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    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Hey Angelina Jolie- Where are you?

    You know, after seeing the drive by all these celebrities to support "One", and "Live8" and AIDS for Africa while at the same time bashing our president who has been the most philanthropic in terms of money in our history, I wonder where they are now.

    Where is Martin and Charlie Sheen? Where is Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Where is Susan Sarando, Tim Robbins, and Alec Baldwin? Where are you Sean Penn?

    My friends and family are literally starving on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. There is no way into the area, and no way out. There is no electricity for the forseeable future, and worst of all no water. New Orleans and Gulfport/Biloxi are getting most of the coverage, but Bay St. Louis and Waveland took the brunt of the storm. Nothing is coming out of there, and we are worried. The stories that are coming out of there via blogs is horrifying.

    The only big donators who are helping out financially right now are the typical same folks like WALMART. Are we not good enough for you Hollywood? We are your own countrymen.

    Can't Get Home...

    Well, I got to speak with another buddy who is in Hattiesburg, MS. He said that all of the area is without power, and water. I asked how he is talking to me on the phone, and he said he charges his phone in his car, but us runninng out of gas. Gas is the biggest problem to getting into the area. There isn't a gas station open anywhere, and when it does get open the lines are a mile long (literally), and they run out within the day.

    So, I've been plotting how I could home and get in there to bring some MRE's and water, and assess my own damage, but it looks like it will be feeble to try and get in, because I may not be able to get out.

    I keep getting emails and phone calls from friends and family, and some are still unaccounted for. It is a disaster- undoubtedly the worst natural disaster to hit the US.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Links for Hurricane Info

    For Gulf Coast residents, the best place to start looking for loved ones is on WLOX's website.

    This is a pic of one of the casinos which was literally washed across the other side f the highway.

    The best feature of this site is the forum which people from all over the ocuntry have been posting to trying to get info on whereabouts of loved ones.

    Here is the best blog on the chaos in New Orleans http://deadlykatrina.com/

    It has everything from stories about police looting, to suicide jumpers in the Superdome and incredible stories of survival. You can't get this stuff on the TV news.

    Also covering several different stories is Michelle Malkin's blog here.
    Check it out as she has a knack for finding the best stories, and getting others to write about them as well.

    I just spoke with a source in BSL who said that people were drowning in the Church across the street from the BSL post office on Hwy 90. The water came much further than it did in Camille, and people were not expecting it.

    Also, this is grim news, but people are marking houses in BSL with black paint or red paint. Black indicating bodies that need removal, and red indicating suriviors who need rescue as they are immobilized.

    more as it comes...

    More news...

    Raun's fiance just called me and said that his parents and grandma are okay. The house is torn wide open so they can't leave due to the threat of looters. The message was from Raun's mother given to him by and insurance company rep. She asked Raun that if he got in to bring food and water.

    My other friends John and Nancy are safe and sound with their newborn in Orlando, FL. However, John's parents (Wade and Charlotte) and whole family (24 people) stayed in Diamondhead, MS and their home was flooded 8 ft high. John is not sure of the condition of everyone, but said that they are all accounted for. John's sister and brother-in-law, Hannah and Charles, are still unaccounted for as well.

    Family Head Count

    Here is the Family head count, I'll continue to update ASAP and leave messages for all as I get them. Let me know if you know of anyone else.

    Rick, Rocky, and Jody: safe in Kansas City, cell phones down
    Ray: safe in Hattiesburg, MS, cell phone down
    Leah: safe in Pensacola, FL
    Aunt Sandra and Uncle Dave: safe in Pensacola, FL
    Clint, Danielle, and Dane: safe in Houston, TX

    Brandy and James: safe in Ft. Walton, FL
    Aunt Margaret and Amy: safe in Ft. Walton, FL
    Uncle Ray and Aunt Joanie: safe in Fort Walton, FL
    Brent and Sherry: safe in Jackson, MS
    Chris and Todd: safe in Fort Walton, FL

    Can anyone account for...

    Aunt Velma:
    Donald and Robin:
    Aunt Mel and Aunt Mickey:
    Uncle Gary:
    Uncle Brian and Aunt Joanie:
    Aunt Trudy and Kip:
    Jason and Kristy:
    Tiffany, Melody, Ryan:
    Aunt Josie:

    Katrina destroyed my home... My best friends haven't heard from their parents

    For those of you who aren't family and have so graciously followed this blog for the past few weeks I am from Waveland, MS. It's a small town pretty much synonymous with it's sister town of Bay St. Louis. Unfortunately, the major news networks haven't found Slidell, Waveland, Bay St. Louis, nor Pass Christian worthy enough for coverage. Only New Orleans, Biloxi, and Gulfport have gotten aerial views and coverage of the rescues currently taking place. It is a fact that these smaller areas received the brunt of the storm surge at 30+ feet. However, for now, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they have yet to be able to get in the area due to debris and flooding.

