mellicious: pink manicure (nautilus)
(Written yesterday.)

Remember when I was talking about Buc-ee's? I went to Galveston for a doctor appointment this morning, and on the way back I spotted a new billboard on the freeway - for the Buc-ee's in Madisonville, 138 miles away. It said so on the sign. It didn't say Madisonville, I just happen to know that's where it is. It's sort of hard for me to believe that it's really cost effective to put up a billboard that far away from the destination they're advertising. Do that many people really leave Galveston and drive straight through Houston to Dallas? (which is some 250 miles, so the Buc-ee's is more or less halfway.) I think of most Galveston tourists as being from the Houston area but I know some do come further. (I didn't bring a camera so I don't have photographic evidence for the billboard, but it looked essentially like the one I posted before, anyway.)

I hadn't been to Galveston in a couple of months - there are still pockets of destruction visible but things are back to some semblance of normal, at least, and the tourists are back in force. It's that time of year, though - as a former tourist industry worker, I would say the peak tourist season in Galveston is about July 1st to mid-August. The minute the kids go back to school, it's over. Wanna visit Galveston with the warm weather but without the crowds? Do it after school starts.

The doctor's visit was mostly about prescription refills, so nothing much interesting to report there. Oh, except that I learned that my doctor lives in one of the few areas of Galveston which did not flood, lucky woman. I hadn't seen her in a year, so we had to catch up on the (massive) changes in all of our lives since then. Things at UTMB are edging back towards normal a bit, too.  The office was busier than the last time I went, for sure, and the clinics in general were, too, but still nothing like it used to be. I hear the ER is about to re-open, though, so that will push things back towards normalcy some more. (If you're not entirely getting the connection, it's because the ER is a big driver of admissions and clinic visits and all that stuff. So "getting back to normal" as far as volume of business at UTMB can't really happen at all without it.)
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
I know some people have seen this article already - and the thing is, I don't disagree with a lot of what she says. But I went to Galveston right after I read it yesterday, and I thought, "Hell, this place isn't dead." It's going to be a different city for a while, and it may end up a smaller city, but it ain't gone just yet.

I drove down Broadway, and there's still a ton of trash piled up out there, but apparently that's because Broadway is technically a state highway and the city isn't allowed to pick up trash there. (It's been in the paper, lately, which is why I know the answer to this. The state said they were held up by having to award contracts for the trash pickup and it will be done "soon".) But things are clean behind the trash piles, for the most part, and the stoplights are all back on and the businesses are starting to reopen in force. In general I was pleasantly surprised.


I went to Galveston because I had a check to put in the bank (a very belated estate check) and then my boss kinda did one of those, "Well, while you're going..." things, and I ended up going by the office. Which ended up being rather heartening, too, really. The rumor lately has been that our building wasn't going to be ready to move back into until January, and I'm sure there's some reason for that that I didn't see - but honestly, our office looked fine. The elevators were working (the front ones, anyway - I didn't try the ones in the back of the building and I suspect they are not functional) and the a/c was on and the toilets were working, although the bathroom lights were off, for some reason. And most of the plants were alive, rather amazingly, after all this time. I think a couple of my co-workers have been up there at various times and have watered them.

Well, anyway, I want to be able to enjoy working at home for a bit, before we have to go back, so I'm not trying to rock the boat. And like I said, I'm sure that for some reason the building is not approved to be open. But from the looks of things it's perfectly okay, at least in our area.
mellicious: pink manicure (Default)

We had an impromptu department meeting this morning, and my boss said that the outlook has improved somewhat. Apparently all the other entities that have been having to treat all those indigent patients that UTMB normally treats are screaming bloody murder, and the powers that be (that is, the state government and the UT Board of Regents) are taking notice. That's not to say there won't still be layoffs, but maybe not as many, anyway. I have been worried because we have had so little work to do, but apparently - according to my boss, who got it from her boss, the CFO - this is because everything is on hold, basically, while we wait for somebody to make a decision. (Meanwhile Rob has gotten worried about the future of his job - it's ok for now, as we thought, but now there's some question about how they will handle student housing for next year. The fun never ends.)

[Originally this had a filter that took all the local people out.] I trust you guys with the work gossip, partly because you're further away. What do you care?
 

Maybe I shouldn't have gotten it, but I really like my new car. It drives beautifully and it feels just a tad bigger than Rob's (2007) Corolla. I've been feeling a bit guilty because the final bill was a good bit more than we anticipated, by the time you added all the tax and gap insurance and stuff, but I just have to think of it as a long-term purchase, that's all. I never really thought of the Ford that way - I certainly meant to keep it quite a bit longer than the year-and-a-half I ended up having it, but I never thought I'd be keeping it for ten years or anything like that. This one better last that long, and longer.

