Concerning Gustav: Rob Perillo was right! Sunday, Aug 31 2008 

Remember my post “Tropics Topics” from August 15 when I wrote about KATC TV 3 meteorologist Rob Perillo’s long-range model showing a major hurricane roaring up the Gulf sometime during the last week of August to strike the heart of the Louisiana coast?

Well, today’s the last day of August, and Gustav’s running a day or two late, but it looks like he’s on the way. The track below takes the center right over my rooftop on Hill Street in Eunice around 10:00 tomorrow night (Rob just said that on TV as I write. Hooray!)

Nice job, Rob.

However, so much for the plus or minus 1500 mile possibility of error Rob noted two weeks ago.

The cone of uncertainty, or the cone of certainty? Friday, Aug 29 2008 

These latest storm tracks have become depressing.  Not only is my house within the cone uncertainty, it’s smack in the center of the cone of uncertainty with that little dotted line drawn down  the middle  passing right over my house.  (That’s the line they always tell you to ignore.  See if you can ignore it when it crosses YOUR latitude/longitude!).

We’re stocked and provisioned, but still wondering if we should pack up the dogs and flee.  Of course, if I tun tail and run, I might miss the chance to use my shiny new generator that I picked up this afternoon after God answered a little prayer to make one available for me after I had goofed around and waited  until all the stores were sold out to go looking (that was three days ago!).

Oh, well, we’ll look again tonight at the latest model runs to see if there’s any hope in the atmosphere for a better outlook two or three days down the road.    Meanwhile, tomorrow, I’ll play with my new generator and seal the chimney and arrange stuff for the expected.

Al this is really not fun, in case anyone who’s never been through this wonders about it.  It’s agonizing and stressful, in fact.   But what else is one to do?  It’s life, and it must be lived . . . thankfully, lived by the grace of God.

Con mucho Gustav? The nerve game begins . . . Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

The cone of uncertainty is 500 miles wide, but Louisiana’s smack in the  middle.  Woe is us, two days from the anniversary of Katrina three years ago.

We don’t know what’s going to happen: statistically, “nothing bad” is more likely than “something bad,” if we narrow the location of “something bad” to the street in front of our respective houses.  But like the Governor said in his press conference today, “We’ll hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”  Many of us have seen that “something bad” visit our neighborhoods in a hurricane, so we really know it’s possible.

Also, my family is scattered at 150-200 mile outposts along the northern coast from Southeast Louisiana to Southeast Texas, so even if I breath a sigh of relief for me and my house when the storm turns away to the right or the left, my relief may well come at the expense of  a family member who’s house is not as fortuitously situated.

Hence, the nerve game . . .

So I see and hear a lot of “preparing for the worst” going on around me.  We even had an Academic Council meeting at work (LSUE) this afternoon to rehearse what would happen if/when we’re called on to implement our emergency plan in the next few days.  And folks at the flagship “Big” LSU are even wondering how LSU could play their season opener Saturday night in Baton Rouge if a mandatory contraflow evacuation is ordered on I-10 coming out of New Orleans Saturday afternoon.   Now Gustav is messing with that which is hallowed!

Oh, well.  So they do earthquakes in California, blizzards and ice storms in Michigan, and killer tornadoes in Kansas.  Down here, we do hurricanes.

And that will the theme for the next few days.  I’ll keep you “posted.”

More of the humble rewards: Colette and Tonya Monday, Aug 25 2008 

The local high school alumni softball tournament was more than an occasion for watching my own family play.  I  enjoyed some pleasing reunions with young men and women whom I taught across the years.  So this is a good time to revisit that occasional topic this blog treats, the “humble rewards of the profession.”

None of the weekend reunions was happier than finding Colette and Tonya, members of the first English class I ever taught at Eunice Junior High in 1986-87, sitting with one another watching Colette’s Dad play against my wife’s team.  The girls were enjoying their own reunion, since their lives and careers have led them on divergent paths since Eunice days, both leading to success with adorable kids and professional careers.

