Blog Archives

Rock Me Like A Hurricane

Crazy weather is heading my way! (Karrock/Pix11)

I am sad to report that Hurricane Joaquin is currently bearing down on the East Coast, so there may be some delay in my next blog posting. Fortunately, Joaquin—which is as unpredictable as the famous actor of the same name—has taken a turn to the east and may miss me completely. Meteorologists obviously have no idea what will happen next, but I fully expect to return next week. Until then, be safe out there and have a great weekend, people!

Snowed!

Yay! We have the milk and bread needed to survive the snow! (Bits and Pieces)

It’s almost time for snowy hell to break loose!

According to the most recent weather reports for my area—eastern North Carolina—a snow storm is bearing down on us and should strike sometime this afternoon. And you know what that means, right?

Get your ass to the grocery store for milk and bread quickly! Supplies are likely already running out!

Of course, I never understood why milk and bread were in such high demand when bad weather approached. Personally, I don’t go out of my way to ingest either of them with great frequency, which means I would likely turn to other foods in an emergency. Yet they both disappear from store shelves so fast that it makes me wonder: Are there other uses for milk and bread of which I am largely unaware?

Any insight you can provide in the comments section would be greatly appreciated, dear readers. Until then, however, please know that any lapse in blog posts from Gnostic Bent is likely indicative of my own efforts to survive the great snow storm to come. Wish me luck!

Closed for the Day

The Bent should be back on track again soon! (Cypruslk)

The Bent should be back on track again soon! (Cypruslk)

Between caring for a sick child, dealing with a sore back and a mild case of the flu, and waiting for a terrible thunderstorm to move into the area, I’m afraid blogging will have to fall by the wayside. With any luck, though—and provided a twister doesn’t carry me away to the Land of Oz in the next few hours—Gnostic Bent should return tomorrow with another demented post.

See you peeps then… I hope!

So Cold

It's beginning to look a lot like hypothermia (AP)

It’s beginning to look a lot like hypothermia (AP)

Thanks to a huge winter storm that hit the mid-Atlantic Coast of the United States—as well as areas throughout the Upper Midwest—millions of Americans are currently “digging out” of snow and ice and dealing with bitter cold and wind. Snow seems to be tapering off in many areas, but the wind chill and arctic temperatures make it far too cold to stay outside for long.

Trust me. I smoke cigarettes—always outside so I don’t stink up my house—and can barely finish half of one during each smoke break… and even those are becoming far less frequent.

I hope his mustache doesn't snap off! (English Russia)

I hope his mustache doesn’t snap off! (English Russia)

New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking never seem to work for me, but freeze-your-balls-off temperatures might do the trick!

At any rate—and because my hands are still too frozen to continue typing for much longer (I took another ill-fated smoke break not too long ago)—I decided to focus today’s post on it being so damned cold outside. How cold is it, you ask?

It’s so cold that:

  • My testicles can double as ice cubes.
  • The rock rattling around in my shoe is actually my toe.
  • My nipples are picking up satellite radio.
  • Lawyers have their hands in their own pockets.
  • I have to open the refrigerator to heat the house.
  • People look forward to getting a fever.
  • Pet stores are selling hamsters, gerbils and penguins.

    Jack Popsicle-son in "The Shining" (Warner Brothers)

    Jack Popsicle-son in “The Shining” (Warner Brothers)

  • The local flasher was seen describing himself to women.
  • The Statue of Liberty put her torch inside her dress.
  • Fire hydrants are begging dogs to pee on them.
  • I chipped a tooth while eating soup!
  • Richard Simmons started wearing pants.
  • Even the Good Humor Man is in a bad mood.
  • The Amish are buying electric blankets!
  • Folks have to use icicles as firewood.
  • My car won’t start running and my nose won’t stop!
  • I had to check my driver’s license to confirm my masculine gender.
  • My dog’s wiener got frozen to a fire hydrant.
  • The water in Coloradans’ bongs turned to ice before they could enjoy their store-bought weed!
  • Politicians are finally starting to worry about the homeless.
  • Cows are producing soft-serve ice cream instead of milk

    This is what I call snow shoveling in style (yurfunny)

    This is what I call snow shoveling in style (yurfunny)

  • Dogs suddenly want to wear the sweaters you knitted for them.
  • A bird pooped on my car and cracked the windshield!

Stay warm, peeps!

Rain Check

Rain CheckIn lieu of a new blog post today, I instead offer a RAIN CHECK good for one new blog post tomorrow.

I don’t know how the weather is where you are, but here it is pretty nasty. It’s cold, windy and—obviously—rainy. A television weather person might describe it as “partly crappy with a 90% chance of shitty as the day progresses.” And I would certainly agree.

