The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne

Here are some pictures I took today in Waycross and Homerville:


























































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We are much more fortunate than those residing in Florida. However, many people I've spoken with admitted they were awake most of the night due to the various sounds they kept hearing: wind, heavy rain, flying objects hitting the house.

A lucky few were able to have little or no interruption of their electrical services. I was not one of those lucky people. It's inconvenient at best, life-threatening at worst, when you have to do without electrical power. We don't realize just how dependent we are on things like that until we're forced to do without them.

The first thing I missed was the air conditioner. It may have been cool outside, but the humidity made it unpleasant. What's worse, our windows are temporarily boarded up, so it got warmer as well as humid inside. As grateful as I was to be someplace safe, I was miserable. Even in the winter, I sleep with a fan blowing on me every night.

The second thing I missed was being able to use my CPAP machine to sleep. No air conditioner, no fan, no CPAP. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well last night, even though I was in a recliner so my head would be elevated (still not as comfortable as my waterbed). I think I finally conked out after the Benedryl took effect. It didn't keep me from waking up when I stopped breathing in my sleep. Dad woke me up at 6 AM. By then, my clothes were soaked in sweat, and still no electricity. Oh yeah, you bet your sweet bippy I got a cold shower ... and enjoyed it immensely!

During the weekend, I watched the weather channel and viewed several weather web sites, keeping an eye on Jeanne. I repeatedly debated on whether or not to go to work that weekend to get some required paperwork done, then stay home during the hurricane. By Sunday morning, it looked like the storm was moving west, so I decided to not worry about it anymore. Guess what? It started getting rainy and gusty around 8 PM last night. I was trying to stay up for the 11 PM update on the storm system on intellicast.com. Just before 11 PM rolled around, our power went out.

Work was a little chaotic today, but it wasn't too bad. I drove 32 miles in the wind and rain to get to work, and many of the more local employees called in, saying they wouldn't be coming in "due to the weather" or "I have no electricity." I guess my presence blew those excuses. It wasn't that bad outside; the worst of it was over with and moved north. As for electricity; they knew it was going to get bad and power outages were likely, so why not get ready for it? Now, if these people lived on dirt roads, and the road was the only way to their house and that same road was flooded or undriveable, I could understand their not coming in. However, that's not the excuse they used.

I'm surprised I'm still awake and functioning enough to write this entry. Maybe it's my nerves -- that would explain the extended trips to the bathroom I've made all day -- giving me that adrenaline to stay awake and function somewhat. I know living in a house with no windows right now is making me a little neurotic. I feel like it's stuffy in here, and I need air. I'm trying hard to keep my hands off the thermostat because I'm afraid Dad will get mad and turn OFF the air conditioner if I make it too cool in here. To compromise, I sit in front of a fan at my computer.

I was told the electricity did not come back on until after 4:00 PM today. That's the longest I've ever had to do without electricity -- seventeen hours. I'm glad I went to work today. Heck, getting into my truck this morning to go to work was a thrill -- I got to run my air conditioner :-P

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne is Coming!

And we're getting ready for it.



As of this writing, the path of the hurricane is supposed to go directly over Valdosta, Georgia. However, it was originally going to hit Brunswick, then Waycross, then Homerville. Hurricanes are unpredictable, so we're not taking chances. Monday is going to be the day of reckoning for us. We're planning to ride this storm out. I'll try to get pictures and post them here.

It's really weird with the plywood up because no light can get into the house now. In fact, it kinda feels claustrophobic to me as I walk around in the house. It's broad daylight outside, and the interior is lit with artificial light only. I'm used to being able to open windows for fresh air. I won't have any idea as to what time of day it is unless I look at a clock. I'll have to remind myself of that when I wake up and think I might have "a few more minutes of sleep."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Curiosity Seekers

Millions of people have been adversely affected by the last three Atlantic hurricanes this year: Charley, Frances, and Ivan. The devastation ranges from power loss to property damage to loss of life.

