Hurricane Irene is shaping up to be the most interesting natural disaster to hit New Jersey since Tuesday.
Right now, from where I sit --- which is pretty near the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park, if you want to check weatherunderground.com and keep up with how I'm doing --- we look likely to get heavy rains and high winds, possibly flooding, but we're not in an area advised to evacuate. We're bunkering down --- I laid in stocks of Cheez-Its, peanut butter, and Jordan almonds, and I have four of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Versus Gamera movies to watch; we also got some actual food today --- and we're prepared to lose power and even water for a reasonable time, but we're not expecting anything epochally bad. Just a little inconvenient, the moreso for happening on a weekend and not cancelling days of work.
At work we got the modestly exciting warning to shut down all equipment which didn't absolutely have to be running over the weekend, which for me meant my air conditioner and my computer. When I left on Thursday my office was dark and silent as it so rarely is, and each time that comes up, normally around a planned storm, it feels strange and surreal.
Cape May County's under an evacuation order; it's an underpopulated county by New Jersey standards, with only about 40 full-time residents, but still, we only have 21 counties so emptying one is a big deal. The Parkway's also closed to southbound traffic from just the exit where I'd get on for most purposes, and is free of all tolls below the Raritan River. I've never heard of that being done. There are local evacuation orders too, for the barrier islands; this weekend, Seaside Heights is closed. Well, not closed but there's no open roads going into it, just out. That's going to be quite the experience.
In preparing home for the storm most of what we had to do was move patio furniture indoors. While moving some almost forgotten metal-and-plastic tables in I accidentally uncovered a chipmunk who ran fleeing around the corner, obviously terrified now that his summer home had disappeared out from over him. He's brought the cats much compelling entertainment over the years with his persistent habit of existing on the other side of the sliding glass door. I hope he makes it through the storm all right.
I admit I am going to be cross if the storm keeps me from seeing the Doctor Who half-season premiere.
And meanwhile, over in Singapore, the efforts to open up the political process are clearly paying off: this weekend's Presidential Election sees the voters choosing from among four men all named Tan. (Dr Tan Cheng Bock, using as ballot symbol a palm tree; Mr Tan Jee Say, with a heart; Dr Tony Tan, a pair of eyeglasses; and Mr Tan Kin Lian, using the button to send a high five to the friend you're instant messaging with.) For Singapore, this is a colourful Presidential contest.
Trivia: To make repairs in New England following the Hurricane of 1938 AT&T called in 2,338 men and 621 repair trucks from as far away as Virginia, Arkansas, and Nebraska. Source: Telephone: The First 100 Years, John L Brooks.
Currently Reading: The Telephone Booth Indian, A J Liebling.