    Anywhow, for me personally, my family was not in our house when the storm hit. My father works in Kansas City right now, and my brother (22yo) and step-mother are with him there. My other brother (24yo) is about an hour north of the coast in Hattiesburg, MS and last I heard, he was fine as that area did not have to deal with a storm surge. My Grandmother has been staying by herself in the house, but was taken to Pensacola, FL by her daughter and son-in-law. So, my immediate family is okay and accounted for, but more than likely my house and my neighborhood are gone.

    However, my two best friends, Parker and Raun, have not heard from their parents since the beginning of the storm's landfall. Parker last spoke with his father and was cut off right after learning that the water was beginning to rise very quickly in their backyard where a creek was. They live in Lacombe, LA which is a spitting distance away from Lake Pontchartrain. My buddy Raun last spoke with his parents also when the storm was making landfall. His mother, father and grandmother were all together in their home and were putting buckets all around the house in Biloxi, MS as their roof was being ripped apart by the winds. Both Parker and Raun's parents were a mere 2 or so miles from the Biloxi beach and Lake Pontchartrain, and neither have heard from their folks. Today, Raun attmepted to drive from Jackson, MS to Biloxi but was denied access by local authorities. Tomorrow he will try again, and this time be accompanied by a doctor who should be able to get both of them through on his Medical credentials in order to help. Parker is still contemplating flying in from Denver to Baton Rouge where he has a sister, and trying to get into the Lacombe area maybe by foot or paddle. His other sister who had planned to visit in from California for her birthday had to obviously cancel her flight, and she is obviously distressed. I too am likely going to try and get down there for this 4 day weekend and meet up with both of them somehow, and help find their folks as well as assess my own neightborhood. It all depends on authorities allowing the major roads to open. worst case scenario is we'll have to walk it in from the nearest point of access.

    All in all, I am still trying to swallow the total devastation, and worst of all names keep coming up in my mind. Old friends and neighbors who I grew up with who might have stayed and waited the storm out. I fear that many people died in my hometown as well as the surrounding area. People for some reason have always waited out the worst storms- event the last one, Hurricane Camille. It is apparent that this storm's damage is much worse, and therefore, it is likely the deathtoll will be reciprocated.

    Please pray for the people of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Lakeshore, Clermont Harbor, Pass Chrisitian, Long Beach, which haven't gotten the attention like New Orleans, or Gulfport/Biloxi, but certainly have gotten the same and likely worse beating from Katrina.

    For family, I'll be posting updates for everyone as I get them in. Feel free to post your own things as well.

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Quote of the Week

    "Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have."

    - Ronald Reagan

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Docs, Denial, and a Deaf Guy

    Usually, most of my class lectures are conducted by SF Med Sergeants and Former SF Civilian PA's in a matter-of-fact, bottom-line, how-to guide on saving your buddy, while not getting shot, and still shooting the enemy- type of way . So- when an actual Doctor of Medicine (in my case a Colonel) comes to lecture us, I prepare myself with a huge thermos of coffee so I can maintain my concentration when the M.D. gives his abstract and theoretical explanations for what happens to us when we incur trauma, illness, what have you.

    Usually, after a long lecture someone will try to mess with the Colonel by asking him crazy, off-the-wall questions that everyone wants to know, but really have no need to know. Things like: Why can't we keep our eyes open when we sneeze? Why do we puke when we run too much? or Why do we fart? Don't misunderstand me- we love learning, we love medicine and we take it very seriously, but we just like messing with the Colonel as its rare that an enlisted guy can do this to an Officer in the Army, especially a Colonel.

    Anyhow, someone in the class asked a serious question for a change. "Why do so many people wait so long to go see a doctor when they are sick or hurt? Like the people with obvious advanced tumors, or gangrene, etc etc." The Doc quickly pointed out that 90% of us (SF guys) are guilty of this insanity as well, only when we get injured. Immediately, I knew what he was talking about as two images immediately popped into my head from SFAS (special forces assessment and selection). During our final land navigation exercise, I saw one fellow candidate with a blister so bad on his heel that I swear one could see bone, but instead of going to the medic and being med-dropped from the course, he just the cut off the heel of his boots in order to keep walking. Another guy broke his foot on a bad fall, and literally hopped, limped, and crawled his way back only to finish too late (he later tried out again in the next class and was selected). These are minor, but there are notorious stories out there of soldiers who literally injure themselves right out of the army and into disability. Well, the Colonel gave his answer and it was basically- "Denial. Denial. Denial." Why denial? The Doc didn't have the answer for that, but this brings me to my final observation.