I was reading an article on FoxNews.com about how those affected are dealing with their situation. I came upon a sentence that struck a chord with me: "At one subdivision, a spray-painted sign warned strangers to stay out: 'If you don't live here, you have no business here.'" Most people would say the spray painter meant that toward potential looters. However, looters are not the only problem these people have to contend with.

As trivial as it may seem, curiosity seekers are also a thorn in the side of affected residents and law enforcement in areas of devastation. For these people, it's not enough to see it on television, hear about it on the radio, or read about it in the newspaper. Viewing pictures and/or videos about it on the Internet doesn't do it for these people. They have to physically get in their vehicles and drive to these areas, just to "have a look."

I can give you a couple of examples I have personally witnessed.

Example one:

A friend of mine in Covington, Georgia lived in a mobile home close to the Yellow River. The week of Thanksgiving 1992, we had a lot of rain, and the banks of that river were swelling up.

By Thanksgiving morning, the sun was shining, but the runoff from the rain continued to swell the river banks. She had already taken some of her belongings and was staying at a hotel the Red Cross set her up in, but she realized she needed more clothes. I offered to help her get her things, not knowing what we were in for.

Her boyfriend had warned her that the river was rising quickly, and she might not be able to get to her home. That didn't deter her, and I was wanting to help. We got in my car and drove to the mobile home community where her home was located. We only got part way inside the property; the river had already risen into the back area where her home was located.

There were numerous people standing around, looking at the partially-submerged homes, vehicles, swingsets, etc. Some of these people were sitting in lawn chairs. My friend and I got out of the car to talk to the people and get information about the flooded road leading to her home. We found out most of these people didn't even live in this mobile home community. They were there to "watch the flood and view the damage for themselves."

My friend and I got back into the car. She was angry. "I can't get to my house. I may have lost everything. Yet all these people are doing is standing around looking. I'll bet none of them have offered to help. This is their entertainment."

I looked at my friend, her face like stone, her eyes steely, and her brows furrowed. I could see the disgust and resentment on her face. And I didn't blame her.

We did manage to get to her home. She swam across a very cold, flooded road with a strong current to get her clothes and a couple of other things. I'll go into more detail another time. I will say this about her: you have to admire her determination. BTW, there were two middle-aged men watching us wade chest-high into the icy water. They didn't offer to help, either.

Example Two:

While still residing in Conyers, Georgia, I woke up one morning in March 1995 to flashing blue lights reflecting off the mini-blinds inside my studio apartment. Thinking a crime had been committed in our otherwise peaceful apartment community, I wanted to find out what happened.

As I walked outside, I saw three of my neighbors standing on the frosty grass. I asked them what was going on, and one of them said the apartment building across the street was on fire. Half asleep and in disbelief, I walked onto the grass and witnessed, to my horror, the fire that had engulfed the apartment building across the parking lot. The building was less than fifty feet from MY apartment building. My eyes were fixated on the inferno, yet I became distracted by flying embers. My distraction became a concern because the embers were flying in the direction of my building. That's when I realized I needed to make some calls, just in case I had to evacuate as well.

The building had nearly burned to the ground, with the exception of a couple of partial walls remaining. It was about three months before the building was rebuilt. During that time, there was an increase in the vehicle traffic caused by curiosity seekers, driving by -- even parking in front of -- the burned building. Speaking with a few of my neighbors, the feeling on the matter was unanimous ... the presence of these curiosity seekers was vehemently resented.

Many people think they're not hurting anyone or anything by hanging around "looking." However, think about this: Curiosity seekers are loiterers. Victims of natural disasters are fatigued, distraught, anxious, and overwhelmed as they try to salvage what's left of their belongings, and these loiterers only add to the victims' distress by standing around staring and watching. Even in a less stressful situation, most people don't like to be watched.

Another thing to think about: There are people who are evil enough to take advantage of those who have been hit hard by natural disasters. They come in droves to these areas like vultures. They'll loiter around, waiting for the right time to loot compromised properties. If someone questions their presence, they can easily respond with, "Oh, I heard about what happened, and I came to look around."

