Sunday, June 23, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

If you're into natural disasters, Central Arkansas is your kind of place.  Hot on the heels of the historic flooding of the Arkansas River a couple of weeks ago, we had a storm packing 80 MPH straight line winds boil up out of nowhere Wednesday night which knocked the power out for about 80,000 residents.  Some are still out.  What's next?  A plague of locusts?

We were lucky.  Our power at the house was restored late yesterday afternoon.  Not everyone is so fortunate.

I guess I never really thought about this much.  And I think it is because I haven't had to go through many power outages, mainly because my old house was on the grid for the med school and 2 other hospitals.  And it only went out a couple of times in the 20 years or so  I lived there and it never stayed out for very long.  Secondly, I always had someplace to go during 9 to 5.  Suffice it to say, nowadays I do not.

Be that as it may, to me and for the other occupants in my present abode, a protracted power outage is mostly an inconvenience.  As in, I didn't realize we had an electric water heater until I hopped in the shower yesterday morning.  That was exhilarating.  Better June than January however.  

To me, Wednesday through Friday was mostly boring.  We don't realize how much we are addicted to our electronic devices until they are rendered inert.  Or their usage is tapered to keep them from becoming thus.  There's only so much reading one can do to pass the time. But Joe and his mom had jobs to go to.  Sarah went off to visit friends in Conway.  I watched college baseball in a bar.  We got by.  None of us qualify for the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Under the circumstances, boredom or having to merely get by  is a pretty bourgeois response to what many people would describe as a crisis.  As I mentioned earlier some folks are in the 3rd day of being without electricity.  I know a couple of them.  And despite the armada of tree services and electrical workers brought in from all over by Entergy, some folks won't get restored until Sunday night.  Maybe.  

Speaking of Entergy, I was finally able to access a human somewhere in the system after a 45 minute wait Wednesday night.  She advised-evidently reading from a script- me to go outside and check the breakers.  I advised her in return that the electrical box hanging off of my house is practically new and unlikely in the extreme to trip out.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"I heard something go 'bang'",I said, displaying remarkable composure under the circumstances. "And then the power went out."

"Okay," she said. "That would have been our lateral line.  That is an outage event.  I cannot tell you when service to your area will be restored."

Glad I wasted 45 minutes to get that helpful report.  

Again, we were merely inconvenienced here at my house.  Staying in a hot house or apartment for longer than a day is intolerable for the elderly, those laboring with chronic illnesses or folks with small children.  I have asthma.  By yesterday, I felt as if I were carrying somebody around on my back even with the use of inhaler.  And I'm under good control and otherwise in robust good health.  This sort of thing can kill folks that are seriously compromised.  

So the question I keep hearing was "How come it is taking Entergy so long to get everything back up and running?"  I don't know about you but I spend plenty on my light bill.  I expect the lights to come on when I want them to.  And I expect things to get fixed when they don't.

A friend of mine who is an electrical engineer said that it unreasonable to expect Entergy to maintain a crew as big as what is lumbering through Central Arkansas as I type.  This was a fluky kind of thing that could not have been anticipated.  Another friend of mine has suggested that until we pay to put the powerlines under ground, which we are unwilling to do, we will continue to be plagued by intermittent outages given all of the trees we have, especially in this neighborhood.  

My engineer friend also suggested that the carbon level we humans have pumped into the atmosphere has lead to all the water getting dumped into the rivers from the seemingly ceaseless pattern of rain we have been having.  Which also softens up the ground so that trees get easily felled during violent storms that are also caused by said excessive carbon level.  

Trees turned out to be the culprit on my block.  A couple of trees went down on Hill Road taking a couple of poles down with them.  

The power came back on last night.  But it hasn't yet for thousands of folks.  If you read Entergy's outage map, ( which assumes you that you have the wherewithal to actually access the Internet) most of them are south of I-630, which is a sociological line of demarcation in the minds of some folks between the haves and the have nots in this town. Folks over there deserve good service as much as I do.  And they deserve an explanation as to the methodology of how Entergy goes about the process of restoring power.  Not that they will get it.  But they deserve it.

Entergy says it will do a review of its procedures once things settle down to see how it could have handled this better. 

Now I don't know a lateral line from a forward lateral. But here is (are?) my two cents. 

