June 11, 2001

Before I get into my stormy little anecdote, let me thank all the Schlockers out there who let me know that my video card was at fault in the case of "Black and Why Me". I've got a new video card, and this weekend I cranked out 10 strips (including two 3-row Sundays) instead of playing Black and White because the computer I've got does not have an AGP port. I've loaned the game to my brother Randy (you know, the Randym Thoughts guy), and given up on gaming for the time being (well, Randy and I and our brother Bill DID play some Rush 2049 in Battle Mode on Saturday, but I think a lot of the hard-core gamers out there will scowl and tell me that N64 games don't count).

So I hear that coastal Texas got a little wet over the weekend. My heart goes out to all of you who are currently suffering through flooding, rain, power outages, and the associated chaos accompanying tropical storms, depressions, and hurricanes. I'd throw you a sandbag, but I'm in Utah. Hang in there, folks.

I know what you're going through. I grew up in Florida, in a little hamlet (read that "tourist trap/snowbird graveyard") called Sarasota. The year was 1983 (I think), and I was 'working' on the camp staff at the local Boy Scout Camp, "Flying Eagle." I think the last time an actual eagle worthy of naming something after was seen anywhere near that campground was just prior to the most recent Ice Age, but I could be wrong. Anyway, the staff slept in this cabin that had a 360-degree screen window, and six-foot (that's 182 centimeters to you non-imperial types) eaves to keep the rain from blowing in.

Our beds were aligned perpendicular to the outside wall, right under said supposedly rain-free window.

So, it's 1984, or maybe 1982--I forget--and a tropical depression is boiling around in the Gulf of Mexico. Conditions changed abruptly, and in the space of about 2 hours between oh-dark-thirty and way-too-dang-early in the morning it ramped up to hurricane-strength, charged ashore, and blew itself out. The National Weather Service never even got a chance to name it, so we all called it the "no-name storm."

Gale-force winds drive rain horizontally. I don't care how long the eaves are, or whether you measure them in feet, meters, or furlongs--the rain is coming in under them. Oh, and the lights are not going to come on because there's no way on earth the power lines coming in to a rural scout camp are staying up in this kind of weather. So there we were, in the dark, with a fine, cold mist erupting through the screen, slowly drenching us in our sleep.

Boy Scout camp staffers who've been worked all day by a former drill sergeant digging trenches, erecting towers, and practicing lock-step marching (I kid you not) can sleep through just about anything. So the first I knew I was wet was when I heard a crash, and one of the boys on the other side of the room screamed "The roof fell in on me!"

Flashlights stabbed through the mist as several good-turn-doing scouts leaped from their beds to the aid of their fallen comrade. They found the roof completely intact. It turned out that a very cheesy painting-on-plywood that was coincidentally EXACTLY the same size as a 4x8 sheet of plywood had been blown from its perch on the central lodge fireplace, and landed squarely atop this boy in his bed.

His head was protected by the head of his bed, and his feet were protected by the steel-toe boots that he wore inside his sleeping bag. One of them had caved clear through the ancient plywood painting.

There isn't a moral to this story, or if there is, I haven't thought of it. I miss the regular thunderstorms of my childhood home, but I'm happy to have a warm, dry place to sleep. You folks in Texas stay safe. In a couple of days everything will start to smell like mildew, and I just hope you can stand it because I've been there, and I'm not coming back.