This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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September 2004
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Sleepy Night

Brandy and Amy are both asleep on the couch next to where I am set up. We lost power for a few times, but just for a few seconds each. We’re back up for the moment, but who knows for how long. The weather people on TV are reporting from Melbourne and it looks pretty bad. Horizontal wind and all that. From in here, I can’t see out at all since everything is plywooded. It is very frustrating. I want to go look outside, but am refraining. The noise comes and goes. But for the most part, it is there all the time. But just like a normal storm almost. And then it whistles really loud for a minute or two…

It is in the process of making landfall right now. We’ll have a few more hours of this… oooo… nother power flicker. Lets get this thing out…

Rumble

We’re all inside now. There is just a constant rumble from outside. And flapping from the plastic we put on the windows before we had the plywood to put up. I can feel the pressure changes. It feels like rapidly going up on a plane or a high rise elevator. Haven’t looked outside in about an hour. Back then it was dark. The neighbor was walking a little yippy dog that looked like it should just blow away in the wind, but it was still on the ground. The streetlights were still on so we could see. The trees were wipping all around.

We’re still on the outer edges. Melbourne radar here. That is a live URL, so it isn’t just the radar when I am posting, it is the radar whenever you look. As I write, you can clearly see the eye of the storm on the radar, just southeast of Fort Pierce. Melbourne is on the very outer edges of the rain bands, in light blue. Nothing heavy yet. But there are some yellow and orange bands coming. How bad we get will end up on just when it turns I guess. The worst areas should be a little south of us, but sounds like we’re still in for a bunch worse before it gets better.

Right now it isn’t that bad. Just very windy. And the pressure. It is giving me a big headache and my ears hurt. And I’m a little tired. Brandy is taking a nap. I might sometime soon too.

Or not.

Orange World

We decided to walk Princely one last time before the weather got really bad. Went outside. Everything was orange tinted and the clouds were low and flying by overhead at a high rate of speed. While we were out there the winds picked way up. The trees were going nuts. Some of the trunks were swaying as well as the branches. It was getting nuts. And it is just starting!

We just brought in the satellite dish and are now watching a small portable TV on antenna. It’ll stay that way through the night. So anyway, here we go I guess! There are tornado warnings off and on. And the main winds of the hurricane are coming. Latest maps on the local news show where we are getting about 100 mph winds when it gets to the worst part. Dunno.

We’re slowly consolidating into the center rooms in the house. Expect the electric to go any time. According to the TV some parts of the county are already without power. But we have batteries! :-)

More updates when I can… they say on TV the winds in Melbourne are now 45 mph. They say the sky is purple though. Maybe. It was orange a few minutes ago though! :-)

About 3.5 hours until landfall…

Just a Little Breeze

Starting to get breezy. You could fly a nice kite with this. We resecured a couple things, moved some boxes around and are basically getting settled in for the storm. Brandy is making cookies. I’m going to clean out my car and bring in the GPS and stuff. Unfortunately, only one of the three cars can be in the garage. The other two will have to take their chances.

After the car stuff, I think that is the last outdoor stuff we’re going to be attempting barring anything unexpected. Then we’ll hunker down and watch the live coverage of the storm while eating cookies and such until the power goes out. After that, we’ll play chess by candlelight while listening to the radio and the small battery powered TV… and eat cookies.

This one is going to be about as bad as Frances. For Frances we ran to New Orleans. For some reason this time we are still here. Gulp. Seems everybody still is. Nobody is leaving. (And they haven’t actually called for evacuation of our specific location, just the barrier islands near here and mobile homes and the like.) Oh well. We’ll be OK I think. But the next 24 hours are going to probably get a bit hairy!

Local noon news just came on. Channel 9 out of Orlando. Chief Weather Dude Tom Terry. I quote his opening statement…

This storm is going to be serious. We’ve already talked a lot about that. This storm is:

#1: About the same size as Frances with the windfield.
#2: This storm is going to be stronger than Frances.
#3: This storm is going to make landfall a little further North than where Frances hit.

Yummy! It is still forecast to make landfall 20 or 30 miles south of us. That is actually a little further away than they were forecasting yesterday, when they were putting landfall right near us. They are saying it may strengthen to a Cat 4 too. But they have it further south, which is good. But it could still shift.

Oh well, time to clean that car. And eat cookies.

May 2004 Top Ten!!

The winners found out back on June 30th, but now the results can be posted! Woo! Here is the May 2004 Email Top Ten!

May 2004

Once again in May nobody was actively attempting to win. The usual players did their usual things. Brandy wins again easily. The rest put in respectable performances although overall volume is down since I was very busy in May on issues relating to moving and such, so was not keeping up on answering email at all.

Darkflash: Chuck

Seems like an appropriate time to do another Darkflash… this is what I sent out to friends and family on August 13, 2004 at 17:10 UTC when Charlie was heading our way…

Came home from work for lunch and watched the local news. This morning they had the track of Hurricane Charlie coming on land near Tampa and heading well west of us with Melbourne just on the edge of the area due for tropical storm force winds. Which meant we might get that level of winds, but just barely. They’ve revised the track though, and it is heading further east than they thought this morning. We’re now expected to instead definitely have tropical force sustained winds, and might be on the edge of sustained hurricane force winds.

Last night we were in Tampa to take Amy to a Hillary Duff concert. On the way there the other direction was stop and go evacuation traffic, and on the way home we were stuck in the evacuation traffic for a long time. Since we’re on the other coast, we’re not in any evacuation zone or anything, but they are predicting we will get some pretty serious winds and rain and such.