    The deaf guy...

    Lately, my friends have pointed out a couple of things to me, which I have utterly denied until recently. Some typical conversations went something like these:

    Example 1:
    Comrade #1: "Rick - did you hear about the (mumble, mumble, mumble)"
    Me: Huh! What?
    Comrade #1: "Dude that's like the third time I've had to repeat myself"
    Me: "Well, quit mumbling."
    Comrade #1: "I'm not mumbling, you're just freaking deaf man."
    Me: "What did you call me?"

    Example 2:
    (cell phone rings)
    Me: "Hello?"
    Comrade on phone: "yada yada yada... etc. etc."
    Me: "What's up? yada yada"
    Comrade sitting next to me: "Man, do you always yell when you talk on the phone?"
    Me: "Hold on a sec, Joe is asking me something- huh?"
    Comrade sitting next to me: "And why do you have the volume so loud, I can hear everything he's saying even over you yelling."
    Me: "Did I miss something?"

    Example 3:
    (in my room watching TV)

    Roommate walks in... "Damn man, what are you deaf? I could hear that TV down the hall"
    Me: "Man, I was actually thinking about getting a sound system with it bc I thought the volume was weak (I always put the volume on max). Wanna go in on it with me?
    Roommate: "No man, I don't need more sound, but I think I will invest in some ear plugs."

    These are just a few examples, and I didn't even include my everyday "blast my friends away with my stereo upon starting my truck" example. What really got me out of denial was my log. That's right, I started marking on a 3x5 index card how many times in a day I had to ask someone to repeat something, or said "huh?" when spoken to. My little index card was heartbreaking by the end of the day, (and no longer white) thus I came out of denial, and into realization...

    The Army has caused me hearing loss. I am going deaf. I would suspect it was the 240B machine gun in Phase II. See below...

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    Quote of the Week

    "Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and if lost in a young man, seldom recovered."

    - John Locke

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    The Beach Beckoned... And I Ran To Her

    Ah yes... sand between my toes, a good book, a crisp breeze, the roar of waves chasing the shore as time crawls at a mere half-step, while I sip on my Sweet Mexican Nectar (Corona w/ Lime).

    I haven't been to the beach since Italy in the summer of 2003. Now I know for some of you that's not a big deal, but for a fella that grew up three blocks from the shore, it's a tragedy. So, luckily, a couple of old friends called me up early last week, and invited me to come to one of North Carolina's fine barrier islands, Emerald Isle, thus ridding me of my miniature curse. It was a much needed weekend to say the least.

    Some things I took notice of during my getaway...

    1) North Carolina really is a great state. Living in an arm-pit, oops, I mean Army-town like Fayetteville blinds one to this fact. I would compare this little illusion to a stunningly beautiful woman with a "beauty" mark, a small but necessary flaw, which if dwelled upon (a mole, freckles, whatever it may be) would render one kind of feeling gross all over at how something like that could actually manifest itself on a human body. Fayetteville is North Carolina's beauty mark. So, it's good to see the rest of this gorgeous piece of American real estate and appreciate the big picture. I live in a supermodel state!

    2) Time goes by really really slow on the beach. I got up early, took a run, showered, ate some bacon and eggs, and then sat on the beach for what seemed like 24 hours straight. When I was ready to go in, it was only like 3 o' clock. So I thought to myself, eh, I'll stay out a little longer. I then proceeded to get in the water and perform some rad maneuvers in the surf (only without a board) which was highly entertaining to my friends. I think body surfing will make it to the X- games one day. After this, I had a Sweet Mexican Nectar with a ham and cheese sandwich, and some Sour Cream and onion pringles followed by half a cantaloupe. Still more time. I then turned a few pages in my Backpacker magazine, and fell asleep. When I woke, my head was tilted to one side with druel trapezeing out of my mouth, while my umbrella was apparently playing "let's be a sage brush" tumbling over all the little kids' sand castles, and my once entertained friends apparently thought the show was over, and were nowhere to be found. It was still daylight, and there was lots of it, which was proven by my now Pocahontas-like skin. This was all before sunset, and it only got better that evening.

    3) This was the first time I had seen the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. (previously I had seen it from Senegal, Africa)

    4) Apparently the metrosexuals now dictate swimwear as well. The only swim trunks available these days are either speedos, or those surfer ones- you know, the long ones with all the neon or pastel colors, and flowers. Apparently only metro-sexuals go to the beach, or I really am getting old.

    5) I have got to buy a kayak soon.