Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.05.31

The big news down here this week is the weather - more specifically, the rain.

Q: What do you call it when it rains chickens and ducks?

A: Fowl weather.

 One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

A long silence was broken at last by a shaken little voice saying, "The big sissy."

A motorist is making his way down a flooded road after a night of torrential rain. Suddenly he sees a man’s head sticking out of a large puddle. He stops his car and asks the man if he needs a lift.

‘No thanks,’ says the man. ‘I’m on my bike.’

A small boy is woken by a huge crash of thunder. He runs into his parents’ room, where his father comforts him.

‘Don’t be afraid of the thunder,’ he says. ‘It’s just a noise that God makes when someone tells a lie.’

‘But why is it thundering now?’ asks the boy. ‘It’s the middle of the night and everyone is asleep.’

'I know,’ replies father. ‘But it’s around this time that they start to print the newspapers.’

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Got Nuthin'

Enjoy your weekend...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.05.29

If you're a blues fan and aficionado of great guitarists, here's a special treat 'ripped from today's headlines' - the recently deceased B.B. King playing with our own Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert Collins performing Flood Down in Texas.

Sit back, pop a cold one, and enjoy!

It just don't get no better than this...

Boy Do I Feel Old

I watched my oldest grandchild graduate from high school last night. That really drives home what stage of life a fellow is in.

It didn't help that his father - my oldest son - now has some grey showing in his (thinning) hair.

It also didn't help that this was one of the most poorly managed ceremonies I've ever attended. No traffic control and woefully inadequate parking meant a steady stream of late arrivals disrupting the proceedings.

Top all that off with the fact that I had to park so far away it took me 20 minutes to walk to the arena where all this was taking place - in brutal humidity, while all duded up and wearing dress shoes. (Remember, I'm retired. My standard attire is shorts and a t-shirt. Footwear alternates between flip-flops and tennis shoes, depending on whether it's a semi-formal or formal occasion).

Then, once I finally got inside, there was no place to sit. So I stood on concrete for 3 hours while inane speeches were made and over 500 names were called. Afterwards was another monumental flustercluck as everyone tried to leave the parking lots at the same time.

Fortunately, I had parked near Mamacita's Cantina, so I killed some time there until traffic thinned out. Dressed up as I was, I was a little out of place amongst Juan, Julio, and the rest of the blue collar types there, but once I bought them a round we were all hermanos.

The drive home took about 1 1/2 hours. Of course, it started to rain.

This morning my feet, knees, hips, and back all ache. Plus I'm saddled with the realization that my children's children are almost all grown up.

Boy, do I feel old...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Search And Rescue - Central Texas

In my Memorial Day post I mentioned that our armed forces don't just fight wars, they also help out in times of need.

The recent floods here in Central Texas are a good example. The 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, has been mobilized and is conducting Search and Rescue missions in the hardest hit areas - with outstanding results.
A family caught chest-deep in floodwaters in San Marcos, Texas, one of the areas hardest-hit by a deadly storm, is sharing their remarkable story of survival, CBS News' Don Dahler reports.

Carlos and Kandi Cortez were home with three of their four children when they said the sound of rushing water woke them early Sunday morning as the nearby rising Blanco River started filling their home.

"What I noticed from the bedroom was the water go from a few inches to our chest in a matter of about two minutes," Carlos said.

Too dangerous to go outside, they stayed in their home.

"The plan was hold on for dear life," Carlos said.

That seemed like a good idea until they realized their flooded house might actually electrocute them.

"I thought something had bit me, and when it happened again I realized I was getting shocked," Kandi said.

Carlos spotted a ladder by the back door, so they headed to the roof, waiting for help from above. A helicopter from the Texas National Guard came to their aid.

Jeremy VanAusdall, Josh Powell and Josh Tauer were part of the rescue team that arrived on scene.

"Reassured them everything's going to be all right, 'We're gonna get you out of here,' immediately called for a basket," VanAusdall said.

One by one, the guardsmen pulled the Cortez family to safety.

"The one that rescued me, he was, he was, he was my hero, he calmed me down," Kandi said.

On Tuesday, Carlos and Kandi were reunited with the men who saved them.

