June 30, 2008

Iowa Flood Thoughts

It has been a hectic couple of weeks here at the Salmon shack. The flood of course has disrupted the normal flow of summer for most people to some extent but I would like to take a few minutes to jot down a few disjointed thoughts before it all becomes just a distant memory...

One theme that I hear time and again from the people that were hit by the floodwater's was the fact that despite the warnings they never in their wildest dreams feared that their homes would be under water. I called my aunt on Tuesday night and offered to bring over the truck and move her out but she felt sure they would be all right. She left with her dogs and literally the clothes on her back thinking they would be back in the morning. By Wednesday she had five foot of water in her living room. Of the 10-12,000 people in the flood zone, less than a thousand had to be evacuated by authorities. More proof of the 90-10 rule. Ten percent of people cause 90 percent of the problems.

I have been thoroughly impressed by the reaction of the city officials in dealing with this catastrophe. The evacuation and return to the areas has been orderly, well controlled, and organized. There of course was some grumbling by folks waiting in line at the checkpoints when they began to let residents back in but again the 90-10 rule applies. FEMA, The Red Cross, the National Guard, and the hundreds of volunteers have all been outstanding. There were no deaths in Cedar Rapids and only a few arrests. Someone did break into my cousins house and stole a generator but reports are that looting has been rare which I believe is a reflection on the people of this community.

A sense of humor is certainly needed to deal with the destruction.

As I drove down F Avenue toward the river last Wednesday I was struck by the fact that you could smell the destruction before you could see it. The stench was overwhelming in the flooded area. As we entered my aunts house I can only say that her home looked like someone filled it with mud and turned on a blender. We recovered what we could that first day but the idea that her little house could ever be repaired seemed out of the question. It was later confirmed that the house would have to be demolished.

On the bright side. The determination of the residents to get into their houses was amazing. Of course while their are those that will probably just walk away, the majority of residents were in there removing a lifetime of belongings and beginning the process of recovery. By Saturday it was nearly impossible to find a place to park with the army of friends, family, and volunteers that descended on the area to help the residents with the monumental and heart wrenching task of hauling everything you own to the curb. It is hard to descibe the feelings of sadness at the losses and the the overwhelming task of cleaning it all up while at the same time feeling pride in our neighbors for the job they were doing it trying to make it right again.

The city has made a herculean effort to remove the tons of debris to the landfill as people began to strip the walls and floors of their homes. I spent Saturday at my cousins stripping plaster and lathe and flooring and woodwork from her house as they are determined to rebuild while many of the houses around here with structural damage will surely be razed.

Sunday we were to meet FEMA at my aunts house and I took some time to drive downtown to survey the damage there. Having spent the last few days in the Ellis Blvd. area it was easy to forget the scope of the damage. As I drove down 6th St once again I came face to face with the devastation and of course the majority of the people that lost so much are the ones that have so little to begin with. Downtown looked like a war zone as an army of workers try to restore the businesses that were lost to the floodwater's.

The shear power of the river was unimaginable. The pilings that had held the railroad bridge over the river at 8th Ave. were literally rocked from their foundations by the force of the river. The amount of debris plastered to the face of all the down town bridges was equally astounding. Particularly the hundreds of blue plastic drums from the houseboats that broke free of their moorings in Ellis park boat harbor

While our little world revolves around Cedar Rapids there was of course devastation along the entire length of the Cedar River. In Charles City one of my fondest childhood memories is crossing the swinging bridge that was built across the Cedar in 1906. I took my daughter there just last month when we attended Aunt Toni's funeral so she could see where her dad used to play as a kid. Sadly, the Swinging Bridge in gone.

Other Reactions:

The people of Iowa have suffered greatly in the past week as their rivers have over-flowed their banks, and as town after town after town has been put under historically deep, stinking, brown water.

