Thursday, November 28, 2013

My 2013 Thanksgiving Story

A lot of people have enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family.  Since most of mine are either in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area or scattered throughout the US and Asia, we made a decision to just stay put this year and help others have a nice meal and get out of their homes and meet people.

I volunteered to work at a dinner sponsored by several churches and synagogues, and had an enormous amount of support from many of those EVVVVVIIIIL companies who donated money, food by the ton, delivery trucks, and volunteer employees to help in the kitchens. 

We started planning this a couple months ago, raised money, got a lot of companies like Kroger, Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and some smaller merchants to donate food.  We really had no idea how many people would show up.  We planned on dinner from 11am to 6pm or until the food ran out.  We were set up in the gym of the church to hold about 400 at a time.

After a while, we got requests from nursing homes and elderly assisted living homes for food to be delivered.  We considered this, made plans and agreed.  This thing just kept getting bigger.  As of Wednesday we had enough food for 4000 dinners, although desert would probably run out early.

I got asked to show up at the church kitchen at 8am to deliver bulk quantities of prepared food for the various homes.  I showed up around 7:45am to load up the box trucks loaned to us by an express delivery company based in Memphis, and people were already lined up outside in 15 degree temperatures for a dinner that wasn't going to open for hours.  Some looked very poor, and this is in the burbs, not the inner city.  We got the pastor to open the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms to get them out of the cold and they were offered coffee.

We went out and did out delivery runs, and they took almost 2 hours.  By 10am, the church was full and the only place for them was in the gym, which had been set up for dinner.

We could see this turning into an ugly free-for-all once the serving lines were opened, so we passed out tickets that somone wisely brought along, starting from the people in the sanctuary and the Sunday school rooms.  We told everyone we'd be serving by number and assured everyone that there was plenty of food, which their was.  There was some grumbling, but this worked out with a few jerks who had to be special.

Finally everything was ready to be served to the first 400 people, invited them to the gym, and then my real work started.  I was working on the food line dishing out food, and grabbing stuff from the kitchen to replace empty pans.  We had a great taskmistress (that sounds kinky, but she is a 75 year old Jewish woman who runs big meals all the time).  The rest was relatively easy, or at least methodical.  I though there was no way we would use up all the food that had been donated or bought by 6pm, but it was all gone by 3:30pm and deserts were gone by 1pm.

Some people just wanted to come out and have a meal because they were alone, but some families who showed up were really poor, and this might have been the only meal they had all day.  And this is in the suburbs, the affluent suburbs, not the inner city.

We are clearly becoming a much poorer nation with the high unemployment, people who have just given up hope on getting a real full time job, and the only change that they have gotten since 2008 has been the change in their pockets. 

Although helping people have a nice Thanksgiving dinner is gratifying to me, the need to have something of this magnitude says a lot more about the direction where this country is going.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Category 5+ hits the Philippines. They need our help now.

A category 5 typhoon is slamming in to the central Visayas in the Philippines as I write this.  Samar and Leyte are getting the initial brunt, but this affects a far wider population.  This is a poor place and most houses are not built to sustain this sort of thing.  Some reports say there are 200 mph winds.

Weatherunderground  has a better analysis than I can do.

Once this storm passes these people are going to need a lot more help than the ObamaPhone lady .

All I can ask for is for prayers for these people, and contribute what you can to the charity of your choice.  I'm one who thinks that the Salvation Army does the best job getting help to where it is needed.  Their overhead is low compared to the Red Cross and Catholic Charities, but give to help these people if you can.  I don't see any Islamic charity stepping up to this tragedy.

This storm makes Katrina look like a rain shower.

God help these people....please!

Update  I've been trying to call friends and family all night.  Of course the phone lines are down and cell have been destroyed.  Still i was able to at least to get some news on Skype from my niece in Cebu.  This is worst storm in recorded history and all the charities I mentioned will be on the ground to help. I still see no Muslim charities trying to help.  They are too busy helping insurgents in Zamboanga kill Christians.

This storm is not over.  Once it gets over the South China Sea it will intensify again, and it looks like Vietnam may get a direct hit.

This is the worst storm I've ever seen.

Update 2:  The typhoon had some of the highest sustained winds on record, but because it was a fast moving storm, the deaths and devastation were far less than feared.  If a storm with 200+ mph  winds stuck around for a long time, there would not be much left on Samar and Leyte.  Tacloban airport has reopened in a limited way and people are cleaning up a real mess, but it could be far worse.

The storm is now over the South China Sea and gaining strength again.  Vietnam seems it's likely target.  As poor as the Philippines are, Vietnam is far worse outside the major cities, and the communist government is too corrupt, incompetent and complacent to deal with the aftermath.  The charities I mentioned above will be working overtime, provided that Vietnam lets them in to help.

Update 3:   Photos are starting to come in now.  The UK paper, The Daily Mail, shows how much devastation was done in the city of Tacloban on Leyte.  There are over 1200 dead according to the Red Cross, 1000 in Tacloban alone.  Relief flights are coming in now, but Tacloban airport is in bad shape.   As bad as this storm is, the death and destruction would have been worse if it was not a fast moving storm.  Vietnam is going to get the full brunt in the next few hours, as will Cambodia.  Neither country has the infrastructure to recover from this.  The Philippines, as poor as it is will bounce back much quicker.