"The honor that comes from being able to help someone in their time of need, that's why we're here," VanAusdall said.

Soldiers from 1st Squadron 124th Cavalry and D Co., 949th BSB, along with members of Texas Task Force 1, look for survivors of the floods that have hit Texas in recent days. This Search and Rescue – Ground (SAR-G) team from the 36th Infantry Division (Texas Army National Guard) is conducting operations in both the Wimberley and Blanco areas utilizing their high-water trucks to rescue 32 civilians and 7 pets after the Blanco River flooded its banks. (Photo by 1SG Ross Dobelbower, 1-124th Cavalry Regiment)

Troopers from 1st Squadron 124th Cavalry get some well-deserved sleep in the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department building on the morning of May 24th after conducting water rescue missions all night long. The 36th Infantry Division Soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard rescued 32 residents after flood waters devastated the small community of Blanco, Texas. (Photo by 1SG Ross Dobelbower, 1-124th Cavalry Regiment)

Well done, troops!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Weekend Update - Part 2

One consequence of all the rain we received over Memorial Day weekend is that I was unable to visit the Fort Sam Houston cemetery to put flowers on my mother's grave.

Mom is a veteran - one of the early WAFs (Women in the Air Force). She enlisted in the late 1940s, met my father, married him, and a few years later became pregnant with yours truly. Back then pregnancy was a career-ender for military personnel, so she became a civilian and a mother, in that order. She did, however, retain much of her military training and put it to good use in raising my sister and me.

One of the special Memorial Day traditions at the Fort Sam cemetery is the Veteran's Roll Call.
On the first day of Memorial Day weekend, community members gathered to pay respect to some fallen heroes. It's an annual tradition at Fort Sam Houston called the Veteran's Roll Call.

A stillness filled Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery Saturday morning. All that could be heard was the rain pattering and the names of heroes being called. Several American Legion posts and other veteran organizations joined families as they honored veterans who died in the last 12 months.
I couldn't get there because of high water and flooding on the roads. But I had my own private little ceremony at home.

There is an empty place right next to Mom, reserved for my father. He's 97 years old, a retired career military man, and starting to slow down a little (well, actually, quite a lot recently). It won't be long before I'll be taking two bouquets to Fort Sam.
Speaking of the rain, our local hospital put this up yesterday.

It's not that we're ungrateful, God, it's that we've been blessed enough. Please pass the rain on to somewhere else that needs it more than we do.


On a related topic, I'm preparing for the next round of rain.

One final weekend note: as some of you know, before I retired I worked in Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border. The cartel violence down there is constant and unrelenting. It also rarely makes it into the news, unless it is something truly out of the ordinary. Like this:
At least 43 people died Friday in what authorities described as a fierce, three-hour gunbattle between federal forces and suspected drug gang gunmen...

Photographs from the scene showed bodies, some with semi-automatic rifles and others without weapons, lying in fields, near farm equipment and on a blood-stained patio strewn with clothes, mattresses and sleeping bags.

In April, gunmen believed linked to the cartel ambushed a police convoy in Jalisco, killing 15 state officers and wounding five. Earlier this month, New Generation gunmen shot down a military helicopter with a rocket launcher in Jalisco, killing eight aboard.
Vehicles burn, that authorities say caught fire during a gunbattle, in a warehouse at Rancho del Sol, near Ecuanduero, in western Mexico, Friday, May 22, 2015. At least 43 people died Friday in what authorities described as a fierce, three-hour gunbattle between federal forces and suspected drug gang gunmen at the ranch. (AP Photo/Oscar Pantoja Segundo)

No, I don't miss it at all...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Update

We had a very eventful weekend. In chronological order:

Our daughter left Saturday for a two-week trip to Peru. The first part is a volunteer service mission, which will be spent high up in the Andes mountains working in remote villages on agricultural projects. After that she spends a week hiking through the jungle, visiting Machu Picchu and other Inca ruins, and white water rafting.