There's a popular phrase I'm reminded of that says, "If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem." I think it applies to curiosity seekers. I think it's safe to say the presence of curiosity seekers is universally resented. Unless curiosity seekers are going to be a part of the solution by offering assistance to the people they're staring at while they're there, they need to avoid being part of the problem by staying home.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Another Silly Quiz Site

... but I like them.

Franklin
You are Franklin!


Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shred Salads

Well, I've gone from being a salad hater to a salad maniac. Dad and Soul Sister still look at me with disbelief whenever I make and consume a salad.

Soul Sister's surprise took place Tuesday night at Ryan's restaurant. I met her and her friend there, and let them get their plates first. Then I went to get mine. I had no idea what I was going to put together, but I was going to try to be a good girl and eat some greens. I got some shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots (thank goodness it wasn't "carrot salad" with that icky sweet dressing), some raw broccoli, a cherry tomato, pepperoni, diced ham, diced turkey, and some fine-shredded cheese. I topped it with Italian dressing and vinegar.

LOL! I'll never forget the look on her face when she said, "I should have brought a camera. In the 20 years I've known you, I've never seen you willingly eat rabbit food."

My response was, "It's amazing what three little words will do to your perception of the matter. Her friend looked at me with a puzzled look on his face, so I explained to him what the three words were: you ... have ... diabetes.

Why did those words have such an impact on me? Well, my former co-worker, who has diabetes, is having dialysis three times a week because of acute kidney failure; she's having a rough time and complications dealing with the dialysis. My family member Drusilla is diabetic, and she's dealing with total acute failure in one kidney, poor circulation in her legs, and possible diabetic neuropathy. After seeing what these two women are going through, you bet your a$$ I'm going to sit up and take notice.

Last night, I was still fondly remembering the salad I had the night before. I wanted to use spicier meat than the tuna I had been using. Then I had what I thought would be a brilliant idea: shred a can of Hormel Spam. Whoops! Not such a great idea. For one thing, it doesn't shred too well in my food processor. Second, the texture is too mushy for the mouth feel of a salad in which nearly all the contents are shredded and/or diced into small pieces. Foods like tuna, salmon, chicken, lean pork, imitation crab meat, etc. would be better suited. I may take the remaining Spam and brown it in a skillet before I add it to another salad, but at least I know what NOT to do again.

Before I went to my water aerobics class this evening, I experimented some more with my salad mixture. This time, I diced up some pepperoni and imitation crab meat and added it to the lettuce, carrots, broccoli, and cheese mixture. In addition, I took an empty salad dressing bottle, a brand new bottle of Italian salad dressing, and poured 1/2 the contents into the other bottle. Then I took apple cider vinegar and poured some in each bottle. This would dilute the oil contained in the dressing without compromising the flavor too much. Then I shook up one of the bottles and poured some of the dressing onto the salad. Oh man, did I hit the flavor jackpot!! I made enough for three meals plus enough left over to eat for supper.

I check my blood sugar two hours after I eat these salads, and my blood sugar does go down. However, I can't seem to get it lower than 130, but I have done better about trying to keep it from going over 200, so I am making progress. I'm not cutting out carbs, but I have cut them down considerably. There are a few exceptions, like when I have my old-fashioned popcorn with a regular Coca-cola or when I eat out.

Speaking of eating out, it's getting to where I'm avoiding fast food restaurants. I think about the french fries and other fried food, and how I feel after I eat the food. You learn to tune into what you're body is telling you when you start eating better. Then you realize why you've been feeling tired and listless. I love fried potatoes, but it does make my blood sugar go up. All-you-can-eat buffets are bad, too, not necessarily because people (especially me) tend to overeat, but their food is so full of sodium. I get so bloated afterward I can hardly move. I've been doing better in my food choices. I need to work on the amount, but like the nurse who advised me on handling my diabetes said ... I need to make these changes gradually or I won't be able to stick with them.

