Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

9/1/2017

Flood Sensors

Filed under: About The Author,Better Living Through Technology,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

This is mostly of local interest and probably would have been more help last week.

But, I’m hoping it will serve as a convenient place to find this information next year when the hurricane season starts again. And, yes, this is mostly relevant to the greater Houston area, where, dear readers, you will recall has been home since I moved here from the Chicago area in 1998. Since then, I’ve experienced a severe tropical storm, and the direct or indirect effects of three hurricanes (Katrina, Rita and Ike), before our latest Hurricane Harvey. Tropical Storm Allison was about the worst flooding event I had ever seen. My ex-wife and I were in an apartment with her daughter and woke up to find our part of town cut off from the rest of Houston by flooding. But, that flood didn’t stick around incredibly long and we were able to get out and drive the next day. That drive around my current neighborhood let us see which of the houses we had been looking at flooded. Obviously, we chose the one that didn’t and that’s where I live today with my current blushing bride. I’m pleased to say that we didn’t flood this time, either.
The thing people don’t realize about living down here is that it’s not usually the hurricane itself that causes the most damage. Rather, it’s the flooding caused by the rain that comes before, during and after. Hurricane Harvey dumped more than two feet of water on the greater Houston area. Some places got more than that. What was worse, though, is all the water running down from beyond the Houston area raising the levels of all the water ways that everyone here calls “bayous”. In theory, they should move all the water away from where we live and send it down to the Gulf. In reality, Houston is so over-built that they can’t always manage to do that.
My wife and I got lucky this time. The only water we got in our house was down our chimney and what came in on our dog. Our cars were both safe and dry. I know at least one person who’s parents have probably lost their house and two people who lost cars while trying to evacuate. This is the worst flooding that anyone can remember in Texas, and let me tell you, that’s saying something.
So, my link today is to the Harris County Flood Control District, who is the governmental group in charge of mitigating flooding events in Harris County, where Houston resides. Frankly, it’s not a job I envy, especially this week. But, for those who are concerned, they have a LOT of information about flooding in the area. Most importantly to me this past week or so, they are responsible for creating and maintaining the Harris County Flood Warning System, which has links to water-level sensors in bayous. If you go to their Interactive Mapping Tools, you can put in your address and find the closest sensors to you and what bayou is most likely to effect flooding in your area. I spent a good amount of time this weekend watching several of those sensors very, very closely. It was, to say the least, nerve-wracking, but, if things had gotten bad enough, I would have known right when I should either head to our second story or try to get out of the area if it was still possible.

Over the coming months, after hurricane season officially ends in November and before it starts again next year, I plan to add some resources here for emergency preparedness, starting with putting together a “go bag” in case of evacuation. Because, frankly, it’s never too early to start planning for next year.

And, next week, hopefully, I’ll have something a lot more fun to share with you than the grim reality of climate change, unchecked over-building, and preparing for the inevitable flooding disasters to come.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/26/2010

Harris County Atlas Obscura

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:21 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Houston is a strange town.

Now, I don’t mean that in a bad way!  I like strange.  Strange is different, interesting.  The problem is, finding it.  Think of all the chance encounters that have led you to something weird and beautiful.  How often does that happen?  If you’re like me, not often enough.

Back when I started doing “Friday Fun” posts, I used to scour the Internet for unusual bits of flotsam and jetsam. Now, I usually let my feed reader bring them to me.  But, the fun, weird, wonderful things are all around us.  In Harris county, we have plenty of interesting, unusual things to find.  Some of these have been collected at the Harris County page of the Atlas Obscura.  If you haven’t been there, go take a look.  They talk about a couple things of interest, but I encourage you to find and add more.

Incidentally, of the things they mention, I’ve only been by David Adickes’ studio and seen the giant heads outside his workshop.  I have heard of the Museum of Health and Medical Science and the National Museum of Funeral History, but I have to admit, I haven’t been to either yet, not to mention the several places of interest that I hadn’t even known were here before.
You know, now that I think about it, they do seem like great photo adventures that would be easy to do, and I have all that nice, new flash gear….

10/26/2008

Early Voting

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I voted yesterday.

Yeah, I know, something like two weeks before the normal election day, I was able to vote.  Turns out, there has been a massive response this year and huge numbers of people are voting.  Personally, I think that’s great.  I mean, a friend of mine said he’d heard they were expecting something like a 60% turn out rate, which is monster.  As I recall, normally, the percentage of people who vote is less than 20%, so to get so many people out voting is wonderful.

I always have felt that if you want to complain about the way our current leaders are running things, then you better have voted.  Me, I like to complain, so I vote.  From what I understand, this year, you can even vote early on Sunday!  Thanks to Google, you can find your local early voting polling place with just a few clicks of a mouse, so why not do it?  If you haven’t voted lately, why not start this year?

Also, I’m not normally a very political animal.  No, really, stop laughing, I’m not.  Oh, sure, I’ve ranted and raved about certain tiny aspects of politics, but, mostly, I want everyone to participate in the process.  This year, though, I’m going to make a suggestion.  I think everyone tends to get in the mindset that you have to choose between the Democrats and the Republicans, but, you know, we’re not a two party system.  There are a wide range of parties in the United States, but the popular news media almost never talks about them.  Did you know that Ralph Nader was running again?  Have you heard of Bob Barr?
Just think about this for a couple minutes.  Over the past fifteen years, both the Republicans and the Democrats have been in power.  Did you like the way either of them ran this country?  If you’re not happy with either the Republicans or the Democrats, why not give a third party a try?  The Libertarians are well represented this year, at least in Harris County, Texas.
Maybe it’s time we gave another party a chance to make a difference.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car."
   --Kenneth Tynan


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