Friday, September 28, 2007

Hunstville - The Fair City of Fallout Shelters

Ok - so first - read this article:

Dave Martin, AP

Alabama City Reopening Fallout Shelters
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 27) - In an age of al-Qaida, sleeper cells and the threat of nuclear terrorism, Huntsville is dusting off its Cold War manual to create the nation's most ambitious fallout-shelter plan, featuring an abandoned mine big enough for 20,000 people to take cover underground.

A fallout shelter sign is seen Sept. 19 in Huntsville, Ala. Fearing a nuclear strike by terrorists, officials are working to identify potential shelters for 300,000 people in the city and surrounding county. Others would hunker down in college dorms, churches, libraries and research halls that planners hope will bring the community's shelter capacity to 300,000, or space for every man, woman and child in Huntsville and the surrounding county.

Emergency planners in Huntsville - an out-of-the-way city best known as the home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center - say the idea makes sense because radioactive fallout could be scattered for hundreds of miles if terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb.

''If Huntsville is in the blast zone, there's not much we can do. But if it's just fallout ... shelters would absorb 90 percent of the radiation,'' said longtime emergency management planner Kirk Paradise, whose Cold War expertise with fallout shelters led local leaders to renew Huntsville's program.

Huntsville's project, developed using $70,000 from a Homeland Security grant, goes against the grain because the United States essentially scrapped its national plan for fallout shelters after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Congress cut off funding and the government published its last list of approved shelters at the end of 1992.

After Sept. 11, Homeland Security created a metropolitan protection program that includes nuclear-attack preparation and mass shelters. But no other city has taken the idea as far as Huntsville has, officials said.

Many cities advise residents to stay at home and seal up a room with plastic and duct tape during a biological, chemical or nuclear attack. Huntsville does too, in certain cases.

Local officials agree the ''shelter-in-place'' method would be best for a ''dirty bomb'' that scattered nuclear contamination through conventional explosives. But they say full-fledged shelters would be needed to protect from the fallout of a nuclear bomb.

Program leaders recently briefed members of Congress, including Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who called the shelter plan an example of the ''all-hazards'' approach needed for emergency preparedness.

''Al-Qaida, we know, is interested in a nuclear capability. It's our nation's fear that a nuclear weapon could get into terrorists' hands,'' Dent said.

As fallout shelters go, the Three Caves Quarry just outside downtown offers the kind of protection that would make Dr. Strangelove proud, with space for an arena-size crowd of some 20,000 people.

Last mined in the early '50s, the limestone quarry is dug 300 yards into the side of the mountain, with ceilings as high as 60 feet and 10 acres of floor space covered with jagged rocks. Jet-black in places with a year-round temperature of about 60 degrees, it has a colony of bats living in its highest reaches and baby stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

''It would be a little trying, but it's better than the alternative,'' said Andy Prewett, a manager with The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama, a nonprofit preservation group that owns the mine and is making it available for free.

In all, the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency has identified 105 places that can be used as fallout shelters for about 210,000 people. They are still looking for about 50 more shelters that would hold an additional 100,000 people.

While officials have yet to launch a campaign to inform people of the shelters, a local access TV channel showed a video about the program, which also is explained on a county Web site.

If a bomb went off tomorrow, Paradise said, officials would tell people where to find shelter through emergency alerts on TV and radio stations. ''We're pretty much ready to go because we have a list of shelters,'' he said.

Most of the shelters would offer more comfort than the abandoned mine, such as buildings at the University of Alabama in Huntsville that would house 37,643. A single research hall could hold more than 8,100.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Alexandra Kirin said of Huntsville's wide-ranging plan: ''We're not aware of any other cities that are doing that.''

Plans call for staying inside for as long as two weeks after a bomb blast, though shelters might be needed for only a few hours in a less dire emergency.

Unlike the fallout shelters set up during the Cold War, the new ones will not be stocked with water, food or other supplies. For survivors of a nuclear attack, it would be strictly ''BYOE'' - bring your own everything. Just throw down a sleeping bag on the courthouse floor - or move some of the rocks on the mine floor - and make yourself at home.

''We do not guarantee them comfort, just protection,'' said Paradise, who is coordinating the shelter plans for the local emergency management agency.

Convenience store owner Tandi Prince said she cannot imagine living in the cavern after a bombing.

''That would probably not be very fun,'' she said.

I totally stole this from AOL News - please don't be mad - here's the original link.

And Now Comments from the Peanut Gallery:

There are a couple things I have to laugh at on this (sorry Jay). First off the "colony" of bats at Three Caves, isn't really a colony in the grand sense - not one that I've seen anyway - try about 20 or so in the summer time. The HCRU has their monthly meetings during the spring and summer time there. Three Caves is an abandoned quarry and is very large, but it has three entrances - the largest of which you'd have to stand probably three billboards on end side-by-side to be able to cover it. You can't exactly leave it wide open if nuclear debris is falling all over the place, right? And its not exactly like they have a gigantic plastic blind all set up at the top of the entrance to yank down when everyone runs inside to stay for two weeks. Although I'd love to hear someone from the Huntsville City Department place an order at Home Depot:
(recorded voice)
"Please hold while I connect you...."
(after 10 minutes on hold someone finally picks up)
"Home Depot Window treatment Department this is Terry"

"Hi Terry, I'd like to place an order a cellular shade."