I went to Target yesterday (after I went home early because I felt sick - shh, don't tell my boss!), and I found a rug I like for the bathroom, which I hadn't been able to anywhere else. I am picky about bathroom rugs, apparently.


WoW has been cranky lately, and it's been making me cranky - [livejournal.com profile] columbina too, probably, although I haven't actually talked to him in a couple of days so I'm not quite sure. They put in a new patch, and the new expansion is coming out soon, and everybody and their brother who has ever played WoW (i.e., the entire geek world, basically) is playing all of a sudden. And the servers can't quite handle the influx. Makes me a bit alarmed for what it's going to be like when the expansion actually comes out.

(This was written earlier today. Col and I actually had a very nice evening playing with no serious problems, for once.)

mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
I have a new car! Woot! I actually don't go get the money from State Farm until tomorrow but I spent more than we're going to get, anyway - I decided that even with Carmax, who is supposed to be on guard for these things (such as water damage, I mean), I don't feel comfortable buying a used car right now. So I have a brand new green 2009 Corolla with ABS brakes and side airbags and all other kinds of bells and whistles. And a gray interior, yay! (I am just not a fan of beige.) Tight credit, smight credit - the dealer and the credit union were falling all over themselves to give us low interest rates. However, we took the somewhat-higher rate the credit union gave us - still awfully low - and a $500 rebate from Toyota instead.

Pictures of the car to come. Instead, here is a picture of my current workplace:

Temporary digs
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
(Written earlier tonight)
We are at the Hampton Inn in Moline, Illinois, and there is no internet. There is supposed to be internet, but there is not. The front desk is extremely apologetic (especially since I am now a Hilton HHHonors silver member thanks to my frequent hotel stays) but there is no internet just the same, and they're not sure when it will be back. Sigh.

I got on WoW again before dinner, briefly, and it seemed to be working fine. Columbine, as usual, managed to find the answer even though he disavowed any knowledge of Windows Vista - he still knew where to look, or figured it out. (I had to left-click on the icon and click 'run as administrator' to get it to install correctly.)

I am going to have to post the entry I wrote yesterday - or maybe it was day before yesterday, I'm not sure - before I post this one so you will have the background about all the indecision about what route to take coming home. But we decided to take the more northern one. If we really had more time to screw around I would have gone all the way to Fargo, probably, because I am crazy, but this is about as far north as we are going. In case you are not all that up on your Illinois geography, Moline is one of the Quad Cities, across the river from Davenport, Iowa. You know last spring when they had all those floods? That was partially around here somewhere, I believe.

We went across Indiana and Illinois today, and made sort of a big circle around Chicago. Tomorrow we are going to drive ALL the way across Iowa and poke our noses into Nebraska before we start south. It's a long way to go just because I think I-55 is boring, isn't it? Well, I don't care.


Now it is 10:20 - at least if I have my time zones right, but I'm pretty sure I do because we are west of Chicago and I KNOW Chicago is Central - and the internet came back just about the time Col gave up on me showing up to play WoW and went to bed. Which is just as well under the circumstances but frustrating. We will have to try again tomorrow.

So let's see, what haven't I covered? It's rather difficult for me to remember right now. I applied for FEMA assistance yesterday morning (back at the Lima Panera Bread) and got an automated call from them last night saying we were approved for the hotel expenses - sort of frighteningly efficent, isn't it? We still have no real idea what is going on at home so we may try to find a place to use for a home base until we find out for sure whether our apartment is livable or not. We can have assistance for a month from the time of the storm - I think they said until October 14th. I think we were eligible for some other kind of reimbursement also but I forget what it was. Nothing big.

I am generally much better today, just mostly travel-weary. Regarding what I was stressing out about yesterday, my father-in-law correctly pointed out that if there had really been as much water in the vicinity of our apartments as my father was trying to imply there was, not only would my car have moved but the dumpster it was parked next to would have, too. Here is the satellite picture as linked from the Galveston paper:

satellite photo of galveston

The original is on flickr, and really gigantic, but if you blow it up all the way and look at the right spot, you can clearly see my car right where I left it, and the dumpster right where it was, too. So I think it is fairly unlikely that there was all that much water - at least not, you know, probably not six or eight feet or anything like that. That's not to say my apartment is not wet, but still. I am back to having hope. And I thumb my nose at my father.

(I put some annotations on the Flickr page, to give you an idea, if you're interested.)

