Beach Bum

I'm an admitted beach bum. Since the offices were closed for Mardi Gras, I went to my favorite place, the beach in Gulfport. Each time I go, there are more people. Today, I remembered to bring bread for the seagulls and was rewarded by some wonderful shots. It was a good afternoon and while I'm uncomfortable initiating conversations in some settings, I have no problem at the beach. It just seems natural somehow.

These are the kind of shots you can get when you remember to bring bread!

Perhaps I like the beach so much because you can feel the presence of the Eternal One. This Bible had probably been washed out of one the churches along Hwy 90. Someone must have seen it and placed it on the curb before the machines that are cleaning the beach could mangle it. The wind had blown it open to Ezekiel.

I admit it. I'm obsessed with brown pelicans. This one was just sitting there and did not fly away before I took the picture!

These osprey are nesting close to where I work. I took it yesterday. Hopefully, next week I'll have my new camera and lenses and will be able to get a clearer shot.

6 Months

It's been six months since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the world in which I and over 300,000 Mississippians enjoyed. A world in which homes over 100 years old were passed down generation to generation. Most of those homes are gone. A world in which it used to be a simple matter to go to the beach to just enjoy it or to go fishing. Many areas are still to dangerous to go to. The saving grace through all of this is the people along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We are pulling together and you see more signs of rebuilding even along the beachfront. But at this mid-point, there is a great deal of depression. In the months before, most could keep busy with tasks of clean-up, securing shelter, etc. Most really didn't have time to dwell on the utter destruction wrought. There is a certain fatigue of dealing with insurance adjustors, arbitrators, and the constant fight of trying to get building materials into the area. People I know who have never suffered from depression are going through it now. It breaks my heart to see them suffering with what I've gone through many years.

The reality is sinking in that our communities are never going to be the same. But there is one redeeming factor, the spirit to rebuild is as strong as ever. Now there are just as many scenes of rebuilding as there of demolition. The Mardi Gras parades are a symbol of defiance. Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Waveland, Pass Christian, Long Beach and other cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast held their parades in the midst of the destruction. A symbol of the goodness of life and that the future will be brighter.

Some bloggers have said why should millionaires be helped to rebuild? The sad fact is that the majority of homes were not destroyed along the beachfront and even those that were on the beachfront were over 100 years old and had been passed down generation to generation. This is what a typical home looks like that was destroyed.

You gain knowledge about demolition. How many trucks does it take to haul off the debris from a house that is being demolished? This house, it took 4 truck loads of the size pictured. Larger houses take 2 larger trailers. I gained these facts watching as one by one the houses that used to surround where I work were carried off.

It wasn't just wooden houses that were destroyed. This house in Gulfport shows that even brick homes could not survive the onslaught of the 28 foot storm surge.

Even though this picture of Urie pier in Gulfport was taken in November, it still looked like that last week. Chunks of asphalt were lifted up as were chunks of concrete.

People are coming back to the beaches. The pine trees whose needles had turned red are now turning green again. The live oaks have their beautiful green again. There's a pair of osprey that are nesting close to where I work. The red-tailed hawk I used to see on my morning commute to work is back. The sounds of the backhoes doing demolition is being drowned out by the sounds of nail-guns. We will rebuild and it's going to take awhile but we are going to help one another through this. That is still the one thing Katrina couldn't take from us, our spirit.


Lost in Art

I went to the web-site of the Art Institute of Chicago. I wish I could visit the Girodet: Romantic Rebel exhibit that is ongoing until April 30.

When I was able to go there too many years ago, there was two paintings that I can still envision. I usually don't like Realism but Edward Hopper is a master. I can think of stories for the people in his Nighthawks.

People in the Sun by Edward Hopper

Claude Monet is usually my style. His Garden at Sainte-Adresse is one of my favorites.

Hopper, the Realist, and Monet, the Impressionist, both manage to capture the sheer joy of basking in the sun.

Operation Not in Our Name - Hurricane Katrina

Anti-war protesters are users. It seems that is the only way they get their message across. Mutha Sheehan disparages the memory of her son, Casey who believed in his mission. Code Pinkos use military hospitals for their protests. What kind of mind does it take to protest the war in front of a hospital that contains our brave wounded?

The latest outrage is the Veterans for Peace Gulfmarch. It starts in Mobile AL on March 14 goes through the devastated Mississippi Gulf Coast and will end up in New Orleans on March 19.

This is a slap in the face to me. As a survivor of Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport Mississippi, I resent their presence. As the leader of the South Mississippi Protest Warriors, I am organizing a counter-protest called Not in Our Name - Hurricane Katrina.

The reasons are many. I support the mission of our troops in the Global War on Terror. I also resent a group trying to use our grief and pain to end the GWOT. Also, the members of the Marines, Seabees, and the Air Force base have done so much to help out after Katrina. It is a slap in their faces for this march to be held. Without the members of the Air and Army National Guard, the Coast Guard, the Marines, the Seabees, and the Air Force service men and women, the Mississippi Coast would not be so far ahead in our rebuilding efforts.