Update 4:  This not so much an update than it is a commentary.  The US Air Force, and Marines  have been bringing C-130 transports to Tacloban Airport, even when it was flooded and in almost unusable shape.  The Salvation Army, Red Cross and several other others who have the means to do it ae on the ground giving relief to victims.  Even though this storm was fast moving, some reports predict 10,000 dead.  I'm not sure of that, because that is what the mainstream media said died in Katrina.  But Leyte and Samar are in ruins right now.  Any help would be appreciated.

One thing that is notable, is that not a single so called Muslim charities have offered any assistance, yet they are funding a low level insurgency in Mindanao that has gotten far more violent in recent months.  The siege on Zamboanga City has been going on for 2 months now with no let up,  and guess who funds the MILF, and MNLF?   Yes it is the Muslim Brotherhood and their CAIR front organization in the USA.

So, While we in the west and mostly Christians and some Jews may give money to help the victims of the typhoon, the Religion of Peace (tm) are giving money to kill Christians in the Philippines.

I'll have further updates when I know more.  I'm not speculating on anything.  I'm not a TV network where "if it bleeds it leads".  Family are fine, but this isn't over

Update-5:  The devastation on Leyte, a very sizable island, is massive and Tacloban and Ormoc are destroyed.  The media is not paying too much attention to anything outside the largest city of Taclobann, largely because it has a serviceable airport, and relief flights are coming in  from nearby Cebu and Manila.

 Ormoc, a smaller city on Leyte is also devastated.  It's a port city and is not a stranger to disaster.  It was destroyed in a large typhoon in 1992 and was rebuilt in to a very livable city.  But once again it is destroyed.  Nobody knows the number if villages and baranguay that are wiped out.

The island of Samar, just across a bridge from Tacloban also has massive damage and loss of life.  The foreign media is not paying attention to Samar, because it may be difficult to get to the most affected areas.  It is a very large island, and most towns tend to be smallish.  So IU've only got limited information from here.

President Aquino has downward estimated the  death toll to 2000~2500.  As awful as it is, it is not 10,000 dead.  The USS George Washington aircraft carrier will arrive in the area on Thursday and hopefully it can help get food water to the victims.

That's all I have for now.

Update-6:  I really don't have to much more to add regarding the disaster in the Visayas, except that the damage goes far beyond Leyte and Tacloban.  Many places as far west as Aklan province in Panay are without power, and there is widespread damage throughout the region. 

One thing I need to emphasize is that all these care packages that church groups in the US indented for the Philippines will probably never get there.  Relief flights are bringing large containers and palettes of bottled water, 100 kg bags of rice, and bails of clothing that can be moved on and off the C-130 planes that the US and Philippine military are bringing in, and small care packages of canned tuna, ramen noodles, instant rice and things of that nature just can't be accommodated now.  The best thing you can do is contribute money to the charity of your choice.  The Philippine Red Cross, Salvation army and World Vision have people on the ground now to help distribute relief.  They buy supplies locally within southeast Asia and get those goods shipped in.  Care packages sent by various church groups here in the US will most likely end up in soup kitchens at home.

Just a thought.  I know that it makes people feel good making care packages, but the current relief flights and infrastructure in the affected areas just can't deliver or deal with these things.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random thoughts from a dumb non-Ivy League College graduate

I was listening tonight to a bunch of liberal talking heads discussing how stupid Tea Party people are.  An the biggest arguments are they are violent racists (no proof of that) and uneducated rednecks because most of us never went to an Ivy League school.

I thought about it for awhile, and I have to admit that I'm part of the unwashed masses that the Democrats want to rule because they are so much smarter than me.  I only went to a large mid-west university and have a B.S. degree in electrical engineering, and have worked as a flight simulation engineer for over 30 years.  But I'm not a Harvard lawyer who has spent his whole career in politics, so I guess I need to be ruled by the likes of him.  I get it. 

We unwashed masses just can't understand complex issues like health care, debt, and balancing a budget.  I'm so glad that smarter people than me who know what I need better than me are relieving me of decisions I'd have to make otherwise.  No matter that it costs me more and I as a 56 year old man have to pay for pap smears, breast exams and abortions, the best and brightest are looking after us, the little people, the undereducated people who only went to a state university.  Never mind that the Obama roll out has been a disaster and even the website does not work, let alone the exchanges that we are all supposed to sign up to if not on a group plan.

Everything is going to be great once all the "gliches" get worked out.  The real market place must step aside for the government controlled "marketplace". 

Ok I'm being very sarcastic here, and like I mentioned in a previous post, unless we get rid of this regime and this abomination ObamaCare I'll probably do the ultimate opt-out and build a house on my property in an undisclosed location in Asia, but a day trip to Singapore to get my MS treatments every other month. 

Elitists in both parties just don't understand and are not connected to people outside the northeast and west coast.  Normal people who are not addicted to government free stuff that costs the tax payers plenty will someday get fed up.  I'm hoping it is not too late.  If we don't get rid of socialized medicine, and get debt under control, we are doomed.  Taxing our way to prosperity will turn the whole country into Detroit.