In the last 30 days we have had a flood of biblical proportions and a violent storm that by all accounts caught everybody in charge by surprise.  

Do we think this will never happen again?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

My Sunday Father's Day Feeling

Today is the first Father's Day I have spent living in a house with somebody else's children.  I say "children" even though it is more accurate to describe Joe and Sarah as young adults seeing as how they are 19 and 23 respectively. As I write this, I believe the plan is that they will spend the day with their father who will be in town this weekend.  At least that is my general understanding if I may resort to lawyerly weasel-words.  One of the things that I have learned in this almost full year of step-parenting is that I don't get much information. I don't view this as any statement as to my bona fides or status.  Most of my peers in the League of Fathers that I have consulted have advised me that this is not uncommon.  

I occasionally get asked about how things are going in this area.  Actually, I get asked about this a lot.  It is almost as if there's a line in Vegas on whether I actually pull this stepparent thing off.  Actually, I don't like to use the words "stepfather" or "stepchildren" in describing our status.  Too Brothers Grimm for me I suppose.  The kids don't seem to have a preference one way or the other.  Not that we've discussed that either.

All things being equal, which they never are if you think about it,  I guess I'm doing OK.  I get along pretty well with the kids under my roof.  I've heard some horror stories about living with other peoples' kids.  I wouldn't say that we are exactly reshooting the "Brady Bunch" around here on a routine basis. But I have to say that for the most part things have gone pretty smoothly.  

Having a young woman around has been an interesting and fun experience.  You see, we don't really do girls in my immediate family.  I have brothers. They had sons.  So not only is Sarah my first daughter she is also the first niece amongst any of the brothers.  Not to say that it hasn't been an adjustment.  I knock on doors that are closed nowadays.  I do not open said closed doors until I am admitted.  This is a change from how I was raised.  My brothers and I barged in on each other all the time.  No more barging for me.  

And the other night I came home to a bunch of girls drinking Pimms Cups and all yakking at the same time as they fueled up to go to a drag show of all damn things.  I woke up at 2 am the next morning to the sound of high heels clunking across the hardwood floor.

As you can see my life is very different now.  

Joe takes after his mother.  Not only is he the spitting image of her but he has her same laid back and sweet disposition.  Our relationship is largely defined by our mutual interest in sports.  We have always watch sports on TV together and I went to most of his ballgames when he was a Conway Wampus Cat.  Last Sunday I took him to the finals of his first professional tennis tournament.  I think he's hooked.  So thanks to me he has another vehicle for wasting his time.  That's me leading by example. 

I may be giving voice to my hubris here, but if you asked everybody how I was doing I think I would get a passing score.  Maybe nothing greater than the "Gentleman's C" I mostly pulled at Tulane.  But a passing score nonetheless.  

And if I get a passing score I think it is because I view my role as something along the lines of the Prince of Wales-or Whales- as our Imbecile-in-Chief recently referred to him.  Which is to say that I view my role as more or less ceremonial.  I show up from time-to-time when decorum or the ready availability of an SUV requires my presence.  I pretty much stay in the background which works pretty well for all concerned.  And unlike the real Prince Charles, I don't have to tour factories in an RAF uniform while making lame brained observations with the proletariat such as "My that IS a fine wage." Neither do I have to complain about being tossed by a "skittish mare." In short, the discharge of my duties around here does not require me to be a twit.  

It's not that I am not without my discrete uses.  I provided a house everybody likes.  I also provide the gin which everybody but Joe likes.  At least Joe had better not be liking it.  Now his Mom lets him have a beer now and again.  And so, naturally he drank all of the Dixie I brought back from Covington last summer.  So he's banned from the Dixie.  Likewise, his sister is banned from the bonded McKenna.

This is what passes for me being a disciplinarian.  You gotta draw a line somewhere.  

I may be counted on to have at least a hundred bucks on me at any one time and my credit card has an apparently limitless top end.  The lines of communication seem to be pretty open.  Not that I ever talk to them very often.  We all live in a big house.  Texting is the typical mode of discourse around here.  And if anybody needs me they can usually find me sitting on the porch in my rocker reading and drinking either gin or bourbon as my taste at that particular moment may require.