And the people of Iowa will smile; they will shrug their shoulders; they will not complain that the government has abandoned them; the will not rush to the over-passes of highways and hold screaming press conferences decrying the Bush Administration; they will not wonder where the National Guard is, for they do not want the national guard there. They will instead shoulder their burden; wait for the waters to recede; pick up their brooms, their shovels, their hoses and buckets and rags and get to work cleaning up after the nation’s “attack.”

They will not rant; they will work. They won’t scream; they will work. They won’t call down the heavens upon the government. They will work. They won’t look to Washington, or even much toward Des Moines; rather they will look to each other and they will work.

God Bless these people, for this is America at its best. This is the Midwest where we grew up, and our friends grew up, and our (children) go to school. This is not Katrina. This is Katrina’s anti-thesis.
(Author Unknown)

The satire of Iowa Hawk "Flood Ravaged Iowans Idiotically Move On"

"So there you have it: a 500-year, gold plated, biblical grade flood, and all I have to show for it is a sore back and a basement full of soggy rental stereo equipment. This tragedy has been brought to you by a negligent government and an indifferent media. And most of all, my neighbors: 3 million stoic, self reliant, hard working morons who can't figure out a million dollar opportunity when they're waist deep in it.. And they wonder why they call us "Idiots Out Walking Around.""

June 13, 2008

Save Water. Make a Rain Barrel

UPDATE 6/15: The rain barrel project worked beyond my expectations. An early morning thunderstorm dropped about 1 inch of water on this already drenched city and the rain capturing contraption accumulated about 500 gallons of water.

Cedar Rapids citizens are being asked to reduce water usage because of the reduced capacity of the municipal water department affected by the flooding. Below is a simple and cheap water collection system that you can use to collect rainwater over the coming weeks while the city deals with this disaster.

The parts are available at Thiesens in Cedar Rapids for a minimal cost. Downspout coupler. $2.50. 3" drain pipe $.40 / foot. They will sell 3" pipe by the foot but 4" pipe is only sold by the roll.

Attach downspout and pipe to gutter and run into a suitable container. Trash can, barrel etc. We are using our daughters swimming pool. Total cost for this dual downspout system was around $20.00. To capture any gutter debris I requisitioned a pair of the wife's nylons for the end of the drain pipe. While this water is good for toilets, dishes, and washing but I probably wouldn't drink it without boiling.

The city has asked that residents should use water for drinking only and to curtail showers laundry and dish washing for the duration of the emergency.

Do your part. Save water.

Cedar Rapids Flooding

Mays Island in downtown Cedar Rapids has never been breached by the waters of the Cedar River until now. Four thousand homes have been evacuated and one of the cities two hospitals has been evacuated. The entire downtown area is underwater and the Quaker Oats, Cargill, and the Penford plants have been shut down. On Thursday one railroad bridge loaded with rail cars filled with gravel meant to help stabilize the bridge against the power of the river collapsed. All the auto bridges but the I 380 overpass are submerged. The city is under a water conservation order as workers battle to protect the one remaining city well still operating.

More Photos Courtesy of the CR Gazette

June 07, 2008

Iowa Company Produces Flatulance Containment Device

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette: (E-edition registration required)
The biggest order in the five-year history of Cedar Rapids-based Flat-D Enterprises will help employees in an anonymous Midwestern city’s public safety dispatch center breathe a little easier. The order, for more than $1,000, was for seat pads that absorb flatulence odors — enough to cover the seats of an entire department. At a retail price of $25.95 each, that’s more than 38 pads. “They got them for the whole department because it wasn’t right to point a finger at one or two people,” said Frank Morosky, Flat-D vice president and co-founder...

About 70 percent of the company’s flatulence deodorizing pads are sold to women, and most are designed to be worn inside undergarments. Morosky said the company’s newest product, the FlatM, was introduced this week to improve sales in the male market. The diamond-shaped undergarment pad is designed to accommodate the male anatomy better, Morosky said. “It’s black and manly,” Morosky said, adding that sales of the $14.95 product have started out strong. The company gets about 2,000 views per day on its Web site,

I never imagined that such an important or inovative product was even available. I learn so much on the the internet. Women fart? Who Knew?

