Hurricane Prep According to Dave Barry

We're about to enter the peak of the hurricane season. Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Ocean and making two basic meteorological points:

(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Mississippi or Florida . If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one." Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in MS .

We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:


If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and
(2) It is located in Nebraska .

Unfortunately, if your home is located in MS or Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since Hurricane George, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.


Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and -- if it's a major hurricane -- all the toilets. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, they will fall off.

Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

Hurricane-proof windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska .

Hurricane Proofing your property: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc... You should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says " Florida ," you live in a low-lying area). The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.


If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! MS and Florida tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of SPAM. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

1 23 flashlights. At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
2. Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it's traditional, so get some!)
3. 55 gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
4. A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)
5. A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)
6. $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck, and remember: it's great living in Paradise

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Was the question I was asking myself last night. This morning my supervisor directed me to take a mandatory rotation. In anticipation Gustav will land Sunday, I was advised to fly out of Gulfport Friday afternoon. So, Friday evening I will board a plane to Charlotte where I will grab a connecting flight to Reagan.
I am not sure how long I will be in Washington but I am looking forward to seeing my friends and my hair stylist again. I only wish my family and Stephanie lived closer so I could see them too.
This is the first time I have been forced to leave an area due to an impending hurricane. I never thought I would be sad or anxious to leave Mississip but I really am. This area is still recovering from Katrina's devestation and I shrink imagining how Biloxi and its residents may be affected by a similar storm. I sincerely hope Gustav will die in the Atlantic or decrease in strength but I am not feeling optimistic. I guess all we can do is wait and see.

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Dear Mom

Three months ago today, I kissed Corey goodbye, climbed into the car with Brett, who drove me to Rhonda's where I hugged her and Larry before setting off for the airport. I think I cried all the way there. It was horrible.
Although I had a car waiting for me when I landed I didn't have a hotel reservation and drove around for over an hour trying to find something before I decided on the Hampton Inn on Beach Boulevard.
I have always wanted to see New Orleans, especially the French Quarter and Garden District. My first weekend in Biloxi, Yolita invited me to join her for dinner in NOLA. It was wonderful. We met Jimbo in the French Quarter and listened to Jazz bands in Preservation Hall. I thought of you when they played Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.
Less than two weeks later I moved into a beautiful fully-furnished luxury condo down the beach in Biloxi. Although the view is wonderful from the balcony the king size plantation style bed is my favorite! Now if I could only find someone to share it with. Just kidding. Well, sort of.

A month after moving into my condo, I met Stephanie for a weekend in DC where she surprised me with a birthday party. It was wonderful! She also bought me survey tools. It was the perfect gift.
I returned to Biloxi in time to celebrate the Fourth. I attended a party at Mike's house where this photo was taken. Using Hugh's beach towel as a prop we decided to pose behind the "flag." Hugh, Amanda and I have been conducting deed research which can be frustrating at times but working with Hugh and Amanda makes the process more enjoyable.
When I'm not stuck in the office or conducting deed research, I am out in the field surveying houses with Laura and Amanda. At the beginning of August we surveyed 99 houses in Jackson County, MS. Georgia can be hot and sticky, but it's nothing compared to Moss Point, MS. Sweat was the least of our worries as we were constantly checking our hair and clothes for ticks and then there was the presence of alligators and poisonous snakes. We never spotted a gator but
Laura and Amanda found a cottonmouth snake in a shed. This dude came to our rescue with a shotgun but the snake escaped before the man could "blow it's head off."
I've also seen a few concerts in the past twelve weeks. Last Friday, Heather, Amanda (pictured here) and I saw Better Than Ezra in concert. I chose to join Heather and Amanda for two reasons; 1) It was free 2) Curiosity Ben liked BTE and once said one of their songs reminded him of me. The concert was fine. Their stage presence was not impressive but whatever. It was free and we had good seats.
Afterward the three of us danced to Human League on the beach as traffic raced by us. I can't imagine what people must have thought but it was so fun! I want to dance like a crazy woman on the beach more often even if I have to do it solo.
Tomorrow Joy and Kelli are flying down to visit. I am so excited. They are the first of my friends to do so but I hope they are not the last. Although there is a lot to do I still get lonely and long for Washington and the friends I left behind. I even miss Kentucky sometimes. I am trying to convince Daddy to visit and I think Joshie and Lauren may celebrate Christmas down here with Dad and I.
Three months ago my life was filled with uncertainty. I had no idea how long I would be here or where I would go after my contract expired. Now it appears I will be here as long as there is work to do. It's not DC but I am learning so much and making some really great friends along the way. I wish with all my heart you could have shared this experience with me. I imagine we would have spent hours by the pool or sunbathing on the beach. We would have talked for hours on the balcony watching traffic pass in our nightgowns like we used to do. There would have been trips to Wally World and long discussions about the books we'd read. There would have been pep-talks in the evening when I came home frustrated and I'm confident you would have teased me when I told you about a certain Marine I met at church. Don't worry he's not interested but I find it interesting that he is exactly the type of man you would choose for me. I am confident you would like him.
There would have been pedicures and long lunches at our favorite restaurants. We would share Diet Coke, yes, I have made the switch, drinking from the same glass and make brownies every weekend but it was not to be and I can't understand why you couldn't just hang around a little longer. I don't understand why things worked out the way they did. Why you made certain decisions and why God failed to intervene. I know people loose loved ones everyday but damn why you? Why now? and how in the hell am I supposed to make it? How am I going to make it through this life without you? I feel so lost and I would give anything, ANYTHING, just to talk to you, to hug you, to see you one more time.
I know I will see you again and I often try to imagine what that day will be like. Dad says you will be even more beautiful than you were here and we will laugh and talk for hours. Although I believe he's right it doesn't really comfort me. I miss you so much. I love you and I think about you everyday.
Love you forever-

