Tuesday, August 31, 2010

OBX Hurricane Prepardness-A Local's Tips

Outer Bankers pride themselves on taking approaching hurricanes in stride. Currently, a well developed Category 4 is on the way. Here is a mental and actual checklist OBXers go through as a storm approaches.

  • Is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel here yet? This doesn't indicate a big one is imminent, but local females enjoy seeking out the "weather stud" while he is working. In fact, if Cantore is here, it's a good bet the storm will be minor.
On the other hand, if some lesser known and expendable Weather Channel person shows up, most of us evacuate.

  • OBX males ask, at these times, why is there no Fox Weather Channel sending correspondents that look like their News channel reporters and anchors.
  • Is the onrushing hurricane liberal, conservative, or religious? This must be determined quickly. A left leaning hurricane is bad news, as it moves west (obviously trying to find California) and leaves behind it a mass of destruction allowing politicians to bestow newly minted billions on the local economy. Right-leaning hurricanes move east, costing the taxpayers nothing. Religious hurricanes heed the call of the Rev. Pat Robertson and smite some other town, most likely one that recognizes gay marriages or allows dancing. On rare occasions, a "centrist" hurricane makes landfall, leaving everyone feeling empty.
Once we have gone through the above assessments and arrive at the conclusion a hurricane is on the way, one swings into the preparedness stage:

House Protection:

OBXers use a variety of protection devices, including plywood, wood shutters, and in my case, prefabricated panels. As you can see from this picture, it is important that your panels be safely stacked in a corner of each deck, preferably opposite of the prevailing hurricane wind. Make sure they are well secured, like these are, with multiple bungee cords or other restraining devices. Otherwise, they might damage a neighbor's house, or worse, blow away.

If you believe you have gotten your money's worth from the five consecutive annual 15% increases in your wind and hail premiums, you might want to install your protective devices. Otherwise, place tarp over objets d'art, widescreen TV's, your fishing citations and leave the panels stacked where they are. Your check from the insurance Gods will arrive. Someday. Maybe. It's the only chance you'll ever get some of that money back.


You need to store some potable water.

Looks good to me. Check.

Lay in supplies. Outer Bankers understand what is important. See how empty the Harris-Teeter lot is 48 hours from the projected brush-by?

Now, see where the real line is?

Don't laugh. As electrical service may be interrupted, bread, which is composed of cereal grains makes for an easy meal. Beer, on the other hand, includes many of the same grains, plus water, supplying two vital live-giving resources at one time.

Fruits are also important to your diet, and will keep without refrigeration, if no other option is available. White fruits, by the way, don't taste as good when warm.

As are ingredients for bourbon steak (cooked on a grill, of course), rum cakes (baked in a gas oven) and tequila over glass (no cooking required). No need to rough it just because the power grid has failed.

And of course, your freezer will keep food for several days without power-- if you refrain from opening it often or for extended periods of time. Fatty foods such as these can be cooked on a grill, maintain body weight and slow down the circulation of blood, making your heart beat much slower in times of stress.

Finally, dried vegetable and plant matter has a long shelf life. These can be chewed, smoked (but not during the storm as they burn too quickly in 100 mph winds). Keep some handy.

And be safe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Punks on Parade

Long ago I grew weary of "local" newscasts. As a well-versed friend stated recently, television stations don't even bother to call these programs "news"--they now refer to them as 'shows'. I have been following one reporter around on two OBX related stories and found both of the so-called investigations to be lacking on so many levels I can't really critique the efforts properly. And it's not just one station. All four Hampton Roads outlets offer up more sensationalism than news. Worse, they have now begun tying news "stories" into promotions for their network's prime time programs. For example, if CSI runs an episode on a person who stalks his murder victims on Facebook, we get an "expose" on the dangers of Facebook at 6PM--with a plug for the CSI program that night--and a follow up at 11.

So here I sit at 11:03 watching channel 3-WTKR. The headline story is about an 18- year old kid who broke into cars in his neighborhood. He was apprehended by an alert Virginia Beach police officer recently. The officer noticed him riding a bike in the wee morning hours carrying stuffed backpacks. Making a connection between prior break ins and the backpacks he stopped the young man and found his pack full of iPods and a laptop and other stolen material.

The thrust of the story was a jailhouse interview with the offender in order to shock us with the glaring admission that he wasn't a bit remorseful. No sir--his only comment was people should "lock their cars" and if they don't, apparently, to the crook go the spoils.

