A giant storm is rolling across the Atlantic. And I mean a giant giant storm.

I was checking NOAA just now (Insomnia!!! Whoo Hoo!!!) and saw there’s a giant bohonkus storm that’s rolling across the Atlantic. It’s the one on the lower right in the next photo.

Gulf Sized Storm 01

It doesn’t look too bad over the ocean, but using my Photoshop ninja skills, I put it over the Gulf of Mexico…

Gulf Sized Storm 02

… and, as it is right now, the storm would take up the entire Gulf of Mexico. So how big is it over land?

Gulf Sized Storm 03

Offhand, it looks like the storm would completely cover Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. Five states underneath one storm.

That’s a big damn storm.

And don’t storms gather strength and cohesion as they travel across the ocean during this time of year?

An initial corporate and personal review of the iPad

I’ve had some iPads for two weeks now, and after some serious daily use, I wanted to write a “initial impression” post about how I see the iPad in the corporate world.

First off, I had a fairly clear definition of what I wanted the iPad for in the company : to enable all of our “first contact” employees access to our network through a secure VPN. A touch screen interface was preferred, and this tablet would work “on site” only. The initial test run would be 1 iPad per store location with a few additional iPads reserved for executive use.

Unless you go through Apple corporate sales, you’re restricted to two iPad purchases total. Even though I ordered all of the 21 iPads through the corporate channel, it took about a week for the initial batch to arrive since demand for iPads is still very high. Once the iPads were unboxed, the rollout was fairly straightforward.

Setting up profiles for the iPad is done with a free application from Apple called “iPhone Configuration Utility”. With that application, I just clicked to “activate” the policy areas I wanted to modify, made the changes to each section, and then saved the config file to the local Mac. Then I attached each iPad to the Mac, uploaded the config file to the iPad, and the changes were locked in. Easy and done.

The only catch is that I found it easier to use a utility called “Libra” to set up an iTunes library for each iPad. That way I could customize which apps go to each location/end user by choosing a specific iTunes profile to attach each iPad to. (I’ve got some more thoughts on how Apple could make a iPad rollout easier in a few paragraphs.)

Anyhow, the VPN integration looks like it would be great with the 3g iPads, but since I just needed the local wi-fi versions for my purposes, it wasn’t any trouble to tweak the company network to allow secure access through the iPad’s built-in ability to connect via WPA2-PSK.

MobileME is also a good idea to put on the iPads. The ability to remotely track and wipe the iPad makes the $99 price tag a fantastic insurance policy, and I think Apple messed up by not making MobileME part of the “iPhone Configuration Utility”.

Setting up MobileME was a bit tedious. I had to go to me.com and sign up for the demo, then login with each iPad identity. Then, going back to each iPad, I had to go to the SETTINGS app, choose MAIL, then MAIL, CONTACTS, CALENDARS, then go to the ADD ACCOUNT area, then choose MOBILE ME, and then key in all the information I entered on the mobile.me website.

Ugh.

Also setting up the address book was a bit of a pain as well. I had to define a sub-set group in the address book on the Mac that I wanted the iPads to access, and then only SYNC those group’s addresses to the iPads as they were being configured.

Setting up the initial iPad was a little bit of trial and error, but once the “master” was complete, the remaining 20 iPads in the initial rollout were a snap to configure and deliver. With just slight changes to duplicate copies of the original config file, more iPads can be added to each store location in the future, and far more easily than the initial batch was.

I highly recommend adding a iPad keyboard dock if you’re going to be configuring multiple iPads. A physical keyboard saved me tons of time on the prep and release, and the keyboard works just like any other Apple dock. Drop it in, and it works. You can even pass-through the iPad’s connection to the Mac on the back of the dock with another dock/usb connector cable.

Apple’s “iPhone Configuration Utility” is nice, but it needs a lot more teeth. And calling it the “iPhone Configuration Utility” just confirms the iPad is just a giant iPhone without the “phone” part. Come on Apple. At least call it a “mobile i-device configuration” utility!