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Every now and then I come upon a song that moves me to the core, that connects to something personal in a way I didn't expect. Where I stood by Missy Higgins is one of those songs. I wish I had heard this in 2002! Perfection.

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Quote of the Day

" Preservationists keep it up longer"

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Baby Paisley

Tonight I received an email announcing the birth of Denisha and Rodney's baby girl, Paisley LaRue Sproul. Paisley was born on Monday, August 11th at 2:46pm. She weighed 8lbs 12 oz and as Daddy and I watched Rodney holding up baby Paisley for the family to see we both agreed she was absolutely perfect. I have never witnessed the birth of a human baby and although I wasn't present in the delivery room it was an incredible experience. Denisha was so brave and Rodney was the perfect doting husband attentive to her every need.

Although we are not related by blood I feel so close to the Marchant family. It's an affinity much like that I feel toward the Harbours and Rhonda and Larry. I have experienced so much pain this year but mixed with the pain I have also experienced a lot of joy.
The last time I flew home was to inter my Mother. I returned for the first time since her passing to celebrate new life. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and I wish with all my heart she could have been there with Daddy and I. She loved babies and I know she would have swooned over all the infants just as much as we did. She may have recounted her own experiences and I would have glowed thinking she was proud to be a mother; my mother.
Talking to Denisha or Nish before the delivery I observed that I often feel she is more mature than her older sister, Desi and myself who is one year her senior. Nish now has two babies and has been married for several years. She possesses a wisdom, Desi and I cannot share until we become mothers. I don't envy her, I celebrate her and marvel at the irony that both women, younger than I should proceed me in the life events that matter most to a woman; marriage and family.
Congratulations to the Sproul and Marchant families! Paisley is an angel and I look forward to watching her grow into a woman not unlike her grandmother, mother and aunties. Thank you for allowing me to share in such a sacred and wonderful event. I love you!

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Mosaic of Me

Here's the meme:
If you want to play too, type your answer to each of the questions below into a Flickr search. Using only the first page, choose your favorite image, then copy and paste each of the URL’s into the mosaic maker (3 columns, 4 rows). Leave a comment if you play, so I can have a peek.

The questions:

1. What is your first name? (Stephanie)
2. What is your favorite food? (Crisp & Juciy Chicken, DC)
3. What high school did you attend? (Saugus, CA)
4. What is your favorite color? (green)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (Simon Baker)
6. Favorite drink? (Coke)
7. Dream vacation? (Around the world in 180 days)
8. Favorite dessert? (Magic Cookie Bars)
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? (See picture)
10. What do you love most in life? (family)
11. One word to describe you. (gregarious)
12. Your Flickr name. (StephinMT)

1. Stephanie, 2. Rotisserie Peruvian Chicken, 3. What to do in Saugus:, 4. green spar, 5. baby - the other "other" white meat, 6. Coke or Pepsi?, 7. Cruising along at 39,000 feet, 8. 7-Layer or Magic Bars resting on a pottery dish, 9. the (e)x, 10. Golden monkey, 11. A very gregarious Su rolls around in the snow, 12. View from Edgewater bar "Six Seven"

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All kidding aside...

...that was an utterly breathtaking Opening Ceremony. I'm simply stunned at how amazing it was.

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Opening Ceremonies

Boo, my love, I didn't know you when this was made but everytime I hear it I think of you. :)



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Fantastic campaign.

I laughed out loud when I saw this commercial.

Mmmmm. Wind.

I'm sure that by the time I die I will have devoted more words to my love of wind than even, say, love of my mother.

Today was a humid day for Montana and I spent it prepping my tiny yard for new grass seed. Why am I working on improving a rental property? Just cause. It's something to fill my days with. Soon the childrens will go back into college and someone will need a waitress and that's how I'll support myself until I finish this damn degree. Until then, the hours stretch on. So I work on the yard to keep myself from running into the nearest bar and screaming, "Please! Physical affection! I'll pay you!"

But I digress.

The air was still as I worked today and I just thought about how good it would feel if there were a breeze. Tonight I was rewarded with a huge thunder storm. I love mobile air. And my Mom.

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