Sep 24, 2005

The Rita Journal - Index

A journal of the preparations for and results of hurricane Rita.

Day 1 - Wednesday: 21 September 2005

Day 2 - Thursday: 22 September 2005

Day 3 - Friday: 23 September 2005
Part II
Part III

Day 4 - Saturday: 24 September 2005.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

The Rita Journal - Day 4

Saturday: 24 September 2005

9:57 AM. The worst of Rita has passed, and to tell the truth, we got very lucky. There's still the occasional shower or gust of wind, but for the most part it's over, and we never lost power or water once. I would almost say it's disappointing, but then I remember that it was so, so much worse for people further up north near Beaumont and then I'm just glad that they took the hit for us. The extent of damage is still to be seen, but I think the main impact of Rita is over.
Worst date I had in my life.

9:04 PM. Didn't do too much today. My dad and I got rid of our large stockpiles of water by watering all the plants. Everything's closed, so me, Span, Pranay, and Christina got together and watched The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy at Pranay's house. Good cookies.
Everything's pretty much done now. All that's left is to put everything away, get back into normal life, and pray for and help out the people who are still picking up, cleaning up, and rebuilding.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Good-night.

Sep 23, 2005

The Rita Journal - Day 3, Part III

Friday: 23 September 2005

7:25 PM.
There is an absolutely amazing nearly full-circle rainbow in the sky to the east.

I've never seen the world look the way it does outside. Everything is orange, like the sun dissolved and spread all across the sky and clouds. Or at least it was, a little while ago. In the space of about a minute the light disappeared. It's dark on the coast of Texas. My family and I are off to a neighbor's house to eat dinner.

9:49 PM.
Winds are, according to Channel 11, at 30 mph and gusting to 40 mph. I think we may be getting a little break here in Sugar Land from the worst impacts of Rita. The bands of wind and rain weaken as they move over land and through Houston to get to us. That's not to say that nothing's going to happen. Sienna Plantation, a little bit further south in Missouri City, lost power already. I don't know how much longer I'll have power or internet, so I'll go ahead and make this my last post of the night. Tomorrow morning I'll probably post or audioblog. Good luck, everyone, and stay safe.

The Rita Journal - Day 3, Pictures

Friday: 23 September 2005

I got the camera from my dad, and took a couple pictures.

This is my street as of 6:10 PM today. Note the encroaching clouds.

This is my adorable smaller dog Shellie. She's a bit bummed because of all of our worrying.

This is the light fixture that my dad and I dismantled.

The Rita Journal - Day 3, Part II

Friday: 23 September 2005

4:42 PM.
It's only a quarter before five and already it's darkening outside. My dad and I just finished dismantling the hanging lantern on our front porch. At first we were going to just tie it up to the roof of the porch, but then we noticed screws, and in a short time were involved in a delicate operation trying to hold together about twenty parts with four hands as we took it apart, hoping not to drop any of the glass panes. I would take a picture of it now, but the camera's out of batteries. Maybe I'll put one up later.
We had a minor mishap involving an overflowing bathtub. My dad (who left it on by accident) is claiming (in jest) that we're practicing for the hurricane by cleaning it all up.
My parents and I went around our cul-de-sac, taking down basketball hoops and putting newspapers in a better place than the middle of the yard. It's getting really windy outside; in about a couple hours it probably won't be very safe to be outside anymore. I wonder when the rain will come.

5:36 PM.
We've received two invitations to peoples' houses in the neighborhood for dinner, cards, or just plain hanging out. I think the human need for society is manifesting itself, and with the brunt of darling Rita just twelve hours away, we all want to be around other people, maybe to offset the isolation that will come soon thereafter until the storm passes. To make jokes at which everyone laughs a bit too hard, to maintain a semblance of social life that's a bit strained, just to be around others; those needs are right up there with the essentials of food, water, and shelter.
We've packed clothes and necessities in case of evacuation, but that doesn't look too likely right now. The predicted winds are now around 50 to 70 mph at our house; I think we'll be all right in that weather.
My dad just finished going around the house taking pictures of every room, for reference after she passes. After he's sure he's done, I'm going to appropriate the camera and take a few pictures myself. Also, I'm going to set up audioblogging on here in case the power or internet go out. The winds have picked up outside. It's time to finish everything up and sit tight. After we come back from dinner, that is.

6:00 PM.
It just showered outside, for about thirty seconds. Audioblgging is set up. Pictures are forthcoming.

The Rita Journal - Day 3, Part I

Friday: 23 September 2005

Hurricane Rita is supposed to make landfall at midnight tonight.

