June 29, 2008

*The Problem With Reading

My job lately is not exactly action-packed. People apparently have other things going on right now. Like dealing with flooding...golfing...whatever.

So I took an extracurricular book to work for funsies. It's about Captain Scott, who led what he hoped would be the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Someone beat him to it, and Scott died on the way back. The biography is short, elementary, and not exactly in-depth; so it left me with a lot of questions.

Like: why did they have to bring the Russian guy along when they used sled dogs? I understand the dogs only knew Russian commands, but while everyone was sitting on a boat for months, couldn't they have maybe learned those Russian commands?

Like: why does the author refer to a trip to collect penguin eggs as "murderous"? Did they slaughter penguins? Or is the murder constrained to the death of the chicks within the eggs?

Anywho, I will be able to answer at least that last question, because it just so happens that I already have the book written by one of the egg-stealers in my "to-read" stack.

This brings me to the problem with reading: there is always more of it to do. The more you do it, the more you have to do it.

The more you know, the less you know. You know?

(P.S. I don't really recommend the first book except maybe as a brief introduction. And there better not be gratuitous pengie-murder going on in the second. For food, I can live with. But I've long been a big fan of the pengie. Digression: I saw this documentary on little blues once, and became extremely upset when they said they had to cross a highway to get to their breeding grounds...and showed tiny little blue penguins watching semi trucks zipping past. Not cool.)

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June 24, 2008

*Close the Windows

So. Floodwaters did not come into my apartment, but they came awfully close.

It smells a bit.

But nothing like how it smells here:
(click to enlarge)

That is the nearest major intersection to my building, and I hadn't driven there until this evening...the road from here to there is still closed. I forgot on my way back from campus, though, and ended up being another looky-loo.

Good heavens, the smell. Living in Iowa, I am subjected to the occasional cow pasture or hog lot stink, but not normally in the middle of town. It was worse than a cow pasture...almost but not quite on par with a hog lot. I started gagging and had to roll up the car windows.

Seattle doesn't flood or get a lot of snow, does it?

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June 23, 2008

*Change of Luck?

When I got to the Housing office, they gave us cleaning supplies before they gave us our keys. When I got to my parking lot, there weren't many cars, but there was lots of discarded furniture. There was damaged furniture all over the place in the grass in front of my building, and sandbags and plastic strewn about. The few people who were here in my building on the first floor had their doors opened to air things out while they cleaned.

I opened my door, and...nothing. I didn't get any water at all. The place smells a little, and it's buggy, but other than that...nothing wrong. I had left some things in the fridge that wouldn't spoil, like snack packs of applesauce and pop, but the Housing office came in after we evacuated and threw everything away anyway. The only things they didn't throw away from the fridges were prescription medicines and apparently water containers. So the pitcher of water I kept in there was placed on the counter. Everything else was thrown out.

The building is concrete--concrete blocks make up the walls between units, so there is no drywall except within your own apartment. Doors to the apartments are outside, like a motel, and each individual door was sandbagged. So the couple next door got a little water damage, the family a few doors down on the other side had all their furniture out on the lawn, and I got nothing.

I totally lucked out for a change.

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June 22, 2008

*Fingers Crossed

I'll be allowed back on property this afternoon...my side of the complex got off easier than the other, despite being closer to the water source. A levee broke nearer their side, and whooosh!

Updates will likely be few and far between...I have a lot of stuff to do in the next few weeks. Classes are going to be abbreviated; whatever cleanup/salvage I have to do at home; and moving out by August 1 anyway.

And all that on a bum leg. Joy!

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June 18, 2008

*Waiting Game

Latest aerials show ground around my building, but nasty brown water filling the parking lot and low spots on the ground nearby. Some other buildings in the complex still have water surrounding them, so I'm thinking I got off relatively easy.

We're still under mandatory evacuation, though, so can't get near to see without risking arrest. Plus I'm not trying to walk (gimp) in when there's still water to cross anyway.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

*Help: It's a Good Cause

I'll keep moving this up until Pete meets his goal or I end up drifting away in a cardboard boat.