To show our support for them, I urge you to join us. You don not have to become a member of Protest Warriors, just show your support for the military men and women who so faithfully serve the defense of our country and who help out so tremendously in times such as Hurricane Katrina. Please e-mail me at navarone1978 at hotmail dot com if you would like more information on joining in our true support of the troops.

UPDATE: There are some readers who want to help out but are unable to make the counter-protest. I am going to make two suggestions. The first is a good way to show support for our troops and make a donation to Soldiers Angels.

To help the citizens of Mississippi, I am going to suggest a donation to the Salvation Army. You can specify which city you would like it to go to. The following cities suffered anywhere from 65% to 100% damage: Waveland, St. Martin, D'Iberville, or Long Beach. Waveland and St Martin are two small towns that basically do not exist anymore.

The Veterans for Peace Gulfmarch is not going to help us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast or our soldiers. They are just trying to cash in on the destruction that is down here.


Mardi Gras in Mississippi - Part 2

I did not make it to the Gulfport parade yesterday. There were thunderstorms before the parade and you have to park at least two hours before parade time. Today, however, was beautiful. The sun was shining bright and it was in the mid 60's. So, I bring you pictures from the D'Iberville parade. You have to hand it the spirit of the people who live in this little town. Over 65% of it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

I believe this is the community college ROTC. Each state flag was carried.

You hear cries of "Throw me something!!". And they do throw. I had two sets of beads hit me in the mouth simultaneously. Not the tiny beads either, the big ones. I held onto my camera though and managed to keep the beads!

As with the parade from last Saturday, nobody wanted it to end. I overhead someone say, "Time to go back to the FEMA trailer".

This was the scene one block off the parade route. Empty spaces where houses once stood, FEMA trailers, and some people are still living in tents.


Seabees Can Do

The Seabee motto is "Can Do". It is an apt one because not only they can do, they do it. Without the help of the Seabees from the Gulfport Naval Construction Battalion recovery efforts would have taken even longer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. More than 2,500 are to receive armed forces service medals and the humanitarian service award.

Senator Lott presented the medals and awards to a representative group because many who are to receive the honors are currently deployed in Iraq. The Seabees were instrumental in building tent housing in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The Seabees also repaired many of the schools that had been severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Though the newspaper article doesn't mention it, the Seabees also provided technical knowledge to help restore water and sewage facilities. In the days after Katrina, they also provided critical medical care, cleared roads, restored communications at emergency operations centers, and provided logistical support.

They did this while repairing damage to their base. It is estimated that the base suffered 30% damage due to Katrina.

Thank you Seabees!


Shabbat Shalom


A Slight Change


You have sought remediation for those who failed to spell your site name correctly on their blogroll. In an effort to stop your browbeating, I have made the correction requested. The g has been dropped and the apostrophe placed in the correct position. For further edification, Knocking on the Golden Door now correctly reads Knockin' on the Golden Door. I sincerely hope this puts you in a less irascible mood.


Never Should Have Done It

A couple of weeks ago I decided to dye my hair blonde. Bad mistake. Since then I've had a few blonde moments. The first one being mistaking the due date on a bill as March 7 instead of February 7. Utility companies become slightly miffed when you do things such as that. Took care of it this morning.

The latest blonde moment came just a little while ago when I was making the company's bank deposit. Damn long pick-up trucks that block your view so you can't see the car coming into the parking lot. Yep, you guessed, backed right into it.

It cannot even be classified as a fender bender since no fenders were bent. Paint was exchanged, which can be washed off.

I will be dying my hair red in a few weeks. Until, then the rest of the world will just have look out. Fair warning has been given.

New Camera

Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, I made less money last year. That means this year my income tax refund is bigger this year. While I would have preferred to have continued to make the amount of money I'm used to, I'm going to make some lemonade out of this lemon. With the refund, I can now look forward to getting a new camera. One that I can change the lenses and no longer be hampered when I'm trying to shoot my favorite subject, birds, more specifically brown pelicans. Just maybe some red-tailed hawks. Below are some of the ones I'm thinking about:

Nikkon DH50
Nikkon DH70
Canon Rebel XT

If y'all have had any experience with these cameras, please share the pros and cons. Happy, happy, I'll be able to get a new camera in two weeks!


A Day at Gulfport Beach

There was a recent report that say most people call in sick and play hooky on Wednesdays. Today, I didn't play hooky. I went into work but told my boss I didn't feel like working anymore today and was leaving early(I told you I was spoiled!). I am so glad I did. It was one of those wonderful days that make you glad just to be alive.

There were 3 pairs of pelicans flying, gliding, and diving around the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. I managed to catch one when it was just starting to go into it's dive.

I wasn't the only one there. This lady and her son were feeding the seagulls. I watched for awhile and it seemed some of them were eating out of her hand.

New Office

I've been given a new office by some co-workers. Well sort of.

I broke out laughing when I saw it. They had put it next to a bathroom being repaired at the cold storage.

Things That Grip You

I spend a lot of time photographing the devastation left in Biloxi and Gulfport by Hurricane Katrina. There are certain things that grip me. The following are two photos that were taken behind Sharkheads Souvenir Store on Hwy 90 in Biloxi. They invoke in me all that was lost.

