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    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Return to Linville Gorge

    So I went to Linville Gorge again this past weekend, but this time not alone.
    This time I took four other friends (2 fellas in the Q-Course with me and two girls from Athens, Georgia) and once again the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Friday, we met up in Linville Falls, and hiked in late that night around 10:00PM utilizing our handy dandy Army Night Land Navigation skills. I knew all that wandering we did at SFAS would be useful out in the civilian world someday. Upon our arrival to our designated point we made our bivouac site on a cliff overlooking the entire gorge, and roasted S'mores over an open fire. After some meaningless banter, jokes, and lots of chocolate the girls pitched their tent, and the fellas slept in the open (which ended up being very cold, but incredibly beautiful). Do you like sunrises and sunsets? Me too, but I think I am more of a fan of the Moonrise. I can't really say which is better because they are such contrasts, but certainly the moon hasn't gotten its fair share of respect. When I first went to sleep it was pitch black out, but when I woke up to a cool breeze at about two in the morning the moon had sneaked its way out to spy on me. I was in awe. The moon makes the forest smile at night, and the sounds that accompany it at such hours make those info-mercial nature CD's sound like cheesy Halloween sound effects tapes. Yeah, I'm definitely a fan of the moon. I'm more of a night person anyway, so that may explain it too. Anyhow- the next morning we got up, ate, made a cup of Joe, enjoyed the (overrated) sunrise, and headed down into the gorge. Jessica almost fell of the cliff at one point while trying to climb over a tree on the trail. She is a tiny little thing standing at a mere 5'0 tall and a hundred pounds (though I'd argue she's 4'10 pushing 95lbs) so when a branch that she was bending back decided that it didn't want to be bent, it literally just started pushing her off the edge of the trail where a 1900 foot fall awaited her. Fortunately, she had a vice grip on that branch and my buddies who were pulling rear security snagged her back. That probably would have been the most dangerous moment we experienced for the weekend until... we arrived at our new bivouac site later that afternoon only to find that every single get 'er done redneck trout fishermen in Western North Carolina had come out this weekend with a sidearm on his belt. It was so strange looking down the river and watching every single guy fly fishing all decked out with the normal vest, net, hat, and then.... a ballistic weapon?!. It made the girls a little nervous, and my buddies Brendan and Norm who are from California and Wisconsin just didn't get it. I wasn't too surpised because I'm from Mississippi, but it was still a site I'd never seen before. The rest of the weekend included swimming, fires, napping, a broken fishing pole, fires, lots of food, and did I say fires? Rebecca and Jessica did really well for their first time backpacking, and my Army buddies and I were quite impressed as we didn't know what to expect. The girls later told me that it was definitely very difficult, but worth it; and that they look forward to doing it again. I was so proud. Don't you love introducing friends to new things? It's ten times cooler when they end up actually liking it. Let's hope they weren't just being polite. So, that was my weekend at a glance, and I would have written sooner, but we just began Trauma Lanes this week back at the Q course. Let's just say that the days of the walking hematoma have returned once again. More on that tomorrow...

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Quote of the Week

    "The harder you work, the tougher it is to surrender."

    -Vince Lombardi

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    "Whatcha Heard Through the Grapevine Haji?"

    You know, I'd be better off just sitting in traffic, picking my nose, and waving down the taxi driver stuck next to me so I could ask him "Whatcha heard through the grapevine Haji?" than attempting to get a genuine balanced story from ABC, NBC, or CBS.

    I don't normally post this late on Friday nights, but tonight was special, not only because it was a blockbuster night and I got to watch a classic, "Shaka Zulu", but because I once again almost puked at seeing more Mainstream Media liberal bias. I've posted about this topic once before in July, and it led to a pretty good debate. Let's see what reaction I get this time. It all began after my African warrior marathon when I decided to check out the web for some scoop. I ran across this article in WorldNetDaily. In this revealing piece, one can see first-hand how ABC news correspondent, Dean Reynolds, in a live interview from the Houston Astrodome so blatantly loaded his questions as he asked some New Orleans evacuees about their thoughts on President Bush's speech yesterday evening. To Mr. Reynolds' surprise, and dismay every single evacuee thought quite highly of the President's remarks and plan. After several attempts to get a negative answer from these evacuees he was stumped. It's quite hilarious. You must read the transcript and see the video for yourself.

    After reading the article and watching the video, I then went to the ABCnews Hurricane Katrina coverage website in order to see if ABC had followed up this story. What did I find on the thoughts of evacuees after Bush's speech? Well, let's just say Dean's video didn't make the cut. I found one single article entitled, "Viewers Skeptical Over Bush Speech". In this pathetic, putrid example of journalism, six people were interviewed that absolutely hammered Bush again and again, and then, finally, two small, yet positive quotes were kind of thrown in almost carelessly at the end- (Kind of like you do when you get a couple of pennies back for change, but really don't want to keep them, so you put them in the little "give-a-penny-take-a-penny" tray for some other patron to use).