By showcasing his personality, providing him some PR, and splashing his name over the airwaves, TV-3 has given this punk exactly what he most desired--a platform to show off his arrogance and obvious lack of social adaptation. And some street cred among his peer group of equally punk-ish associates.

What he needs is to be ignored. And in my day, a good butt-whippin'. Channel 3 in particular seems obsessed with the idea of shocking us with stories that in reality are all-too-common in today's environment. Small town political disputes, youthful punks with bad manners, allegedly overpaid government and private sector officials--all of this is nothing new and nothing shocking. A few weeks ago the lead story on this channel was about a young woman who had " befriended" several sailors, wiped out their checking accounts, and now wanted to turn herself in. The channel picked up an interview from Alabama (where she had fled) conducted by a sister network affiliate, interviewed one sailor who lost his money (his face appropriately blacked out) and her promise to take a bus to Oregon and turn herself in (as Alabama had no reason to arrest her but Oregon apparently does). Women taking advantage of sailors and their money--a crime (or scam) that has been around since years were denoted by BC instead of AD. And yes, so has murder, but hustling sailors is not the stuff of a lead story even on a slow news day. Brandy, you're a fine girl, but....

And, as I finish the post at 11:19 PM, a breaking report of a teen arrested for assaulting a female jogger, with anchor Bianca Martinez noting the neighborhood had been "pretty much scared" since the incident occurred. Pretty much? My wife, who doesn't even know I am writing this blog mockingly repeated "Pretty much?". Go get 'em Bianca.

I doubt I will be perfect in my new journalistic career. But I hope I turn out to be "pretty much" better than the folks who qualify as anchors, reporters and investigators for our local TV stations. Because, quite frankly, I'd "pretty much" rather watch 'South Park' than the local TV news.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Original Rhondell's

Bill Deal passed away in 2003, and sometime co-vocalist Fat Ammons has his own gig, but various former members of Bill Deal and the Rhondel's are still playing that old beach music and sound fantastic under the name "The Original Rhondels". The two horn players on the far right were in the very original group and are on all of their three national hits: "May I", 'What Kind of Fool" and "I've Been Hurt".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Memory--The Gigabytes are Failing

Now that I am approaching "double nickels" in terms of age, I am just starting to notice the subtle slips of mind that creep into your everyday existence. At first, it would manifest itself in things like looking for my sunglasses while I was already wearing them. Comparing notes with reluctant buddies, some much younger than myself, confirmed this happens to them also. I don't worry too much about losing my keys in the house, I've been a master of that art for decades--long before I could assign the cause as the advance of Father Time.

But now, more examples seem to creep into the mental dialog. I love music, have about 4500 tunes on my iPod and usually "can name that tune" or even the artist is less than 5 notes. Yet, twice in last two weeks I've struggled to remember the name of one of Fleetwood Mac's lead vocalists. The first time, I simply could not muster the name "Stevie Nicks" at all--I was forced to do a quick Wikipedia check on my cell. A week later, when one of songs came over the radio, I kept trying to make her Nikki Stevens, which I knew wasn't quite right.

A couple of times, I found myself--in a hurry and usually late for a meeting--talking on the cell phone, as business calls only arrive when one is in a hurry to be somewhere. And twice, while talking on the cell phone I caught myself frantically searching for the self-same cell phone throughout the house before I realized where it was--stuck in my ear.

Last night I was covering a story for the Voice at a restaurant. I use three cameras for stories depending upon how complex I think the photography required will be for the story. Since pictures are now stored on those little discs, I discovered early on that if I was working on a story with my laptop there was a good chance the memory card was also inserted into my computer. On occasion, I would leave the card in the laptop when I finished the story and discover I had no card when I was out in the field the next day. So I bought extra memory cards for each camera case to prevent a disaster.

So there I was at Mulligan's last night and ready to take pictures of the owners and the food- when I realized-the memory card was still in the camera from a story I wrote earlier that morning. Completely forgetting I had specifically prepared for such a contingency, I told Gus and Shannon (the co-operators of Mulligans) I needed to run home and get a card. Gus brought several cards from his office, none of which fit my Nikon. So, after 30 minutes of deciding what to do, just before I got up from my seat to make the short trip to the house, I remembered I had an extra card in the case. Sigh.

I am heading to Subway to get some sandwiches right now--the new one at MP 10.5. I hope I remember where my house is located after I pick them up.