Breathing

Sep. 19th, 2008 11:33 am
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
The longer this goes on, the tenser I get. It busts out occasionally, although mostly I am holding it together pretty well. Mostly.

I'm at McDonald's. Not surprisingly, McDonald's internet is not great. I have also done some internetting from the Celina Wine Store, which is a combination liquor store and restaurant that (surprisingly) has good and free wi-fi. I spend a lot of time on the Galveston Daily News website, trying to figure out what's going on in Galveston. I also have spent some time banging my head against the wall because I couldn't see the damn screen, but today I found a plug to hook the laptop into, and so the screen brightness is not as much of a problem as it was. (Yeah, I know there's a way to fix it, but that was part of the headbanging, that I didn't know anything at all about how things work with a laptop. It's just the learning curve.)

I bought some clothes, including a hoodie because I was afraid I was going to be cold up here, but so far I haven't actually needed it. I don't get up early enough in the morning - it's warmed up by the time I get outside anyway.

Sitting in McDonald's and hearing people talking makes me despair. I guess I should not take the Celina McDonald's clientele as representative of all of Ohio. (Middle-aged mom: "Sarah Palin is awesome!" And then she claims to be a Democrat. I had to bite my tongue. I'm of the opinion that if you admire that woman you can't be much of a Democrat.)

Tomorrow I am probably going to go meet [livejournal.com profile] karen_d  somewhere in the vicinity of Toledo. We figured out (or rather she did) that that was sort of halfway. There seems to be a bead shop around there somewhere. Karen and I tend to put on the shopping when we get together.
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
OK so. Where to start. I am writing this on the new laptop, which is a, um, shiny new Dell of some sort... apparently it's an Inspiron 1420. I'm sure that means something to somebody. It has a 14" screen, I believe, and a dual processor and 3gb of memory and a 250gb hard drive, as I recall. Which actually means it should theoretically be faster than my desktop. I really know next to nothing about laptops, as far as security and so forth. I am on the hotel's network and it said it was unsecured and then it asked me for a password, so I am all confused about that. Is it secure? Not? (I suspect it's iffy so I am being a bit cautious about logging onto things.) Everybody is welcome to chime in on what I need to fix.

We were late leaving Bryan yesterday, and we spent most of the day getting out of Texas. You either have to go to Dallas, which is out of the way, or cut across country, and after some waffling about it we chose the latter. It turned out to be fairly fast, though. We may just have gotten lucky there. We hit I-45 and Highway 59 at various times, both of which go to Houston, and we saw whole convoys of electric trucks along with the stream of people returning home. When we stopped for lunch you could tell that nearly everybody was an evacuee, most of them going the opposite direction from us.

We spent the night last night at Arkadelphia... oh, that reminds me. I haven't read friendslists or anything yet, and I'm sure this is not news, but gas has seemingly been going up up up since we have been on the road. We paid maybe $3.59 or so in Bryan last Friday. Yesterday on the way out it didn't seem that much higher. Rob swears that when we first pulled into Arkadelphia last night they all said $3.80-something and by the time we came back out to go to dinner they had all changed their prices to $3.99. And outside of Nashville this afternoon we paid $4.09 and we saw higher prices than that some places. (We still figure it's going to be cheaper than paying last-minute prices on the airfare, though.)

Anyway, we stayed at the Hampton Inn at Arkadelphia, and we are also at the Hampton here. The one at Arkadelphia was much newer and nicer, although this one is ok. They both seem to have identical breakfast buffets, from what we could tell coming in. It was pretty decent, we thought.

Sorry this is a bit disjointed. I feel disjointed. Aside from just being tired from the travel, I woke up in the middle of the night last night worrying about whether we were going to have to clean mud or whatever out of the apartment and how bad it would be and how long it would take... and I finally got up and took another half an Ambien to shut my brain down. I am trying not to think too much about that, and succeeding, for the most part. There's no use in worrying about it - bear in mind that we don't even know that there was any water actually in the apartment at all. And there's still no phone service to Galveston so we can't ask.

My boss said that the big boss said that it would be at least a month before they called us back, they thought. (There was 4 feet of water in the bottom of our building at work, for one thing.). Rob finally talked to his boss today and he didn't seem to be saying that they would be going back any earlier than anybody else, which was what we were worried about. I was intending to go to Austin next weekend to the quilt show there, and if nothing happens to bring us home earlier than that we will probably just head back and keep those hotel reservations. We are not inclined to think we will want to stay in Ohio any longer than maybe the beginning of next week, anyway. (For one thing, the bed in Rob's parents' house hurts my back.)