Now for the bit giant “dammit!” bits…

  • There’s no way to lock the SETTINGS application on the iPad. I don’t want anybody launching in the SETTINGS application, period, but Apple has no way to lock this down.
  • There is no way to lock specific applications. I don’t want some key applications I installed on the iPad deleted, but Apple has no way to provide for this in the “iPhone Configuration Utility”.
  • There is no way to hide certain pre-installed applications from Apple. I don’t want some built-in “Apple” applications there at all, but the “iPhone Configuration Utility” just won’t let me hide certain items. As an extra bonus, you can’t manually delete certain applications on the iPad either.
  • There’s no “real” handwriting in notepad. Seriously. The iPad, a $499 touchscreen device, doesn’t have any kind of handwriting capture capability on any of their own built-in applications.
  • There is no cleaning cloth to wipe the pad! Now come on, Apple. My $50 Speck SeeThru case for the MacBook Pro had a cleaning cloth. This $499 piece of hardware doesn’t?
  • There is STILL no more than ten pages allowed for applications on the iPhone. If you have applications installed that don’t appear in those ten pages, you have to go to the SEARCH area on the iPad for them to show up.
  • I’ve said it earlier, but there is no MobileME configuration option in the “iPhone Configuration Utility”. Only IMAP or POP are available in the email configuration settings section. Having the option to cut and paste the MobileME information into the configuration utility would have saved me a lot of time.
  • There is no folder organization. You can’t group applications aside from dragging them to the same “page” that similar applications are on. There’s also no spacing between icons and no way to change the default icon layout. Folder organization (and hopefully icon management) is supposedly coming in the iPad 4.0 update “later” this fall, but I tend to stay away from any new OS releases until the update patch comes out 4-6 months later.
  • And finally, there is no “master” server option (like Microsoft Terminal Services). I would LOVE to have a “master mold” that rolls an image out to every iPad on every boot. I would LOVE for every corporate iPad to look for a specific server (via IP) to retrieve an image to boot with. (again, like Microsoft Terminal Services does). Maybe a future update can tie it in to the XServe? Or maybe there should be a iPad PRO model?

Once again, Cydia and the other online “jailbreak” sites are years ahead of Apple on creating applications and utilities that should have been bindingly obvious and that should have been part of the iPad on launch day. I know of five key Cydia utilities that would tweak the iPad to do exactly what I want it to do, but I would have to jailbreak the iPads to install these “extras”. Since this is just the beta phase of the rollout, I’ll wait to see how the iPads perform before moving any further.

Overall, I would easily recommend the iPad if certain network and needs conditions were met for company access. An iPad that costs $499 beats a PC tablet that run $900 and above. And even though you do lose a PC’s “under the hood” tweaking and functionality, you do have to ask who these tablets are meant for. Customer service and initial contact personnel are a perfect match for the iPad, plus these personnel are genuinely happy to receive them and do take much better care of them than they do a PC laptop (in my experience, anyhow).

Plus, like it or not, the iPad itself does impress the hell out of clients and prospective business partners.

One final plus is that the iPad is an exponentially more closed system than a “regular” PC. I’ve received far fewer support calls from these “first contact” individuals during this rollout since they really can’t tweak their devices too much.

Overall I would rate the iPad corporate experience a (barely) 4 out of 5 star experience. Having said that, with a few tweaks, it could easily be 5 stars.

Now, as for personal use, and based on my initial experience with the iPad, I would rate the iPad a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

I went ahead and bought my own iPad two weeks ago as well, and have installed a few applications and utilities. After my initial “meh” reaction, I have to admit Apple really does have something here. The touchscreen is fluid and amazing. A few hours working on the iPad and you’ll want a similar touchscreen on all your PCs and Macs.

Reading on the iPad with the free “books” application has absolutely killed every other ebook reader. I can finally read all my technical PDFs, pinch-zoom and expand the schematics, and see everything in color. That alone is worth the iPad purchase price for me. Extended reading on the iPad is slightly more wearing on my eyes than the Sony 505 I have is, but the tradeoff is worth it.

The gaming experience on the iPad has also been top notch. It’s graphically around the PS2 era, but some games are almost Wii caliber. That’s pretty good for a portable device! The iPad has definitely shelved my PSP and NDS for the foreseeable future. It’s not any Xbox360, but it’s large screen makes playing games on anything aside from a HDTV screen seem absolutely puny in comparison. And the games the iPad has are unlike anything else I’ve played on any platform. Apple needs to run hard with this feature, and pull in the “arcade” developers from the Xbox360 and PS3 platforms to make this a prominent selling point of these devices.

Oh, and my wife loooooves the iPad. Absolutely loves it. It’s a pick-up-and-do-whatever device. Read. Play games. Surf. Email. Remote Control. It’s ridiculous all the uses we’re coming up for with this thing. And this is only the wi-fi version. Maybe our second iPad will have to have the 3g connection… strictly for testing purposes, of course.