Needless to say, I'm a little nervous about her going off on her own to the middle of nowhere. She's a smart, tough, determined kid, but she's only 18 and naive in the ways of the world. It helps a little that she's traveling with a group of fellow volunteers and experienced guides, but still... she's my little girl and she's going to be a long way away in a strange part of the world with a bunch of strangers.

All I can think of is the movie Taken...

The other big news in this neck of the woods is the weather. We've had a wet spring. In fact, we received 7 inches over the last week. All that was just a prelude to Saturday. The skies opened up and dumped almost 8 inches of rain on us in less than 24 hours. Since the ground was already saturated from the previous rain, all that water had nowhere to go. So the Central Texas area was basically flooded out.

Record rainfall was wreaking havoc across a swath of Texas...
Rivers rose so fast that whole communities woke up Sunday surrounded by water. The Blanco crested above 40 feet — more than triple its flood stage of 13 feet — swamping Interstate 35 and forcing parts of the busy north-south highway to close. Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.

...the body of a man was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in just one hour and left piles of wreckage 20 feet high...

That's about 25 miles from our house. A little farther away - about 40 miles - are the small towns of Wimberly and San Marcos.
About 1,000 people were evacuated from homes in Central Texas, where rescuers pulled dozens of people from high water overnight.

"We do have whole streets that have maybe one or two houses left on them, and the rest are just slabs," said Kharley Smith, emergency management coordinator in Hays County, Texas.

Crews are still surveying damage, she told reporters Sunday; between 350 and 400 homes in the Texas county are gone, and more than 1,000 were damaged. Two main bridges washed away, she said, and others sustained major structural damage.

In San Marcos, Texas, a city between San Antonio and Austin that was among the hardest hit areas, Fire Marshal Ken Bell said at least one person was confirmed dead. Crews are searching for three missing people, he said, and others are trapped in areas that authorities can't reach because bad weather has forced them to stop air rescues.
IH 35 in San Marcos was closed due to flooding

Twelve people are still missing in Wimberley after the house they were staying in was washed away by flood waters.

Bridge washed out in Wimberley

Another washed out bridge in Wimberely. Yes, that's a large tree on top of it (click to embiggen).

Closer to home, the small town nearest our house (Boerne - about 15 miles away) suffered some street flooding and evacuations, but fortunately no fatalities.
In Boerne, several hundred people were evacuated from the Creekside Apartments when the Cibolo Creek began rising Saturday, flooding cars and entering ground floor dwellings.

... preparations to evacuate elderly residents of the nearby Riverview Nursing Home, also near the Cibolo Creek, were called off Sunday when the water began receding, sparing those elders a major disruption.
Boerne flooding

Here's a link to a short 26 second video showing a large tree almost destroying a bridge in downtown Boerne.

And another short video showing an SUV getting swept away by the flood. Fortunately the drive got out safely.

Our house is about 100 yards away from a dry creek that floods during heavy rain. This weekend it looked like a raging river, with standing waves and whitecaps. Luckily we're far enough away and on high enough ground so that the water isn't a threat.

The good news is that the beer was saved.

The bad news is that it's still raining...

Monday, May 25, 2015

They Gave Service

Today is the day we all (hopefully) pause to remember and honor those who died while serving in our country's armed forces. Most of our attention will focus on casualties of the various wars we've been involved in. But there are other heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while helping others.

Remembering Marines Who Died On A Mission Of Mercy In Nepal
What kind of man or woman risks their lives for strangers?

Eric Seaman of Murrieta, Calif., was 30. He had two children, and was a U.S. Marine sergeant. His wife, Samantha Seaman, told CNN, "Last week I got an email telling me that he felt purpose and that he delivered 10,000 pounds of rice ... and I know that right before he passed away, I know that he helped somebody."

Sara Medina was 23. She enlisted in the Marines just out of high school in Aurora, Illinois, and served in South Korea, South America and Okinawa.

"She liked to travel," Cpl. Medina's father, Luis Medina, told the Daily Herald. "She liked to help other people to find a better future."

Dustin Lukasiewicz was a pilot, from Wilcox, Nebraska, married, with a daughter, and another child on the way.

