Tuesday, April 11, 2006

UHLC Rankings

Stop clogging my inbox - start flaming and disparaging each other and our school here!

One observation to kick things off, if our ranking went up to something like 58 next year, would we be happy? I think there are some core issues of quality and standards here, and we ought to address them at the same time, and let the rankings come up along with everything else.

Have fun


Friday, September 23, 2005

Angelique and Tish / Roads of battles, paths of victory

Angelique and Tish, both of the social section, both recap their evacuation experiences. It's interesting, they both talk about getting back to town for Monday:

I finally got to Arlington last night after 20 hours on the road. I thought I was going to go insane. Luckily, we took a lot of sideroads which really helped things. It scares me to think how long the trip would have been otherwise. It was good to take the side roads as well, because the lines at the gas stations were much shorter. I never
expected the traffic to be so bad nor the gas to be so scarce. Now I dread the drive home. I hope they plan on making 45 all South come Sunday.


I took Morgen Cuming up on her offer of housing in New Braunfels. I figured that New Braunfels would receive less of a rush than Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. After spending way too much time Wednesday ensconced in songs of Dylan andPeter, Paul, and Mary with others at El Pueblito who will remain nameless, I headed back to my house and attempted to determine which items I could not live without. When all was done, I found my car filled with photo albums,my birth certificate, my care bear, a carved wooden panther from my grandparents' house, a weeks worth of underwear, a handful of New Yorkers,and my conversion certificate.

After waiting in line for an hour to get gas, I headed to I-10 and made it to the freeway around 6 pm. My plan was to get out of Houston proper and stop in Sealy for dinner. At 10:30 pm, I had not yet reached Katy. All in all, the travelers were pretty well behaved. I was surprised to find thatv ery few people were attempting to weave in and out of traffic. Around the fifth hour I realized that I was really in need of facilities and there was no exit in sight. I won't go into to details except to say that all rulesof formality and etiquette may be abandoned in times of crisis and howthankful I am that I'd somehow overlooked an empty Whataburger cup the last time I cleaned out my car. Around 12:30 am I reached Sealy only to find everything closed due to the en masse of people. I got back on the freeway and continued on. I took advantage of the gridlock by calling all of the friends whom Ihaven't had time to speak with since law school began.

Around 2 am I hit Columbus and the traffic started to ease up. For the first time since mytrip began I was able to travel above 10 miles an hour. Around 4 am I foundmyself in near delirium, but New Braunfels was just a few miles away. I called Morgen and she guided me through town as I was now to the point where I could no longer recognize street signs or landmarks. At one point sheasked me if I had crossed under 35 and it was only 10 minutes later that Irealized she was talking about I-35, the freeway that I accessed almostdaily during my twelve years in Austin.

I got in to New Braunfels just as Morgen's mother was getting up to go to work. Never in my life have I ever been so thankful for sleep or shelter. Although I planned to study during my days off I spent all of yesterday either sleeping or
eating. Today, Morgen and I decided we deserved somepampering and sought out a manicure and pedicure. My manicurist was niceenough to make me aware that I needed an eyebrow as well as an upper lipwax. Currently I'm at a coffee shop in New Braunfels and I still can'tforce myself to open a book. Tonight I may head to Austin to catch up withold friends. In the meantime, I've already started stressing about how Iwill get back home in time for class on Monday.

"I'm a high straight in Plainview" - Sabrina Neff checks in

My law school buddy Sabrina checks in below from her place of refuge in West Texas:
Here's the update from West Texas. Zero rain. Zero power outages. Zerohumidity. Zero knowledge of the differences between (1) Katrina and Rita,and (2) Houston and New Orleans. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, though theyshould still be held to the standard of care of any non-rural professionalon the nation in a negligence action.

It took us 6.5 hours Wednesday night to get from the Med Center, where welive, to College Station, where my brother lives. 290 was a veritableparking lot. After that, we decided we might as well go see my parents inPlainview, which should have been a 9 hour drive but became a 12 hour drivebecause of the overwhelming-and-yet-false sense of self importance of Bryan and the general College Station area, which had been informed the nightbefore by their local news anchors that evacuation was necessary. Stinkin'Aggies...

Anyway, I am now settled in Plainview, remembering what life before lawschool was like and planning out my day of studying. I hope all is well inyour world.

Be safe.Brina

Sabrina's Blog is online at ((omitted))

(Dylan - "On the western side of Texas,On the Texas plains,I tried to find a job o'work But they said I's young of age.")

Word from Ben Taub Hospital

Justin is an emergency medicine resident at one of Houston's biggest hospitals. Here is what he was up to yesterday:

From: Justin Kreizelman
Subject : RITA-FIED

To all my friends-

Hey there- just a quick note to the many of you who have already contacted me - or have been trying to contact me. Things here in Houston have become pretty intense. The lull before the storm has definitely set in.. weather today was mid 90's not a cloud in the sky and the streets/ highways heading east from the medical center (towards Galveston and my home) were nearly empty with the exception of many state patrol cars and a few scattered Houstonians.

Gas pumps were taped up, grocery stores/pharmacies - shut down. Those who
remained were on ladders putting up plywood around their homes, and carried heaps of canned goods into shelter. Arriving home i find a few neighbors working together in preparation for the hurricane. Over a few beers they discuss war stories of old storms and predictions of what Rita was to bring while climbing up ladders to fortify their windows. Having had my head in the University Of Texas Dept of Orthopedics for the last 3 weeks I, of course, haven't been as organized.

Despite this, the hospital has already become a fortress and haven for the many employees of UT medical center- as i find nurses and doctors hauling luggage and their trailing families to the many call rooms and conference rooms set up to house the staff and people in low lying areas of the city. On call today, 75% of my consults were directly or indirectly linked to the storm- people falling off ladders, evacuees getting in car wrecks, one drunk even shot himself in the leg to gain hospital shelter from the storm. The worst case i had so far was a 28 yo previously healthy guy who fell while helping his neighbor trim tree in preparation for Rita. The unlucky guy sustained a thoracic vert. (back injury) that compressed his spinal cord and will most likely leave him paralyzed from the waist down.

Tomorrow, i will return to the hospital, take care of my patients and then come home to work on getting my act and house together in preparation for the storm..I am on call again on Sunday, however there is an understanding that myself and the other residents will most likely be unable to return, and the unlucky ones who are on call Friday/Sat will be the "skeleton crew" until the post-hurricane flood waters subside. It is too late to flee- all highways heading North/West are parking lots with cars running out of gas and getting towed off into the emergency lanes, as nearly 4 + million people attempt to evacuate this huge metropolitan area....

As a Northerner, one who has never experienced a natural disaster of this proportion, I really have no idea what to expect, nor really believe this is going to happen. However, at this point, i really must rely on meteorologists, a map with a HUGE circling red and orange orb heading through the gulf, and my colleagues and friends unfortunate enough to have been through one of these disasters.

Be well- take care

btw, for those of you interested- Brandy is busy
doing laps and getting buff in my pool outside in preparation.

Note: Brandy is Justin's chocolate labrador. (The Dylan quote for this section is "And my best friend, my doctorWon't even say what it is I've got")

Turning Around

The big story that's kind of hard to get a handle on is the alrge number of people who tried to leave but turned around. The Litts, the Blogs, my friends Lee and Clarissa, Jeremy Binkley from Section A, and many, many others spent 8, 10, 12 hours on the road yesterday headed both West and North and decided to come on back. Many people had the exact same experience, trying to leave town on Wednesday night or at two or three o'clock on Thursday morning, and they returned by noon on Thursday.

Many had not made full arrangements to stay in town, because they were planning on leaving. So Thursday late morning saw everyone get supplies, and we are all now putting up the last wood, cardboard, and plastic on the windows.

One of my neighbors has used some kind of corragated alluminum. I told him we should nominate him for Director of FEMA.

Going Dutch! Welkom bij Rita.Blog.NL

HRB's 'sister' blog will be providing the best Dutch language coverage of hurricane Rita.

I'm pretty sure that the first post, "Terug in huis", means "safe at home". Those of you trying to read along in the blog's original Nederlands would do well to remember that 'g' is pronounced like 'ch' in English or the Spanish 'j', the absence of some noun can be indicated by the prefix 'geen', and 'kip' is actually chicken.

(Dylan line - "Deciding America's future from Amsterdam and to Paris and there's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.")

What's going on in Austin

A lot of us are experiencing this hurricane from places other than Houston, and I want to put something up from one such place. The writer, Eliana Schonberg, is a PhD candidate at UT and native of Toronto, Canada. She graciously responded to my request for stories with the following:

The stores in Austin sold out ofwater and juice on Wednesday night, we tried Fiesta yesterday and they were sold out too, so I bought some of the few small bottles they had left and Alba bought a jar of Bulgarian sour cherries, and we both bought chocolate. Alba also bought dominoes and one of those lighters for her gas stove. I think itwas the most idiosyncratic hurricane prep I'd ever seen. My downstairs neighbour has 5 relatives staying in her apartment--I think they came in from Humble, and you know the size of our apartments. And last night Larry Monroe played some great Rita and hurricane music including "when Rita leaves, she's gone" which is now permanently stuck in my head. We may have a hurricane party, and Alba offered to turn all the lights out to simulate a power outage.

"Alba" is another ABD, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The song mentioned does in fact kick ass. "When Rita leaves" can be found on Delbert McClinton's album, "Nothing Personal".

Bob Dylan Hurricane Rita Lyrics Challenge /

A friend of mine, well-known Austin political consultant, film-maker, and man-about-town Mark Nathan, has pointed out a series of unlikely coincidences found within the lyrics and titles of Bob Dylan songs.

A few of the standouts so far include:

-"..admit that the waters around you have grown"
-Tonight I'll be staying here with you
-Shelter from the Storm
and of course
-A hard rains a gonna fall

Who knows what else is out there? Post comments on this tem between now and the end of the weekend. The staff of HRB will pick a winner and award some sort of Hurricane-appropriate prize (ie, not Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather).

Please note that submissions of lyrics from other songwriters such as Leonard Cohen, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Jakob Dylan, or others will be appreciated, but will not be eligible for prizes.

Thursday / "Tonight, I'll be staying here with you"

I think a lot of people got out of town, and a lot of people got ready for the hurricane yesterday. I came back at about midnight from volunteering on a Metro bus to take water to stranded drivers on US 290, the Northwest route out of Houston.

The hurricane is now expected to hit land at 5 in the morning on Saturday. The news has been telling us to use a 12 hour rule for evacuation. If severe weather comes ashore 9 hours ahead of the eye of the storm like they say it will, it is more dangerous to try to evacuate 12 hours before that weather (21 hours). For us, that means it is more dangerous to leave than to stay starting at 8 this morning. Mayor White is reiterating that point in a press conference right now.

The big phrase is "sheltering in place". This means keeping food and water in your home and staying put. I presume that it is less fun than the traditional "sheltering", but does not require the same equipment as "cross-sheltering", "cardio-sheltering", or the trendy "Thai kick-sheltering". My brother Brian points out that beginners who may not be able to shelter all the way, can start by sheltering at chest-level, and working up.

Some of you may have heard about the tragic fire on a bus evacuating people from a Bellaire assisted living facility. The facility, Brighton Gardens, is right off of the West Loop. My great-great-Aunt Mickey spent her last years there, and it always seemed to like a wonderful facility to me. It is extremely sad, but with the impending disaster, it makes me think about what other terrible things are about to happen, and how much closer.

I guess the big questions from yesterday are "Did we get enough people out?" and since there's nothing we can do about the weather, "How ready will be for the aftermath?"

Its really getting close, and I may be reading too much in to it, but when you look to the East from our house now, you see a bright, rising, yellow sun and a few far off, swift, dark, gray clouds.

"Shelter from the Storm", URGENT

I am very proud of two offers I just received from my classmates, Tiana Sanford and Christina Miller.

Christina has offered room at her house which is in Conroe - map. This is a key location for people who need to leave but may not have made it out of Houston. Email me at adamsblock {at} hotmail {dot} com for details and contact info.

This offer is good for ANYONE STUCK ON I-45 NORTH

Tiana also has space at her parents home in Fort Worth, for anyone who has gotten out of town, but may not have anywhere to go. Email me at same address from above paragraph.

Updates: Ezenwanyi and Joann

Zaia emails to say that she has now evacuated. It also took her 8 hours to go about 45 minutes North. Apparently her neighborhood was one of the last to be added to the evac list.

Joann and her husband seem to share the poor judgment that keep other 'party animals' including me, Bryan, Darren, and some others here in town:)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Competition / Talking Smack

It seems that our local paper has also had the bright idea of producing a hurricane blog. This 'superblog' seems to combine the efforts of a number of our fair city's favorite bloggers.

It almost goes without saying that their blog, no matter how many talented writers with important perspectives, big pictures, and flashy effects it has, could never be as good as my humble endeavor practically reeking of authenticity and true, creative striving.

After all, how many people bought Travelling Wilburys albums?

(Of course, if their Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau-esque superblog turns out to be more like supergroups The Flatlanders, The Texas Tornados, or even Los Super Seven, I might as well pack it in.)

Updates from Bryan and Lauren

U of H Law Center classmate Lauren Chapman checks in with news about her trip to Austin:


I headed out to Austin yesterday about 2 hours after classes were cancelled--and obviously before the major rush hit. It took me a little over 4 hours to get from Montrose to South Austin (usually takes 3). I'm staying with friends and am keeping my fingers crossed that the ACL Festival is still going on--which is what I was going to do this weekend anyways! Right now my friends are at work, and I've tried studying, but I'm finding it hard to concentrate since I have lots family trying to get out of the coastal region today.

That's my story,
(Yes, I did intend to use the royal 'our'.)

Another outstanding member of 'not that social' Section A, Bryan Dahlberg, has some predicitons from the BCS computers about the path of the Hurricane.

Bryan is without question the greatest ping pong player I have ever known.

The (student) Doctors are in!

This post is far Baylor students to comment and let everyone else know how they're doing. Hope you're all safe.
Thanks to Lee Bar-Eli for sending the link around.

Gas, Food, Freeways, and Airplanes

Three out of four gas stations are closed. The ones that are still open have lines of 12, 15, and 20 cars deep backed up to get what they think will be the last gasoline in town. I don't think any of these people are planning on leaving, but are concerned that they won't be able to get anything for days after the storm hits.

I think every store selling food in town is now closed. We were told that the Meyer Park Randall's would stay open until four today, but when I went with some friends at three, they wouldn't let any more shoppers in. I can, however, report that the liquor store on Holly Hall one block from the Astrodome is open, cheerfully greeting customers, and doing a brisk business.

Gas stations with gas as of one hour ago include:

-Stella Link at Loop 610 map
-Holly Hall at Knight Road map

The interior freeways are basically empty. The South Loop is about as busy as Sunday morning at 8 am. I am told that the West Loop, the world's busiest freeway, now has fewer than 50 cars per minute in both directions.

This morning, airport officials came on the radio and said that flights were being cancelled and the airport was overcrowded and understaffed. Many Transportation Safety Administration employees apparently did not show up today. This morning, the radio recommended showing up six hours before your flight was scheduled to leave. I can say from my own experience that Southwest airlines had no flights out of Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas as of 7 pm on Wednesday.

Family News

Here is a comment from my Mom, Linda. I will start this as a seperate post so that we can all comment for each other on it. The rest of you are welcome to read on and find out what the Blocks, Freedmans, Yambras, Snidemans, and others are up to:

Just an update from Adam's mom (Linda)- Uncle Duck and Aunt Martha, Sam & Ilana and the New Orleans family of 6 who were staying w/ them left for Ft. Worth this am, where they have friends w/ an extra house. They left at 8 am and were at Spring (50 miles away) at 11:30.Monica & Warren (Adam's first cousins)& their 2 little daughters left last night at 3:30 am for Austin and arrived safely before noon - a little over 8 hours (usually done in 2 1/2 hours).

Our neighbors who will be staying w/ us bought a generator and set it up this am at our house, so we will have refrigeration. So, I went to the grocery store for a final run. I had to walk w/ someone who was checking out to their car to get their basket. It was a zoo inside w/ empty shelves, crowded aisles and boxes of food that were on the shelves left for the customers to open and take. The wait in line was a pleasant 20 minutes, spent hearing and sharing Rita "preparation plans".When I came home, I felt like I had been on a hunting trip!

Our street is eerily quiet w/ people either gone out of town or inside their homes preparing -moving books, albums and valuable items to higher shelves. And the street is very clean - no trash cans, no recycling bins - even all the political signs have been temporarily removed. No doubt the proverbial calm before the storm..............

We expect several neighbors (20 - 35??) to come to us since we are 6 1/2 feet off the ground. I just hope I can get a good mah jongg game out of the group! (Always important to keep a good sense of humor during stressful times!)

Linda Block
12:58 PM

This just about sums it up

The reference is from 'Clerks'. This store is in the Village on Rice Blvd.

"You, who are on the road...

A few stories from people who have left:

UH Law student, 24, from Arlington

At 11 am, she and a friend were between the Woodlands and Conroe, on I-45
They left at 2:15 this morning. (That makes for 35 miles travelled in 8 hours! That trip usually takes about 40 minutes by car. Please note that this means that on one of our two most critical evacuation routes, they could have walked as quickly as they drove it.)
She and her friend felt well stocked with water, sandwiches, and bananas.
They had a full tank of gas because they left the freeway to fill up. They pulled over for a nap when I called at 11.
Because of the time they expect it to take to come back in to Houston later, they are considering abandoning their plans to leave and turning around.