The view through the gutted first floor of Sharkheads. It shows the devastation of Sharkheads and also the destruction to some of the motels across Hwy 90. Sharkheads is a 3 story building. The first two floors were gutted by Katrina. The thing is, there are more and more people coming back to the beach and it does not seem so lifeless anymore.

A forlorn child's ride behind Sharkheads.


Slightly Obsessed

Okay, I haven't been reading and commenting on other blogs as usual. I haven't even been writing my usual schtick as much as I usually do. The reason, the Winter Olympics are on. There's something compelling about watching athletes from all over the world compete. It's a nice break from the riots over cartoons, the hateful and deadly anti-Semitism, and the general insanity of the world. Nations from all over the world are co-operating and competing peacefully.


This past Friday, I went to my first service and worshipped with who I hope to be my Jewish brothers and sisters. I am still nervous on one level because this is something that is so important to me. But the congregation was very welcoming. It was weird but I did feel at home and the Shabbat service was familiar in many ways.

The road to conversion is going to be an interesting one. My rabbi is Reform and I'm going to services with a Conservative congregation. We meet in the hall of a Methodist church because Beth Israel Synagogue is still undergoing repairs after Hurricane Katrina.

The things from the Shabbat service that still linger are the wordless tunes that we all sung at the beginning. I can still hear them and still sing them aloud.

I did become a little lost in some of the Hebrew sections but was able to follow along and made a fair attempt to say the words.

The Shabbat services are very beautiful in their simplicity. I was fortunate that the rabbi who is guiding me on my journey was there the first night. She was there for a Bat Mitzvah that was to be celebrated.

The president of the congregation said it would be okay for me to take one of the siddurs home. I have been using it to start praying the K'Riat Sh'ma in the morning. The rabbi asked me to start a ritual or habit and this is the one I chose.

The prayers are so beautiful and during the day, words and phrases will strike me.


Views of Biloxi Harbor

I go to Biloxi Harbor at least once a week. You would think that seeing the same thing time after time would get tiring. But it doesn't. The color of the sky is usually different and you see things in a different way. Below are three pictures from Friday.

Some sort of communications pole was bent and serves as a frame looking toward what's left of McElroy's Restaurant.

The sand on Deer Island looks almost surreal in the gray winter's light.

Another experiment with b&w.

Let's Get to Know One Another

I've been tagged by Rachy at ArmyWifeToddlerMom with a meme. This one is called Getting to Know You. Here goes:

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?


2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?


3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?


4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going ... Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?

No, can't leave family behind forever.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world's most pressing issue now?

The threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

6: How would you rectify the world's most pressing issue?

Take out Iran's nuclear weapons program now.

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?

Not going to Israel when I had the chance.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?

The Shoah.

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole' Opry --Which do you choose?

Opera, Madame Butterfly or Carmen.

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you'd like to solve?

Who was Jack the Ripper?

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?

James Michner, Leon Uris, Ogden Nash, Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clarke, Ayn Rand, and Isaac Asimov. I'd take them to Varzel's Restaurant once it reopens.(I realize that some of them are dead but I have a good imagination.)

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky -- what's the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?

I'll keep y'all guessing on this one!

Of course y'all know what this means. The following have been tagged:

St C
Mark Has his posted here. That was fast!


Mardi Gras in Mississippi - Part 1

Laissez les bons temps rouler! The good times rolled in Gulfport yesterday. The parade held in the Orange grove area is one that I enjoy going to and is very family oriented. The crowd wasn't as big as in previous years, mainly because it was cold. For the Mississippi Coast it was cold. It was in the 50's! Below are some of my favorite pictures. We need these parades. It's a tradition going back many years and a welcome break from the rebuilding and recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

This is the Ole Biloxi Marching Club. The flowers are prized. You have to give a kiss to get one.

This was my favorite float. It managed to have every thing associated with Hurricane Katrina and the days after when we had to wait in line for MRE's, ice, water, and gas. It also had debris from destroyed homes. The blue tarp is what FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers placed on damaged roofs.

The back of the float above. It expresses the sentiments of many along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. No other words are necessary.

After the parade, there's a sense of sadness. You wanted the parade to on longer. The respite was all too brief.

Next week, the Gulfport downtown parade and the D'Iberville parade. Katrina may have taken most of our historical buildings, she may have taken 68,000 homes, and she may have taken 236 Mississippi lives but she did not take the spirit of us that live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Alarming for a Sunday Morning

The peace of my second cup of coffee this morning was shattered. I've posted previously about how much time my son spends on his cell phone with his girlfriend. Today he shared some of the topics in discussion. I'll say this for him, he has learned from past discussions what I'll be asking and had answers ready.

He wants to fly to Indiana and stay there for two months. This is so he can take her to the prom and watch her graduate from high school. He knows he'll have to pay for the plane tickets. I asked where he would be staying. He said at her house with her parents permission. He was quick to point out they would have separate rooms. I asked about his job. He said he had already talked to his boss about it and everything is okay on that end.