I help provide.  I stay in the background.  I'm available for consultation on the rare occasion when somebody thinks they need it.  I show up on time.  I mostly keep my mouth shut.  I stay out of the way and let kids be kids.  Until they get into the Dixie that is.

Does that make me the second coming of Fred McMurray?  Hardly.

But I think I'm doing OK.  The "Gentleman's C" worked long ago and far away at Tulane.  It seems to be working in the here and now on Martin Street.  

So far so good.  Happy Father's Day.  


Sunday, June 09, 2019

Radio Silence

I've been spending my time batching it and watching some damn good tennis at the Little Rock Open.  I'm taking Joe with me to watch the finals today.  He has never seen professional tennis before.  I try to provide cultural experiences for his sister and him.  Plus, there will be a bunch of girls in attendance.  He will like that too. 

So no time for blogging.  

Catch you later...

Sunday, June 02, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

Mother Nature is on the rampage in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  I took this picture Wednesday from the bluffs of North Little Rock.  This is what is left of a hole on Rebsamen Golf Course in the Riverdale area below my house where I am typing this now.  The green is probably completely covered now.  

As one of my golf buddies said today, "It's going to be a lonnnnng time before we play Rebsamen again."

A real long time.  

But forget golf.  

The recent flooding of the Arkansas River is shaping up to be the natural disaster of a lifetime. At least my lifetime.  As I write this cities all up and down the river are preparing for unprecedented flooding.  And it is not supposed to crest until next Tuesday or so after which we can expect more rain.  Which is the last damn thing we need around here.

And it has Mississippi and Louisiana in its sights as it roars south.  

Lord. Here comes the flood.

As my friend Marge, whose husband owns property in the Delta said, "There's nothing you can do.  You just try to protect yourself and your property as best you can."

There's nothing you can do.

At least not right now.  Arkansas is now taking the medicine Louisiana had to take after Katrina.  Our levee system is a joke.  Give the devil his due, State Senator Jason Rapert, for whom I have very little use, was completely right when he warned, along with the Corps of Engineers, that this day was at hand.  There is no consistent policy concerning building or maintaining levees in this state.  It is a crazy quilt of public and private. State and local.   It's too late now, boy.

The river punched a hole in an old levee up in Yell County.   One over in North Little Rock almost breached.  A good portion of Fort Smith is flooded out.  And God help Pine Bluff by next Friday or so.

Apart from the levees, how many lives will be lost and/or upended, millions of dollars spent and lost before we take climate change seriously in this country?  And guess what?  The Corps just warned the New Orleans area that the water down there will rise again in two years or so, which necessitate the spending of even more money to reinforce the city.  

There's nothing you can do.  

I went down to the Clinton Center to try and take some pics.  They had it cordoned off.  I couldn't get any closer than a few hundred yards of the river.  And yet I could hear as it rushed past me.  It sounded for all the world like a jet engine.  My house is situated about a mile above it.  Late last night, after the traffic had died down, I could faintly hear it up here on the porch.  Such is the unimaginable power of a river as big as the Arkansas raging out of control.

In ten days or so the immediate crisis will have passed.  But what about the future?  Will take our medicine as Louisiana was forced to do?  Or will we continue to stick our heads in the mud?

But these are issues for another day.  Because right know mother nature is in charge.

And there's nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do.  


Sunday, May 26, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I don't know about you.  But I have been sufficiently amused by the commencement process this spring.  I went to two-count 'em-two at Washington University in St. Louis (Not "at" as I have been stating wrongly for all these years)graduation ceremonies last week.  And last night was my nephew Clarke's graduation from Catholic High.

As I have said before, it has been my high honor to have been the a diplomate thrice in my life.  At one of the stops along the way I learned the word "thrice."  And quite frankly I don't remember a single word uttered by any of the speakers at any of these events.  Chances are, you don't either.  

Let's face it. Commencement ceremonies are pretty dull affairs.  Most sensible folks wouldn't go if they didn't have to.  And most schools make their graduates walk the floor.

But it's over now. I don't have another command performance until my youngest nephew Max gets his ticket in two years.  I am happy.

I tend not to give unsolicited advice, especially after a young person has had to endure the same from an absolute stranger during his or her graduation ceremony.  But I told Sarah to make sure that she took care of any overdue books, parking tickets etc before she left Saint Louis.  I know whereof I speak.

