All posts by Steven Milstead

I got all kinds

New info on Irma

The storm has steered due west across the northern coast of Cuba, enough so that much of her uplift mechanism is currently over dry land.    Will likely reduce both windspeed and rainfall forecasts for this evening.  I still believe, though, Irma will regain Category 5 strength before her Sunday landfall on the Florida Peninsula.  Folks on the Southwest side of Florida and the Gulf barrier islands – from Ft Myers Beach north to the north side of Tampa – should already be gone.  I think the impact along the Ft Myers coastline will be the worst they’ve seen there is more than 100 yrs.

 

 

Strong Storm for Florida

From what I can see in the forecasts, Hurricane Irma will resume her Cat 5 status as she crosses the warm water of the Gulf Stream and the Florida Straits.  If she steers West up the western coast of Florida, then all the more reason she will reach some high windspeed records.

But I don’t think the storm will cross the really susceptible parts of Florida.  Miami, Ft Lauderdale, the SE coast.  This is an intense, well-developed hurricane with extremely dangerous wind.  When she strikes the Florida peninsula, I predict there will be wind gusts above 200 mph.  If you think the theme parks at Orlando are such a big deal, please go now and write a check to the American Red Cross.

Irma’s a nearly picture-perfect repeat of Hurricane Andrew; but with some important differences.  Andrew came ashore as a force 5 storm in South Dade County and caused such significant loss of property and life over Homestead Air Base, the reports and post-storm imagery were simply devastating.  Unfortunately, FEMA was barely an agency confronted by a huge loss of life.  There are many, some maybe credible, accounts of US Govt responders (FEMA) burying the dead in mass graves.  Estimates of life lost in Hurricane Andrew range from about 1,000 to well over 10,000.

But FEMA is a fully legitimate (and accountable) federal agency now, and we have many more ways to insure credible response from FEMA and other important disaster relief agencies.  Our gross response to Irma is phenomenal and very well coordinated.  Federal response is exceptional and appropriate.  FEMA, Red Cross, and state agencies in Florida are wayy ahead of the tragedy this storm COULD inflict.

We gotta remember the people of Florida confront at least one big storm every year.  Many years 3-4 big tropical storms.  Public preparedness and planning, unlike in SE Texas, is taken very seriously and it’s much more effective than the government planning in Texas.

Still.  I do think Irma will make landfall, as a category 5 cyclone, on the SW tip of the Florida, and will remain a dangerous Category 4 storm as her center moves up the western half of Florida.  Onshore flows (storm surges) may not be as strong as those predicted for the eastern side of the peninsula; but winds surrounding Irma’s eyewall will be ferocious.  Remember, this storm was making windspeeds of 225mph as she traversed Puerto Rico – and she still has the Florida Strait (with very warm water temps) before we see her come ashore.

If I were in Miami, Ft Lauderdale, or Tampa, I’d be inclined to hunker down.  Run from water, stay for wind.

Ft Myers, though, or the barrier islands to the West, I’d already be gone.  Sanibel Island, for example, might be completely scraped.  I’m all for that, so long as life isn’t lost.

Y’all folks at Ft Myers and Sanibel Island, get your feet down deep in the sand!  If you’re gonna stay, then stay strong.  When the building disintegrates, find the lowest place you can and stay low.  It’s gonna blow.  Keep your love, tolerance and faith FIRST-most in your minds.  Gather up water, hunker down in safe places TOGETHER, be kind and care for each other no matter what, and be safe.  Remember our story of Noah and his Raven.  This too shall pass.

 

Prayers from a prayerful church of God,

Steven Milstead

Hurricane Irma

Right now, she’s a spectacular storm and still over warm water without any real deterrences to additional development.  Sustained winds are above 150mph with windspeeds recorded earlier today at +175mph near the surface below the eye wall.

This storm will likely enter the Eastern Gulf of Mexico by the weekend; but the current tracking models show the storm crossing the heart of the Caribbean with plenty of likelihood for weakening as the storm crosses many many islands.  My “armchair” analysis says this will be a Florida storm – that Irma will come into the Gulf and curl eastward across the Florida peninsula early Saturday.

Will this be another Andrew for the people of Florida?  I kinda don’t think so.  Crossing all the dry land as she traverses the Caribbean, is going to impact both the strength and steerage of Irma.  I look for landfall, and significant damage, along the SW coast of Florida; particularly the Ft Myers and Sanibel Island coast.  Tampa will feel some strong winds and rain.  If Irma doesn’t hook eastward pretty quickly, then Tampa and Orlando will feel a strong hit.