The only complaint I have personally is the “hold” of the iPad. You do need a case so the darn thing doesn’t slide down your hands. I prefer Apple’s iPad case for home use but InCases’ iPad case for corporate use or high-contact personal use. (I’ll put up some photos and compare the two cases in a future post).

That’s all I have for now. For the most part, I highly recommend the iPad in both the corporate and personal world.

Oh, and for the record, everything that has “Mac” mentioned in the above review also works with a PC or has a PC version as well.

Rio Grande floodway/spillway update [PHOTOS]

Yesterday me and my wife had a chance to drive over the same Rio Grande floodway/spillway that I mentioned in a previous post. She took all of the photos for me, and I think they came out great.

First up is the westward facing view as we were traveling south over the spillway. You can see in the first photo there was some overflow outside the floodway already. That little outcropping/peninsula was supposed to be the outer perimeter for this side with a straight line running West to the bridge.

West Side 01

In this next photo, you can see more of where the overflow happened, as well as a the top of a STOP sign for a street that was running parallel to the floodway before it broke through.

West Side 02

This next photo is about 1/4 of the way over the bridge. If you click to enlarge, you can see that’s a house on top of a hill on the right side that’s just barely above the water!

West Side 03

Here is about the halfway point…

West Side 04

This next photo caught a few people who were lining up on the access roads to fish off the overflow. People are still lining up despite the fact that local health departments have been running radio and TV ads telling people not to eat or fish out of the overflow because it is tainted with sewage from Mexico. This ain’t the Rio Grande, folks! It’s overflow water from Mexico and Falcon Dam!

West Side 05

This next set is the “return”, heading north and facing eastward. The first photo shows part of the buildup along the side of the floodway/spillway…

East Side 01

This next photo shows how close to the edge the water is. That “access road” on the side was once a vantage point to look down into the empty valley with.

East Side 02

Starting across…

East Side 03

Here you can see one tree that is still managing to keep it’s top above water. There were tall trees all along this area, and it will be interesting to see if any survived.

East Side 04

Same tree, but a little further along.

East Side 05

Two more trees that were keeping their tops dry.

East Side 06

A closer photo of the trees above water.

East Side 07

Further along heading North. Fortunately the power lines were set high enough so that even if the floodway overflowed, they would be undisturbed.

East Side 08

Nearing the end of the floodway/spillway.

East Side 09

And finally looking back over the spillway.

East Side 10

The water is still pretty near the spillway’s peak, but today was the last day we are expecting rain down here, so hopefully this monster will start to drain soon. The best photos will be the “after” so everyone can see what it looked like originally.

Thanks again to my beautiful wife (who always takes better photos than I do)!

Sears harvesting new social demographic / Shopping Sears.com

Preface : There’s a TL;DR for this tome.

Right then. First off, let me tell you about an interesting little thing I noticed when applying for a “Sears Rewards” card online this last weekend. (More on my Sears online experience in a bit).

Midway down the rewards application, after the information about me and my basic stats, I saw this…

Sears Customer Rewards Questions

Wow. Welcome to the new “targeted social advertising” era.

It really was only a matter of time before large companies realized the Twitter and Facebook demographics were ripe for harvesting. So why not give a special offer to those who have a built-in listener base? It makes sense, really.

If I wanted to reach 301 people in one shot, what better way than to send a “freebie” or “exclusive message” to someone with a built-in following? Bloggers are always looking for content, and a “hey check out what I got from Sears” post or “hey look at what Sears just told me is coming up” post is pretty good material to build on. Sears wins for getting their message out directly to more people than old fashioned print media does anymore, and the bloggers win by getting access to new and unreleased material before it goes mainstream. Tying it into their in-house rewards questionnaire is just icing on the cake.

I replied honestly to the questionnaire, but I wonder how many more offers the “over 300” followers will get? And, just as important, I wonder if Sears is actually going to parse the “over 300” crowd for their “ideal” demographic and not just “carpet bomb” everyone who has a large following in the hopes they suddenly become converts?

Sending a new Black and Decker toolkit or a Sears-exclusive appliance to Click and Clack on NPR’s Car Talk or to any of the Auto or Car blog specific sites out there would be genius.

Best of luck, Sears. Congratulations on being the first site I’ve come across to go fishing in the big new ocean of fully connected customers!

I do expect other “top 100” companies to follow suit, though. Expect more “who do you know” kinds of questions for rewards sites, and look for more “now hiring : social media integration specialists” in the future.

So, having said all that, let me tell you about my experience shopping online with Sears this last weekend.

