Two different worlds + Possible Storm of Century: A look into hurricane preparedness

“We’re not trying to hype it,” National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Kocin tells Bloomberg News. “What we’re seeing in some of our models is a storm at an intensity that we have not seen in this part of the country in the past century.”

Hmm. Time to stock up. This, I was surprised to see when I first moved from the Caribbean to the US, is done in an extremely logical and organized way here. Supplies look like this:

Figure 1.

On the other hand (would be fair to say, in another world), my fellow islanders (more specifically, Dominicans) would gather essentials such as these:

Figure 2.


Irresponsible, you say? Shaking your collective heads, New Englanders? I can explain.

In your average Caribbean island dwelling, the following supplies are ALWAYS available (not only for natural disasters, but as daily life staples):

–          Water – There is not a faucet in the entire country one would trust to drink from. Thus, innumerable containers with water “for drinking and cooking” are handy in every room. As for water for cleaning, bathing, washing – well, that is where Ms. Sandy comes in handy: Every caldero and bucket is sitting outside catching rain water.

–          Batteries, flashlights, gas lamps – Power outages are a fact of life. Not a day goes by that there isn’t one.

–          Food – Non perishable items, such as the plantain tree in the backyard or the freely-roaming chickens are available year-round. Also, there is no money to buy what people don’t already have.

Radios are always around, not to listen to the National Weather Service or Emergency Management authorities (who, come to think of it, may have gathered the exact same supplies shown in Figure 2), but to listen to music or radio soap operas.

Hurricanes are thought of as excuses for being off work and school. The whole vecindario gets together (please refer to dominoes and cards) and alcohol replaces milk. As the storm brings tons of water and strong winds, people (having consumed by the 3rd hour approximately 7 bottles of rum) are grateful for a respite from the heat. A communal sancocho (thick Dominican soup) is underway. The comadres gossip, the compadres drink even more and gamble, and the occasional fight is stopped by the neighborhood abuela (who is usually a small old lady  — don’t be fooled, everyone is scared to death of her, and with reason — who everyone calls “Mama” or just “La Doña”, and who achieves this by separating the fighting parties and smacking each one in the head).

Having grown up in this environment, I find it difficult to get alarmed when there is a hurricane alert. Why, I have survived approximately 37 major storms by now, with a lot less resources and inadequate emergency supplies (please refer again to Figure 2). My husband, on the other hand, looks at me with alarm and barely refrains from shaking me to drive some sort of reason into my carefree island head. Me? I say bring it on, Sandy. I’m ready.


I have to confess, I ADORE HGTV programs, home makeovers, organizing, real estate, buying/selling/staging. So I have taken to watch (God forgive me) HGTV. One of the programs I like to watch (please indulge me) is “Love it or List it”.

OK. Here’s where my true nature comes up. Please refer to my observations on this program, even if you (I’ll understand) don’t share or even care about them:

1. The designer who promises to remodel the house so that they don’t have to move annoys me. How, you ask? See list below:

She never closes her mouth. I happen to think that people who keep their mouth open are dumb, or at least live in outer space.

She has a horrid British accent. Is it real? Not sure. But not nice even if it is (please note that I have nothing whatsoever against British accents, or Britain in general. But this woman I truly dislike).

2. The homeowners who want to a) sell their house or b) have it remodeled so they can stay.

Usually, the man wants to stay (has no clue), and the woman wants to go to preferably another hemisphere.

They are, to be blunt, MORONS.

3. Problems:

Never fails: Person remodeling the house ALWAYS finds some HORRID structural flaw, such as, the second floor just about to cave in. She informs homeowners that she’ll have to fix that, but they won’t get, say, a second bathroom as budgeted since she has to spend the money on (gasp!) SAFETY.

Homeowners, after hearing this, are PISSED at designer. YOU MEAN WE WON’T GET FINISHED BASEMENT? We gave you $10,000!!

At this point, I turn off TV. But I wonder. Please, people out there who know about these things… Is this staged? I want to regain faith on the human race… but have not a lot of hope.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


I have a question for you talk-show fans out there: Is there, or has there ever been, any talk show host uglier than Conan O’Brien? And please let it be noted, I am including in this assessment the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Oprah, Jerry Springer, and Huckabee. I am not, mind you, including Larry King, on account of his not being an actual human, but in fact a member of the heretofore thought to be extinct Pterodactyl family. This species, you may not know, has mutated to resemble the modern vulture, hence Larry King.

But I digress. Re: Mr. O’Brien – Surely you cannot say he’s pleasing to the eye. That is, unless you are Mrs. O’Brien (his mother, I mean). Now, before you Conan fans (which I’m sure are legion) start bombarding me with irate letters/e-mails/tweets/Facebook statuses/etc…. I am NOT saying that he has no talent. I personally cannot attest to his talent, but I’m confident he has some. What he is for sure not, is FUNNY. He is one of the UNfunniest persons ever to dwell into the show businesses. BUT, I am sure he has his talents, perhaps yodeling, cat grooming, or finger-painting.

I am going to prove to you beyond any doubt, that Mr. O’Brien is a cross between Ed Grimley (Martin Short’s cartoon character in The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley) and Pee Wee Herman. Pray refer to Figure 1:

  +    =  
The Good                                 The Bad                                           The Ugly

Surely there have been accounts of people who deliberately try to look ugly (case in point, Billy Idol in his hey days of MTV videos, with his grotesque facial expressions. And if you do not know who Billy Idol is, please stop reading now, child). But this only works for people who are actually quite beautiful, in manner of Tom Brady or Brooke Shields (who are, in fact, the same person – sometimes with a long hair wig, others with fake makeup to look like facial hair – as evidenced by the following pictures).

Figure 2:


I do realize this post has absolutely no point, except possibly to enrage Conanists. However, in these times of despair and ugliness, we sure could use less O’Brien and more Brady/Brooke.