Diary of a Network Geek

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


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.


Rogue Dolphin Soldiers?

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:44 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

This seems like a problem…
Over two years ago, on my other blog, I noted a little news article about dolphins geared-up and trained for combat. Well, it seems that not only do they exist, but they may have been released into the Gulf of Mexico, by accident, due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. At least, according to this news article at the Guardian, that’s quite likely. The US government will neither confirm, nor deny, the veracity of this story, but sources close to the military indicate that as many as 36 bottle-nose dolphins that have been trained by the Navy to attack terrorists compromising ocean vessels may be loose in the Gulf. These sources say that divers and surfers may be in actual danger from these swimming mammals who have been armed with some kind of “poison dart gun”. The concern, according to the article, is that these dolphins “have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises” and could attack innocent bystanders who fit the profile.
The good news is that the “poison” darts are designed to put their target to sleep for later interrogation, but a lone swimmer or diver could find themselves in trouble. And, again, the Navy will not confirm or deny this story. It could be nothing, but…
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water!


What’s my job?

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Apparently, you can add telecom specialist to the list.
I’ve been avoiding talking about Hurricane Katrina because: a) everyone else is talking about it, b) there’s neither anything I can add or do, and c) I didn’t have any real news anyway. Well, after yesterday, I do. We have offices over there. Notice, I wrote “have” not “had”. The facility is still standing, as far as we can tell. So, when the rest of the city settles down, we’ll be able to resume business there. In the meantime, we’re more concerned with people. Not everyone from that facility has checked in yet. I’m not sure how many are missing, but, some are. Of those who have checked in, their families all seem to be okay, but many of them have lost everything they didn’t take with them. It’s like the recent tsunami in Asia, but with a lower, thankfully much lower, death toll. But, the damage to property and business is very similar.
So, how does that make me a telecom specialist all of a sudden? Simple, actually. Our regular phone guy in house is out on vacation, so when one of the boards on our phone switch died over the weekend, they came to the computer guy to get it straightened out. Phones, computers, same thing, right? Not hardly! Thankfully, I already have some experience with telecom and high-stress troubleshooting. About the time I settle down from that fracas Monday, I start getting questions about cell phones. How to get them fast, but still on our account. So, all day Tuesday, I ran around getting that straight and getting a local cell phone for the “senior partner”. But, wait, there’s more! Yesterday, I had to get more cell phones lined up and get two Iridium satellite phones ASAP. Oh, yes, they had to be Iridium phones, not just any sat phone. Why, you ask? Because the “senior partner” is getting a new plane and wants to be able to use one of these on the plane which, you guessed it, can take only certain models. If everything goes right, which I highly doubt, we should be getting the two Iridium phones Friday morning. So, any guesses who gets to figure them out and teach everyone how to use them?
Yeah, time to update the resume with all this high-end telecom stuff I’m doing. A little more chaos thrown my direction and I’ll be all ready to be the Director of IT somewhere bigger. Anyone looking for a guy like me to head your IT department? I’m willing to consider anywhere that’s not California, New York City, or prone to hurricanes. Blizzards and tornados I can handle just fine, but I’m really not liking this hurricane business.

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