This Sunday I wanted to purchase a Kenmore Elite Stainless Steel 16.7 cu. ft. Freezerless Refrigerator (4472) Sears Item# 04644723000 | Model# 44723, a  Kenmore Elite Stainless Steel 16.7 cu. ft. Upright Freezer (4473) Sears Item# 04644733000 | Model# 44733, and the Kenmore Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Trim Kit Sears Item# 04604470000 | Model# DUOTRIMKIT online. The total for everything was around $2.5k after delivery and taxes.

At the checkout, I was keying in my AmX card when I noticed there was a small icon next to payment type that said “Don’t Have A Sears Card? APPLY NOW.”

Sears Payment

I thought, hey, if I apply for a Sears card I can get in on their 12 months interest free plan! Awesome! Instead of one payment next month, I can break it down into two or three payments interest free!

So I clicked on the APPLY NOW icon, and after putting in the usual credit application sorts of info, I was approved for the Sears card. I went ahead and signed up for online management of the card through Citibank and was referred back to Sears checkout. The whole application and management process was ridiculously easy.

Back at the Sears online checkout window I selected under “payment type” the “Sears Card” option. That immediately prompted me for the Sears credit card number and security code on the back of the Sears card.

Uh, guys? I don’t have the card security code or the full Sears card number because I applied for the Sears card online.

I logged into the online management of the Sears card through Citibank and looked for the full card number and security code, only to find out that the card was going to be mailed to me and I would have to wait two to three weeks to get the Sears card in the mail and activate it.

I went back to the Sears site, and clicked on the top icon for a Sears rep to “Call Me”.

Sears Call Me

In less than a minute, my home phone rang and I was connected to a very professional and courteous Sears representative who confirmed, in just seconds, what I suspected. The “APPLY NOW” icon? The customer service rep was careful not to agree with my statement that it was “misleading”, but did say it was indeed “somewhat confusing”. When you APPLY NOW for a Sears card, you can’t use the credit card until you actually receive it in the mail. Only then, after you activate it, will it function online.

Nice.

I said “thank you” and decided I can wait two weeks to break up the payments for now. But Sears missed out on a $2.5k weekend purchase by not fully integrating their commerce division with their sales department, and that really is just bad design.

And now it’s time for the “insult to injury” round!

While I was at the Sears site, I saw there was a “Sears Rewards” section, where you can sign up and get a “rewards” card that applies money you spend to points you can earn to get more stuff. It sounded like a good deal, so I signed up for it.

The moment I pressed ENTER on the “Sears Rewards” site, I was given a temporary rewards number that I could print out and use immediately.

Hey Sears? Put whoever designed the Rewards section in charge of the Credit/Finance department. I would have loved to have bought those appliances this last Sunday so I could have had them in my home by Wednesday. Why not issue a “temporary” credit card number that people can immediately online when they are approved for a Sears card? You could make the temporary credit card a “disposable” number like Citibank and AmX give out to their customers, and the number would expire upon receipt of the “real” card. You can even make it so that it is only for a fraction of the total available amount on the “real” card for extra security. I bet you would get many more online purchases if you guys just slightly updated your systems integration.

The rest of the Sears site was top notch. Immediate callback from customer service. Good “flow” for the website. Great “related items” queries. Outstanding “rewards” setup/turnaround.

Oh, and Sears? One more thing. You might want to get on the list of who is buying new homes and send them a “welcome” packet in the mail with a $10 or $20 off a “home appliance” coupon and some other “welcome to your new home” material. Best Buy sent me a similar packet and I purchased a brand new Samsung HE washer and dryer from them late last year because of it! Don’t forget the old school methods!

TL;DR : Sears is ahead of the curve in their social marketing reach, but they need to integrate their credit approval department with their online sales site. Everything else was great.

EDIT 10:56 CST: Spelling & Formatting.

Monday Morning Music : 07/26/10

Every Monday I like to post some music to start the week off on the right foot.

This week….

HaleStorm – Its Not You



Metallica – Fuel



Sixx:A.M. – “Life Is Beautiful”



Slayer – Raining Blood



…and finally, Iron Maiden – Wasted Years



My weekend was over before it started and I got work to do this week. Posting might be off a few days…

The Rio Grande floodways are at their max – two gulf storms will probably make things far worse

Well this is just all kinds of peachy. Since most of the news media things nobody lives further south in Texas than San Antonio, I haven’t heard anyone on CNN or FOX or MSNBC mention the fact that the Rio Grande overflow floodways down here are already at their capacity. Now, with two separate storms getting stronger in the gulf, we’re getting near a “crisis” stage on flooding down here.