Right now it is still a beautiful day, but we should start seeing some effects here in Melbourne within the next few hours.

I’ve been in some on what was left of hurricanes by the time they got up to DC or NJ or wherever, but this should be a bit more than that.

Unless it tuns again and misses us completely, which it still could.

Anyway, I’ll report what happens a little later.

Storm Fatigue

Well, the 15:00 UTC update from the National Hurrican Center just came out, and their latest forecast track has a big H directly over Melbourne. for Sunday morning. Great. Supposed to be a high Cat 2 or low Cat 3 by then. But that could change. And it could go somewhere else.

The new weather radio we got after the last one sounded its alarm at just after 10 UTC this morning though to announce we were officially under a Hurricane Watch. (Meaning threat of hurricane force conditions within 24 to 36 hours.) I was excited that the weather alarm worked right. Neat stuff. First time I’ve had one. But then again, it means bad things are likely to happen…

The interesting thing though is to look at the hurricane fatigue going on here. When Frances was happening everybody was scambling and figuring out what they were going to do, people were getting out of town… this time everybody is just tired. I know I am. Our plywood is still up, so we don’t have to deal with that. But even here at work everybdoy is sort of blah. Lots of folks are saying they will stay put in their houses even if evacuation notices are given. Nobody is talking about evacuating the whole office like they did last time. Doing a final set of backups to take off site, putting up some tarps in a couple places that have leaked in previous storms, and that is about it. People are going through the motions of what they are supposed to do, but there is a drained feeling about the whole thing. As opposed to a nervous and anxious excitement, the feeling is much more just “oh not again” as people drag their way through the day.

And because this one didn’t shift to be aimed at this area until a few days before expected landfall, as opposed to Frances that seemed like we knew it was coming for years, there is now less than 48 hours until this is expected to hit.

Brandy went out yesterday to load up on supplies in case we ride it out, and if we decide to we could be packed up in the cars in a couple hours to try to get out of the way of it again. And I suppose if the forecasts show it strengthening we might do that. But… first of all, another road trip right now is just not on the list of “things we want to do”, second, time is very short. Roads are likely to get jammed up shortly. We can do back roads again, but where to this time? Or do we just decide to ride it out, risking becoming “one of those idiots who stayed”.

My take right now is that unless it strengthens significantly, or they start recommending evacuations for our area (not just the barrier islands and trailer parks) that we will stay. But Brandy and I will probably be reexamining and discussiong that every few hours. But the point of no return for deciding that is probably early tomorrow morning. We should start seeing wind and rain from this by mid-day tomorrow.

Bleh.

Other Big Screwups

I liked this quick item from the LA Times. Just throws some historical perspective around the incompetence the Bush administration has shown in Iraq by comparing it to the vast incompetence of past presidents in other conflicts. It points out the obvious corollary to the old “History is written by the winners” maxim that mistakes are generally forgotten if in the end the war is won, but are remembered much more clearly if the overall results are negative. The article provides a few examples from various presidencies.

History Can Offer Bush Hope …
(Max Boot, LA Times)

Reading the depressing headlines, one is tempted to ask: Has any president in U.S. history ever botched a war or its aftermath so badly?

Actually, yes. Most wartime presidents have made catastrophic blunders, from James Madison losing his capital to the British in 1814 to Harry Truman getting embroiled with China in 1950.

(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

(Note, Volokh exerpts the entire text of the article, so if you don’t want to bother with the LA Times free registration, you can just read it at Volokh.)

Bluffing Chadbots

This one is for Chad, who last I heard was slowly bankrupting himself through his addiction to online poker. Enjoy!

Online Poker and Unenforceable Rules

Most online casinos ban bots, but there is really no way to enforce such a rule. Already, many online players use electronic assistants that help them calculate odds, something that world-class players are adept at doing in their heads. Pokerbot technology will only advance, so that even if bots don’t outplay people now, they will eventually. (The claim, sometimes heard, that computers cannot understand bluffing in poker, is incorrect. Game theory can predict and explain bluffing behavior. A good pokerbot will bluff sometimes.)

(via BoingBoing)

The same kind of thing is obviously true for the online Chess Clubs like ICC and FICS. Of course, the difference is that most games on those (with the exceptions of some tournaments) have no real world stakes attached to them, so for the most part the honor system of identifying when a computer is involved works. This is less true when there is real money at stake.

I imagine that over time, almost all online competitive gaming venues where players interact with each other rather than just with the game will hit this problem to one degree or another.

Hmmm… no interest in the online poker, but this reminds me I haven’t been on ICC or FICS in a long time. Time to get online and play some chess! Maybe this weekend. We’ll see.

Here We Go Again

OK, no longer just in the bubble, but now near the expected track. Here are the Wunderground Jeanne Computer Models. And here is the NHS Danger Bubble.

OK, enough already! So far here in Melbourne we got a glancing shot off Charlie, Frances hammered the area and we got remnants of Ivan after it made a big loop over the Southeast before going over us back into the gulf to be a Tropical Storm again.

Well anyway, wood is still up. We’ll leave it up until Jeanne is gone. Then it probably will be time to take it down. If this stays a Cat 2, we’ll be staying put behind the boarded windows. If it goes Cat 3 or above and is still aimed at us we might think about going away. Or not. We’ll see.