Michael and Cassie:
Michael is another law student, and Cassie works in Houston

They were 80 miles South of Dallas on I-35 this morning, with no traffic. I-35 is the N-S Freeway that goes on the Metroplex from San Antonio. They got on the road at 8 last night, and eventually left I-45 and headed West on State Hwy 105. This got them to 35, and they spent the night in Waco. They are on the way to a Northern suburb of Dallas to stay with Cassie's grandparents.
Michael isn't sorry that they took both cars to get them out of town, but he is reconsidering not having left one of them along the way. Cassie would have preffered to drive together.
Reports say that Pootie the cat has chewed through her cardboard box.
Michael plays saxophone in the Rich Lattimer (sp?) Band. You can also read his blog, "Help, I'm in Texas!"

Chris, Brook, and Brook's Mom:
Chris 22 and Brook 21 are students at U of H. I think Brook's mom is in advertising.

They left at 3 in the afternoon yesterday and went to San Marcos, where Brook's brother goes to Texas State University (alma mater of Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson). They all three cars and their dog Annie. They are staying at the Motel 6 on I-35.
The trip from Hoston to San Marcos is mostly on I-10, and it usually takes about2 and a half hours. They made it in 5.
Chris's parents live in League City map. Their home is in the mandatory evacuation area. League City is about five miles in land from Galveston Bay at Kemah. I believe that the storm surge projection maps I saw on the news last night, based on a category five landing near Freeport would have put all of League City under water. They have gone to a farm near Brenham, home of world-renowned Blue Bell Ice Cream.
In an interesting, cross-disaster refugee twist, Chris and Brook saw a group of men who they believed to be New Orleans refugees wandering around West University and watching people pack up.

Stickin' Around

My family and I will be staying in Houston for the upcoming events surrounding Hurricane Rita, and I thought now would be as good a time as any to start using this blogspace.

I hope I can provide my friends who are not nearby with some information about what its like on the ground here and help to elucidate some of what you may be seeing on TV or the 'various internets'.

I would like for the blog to keep up on a few topics including:
-What its like in a city evacuating itself and bunkering down for category five hurricane
-The experiences of those who are leaving town
-The weather
-The way different people will be experiencing this hurricane, evacuation, and aftermath, especially the elderly, the poor, and Spanish and Vietnamese speakers

The law school closed yesterday at noon, so many of the other future attorneys and counselors and I went to El Pueblito for Margaritas. Some of us really overstayed their lunch hour and played guitar and sang Willie Nelson and Peter, Paul and Mary songs, but I don't want to name any names.

Many of my Montrose neighbors are staying put, and the opinion of the 'spit and whittle club' that has assembled down the block is that homes should be fine but that cars should be kept pretty high up.

Many of my friends have headed out of town for San Antonio, Austin, and the Metroplex. (Those of you not from Texas may have previously thought of the Metroplex as Dallas/Fort Worth. This is not the preferred name among those who live there, as many of a third of whom live in neither Dallas nor Fort Worth, while those two cities themselves are thirty miles apart and don't really watch each other's TV stations or read each other's newspapers.) Those who have headed for the countryside and towns as far away as 100 miles to the West or 200 miles to the North will probably not be far enough away to avoid the storm!

After our home was flooded during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, we rebuilt it at the same location. To comply with building codes and federal flood insurance requirements, it was raised six feet from the ground level. This puts it out of the 100 year flood plain of Brays Bayou. Mom and Dad have a sloped driveway that goes up the six feet to the house, so many of our friends and neighbors are bringing their cars over to try and keep them out of the street.

I just spilled an entire cup of cold coffee on myself, so between that, the more than 45 minutes it is taking to get an english muffin here at Cafe Artiste, the fact that I went to four gas stations before I found one with any gas, and the third strongest hurricane ever recorded heading for me, almost all of my loved ones, and our homes, it's official:

***I'm having a bad day***

My grandparents live in a highrise. They will be staying on the information that the building was constructed to be able to stand up to this kind of storm and they have an emergency generator on the premises.

My Aunt and Uncle have two people staying with them. My Uncle went to Galveston earlier in the week to bring his mother in to town. Another aunt and uncle still have a family of six Katrina evacuees staying at their house.

Her are a few other local blogs that may help to flesh out the situation for you:

Houston's Clear Thinkers / Tom Kirkendall
Greg's Opinion / Greg Wythe
Houston Strategies / Tory Gattis

As of 8 this morning, the grocery stores still had plenty of food, but were rather low on bread. I suspect that this is because bread is supplied to them more frequently than the rest of their stock, but it was pretty wild to see so many empty shelves while everything else was basically full.

More posts coming soon. Everyone please post comments, ask questions, email the link around, and keep Southeast Texas in your prayers,


Thursday, June 30, 2005

Under Construction

More to come soon!

In the meantime, feel free to send an email.