The highlight of my day was winter graduation at the small, private college where I work. I was fortunate enough to watch six of my students walk across the stage. And believe me, when you run a program for freshmen labeled as “at-risk” and try to help guide them through four to six years of college, seeing them reach this milestone is pretty special. I couldn’t be more proud than if my own children had completed this arduous journey.

Of course, it’s all been downhill since then. I returned to a cold, dark house, ate some lunch and sat down to write, only to doze off a few minutes later. The two-hour nap did me some good, mind you, but it also wiped out what little energy I had—or should I say what little energy hadn’t already been drained by the damp, depressing weather.

A trip to the sunny lands of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag might cheer me up (Ubisoft)

There is fresh coffee in the kitchen now—which I should probably splash in my face instead of drinking so it can work its magic faster—but even it can’t provide the motivation I need to be truly productive. Honestly, though, why should I be productive today? I worked hard all week and deserve to be lazy, lie around in my “apartment pants” (don’t ask) and do nothing.

Actually, this plan has already been implemented and, as much as I hate to say it, it doesn’t leave much room for blogging. This represents the extent of it today, but I assure you that Gnostic Bent will return tomorrow come rain or shine. Until then, I hope you all enjoy what’s left of your Saturday… and manage to stay dry, which is obviously a challenge for me.

Peace out and be good to each other, peeps!

Making Waves

The awesome power of the sea cannot be denied (Desktop Nexus)

“Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but his control stops with the shore.”  – Lord Byron

The power of the sea has been well documented throughout human history—perhaps beginning with The Great Flood that sent Noah aboard the ark with representatives of every animal species on earth (if you believe this actually happened, of course). For all its beauty and wonder, though, there can be little doubt that our oceans possess another, more formidable quality: danger. The sea can bring life—as it did when humans first crawled out of the primordial slime, which aligns more with my own evolutionist beliefs—but it can also bring death.

Just look at what happened to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines a few weeks ago. The deadliest typhoon in the nation’s history claimed more than 5,600 lives and quickly ranked as the fourth strongest ever in terms of wind speed. And where did it originate, you ask? In the ocean near Micronesia—another example of how destructive the sea can be, especially when high winds “fuel the fire,” so to speak.

My daily scan of the news sites revealed even more examples of the ocean affecting human beings. Here are a few stories that caught my eye and illustrate why we should all respect the seas that surround us.

CRYSTAL BEACH, FLORIDA

Stephen Chadwick and Joseph Citro were heading to meet some friends on Sunday afternoon when their boat suddenly started to take on water. The men immediately capsized the boat in an effort to keep it afloat, but it didn’t work and they were forced to try to swim to shore.

Drowning has to be a terrible way to die (Straight Speak)

Citro used a backpack as a flotation device, while Chadwick used the only available life vest. Before the men could reach the shore, however, Chadwick lost consciousness. Citro pulled him to the beach and performed CPR until paramedics arrived and rushed them to a local hospital. Unfortunately, Chadwick died from his injuries a short while later. He was 24 years old.

OAHU, HAWAII

On Saturday, University of Hawaii running back Willis Wilson went with friends to an Oahu beach to enjoy some surf and sand. He and a few others waded out into waist-deep water and were fine until the sea sent a huge wave crashing down on them.

Fortunately, the people with Wilson at the time managed to make it back to shore safely, but there was no sign of the young football player. Authorities launched an air, land and sea search and, sadly, recovered Wilson’s lifeless body several hours later.

As heartbreaking as this tragedy is, it’s even worse when you consider that Wilson recently transferred to the University of Hawaii—where his father played football in the 1980s—and had not yet appeared in a game this season. And now he won’t appear in a game ever again. What a sad turn of events.

SAN PEDRO, CALIFORNIA

The destruction of Typhoon Haiyan (Boston.com)

The final example of the ocean’s fury occurred on Saturday—apparently a very unlucky day to hit the beach—and involved a 36-year-old Good Samaritan who basically sacrificed his own life to save others.

The tragedy happened near the Cabrillo Beach breakwater—a popular spot for taking pictures and fishing—when a teenager and 49-year-old man were suddenly swept into the ocean. The victim leapt into action and tried to save them, but his efforts were in vain. The older man managed to make it to shore on his own and divers pulled the teen from the water, but there was nothing to be done for the victim. He was pulled from the sea and transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead later. Luckily, the other potential victims were in good health and were released from the hospital the same day.

Yes, the oceans can be beautiful and inspiring, but never forget the enormous dangers they can bring. And always show the proper respect to the sea or who knows? You could be next!