10:34 AM. Sitting here at the laptop in my kitchen, listening to The Eagles, filling up a container with water, and eating a bagel. The drinking water pressure is dropping alarmingly fast. It seems like it slows to a trickle after only a couple of minutes. The mayor of Houston seems to be making statements every few hours; there was one this morning at 5. I woke up at around 9 to find my dad on the couch watching TV. At this point, everything on the news is bad news. Apparently, we're on the west side of Rita and thus have somewhat weaker winds coming from the northeast: about 70 to 90 mph. I still can't get over the fact that Rita is bigger than most states.
A bus carrying senior citizens overheated and exploded right before Dallas. Twenty-four people died. I can't even think of what that must be like for the survivors and family of that bus.
Today we're going to finish filling up water, water, and more water, and then finish packing up emergency evacuation stuff, in case we have to get out in a hurry for some reason. The van still has a full tank of gas, thank God, so we're better off than most. Maerilly and her family left for Birney, TX at midnight Wednesday and arrived at 2 PM yesterday. Jordan got to New Braunfels yesterday, after 20 hours in their huge van. Luckily, they made it with one tank of gas. Luis and his family ended up not leaving at all due to too much traffic and not enough gas. Same with Lara. That seems to be happening to a lot of people.
Today will be a last flurry of working, and then? Then it's just a waiting game.

11:42 AM.
It's getting a bit windy outside.

12:26 PM. Just learned that school is closed on Monday.

2:27 PM. A little over half the people on our street are still here, but you wouldn't know it by looking outside. It's like a ghost street; people go outside very rarely, as if they're afraid the hurricane will suddenly jump out and ambush them. The air, previously so still, is constantly moving now. In the silence on our street, the rustling of trees is significantly loud now; symbolically the sound of destiny, if this was an analysis for English class. The friend whose house we boarded up for five hours decided that if, after all that work, the boards didn't hold up, he'd have to create a commission to find out what happened and hopefully try and blame it on Bush.

3:08 PM.
Speaking of Bush, he said in a statement that, and I quote, there is no risk of him getting in the way. Well if even HE agrees that it's a risk...just kidding. Rita is now a category 3 with 125 mph winds, which are really being felt here now. Trees are swaying quite a bit, and my mom thinks that she felt a couple raindrops. The sky, so clear just yesterday, is now overcast, and the clouds are darkening steadily. It would seem that Rita is nodding at us from the Gulf.
We are preparing our pantry to be occupied in case the winds and/or flooding get really bad. Of course, we've got food in there, but we also have to keep our two dogs in there with the three of us.
Rita just breached a recently patched-up levee in New Orleans. I kind of hope that she will indeed swerve to hit New Orleans again; there's almost no one there now.
The weather is getting slightly apocalyptic in its worsening.

Sep 22, 2005

The Rita Journal - Day 2, Pictures

Thursday: 22 September 2005

6:55 PM. I just got back from helping some family friends down the street board up their windows. I brought my camera, so here are pictures:

This is my house as of 2:30 PM today, as seen from the middle of my street.

I saw a lot of taped-up doors and windows as I walked to our friends' house.

This was the side of the house that we needed to board up. There's also one more window off to the left that didn't make it into the pictures.

We finally finished. That last window on the left was horrible to do. We eventually just kind of gave up; the barriers holding that wood on there is really flimsy. Also, we made a slight mistake and ended up with all the nails pointing outward so we didn't scratch the glass of the window. Thus, we put Silly Putty on the nails. Strange problems require strange solutions.

On my way back I saw that our neighbors across the street had the cab of an eighteen-wheeler, in case they had to get away through rising water. I suddenly feel unprepared.

It's now 7:45 PM (these pictures took FOREVER to upload; I did it wrong the first time, too). We're going to eat dinner, watch some news, and go to sleep. Hurricane Rita is scheduled to start affecting us tomorrow night with light showers, and really hit us on Saturday morning. Fun stuff.

The Rita Journal - Day 2

Thursday: 22 September 2005

8:37 AM.
I woke up around 7 AM today to go downstairs, turn on the TV, and listen to a live press conference from the Mayor of Houston. I just drank a cup of tea while watching more TV for the past hour and a half. Somewhere in there I called Jordan to see how her escape was going. Her family, with three people, three cats, and a dog in the "aircraft carrier", was going to New Braunfels. They were stuck on 59, having left at 5 this morning. For today, I'll continue posting throughout the day, instead of the long post I just completed for yesterday. I've got to go take a shower, get ready, and finish packing in case of an emergency evacuation. There's so much to do and it seems, not enough time.