Why are Colette and Tonya so striking in the annals of my career?  I believe it’s because they’re not just “former students.”  I explained it to them like this Saturday afternoon: After teaching 21+ years, if I had to make a list of all time Top Ten students of David Pulling from all of those classes, Tonya and Colette would be tied for first.  Sure, I would spend a long time searching my memory and debating back and forth to  complete the list with the next eight in the Top Ten list, because the competition would be fierce.  I’ve taught some incredibly sharp students over the years who have risen to notable heights of academic and professional success.  But without hesitation or deliberation, those two names from year one of teaching, Colette and Tonya, would go right at the top, side by side.

How exceptional can it be that my top two students of all time came from fourth hour English in the first year of my career?  That was a year-long indoctrination to the craft wherein an idealistic but naive novitiate surely learned a lot more from his charges than he imparted to them.

And from that amazing year when I learned so much because I knew so little (about teaching),  I’m at least a little astonished that, after teaching rising grade levels over the next twenty years all the way up to college freshmen and sophomores, no former student’s intellect surpasses the intellect of those two little eighth grade girls.  Yep, that’s pretty amazing.

Predictably, the ladies have done well since Eunice Junior High.  Tonya has grown up to be a college math teacher and Colette a physical therapist.  Best of all, though, as adults, they’re the same bright, striking, engaging characters I remember from Eunice Junior High.  They weren’t just smart, you see–They were great kids!

And they still are!

The Eunice High Alumni Softball Tourney: Family Affair Saturday, Aug 23 2008 

I did not graduate from Eunice High School, but my wife and my two kids did. So this weekend’s Alumni Co-ed Softball Tourney, a fundraiser for the school and a significant community event that draws thousands, was a major happening among the Pullings of Eunice and Crowley. In fact, twice on Saturday, I stationed myself in the no-man’s land between two different fields at the Eunice Recreational Complex where one or the other of my kids’ team was playing on one field at the same time as their mother’s team was playing on another.

Check the photo here as “Mom” Sarah swats a soft liner in the Saturday afternoon game.

I was struck, more than once today, at how rich is the feeling of watching my kids as adults play ball with the same kids (now adults, too) that they played with not only in high school, but in all the years of the community recreational leagues. Gosh, we are all moving on! (Some at a faster pace than others, or so it seems?).

But the most fun, of course, was showing off granddaughter Payton. Payton made appearances Friday and Saturday nights, and all of Zach’s Class of 2000 teammates as well as Sarah’s Class of 1975 teammates blessed us with showers of “Chere” and “Chere bebe.”

The English tongue has no idiomatic match for “chere.” What a precious word!

A picturesque Louisiana pontoon bridge Thursday, Aug 21 2008 

Le pont a travers Bayou Plaquemine Brule

Le pont a travers Bayou Plaquemine Brule

I enjoy my visits to tiny Midland High School in southern Acadia Parish, Louisiana, because I travel 28 miles of country backroads across flat Cajun prairie. Most of the scenery consists of rice fields, “gold unto harvest” this time of year, and the farm houses and barns and other attachments associated with the agricultural preoccupation of the region.

But the top highlight of the trip is this crossing of Bayou Plaquemine Brule just north of the Estherwood community on Highway 91. The single-lane pontoon bridge reminds me of structures crossing murky bayous in the southeast Louisiana wetlands where we fished and crabbed when I was a kid. The crossing really isn’t scary, but I always feel a tinge of adventure as the bridge literally dips down from the bank-level approach to the water-level floating section. The 5 mph speed limit is well advised!

Flowering Marley? Tuesday, Aug 19 2008 

We first knew Marley the Dog had non-traditional bedding habits a couple of weeks ago when we found him from time to time curled up inside the cheminea, nestled in the ashes. I lodged a fat knot of wood in the potbelly to dissuade that messy practice.

Of course, we knew from the beginning that Marley is a determined boy. So we’re not so surprised at his latest notion of “Pot”purpedic comfort.

The flower pot is filled with dry potting soil, in case anyone wonders.

Sunday School Memoirs: One the ladies would rather forget? Friday, Aug 15 2008 

I checked the journal I kept from ’05 and found this memoir from roughly this same time three years ago. A true story–this really happened, just as related here!

