Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Katrina, 7 years I thought about it back then...

As I sit here, some of Hurricane Isaac is pounding my house with the hardest rain we've had in the ~36 hours since Isaac started menacing the midsouth Gulf region.  Isaac is "only" a Category 1 hurricane; max sustained winds "only" around 80 mph.  And, both Hattiesburg and New Orleans, LA broke daily rainfall records as a Cat 1 storm came ashore (slowly!).  Care to guess when those now-broken records were set?  Yep, you guessed it: 7 years ago today when a MUCH stronger storm rolled through.

Again, Katrina's rain records have been shattered today, and it's raining harder right now (8:15 p.m. the day after Isaac first made landfall) than it has in the last couple of days.  Turns out, Captain Obvious, that a Cat 1 storm that moves VERY slowly, does a LOT of water damage.

Anyway, with that background, I wanted to replay some of my thoughts from our time in Katrina's sights 7 years ago.

What follows are two of my xanga posts from those days just as I wrote them back then...only the images are new, plus the conclusion at the bottom.

xanga post #1. (at about 4:30 a.m. on the day Katrina came ashore...I woke up through the night to monitor. At the time, I was Director of College Planning & Placement @ PCS, a very good private high school in town.)==========================================
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Psalm 29:3,4,10,11
I love the picture in v. 10: "enthroned over the flood"...

I'm expecting power to disappear in the not-too-distant future. Know that He is king, and that you are loved & prayed for!

In His Grip,
the beach bum
(xanga post #1 ends)

(See the intersection of I-59 & another couple of major-ish roads right in the midle of this picture? That's Hattiesburg (a.k.a., "The Hub City" because of the confluence of roads). Yeah...we took a beating here too...the eye of the storm passed right near us just a few miles to the west of my house)

xanga post #2. (Written a few days later from Mom's place in Ft. Walton Beach, FL)
Sounds Katrina. A pleasant, Eastern-European sounding name. One pictures a pretty young lady at the marketplace.

Or the most devastating natural disaster to hit America since the San Francisco earthquake & fire in the early 1900s.

Here, then, are some of the sounds I’ll always associate with Katrina.
● the sound of gentle, misting rain early Monday morning that belied the fury to come
● the banshee-like cry of 120 mph winds whipping down my street…an eerie, otherworldly, malevolent sound unlike any other
● the swooshing sounds trees make when being whip-sawed back & forth in those same winds
● the cracking sounds of 75-foot trees straining to hold themselves vertical
● the thud those trees make when crashing to the ground after surrendering to the power of the wind
● the incongruously-pleasant ringing of our wind chimes Monday evening with the tail end aftermath of the storm gently breezing its way through the Pine Belt
● being awakened to generators and chainsaws being cranked
● the sound of sausage being cooked over our propane camping stove
● the sound of my neighbor’s well-pump beginning to give up its precious cargo of water
● various neighbors & distantly-located relatives asking “Is everything OK?” after the storm
● increasing concern in Mom’s voice in successive voice messages left during the time in which no phone service was available
● total relief in her voice when I finally reached her Tuesday morning to tell her we were OK
● total defeat in my neighbor’s voice as he described how their camping trailer had been badly damaged when the shed it was stored under collapsed (they were scheduled to head out this week for a month-long camping trip…)
● the voice of a guy in my Sunday School class to a policeman directing traffic in the middle of highway 98 (because the traffic lights were out): “Hey Buddy…want a Powerade?”
● the sound of a guy’s voice at a gas station in Mexia, AL…some 130 miles or so from Hattiesburg saying “we do have gas, & we are pumping…where are y’all from?” and “do y’all have a place to stay?”
● the relief in Mom’s & my Brother’s voice as both said, “well, I’m glad y’all got out…”
● James saying “it’s like it’s not real!”
● the sound of the shower at Mom’s as I stood under it last night
● the sound of the air conditioner at Mom’s kicking on last night…yeah, I shed a tear…
● the choking up of a WKRG reporter on the MS coast after the storm as she spoke of people coming up & asking her if she had seen loved ones
● the guy’s voice from the MS coast: “I can’t find my wife’s body…the house split in half…I tried to hold on to her…she said ‘you can’t hang on…just take care of the children…’…we’ve got nowhere to go…I’m lost…”
(Note: I’d like everyone who uttered the idiotic sentiment “I wish a hurricane would come here…” or "cool, the hurricane's coming here..." to be required to watch this clip once a day, every day during hurricane season…)

“The Lord sat as king in the flood…”Hallelujah! He still reigns!
the anxious beach bum….who is anxious to hear reports from many a beloved student…know that you are both loved and prayed for!
p.s. – Wednesday, 9/7 – we still don’t have power in H’burg…but James & I have sure cut up many a tree/limb…
p.p.s. – school resumes next Monday…*and the crowd goes wild*
(05 post #2 ends)======================================
(Gulfport is directly south of Hattiesburg)

(Hattiesburg is just north of the fourth "S" in "Mississippi" here.)
As I write this--8/29/12--I sit in air-conditioned comfort, with a belly full of freshly-grilled burgers. The rain is lashing my city right now, but so far (*knocks on wood*) no damage here.  Meanwhile, just down the road a bit, people are battling wind, rain, and storm surge.  Providence smiles and frowns. Definitely has smiled on us so far; definitely frowned on others. His ways are higher than our ways…
I 'spect my nerves will always react a bit when a storm forms & is heading this way...

Thank You, Father, for sparing my home & my family & my neighbors. Thank you for sitting as King in the flood in August, 05...and for sitting as King right now and forever.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Just Another Day at the Office

(Originally written a couple of days ago; been percolating on it since.)