10:11 AM.
Took a shower (water pressure was low), got ready, didn't finish packing yet. My parents and I are hurricane-proofing the attic with plastic and newspaper and trays to collect water. Of course, if the roof blows off, that's all a moot point anyways. We're not sure if or when we'll lose power or water; the uncertainty is the worst. We just finished two things in the attic: one was the waterproofing, and the other was hoisting an A/C pipe up that had fallen down. It didn't break, but ended up with a joint in it that was less than forty-five degrees: an easy place to rupture. We spent about thirty hot, sweaty, almost-falling-through-the-ceiling minutes up there tacking and propping it up to a ninety-degree angle, which is quite a bit safer. We just learned that our good friend Rita took another turn for the better (for us at least). Earlier this morning it shifted upwards so that instead of swathing south of Houston, it's now going above Houston. Just now, it shifted again to even above Galveston Bay. Good news for us, bad news for Beaumont.
I had to cut the pomegranates off the tree outside. They're bigger than golf-balls, and could easily become missiles in anything above 75 mph winds. Which reminds me, the winds in Rita went down from 175 mph yesterday to about 167 mph just now. Maybe we'll catch a break and it'll go down even further. Maybe not.

12:12 AM. Quite a few things to write about, just from the last couple hours. I keep on hearing sirens passing by my house, which is right next to highway 6, a hurricane evacuation route. I'm not sure if they're cops or ambulances. My dad and I have been outside for most of the past two hours, bringing our plethora of plants inside and putting them in the kitchen and the foyer. That, or placing the big ones near the garage so we can move them inside the garage tomorrow. I overheard the TV talking about airport delays. Apparently you can't buy tickets anymore, and many flights are delayed up to four hours, not to mention the masses of people trying to get through security.
My dad found a small cache of sealed water bottles in the garage; quite welcome from filling up our own. My friend Monica from Norway finally got on AIM to wish us good luck.
The item that strikes me the most right now is the weather. It's still perfectly clear, just as it was yesterday, but there is absolutely no wind whatsoever; the air is uncannily still. Must be the proverbial calm before the storm. We're going to eat lunch now, finally, and then get back to hurricane-proofing the house.

2:23 PM. We just finished lunch and watching some more taped episodes of 24. Not much else to do here at this time but wait and watch the internet and TV. My parents and I are about to go down the street to help a neighbor board up his windows. Rita's winds have decreased somewhat, but not that much. She's still easily the size of Florida. I'm bringing my camera, so pictures are forthcoming.

Sep 21, 2005

The Rita Journal - Day 1

Wednesday: 21 September 2005

I'm writing this on Thursday morning, at around 8:15 AM.
I didn't know it was this serious until I got to school and everyone was freaking out. In Physics II (first period) we decided that Hurricane Rita would be our main source of error. Fitting, as we're studying rotational motion. At the end of first period we got the announcement that school's cancelled tomorrow (Thursday). After the initial celebration, the mood dimmed somewhat by second period; this isn't looking good. In Economics, Mr. G put in Star Wars, and a few people watched. The rest of us talked and worried. Maerilly's going to somewhere near San Antonio, Luis is off to Tomball; Sarah's parents haven't decided yet. Jordan's going to her grandparents in New Braunfels.
Sarah and I skipped Internship (we called in, don't worry) to go home and help preparations. The parting phrase of the hour, and indeed, the day, seems to be "stay safe". The worst part about this is probably that no one knows just how bad this is going to be.
I called my mom as I left school at around 11:00 AM, and she told me to get gas on the way home; almost every gas station in the area has run out or is running out. After a couple of tries, I finally found one that was still running: the Chevron at 6 and 1092. I stood (or rather, idled) in line, talking to my mom on the phone. I only had nineteen dollars to buy gas with; definitely not enough to fill up the entire tank. Plus, I had no idea how to fill gas without paying via credit card.
My cell phone ran out of battery (stupid tiny battery) just after I told my mom where I was. Luckily, she got it, and just as I pulled up to the pump, she arrived, credit card in hand. The regular gas was almost completely dry; it was "flowing" at a rate of about half a gallon per five minutes. Ugh. We finally ended up cancelling that, and taking the medium gas, with much better results. Two minutes later, the gas station guy came around to put plastic bags on the normal gas nozzles. The truck at the pump across from me arrived before me and was still filling up gas when I left; they had about five or six gas tanks in the back.
Got gas, headed home. The traffic was pretty bad northbound on 6, but that was really due to an accident just south of 59. I started to get increasingly more nervous. I hadn't thought this was so bad until I had got to school.
I finally got home and talked with my mom. She had stopped by to get groceries, and due to my information, managed to avoid the accident that clogged up 6. I think the situation really hit home when I started filling up containers with water, and watched the Weather Channel. It's definitely coming.
I sat on the couch, watching TV until my mom got home. Together, we unloaded groceries and organized the pantry so it would be easy to get anything out. It's a different kind of thinking: instead of convenience now, it's convenience later. How do you anticipate the unpredictable?
I think we're going to stay here, so far. The worst that can happen to us is that the roof blows off and the ceiling collapses, and we have places to go in our house to be safe from that. My sister, in California, wants us to leave, but we have two dogs and three people. To get stuck in traffic in the current Houston heat would be horrible for them and us.
I hurricane-proofed my room as best I could. I got all the loose objects off open areas or behind somewhere and hid my computer and monitor behind my bed. My acoustic guitar and Brandon's electric guitar went in my closet, and my sister's $400 Seagull went in her closet.
Cell phones are all pretty much down today. "ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY" is the message we get when trying to call anyone. I think everyone's trying to figure everything out at the same time.
Despite all the preparations, I think my family is relatively calm. We're still making jokes like we usually do, and we ended up watching a few taped episodes of the fourth season of 24 at night before we went to sleep. I think the best moment had to be when, in the middle of all this anticipation, there was a knock at the door. I cracked that the hurricane was here, and we all had a much welcome laugh. The other great moment was when they announced the lifting of all tolls in Houston, and simultaneously, my mom and I suggested we go somewhere. After all, it's free! If you lose your sense of humor, where do you go next?
Amanda Comer called me, asking what my plans were. I told her that we were probably staying. She said she was making a list. Those words are somewhat scary. It feels a lot like dogtags.
AIM is full of chatter. People asking people whether they are staying, or leaving, or where are they leaving to? Again, the parting phrase is always "stay safe." That's the idea here.
I couldn't sleep, so I read Reader's Digest for a bit. Finally, I turned out the lights and turned on the last few songs of "More Than You Think You Are", by Matchbox 20. By the time the CD ended, I was asleep. It was 1:45 AM.