"Sure, I can help you with that. Let me get some dimensions from you."

"About 45 1/2 high and 92 wide"

"Wow, that's some window, ok 45 1/2 inches high by 90 inches wide"

"No mam, that's 45 1/2 feet high and 92 feet wide."

(stifled chuckle)
" 'Scuse me sir?"

"Oh yeah and it has to be able to protect against nuclear fallout too."

"You know, you and your friend really need to stop this crap!"

"No wait - M'am - I'm Not..."

"I can take a joke like the rest of them - but if you crank call here again
I'm going to hunt you down and beat you!"

(In the Huntsville City Fallout Shelter Planning Office)
"So Fred - I take it she didn't believe you either?"

(hanging up the phone)
"Nope, sure didn't Bob."

"Maybe we should try Lowe's?"

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

1961 (Blast from the Past #36)

Found a slide in cigar box in a closet last time I was home. Had it scanned and a few prints made at Wolf Camera the other day. My Mom and Dad, circa 1961. He was 26 and she was 23. And in my opinion both of them were pretty much stylin'. My tiny Mom looks so much like my Aunt Sally in this photo. She looks less like her now and more like her other sister, Shirley. And then my Dad, with his charcoal black hair and as tan as ever. They are still just as cool.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Certayne Lavves (Blast From the Past #35)

No, my spell check isn't broken. And yes - I'm quite behind on reporting all my fun adventures - but for now I'm going to do a bit of "slight of hand" to distract you.

Certayne Lavves is another way of saying Certain Laws – the laws of printing that is. In the mid-16th century printers were graphic designers and artists all wrapped into one neat package. So think of this list as a Murphy's Law for Printers and Graphic Designers of todays world. And all the "Lavves" ring true to this very day.

Ws were printed using two Vs. J and I were kind of interchangeable. Ss looked a lot like F. Spelling was a bit, well – optional shall we say. It wasn't till the advent of Mr. Webster that words officially became misspelled. I'm a horrible speller. Spell check is definitely a close friend of mine. I dream about a time and place where spelling didn't matter and then I remember, oh yeah they had the plague too. Poor spelling or the plague? Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. I think I'll take door number one Bob.

(double click for larger view)

Credit where credit is due: This piece was printed by Ian Robertson at The Slow Loris Press in 1985

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Shiver me timbers 'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day me mate's! So put on your best breaches and polish your boot buckles and brush up on your pirate lingo today!


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Camera in Hand

“Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.” - Walker Evans (American Photographer 1903-1975)
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” - Aaron Siskind
“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” - Annie Leibovitz

Happy Birthday Nathan, oh taker of pictures, and subject of few. Exciting plans await in '08!

The ruins of Bell Tavern, KY - 2007

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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Chatanooga Choo-Choo

Michelle, Tommy and I took Paul on a belated birthday train ride last weekend up in Chattanooga. None of us had been to the train museum up there - or had a ride on a train pulled by a real steam locomotive. We sat in a restored 1920's Pullman car with the windows down for our little train ride. Paul actually got coal in his hair - and was quite excited about it too. He said he was never going to wash it again. I have some fun photos to post from the whole trip - on the train and at the completed Chattanooga Aquarium (they added an ocean building fairly recently) - but for now I'm beat and there's a grotto caving trip tomorrow to Roaring River - so the single photo will have to tide you over.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Not So Silent Banking

So I'm standing in line at the bank not even an hour ago... when I hear, "phr.....phrrrrrrr....fuph....fuph....fuph....fuph...fuph...fuph...fuph...

The cute little white-haired lady in front of me ripped the loudest longest fart I think I've EVER heard! And I'm not talking just an escaped quick toot. She must have been sitting on this one to impress the local high school football team in the locker room after the big game. We're talking at least 5.6 on the Richter scale. Remember that scene in Blazing Saddles where they're all sitting around the fire ripping them? - that was nothing! You would have had to seriously concentrate to get this kind of tone and depth. This one reverberated like one of those hot-rod cars zooming past you on the highway!

At first I couldn't believe it. I just stood there. Finally coming to my senses - I quickly took several steps backward and turned away to try and stifle my chuckling. Surely she must have realized what she'd just done!? I looked around but there wasn't anyone within close enough range to have heard it. It was just she and I standing in line. Everyone else was at least 20 feet away behind desks, and the tellers were deep in conversation with their customers. She had to have heard it because she didn't have any problems talking to the soft-spoken teller when her turn came. Two people walked in the main door right after the echo died down. I was still trying to keep a lid on the temptation of tapping the lady on the shoulder and asking her to fess up to the fart and say excuse me. I tried to turn my quiet snickering into a welcoming smile which I know ended up extremely goofy-looking, somewhere between a giggle and grimace of pain - leaving the the fellow bank-goers to at first return my smile which eventually turned into a "what's wrong with her?" look.

I pointed at the cute little white-haired lady's back and yelled "She just ripped the loudest fart ever! Was I honestly the only one who heard it - or is everyone playing like it didn't happen?!" into the hushed bank lobby as an explanation for my stifled-giggling-pained look.

At least that's what I wanted to do.

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