In one of the cafeterias at Anderson, Lisa & I were greatly enjoying lunch after my P.E.T. scan.  This couple roughly my age sat at the table next to us.  They ate, mostly in silence.  He looked at a magazine half-heartedly after he finished his meal.  She stared into space, wiping tears & hoping he wouldn't notice.  She cried hard for a good while.

Then there were the two little twin girls with a lady I took to be a grandmother.  I heard her say "We can go back up & see Mommy after lunch, but not just yet.  She needs to rest."

Near one of the coffee shops was a guy apparently doing business on his mobile phone.  It's pretty common to see a businessman doing his thing out in public.  But it's rather uncommon to see said businessman hooked up to an IV pole via multiple sticks & bags.  (Unless one is at M.D. Anderson...there, it's not uncommon at all.)

As I stood just outside the Melanoma & Skin Center celebrating via phone & text message, a lady came out from the Thoracic area.  She was by herself.  She was weeping.  Barely-controlled weeping.  I've been a patient of Thoracic four times myself.  My favorite surgeon is Dept. Head there.  It was there, just over 4 years ago that a Dr. said the dreaded words "Stage IV Metastatic both lungs" to Lisa & me.  I felt her pain.  I wondered if she was crying because of what she'd just found about her own medical situation or someone else's.

There was a guy sitting in the Melanoma waiting room.  His Dr. came out & sat next to him to pass along his test results. (Which were apparently good.)

Down in the lobby coffee shop, there were three folks laughing & talking.  One of them had the same sort of wristband on that I wear.  It's great to see folks with such friends that would spend a day at what can be a very depressing place because their friend is undergoing testing and/or treatment.  But the laughter is very temporary there.  One's mind never wanders very far away from the reality of why they're there in the first place.

Near an elevator, there was a couple with a young, elementary-school age boy.  He was in a wheelchair.  Wearing the chemo hat.

The hotel shuttles & taxicabs kept up their non-stop dropping off of patients & patients friends/family members.  The gift shop had a fresh batch of t-shirts; it also had a fresh batch of the special caps one wears after chemo has removed all of one's hair.

It's just another routine day inside the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

These images rewound in my mind as I sat on my front porch last night enjoying the stillness, the (relative) coolness, and the distant thunder & flashes of lightning.

One day, there will be no more cancer.  No more tears.  No more "Mommy needs her rest."  No more need to send folks home to Hospice care.  No more need for IV sticks & chemo poles, P.E.T. scans, & something called "post-op".  Come, Lord Jesus!  Haste the day when our faith with become sight and there will be no more sickness & sorrow.

Until then, I thank God on a very regular basis for the wonderful facility that is M.D. Anderson, and for the amazing folks on staff there.

So, all of these buildings in the foreground comprise
part of M.D. Anderson's facilities...

Have you been thankful for medical facilities like Anderson lately?
Have you interceded for those searching for cures?
Have you been thankful that you don't have an M.D. Anderson patient number?

More important, have you prayed for your friends who are entering Anderson & other such places?

Until a cure is found,

Saturday, August 04, 2012

(Update of an earlier post) I love Graduations...and hate them too

In May, 1983, I walked across a stage at the University of Alabama and received a degree & a handshake from the president of the University. In my case, it took 6 years and 3 different schools to get there, but that’s another story for another day.

A few years later, I received a M.A. degree. Then, in 1990, I received a Ph.D., which could well have been viewed as that year’s sign of the imminent return of our Lord.

Since then, I have attended numerous college graduations, and I actually love the ceremony. As a professor I get to don the robes & the hat and be part of the platform party w/ my colleagues. I dig the significance of the ceremony, the motivation of the speakers’ remarks (well, most of them…), and the general pomp & circumstance of it all.

But the coolest part to me is afterward, when I get to shake hands w/ my students who have just walked across the stage & received a degree. I *LOVE* this part of the day! “Mom, this is Dr. Madaris”..."Babe, this is Dr. Madaris, my Finance professor"...(etc.)  Utterly awesome, in the real sense of the word “awesome.”

And yet, in all of my goober-ish enjoyment of graduation, and all of the excitement of the new graduates, there’s a decided bittersweet feel. I really love my job, in large part because I really love college students. (well, most of them…) I like to think that over the course of battling with duration, net present value, market efficiency, supply & demand, futures contracts, gap, CAMEL ratings, time value of money, internal rate of return, monopolistic competition,...and the other goodies one covers in econ & finance classes, at least some of those students become friends. Which means that graduation = saying goodbye to friends who are (mostly) moving away. I do NOT enjoy that part of graduation day. Even with the excitement of the day and of students/friends moving into career type jobs, I’m not very good at saying “goodbye.” I totally agree with C.S. Lewis, who said (paraphrased) “the reason saying goodbye is so hard is because we were never meant to do so.” One of my favorite descriptions of heaven is this: the land of the eternal hello. I can’t wait.

So, to all new WCU grads, know that you are loved, and that you are prayed for, and that you will be missed (well, most of you...*grin*). Now go succeed wildly in whatever path your life takes! And know that as you do so, there's this aging-but-still-hot econ & finance professor in H'burg who will always consider it a deep and humbling and profound honor to have been a small part of your education.

And as we say in Alabama, y'all come back now, ya heah? ;-{D}

Much love,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

p.s. - Remember, with your next paycheck, however large or small,...*grin*

p.p.s. - Already looking forward to that cup of coffee next time you're on campus.  *another grin*