She sells electricity

Sometime this year or maybe last Christmas I got a flash for my camera. I’m not one to use much flash in photography, but sometimes objects need a little fill light. It is quite flattering for people photos.

This flash unit I got, a Canon 580EX is huge and looks ridiculous on my camera (no built in flash). Not that a flash really belongs on a camera (that’s why my good camera has no built in flash), it doesn’t unless you’re just taking family snaps around the house. I find it way too powerful and haven’t learned all the controls so it is like this massive amount of light that overexposes the hell out of my subjects.

I need to get a clamp for it to go on my umbrella stand, a simple $10 clamp that I can’t find in any of the stores when I think about it. I should just get a damn roll of duct tape and attach it to something so I can at least play around with the thing. Or get Blane to jerry rig something, he’s good with that sort of thing.

Or go online and order the thing. I just need to figure out which is the right clamp.

Speaking of lighting, years ago, I got an umbrella from a street vendor in Portugal for $5. It’s this huge thing and is made for rain, but oddly enough, it has a reflective surface on the inside. So I’ve kept it all these years and managed to never lend it out because, hey, people never bring back umbrellas no matter how much you threaten them. I haven’t tested it to see how well it reflects light for photographs but I know it’s there.

Last spring while on a walk in my neighborhood, the tornado sirens went off and dark clouds rushed in in a matter of minutes. I quickened my pace and about a block from the house I met a stranger, a frantic door to door salesgirl. She was panicked, her manager had dropped her off to sell electricity subscriptions and she didn’t know what to do.

I told her to come with me, that she could take shelter in my house. She was young, about 20ish, and this was her very first day on the job. We ran to my house and as soon as we got inside it began to pour down rain and the electricity shut off. I showed her the closet under the stairs and told her that’s where we’d go if we heard the sound of a freight train.

I have a storm radio that goes off automatically and alerts me of when to expect a tornado, so this thing is blaring that the tornado will touch down in ten minutes. Wind and rain pelt the roof, flashes of lightning and crazy booms of thunder shake the fixtures in house. In the middle of all that, the girl’s manager calls on her mobile. Wants to know where she is. I offer him a place to stay too, but he refuses and insists on picking her up.

He finds my house and calls her to come out. Right now. In that storm.

The girl did not know what to do. I told her she was safer in a house than in a car. Through tears she told me she was afraid to lose her job. Her phone kept ringing and ringing.

She decided to leave, so I offered her my special umbrella from Portugal.

The tornado touched down a mile or so from my house and I don’t know if that girl and her manager happened to see it or not, but I do know she survived the thing and kept her job. About a month later, Blane answered the door and it was this same girl, returning the umbrella and asking if we wanted to buy electricity.

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Message in a (plastic) Bottle

I was talking to my mom on the phone earlier and told her to send me a message in a bottle. Looking at the hurricane tracking chart, the eye of Gustav goes over her house and pretty much ends not too far from mine.

We don’t get hurricanes this far from the coast, just some rain and winds, nothing to worry about. My mom lives far enough from the coast that if it does go there, it is a much weaker storm, not even a hurricane, but a tropical storm. The city is built on a hill, so they don’t even really have problems with flooding. The high winds do knock down trees and power lines. She was without power for at least a week after Hurricane Ivan a few years back.

All this hurricane watching makes me twitchy. I’ve never seen a hurricane path like this one; it appears to cover the entire state of Louisiana. Usually if one goes there, they catch a little piece of it, share the storm with other states. The angle of this one looks as if it will catch every bit of coastline in that state.

The place that is probably getting the shit kicked out of it right now is this place

Down Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana.

And this one

at Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Remember that bird video I posted last month?

Same thing, catching hell right now.

And there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

Sinking Cars

I was thinking about Candace alot today, my niece who drowned in her car. I think of her every day, some days more than usual. Maybe so much today because of the heavy rains here. I always think of her when it rains like this and the ditches and gulleys swell. Probably always will.

The newspapers and the news said it was an alcohol related death, which did not turn out to be true. She did not have any alcohol (or drugs) in her system. I saw her death certificate. That was ruled out. But it took months to find out the truth. As far as I know, there has never been a correction on the news or in the papers. If there was, how effective would that be anyway? The investigation of the accident, how effective was that, if they thought she was drinking?

Maybe since it was New Year’s Eve, the cops and media wanted to scare people about driving while drinking and used the accident as an example. I don’t know. There was an empty beer can in the car somewhere and they assumed it was hers, but it was from a passenger she’d had in the car the night before. Anyway, that is what was on my mind all day today.

Later this evening the news reported a bridge collapse which sent a lot of cars into a river. That could be why my post about a how to survive a car sinking underwater got loads of hits tonight. Problem with that post is the Mythbuster video I had on there is no longer available from YouTube. It’s terrible, something that could save lives was pulled by the Discovery Channel. I’m assuming it is them who had it pulled. I’ve tried to watch videos on Discovery.com but it won’t work on Safari or Netscape.

I just edited the post and put some British guy doing a similar experiment, getting out of a sinking car. It’s not as good, but it is better than nothing. Go check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

Getting On Like A Housefire

After losing power for about an hour or so (there was a bad storm) the girls and I jumped in the car to see how extensive the power outage was. We heard on the radio that power lines were down near our house and that we should avoid a certain intersection because there was a housefire.

Ha. Me? I drive straight to it. There is a cul-de-sac right behind the house and the firemen are fighting the fire from the front of the house. I see a perfect shot, firemen in backlit mist, a powerline on a house, blasts of water on that fire. One big problem. No camera.

We drive back home, get the camera and go back. The shot is gone. The hoses aren’t even on anymore. The flames have died down. And Spanky is raising hell. She says I’m sick, that I should not be so excited about something like this. I tell her it is an empty house, (it is owned by a builder). Sweetpea on the other hand is saying “C’mon fireman, turn that hose back on.” When he does, Sweetpeas yells, “Whoa, look at that, get that shot, Mamma!”

This is the best shot I could get.
I don’t have any good firehose shots and the firemen didn’t go back in the mist. I missed that shot. It’s just gone.

I’m sick alright.

We didn’t stay long because Spanky was raising so much hell about it. She said Sweetpea and I were pretty disgusting. She even had the nerve to call one her friends, right there in front of us to dog our behavior. We said she was a wet blanket. It was a total girl fight in that car about this stupid housefire.

So, would you go look at a housefire? A friend of mine sent me a funny email the other day, it was a joke Louisiana driving rules list. One of the items was, “When you come upon the scene of an accident, drive slow and rubberneck to show your respect for the victim.”