He is the Marine captain you might have seen in news interviews, explaining how their Huey helicopter threaded through steep mountain trails in Nepal to bring rice and tarpaulin — food and shelter — to small, shattered villages in the wake of this month's earthquake and aftershocks that have killed more than 8,000 people.

Christopher Norgren was 31, from Wichita, Kan., also a Marine captain and a pilot, who sent Instant Messages to his mother on Mother's Day after she said she was worried.

"I'm not really worried about danger, Mom," his mother says he wrote back. "That's what I signed up for. Just looking forward to helping people."

Sgt. Mark Johnson was the helicopter's crew chief. He was 29, from Altamonte Springs, Fla., loved camping and surfing, and his mother told the Orlando Sentinel that after three overseas deployments, and with a wife and two children, he thought about leaving the Marines for a job in security.

Lance Cpl. Jacob Hug was from Phoenix. He turned 22 in Nepal, while delivering food, medicine and shelter. His Uncle John told the Arizona Republic he needed money for college, and wanted to see the world.

"He wanted to be a Marine," John Hug said. "That's what he wanted and there was no talking him out of it."

This weekend, their deaths — and lives — remind us that anyone who puts on a military uniform is in harm's way. At a time of life when many people network, these men and women worked. They didn't just build careers; they gave service.
It's not just America which is blessed to have such people. The entire world is a better place because of them.

Let's also remember those they left behind.

Little Boy Throws First Pitch At Game In Honor Of Father Killed In Nepal Helicopter Crash
A young boy threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in Riverside County in honor of his father, a Marine who died in a helicopter crash in Nepal.

The Lake Elsinore Storm baseball game Friday night was in honor of Sgt. Eric Seaman of Murrieta, who was killed this month while on a relief mission in Nepal after the devastating earthquakes.
In a sad bit of irony, Seaman was supposed to return home to his family next week.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Funnies - Memorial Day Edition

In honor of Memorial Day...

When I enlisted in my teens, I took up smoking cigars to make myself look more mature.

Did it work? Well, one time, as I proudly puffed away at our NCO club, an older sergeant growled, “Hey, kid, your candy bar’s on fire.”

Our drill instructor was at the end of his rope: A recruit's ineptitude was driving him crazy. Getting in the young man's face, he demanded, “Whoever told you to join the Army?!”

Snapping to attention, the recruit proclaimed, “The Navy recruiter, Sir.”

I didn’t enlist in the Army — I was drafted. So I wasn’t going to make life easy for anyone. During my physical, the doctor asked, "Can you read the letters on the wall?"

"What letters?" I answered slyly.

"Good," said the doctor. "You passed the hearing test."

A young lady had been secretly dating for several months, and it was time to break the news to her very protective father. Her mother thought he’d take it better if she explained to him that her boyfriend was a Marine who had just returned from Iraq. This pleased Dad immensely.

"A Marine? Good!" he said. "That means he can take orders."

Soon after being transferred to a new duty station, a Marine husband called home one evening to tell his wife that he would be home late. "Dirty magazines were discovered in the platoon quarters," he said, "and the whole squad is being disciplined."

The wife launched into a tirade, arguing that grown men should not be penalized for something so trivial as a few Playboys.

The husband interrupted. "Honey, when I said ‘dirty magazines,’ I meant the clips from their rifles hadn’t been cleaned."

After joining the Navy, I underwent a physical. During the exam, it was discovered that, due to an abnormality, I couldn’t fully extend my arms above my head. Perplexed, the doctor conferred with another doctor.

"Let him pass," suggested the second doctor. "I don’t see any problems unless he has to surrender."

As he reviewed pilot crash reports, the Air Force safety officer stumbled upon this understated entry:

"After catastrophic engine failure, I landed long. As I had no power, the landing gear failed to deploy and no braking was available. I bounced over the stone wall at the end of the runway, struck the trailer of a truck while crossing the perimeter road, crashed through the guardrail, grazed a large pine tree, ran over a tractor parked in the adjacent field, and hit another tree. Then I lost control."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

As you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, please take some time to remember the real meaning of Memorial Day, and those who made our way of life possible...

...unlike the people in the following video.

Words fail me ... as apparently our public school system has failed many of them.