Sarah [my wife] and the ladies in her Sunday School class witnessed a memorable phenomenon this morning [in August ’05]. They meet in a ground level classroom in the education building with a full-window view of the alley and the backs of some houses across the alley. As they sat in class, as Sarah relates it, they watched a fellow, 30ish, come out the back door of a back yard apartment behind one of the houses. He was an unattractive bloke to begin with, but topless and sporting a fleshy rice-n-gravy gut, he looked particularly disgusting, according to Sarah and the other ladies. But that wasn’t all–As he talked distractedly on a cell phone he held to his ear with one hand, he walked to the end of his driveway, casually hooked the thumb of his other hand in the elastic waist band of his pajama pants, yanked the pants down around his hips so as to expose . . . er, well, you can imagine what—threw back his shoulders, and relieved himself on the ground in full frontal view of the ladies’ Sunday School glass less than 20 feet away.

Apparently, he never noticed or considered that he may have an audience. Or did he? The ladies couldn”t believe it–absolutely flabbergasting.

Just goes to show you never know what you’ll see at church! If such happened more often, perhaps more people would attend Sunday School.

Tropics Topics Wednesday, Aug 13 2008 

I like KATC-TV meteorologist Rob Perillo above all others.   Here’s an excerpt from his weather blog for today:

It appears that a significant change may be underway in the tropics as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) Pattern is showing signs of reversing. This is a global circulation that while not fully understood is an important player in tropical and monsoonal activity worldwide. In the last week it appears that this change in pattern will lessen the westerly shear factor in the tropical Atlantic which in turn will likely make it more favorable for tropical development. I received a number of emails about the long-range 12z GFS model which puts a significant tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico in the last week of August. The model is apparently acknowledging the lower shear environment that we are talking about, but the  potential system has yet to fully emerge off of the African Coast…and it’s just one computer model run. Inspecting the 18z model yields a different solution, but still indicates a tropical system running through the Caribbean roughly the same time, about 8-11 days down the road. At this point, I wouldn’t get too concerned about what is possible over the next week or two, but rather be ready for a busy tropical period from late August through the first week of October. There will likely be some major storms Atlantic over the next 6-8 weeks with the Caribbean particularly vulnerable per Drs. Klotzbach and Gray.

I saw the model run Rob referred to on the 5:00 weather today.  It showed a major tropical system roaring right up the gut of the mid-Louisiana coast in a little less than two weeks.

Fortunately, the margin of error two weeks out is plus or minus 1500 miles!

True confessions about the John Edwards Scandal Monday, Aug 11 2008 

Yep, I have to get it off my chest.  A true confession, because if not true, what good is a confession?  So here it is:

I confess, with all my heart, that John Edwards and I have so little in common that I could almost care less about the fiasco he’s raised in the news.  He should be ashamed and embarrassed, as he appears to be, but perhaps moreso because he got caught than any other reason.  But isn’t that the truth of all power-mongering political sex scandals?

Now why did I write a true confession about John Edwards?  Aha, let’s get to the REAL truth.

The fact is that the average number of hits on my blog has been trending downward since the middle of the summer.  I don’t know why, because back in the spring, this site was averaging consistently over 100 visits per day from all sorts of referrals and search engine terms.  Today, I hit a low with just 29 hits, one of the lowest days in almost two years!  This lack of interest and response from the worldwide public on the Internet has grievously afflicted my pride and  vanity.

So the real true confession is that I am using John Edwards’s name as a key word that’s hot in the search engines out there to attract hits.  I know hot search term key words work, because the last good day I had was last week’s “Tracking Edouard” post, which racked up 107 hits, the energy mainly fueled by search engines as people eagerly sought news about the current storm.

Let’s see what John Edwards’s name in the post title does for my readership.

I realize there’s a potential for this experiment to backfire.  Some people might really be disappointed and upset.  So for any one referred here hoping for something juicy, sorry to let you down.  This just isn’t that kind of blog.  While I rarely if ever treat juicy material, I do conscientiously post stuff that’s personal, entertaining, informative, insightful, humorous, imaginative, provocative, inspirational, and various combinations thereof.  I occasionally post poetry that ranges from mediocre to sublime, and I also treat readers occasionally  to pictures of my baby granddaughter.

So like we say down here in the hospitable Deep South, “Y’all come back, now!”  Thanks for the visit.

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