It’s been a while since they had a really severe storm come ashore South of Tampa.  They experience strong tropical storms there nearly every year; but Irma is starting to look like a superstorm.  Not unlike Andrew.  If she remains above cat4 crossing the Caribbean, she’s going to cause immeasurable damage to the Leewards, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and likely Cuba.  If she does endure that trip across the Caribbean as a cat4 storm, then the warm water of the SE Gulf of Mexico will easily push her back to cat5 before she slams ashore around Ft Myers.

She’s a beautiful storm, though.  The sat images are stunning and the sonde reports/doppler images are incredible.  The weather buoys in that vicinity are reporting 60ft wave heights and gusts to nearly 180mph.

 

 

 

Many prayers needed

Please step aside this evening, perhaps light a candle, and pray for the people of SE Texas.  Many of my friends there, people I’ve cared for and worked with more than 30 years, are without their homes tonight.  The water damage at Fulton, Rockport, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, is not that bad.  But the wind damage is extraordinary.

Unless I have reason to go elsewhere, I intend to fill up my car with food, water and blankets, and go to Port Aransas on Friday.

I just saw the Port of Corpus Christi remains closed.  That means there are, literally, hundreds of ships at sea lined up to go into the port.  As a nation, we need that port open and we need the adjacent gasoline refineries up and running.

Safety comes first, though, and I am duly impressed by the emphasis Texas has placed on rescue, recovery and safety.

Hurricane Harvey Ashore over Rockport

The 10:00PM_CDT reports from NOAA/NWS confirm Hurricane Harvey came ashore this evening over St Joseph’s Island and Port Aransas TX, then struck mainland Texas at Rockport. Harvey is predicted to bring strong thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and flooding  across much of Texas. Wind and storm-surge damage at Port Aransas will be significant. All those pretty dunes – and the lower floors of the Mayan Princess (for example) – are underwater.

Stormtrack forecasts are tricky as Harvey moves onto the mainland. Several forecast tracks show the core of this storm doubling back – around Victoria – and re-entering the warm Gulf of Mexico early next  week.

 

 

 

 

883 Sportster

I’ve paid off my 2016 Buick, along with lots of credit-card debt from the time I was with my 2nd wife (a big spender); and guess what!  I’m approved for zero-interest financing of a new Harley Davidson Sportster!  It includes safety training and everything I need for a New Mexico motorcycle license.  I’m really jazzed.

Here’s the 883 I saw today at the dealership:

This is a 2017.  The one I am looking at is a 2018 and it’s completely blacked out.  Really a great close-range bike.  I want it!

 

 

 

Harvey brings it to Texas

It appears Gulf Hurricane Harvey may make landfall tomorrow, as a Cat 3 or Cat 4 hurricane, along the South Texas coast between Port Mansfield and Port Lavaca.

http://myfoxhurricane.com

I grew up spending “hurricane seasons” on the Texas coast.  I have clear memories of Hurricane Beulah, which brought a high storm surge and rainfall/flooding in San Antonio and South Texas.  I remember the fam gathered up in the back of our San Antonio home, watching the storm progress on our old GE black & white TV, as severe thunderstorms and lightning persisted through the night.

It was Hurricane Celia, though, when I was ten years old, that I best remember.  Our family had a wonderful old beach house at Rockport TX, and we barely got inland before Celia struck.  That hurricane, which made landfall across Port Aransas and St. Jo’s Island then crossed inland at Aransas Pass, dealt a severe blow to the communities on the North end of Padre Island.  More significantly, Celia spawned dozens of tornadoes across the Corpus Christi area.  Winds clocked at Corpus Christi exceeded 200 mph, arguably the highest wind speeds of any hurricane in history; though it’s since been argued those were tornadoes and not recordings of actual hurricane winds.

You say tomato and I say tomAto.  Celia shut down the city of Corpus Christi for over a week.  Overhead photos of the city were evidence enough the storm had virtually erased large swaths of Corpus Christi and surrounding communities.

Famous story I remember of a woman in a volkswagen on the CC causeway.  She claimed the car had been spun overhead and lengthwise for nearly 2 minutes before she was set down in the oil & gas terminal 3-4 miles away.  Plenty of those weird photos of sticks driven through large trees, glass shards that cut cement columns in half.  Celia was the last really bad hurricane we’ve had on the South Texas coast.

 

Little Trucks

Finally.  It looks like Hyundai will be the first automaker in years to produce a real 4-cylinder mini pickup.  Slated for production in 2018, the Santa Cruz will be available in an extended-cab version; but the model is targeted at the – currently empty – sector of the market that wants a regular-cab mini truck.
Given the popularity of older mini trucks for project and show trucks (and the numbers of ten-yr-old mini trucks being well maintained by owners), I’ve been a little amazed, over the years, by major automakers’ failure to fill this niche.  I think you can still buy a regular-cab 4-cylinder Toyota Tacoma, but you’ll find none in the local Toyota dealership because they’re now a special-order item on the Toyota menu.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz will be a much welcome option for all us baby boomers who simply need a fuel-efficient small pickup.  I predict a huge success of this little truck.

