but soon went back to sleep. When the girls got up again at midmorning I turned on MPR and got out our state map. The scale was 30 miles/inch. We had to use a ponytail elastic for the eye of the storm and make a huge yarn circle for the body. I didn't even try to simulate the arm that started whacking us before the thing even cleared the coast.

By then we knew we were in the hurricane's path, but far enough inland not to bear the brunt of the storm.

When the wind first began Brighteyes asked to go outside. Sunshine was too timid. I let Brighteyes out, went back to what I was doing, and several minutes later checked up on her. She had climbed the highest tree in our backyard to get a good view. I ordered her out of all trees until the storm was over. She confessed that the wind was stronger than she expected.

Mississippi Public Radio is incredible. They provide public radio for the entire state and into the neighboring states. They broadcast live all day Monday. Here's some of the blunter advice they threw in with the official warnings:

"This is not your Mama's hurricane."

"If the rain is moving horizontally and the debris is moving horizontally, your car should NOT be moving horizontally."

"Do not wade into the water. Remember where it came from. The rain moved horizontally through the Gulf swamps. There may be some alligators that got moved horizontally too."

"Part of the roof is off the Superdome."

"We would love to tell you what's going on in our Biloxi office, but the Biloxi office is down. So are the automatic data collectors."

One of the two Biloxi hospitals has lost its generator, the other has had its generator damaged.

In the midst of a list of shelter openings and closings: "..and so-and-so has opened 40 acres of pasture for people looking for a place to shelter their horses."

"ALL highways to the Coast are closed. The wind is too strong for anything taller than a Corvette, and anybody with a Corvette shouldn't risk it in this weather."

"Everything on the coast has it's first floor flooded."

"Jackson (the capital city in the middle of the state) will close in half an hour."

I did catch MPR in one mistake. They said, "We're not announcing school closures any more because ALL schools are closed." But if all the schools were closed, why hadn't my husband come home? It turned out the Superintendent didn't close the schools even with a hurricane headed straight at us. The Department of Education had WORDS with him that afternoon when they called to check up and found school still in session. They were closed Tuesday, but that still left inexperienced teenage drivers trying to make their way home in driving wind and rain Monday.

Shortly after noon we lost the radio, the telephone and the internet. The power blinked occasionally but never went out. Katrina was nothing more than an overgrown thunderstorm (sans thunder and lightning) by the time she passed over our heads, but she still scared the girls. At 2pm I started reading Pratchet's _Wee Free Men_ drowning out the storm with my voice until 10pm when they passed out, pausing for meals and other interruptions.

One such interruption came when my husband finally got home that afternoon. During a lull in the wind he decided to take the girls on their regular weekly trip to the library, just a few minutes away. I pulled out my "Mary Poppins" umbrella. The girls got soaked, but it did them good to get out of the house briefly.

The next morning everything except long distance phone service was working again, but the mild stomach virus that was troubling Sunshine and I hit Brighteyes with both feet. She got real clingy, so I turned most of my attention to her. After all if there's one thing this country does right, it's our emergency response teams. They are always on the scene within 36 hours of a disaster. That's one of the reasons I'm proud to be an American. Our people always come through in a crisis.

Except this time.

When I got back to checking the news two days later, I couldn't believe it. It's as if we took the finest emergency response teams the world has ever seen and put them under the control of the Keystone Kops.

Katrina hitting the Coast was not preventable. Part of the damage and death that happened after Katrina hit the Coast was preventable by simple measures which were not carried out. For these failures there will be reckonings, both in this world and the next. I'm not sure by what means justice is served in the Afterlife. I am sure that it is served, and that it would be better for those culpable to attend to their karma in this life rather than let the god(s) attend to their karma later.

In the meantime I've got bags of clothes to drop off tommorow and people to try to reach on the telephone. In a while though it's going to be time to ask some very pointed questions, including, "How is this country going to regain both it's sturdy infrastructure and its rapid response to crisis situations? If you don't have a good answer to that, get out of the way for those who do."

UPDATE: Brendan manages to sum up the thoughts and feelings of many of us who live on the Gulf Coast and live with hurricanes.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Comfort Poem

On of my favorite comfort poems. Yeah, I know I'm weird.

Doesn't work so well for cities though. :(

Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work -

I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Spam Comments

I've been hit some spam comments lately. Anyone know a good spamicide?

Every Child's Dream Come True

Three five year-old boys really do find an ancient treasure hoard in their backyard at the foot of their treehouse. Honest. Go and read it.

More Despicable than Looting

It's despicable to profit off the death and devastation of other people. Looters trying to get badly needed food, water or medicines may or may not have an excuse for their behavior. That's a point that's being debated all over the place, no need to debate it here. But there is absolutely no excuse in the world for this trash:

Hurricane was sign of divine wrath, fundamentalists say

Homo 'Southern Decadence' Then 'Pagan Pride Day'

"God may have used the hurricane to purge wickedness from the city."

These are callous attempts to profit off dead people, ravaged homes and communities, and devastated lives. The people who made these attempts are among the worst scum on the planet. There can be no excuse whatsoever for their behavior.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hot Water and Sandstorms

That's all hurricanes are.

Picture the Atlantic ocean at the equator. Picture a grid over the ocean - it doesn't matter what shape or size the cells are. What matters is that each of those cells is going to get blistering hot under the equatorial sun. And there's nowhere for that heat to go until a sandstorm sweeps out of Africa over that cell.

Heat becomes motion. The storm absorbs the water's heat and turns it into wind power. The more heat, the more powerful the winds become.

I'm always telling newcomers who've moved to the South that "no hurricanes came near us this year" is Very Bad News. It only means that the ocean water is going to be hotter and have more energy stored up for the next hurricane season.

Every year the equatorial Atlantic and the Gulf are going to heat up. Every year the sandstorms from the Sahara are going to sweep across Africa out into the Atlantic, gain strength from the heat stored in the hot ocean and sweep west until they hit land. The first ones will always angle low, with the subsequent ones angling higher. If there has been no hurricane over Spot X on the ocean, it's going to be chock full of energy to give to the next one that comes along. It's been going on for 70 millions years, since the Age of the Dinosaurs, and isn't going to stop until the North Atlantic current stops from major continental restructuring. Or Africa freezes solid.

It could be worse. Thank goodness West Africa doesn't have earthquakes. Western South America does have earthquakes, which means that in addition to the same problems the Gulf Coast has with hurricanes (they call them typhoons) the Pacific equator also has tidal waves.

And it's not the worst hurricane that ever hit the Gulf Coast. In prehistoric times Mobile was hit by super-hurricanes that scoured the earth flat for miles inland. But Goddess knows it was bad enough.

Every year the global temperature is getting hotter. Every year there's going to be more building and less respect for nature along the Gulf Coast, and more damage.

Until global temperatures decrease and more respect, better planning and a lot more money is devoted to preventative measures and disaster planning, it's going to get worse. That's not a thought I want to think, but it's no good trying not to think it.