Damn. Don't you just hate it when they know exactly what your arguments are going to be. The only thing I told him is to remember he still has yet to go to college and that youths sometimes make mistakes about their perceptions of love.

My son is becoming an adult and a responsible one at that. At this point I can only offer advice and caution to him. I guess that's what happens when you teach your children that they are responsible for their actions and their lives. Then you watch as they take wing and fly off into adulthood and can only hope and pray that they don't crash.


Cheers to Congress and Condi

Last week Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar told a Cairo conference "I wish America would cut off its aid. We do not need this satanic money".

He's getting that wish in spades. Not only has US House of Representatives voted by a 418-1 margin that direct aid to Palestinians be stopped, $50 million in funds already sent to the PA has been returned at the request of the US.

Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice is meeting with leaders of Arab nations next week. The US is making it very clear that it is reviewing all aid to the Palestinians in the wake of the overwhelming vote to elect members of the heinous terrorist group Hamas that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

In practical terms, the U.S. has already decided to curb all investments in infrastructure development projects in Gaza, as well as health and employment ventures. The Americans are expected to continue examining their aid to the Palestinians over the next few weeks before making more decisions on the matter. Ynet

This American is glad. I do not want any of my tax money helping terrorists that murder women, children, teenagers, the elderly, mothers, and fathers. I do not want any money going to terrorists that target schools. Money should not be given to murderers and that is what Hamas is, a gang of foul murderers who are dedicated to a culture of death.

Glue Remover Needed

I need some glue remover. Glue has to be the only explanation for how my son can spend so much time on his cell phone. Last month it was 4,700 minutes. I didn't think he could top that. But he did. It was 5,800 minutes this month. And it seems all the time talking on the phone with his girlfriend wasn't enough. Between the two of them, they sent 200 text messages. He pays for his cell phone and he only has to pay extra for the text messages. All the long distance minutes were still free.



A couple a days I posted about the memorial to Hurricane Katrina that Extreme Makeovers:Home Edition was doing in Biloxi for the Mississippi Coast. As promised, I have photos.

The wave is beautifully done. It shows dramatically how Katrina slammed in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It leads to the display of items salvaged from demolished homes, churches, and lives.

A close-up of the display case. Just a few of the countless items that were scattered by the waves and winds. When I was there, I spoke with a couple from Diamondhead(located in Hancock County MS). She said was walking today where their house once stood and looked up and saw her wedding gown high in a tree where the waves had deposited it. She is having it cleaned. She also found her veil wrapped around a tree branch.

Thanks to the Seabees stationed at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, the Biloxi memorial to Mississippians who earned Purple Hearts was placed back into position. Hurricane Katrina had knocked over some of the pieces and took a few of the pictures and names off.


It Starts With Fear

In the 1920's and 1930's, Nazis started their campaign of terror with bullying tactics. The tactics they used caused fear to reign supreme. Appeasement was tried to pacify and stem the tide. But it just encouraged the tactics employed by the Nazis and emboldened them to go on to more and more horrible things with the end result being the world thrown into a worldwide conflagration and the ultimate of horrors, the Shoah.

There were a few brave people and newspaper writers that attempted to stand up to the onslaught of hate but there were too few voices raised in protest. Today, the world is seeing terror tactics employed by Islamists. The world is seeing intimidation tactics in an attempt to stop free speech. The Mohammed cartoons created by some Danish cartoonits are far more innocuous than the cartoons that are printed daily in Arab newspapers that dehumanize Jews and spread the infamous blood libel lies.

So many lies are spread about Israel but no matter how many times the same lies are said, it does not make them true.

Fear and intimidation kept many people from speaking out when Hitler was raising to power. A lot of Germans bought into the idea of Hitler's racial purity and superiority. Today, we are seeing Islamists who believe that Islam is the only true religion and all must submit. In effect, Islam is superior. Acts of terror and intimidation are being employed around the world by Islamists. Are we seeing a replay of the 1920's and 1930's? Will there be enough people to counter the Islamists bullying tactics and acts of terror?

Today, it's the book author, the film maker, the cartoonists, and the newspapers who dare criticize Islam. The Israelis have been on the recieving end of terror acts for decades. And too many blame the Israelis instead of those who commit the acts of murder. It sounds all too familiar.
First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller


Walking in the Sand

Monday, I visited the beach in Biloxi by Veterans Blvd. I spent some of my happiest teenage years in this area. My family lived in the Oakwoods Apartments which are on Hwy 90. I experienced my first hurricane in those apartments, Frederick, a Category 3. We did not evacuate. We were very fortunate. Hurricane Katrina was downgraded to a Category 3 by the National Hurricane Center in December.

This is Oakwoods Apartments. The first row was demolished by Katrina. The picture shows the second row being demolished as debris removal. I like the irony of the sign that says Gulf Coast living at it's best.

Some debris from one of the Mexican food restaurants that used to line Hwy 90. The sand looks so pristine and it sounds pristine but it is littered with debris.

I liked the way the sunlight was reflected from this piece of sheetmetal.