    Yeah, and ABC wonders why nobody watches them anymore. On that note, if you still do watch these guys, why don't you do yourself a favor and head to the local Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus to get your clown fix there instead. Anyways, clowns are creepy. Last I heard, Bozo was dead and haunting people. But who knows? Maybe Dean Reynolds and his 12 mini-me sidekicks will jump out of their ABC company Ford Pinto (as it bursts into flames) to come to the rescue of their circus and finally redeem the American clown image. I think he may even make quite the Ronald McDonald.

    Here's the transcipt... (I highlighted the loaded questions)

    "I'd like to get the reaction of Connie London who spent several horrible hours at the Superdome. You heard the president say repeatedly that you are not alone, that the country stands beside you. Do you believe him?"

    Connie London: "Yeah, I believe him, because here in Texas, they have truly been good to us. I mean-"

    Reynolds: "Did you get a sense of hope that you could return to your home one day in New Orleans?"

    London: "Yes, I did. I did."

    Reynolds: "Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?"

    London: "No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in. They should have been on their jobs."

    Reynolds: "And they weren't?"

    London: "No, no, no, no. Lord, they wasn't. I mean, they had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people."

    Reynolds: "Now, Mary, you were rescued from your house which was basically submerged in your neighborhood. Did you hear something in the President's words that you could glean some hope from?"

    Mary: "Yes. He said we're coming back, and I believe we're coming back. He's going to build the city up. I believe that."

    Reynolds: "You believe you'll be able to return to your home?"

    Mary: "Yes, I do."

    Reynolds: "Why?"

    Mary: "Because I really believe what he said. I believe. I got faith."

    Reynolds: "Back here in the corner, we've got Brenda Marshall, right?"

    Brenda Marshall: "Yes."

    Reynolds: "Now, Brenda, you were, spent, what, several days at the Superdome, correct?"

    Marshall: "Yes, I did."

    Reynolds: "What did you think of what the President told you tonight?"

    Marshall: "Well, I think -- I think the speech was wonderful, you know, him specifying that we will return back and that we will have like mobile homes, you know, rent or whatever. I was listening to that pretty good. But I think it was a well fine speech."

    Reynolds: "Was there any particular part of it that stood out in your mind? I mean, I saw you all nod when he said the Crescent City is going to come back one day."

    Marshall: "Well, I think I was more excited about what he said. That's probably why I nodded."

    Reynolds: "Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that's nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?" <--(GET A LOAD OF THIS ONE!)

    Marshall: "No, I didn't."

    Reynolds: "Good. Well, very little skepticism here. Frederick Gould, did you hear something that you could hang on to tonight from the President?" (WELL DEAN, IS THAT ALL YOU WERE LOOKING FOR WAS SKEPTICISM?)

    Frederick Gould: "Well, I just know, you know, he said good things to me, you know, what he said, you know. I was just trying to listen to everything they were saying, you know."

    Reynolds: "And Cecilia, did you feel that the President was sincere tonight?"

    Cecilia: "Yes, he was."

    Reynolds: "Do you think this is a little too late, or do you think he's got a handle on the situation?"

    Cecilia: "To me it was a little too late. It was too late, but he should have did something more about it."

    Reynolds: "Now do you all believe that you will one day return to your homes?"

    Voices: "Yes" and "I do."

    Reynolds: "I mean, do you all want to return to your homes? We're hearing some people don't even want to go back."

    Mary: "I want to go back."

    Reynolds: "You want to go back."

    Mary: "I want to go back. That's my home. That's all I know."

    Reynolds: "Is it your home for your whole life?"

    Mary: "Right. That's my home."

    Reynolds: "And do you expect to go back to the house or a brand new dwelling or what?"

    Mary: "I expect to go back to something. I know it ain't my house, because it's gone."

    Reynolds: "What is the one mistake that could have been prevented that would have made your lives much better? Is it simply getting all of you out much sooner or what was it?"

    Mary: "I'm going to tell you the truth. I had the opportunity to get out, but I didn't believe it. So I stayed there till it was too late."

    Reynolds: "Did you all have the same feeling? I mean, did you all have the opportunity to get out, but you were skeptical that this was the really bad one?"

    Unnamed woman: "No, I got out when they said evacuate. I got out that Sunday and I left before the storm came. But I know they could have did better than what they did because like they said, buses were just sitting there, and they could have came through there and got people out, because they were saying immediate evacuation. Some people didn't believe it. But they should have brung the force of the army through to help these people and make them understand it really was coming."

    London: "And really it wasn't Hurricane Katrina that really tore up the city. It was when they opened the floodgates. It was not the hurricane itself. It was the floodgates, when they opened the floodgates, that's where all the water came."

    Reynolds: "Do you blame anybody for this?"

    London: "Yes. I mean, they've been allocated federal funds to fix the levee system, and it never got done. I fault the mayor of our city personally. I really do."