Saving the World Can Be a Bitch.

"Senate Democrats May Pull Climate Bill:Week's Debate Has Been Contentious”

...The week has been marked by parliamentary maneuvers and bitter accusations over divergent estimates of the bill's future costs. On Wednesday, a group of GOP senators asked that the clerk of the Senate read the entire 491-page bill aloud, an extremely rare request. That took more than 10 hours.

Although parliamentary maneuvers could still extend the debate into next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) faced the prospect of failure in a bid to end debate on amendments to the climate bill this morning. In that event, he was expected to seek withdrawal of the entire measure, to the relief of some Democrats from coal-producing or heavy industrial states.

"We are going to have Democrats voting to end debate on what they call the most important issue facing the planet and Republicans voting to continue debate on it," said Don Stewart, communications director for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Some Democrats were worried yesterday that the GOP might try to block withdrawal of the legislation to prolong a debate that many Democrats think no longer works to their political benefit.

The Democrats want to save the world but once again Poor Harry Reid gets outflanked by his opponents. What is amazing was the speed of the withdrawl. It seems to me that if you take the time produce 491 pages of legislation meant to prevent the world from coming to an untimely end you would at least put up some semblance of a fight. I personally think this legislation is the biggest boondoggle to ever come down the pipe but as Reid so impassionatly intoned in his speach on Monday ,"the Earth has a fever." If you truly believe that, at some point don't you have an obligation to stand up and fight. No one should be suprised that they don't.

This is the same party that said, "We really in this last election — when I say we, the Democrats — I think pushed it as far as we can, the envelope. Didn't say it, but we implied it — that we, if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war,” Kanjorski said in the video. “Now anybody who is a good student of government would know that wasn't true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts — and people ate it up." >Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.)

As Clark Kent will tell you, "Anybody can wear the stink'in cape, but when it comes to actually preserving truth, justice, and the American Way, the job can be a bitch." and the Democrats are not up to the task.

June 05, 2008

Alaska Gov Sarah Palin

There has been much speculation and hope that Senator McCain might name Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his VP running mate. While I am still an Alaskan at heart and believe that the governors credentials are very commendable I don't think she should be the running mate for several reasons.

Just as I don't believe that Obama is qualified to be leader of the free world I also don't believe that Palin has the experience to step into the Presidency. Alaska is a state of 600,000 people and while politics can be every bit as rough and tumble (and corrupt) as Chicago's, Governor Palin is a big fish in a very very small pond. I may be wrong and she may be a very quick study on national issues but I fear that we will have a replay of the John Edwards/ Dick Cheney debates at some point before the election, and I'm afraid she wouldn't come across as Cheney. (Sorry Sarah I hate to compare anyone to JE.) If young and talented is what Mac is looking for, Bobby Jindal comes across as much more knowledgeable, is a better public speaker.

Adding a little known governor from a small inconsequential state such as Alaska would be strategically inept. The three electoral votes are already in the McCain column and its not like the Starbucks vote in the Great Northwest will swing McCain's way with this nomination. He needs to look for someone that will actually bring something to the ticket. Unless McCain can prove that she is absolutely the most qualified for the position then no matter what spin he puts on the nomination he will be seen as pandering to the women vote.
So while my heart would love to jump on the Palin bandwagon because of my connection to the state of Alaska my mind just says no. However, I do hope that there is a place somewhere in the McCain cabinet for Palin.
Palin Mania:

June 03, 2008

What Senate Bill 2191 Will Cost Iowans

As I wrote here, Washington has pronounced the climate change debate settled, and it is now time to act before its too late. As Harry Reid so monotonically put it yesterday, "That has caused the earth to have a fever – a fever that is growing worse, not better..." Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, particularly if you are using chemo for the common cold.

