Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ohio been Iked!

On Sunday hurricane Ike blew through here, leaving behind a trail of damage on a pretty wide scale. Ike packed a lot of energy to begin with, but our problem was worsened by the meeting of his southerly "warmth" with a cold front coming in from the west. They decided to wrestle each other in Ohio. Winds reached top speeds of 75 miles per hour (120 km/hr), and they lasted quite a while. There were several deaths in the state, deaths of people that is, but the material damage was quite big. Even yesterday, the day after, there were still some two million people without power in the state, about 500,000 of them in central Ohio alone. Some people will not have electricity restored until next week. Downed trees everywhere, some of them hundreds of years old. In our neighborhood, there were downed trees and ripped off shutters, but not much else. We lost power from about 4 pm till 10 pm, which is two hours on both sides of dusk. That's really prime time in Ramadan. We waited and then had to leave at the last minute, to hunt for food. Of course everyone in town was out on the hunt, and some restaurants were not even open that late on a Sunday. We were lucky because the power came back for us just as we got back home and were starting up some candles.

Yesterday I got to work and found the campus area in worse shape. There are a lot of narrow side streets lined with tall old trees. Narrow streets make for good wind tunnels, much to the demise of those beautiful trees. An ugly death scene, really. Power still out, traffic lights dead, and...

A couple of things I learned: Traffic lights actually speed up traffic not slow it down! That was a flip. Also, if fasting is partly meant to train people to be less dependent on things taken for granted, then electricity should be added to the list. They ought to have programmed/scheduled power outages. It would be like fire drills and tests of the emergency warning systems. Not only individual people, but communities need to be trained. The pictures below are samples of many sent by people to local TV.

OK, how do you define unlucky?

Honey, look what the wind just brought in!

Another unwelcome visitor

Wind power vs. fossil fuel

Sunday, September 07, 2008

If Yogi were Libyan...

Mr. Yogi Berra is an interesting American personality. He has many impressive achievements in baseball, as a player, a coach and a manager. But that's not all. Yogi is also a master of a certain kind of speech, really a form of concentrated poetic philosophy, and an art that uses the medium of language in absurd statements of truths. If Yogi were a Libyan, he'd be a master of 'Alemm (one-verse poetry), that's for sure, but what might he say? First, let's look at some of his American sayings to get what this guy is about...

- On baseball: "This game is 90% mental. The other half is physical."

- Turning down an invitation to a popular restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

- Giving directions to his house: "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." He really meant both ways get you there, but now it is a great teaching against being indecisive.

- When his wife asked where he wanted to be buried, considering he was born in one city, played most of his career in another, and lived in a third. Yogi said, "Surprise me!"

- When asked if a certain player had exceeded his expectations: "He's done more than that."

- An umpire made a close call on a hit that went to the corner, near the wood post, and was reflected into fair territory. It was called a foul, which is not in Yogi's favor. The question was whether the ball had hit the wooden post, which would make it fair, or reflected off the concrete behind the post, which would make it a foul. Yogi protrested, "Anyone who can't tell the difference between a ball hitting wood and a ball hitting concrete, has got to be blind!"

- "I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4." He meant between 1 and 4.

- "It's like deja vu, all over again."

- Yogi is practical: "Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel."

- "There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell 'em."

- On fan freedom: "If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's going to stop them."

- On the poor sunlight conditions in Yankee stadium left field: "It gets late awfully early out there."

- Yogi the philosopher: "The future ain't what it used to be."

- A confirming denial: "I really didn't say all the things I said."

You get the idea. Now, what would Yogi say if he were Libyan? I think Libyan culture would provide a fertile environment for a talent like Yogi's. He even looks like he could pass for a Libyan. What do you think?

1. "Libyans don't take criticism well because they get it all the time."

2. ...