Right now, here’s what NOAA has forecast coming our way…

Problem #1

The first storm, down by where I live, just formed near the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s coming north west-ish and looks like it might send a bucket or two of water my way.

Problem #2

It probably won’t be a hurricane, but it’s no dainty little spritz bottle either.

Second, and more fugly, is this one still way out by Florida.

Problem #3

It’s got a lot of time to bulk up as it travels over the gulf, but so far the forecasts say it’s not supposed to get near where I live, but just pass by and slightly nick the area.

The problem with both of these storms is that we’re already dangerously close to something pretty damn serious. This next photo is one I took as I crossed over one of the Rio Grande overflow floodways Tuesday. (There’s a “bulge” distortion because I was driving as I took the photo.)

Rio Grande Overflow 1 photo

This second photo was midway over the floodway bridge. (I had to lighten the photo because the 1st generation iPhone camera stinks.)

Rio Grande Overflow 2 photo

I don’t have a “before” photo for comparison, but trust me, that whole thing was a completely barren wasteland not too long ago. I’m talking as far as you could see. About a five or six story deep valley of absolutely nothing. Dry brush. The occasional south Texas tree. The occasional giant hawk circling overhead for a meal.

Now? It’s River II, the revenge of Rio Grande.

Most of the problem is due to hurricane Alex dumping a ton of water in Mexico a short time ago, and Falcon Dam is constantly releasing water into the Rio Grande because the flood waters on Mexico’s side are already cresting on their own dam walls (no pun intended).

The dam’s constant release has maxed out the floodways, and now with these two new gulf kids wanting to come over and play, you can see how things could get really bad down here.

The Weather Channel did release a “SEVERE” warning about this problem. Here’s the release in its’ entirety…

——-

Local Severe Weather Alert for McAllen, TX (78503)

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BROWNSVILLE HAS EXTENDED THE  * HYDROLOGIC ADVISORY FOR… SOUTHERN HIDALGO COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS. THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF…CUEVITAS…LOS EBANOS…HAVANA…LA JOYA…PENITAS…HIDALGO.  THIS ALSO INCLUDES PORTIONS OF THE CITIES OF LA VILLA…MERCEDES…PROGRESO…WESLACO…MAINLY FOR LOW WATER BRIDGES…ROADS…AND STRUCTURES INSIDE THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY FLOODWAY SYSTEM.  IN ADDITION…THE PORTION OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE RIVER BETWEEN ANZALDUAS DAM NEAR GRANJENO TO RETAMAL DAM NEAR PROGRESSO LAKES. THIS INCLUDES THE SANTA ANA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE…ABOUT 7 MILES EAST OF THE CITY OF HIDALGO.  * UNTIL 530 PM CDT THURSDAY  * THE EXTREME SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH PORTIONS OF HIDALGO COUNTY NEAR THE LOWER RIO GRANDE RIVER…AS WELL AS LOCATIONS WITHIN AND NEAR THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE FLOODWAY SYSTEM…WILL CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE FLOODING DUE TO VERY HIGH WATER LEVELS ON THE RIVER. THE HIGH WATER LEVEL WILL LIKELY CONTINUE THROUGH THE END OF THE WEEK INTO THE WEEKEND AS THE WATER RELEASES FROM FALCON RESERVOIR CONTINUE. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION IS IN EFFECT FOR THE TOWN OF LOS EBANOS. RESIDENTS HAVE EVACUATED CUEVITAS AS WATER CONTINUES TO ENTER THE TOWN. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION CONTINUES FOR THE CITY OF PENITAS. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION CONTINUES FOR RESIDENTS WHO LIVE NEAR MILITARY HIGHWAY IN THE CITY OF LA JOYA. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION IS IN EFFECT FOR THE CITY OF HAVANA AND A MANDATORY EVACUATION REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR HOMES SOUTH OF MILITARY ROAD IN THE CITY OF HAVANA. THE CHIMNEY PARK RV RESORT NEAR MADERO CONTINUES TO EXPERIENCE FLOODING AND ANY REMAINING RESIDENTS ARE URGED TO SEEK HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY.  FLOOD WATERS APPEAR TO HAVE PEAKED IN THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE FLOODWAY SYSTEM. AS OF MONDAY…WATER HAD RISEN TO HALFWAY UP THE LEVEE OF THE FLOODWAYS IN SOME PLACES.  FIFTEEN TO TWENTY RESIDENCES WITHIN THE MAIN FLOODWAY SOUTH OF MILITARY HIGHWAY AND “I” ROAD WERE UNDER VOLUNTARY EVACUATION. ANOTHER FIVE HOMES WITHIN THE MAIN FLOODWAY WERE IMPACTED SOUTH OF WESLACO…AND MOST ROADS LEADING TO THE PROGRESO INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE REMAIN CLOSED.  LEVEE STRUCTURAL REPAIRS WERE COMPLETED AT THE EDINBURG PUMP STATION IN PENITAS…AND A BERM WAS COMPLETED AT A PUMP NEAR MISSION.  IN ADDITION…MAJOR FLOODING CONTINUES INSIDE THE LEVEES DOWNSTREAM OF ANZALDUAS DAM…ABOUT 2 MILES WEST OF GRANJENO…ON THE RIO GRANDE RIVER TO JUST ABOVE THE RETAMAL DAM…ABOUT 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF PROGRESSO LAKES. ALL IRRIGATION PUMPS…LIVESTOCK… AND EQUIPMENT SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM INSIDE THE LEVEES IF NOT ALREADY DONE SO.  ADDITIONAL FLOWS DOWN RIVER FROM UPSTREAM RESERVOIRS WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP WATER LEVELS HIGH. STAY TUNED FOR CONTINUING UPDATES ON WATER LEVELS AND POTENTIALLY MORE SERIOUS FLOOD ISSUES FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.  PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…  RISING WATERS IN THE MAIN AND NORTH FLOODWAY ARE ALSO FLOWING QUICKLY AS WELL. LOW WATER BRIDGES IN SEVERAL AREAS ARE NOW IMPASSIBLE…AND OTHERS WILL BECOME IMPASSIBLE THROUGH THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. KEEP CHILDREN AND PETS AWAY FROM HIGH WATER! THEY MAY BECOME CAUGHT IN THE TURBULENT FLOW…AND COULD DROWN.  DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE THROUGH AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD…AND ESPECIALLY AROUND BARRICADES. DRIVING AROUND FLOOD BARRICADES IS A CLASS B MISDEMEANOR IN THE STATE OF TEXAS…SUBJECT TO FINE OR POSSIBLE IMPRISONMENT.  &&