Last February I needed to present my law school transcript to the State Department of Education for reasons known only to it.  The fact that I passed the bar exam and have practiced law since 1981 were not sufficient evidence to prove that I had credentials sufficient to teach Government to Freshmen.  

But when I applied online to Tulane to get my transcript I was advised that they would not release same to me as still owed a debt to the school.  This came as something of a surprise to me seeing as how I was never notified of any past due debt owed to them and it's not as if they didn't know where I might be found.  Besides, I couldn't for the life of me think of what sort of debt that I might have owed.  I never got a parking ticket.  It couldn't have been a library fine.  I never went to the library.

In any event, as I patiently explained to the Business Department on my letterhead, any conceivable period of prescription (that's what they call a statute of limitations down there) had long since expired mainly by Tulane's failure to seek enforcement of the debt over the last THIRTY YEARS.

Much to my surprise, they backed off in 12 hours.  I got the transcript and dutifully turned it in, redundant and superfluous though it was.

But alma maters are jealous of the bottom line.  Especially when they think they have you over the proverbial barrel.  

So here is my advice to all the graduates out there.  Make sure you make your piece with the Business Office at good ole State U before you need a transcript.  They may not be able to revoke your diploma.  But they can sure do their best to screw up your chances at getting a job.

And to the Tulane University of Louisiana I say "thank you."  Or another two word sentence that has "you" as the last word.

 I mean it sincerely.  And I say it thrice.  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

My Sunday-happy to be home-Feeling

No post today after 3 hectic days in Saint Looey for Sarah's graduation.  Like I said, I'm happy to be home.

And happy for her.  

Catch you later....

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My Sunday Mother's Day Feeling

This is the first Mother's Day in a long time that I have spent not just with a card-carrying mother but actually co-habitating with one.  Her son Joe came stumbling back into the house last Tuesday after his first semester at Hendrix.  While I don't get much information, at least not on a sustained basis, I guess he did OK.  If he had flunked out I would have heard about that.  At least I am reasonably certain that I would have.

But Mother's Day around here is a pretty low-key affair much in keeping with Melissa's general MO about most things.  Not standing much on ceremony as she does not, she will do her Sunday homeless ministry downtown this afternoon.  I, in turn, will do my Sunday golf ministry at War Memorial Golf Course, otherwise known as, at least if the Mayor gets his way, Death Row Golf Course.  I turned my final grades in to the school where I taught last semester.  So that's behind me for good. And since it is not raining buckets for once and since the sun is making a cameo appearance in the sky, Joe and I will grill some salmon for the lady of the hour and steak for the two of us.

Pretty low key.

Many of the moms in my life are single.  And may God bless them on this and every other day.  As I have written single moms are like unto drill sergeants in heels.  And they tend to have more balls in the air than Penn and Teller.  My own mother had a zillion balls in the air when Buck checked out at 52.  Looking back on it, she was a much more fragile person than any of us thought at the time.  Then again we didn't know what to look for and folks didn't have the resources then that we have now.  But she did the best that she could.  And that's all you can ask of any mom.  

I guess Melissa has fewer balls in the air than she once did since the dubious acquisition of me.  And since she no longer has both kids in the house. I dunno.  We don't talk about it very much.  

I guess that's the best Mother's Day gift I can give her.  That and an empty SUV that she can use to put some of Sarah's shit in to haul back from St. Louis next Friday.  I am not without my uses or discrete charm.  

But it's nice living with somebody's mother.  I hope she has a nice day.

I hope you do too.

The last 4 months have been interesting.  I will probably write about the experience at some point in time.  I'm still processing it all.  But after I get back from St. Louis I plan on doing just a whole lot of nothing for awhile.  Nothing that doesn't involve sitting here on this porch swing, working out or hitting a golf ball on whichever public golf course the city in its wisdom, after bringing its considerable practical knowledge to bear on the subject, decides to spare.  Maybe take the occasional Legal Aid referral.  Sarah will be here through June.  She says she wants me to take her to the driving range.  This ought to be interesting as well as a test of my high blood pills.

But I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing right here on the front porch of my new house.  And I plan on doing it with a glass of amber liquid in my hand around 6PM most evenings.  

I've earned it.  And boy am I looking forward to it.