Kevin to Alan, 10/29/97

From: Kevin
To: Alan
Date: 10/29/97
Subject: Pacific Gaszpacho: KAL's time-honored recipe


   1 small- to medium-sized tropical island

   Copious amounts of reverse condensation

   A few acres of coral dust, sand and clay

   Leaves of palm, tangan tangan, papaya, breadfruit, hibiscus, flame tree and plumeria

   Flotsam and jetsam

   Add ingredients to a large weather system.

   Stir at 150 to 195 mph. for between 6 and 8 hours.

   Add flotsam and jetsam to taste

   Serve at outdoor temperature.

   Serves 70,000.

We have survived Supertyphoon Joan in fine shape, with nothing more than minor water seepage into the house, which we prepared for, and a lot of damage to our beleaguered bushes and trees.

This storm was closer and more powerful than Winnie last August, but passed much faster. We learned on Friday that there was a typhoon expected, and had been told when we moved in that the Dept. of Public Works would come by and board up our windows in the event of a typhoon. On Friday it did not appear that DPW was doing much of anything, so I called the Procurement Office to arrange to pick up some plywood to do it myself. Despite their promise to meet me at the storage yard, no one ever showed up to make the plywood available. I finally contacted a work crew boarding up the house of a former Attorney General, whose advanced years would not allow him to do the job himself. They informed me that DPW was not boarding up any other houses, and that If I wished to do so I could speak with their boss. I went down to Lower Base, at the bottom of Capitol Hill, and went to the DPW office to see what could be done. I finally got them to grudgingly agree to let me have 16 sheets of plywood, but demanded that I would have to get a pickup (at 10:00 p.m.) and move them myself because he could not spare the manpower to deliver them. To make a long story short, my immediate supervisor, Ross Buchholz, was also short on boards, but had started outfitting his house earlier in the day with the help of the current AG who lives across from him. We commandeered the truck from our office at the other end of the island, drove back, and got the wood. By this time it was about midnight, but at least we had the materials. It had started raining and the wind had not picked up. We went first to Ross' house and finished his windows, since the front of his house is slightly more exposed. It was a bit tricky, since it was pitch dark out, and the two of us were working by flashlight. The only means of attaching these boards is by nailing them to the wooden frames of the screens that are (theoretically) screwed onto the concrete house exterior. In case anyone asks, my idea of fun is not to nail up a 4'x8' sheet of plywood in the dark to a flimsy wooden frame next to a glass window. Half the time I could not see the nail, but past experience with a hammer paid off and I miraculously managed to finish his house and do ours without grazing a single piece of glass. Ross is an excellent trial attorney and a good fellow, but lack of mechanical aptitude and arthritis in his wrists and back prevents him from effective carpentry. All in all, the jobs were finally done at about 2:45 a.m., before the storm really broke loose.

By 8:30 am on Saturday the power was out and the wind and rain were howling past the house. We had filled the fuel oil lamps the night before and gotten out the propane stove, so were able to breakfast on oatmeal and had hot coffee - much like camping in our own house. Of course it was dark due to the typhoon boards, but not unbearable owing to the lamps and lots of flashlights with fresh batteries. Margaret had thoroughly prepared for the expected flooding, had everything off the floors and towels in place to soak up the water that we knew would seep in along the floor. About 9:15 one of the boards on our most exposed side popped off, but I managed to go out and replace it, at the same time refastening the loose screen frame that was the cause of the problem. Aside from the obvious dampness, the first thing you notice outside during a typhoon if the smell of plant matter carried by the wind. It is not a bad smell, nor quite a healthy one, but it lets you know that a lot of pollen, dust and leaves are getting churned up by the wind as it scours the island. Right after I got back inside the house and had changed out of my sopping clothes, Ross called to say that one of his boards had popped off, and that another had disintegrated, breaking a window in the process. I fired up my trusty Chevrolet and drove it from its position of safety on the leeward side of the house over to Ross', refastened the offending board (not originally my handiwork, I'm glad to say), and checked all his others.

That was at the height of the storm, and the rain actually stung as it hit. At Margaret's suggestion I took along the girls' bike helmets to wear in the event of flying coconuts. Fortunately, they were not put to the test. After arriving back home I changed once again, and we spent the rest of the day reading stories, eating, and occasionally mopping up water from the floor. At 4:00 p.m. the electricity came back on, and we went out to see the results. We lost, for good this time, some of the flowering bushes from the front of the house that we nurtured back to health after the last storm. We lost a few good-sized pine branches, a banana tree, and a few coconuts fell prematurely. Other than that, we came out of it pretty well. Others who were not so fortunate had trees uprooted, occasionally landing on roofs. The Attorney General lost, and Ross gained, a carport roof of corrugated steel complete with wooden rafters that was carried 60 feet uphill. The gain was short-lived, as the roof was reclaimed the next afternoon by the AG armed with a four wheel drive vehicle and stout rope while Ross and I took down his typhoon boards. Oh well.

The Web site looks great! It appears much easier to navigate due to your rearrangement, but I agree that splitting up the home page might spruce it up. I believe a home page should load quickly and require little scrolling to get to the next link. If I get any brainstorms on the practical aspects of how to do it I'll let you know.

Hope this message finds you all well. Kevin

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