Thankfully there are plenty of other people around who understand what Memorial Day is all about.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.05.22

Despite yesterday's post about Dadbods and sexy beer bellies, the fact of the matter is:

I don't look good naked anymore...

God Help Us All

I don't know which is the biggest threat - Iran, or China. I do know, however, that the SCoaMF currently wasting oxygen in the White House is clueless when it comes to dealing with either one.

First, China:

Pentagon goes public with latest dust-up in South China Sea
The U.S. military has begun to carefully but publicly challenge Chinese island-building on disputed reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, creating fresh tension in a potential global tinderbox as both countries shift forces into the area.

In the latest incident, a Chinese military dispatcher demanded repeatedly that a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft leave as it flew near Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, where China has dredged hundreds of yards of coral and sand and built an airstrip on what it claims is sovereign territory.

"Foreign military aircraft, this is Chinese navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately," the Chinese dispatcher said in a radio transmission, the Navy recounted Thursday.

When the U.S. crew responded that it was flying in international airspace, the Chinese dispatcher answered, "This is the Chinese navy.... You go!"
Thankfully, the Navy aircrew is more professional than me. I would have responded with something along the lines of "This is the U.S. Navy - You blow me!"
Regional tension has grown since President Obama announced a so-called U.S. strategic pivot to Asia four years ago, in part to keep an eye on a fast-rising China. The administration has shifted ships and troops to the Western Pacific and expanded military ties with several countries worried about China's growing clout, including Japan, the Philippines, Australia and, to a lesser extent, Vietnam.

The renewed American focus on the region appears to have led to unintended consequences, however. Beijing has become more aggressive in asserting its maritime and territorial claims in the South China and East China seas.
Gee, what a surprise. An obama foreign policy initiative has resulted in 'unintended consequences.'

Kind of like in the Mid East.
Iran's supreme leader vowed Wednesday he will not allow international inspection of Iran's military sites or access to Iranian scientists under any nuclear agreement with world powers.
As if that's not bad enough, here's the other shoe dropping.

US presses Israel on talks for Middle East nuclear-free zone
The United States has sent a top official to Israel in an effort to revive talks on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of a nuclear treaty review conference that some fear will end Friday without progress on global disarmament.

Secretary of State John Kerry this month called the proposed zone an "ambitious goal and fraught with challenges" but worth pursuing.

Iran, a party to the treaty and engaged in talks with world powers on its own nuclear program, this month spoke on behalf of more than 100 mostly developing countries in calling for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, calling them a regional threat.
So according to obama, it's okay for a theocracy that openly calls for the destruction of Western civilization to have nukes, but not the only true democracy in the region?!?

Oh my aching back...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Do You Think I'm Sexy*

Imagine my surprise when I found out that babes everywhere consider me the hottest thing around this summer.

Well, not me individually, but me as a prototype for the latest trend that has ladies going ga-ga; the Dadbod.
Worried about getting in shape for the beach season? Maybe you feel just like me, that you have an extra couple of pounds around your waist and belly? Don’t worry. You will be the hottest thing this summer.

Because the latest trend is the “dadbod”, or the dad body.
What exactly is the "dadbod," you ask?
The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, "I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time." It's not an overweight guy, but it isn't one with washboard abs, either.
A typical Dadbod.
So why do chicks dig the Dadbod? Here's what the ladies say.
It doesn't intimidate us.
Few things are worse than taking a picture in a bathing suit, one being taking a picture in a bathing suit with a guy who is crazy fit. We don't want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body. We are insecure enough as it is. We don't need a perfectly sculpted guy standing next to us to make us feel worse.

We like being the pretty one.

We love people saying "they look cute together." But we still like being the center of attention. We want to look skinny and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel and the better we look next to you in a picture.

Better cuddling.

No one wants to cuddle with a rock. Or Edward Cullen. The end.

Good eats.

The dad bod says he doesn't meal prep every Sunday night so if you want to go to Taco Tuesday or $4 pitcher Wednesday, he'd be totally down. He's not scared of a cheat meal because he eats just about anything and everything.

