Visual Commentary of Osama Bin Laden’s Mansion

May 2, 2011 by

The questions have begun.

The mansion where Osama Bin Laden has been living was eight times bigger than any other in the neighborhood and no one had a clue about who lived there?

Others will draw this better, but the concept is there.

How the hell do you miss this?

 

 

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Please fly your US flag tomorrow

May 1, 2011 by

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

Image via Wikipedia

Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Please celebrate responsibly. And please make a point to fly your US flag tomorrow in honor of those who died because of this horrible, horrible man.

 

 

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Thank You Publix for your service to North Alabama in this disaster

Apr 29, 2011 by

We don’t have Publix out in Dallas where I live, but they’re all over Alabama and Florida.  And Thursday morning after tornadoes had ripped apart 1/2 of the state of Alabama, even way up north in New Market/Meridianville, AL, running on emergency power, still able to process debit/credit cards, they were open for business and helping hundreds in the area in need of staple food items and charcoal.

On the radio, I heard how Publix has generator trucks they were sending north into the Huntsville area.  Incredible.

10 a.m.

At about 10 a.m., Thursday, April 28, Karen and Tom Taylor and I had ventured out to find breakfast.  We’d started up 231/431 toward Tennessee, but half of Huntsville looked like it was doing the same.  We turned around and ventured back to the Publix on that major road.

When Karen and I went inside, it was dark.  No shopping carts were available and people were standing at the front doors looking for those taking them out to unload, and then even helping put stuff into their cars so they could use the cart next.

Bread 

The first place in the store we headed was the produce side.  There were some fruits left.  Forget about lettuce.   It was gone.

The bread racks?  Here, take a look.

I heard one man talking about how this wasn’t a time to go out and buy 5 loaves of bread.

But with the likelihood that power is out in Huntsville for another 5-7 days, I’m beginning to question his wisdom.

Staple Food

We then began to make our way through the store picking out canned items and the like that will not perish if not refrigerated.

Karen and Tom, who are moving soon anyways, said they were going to do a lot of thawing from the freezer anyway, so this was the perfect time to do that.

When we got over to the other side of the store, the meat and dairy section, there was nothing to be found.

Old Mother Hubbard had more in her kitchen.

A Tribute To Publix

I have to say, from being back in Dallas, I have to wonder which food chains there would have done the same.

Tom Thumb?  Fairly possibly.  Kroger?  Maybe.  Albertsons in Mesquite?  Naw, for a store bordering on bankruptcy and a tag line, “It means a great deal,” that should be changed to “It means you’ll pay a great deal,” I highly doubt it.

Thank you, Publix.  Well done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Strength and Unity of Alabamians–Tornado Recovery

Apr 29, 2011 by

In Alabama you’re either “one of them,” (A fan of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa) or an Auburn fan.  There is no in between.  But after Wednesday’s tornadoes, even that doesn’t matter.  Sure, fokes (that’s how the Montgomery Advertiser spells it and has for decades) are still sporting their loyalist garb, but as a whole, they are one now, and at this time of incredible devastation, people are banding together, whether they know one another or not, and they’re coping, trying to clear their roads and yards of tree limbs, debris, and anything else, and it’s an incredible thing to be a part of.  It’s truly one of the best things about Alabama.

Yesterday morning I was able to leave Huntsville with enough gas to get me to my mom’s in Montgomery.  Part of me wishes I’d stayed up there.  Helping pump gas at The Triangle Grocery in New Market were two guys.  One was a friend of the owner who had been at the station for a couple of hours helping pump gas to those of us desperate to have it.  He wasn’t getting paid.  Had no power himself.  But there he was.  The other was a school teacher who was just learning he and his wife, a fellow teacher, didn’t have to worry about school until at least Tuesday. 

When we, (Tom and Karen Taylor)  drove for cover Wednesday afternoon about 4 p.m. many of the roads had been blocked earlier in the day by fallen trees.  It wasn’t relief coming from Washington, DC, the White House, the Alabama Department of Transportation or Huntsville County Crews that had done it.  It was Alabamians with chainsaws.

On the way north while I was going south, I saw leagues of electric utility trucks with various stickers on their doors all heading into the thick of it.  Lines of unmarked, dark black Alabama State Trooper cars with blue lights flashing and running 10-17 in the left lane (That means they were running code to North Alabama; aka, they were hauling ass) were headed into the heart of it.  (As a side note, this also suggests they were higher ups heading into the fray, because lower ranked troopers don’t have brand new black cars….)

And then there was a time or two when I saw just plain old dump trucks and pickups rolling north, too.  They had bulldozers on the trailers they were pulling.

At the Publix yesterday morning in New Market/Meridianville the doors were open.  The electricity was off, but they’d found a way to run off emergency power and even could do electronic debit/credit card purchases.  But they were open at a time when they were needed most.  And the employees there said they were going to be there until the store closed or they had run out of food to sell.

Alabama is going to recover from this incredible, Biblic-proportioned devastation.  Some have said areas of Tuscaloosa, Cullman, Phil Campbell, Cordova, and Pleasant Grove in Birmingham look like they’d been hit by atomic bombs.  And while there will be help from the federal government and the state, a lot of healing and rebuilding had already begun before those very much needed and appreciated assets could be deployed.

