Cousin Jim's visit was great fun. The driving directions were completely messed up so it took him a while to get here on Saturday, but then we had a nice lunch - burgers at Standard Tap and then a driving tour of Philly. We met Gary for dinner downtown - Gary was on call - at Pompeii restaurant. We had a wait for our reservation, but they gave us free drinks while we waited. The meal was really wonderful - we'll be back again. Gary had to go back to work, but Jim and I stopped at Fergie's pub and had several beers before heading home.
The next morning - well, it was late morning - we got up and went to South Street so that Jim could have a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, complete with Cheez Whiz. We had to wait in line about 20 minutes, and he decided afterwards that 20 was OK, but the 45 minute long line when we left was too much. We walked around South Street looking for a present for Zoe. He decided not to get her the cat butt magnets (I'm sure Jacque is glad) and we headed back home. We got several versions of driving directions printed out and he headed back to northern Jersey.
[Next time, I promise I'll remember to put sheets on the guest bed.]
And speaking of New Jersey . . . those who decided to take offense at my comments about the Garden State - even though I excluded Haddonfield and Moorestown - are free to criticize Pennsylvania in general and Philadelphia in particular any time they want.
[On their own blogs.]
We're all getting pretty tired of hurricanes here. Hurricane Rita threaded the needle between the Florida Keys and Cuba yesterday and promptly turned into a Catagory 4 monster heading towards the Texas coast. At least people are taking it more seriously after Katrina, but as was the case in New Orleans, there is a worst case scenario for Galveston/Houston as well:
Feb. 20, 2005, 1:09AM
Models show 'massive devastation' in Houston
Damages could cost up to $50 billion -- 10 times Allison's cost
By ERIC BERGER
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Houston's perfect storm would feed on late summer's warm waters as it barreled northward across the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into the coast near Freeport.
A landfall here would allow its powerful upper-right quadrant, where the waves move in the same direction as the storm, to overflow Galveston Bay. Within an hour or two, a storm surge, topping out at 20 feet or more, would flood the homes of 600,000 people in Harris County. The surge also would block the natural drainage of flooded inland bayous and streams for a day or more.
Coastal residents who ignored warnings to flee would have no hope of escape as waters swelled and winds roiled around their homes. Very likely, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, would die.
Meanwhile, as the storm moved over western Harris County, its most dangerous winds, well in excess of 120 mph even inland, would lash the Interstate 45 corridor, including Clear Lake, the Texas Medical Center and downtown.
Many older buildings could not withstand such winds.
Anything not tied down, from trees to mobile homes to light poles, would become missiles, surreally tumbling and flying through the air, flattening small houses, shattering skyscraper windows and puncturing roofs.
"Unfortunately, we're looking at massive devastation," said Roy Dodson, president of the engineering firm Dodson & Associates, which Harris County asked to model realistic "worst-case scenarios" for a major hurricane hitting the area.
Dodson's firm modeled more than 100 storms of varying power, speed and landfall. It concluded that a large Category 4 or Category 5 -- a storm only moderately larger than the four that struck Florida last summer -- would cause as much as $40 billion to $50 billion in damage. That's 10 times the cost of Tropical Storm Allison and approximately the city of Houston's entire budget for the next 15 years.
This could be just as bad as Katrina, depending on the actual landfall. Since the eastern side of a hurricane is the hardest hit area due to the rotation of the storm and the surge associated with it, Galveston/Houston are currently set up to feel the brunt if Rita maintains her current landfall target. It's scary stuff.
[Maybe living where we get snow has some advantages.]
Quote du jour:
"Houston, we've had a problem here."
Jack Swigert (1931 - 1982) Air Force pilot, astronaut
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