The Heritage Foundation has researched the economic effects of this Cap and Tax system and the charts below show the economic impact on Iowans if this bill becomes law.
Ben Lieberman at Heritage writes that the costs outweigh the benefits that this legislation will incur, he writes;

Lieberman–Warner is expensive, but what are the benefits? This bill is a solution only to the extent that global warming is a problem in the first place and only to the degree to which the bill reduces that problem. There are reasons to question both.

While a full discussion of global warming science is beyond the scope of this analysis, it is worth not­ing that science is now taking a turn away from alarmism. The release of carbon dioxide, a natural constituent of the atmosphere and a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, has at least some warming effect on the planet, but the reality of global warming falls well short of being a crisis. Both the seriousness and the imminence of the threat have been overstated by environmentalists and politi­cians alike.
In particular, there is a growing realization that the extreme claims popularized in the media— most notably that a rise in sea level will inundate vast coastal areas and that deadly hurricanes like Katrina are linked to global warming and have become more common—are not well supported. The World Meteorological Organization and many scientists dispute such claims, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) projects a sea-level rise of approximately seven to 23 inches over the next cen­tury, not the widely publicized 18 to 20 feet in former Vice President Gore's book and documen­tary An Inconvenient Truth...

Furthermore, no matter how great a problem global warming may be, the Lieberman –Warner bill, assuming that it works as intended, would alle­viate only a small fraction of that problem...

Thus, the impact of Lieberman–Warner on over­all emissions trends is modest, given global emis­sions growth. By most accounts, even in the unlikely event that America meets the targets of this bill, worldwide emissions would continue to increase, only at a slightly slower rate...

In sum, America's Climate Security Act of 2007 promises significant economic pain for little envi­ronmental gain. The costs are simply out of line with the benefits. Our analysis puts the cost of preventing carbon dioxide emissions at $49 per ton in 2015 and $68 to $88 by 2030, amounts that are generally in line with five other analyses of this bill. (See Table 1.)

But according to several prominent resource econ­amists, that is more than the dollar value of the harm that each ton does to the environment in the form of increased global warming. One analysis puts the cost of damage at $7.4 per ton of carbon dioxide and rising by about 2.5 percent per year, a fraction of what Lieberman–Warner costs per ton.If true, this bill would prove a textbook example of a solu­tion that is worse than the problem.

It is at this point where I would normally make an impassioned plea to write your senator and tell them that this bill is economic suicide, but our own Senator Harkin is a co-sponsor of this legislation and as Harry Reed declared yesterday, those that disagree are essentially head in the sand naysayers. It is doubtful that you will persuade any of them that this is an act of lunacy now that they have their eyes on the revenue stream this scheme will produce.

Also see: The Five Myths about global warming legislation.

June 01, 2008

The 1/2 Compromise

I caught the opening statements of Howard Dean on CSpan yesterday at the Democrats Rules Committee Meeting to determine the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegates. Now I must admit Howard has always reminded me of Barney Rubble. Don't get me wrong I think Barney is a hell of an actor but Dean has the same grin, mannerisms, and they both talk out of the side of their mouths.

As his Iowa WOOHOO moment proved Dean can also be just plain annoying. He used the term "extraordinary"15 times in the course of the speech. I know because it became so glaring I had to go back and count. Someone please get the man a thesaurus.

However, beyond my petty nitpicking Dean also had the audacity to state that 5 supreme court justices were 'Intellectually Bankrupt" for their decision in the 2000 election. Can Dean really believe that or is pandering pablum to the putzes so ingrained in his psyche that he can make such an idiotic pronouncement in a public forum without a second thought. I believe it is just a case of the the pot calling the kettle black. This is after all the the party that just yesterday decided to count the voters of Florida and Michigan at 1/2 of a person.

This decision hearkens back to 1787 when a similar compromise was reached. "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

This time the compromise reads: Representatives shall be apportioned among 55 of the States which may be included in the Union according to the their respective numbers. Florida and Michigan shall be determined by adding the whole number of free super-delegates, bound to service for a term of years, and 1/2 half of all other persons.

Intellectual Bankruptcy for sure, and this New York Democrat would agree, as she was being escorted out of the proceedings.

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