Floods Continue to Devastate Colorado

The flooding in Boulder, Colorado (US Army/EPA)

The flooding in Boulder, Colorado (US Army/EPA)

Less than a week ago, an unusual amount of rain started to fall in-and-around Boulder, Colorado. And over the span of the next four days, an area accustomed to 1.63 inches of average rainfall experienced a whopping 14.62 inches—almost nine times more than usual. Light winds allowed the storms to linger and, needless to say, the entire area flooded.

Unfortunately, rain continues to fall and the flooding has spread to at least 15 counties. The good news is that as of Wednesday night, only four fatalities had been confirmed—one in El Paso County and three in Boulder County. This number could rise, though, because as many as 1,000 people are still unaccounted for.

And the physical damage to the area, as you might imagine, is extensive. The latest estimates are in the hundreds of millions, but even that number is likely to rise as the waters recede.

Living through a flood is a horrible experience and one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I know because my area was hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. And the subsequent flooding crippled eastern North Carolina for months—even years—to come.

The hurricane itself was nothing to write home about. Despite living in town with some friends, I decided to stay with my parents in case I got stranded—they were much more prepared for such things and could afford more groceries. My fridge looked like the culinary representation of some vast desert of nothingness: a ketchup bottle here, some spoiled leftovers there and a few random, mismatched items scattered about.

Longmont, Colorado saw extensive damage (Cliff Grassmick/AP)

Longmont, Colorado saw extensive damage (Cliff Grassmick/AP)

I could also keep my eye on the parental units to ensure they survived the storm, which was my true purpose for staying there, of course.

The night Floyd finally arrived, I found myself crashing on the sofa in our upstairs playroom. Sheets of rain slapped against the window all night and winds swirled and hummed, but overall it wasn’t much of a storm. Sure, the rain kept coming and coming, but I never saw trees falling and as far as I can remember, we never lost power, either.

The word anticlimactic would have been an understatement given all the “wrath of God” weather forecasts we suffered through as Hurricane Floyd approached. The next morning—and since everything outside looked wet, but otherwise normal—I bid farewell to my parents, pillaged some groceries and chicken nuggets and set off for home.

I got about a quarter of a mile down the road before I realized the real consequence of the storm: flooding. The entire highway had been cut off by waters that continued to rise. I had no choice but to turn back and look for another route. Fortunately, I grew up here and knew lots of different ways to get where I was going.

And nearly every single one of them was underwater.

Hours passed as I drove down one road, turned around, tried another, turned around and repeated the process over and over again. By the time I finally made it home—and after going miles out of my way to cut back around to my neighborhood—I found myself short on food (aside from what I had with me), without power or water and, worst of all, alone.

My roommates had basically decided to follow my lead and to head home to be with their parents, too.

The damage in Rocky Mount from Floyd (ABC News)

The damage in Rocky Mount from Floyd (ABC News)

Eventually, power was restored and I was able to stock my fridge again, but this was small consolation given all the other “ripple effects” of the storm. The restaurant where I worked was located in an old power plant next to a river, so its entire first level got pretty much wiped out. The walk-in cooler in the kitchen split off from the building and started shifting towards the river. And all the downstairs windows were busted out, allowing all sorts of junk and debris to float through the dining room.

Rumor had it some dead bodies even floated through there—victims upriver who made their first post-mortem visit to the restaurant—so that added a creepy effect once the place reopened later… a lot later.

Like many of my friends and countless others in the flood-damaged area, I spent the next six months collecting unemployment and struggling to make ends meet. What’s worse, a storage unit I had filled with furniture, electronics and all sorts of memories—including some autographs from famous celebrities and athletes—was completely washed out. I lost everything.

It’s been said that time heals all wounds. And in many ways, it’s true. The memory of Hurricane Floyd, the flooding and everything I suffered through are just that… a memory. But the scars of that difficult time in my life remain, as I’m sure they will for the people of northern Colorado.

An aerial shot of eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd (US Army)

An aerial shot of eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd (US Army)

Of course, the flooding, damage and death are still happening in Colorado, so it will be some time before life there returns to normal. I am obviously not a very religious person—those of you who are might consider sending some prayers to these folks—but I can sympathize and will certainly be sending some positive vibes to my brethren in the west.

Hopefully the rain will stop falling soon so the difficult task of “drying out” can begin. And that in itself is pretty damned challenging…

Oklahoma Devastated by Tornado

The EF5 tornado approaching Moore (courtesy of the Seattle Intelligencer)

I confess to being a little behind in writing about the terrible tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, but there have been some new developments that warrant mentioning.

The twister—which has just been classified as an EF5, the strongest tornado category measured by the National Weather Service—tore through the small town (population 55,000) on Monday. Winds in excess of 200 miles per hour turned homes into rubble as the mile-wide tornado destroyed everything in its 17-mile path.