That’s the way things happen in Alabama.  Even if you’re helping a fellow Auburn fan, or one of them Bama fans.

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I Felt Like “This is It!”–Huntsville, AL tornadoes April 27, 2011

Apr 29, 2011 by

UPDATE 9:33 a.m. 4/29: Karen just sent me a text saying power is likely out now for 5-7 days

There were moments Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in the Huntsville, Alabama area when I seriously thought I would never be writing this.  Again.

For once again in my life, at about 7:30 or 8 p.m., I was once again in a car, (This time a Jeep,) with former State Trooper and Gov. Fob Jame’s security head, Tom Taylor, in the midst of a raging storm.  There was constant lightning.  (A sure sign you’re in or near a tornado.) There was hail.  (Another sure sign.) The rain was nearly a white out.  (A rain-wrapped tornado that you don’t ever see until you’re in Heaven.) The roads were flooded over.  And the winds were blowing from all directions (A whirl, another sure sign that you’re in deep do do.)  And at that point, I just knew we were about to be found a few days later wrapped around a tree, in a river bed, or several counties away.

Tom Taylor

Tom and his wife, Karen, and I go back to 1995.  We all worked for Gov. James.  And the thing about Fob was that when bad weather came, he felt the best place to be a first responder or event coordinator was to be right slap in the middle of it.  So there were times from 1995 to 1999 that we found ourselves in South Alabama waiting for hurricanes to come ashore.

In April of 1998, we were up in Birmingham the morning after the massive F-5 tornado came thru and obliterated homes, businesses, schools, and killed many.

April 27, 2011

So Wednesday started as a few other days had recently begun in Huntsville.  There were early am thunder claps.  A little rumble  and it was gone, like a front had passed thru and the sun soon would return.  I got up and made it into Huntsville, from New Market, about 10 miles north of Huntsville on US 231/431.

About 10 a.m. I received a phone call that on radar, a tornado was heading straight for the Taylor’s.  My colleague John and I decided we’d try to go see the thing since it was so close to the office at that point, and further to the north.  We didn’t catch it, and as we began to return to the office, the sun came out.  The air was magnetic and I told John if the temps got up to about 74 or more it was going to be Katie bar the door.

2:30 p.m.

By 2:30 p.m that daylight heating had done its thing.  That first storm had downed several trees and branches on the Taylor’s porch and yard, and now another one was headed toward New Market.  I got up that way in time for the next round of heavy rains, but I don’t recall there having been a tornado warning on TV.  But it was clear, all hell was about to begin.  The impending tornadic storms heading toward Huntsville

About 4 p.m., it was clear to Tom, Karen, and son, John,  daughters-in-law, grand kids and me, that we needed to move somewhere else.  A massive super cell was headed straight for us, and the radars were filled with storms with hook echos, which signify a tornado.

Moving To Tom’s Brother’s Basement

At this point we began a mass migration to Tom’s brother’s house, which has a basement with reinforced concrete.  It was the safest place we could go.  And we barely got there before the massive storm arrived.

For the next three or four hours, it was one massive, wind-whirling storm after another.  We could hear trees popping in the woods.  We had quarter sized hail.  We had constant lightning.  And then there were times when the clouds high above were moving at high rates of speed, and there wasn’t a leaf on the ground moving.

Bob had a generator hooked up and running at his house.  By the time we left Tom’s the power was out.  At this writing, it still is.  (It’s Friday.)

About 8 p.m.

When it finally felt about 8 p.m. that we could go out of the woods because we were out of the woods, Tom, Karen and I went back over to their house to check on things.  And then it became apparent that when we got back, we’d made a mistake and needed to get back to Bob’s.

On the ride to Tom’s we’d already passed roads that were covered over with raging water.  Heading back, it was worse and we decided to take another route.  A longer one.

Roads were still topped over with water.  Tom said of one, “This is about as high as it needs to be before it’s too dangerous to be doing this.”

As we drove back, we weaved our way through the flooded roads, downed trees, and endured the raging storm.

Goners

It was on this ride over that I truly became the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life.  Hurricanes I’ve driven through.  But this was far more chaotic and far more intense. My right hand clung to the dashboard handle of the Jeep.  And Tom pressed on as quickly as was safe.  Hail hit the top plastic top of the Jeep echoing through the vehicle. The rains beat upon the windows as though it were an angry guard dog trying to bite us from the other side of the fence.  And red river waters flowed across the road.

It’s at these times when one reflects on their life.  I longed so much to see once again the faces of my kids and my other loved ones.  And because the phones were basically dead, there was no way to call anyone to say fair well.

Turns out that wasn’t necessary.  But I’ve never felt that close to death’s door.

Thursday a.m.

I awoke back at Tom and Karen’s Thursday a.m.   We got back about 9:30 or so when the all clear finally had come.    As Karen said when I got downstairs and they had gotten up, “It was so nice to wake up this morning and still hear birds chirping.” And that was so true, so accurate and so poignant.

There are more details to come.  But I need to take a break.  This is still all so traumatic.

 

 

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