Walking in the sand is bittersweet now. It feels good to have the luxury once again of feeling and hearing the crispness of the sand. It feels good to be able to enjoy the sea breeze after having been denied so long after Katrina. But when you look away from the water and toward the land, your eyes seek buildings, trees, and people that should be there and are not.


Things I don't want to hear coming from my 19 year old son. "I'm driving to Indiana to visit Leslie." Nor do I want to hear, "What's a good jewelry shop?" My response to the first was to pretend I didn't hear. The response to the second from me was, "What kind of jewelry?" Thankfully he said something along the lines of a necklace.

Another conversation, me, "When are you going to college?" Him, "I'm planning on going eventually but I'm still tired of school".

Any advice would be welcome.


Ain't You Jealous!

I've posted before how spoiled I am where I work. Not only can I blog as long as I do some work, I can also indulge my other hobby, photography. While you're downloading some e-mail and showing your boss how to copy and rename some of the files, can you tell him, "I'll be back in a few. The light is going to change and I really need to take that shot"?

Which is exactly what I did last week. The rain clouds were rolling in and it was just a few minutes before the rain would start to fall.

Back Bay Biloxi - The water was smooth as glass and the blue of the storm clouds contrasted with it.

Back Bay Biloxi - I took this one today. The way the debris from Hurricane Katrina had wrapped around the pole made it look like someone holding on for dear life. Which is exactly what many Mississippians had to do when Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.

D'Iberville - An air force base is close to where I work. I've been trying to get a decent shot of some of the planes that make their practice runs. After a couple of months I finally got one. I had my camera set to b&w from some other shots I had taken.

One of my bosses had asked me to photograph the rebuilding of the plant and the repairs to the cold storage. So I have an excuse now when I go out to take most of the photos. Still, ain't you just a little bit jealous?


Since my hometown of Gulfport was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, I've been reminiscing about some of the things that are gone. Most of our historical landmarks are gone. Places such as Grasslawn, built in the mid 1800's, are places that exist only in photographs. The numerous homes and businesses that gave the Mississippi Gulf Coast it's unique history and flavor exist only in photographs and memories now. The smiles of the 236 Mississippians that were lost exist only in memories and photos. The sounds of their laughter and voices exist only in memories.

Thanks to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition designer Preston Sharp, we are now given the opportunity to preserve some of those memories in a memorial to Hurricane Katrina. People along the Gulf Coast have been bringing in items salvaged from their demolished homes and talking about the memories associated with them.

Today, I took some of the tiles from the demolished offices of Gollott Seafood. I was able to hand them directly to one of the producers of the show and share some of the history of this business that has been in existence since 1932.

I don't know if it'll become part of the memorial or not. It was just good to bring a piece of D'Iberville's history and to tell someone about one of the largest employers in D'Iberville that went from having 100+ employees to only six. And how it's being rebuilt. The only thing I didn't get a chance to tell them is how seeing Gollott's being rebuilt from the I-110 bridge is a sight that shows the spirit and determination of all along the Mississippi Coast to rebuild better and stronger.

I don't know when this show will be airing but if y'all get a chance please watch it. I'll post pictures of it once it's complete. It's all blocked off now.


Let's Give Him His Wish

Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar states that he wishes the United States would cut it's "satanic aid" to the Palestine Authority. His wish will probably come true. Hamas is not about to quit the aim of it's charter to destroy Israel.

"Recognizing the state of the Israeli enemy is not on the table," he said. "Our program is to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine," he said.

"The Qassam Brigades will continue to increase in numbers, supplies and weapons...until the liberation is completed," he said of the group's military wing. He added that Hamas can develop the capabilities of its missiles.

"Anyone who thinks the calm means giving in is mistaken. The calm is in preparation for a new round of resistance and victory," he said. "If the enemy has something to offer we will study it, but we will not abide by a truce that is for free." Jerusalem Post

Let's give him his wish. No US taxpayer's money should be given to murdering terrorists. And that is what Hamas is, a bunch of murdering terrorists.

Intelligence Test

Let me know how you do with The Maze. Many have tried but cannot make it to Level 4. Let's see how you do!



Two members of the French group BAF (Brigade for the money of the French Taxpayers) decided to show their support for free speech at a Muslim march yesterday in Paris. Read about No Pasaran and then watch the video here or at the other site.
The BAF (Brigade for the money of the French Taxpayers) would like to dedicate this prank to all those who defend free speech and the freedom to have a good laugh, and who live in countries where the Islamists and their fellow dictators wreak havoc (Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Algeria, etc.).

One, in red and white, is (silently) wearing a sign with the Danish flag saying "Support Denmark, Support free speech". Besides (silently) wearing a sign reading "Free Cartoonist" on it, the other, the founder of the BAF protest warrior-type organisation, is holding a (fake) severed hand, a pen among its fingers.

Voices start to ring out. "It's provocation!" "You tread on 1.5 million Muslims!" "Connards!" "Rat faces!"

After watching the video and reading the post at No Pasaran let me know if you think the two brave men were treading on 1.5 million Muslims. Libre!