Speaking of mini trucks, here’s a project truck based on the Mini Cooper.  A truck, and a true Mini!

Mini Truck by Mini Cooper

Why can’t Cooper figure out that hordes of us would buy these if they were in production!

A magic time

Life really DID seem to be a fairytale.  I was living with the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known, in an old magic adobe house, just above the river.  Our road would take you down along our river, through its canyon, until you reached the John Dunn Bridge on the Rio Bravo.  Our Rio Hondo joined the Bravo just below that bridge.

I painted two of the best things I’ve ever done during that period.

I learned that magpies are not all they’re cracked up to be, though watching them frequently cracked me up!

Arroyo Hondo Community Center

I’d never experienced anything like the singularities we had in that relationship, or the  “matched hearts and minds” we had.  I’d never met anyone even remotely like her.  It was certain I’d found my “soulmate”.  She stunned me and said she felt the same way.

Right by the sign that says, “Beware of Rattlesnakes”
Poplar logs left on the truck bed to dry/cure
Right down the street from our old house.

She took me camping and re-introduced me to outdoor life.  She insisted on certain diet constraints.  When I followed her example I felt better.  When I listened to her and followed her lead, I was healthier.

What a spectacular and precious spot! We had this entire alpine meadow to ourselves. Prettiest place on Earth.
Mia holds off the impending stampede!
Our awesome campsite next to the Rio Costilla
House at Hondo
Where I lived with her almost a year on the Rio Hondo north of Taos. The adobe structure is over 100 years old.

She taught me to cook better food with less; to split logs with an axe and heat our home with a wood fire; to compost and to do all our laundry as simply and contentedly as possible, then hang it to dry outdoors.

I don’t know if we would have survived as a couple, had I not had an alcohol relapse, but I’d like to believe we might have.  I’ve never felt more in love or more admiration/respect for a partner.

I did so many wrong things to her ,though, and behaved so badly around her, I now owe her a huge debt of gratitude I will never be able to repay.

I used her to feel good about myself – when my whole life had fallen apart.  I told her I was a non-smoker then immediately started smoking when I felt secure with her.   I was frustrated and angry over the way my life had played over the last few years, and I directed much of that frustration and anger at her.  I abused her, and the beautiful setting of her home – a wonderful, clean, natural and spiritual place – to consummate a crash into depression and relapse of my alcoholism.  Last Winter was the worst thing, the worst terror and behavior, the worst darkness of my alcoholism; a time when I was 100% out of character and lost – manipulative, mean and dishonest.  I am not proud of, and will always regret, the way I treated my soulmate – a gift from God whom I abused horribly.

My biggest amends to her is to simply stay sober and stay out of her life.

She taught me things about the world and the wilderness that I’ve since relied on.  I’ve since gone out to the high mountains with little more than my tent, sleeping bag, and small stove.  She showed me how.

But I will never see her again.

When it starts to really hurt, this stuff about my son, and I start to cry, she is the one I first think of – the one I most wish was in the room.  The next several months, without her help and guidance, may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done by myself.

That’s just how I feel.  People tell me to just say what I feel and stop – before I go adding language, logic and persuasion.

The Dalai Lama has said, “contented abiding is our highest form of meditation.”  I have practiced this and know it to be true.  It’s hard to feel contented, though, when you’re abiding the disintegration and death of you child.

 

Tribute to a Man Far Bigger than Me

My oldest son, Martin, has been an outgoing and caring man his whole life.  He has served his community as a peace officer, and his country as an active and motivated soldier.  He is well known and very respected in Lubbock TX, where he’s helped so very many people.

A little over two years ago, Martin underwent an aggressive double-knee replacement.  He was unable to stand or walk for an extended period.

About 18 months ago, Martin showed up at the emergency room with two large blood clots in his lungs.

That was the last I heard from Martin for over a year.

He had been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called “Factor Five Leiden Disorder”, which causes his body to constantly create blood clots in deep veins (DVT’s), mainly in major muscles, that travel through the vascular system to become lodged all over the body.  He and his doctors have now been fighting the disorder for more than a year.  While the disorder is not always fatal, a lot depends on early diagnosis and treatment.  Martin had already had two pulmonary embolisms by the time he sought treatment.