So far, so good ...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Hurricane Frances: Impact in SE Georgia

Last weekend when Frances came roaring through Georgia, we were spared the destructive forces of being directly hit by the hurricane. However, we still got wind and copious amounts of rainfall.

I was indoors all weekend. As a matter of fact, I slept through the times it stormed the worst. I got a chance to talk to various people from the area on the Internet. They kept talking about how worried they were about the safety of their homes and the reliability of their electrical service. I thought, "Well, yes, they live in mobile homes; I can see why they're upset and anxious."

Monday evening, I finally heard some of the wind and the thunderstorms that appeared off and on intermittantly. It wasn't until I heard those sounds for myself that I understood why my friends were spooked. It still didn't prepare me for what I saw on my way to work Tuesday morning.

I couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't see any damaged buildings, but I wasn't expecting to see so many broken tree branches and debris strewn everywhere. Some of these branches were as thick as small trees! I'm talking about branches three inches in diameter. There were so many of them ... just strewn everywhere. I realized then: that hurricane didn't hit us, but it still tore up the landscape some. We were lucky. I'd hate to see a hurricane come directly through Waycross.

Now we're keeping a nervous eye on Hurricane Ivan. Unless its projected path moves further west, we're due for another round of wind and rain.

Despite what we went through, it is nothing compared to what the citizens of Florida are going through now. Please pray for them. Ivan may not hit mid-Florida directly like Charley and Frances did, but Ivan will make things even worse for the people in those regions.

Just some thoughts I've been pondering ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I Got Educated Today

I spent 90 minutes with a nurse today who has a strong educational background in diabetic nutrition and treatment. I must say, I got an education today.

One of the first things she said was that there is no such thing as a diabetic diet. She also said to avoid "diabetic" food, candies, nutritional supplements, and the like; the companies who make these foods are ripping consumers off. Any benefits derived from consuming these products do not offset the additional cost levied on them as a "specialty" product. Not only is the flavor not as good, but it may contain ingredients that could be more harmful to the body than the absence of the other ingredient you're trying to avoid in the first place.

She also showed me the nutritional label that is printed on every food product packaged and sold in our supermarkets. I learned that when the label says "Total Carbohydrates 12 g, whatever it says the sugar grams are part of the total carbohydrates; it is not a separate ingredient to be counted by itself. In other words, the label is not showing 12 carbohydrates AND whatever sugar grams. What she said made sense once I took a good look at the label and realized that under "Total Carbohydrates" are other ingredients immediately underneath it, but they're indented a little to the right. That means that the label is listing the breakdown of the contents of the carbohydrates. I had no idea. That was an eye opener.

There is one food I need to avoid: imitation cheese. It's not considered a dairy or protein product ... it's considered a fat. There is no nutritional benefit to consuming processed imitation cheese.

I told the nurse the news article I read on the FoxNews.com site about people dropping the Atkins diet and adding breads back to their meals. The nurse explained why: our bodies need proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. When we go on a diet that extremely limits any one of these three things, we end up hurting ourselves. Many people on the Atkins diet consumed far more protein than they should; too much protein will damage the kidneys. Our kidneys process the proteins in our body. We need carbohydrates for energy. Many people on the Atkins diet are finding out that they don't have the energy they used to because they're cutting out or cutting down on the carbohydrates their body needs every day. Everything in moderation ... we should avoid all diets that tell us "you can't eat this, you can't eat that ..."

She gave me several charts comparing foods from different fast food restaurants. She showed me how a whopper with cheese (no fries) from Burger King had more calories, carbs, protein, and fat than a two-piece original recipe meal (chicken, mashed potatoes w/gravy, cole slaw) from Kentucky Fried Chicken. I didn't tell her I used to have the Monster Burger from Hardee's often until I found out it contained over 1100 calories. That cured my craving! I've noticed they're no longer selling the sandwich; I wonder why?

