LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
EVENT - Here I am. Where U?
Timeline: Monday, August 29, 2005, 7:00 AM CDT
Uncle Ken came through, talked for a moment, and then was off to work. Aggie also went off to work. The teenagers went off to school. We were alone in the house, and in an effort to tear myself away from the television set, I decided that I should do what I knew I should do. Namely, take an inventory. I needed to be clear on exactly what we had managed to save. As it turns out, we did pretty well. Andrea managed to collect many of the documents we would need in the next few days, even if in the process she managed to collect a lot of unneeded paper. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.
I just couldn't tear myself away from the television set for too long, though, even if the reports were more of the same. I finally realized that I could probably do better on the internet (that's interwebs for you Arfcom folks), and so I pulled my laptop of of the bag, fired it up, and tied into Ken's wireless router.
If you aren't aware of it already, I make my living with computers. I'm not just capable of surviving in the natural wilderness, I'm also capable in the wilderness of technology. If I wasn't good at what I do, my kids wouldn't eat. Rather than trying to suck information out of the television set with a soda straw, I can now drink it freely out of the fire hose of the internet. I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me when I first got up, but I had been distracted.
Most people think of computers as the device itself. They use word processors and print reports. They keep track of accounts and make invoices. Most people who use computers do not understand their greatest potential. Communications.
No matter where I go in the real world, my address in the virtual world never changes. I built ThePlaceWithNoName.com when Virginia was born for the express purpose of sharing photographs with family. That investment was about to come back to me many times. No matter where I was in the world, people would be able to find me in the virtual world in seconds. When I told you in the first section of this blog that my laptop computer was my primary survival tool, I wasn't kidding.
Within a few minutes, I was a spider crawling the vast unwoven web. I linked into real time data streaming from billions of dollars of ground based and space based technological assets to monitor Katrina's assault. I went to my virtual house (this website) and plastered a sign on the front door (home page) that let everyone know our location and condition. I sent out an email beacon to everyone in my address book reporting our location and condition, and requesting a reply. I tied into other online assets I have control over and began coordinating communications with people displaced by the storm. I created a message board that would serve as a communications hub for everyone I needed to keep track of, and finally I visited online communities that I am a part of (and some of which I helped create.)
As the hour wore on, I paid less and less attention to Katrina. There was nothing to be done about what was happening. I began to have a rough idea in my head of the condition Jefferson Parish would be in after the storm passed. I was somewhat wrong in my estimates because of the failure of the levees, but I began to pitch my virtual campsite - which would soon grow beyond my expectation.
In just a few short hours, the response to this was enormous. I am still overwhelmed in many ways that an army of people disconnected by many miles all across the world came together behind me and universally said, "What do you need?" My friend (in both the real and virtual world) Jack coordinated a donation drive that I was reluctant to accept at first. As those displaced by the storm started to come into contact with me, the question was frequently, "What should we do now?", and I was going to have to come up with a good answer for that one. At this early hour, the answer is in no way clear to me yet.
In the matter of an hour I had transformed my BOL from a crash landing site to a control center that would become an important engine that drove not only my own return Home, but many other people besides. I would not have a clear appreciation of this until later. As it was, I was distracted by events near and far. The giant oak trees in my yard were giving up their limbs to Katrina's onslaught. Levees were failing. People were dying. Madeline was waking up, and Virginia was demanding breakfast. Not having any other over-riding purpose at that point, breakfast was had by all.
It would still take Andrea and I a few hours to get faced in the right direction to KEEP MOVING FORWARD. It would take a number of days to properly orient ourselves for the road Home. For a time all we could really do was wait while Katrina threw her fit all over the Gulf Coast. So, while some people were dying in their homes, we enjoyed toasted muffins and scrambled eggs. The difference between those eventualities is thin indeed.