——-

I’ll be heading back out to that floodway bridge area later this week, and I’ll be sure to take either the Sony HD video camera or my plain Sony camera to see how it looks then.

But now I think it would probably be a good time for me to unpack my scuba gear. I wonder how much are life rafts are at Cabela’s?

Hoo-ah! Back in the saddle!

Right then!

I had a great “unplugged” mini vacation (and birthday!) and actually feel recharged and remotivated!

If you can manage it on your next vacation, I highly recommend leaving all electronic doodads and things that buzz or beep completely off and put away. The freedom is astonishingly refreshing!

Unfortunately, things where I work caught rabies, rolled in gasoline, ate a ex-lax and frito sammich, and then lit a cigarette in front of a bipolar former nicotine addict on steroids fresh out of prison. In other words, things got ugly. I’ve got a lot of work to do this week to get things back to normal.

Oh, and for future reference, chocolate cake with extra thick chocolate frosting is totally acceptable at any time. Banana splits, too.

Birthday vacation! Be back July 20thish!

I’m taking an entire week off to celebrate my upcoming birthday!

Depending on how valid my passport is, I’ll be back Tuesday the 20thish.

Have a great week everyone!

———

“Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Jack Benny

“It takes a long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

“Men are like wine: some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” – Pope John XXIII

“Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” – Maurice Chevalier

“Inside every older person is a younger person – wondering what the hell happened.” – Cora Harvey Armstrong

“The best birthdays of all are those that haven’t arrived yet.” – Robert Orben

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” – Cherokee Expression

Due to public outcry, the Coast Guard has lifted the ban on reporters and photographers on the oil spill

Well whaddya’ know!

A new article on Washington’s Blog says “Due to popular rage at the ban on reporters and photographers from within 65 feet of the oil spill, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has rescinded the ban. Specifically, Allen announced tonight that the media will have full access, as long as they do not interfere with safety or security.”

Glory Hallelujah!!!

I’ll have to take back some of the bad things I said about the Coast Guard now.

Thank you Admiral Thad Allen for doing the right thing.

Now! We! Need! More! Photos!

Here’s the link to the Washington’s Blog post and here’s the original press release on the Deepwater Horizon Response website.