    Reynolds: "All right. Well, thank you all very much. I wish you all the best of luck. I hope you don't have to spend too much more time here in the Reliant Center and you can get back to New Orleans as the President said. Ted, that is the word from the Houston Astrodome. And as I said, when the President said that the Crescent City will rise again, there were nods all around this parking lot."

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Why Ben Stein is The Man

    I've been hesitating on commenting on the politics of Hurricane Katrina as it would require a novel to vent all of my frustrations. However, I think this article by Ben Stein pretty much sums it all up.

    And on a side note... if the FEMA director deserves to be axed, then does that not logically conclude that Blanco and the mayor of New Orleans should also be axed? Were they not more responsible? Anyhow, read the article and another good post by a Navy SEAL on "Froggy Ruminations" on Ben Stein's wisdom. Both are quite thought provoking.

    A Good Idea to Save on Gas

    Heh, heh, heh- I got this from a friend of mine via email. (Thanks Jenny)I remember the good old days when gas was only like $0.99 a gallon. It wasn't that long ago. Hell, at this point $2.00 a gallon would be nice! It's a shame that when I first purchased my truck (Land Rover Discovery) I was paying like $40 to fill it up, and am now paying $65. I bought it in June of 2005 not realizing that gas would climb so high, so quickly. I think if this trend continues I may have to sell it which would break my heart, as I love taking it to the great outdoors on my various little adventures; it's quite the SUV.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Pics of Downtown Bay St. Louis

    Quote of the Week

    "There has never yet been in our history a person who led a life of ease whose name is worth mentioning."

    -Theodore Roosevelt

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    I'm back...

    Well- I could not get emergency leave from my commander unfortunately, but I was able to get a pass for the Labor Day weekend which I used to go home. I would have posted something sooner, but it's been hard to do much of anything after seeing all that I saw of what is left of my town. I don't have all of my pics yet, as most of them are still in my best friend's hands in Mobile, AL.

    So, my trip began sometime Thursday afternoon and I arrived in Pensacola at a friend's house at 0530 Friday morning. The drive took forever because I was fearful of taking the more direct route through Alabama due to rumors of gas shortages, so I took I-95 down the East coast into Jacksonville, Florida, and then headed west only to find that gas was short from Tallahassee westward. Fortunately, I brought 8 extra gas cans with me. I also brought along MRE's and water for whoever I ran across. After a thirty minute power nap, I left my buddy's place at 0615 to meet my cousin Brandy, her husband, as well as my Great Aunt and my other cousin Amy, then bee-lined to Waveland. All looked normal on I-10 west until we reached the Mississippi-Alabama line. It was as if we entered a war zone at that point. Shrimp boats and yachts lined many spots on Interstate, and you could see where the storm surge had bent or snapped all of the trees inland. Also of notice were the casino billboard ads which were also completely annhilated.

    Once we arrived to Hwy 603 and into Waveland it only got worse. Cars, boats, and trees lined the roads as if a Giant had forgotten to pick up his toys. The smell was not indescribable to someone who has been to a third world country. I've been to several, and the one it remineded me the most of was Haiti. A putrid aroma of urine, pine sap, fuel, mold, raw sewage, and death combined with 90% humidity made the air thick and nauseous. The streets and stragglers were lined with this "mud" making it seem you were no longer in America. Trees were everywhere and oddly the ones still standing looked like they were all dead or dying.

    When we arrived to my cousin's I went in first with my Landrover's 4WD and parked in a safe place. My cousin stayed back and walked it in. While I was waiting, I made my first contact with people, except they didn't look so happy to see me. They apparently thought I was a looter bc I was by myself with a truck and was obvioulsy not from around their neighborhood. The two men approached with baseball bats at the ready. At this point, I was regretting having left my firearm back in NC, but I had my blade, and was praying that these guys weren't looking for trouble (I surely wasn't). After a prolonged pause, I broke the stare-down with my best Mississippi accent and asked if they knew anyone around that may need some food, water, and supplies, or even a ride out. They immediately began to question me, but their countenance noticeably changed. Within a few minutes we were trading war stories (which I had made up), and the rest of my little gang showed up to give me legitimacy as to being on the property as they recognized my Aunt and cousins. The two fellas ending up giving me some good tips for getting around, where to go and where to avoid.

    I then proceeded alone to my part of town to see my dad's house which was closer to the beach (not even a mile away).

    *** To be continued...

    More Pics...

    **** John- I believe the second pic is of Forrest St. in Clermont Harbor.

    Some Pics

    The first pic is one typical street in my neighborhood. The second is a pic of what is left of my cousin's house on Saint Joseph St.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    How you can help

    Here is a link to charities that fellow bloggers have found that are already actively involved. Way to go America, keep it up. We need you.

    Here is a list of all money given so far and by whom...

    I'm in the process of getting emergency leave right now, pray that my commander would be generous, and understanding.

    There is a way to get in by the way if you are coming from the East thru Alabama, you can get in via I10 but not sure as to when they'll start beaqring down on regular civilians coming in.