Sep 9, 2005


Names and dates
[X] who the heck are you? Nirav Vikash Sanghani
[X] where'd you get this? Amanda Comer
[X] when's your birthday? 15 January 1988
[X] how many friends actually remembered to give you $1 for your bday? Not too many.
[X] did you kill any of them for their crapass memory? No.
[X] but did you want to kill them? Maybe.
[X] are they gonna remember this year? Probably not.
[X] when was the last time you had a date? Mid-July, I think?
[X] when's the last time you had a "crush" on someone? A real one, June.
[X] who was it (i promise i won't tell)? The girl who I had my latest date with (we're not together anymore)

Would you say you're...
[X] conservative or liberal (if you're on the fence then fall already!)? Liberalish.
[X] streetsmart or booksmart? Booksmart.
[X] a (man)whore? no.
[X] a "good" christian or muslim or jew or pagan or wtf else you think you are? Probably not...I'm more agnostic/casual Hindu.
[X] an aim-aholic? yeah...i should quit.
[X] a xanga or myspace or other generic online journal -aholic? Not really; I don't post too often and I don't read them that often.
[X] not an asshole? At times.
[X] whiney? At times.
[X] physically attractive to the other (or same) sex? goes up as your vision gets worse.

(For the personal questions that I deleted: if I want you to know the answer, then you already do. Stop whining and move on.)

Mandatory friend questions
[X] ever kept being someone's "friend" even though you hated their guts? yes
[X] always belonged in the same clique you do now? no
[X] ever talked about a friend behind their back post-middle school? kind of?
[X] ever spilled a friend's secret? probably
[X] ever done it on purpose? probably
[X] like the tv sitcom "Friends"? yeah! that's classic stuff!
[X] got a friend you just haven't gotten around to telling off? yes.
[X] have a friend other people can't stand? yeah
[X] who's the best listener-friend? jordan!
[X] who makes you feel better when you're down? jordan!
[X] who do you like to get in arguments with? luis or lara
[X] who are you always afraid to offend? that girl.
[X] who makes it seem like you're suddenly the funniest person alive? amanda (and others, but she's the one that came to mind)
[X] who tells you strange things about yourself you've never noticed? Nick? Amanda? I dunno...
[X] who do you know will always forgive if not forget? Luis, probably. Guys are laid-back like that.
[X] who pays attention to you first and foremost in a crowded room? Jordan!
[X] who's always ok with having their homework copied? I dunno...I never really ask.

[X] time of day? After dark or early morning.
[X] type of cloud? The cool-looking ones!
[X] weather? Brisk (or snow)
[X] sound? Guitar!
[X] smell? that smell in the acoustic section of guitar center
[X] jacket/hoodie? jacket
[X] non-generic feeling/emotion? aftershock.
[X] temperature? brisk
[X] piece of jewelery? jade necklace
[X] mental image? what's the rating on this?

[X] got relatives you've pretended you didn't know? no
[X] got relatives who've pretended they didn't know you? no
[X] does your grandma actually slip you money? yeah!
[X] do your aunts/uncles argue about who gets your grandparents' stuff when they die? no...jeez
[X] have any secret inbred cousins? no
[X] ever thought your cousin was totally hot? no
[X] have relatives that doesn't speak any english? heck yeah...guju pride!
[X] any royalty blood from way back when? no...but my grandfather was a senator in India
[X] are you a total ethnic mut? no
[X] does your ethnicity have a dash (-) in it? Indian-American, baby!