He did not want the rest of our family to know the gravity of his illness, mainly because of his own powerful will to live and overcome, and partly because he knew how hard it would be for us to see his condition first-hand.  He didn’t want us to see him as the disease progressed and they attempted all kinds of chemical & medical solutions, always hopeful and always positive, but filled with risk and further destruction of his body.

Finally, though, Martin called last week and revealed his doctors had given up and told him he has little time to live.  We were stunned.  We’re still stunned and trying to accept.  Even then, he insisted we not go to Lubbock or try to seem him; but family is family and my mom and I needed to see him.

We went anyway, against his wishes, and have been there several days as he transitions to hospice care.

I was stunned by the condition in which I found my son.  He is covered with blue & purple lumps  – clots moving along veins and arteries – and looks like he’s been beaten with a bat.  These life-threatening DVT’s (Deep vein thromboses) are extremely painful.  Martin now has significant clots in his lungs, brain, and other vital organs.  Doctors are using huge amounts of blood-thinning medications and painkillers, mainly large doses of Fentanyl, to keep him comfortable and buy time with his vascular condition.  He’s developed tolerance/resistance to all of the opiate drugs.  Luckily, there are 2-3 more (even stronger) synthetic opiates that will help as he becomes resistant to the Fentanyl.

He now has life-threatening clots in his lungs, heart, and liver.  Many muscles have failed.  About 30% of his skin has died from lack of blood flow.  It looks like shingles, but it’s even more painful.  Martin’s blood is black as coal.  He’s lost use of his right arm/hand.  He shakes uncontrollably because of the blood thinners and Fentanyl.  He experiences inappropriate or inaccurate emotional responses, like an alzheimer’s patient, because of the location of the clot in his brain.  It is hard for him to put together a sentence, as speech is also impacted by the clot in his brain and the medications’ effects.  He may lose his speech entirely as more clots develop and heavier medications are employed to keep him comfortable.

Martin told me Wednesday morning he’s tired of fighting.  He’s fought with all his (significant) might for over a year.  He’s done.  He’s made his peace with a God of his understanding, he remains dedicated to his AA sobriety, and he will continue to do everything he can to help others; but he’s done with the fight, the pain, and his diminishing ability to be of service.

Even now, though, when his Army National Guard unit is called up for training, presentation, or combat assignment; Martin shows up in his wheelchair, in full uniform.  I’ve never known anyone in my life more worthy of the flag/armband he wears, an image of the little Cannon at Gonzales and the words, “Come and Take It.”

Martin is an adored member of his unit, the police forces he served, and his community.  We got out to a restaurant for lunch on Wednesday and complete strangers came up to him all through our lunch to thank him for his service and his attitude, some asking for autographs.  He’s been on Lubbock TV several times.

Martin has always had the gifts of enthusiasm for life and caring for others.  Even now his smile shines through the pain and disfigurement, and his message is unmistakeable:

“There is nothing we can’t do, no pain we can’t overcome, no hardship we can’t endure, so long as we have a God of our understanding who’s there by our side.”

Martin has stood with the teams of Texas Tech University and given this message to stadiums full of people.  He’s drawn praise and commendations from the highest military leaders in the nation.  Deployed soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan confide in him and send prayers.

It wasn’t until early this morning, 48 hours after we were together, that I realized I had sat with him in awe, unable to speak.  I hadn’t said a word during our time together, except to put my arms around him and tell him, “I love you and I am so so very proud of you.”  I’d gone to Lubbock expecting to experience a lot of dread, sadness, and pity.  The likelihood I would be losing my first and much-loved baby stood strong in my heart.  I didn’t know how to deal with it, how to confront it.  But Martin showed me the way.

I left Lubbock a couple days later with Martin’s message that we rarely suffer long without God’s intervention – and the indelible image of his smile.  He is not my baby anymore.  He is not my boy anymore.  Instead, he is God’s man.  A man who has changed people’s lives.  An exemplary man.  A lover and a warrior in every sense.

I am awed by, grateful for, and filled with admiration for my son’s spiritual fortitude.  He is far ahead of me, spiritually, with his acceptance and constantly-renewed commitment to the well-being of others.

Obviously, I am entering a hard & painful chapter of my life.  I really have no “guidance” for watching my child traverse the final months of life.  I have good support in AA, an outstanding sponsor & therapist,  hard-working sponsees, and my relationship with my mom to lean on.  I am no spiritual giant.

My son is a spiritual giant, to me, but I am nothing close to that.

I know that, despite my close engagement with my sponsor and support groups, there will be long nights alone.  Long nights of remorse and sadness, long nights of anger and frustration, long nights of denial and disbelief.

It already hurts to know how deeply it will hurt – and how deeply I will miss my son, my eldest child.

Your prayers and your tears (if you’re close to our family) are felt and appreciated.