You know what you're getting.
Girls tend to picture their future together with their guys early on. Therefore, if he already has the dad bod going on, we can get used to it before we date him, marry him, have three kids. We know what we are getting into when he's got the same exact body type at the age of 22 that he's going to have at 45.
Adding icing to the cake, there is research that indicates men with Dadbods make better lovers.

Men With Big Bellies Make Better Lovers (Says Science)
Hey ladies: take a break from chasing that six-packed Adonis and instead divert your gaze to the oft-overlooked Homer Simpson doppelganger. You may thank us for it.

A study out of Turkey concluded that overweight men with obvious bellies last longer in bed than their thinner counterparts. These heroic researchers (dedicated to finding answers to life's big problems) studied the BMI and sexual performance of 100 men seeking help for sexual dysfunctions contrasted against 100 men who reported no problems.

The result? Men with a higher BMI and, yes, unsightly guts, lasted an average of 7.3 minutes where the slimmer of the group could barely hold on for 2 minutes. Ouch, right? A five-minute difference is pretty significant. As in three times as long kind of significant. In fact, they found skinnier guys more likely to suffer from premature ejaculation, too.
So there you have it, ladies. If you want to be hip and with-it, plus get mind-blowing sex to boot, find yourself a guy with a little padding around the midsection.

Once you've had Dadbod, you'll never go back...

*Another 'name that title reference' contest.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How High Is The Water, Momma?*

I don't want to open that whole global warming/climate change can of worms. But when I see stories like this one I want to shake people by the collar and say "Get your head out of your ass and address the problem. Assign blame later."

America's oldest city is slowly drowning.
St. Augustine's centuries-old Spanish fortress and other national landmarks sit feet from the encroaching Atlantic, whose waters already flood the city's narrow, brick-paved streets about 10 times a year — a problem worsening as sea levels rise. The city has long relied on tourism, but visitors to the fortress and Ponce de Leon's mythical Fountain of Youth might someday have to wear waders at high tide.

St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded communities along Florida's 1,200-mile coastline, and officials in these diverse places share a common concern: They're afraid their buildings and economies will be further inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. The effects are a daily reality in much of Florida. Drinking water wells are fouled by seawater. Higher tides and storm surges make for more frequent road flooding from Jacksonville to Key West, and they're overburdening aging flood-control systems.
This is not some theoretical argument over global warming. Nor can there be much disputing one basic fact: the sea level is rising.
Despite warnings from water experts and climate scientists about risks to cities and drinking water, skepticism over sea level projections and climate change science has hampered planning efforts at all levels of government, the records showed. Florida's environmental agencies under (Republican governor Rick) Scott have been downsized and retooled, making them less effective at coordinating sea level rise planning in the state...

"If I were governor, I'd be out there talking about it (sea level rise) every day," said Eric Buermann, the former general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida who also served as a water district governing board member. "I think he's really got to grab ahold of this, set a vision, a long-term vision, and rally the people behind it. Unless you're going to build a sea wall around South Florida, what's the plan?"

The issue presents a public works challenge that could cost billions here and nationwide. In the third-most populous U.S. state, where most residents live near a coast, municipalities say they need statewide coordination and aid to prepare for the costly road ahead.

Communities like St. Augustine can do only so much alone. If one city builds a seawall, it might divert water to a neighbor. Cities also lack the technology, money and manpower to keep back the seas by themselves.

"We will continue to make investments and find solutions to protect our environment and preserve Florida's natural beauty for our future generations," the governor said in a statement.
Words, not deeds. Get off your ass and do something.
St. Augustine's civil engineer says that the low-lying village will probably need a New Orleans-style pumping system to keep water out — but that but no one knows exactly what to do and the state's been unhelpful.

"Only when the frequency of flooding increases will people get nervous about it, and by then it will be too late," engineer Reuben Franklin said. "There's no guidance from the state or federal level. ... Everything I've found to help I've gotten by searching the Internet."

Across coastal Florida, sea levels are rising faster than previously measured, according to federal estimates. In addition to more flooding at high tide, increasing sea levels also mean higher surges during tropical storms and hurricanes, and more inundation of drinking wells throughout Florida.