This thing is not bad to type on. But I am not too crazy about the touchpad - I guess I'll get used to it - and it bugs me not having a number-pad because I use mine an awful lot. I am going to get a lot better about navigating with the keyboard, I suspect.
mellicious: pink manicure (Default)
Alright, they finally posted and said that there will be no classes for at least a week and normal clinical activities will not resume for at least two weeks. That's not to say they couldn't call us back earlier, but at least a week seems likely. So unless we hear something in the morning to stop us, we are probably headed to Ohio sometime tomorrow. We're just going to drive on up there and take our time (going, at least) and kill two birds with one stone. It doesn't sound like the power will be back on in Galveston any time soon and right now there's no water, either, so home isn't liveable even if everything turns out to be okay there. Hopefully they'll give us 48 hours on having to return and we can get back in that time if we really need to. (It's two loooong days or 3 shorter ones, from here to Ohio.)

We went to Wal-Mart and looked at the laptops and as usual with Wal-Mart and electronics, I got frustrated because they were all locked up and stomped out. We'll have to find a Best Buy somewhere, or maybe an Office Depot or something.
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)

They finally let the news helicopters fly over Galveston, and we have our first tentative "news" about home - a quick flyover shot of our apartment complex, revealing no visible major damage and no visible standing water, and cars sitting in the parking lot looking normal. It went by too fast for me to pick out MY car or anything, but the very fact that they moved on so quickly is sort of a good sign - because if they'd seen anything the news people thought was interesting they would've slowed down. So there's that.

We're toying with the idea of driving up to Ohio for a few days. We're guessing that it's going to be at least a week before things can get back to (semi-)normal at work, maybe more, so we're thinking we may just take off and go. We're trying to get hold of our supervisors and see if we can get any confirmation that we wouldn't get in trouble there by doing this. If we can't get them we may just go anyway. If worse comes to worst we can get home again in two days, and surely we'd have that much notice.

mellicious: pink manicure (Dr Who - blink)

We are starting to cautiously hope that the fact that we haven't seen our apartment building on CNN (or anywhere else) is a good sign. There are some indications that there was a lot less water west of the San Luis. But we haven't seen any pictures whatsoever from down that way, so we don't really know. And we won't be able to get back onto the island for at least a couple of days so the suspense will have to continue.
 

mellicious: pink manicure (Totoro: bus stop)

Not much news out of Galveston yet. We are just waiting to hear. My dad called and said the oak tree in their front yard came down and hit the neighbors' house, but luckily the neighbors weren't there. He lives in the middle of a damn pine forest (on the north side of Houston) and they had pretty severe wind so there are trees down all over the place. Still not much wind here, but a lot of rain. Looking at the radar I'm not sure why there's not more wind.

mellicious: pink manicure (lotus)

Canal St.
Originally uploaded by Mellicious.

I love New Orleans. I know the touristy part is almost guaranteed to be the first thing to come back, but it won't be the same, and it makes me sad.

(This was taken in January of 2004.)

mellicious: pink manicure (umbrellas)
We went to Wal-Mart Thursday and it appeared that the Red Cross had beaten us there. At least, that's what we were theorizing. There weren't a lot of items that were completely gone, but a lot of the staples were visibly depeted - not so much the traditional staples like flour and sugar, but more the kind you would use to cook for a modern-day mob - pancake mix, Zatarain's rice dishes, even pizza. And when we left we saw them wheeling out a huge palette full of stuff. There is a shelter in the Methodist church here so I'm assuming that's where it was going.


Overheard in the ER:
-- Nurse to unknown patient down the hall (I'm guessing it was one of the evacuees, who all seemed to be quite elderly), very patiently: "This is a hospital. I'm your nurse."
-- One nurse telling another how much it sucks to work here. (This is really the reason this entry is friendslocked* because saying that, especially right within hearing distance of a patient, could get her in very much trouble. It was really an extremely inappropriate comment, don't you think?)
-- Apparently a lot of people here are on call to go to Louisiana for Search & Rescue ops. It's interesting that they hadn't (as of Friday) been called out.


Not that this is really going to surprise anybody who knows me, but the worst thing about being in the hospital? No computer. I imagine that I might could've borrowed a laptop from work (after all, it wouldn't even be leaving the premises) but I don't think we run to campus-wide wi-fi just yet, so it wouldn't've done me that much good.


I said I was going to have a rant in me soon, and it came out on paper while I watched the news in the hospital the last couple of days. Check Whys & Wherefores - hopefully I'll manage to get it into the computer soon.


*unlocked long after the fact

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