Friday, September 02, 2005


Who uses it: meteorologists and civil engineers
What it means: SLOSH is an acronym for Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes, and meteorologists use it to predict the height of storm surges. It takes into account the storm’s pressure, size, forward speed, track, and winds.
How to use it: To estimate potential damage from any bad decision or radical change.

The circumstances of my nephew Patrick's birthday, today, are pretty crummy. His family's in a motel in Jacksonville, waiting for the Navy to tell them where to go and what to do. Although their house, just north of Pascagoula, is reportedly intact, they have no idea how much damage it might have suffered, and no idea when they'll be able to go home to salvage their belongings. They don't know where their mail is going, and any presents that were already on their way to Patrick are adrift in some postal limbo. My nephew George's college may be gone altogether, and the base closings commission can take Pascagoula Naval Station off its list; God took care of it already.

But happy birthday anyway, Patrick, and know that we're all just so glad that you're safe and dry and clean and fed. Things can only get better from here.

Yesterday was a long, long day, and by the end of it I was a cranky baby on the verge of meltdown. For the safety of myself and others, I sent myself to bed early, and feel much better this morning.

I've read too much over the past three weeks, and didn't care for several of the books I read, so today I'll just list a few I particularly liked.

Elizabeth Benedict, Almost. Sophy Chase is just starting to enjoy her life as a newly-single woman in New York City when she learns that her estranged husband, who lives on an island similar to Martha's Vineyard, has died. He may be a suicide; Sophy must bear some responsibility for his despair, since she was the one who decided to end their marriage. Sophy returns to the island to sort out the life she left behind, and face some truths about the new life she hoped to create. By turns funny and heartbreaking, Almost ends hopefully, reminding us that peace is always possible, even if "closure" is a myth.

Mark Billingham, The Burning Girl. Detective Tom Thorne lives as miserable a life as any character in crime fiction, and in this book, things get much, much worse. His investigation of a gang war crosses paths with a colleague's investigation of the decades-old murder of a schoolgirl, whose killer set her on fire. Tom's own bad decisions lead to more death and destruction, leaving him in danger of losing his job and his sanity. The next in this series, Lifeless, is not yet out in the U.S., but I've ordered it from England because I can't stand to leave the man like this.

Jason Starr, Twisted City. The misery of David's life seems fairly routine: a mediocre job as a financial reporter, a club-kid girlfriend who lives off his credit cards and probably cheats on him, and unresolved grief over his sister's recent death from a brain tumor. But then someone steals David's wallet, which begins an elaborate scam that leads to blackmail and murder -- and some truly shocking revelations about David's girlfriend, and David himself. Brutal, sharp, viciously funny, deeply twisted and very memorable.

Jess Walter, Citizen Vince. Each of Walter's novels, set in Spokane, has been radically different from the others, and every one of them has been better than the last. In the days immediately before the 1980 elections, Vince Camden runs a donut shop and runs a credit card scam on the side. He feels like a ghost, and we soon learn that he really is one: a creature of the Witness Protection Program, he used to be a small-time hood named Marty Hagen. When someone from his past shows up to kill him, Vince returns to the life he left behind to see what he can reclaim. As he prepares himself to vote for the very first time, he begins to understand the true requirements of being a member of society. Citizen Vince is a stunning book that paints political awakening as a form of spiritual enlightenment; it should be required reading for all high school government classes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Boll Weavil report from Florida sounds much more settled. The SLOSH at Pascagoula was truly devastating. There is a piece in the local paper about collecting bodies in Pascagoula and the lack of refrigeration. The ship is being officially transferred to Mayport, so Kathy can consider that and look into getting settled. The Navy is finally working with the Guard to get a relief column in there and get the families out if the want to come. Kathy seems more rational this morning and I saw the Postmaster General who said that they took steps to salvage most of the mail and it will catch up with the evacuees. Details the next time you call.