Water quality is a big concern for many communities. It's especially bad in South Florida — just north of Miami, Hallandale Beach has abandoned six of eight drinking water wells because of saltwater intrusion. Wells in northeast and central Florida are deemed at risk too.

While South Florida water officials have led the charge in addressing sea level rise concerns in their area, their attempt to organize a statewide plan was met with indifference, documents show. The Scott administration has organized just a few conference calls to coordinate local efforts, records show. Those came only after Florida's water district managers asked DEP for help.

The list of other problems across the state is growing. Miami Beach is spending $400 million on new stormwater pumps to keep seawater from overwhelming an outdated sewer system.

In St. Augustine, homes built on sand dunes teeter over open space as erosion eats at the foundations. Beachside hotel owners worry about their livelihoods.

Tampa and Miami are particularly vulnerable to rising seas — many roads and bridges weren't designed to handle higher tides, according to the National Climate Change Assessment. Officials say Daytona Beach roads, too, flood more often than in the 1990s.

"For us, it's a reality, it's not a political issue," said Courtney Barker, city manager of Satellite Beach. The town near Cape Canaveral used to flood during tropical weather, but now just a heavy rainstorm can make roads impassable for commuters.
That's the worst part of this whole situation. People are getting bogged down in whether or not climate change is occurring, and if it is, whether or not it is responsible for the rising sea level.

But regardless of cause, the water keeps rising.

A whole bunch of Neros are fiddling while Rome burns drowns...

Homes built on strands of white sand in Vilano Beach now teeter precariously as high tidewaters cover their front steps. St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded communities along Florida’s coast, and officials in these diverse places share a common concern: They’re afraid their buildings and economies will be further inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

* Bonus points if you got the title reference.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drought Update

It's been a wet spring here in Central Texas. We've received around 14 inches of rain since 01 January, about twice our usual total. Everything is lush and green.

How lush and green is it?

We're growing mushrooms on our property instead of cactus.

But seriously, folks...
A weak El Niño pattern has fueled spring storms, giving Texas badly needed relief from a nearly five-year drought that had begun to rival a record event of the 1950s...
The problem is that the recent rains have caused a public perception that the drought is over. The reality is that, while it has lessened, over one-third of the state is still officially categorized as remaining in a drought. Furthermore, while the rain has been plentiful (or even overwhelming) in some areas, it hasn't fallen where needed to help lakes, reservoirs, and underground aquifers to recover.
With all the rain we've had since January, you might think the drought in the state has finally come to an end. But you'd be wrong. In fact, North Texas is still experiencing an extreme drought, and Austin is only a little better off than before...

The reason it can rain almost every week, or every day, yet we're still not in the clear is that the precipitation just hasn't been enough to reverse the last eight years of shortfalls. For almost a decade, the scarcity of storm clouds in Texas has lowered lake levels and dried out the soil deep below the surface to such a degree that we'd need another four months of rain like we've had so far just to break even.
In this part of the state, practically all the drinking water comes from lakes and aquifers. They have been slow to recover.
“If you think in terms of hydrological drought in our region, we have not recovered yet,” (Todd Votteler, a seasoned water expert and executive manager of science, intergovernmental relations and policy with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority) said. “The rain has not really been in the right place to replenish regional aquifers and surface water supplies.”
Local lakes Medina, Canyon, Travis, and Buchanan all remain substantially below normal.

Medina Lake was 6.4 percent full Sunday afternoon, up from 2.8 percent a year ago, with more than twice the amount of water, at 16,252 acre-feet, or about 5.3 billion gallons. But it was still nearly 80 feet below normal. Canyon Lake was 84 percent full Sunday, up more than 3 feet from a month ago but still nearly 8 feet low.

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Despite recent rain, Medina Lake still suffers with drought-stricken water levels on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Home owners and business people are happy about the rainfall but are still hoping for more rain to help bring the lake back to pre-drought conditions. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)
Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the rain we've received so far. And I certainly don't wish storm damage or flooding on anyone. But I sure wouldn't mind if a nice tropical storm hovered over the lake and aquifer recharge zones for a few days - just long enough to bring them back up where they belong.

After all, everyone needs a little fun on the water...