I've still got more to learn, but I feel I've taken a step in the right direction. The thing that's bothering me more than anything else right now is that I can't seem to keep my blood sugar down once I go to bed. If I take my blood sugar, then sleep for at least eight hours, my blood sugar will go up almost 100 points. The nurse said it sounded like my liver may be releasing glucose into my blood during the night, and I might need to take meds to have it stop that. I was instructed to keep a diary for a few days, then fax it to my doctor. Then he can determine whether or not to adjust my diabetic meds. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A New Law Proposal

I'm sure by now everyone has heard the news that criminal charges against Kobe Bryant were dropped last week. From a criminal standpoint, Kobe Bryant is off the hook. However, the victim is still taking him to civil court to sue for damages. This is just my opinion, but I'm not sure Kobe Bryant is the one she should be suing.

I've had mixed feelings about this case ever since it became publicized in the media. On one hand, Bryant was caught in a lie when he originally denied having any relations with the victim; that did not help his credibility any. On the other hand, the victim used poor judgment in choosing already-worn clothing from a previous encounter before going to the hospital to be examined for evidence. Intentional or not, it was just plain stupid.

I see both Bryant his accuser as victims of the system and/or the media. An accuser of a sexual crime, by law, is to have his/her identity shielded from the public for "protection." However the accused's identity and pertaining sexual criminal charges are allowed to be broadcast to the public in any manner possible. I don't think that's fair. History will show that when it comes to sexual crimes, the person accused is treated and regarded unofficially as guilty until he/she is acquitted of the charges. That is a direct violation of the rights of the accused -- innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

At the same time, whenever an accuser's identity and other information is "leaked" by someone, the accuser's rights are violated as well. In the case of Kobe Bryant, his status as a famous athletic celebrity brought out die-hard fans angry that the celebrity they worshipped was being accused of a crime. Many of them were angry enough to seek out and punish/scare/threaten Bryant's accuser. Those kinds of zealots are the reason the accuser's identity was shielded in the first place. The other leaks by employees of the courthouse only added fuel to the fire. In my honest opinion, I do not believe strong enough action was taken by the judge to prevent these leaks. I feel stronger gag orders should have been declared. The ball was dropped -- not once, but twice -- by this same establishment. Completely, totally inexcusable.

After seeing all this happen in this court case and other court cases in the past, I have a proposition as to how to handle future sexual crimes investigations/trials. I propose that a law be enacted in which the identies of both the accused and accuser are shielded until the first day of the trial. This will bar the media from broadcasting the ongoing investigation if it would identify the parties involved. Make it a felony to reveal the identities of either the accuser or the accused (one to five years would be a good start). This would apply to EVERYONE and EVERY MEDIA -- print, broadcast, and Internet. Once the trial begins, then let the media report on the evidence introduced, who was involved, etc.

This is how I look at the situation: if you're going to shield the identity of the victim, shield the identity of the accused as well. It's only fair, especially if the possibility exists that the defendent may be falsely accused. If he or she is found guilty of the crime, then the public has a right to know. Otherwise, BECAUSE of what happens to the accused, let's stop shielding the identity of the accuser of a sexual crime.

Of course, Kobe Bryant could have easily avoided all this if he had simply remained faithful to his wife.

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Cool Pokemon/Ash Ketchum/Anime Fan Site

My God-niece Courtney had created a web site that I thought was pretty cool. Instead of your typical fan site that worships whatever is being featured, she designed it with her own unique spin on her interest in Pokemon (and the character Ash Ketchum, in particular) and other anime art. It's got word-find puzzles, a scramble-puzzle, story plots created by her, and information about a club she and her friend Kaylynn formed called A.R.R.O.W. It's more tongue-in-cheek than serious, but like the site, it's all about fun.

Anyway, it has pop up ads (a necessary evil when you're working with free web space), but it's worth a visit for the curious. The address is http://maxpages.com/Ashketchumhero.