Blogless Pete is going to be biking in the July heat from Boston to New York City in order to raise money for Lou Gehrig's disease. It'll totally be worth it if he meets his fundraising goals.

You can help. Donate a little, donate a lot. Please give what you can.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008


Flood recovery is a long process. I worked at a flooded business in 1993, and stayed on during the long cleanup and rebuilding phase, and it's not easy. It also smells bad. Flood water contains sewage, so you can smell the fecal matter that touched everything the water reached.

Good times.

Anywho, the Iowa River will be slow to recede, and as the I.C. city manager points out, just because the water is gone doesn't mean things are going to be back to normal...

Regina Bailey, Iowa City Mayor said "In some areas there's still a very stiff current so it's still unsafe to enter those manditorily evacuated areas."

It could be several days before people are allowed to look at their homes. The city has three conditions to meet. Is it safe? Is there a low risk of fast moving water following a potential breach. Can the power be turned on? All of this is just to look at homes.

Michael Lombardo, Iowa City City Manager said "Keep in mind that you'll be able to re-enter areas long before re-occupancy."

It could be months before homes pass inspections and people are allowed to move back in.

(all emphasis mine)

The Red Cross sees donations pour in after tornadoes, where the devastation looks so much more impressive, but floods never bring in the donation dollars. The Red Cross disaster relief fund is tapped already, so please consider donating. Besides providing food and shelter to displaced residents, they provide things like help with deposits on new places, bleach/other cleaning supplies to those cleaning up, and other support services.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

*Dwelling Equals Insomnia, Denial Equals Sleep

I find I sleep better if I don't think about it too much...no use getting all distraught until you know how distraught to get. Or something.

The only recent aerial photos do not show my specific building, but other buildings I can see in my apartment complex have at least half the first floor under water.

And here is the intersection a few blocks away...
(click to enlarge)

The traffic light posts give good perspective as to depth. This intersection is on lower ground than my building, but not by a whole lot.

Donations to the Red Cross, United Way, University of Iowa Flood Fund, or even to me would all be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, as I can actually get back to my building to have a look-see (estimated to be about two weeks from now), I'll take pictures and all that. Hopefully my desktop computer with the memory card reader made it through okay (I had it 6 feet off the ground). Otherwise, well, I'm not sure how I'll show you the pics.

So that's me. How are all you?

Posted by Jennifer at 11:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 14, 2008

I'll Give You a Topic...

Am I justified in being completely livid that thousands of people becoming homeless and losing everything has become old news in the face of one single guy who is not the President dying of a heart attack?

Or am I a jerk?

Posted by Jennifer at 04:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

*It's Only Stuff

Aerial photos show my apartment building surrounded by water.

Water levels are expected to go up another 5 feet.


Posted by Jennifer at 07:59 PM | TrackBack


At my parents' house. Have housing lined up in the I.C. for my return after the weekend.

When you read the news and see the words "Clear Creek"--usually around the name "Coralville"--please think fondly of my probably soon-to-be floating furniture.

Like here.

Video of that area yesterday.

Anywho, if you have a few dollars to spare, might I recommend the American Red Cross or United Way?

Posted by Jennifer at 07:52 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 12, 2008


I am being mandatorily evacuated. Not sure when I'll be updating.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

*A 4-letter Word Starting With "F"

In 1993, the max flow was 28,200 cfs. Keep that in mind as you read...

UPDATE: The US Army Corps of Engineers projections for outflows from the Coralville Reservoir are now at 30,000 cubic feet per second by late Friday; 35,000 cfs on Sunday; and 40,000 cfs on Tuesday

The tv news is saying 40,000 by Saturday.

I'll be moving my stuff to higher ground, then leaving town for at least the weekend.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 11, 2008

*You've Been Warned

Blogging will likely be light(er) for awhile.

According to current projections, which do not include any precipitation further than 24 hours in the future, inflow to the Reservoir is expected to peak on Thursday, June 19. The crest of the Reservoir is anticipated to be 716.8 feet on June 20th. Possible maximum flow expected during this flood event in the Iowa City area is 33,000 cfs. The maximum flow experience in 1993 was 28,200 cfs.

Flood waters are not expected to peak until Friday, June 20th. Additional rain may add to and delay the peak.