H/T: Solomonia

I Really Need to Learn Hebrew

I've started on on-line Tanakh study class. The lectures are for the most part in English. But some of it's in Hebrew. Like when he uses an anagram for Miriam and how by just changing the Hebrew vowelization it changes the meaning and then ties the Tanakh portion we are studying to earlier portions. He also used the example of two Hebrew words that were very specifically used in the portion being studied that tells us there's more than meets the eye. We need to explore why those specific words were used instead of the more common ones. It was a good way to spend Shabbat yesterday. Rashi was even used.

So far, this is fun but I think I would enjoy it more if I knew Hebrew.

Mystery Solved

It's almost impossible to tell whether your pet birds are male or female. My Quaker parrot is over 5 years old and I've only had her for 2 years. My son's father gave her to him. But it wasn't until Thursday I found out for sure what sex she was. I came home from work and she was acting very strange. It must have been a big surprise for her also when she laid the egg!



Let Me Count the Ways..

Just in time for Valentine's Day a new study has shown that altruism leads to happier marriages. It isn't very surprising that having a concern for others would lead to happier marriages. All those scientists who gathered the data for this study just needed to read some poetry. Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew it and so do most couples. It's putting aside your needs to help another that leads to greater happiness. Even in my bitter marriage there were a few glimmers of that true concern. When we worked together to help out others and each other, we were at our happiest. Alas, that period only lasted a few brief months before descending into violence and our eventual divorce.

Anyway, the people who did the research could have saved some money by reading this:

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.



Another experiment with b&w. It's the back of the plant where the dock used to be and when the forms for the concrete wall were being constructed.

I liked the lines.

I liked the colors in this one. It was taken from the far corner of the plant and looks down where the pier for a fish camp is being rebuilt.

Complaint Department

I have some new neighbors that moved into the house behind mine a couple of months ago. Extremely weird. One day I go outside and he's looking for his cat. That's not weird. What's weird is the cat won't go to him but will to me. So I hand him his cat and the cat scratches his arm bloody. Strike one, his cat doesn't like him. Strike two, I came home from work the other day and he had used my lawn to get to his driveway. I politely asked him not to do it again.

So, I see he's been doing it again. Counter-strike time!! Since this is a good time to be transplanting, I dug up numerous plants. I now have a barrier that he better not drive across.

I must be getting back to normal. I feel like complaining again and it feels good!



Construction is proceeding on rebuilding the plant and it's starting to take off really fast. The repairs on the cold storage are almost complete. The only thing I can't report on is our new offices. Since Hurricane Katrina hit, I've been asking my bosses about our offices and offering a few suggestions. We need an expresso machine, a patio area in the manner of a French garden for breaks, an exercise room, and a salad bar. They keep laughing at me. I'd just be happy to get out of the trailer we're still in. My boss keeps encroaching on my space!! I just move his stuff out of the way and gently(ha) remind him not to place any of his things past the phones. The phones are the dividing line.

The concrete wall is 1 foot thick and 4 feet high. The steel walls on the ground floor are designed to blow out in case of storm surges like Katrina's. All the peeling equipment and graders will be on the second story. That means the equipment should be safe 22 feet above sea level.

It's always a good day when I can get a picture of a brown pelican. Especially when it's flying. That's Boomtown Casino on the left. The object in the water to the right of the barges is a semi-truck that was washed into Biloxi Back Bay from David Gollott Seafood. The space to the right of the casino is where that plant used to be. One of the trailers from that plant slammed into our plant.

More Good Deeds

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been very active on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in recent months. The Wiesenthal Center is not usually known for helping in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, concentrating instead on human rights issues. Not only has the Center been involved in hands on help, but now a substantial donation has been made by the Center. The Mississippi Coast's Interfaith Disaster Task Force was presented with a donation of $800,000.00 by Larry Mizel, chairman of the board of trustees of the Wiesenthal Center. Thank you!

No Comment

Psychic Daughter

A father put his three year old daughter to bed, told her a story and
listened to her prayers which she ended by saying:

"God bless Mommy,
God bless Daddy,
God bless Grandma
and good-bye Grandpa."

The father asked, "Why did you say good-bye grandpa?"

The little girl said, "I don't know daddy, it just seemed like the
hing to do."

The next day grandpa died. The father thought it was a strange

A few months later the father put the
girl to bed and listened to her prayers which went like this:

"God bless Mommy,
God Bless Daddy
and good-bye Grandma"

The next day the grandmother died. Oh my gosh, thought the father,
this kid is in contact with the other side.

Several weeks later when the girl was going to bed the dad heard
her say:
"God bless Mommy
and good-bye Daddy."

He practically went into shock. He couldn't sleep all night and got up
at the crack! of dawn to go to his office. He was nervous as a cat all day, had lunch sent in and watched the
clock. He figured if he could get by until midnight he would be okay.

He felt safe in the office, so instead of going home at the end of the
day he stayed there, drinking coffee, looking at his watch and jumping at every sound. Finally midnight arrived, he breathed asigh of relief and went home.

When he got home his wife said "I've never seen you work so late,
what's the matter?"

He said "I don't want to talk about it, I've just spent the worst day
of my life."

She said "You think you had a bad day, you'll never believe what
happened to me. This morning the milkman dropped dead on our porch."



I have been reading Herman Wouk's, This Is My G-d. I am continuing my journey toward conversion to Judaism. Next Friday I'll be meeting with a rabbi from Jackson to start what will be a year long journey into the faith of my grandfather and father. Beth Israel Synagogue in Biloxi does not have a rabbi. The more I read and learn, the more I still feel like I'm at home. This Friday, I hope I won't chicken out again. I was planning on going to services last Friday but it seemed so daunting to go where I do not know what to expect or know anyone. The secretary of Beth Israel was inviting and friendly but still it's a hard hurdle to cross.

When I spoke with the rabbi today, she was very understanding and that made me feel better. It's a Conservative Synagogue and she comes to Biloxi from Jackson for Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs.

I've gained a lot of insights from the books I've read so far. I know it's the time for me to join the tribe and community. I'm scared and excited at the same time at the thought of going to services. Wish me strength.


A New Site

I was over at Daniel in Brookline's blog and came across a new site. It's called Jewish Nation and has a lot of great photographs pertaining to Jewish and Israeli history. There is some great photography along with a history of the shots.

Some Beauty

The world seems to be going insane. Nuts are burning embassies and people are dying because of some cartoons. Cartoons, people. Political cartoons are meant to provoke discussion, not destruction. It's insane what is going on.

It's a stupid and immature reaction to threaten people, to burn buildings, and to have people die over cartoons! I'm not going to say any more about this. Since there is so much violence going on and I am still trying to cope with the destruction that nature has wrought in Mississippi, I'm focusing on some beauty. Below is an interlude from the world.

By the Sea

by William Wordsworth

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;

The gentleness of heaven is on the sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder - everlastingly.

Dear child! dear girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:

Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year,
And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

Wrestling With a 'Dwarf'

Yesterday, I spent two hours wrestling with a 'dwarf'. It was an epic struggle with me turning the 'dwarf' this way and that to get to the best position. Though I have numerous scratches and sore muscles from the wrestling match, I ultimately ended up on top.

The 'dwarf' has been moved and put in it's new place. When I first spotted the 'dwarf' almost 10 ten years ago I thought it would be a welcome addition. At first, everything was okay and the description was acuurate. But the 'dwarf' turned out not to be dwarf holly bush but a holly tree. I had placed it along some boxwood hedges and thought it would be a good accent. Imagine my surprise when it grew over 8 feet tall.

Since Hurricane Katrina had partially uprooted it, it was the best time to move it. And I did though I'm paying the price today. Hopefully, I won't have anymore wrestling matches for awhile.


The Truth is Out There

For years Israel has been blamed for the plight of the Palestinian people. But the truth is out there. The blame for the conditions that the majority of Palestinians live in can be laid on the shoulders of corrupt officials in the PA. Billions in financial aid given over the years has slowly disappeared into the coffers of corrupt PA officials. Instead of using money from the EU, the UN, and the United States to improve the lives of people living in Gaza and the West Bank, it instead inflated the bank accounts of numerous officials of Fatah.

Attorney General Ahmed al-Meghani told a news conference that his office is investigating dozens of corruption cases involving companies with ties to the Palestinian Authority.

"I cannot count the numbers because I'm not an accountant. It might be billions of dollars. When I end my investigation, I'm going to put out in detail all the numbers," he said. Ynet

Maybe they should check into Suha Arafat's bank accounts. I'm sure there is plenty of money squirreled away in her bank accounts.

This makes all the more reason for the US not to provide any more aid to the PA. Especially now that terrorists have been voted in. I do not want any of my tax money to go to murderers. Hamas is still dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Numerous Kassam rocket attacks have occurred since the election. Suicide bombers are still attempting to cross into Israel to kill more innocents. Does anyone really believe that Hamas will be able to change from terrorists into peace partners?


The Problem With Flood Maps

A very hard lesson was learned because of Hurricane Katrina. The flood maps that were used to determine flood zones were very inaccurate. For some strange reason, places that were within 50 feet of the sea wall were not listed in the flood plain maps. This came as a great shock and may explain why more people did not have flood insurance in Mississippi.

Some of public officials dropped the ball on this one.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said he was as surprised as everyone else to learn flood insurance rate maps were highly inaccurate.
Dale did not realize many properties near the beach were outside flood areas designated on the 1980s maps. Only property owners within the flood plain are required to carry flood insurance.
Under the National Flood Insurance Program, the maps are supposed to be reviewed every five years. Also, the maps are supposed to be updated at the request of state or local government, Gulfport attorney Joe Sam Owen has pointed out.Sunherald

This is not just a problem for citizens along the Mississippi Coast, Alabama, and New Orleans. Most of the flood plain maps across the country are outdated and inaccurate.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the NFIP, has acknowledged that many of the nation's flood maps do not accurately reflect current risks because they don't account for erosion or changes in drainage patterns caused by development.

"Today, many of the nation's flood maps are outdated, severely limiting their usefulness," the agency says on its map modernization Web page.

In fact, that was known 30 years ago, according to Robert Hunter, insurance director of the Consumer Federation of America who directed the National Flood Insurance Program in the mid-1970s.

"Back then, we knew the problem with development. By the time we published a map it was already antiquated," Hunter said. "As time goes by the flood area grows, it doesn't go down."

Flood maps for New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, one of the Mississippi towns devastated by the hurricane, were last updated in the early 1980s, according to FEMA.KRT Wire

The KRT article further states that an assumption is made that people living near levees or dams are less likely to need flood insurance because of the protection offered by them. If you live near a levee or dam, I would suggest you buy flood insurance.

The situation in Mississippi was exacerbated by how far inland the storm surge came in. I live 12 miles from the beach. The storm surge came up 10 miles in Harrison County! There was storm surge 3 miles to my east and 1 mile to my west! Businesses 2 miles to the south of me were inuadated by the storm surge waters. I'm buying flood insurance this year.

Over half of the 65,000 homes lost in Mississippi were in zones considered to be safe from floods according to flood plain maps. The NFIP flood plain maps provided by the federal government were inaccurate and people were told by their mortgage companies that they didn't need flood insurance. Heck, they were told by their insurance agents they didn't need flood insurance!

Gulfport's outgoing mayor Ken Combs, the City Council, and Mississippi's insurance commissioner dropped the ball on the flood plain maps. When you have homes and businesses within 50 feet of the beach front and they are not listed on flood plain maps, something is very wrong. I urge you to check to see how recent the flood plain maps are in your area.

What A Saturday

Blogger was inaccessible for about 6 hours this evening. I was hoping to post some pictures of the Ocean Springs Mardi Gras parade. But life has a funny way of changing your plans. I spent most of today dealing with one of my oak trees that had been severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The damaged limbs and branches started falling on my roof when a strong system came through a couple of weeks ago. Some fell Thursday and a little more last night. My brother brought his handy dandy tree trimming tool to get the rest of the damaged branches. I've actually lost more shingles the past two weeks then I did during Katrina. When the branches and limbs fell, they pulled up some of the shingles. I'm still lucky though, most of the shingles were along the eaves so I haven't received any water damage from rain.


To Be Able to Fly

While at the beach Tuesday, I found myself encircled by a flock of seagulls. The following poem by William Wordsworth is about skylarks but it describes beautifully my feelings of wanting to fly with them and glide upon the wind.

To A Sky-Lark

Up with me! up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark, is strong;
Up with me, up with me into the clouds!
Singing, singing,
With all the heav'ns about thee ringing,
Lift me, guide me, till I find
That spot which seems so to thy mind!

I have walk'd through wildernesses dreary,
And today my heart is weary;
Had I now the soul of a Faery,
Up to thee would I fly.
There is madness about thee, and joy divine
In that song of thine;
Up with me, up with me, high and high,
To thy banqueting-place in the sky!
Joyous as Morning,
Thou art laughing and scorning;
Thou hast a nest, for thy love and thy rest:
And, though little troubled with sloth,
Drunken Lark! thou would'st be loth
To be such a Traveller as I.
Happy, happy Liver!
With a soul as strong as a mountain River,
Pouring out praise to the Almighty Giver,
Joy and jollity be with us both!
Hearing thee, or else some other,
As merry a Brother,
I on the earth will go plodding on,
By myself, chearfully, till the day is done.


Last night we had some bad thunderstorms come through. We didn't have any tornadoes like New Orleans. There were very high winds and hail. People who are living in tents and FEMA trailers were urged to evacuate to shelters long before the storms came through. Currently along the Mississippi Coast, there are people in 33,000 trailers and almost 8,000 are still needed.

In a scant four months, hurricane season will be upon us once more. Those trailers are very vulnerable. The places that are used as shelters will not be able to handle the people from 40,000 trailers.

A lot of people from Mississippi who lost their homes are still living in hotel rooms across the state. If another hurricane were to threaten the coast, where can we evacuate to?

"It's very difficult for people to think about right now, but they have to," said Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. "Those people who are in temporary housing are much more vulnerable than they were before Katrina."

The Aug. 29 hurricane ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast, destroying or heavily damaging thousands of homes and businesses. The storm also heavily damaged roads and bridges. USA Today

Harrison County Emergency Management Agency director Jack Spraggins said that we on the Coast will have to make plans to leave earlier in case another hurricane heads our way. His advice still does address where we can go. Most of the people who are the most vulnerable and living in the trailers are also the ones who are the most financially strapped.

In the event of another hurricane heading our way, I offer the following suggestions for our emergency officials:

1) Use school buses to transport people out of the area

2) Open places such as Camp Shelby, the Jackson Convention Center, and other places inland that can hold large amounts of people

3) Make sure the people boarding the buses are aware they need to bring enough non-perishable food and water to last 5-7 days

These suggestions will not only cut down on the amount of traffic generated by evacuees but will also provide places of shelter for those who cannot afford a hotel room and have no other place to go.

Usually we have to deal with evacuee traffic from Alabama and Louisiana when a hurricane threatens. A lot of the old evacuation routes are no longer viable. These concerns need to be addressed now. There's only four months left.