Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Curtains - Finally

I think one more coat of red paint in the dining room is going to do the trick. The living room has actual curtains hanging for the first time since I've lived here.

I'm headed up to bed. I'm tired and I have a 7:30 meeting in the morning. For some reason, if I don't HAVE to get up, it's no problem, but when I HAVE to be somewhere with makeup on, dressed nicely, being social, etc. at 7:30 in the morning it seems insurmountable.

Go figure...

No doubt part of my control/authority issues. I've got so many issues I need a score card...

For tomorrow I think I'll just do my best to get my butt where it's supposed to be on time.


As we see the video from hurricane areas, and hear the stories of people who chose not to evacuate, I'm still waiting to hear the *real* story.

The real story is that people didn't evacuate because they've been down this road multiple times and the forecasters cry wolf and people get out and then nothing happens. At some point, people start to believe that nothing is ever going to happen.

Yesterday I was watching just as the hurricane hit land. It immediately dropped a category. That's wonderful - and understandable - but no one was talking about that until it happened.

I'm not suggesting that people shouldn't have evacuated, and I know the devastation from this is awful. But to hear the forecasters tell it, every single storm is going to be horrible, awful, the worst ever, get out now.

Well, that can't always be true. Tell people the TRUTH and they'll listen. Instead, forecasters predict every single weather event to be the absolute worst, then they're surprised when people don't take them seriously the 18th time they've heard it. People pack up, get out, and return home to find the only damage to their home is that it was broken into while they were evacuated.

I don't know what the problem is, but we need to fix it.

Is weather forecasting just not very good? It doesn't seem to be, really. How often is it wrong in your area? Tons of the time here. If that's the case, maybe we need to try and figure that out. Or, we need to make it clear that we're just not very good at it.

Are forecasters given to a lot of melodrama? Well, that seems to be the case, too. When I worked in TV, weather people got a bit overly excited by storms. There are people who go out and chase tornadoes. That's fine if that's your gig, but there's no need to alarm people unnecessarily.

I've lived in Kansas more than 20 years and I've never been in a tornado. I'm thankful. I don't have any great desire to experience that. But, to watch the weather forecasters you'd think that every person in tornado alley has barely escaped dying in a tornado at least a dozen times.

Whatever the issue is with forecasting, we need to figure it out. As long as we make every weather event something to fear, people are not going to be able to distinguish what's really worth evacuating for and what's just an overdone drama.

You can't blame people for not taking them seriously when the last few times they did, the forecasters were wrong.

Hutchinson is a Prairie Dog Town

I had never seen a prairie dog until I moved to Kansas. Since that time, I've had the opportunity to get very familiar with the little critters, as they are plentiful here.

I think they're pretty cute. Many native Kansans do not share my enthusiasm. As one told me, "If Lewis and Clark had called them the 'Prairie Rat' we'd already have wiped them out."

Prairie Dogs are communal creatures, living in groups. They build these little mounds, and have extensive tunnels underground. They take turns being the watch dogs, while others run around, doing whatever it is that they're busy doing.

Along K-61, right past the Hutchinson mall, is a large Prairie Dog Town. I've thought for years someone should turn it into a tourist attraction. Kansans look at me as if I've finally knocked loose the one lone marble that was keeping me barely over the edge of being considered sane.

Prairie Dogs have suffered the indignity of being vacuumed up and transplanted to other areas. The ones who survived the vacuumming, died afterwards, as they are territorial creatures. They've been gassed and shot and everything else you can think of. But, they persist.

Of course, those tunnels are counter productive to farming endeavors - particularly those involving live stock, which can be harmed by falling into the holes and tunnels.

A few years ago, prairie dogs took up residence on the other side of the mall, on property that looks like it should have a restaurant or store on it. They quickly colonized the property, dotting it with their mounds, and scurrying to and fro as you drive right by them, only feet away. The driveway is, I'm sure, what is keeping them from going further. The mall, Chilis and Red Lobster are to the west; Lowes and Walmart are to the north; and Home Depot is a little to the east and their closest neighbor.

Just recently, I noticed a new addition to the prairie dog town, that gives me hope the commercial entities have decided to have an uneasy peace with the prairie dogs. On the road where you enter the mall complex, there's a new sign.

For those of you who know of my fascination with signs, and how they can be different in different parts of the country, this one is a beauty. It is not an officially sanctioned State of Kansas sign. At least not yet.