According to the latest reports, 24 people are dead and countless others were injured in the freak storm. Nine of the victims were children caught in Plaza Towers Elementary School when it collapsed. Initial reports indicated that they drowned in the school basement, but these were recently proven to be incorrect.

Not that this makes it any better, of course.

Financially, the state of Oklahoma can expect a damage bill in the ball park of $1 billion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is on the scene, but even their resources may not be enough.

“We got full allocation last year with the Sandy supplemental funds. We are looking to continue the response here as well as the previous disasters,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said recently. “But if we have another hurricane, we may need more money.”

And we all know how hard money is to come by these days. Yikes.

The damage to Moore was so bad that city officials even had to print new road signs so survivors and rescue workers would know where to go. Obviously, the town looks like little more than a war zone, as evidenced by the picture included here.

As horrible as this storm and its impact were, the only good things to come from this disaster were the stories of heroism as people struggled to protect one another.

At Briarwood Elementary School, for instance, teachers used their bodies to shield students from harm and even sustained injuries in doing so. Suzanne Haley was one of them and ended up being impaled by the leg of a nearby desk.

“We crowded the children under desks,” she said later. “And me and a fellow teacher put ourselves in front of the desks that the children were under.”

oklahoma-tornado-15.jpg

The devastation is hard to fathom (courtesy of Steve Gooch/AP)

In my opinion, Haley and everyone else who risked bodily harm to protect others deserve to be called heroes. Of course, she disagrees.

“It’s nothing anybody wouldn’t do,” Haley claimed in true hero fashion. “These children—we see their smiles, their tears, every day, in and out, and we love them.”

Mother Nature can be an evil bitch sometimes. And we will always have to deal with natural disasters like the one in Oklahoma. That’s life and some things are simply beyond our control.

However, the one thing that we can control is how we react and respond to situations like this one. And based on what I’ve read and heard, the people of Moore are doing the best they can in a situation that many of us will be lucky to never experience. But they still need help.

If there is anything you can do to lend a hand to these folks, please consider doing so. Donations can be made directly to the American Red Cross by going here. And since every little bit helps, I hope you will join me in donating something to aid in the recovery. If you’re hesitant, though, please remember this:

What if it happened to you?

Pray for Argentina

Cars and garbage containers lay piled up after flash flooding caused damage overnight in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

The damage is pretty extensive (courtesy of the Associated Press)

My father and basically everyone on his side of the family came from the South American country of Argentina, so I always pay attention to news stories originating from my “second home.” In fact, I probably have more family there than I do in the United States!

Sadly, the latest story from Argentina is a tragic one.

Earlier this week, citizens of this wonderful nation experienced torrential rainfall that reached more than 13 inches in only a 12-hour period. And from what I understand, this is more rain than they normally receive in the entire month of April!

What makes this story so sad isn’t the heavy rain and flooding caused by this unusual storm system; it’s the fact that almost 50 people have died as a result, most of them in the city of La Plata outside the capital, Buenos Aires. Of course, at least eight people died in that city, as well.

Since most of my family lives in Buenos Aires, my fingers are crossed that none of them were affected by this storm or worse, injured as a result. I haven’t heard anything, though, so at least that’s a good sign.

The good news is that the Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is on the scene and assures resident in these affected areas that they can count on government support. Additional police patrols have also been added so flood victims will be safe. We all know that when something like this happens, looters seem to come out of the woodwork.

What it all boils down to is this: if you’re the religious type, please send some prayers to the people of Argentina and the families of those claimed by this terrible storm. I, for one, would really appreciate it.

Brace yourselves for Isaac!

 

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...

Hurricane Katrina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hurricane warnings issued for New Orleans, Gulf Coast as Isaac churns off Florida | The Lookout – Yahoo! News.

It looks like the first big tropical storm of the season is upon us, USA. Isaac is moving through the Atlantic and seems to be headed for the Gulf Coast. And with sustained winds of 60 mph which are expected to intensify as Isaac grows into a category 2 hurricane, this is nothing to sneeze at.

In Haiti, Isaac killed as many as six people, including a girl who had a wall fall on her. Isaac also forced a delay of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

Okay. I can’t pretend this last thing bothers me much. After all, I’m a registered Democrat.

What does bother me is that Isaac is starting to look a little like Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast and in particular, New Orleans.

If you live along the Gulf Coast of America, please take the necessary precautions. Isaac may turn out to be nothing more than a big rain storm, but the moment you let your guard down, bad things happen. Here’s hoping everyone stays safe until Isaac finally runs its course.

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