Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review - Western Star

This is Craig Johnson's latest episode of the Longmire saga. The plot flips back and forth between present day and the early days back when Walt was a new deputy.

The Western Star was the name of a steam engine that was the vehicle for a sheriffs junket where new hire  Longmire was the junior attendee. There is a murder during the train ride and Walt works at solving it. The other side of the plot in present day is Walt worrying about the parole hearing of a murderer that he put away years ago. Of course, the two stories are connected.

I won't give away the ending but I will say that it is a monster cliff hanger and I hope that Mr. Johnson doesn't get hit by a bus so he can resolve it in the next book.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review - Two Nights

Kathy Reichs has introduced a new character. It is a damaged female ex-Marine, ex-cop living in seclusion on an island who has the odd name of Sunday Night. She is hired to find the granddaughter of an elderly rich woman. The rest of the granddaughter's family was killed in a terrorist bombing and the woman is offering a bounty on the four terrorists responsible, dead or alive. This leads Sunday on a cross country chase ending at the Kentucky Derby.

The book is fast paced with short dialog sections. The writing style reminds me of Robert Parker and I see Sunday Night as a dark version of Sunny Randall. This is well worth the time and a little different from Reichs' normal genre.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Harvey and the Logistics of Recovery

So far, all of the focus has been on rescue and there has been little news about the recovery yet to come. Here are some lessons I saw after Katrina.

White Goods: This is the generic term for large appliances. They will all have to picked up and disposed of. The worst of these will be the refrigerators. Most people, when faced with a refrigerator full of rotten food, will simply duct tape the door shut and drag it to the street. It will be left to the recycler to muck it out. Before it can be crushed, all the refrigerant will need to be removed lest it pollute the air. Imagine doing that to 250,000+ refrigerators.

Cars: After Katrina, the city put out a bid to auto recyclers to collect and crush the thousands of cars that were submerged. There has to be a place to store all these cars (my estimate - 500,000) while they wait to be crushed. Most of them were stored under the elevated highway and they became a magnet for the homeless who lived in them. And before you can crush them, you need to drain the fluids and suck the refrigerant out of the air conditioning system. It is a very labor intensive operation. And I imagine someone had to keep track all the VIN numbers.

Some of the flooded cars will be cleaned up and sold in other parts of the country. Be very cautious if you plan to buy a used car in the next year.

Building Material: The clean up will generate a massive amount of sheetrock, wood scrap, Insulation, furniture and other miscellaneous building materials. These will all have to collected and carted off to a land fill. The debris from Katrina severely stressed the capacity of the local landfill, even after shredding.

The bright spot is that the recovery will generate the need for a lot of low skilled dirty jobs. After Katina, a friend of mine in California complained that all the farm workers were going to Louisiana to find work. One of the things there were doing was mucking out  an industrial freezer in the Port of New Orleans with tons of rotten chicken. My comment was that anytime they preferred to work cleaning out rotten chicken in 100 degree heat to picking apples, they weren't being paid enough.

It will also generate a demand for material for new construction. New Orleans had a very bad experience with Chinese sheetrock. Beware of cheap construction material, especially anything from China.

In New Orleans, they took the park along Westend Blvd and used it store all the trash from the storm. This was an area over 100 feet wide and a couple of miles long. The different categories of trash were stacked 50 feet high while it waited for the shredder. Houston is going to be one giant trash pile for a while.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Head Count

Murder and drugs were the cause of the death sentences for 15 people in Saudi Arabia. Their heads were lopped off in public executions. The year to date head count is now 78.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Offshore Adventures - The Ferry

I was laying a pipeline in the shallow waters of Mobile Bay. We were using conventional bucket dredges on cranes sitting on barges to dig the trench and we were storing the dredge spoil in temporary piles along the route.

When the phone rings late at night it is never good news. "We knocked out the ferry", was the message I got and I was quickly on the road.

The Mobile Bay Ferry is link between the southern sides of the bay and is quite busy in the summer. Our construction was causing him to deviate from his normal route and it was taking him a little longer per trip. The captain decided to take a short cut but, unfortunately, it was over one of our spoil piles and he didn't have the depth he needed. The ferry propulsion is from 2 thruster pods that have vertical drive shafts (like an outboard motor) but they can swivel 360 degrees. They hang below the hull and the lower section is designed to break away in the event of a collision. It functioned as advertised when the ferry ran into our spoil pile.

Needless to say, things were a little tense for a while and it took several days for the ferry to get his replacement shaft.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Harvey

This is the NOAA 7 day rain totals predicted for Hurricane Harvey. I sure hope that New Orleans gets their pumps working soon. But I guess it was more important to remove statues than maintain the pumping system.

[Image of WPC QPF U.S. rainfall potential]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Head Count

I have been remiss in keeping you up to date with the Head Count. his is probably because the KSA did not execute anybody in June due to Ramadan. Not to worry they made up for it in July by beheading 30 people - a number almost equal to their previous 5 months. Year to date total now stands at 63.