The flood of 2008 is now expected to exceed water levels experienced in the flood of 1993. Properties adjoining those directly affected in 1993 are now vulnerable to inundation. Residents and property owners in flood-prone areas are urged to continue their protective actions. At this point in time, it is also important to start planning for evacuation.

Yeah, I qualify under that "properties adjoining those directly affected in 1993" bit...so I'll be getting ready for the worst. Hopefully the worst won't happen, but better safe than sorry, dudes.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


During the floods of '93, I helped evacuate people and move furniture to higher ground and all kinds of fun stuff. (It actually was fun, if only because my own home was not in any danger.)

Now I have a broken and badly sprained ankle and foot and spend most of my time figuring out how little I have to move while still doing things like grocery shopping and bathing.

I am useless.

Oh, and in case y'all are not aware...I'm not kidding around about this flooding stuff. It's a Big Deal and will only get bigger in the near future.

The building in the upper middle part of the pic? That's a dorm.
(click to enlarge)

UPDATE 4:30--Cedar Rapids has mandatory evacuations underway for the 500-year flood range. And Iowa City has asked for more volunteers to raise the sandbag walls a couple more feet.

Anybody hear that? It's an...it's an impact tremor, that's what it is...I'm fairly alarmed here.

This does not bode well for people living in first-floor apartments near Clear Creek. Will save me the trouble of moving all my stuff in August, though.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

*Superstitions: Friday the 13th


Fridays themselves have been considered an unlucky day since medieval times. This is because the Catholic Church promoted Fridays as a day of penance and abstinence in honor of Jesus Christ, who died on a Friday. Friday is associated with other bad events: it is supposedly the day Eve offered an apple to Adam, the customary day for public executions to be held, and the day witches were supposed to prefer to hold their gatherings.

Any connection of the bad luck associated with Fridays to the bad luck associated with the number 13 was not documented until the 1870s. The fear of Friday the 13th did not even become widespread until the 20th Century.

Today, the anxiety about Friday the 13th has eclipsed the idea that all Fridays are unlucky, which is nice, because I like my Fridays a lot. Itd be too bad if they were all unlucky!

Reference: Most of the material from this post was found in David Pickering's Dictionary of Superstitions and Steve Roud's The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

I'll Give You a Topic...

I'll be spending the day with my mama, so you can all discuss the following:

Taco Bell. Best fast food place in existence? Or nasty and horrifying?

Alternate topic...Egg McMuffins. The perfect food, or gag-inducing egg pucks?

Posted by Jennifer at 07:07 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 04, 2008

*It's Me

We have some flooding, and expect more...

Fearful that Coralville Lake's level may reach its 712-foot spillway level for only the second time in history, Corps of Engineers officials have increased the rate at which it lets water out of the man-made, flood-control reservoir north of here. That will mean some low lying flooding along the Iowa River in Iowa City and Coralville.
(emphasis mine)

And the first time it happened?

The last time I lived here.

They're predicting it will happen again later this month.

My cousin's husband blames me for bringing rain every time I go to Wisconsin, so I'll take the heat for this too.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

*I'll Give You a Topic...

Are girls and boys raised to look at work differently? Are girls encouraged to look for "fulfilling" work regardless of monetary considerations? Are boys encouraged to consider having to support a family financially?


Posted by Jennifer at 08:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

*Superstitions--Gold Earrings

Ever wonder why the stereotypical buccaneer sports a gold hoop or two?

It's partly because of an old sailors' superstition that gold earrings will prevent one from drowning. The reasons for this are unknown, but probably relate in some way to the value of gold and the fact that having some is a bit lucky in and of itself.

The other part of the equation is the belief that gold can help improve eyesight--even if the gold is located in the ear. Figure that one out. But rubbing gold across the eyelid will supposedly cure a stye, and it can also clear up vision problems of other sorts. Perhaps by paying off the optometrist?

Good vision is not a bad thing to have when one is at sea...and not drowning is pretty good, too. Hence the gold earrings.

Reference: Most of the material from this post was found in David Pickering's Dictionary of Superstitions and Christina Hole's The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack