Monday, June 30, 2008

Are Corporations Psychopaths?

FOX Burning Building Story, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

I just spent 3 hours watching one of the most eye-opening documentaries I've ever seen. Watch it in bits and pieces or watch it all at once, but please... WATCH THIS.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Joe American Speaks

Joe-American, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Joe American has spoken out, and boy is it GREAT! Well, it is until you actually start to think about what he says, do some research, and realize he’s probably a shill for big oil, big money, right-wingers, or all of the above.

Okay, so this Joe American video on You Tube was brought to my attention. I watched it. Then I watched it again. And a third time. On it's surface, it seemed reasonable and common-sense; It seemed to speak for US - Joe and Jane Americans. But there was just something... So I watched it again, and this time I took notes. And that's when the trouble started:

1. Joe American: Don’t keep pandering to segments of people whose votes you want. Pay attention to all 300 million of us.

Buck: Wow! That sounds GREAT! What a great idea! What a great sentiment! Unfortunately, this country is strongly divided. Red states, blue states, remember? You can’t please all the people simultaneously, and running down the middle of the aisle without representing one side or the other is a sure way to get nowhere. If you don’t get elected, you don’t get to effect change. It’s as simple as that.

2. Joe American: We need to make sure that America’s energy costs are not controlled by others. Do YOU get that?! Doesn’t seem so, because preaching about what we drive, questioning oil executives and doing NOTHING about this problem is NOT an answer.

Buck: THE MARKET is a World market, and is thus controlled by “others”. Those “others” are speculators, and as it turns out, they’re in large part right here in America – on Wall Street. The only way to NOT have those “others” control our energy costs is to NOT have a free market that can buy and sell shares of the oil market, which is driving the price per barrel up every day.

Well now, what do you think is going to happen to the right-wing conservative half of the people in this country when you spit on Regan’s grave by declaring that “Let the market decide” is what’s causing the big problem here, and we need to shut it down? What do you think the oil tycoons; with their lobbyists crawling all over the capitol and their favorite son in the White House are going to do? Roll over?

You want to reduce prices? You’ve got to affect the market. How do you, Joe Individual American do that? You STOP using so much ENERGY, so that less of it is moving through the market and the price goes down. How do you do that? Well, one way is to drive more efficient vehicles. DUH! Oh, but you don’t want to hear that preaching about what vehicles you drive, right? You want this problem to fix itself without YOUR PERSONAL support or sacrifice, right? You want the speculators and oil executives to just wake up tomorrow and decide not to be greedy anymore; to not make as much money as they can. Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

3. Joe American: Consider a business manager who brings in new inventory each day, at the highest cost ever paid, instead of using the 3-7 years worth of inventory he already has paid for, sitting in the back room. You’d probably think that manager was making money off the new purchases, or was maybe grossly inept, or stunningly stupid. Well, the US brings in about 65% of the oil it uses every day, while YOU SENATORS have about 32 trillion dollars of proven oil inventory that we already own on Federal land. That’s about $300,000.00 worth of crude oil for every household in America. You’re our manager, but you’re not using it.

Buck: First, the 3-7 years worth of inventory sitting in the back room he’s talking about is the nation’s oil reserves, and they’re sitting there in case of a REAL, DIRE, SERIOUS emergency – like if the oil producers we get our oil from were suddenly nuked or something, and there was NO SUPPLY coming in at all overnight. That’s what we have to keep functioning as a nation for 3-7 years while we get our collective shit together to find an alternative solution to get our SUV-loving mitts on some new supply lines. If we use those reserves up now, and that REAL, DIRE, SERIOUS emergency comes along, we are seriously screwed.

Second, the 32 trillion dollars worth of “proven” oil inventory on Federal Land he talks about ISN’T sitting in the back room, already paid for. It’s still in the ground and under the oceans, and it will take lots of money and effort to get to it, not to mention TIME – The Energy Information Administration has said that even if domestic production increased, it would have little impact on prices at the pump, and even THAT little increase wouldn’t arrive until around the year 2030, and “is expected to be insignificant”.

Not only that, but these back-yard oil fields are not “proven” either. The estimates are in a broad range of speculation, and “32 trillion dollars” worth of oil is meaningless, unless we know how many dollars per unit we’re talking about. Is that at $50 dollars per barrel or $500 per barrel?

Third, all oil is not the same. And while he says the 32 trillion dollars worth is “crude”, he nor anyone else knows what grade of crude it is at this point, because not only have we not tapped into it and started pumping, in most cases we haven’t even drilled down to SAMPLE IT YET. Some of it is only going to be suitable for making more plastics and pesticides, and I bet that’s not what you’re counting on to solve the energy crisis, is it?

There’s at least one more fatal flaw in his thinking here; that “we” already own it on Federal land. News flash Joe: The ONLY entities that will own it will be the oil companies like Exxon, and they play in a whole different world than you and I. In their world, it doesn’t matter that they CAN refine it and sell gas to Americans at $1 a gallon. What matters is that they CAN refine it and sell it to Americans at $4 per gallon. That’s why THEY are posting record profits while WE pay higher prices. Funny how that works, eh?

And guess how that plays into that world market I was talking about earlier, because I JUST know you’re going there next; You think that if we have MORE oil flowing because now WE’RE tapped into it right here at home, the prices will drop, don’t you? Oops! Nope, here’s what happens: OPEC cuts back on how much they provide, and there’s no net gain in production on the planet, which keeps the supply and demand ratios right where they are, and prices barely flinch. Don’t believe me? Keep reading…

Maybe you think that Congress will suddenly FORCE the oil companies to sell it to us at a reasonable price? Seriously? You really think that? Have you been paying attention to the relationship between big businesses like oil and our government? There’s the way things ought to be, and then there’s the way things are. Guess which one we’re stuck with?

The only way that “WE”, average Joe Americans will have that oil to set prices to, is if “WE” take it for ourselves instead of giving it to the oil companies. You know what that means don’t you? State-run oil refineries, that’s what – first step on the road to socialism, and we can’t have that.

Here’s something else you’re not going to like. In order to build the rigs and pipelines and all the rest that’s needed to reach down 4 miles into the ground to get at that slippery stuff, you gotta throw a bunch of money at it. And guess where a lot of that’s going to come from? US Taxpayers like you, me and Joe American. Say it with me now. The word is “subsidies”, and if you don’t think the oil companies will get them to undertake this huge effort to free us from foreign oil (what a noble thing for them to do!), then you haven’t been paying attention to your Congress; they ALWAYS get subsidies for that kind of stuff – ALWAYS. Yes, Joe – YOU will pay to build the rigs and drill for the oil, and THEN you WILL continue to pay through your nose at the pump.

4. Joe American: He next rants a bit about animal herds a thousand miles away because he thinks this is just about preserving an animal habitat. But then he accuses the Senators of BLOCKING the use of our nation’s oil assets “worth trillions of dollars” and force us to send both our treasure and our young soldiers to our enemies.

Buck: On the habitat thing, he’s right - in a way. The animal habitat that’s being preserved is the one that the big fat oil executives live in, which is right next door to the greedy politicians they keeps on their payroll. And we really should not be preserving those habitats any longer. Oh, but he said earlier that he doesn’t want to hear any more about questioning oil executives. I guess Joe American just gives them a free pass now.

Of course, he’s obviously referring to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and he thinks that we’re all paying $4 a gallon just so that a caribou doesn’t have to look at a pump station out in the middle of nowhere. Truth is, that’s as far from the truth as it could be. It’s completely made up, and I’ll get to the specifics of ANWR in a minute. First though, let’s chat a bit about the so-called “BLOCKING” by Congress. Here’s the real deal - (make sure you’re sitting down for this):

First, contrary to the pleas echoing through the president, McCain and the Republican party for Congress to “lift the ban” on drilling, there is currently no ban. Did you catch that? No ban is currently in place. So calling for Congress to “lift the ban” is pretty ridiculous. Joe American has obviously heard these pleas to lift the nonexistent ban however, and he agrees that they should. Oh, if only the average Joe American would actually pay attention to what’s going on in HIS government, instead of just running around believing every talking point that pops out.

Now, there IS a moratorium on the issuance of new drilling leases. AHA! You say. Same thing! No, not really. Check this out; The US Energy Information Administration looked into this whole thing, and here’s what they found: The oil companies are NOT USING the leases they’ve already got. According to a special report released by the House Committee on Natural Resources earlier this month, the amount of drilling permits issued between 1999 and 2007 (those would be the Bush years, kids) INCREASED by 361%. – But the oil companies aren’t using them!

WHAT??! Yeah. There are almost 10,000 unused drilling permits ALREADY ISSUED by the Bureau of Land Management. The report says the leases are being “stockpiled” by the oil companies. I know - hard to believe. Go figure, huh?

The report goes on to note that only little more than 27 percent of Federal Land leased to oil companies, and almost 24 percent of offshore Federal drilling sites are currently producing oil and/or gas. In total, the committee estimates there are 68 MILLION ACRES worth of leased but UNUSED drilling sites. If energy companies put these sites to use, domestic oil production would nearly DOUBLE and natural gas production would increase by 75 percent. But wait – it gets better!

According to the US Mineral Management Service, 79 percent of the offshore oil reserves and 84 percent of onshore reserves in the US are ALREADY AVAILABLE for leasing WITHOUT lifting the moratorium!

Now, keep all that in mind when I say this about ANWR: There is more than 60 TIMES as much space in Alaska ALREADY AVAILABLE for drilling, and only a fraction of it has been leased.

SO, now you should be able to see clearly that it’s NOT CONGRESS that’s doing any blocking here that’s the root of why we’re not drilling, and Joe American just doesn’t have the facts to make an actual informed speech about it. He owes Congress and all of you an apology for the accusation, in fact.

And what would ANWR get us? According to the US Energy Information Administration, here are the facts:

“The United States produces 10% of the world’s oil and consumes 24% -- the latter about 21 million barrels per day.”

"There is little direct knowledge regarding the petroleum geology of the ANWR region. The USGS oil resource estimates are based largely on the oil productivity of geologic formations that exist in the neighboring State lands and which continue into ANWR. Consequently, there is considerable uncertainty regarding both the size and quality of the oil resources that exist in ANWR. Thus, the potential ultimate oil recovery and potential yearly production are highly uncertain. "

"With respect to the world oil price impact, projected ANWR oil production constitutes between 0.4 and 1.2 percent of total world oil consumption in 2030, based on the low and high resource cases, respectively. Consequently, ANWR oil production is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.”

“Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could neutralize any potential price impact of ANWR oil production by reducing its oil exports by an equal amount.”

Okay, let’s do the math on that: In the BIG picture that we have to look at in real life, not THAT much oil. Worse; No net production gain = no significant price change = no relief for Joe American.

5. Joe American’s big plan: Use our own oil to get us off foreign oil – in four steps.

5-1. Joe American: Put a national energy plan in place. Like, declare that we’ll be energy independent by the year 2020 – that’s about 11 years from now. Approach it like Kennedy did when he said we should land on the moon.

Buck: Great plan. Just say it, and then develop new technologies that will make it happen. Nothing to it. By the way Joe, how much do you figure that will cost, and where do you plan to get the money for it?

5-2. Joe American: Identify allies to help us in this plan. How ‘bout Iraq?! Iraq is the other big issue, and they have about 9 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. AND THEY OWE US. Not only for the freedom achieved and our soldiers lives, but around 2 trillion dollars in money THEY’VE cost our taxpayers.

Buck: Wait, they started it? They invited us to bomb them? So, if some foreign super-power were to invade us and kill a couple hundred thousand Americans, maim perhaps a million more, and displace nearly everyone in the country, WE would owe THEM for the privilege?

Joe American: We’re in a war, and the important thing is to get it finished, not who said what years ago.

Buck: Riiiight…. Let’s not talk about WMD anymore. Let’s not talk about being greeted as liberators. Let’s not talk about how it won’t last 6 months. Let’s not talk about how it won’t cost us much. Let’s not talk about ANY of that stuff. Let’s not learn from the mistakes, nor make anyone accountable for the LIES that got us into this mess that will cost us about two trillion dollars and who knows how many of our American troops, which is currently over 4000 and continues to grow in number.

Joe American: We need to successfully finish this war, not only for the people in Iraq, but to show respect for our wounded and our fallen, but also because it’s GOOD for the American people because –

5-3. Joe American: Make repayment of that debt mandatory and payable through a discount over the market price over the years of our national energy plan. That will reduce the cost of energy to our homes and businesses below world market price, likely increasing our business competitiveness and strengthening the dollar.

Buck: Good luck with getting ANYONE involved in the oil industry to get on board with selling at below the market rate. I’m still trying to figure out how it’s THEIR debt, when they never asked for their loved ones to be killed, maimed and displaced – and that they’d pay for it.

5-4. Joe American: Establish Iraq as our preferred energy vendor and ally. We will no longer buy energy from any nation hostile to our interests. By using our own proven oil reserves along with buying them from Iraq, we will not need oil from any other source to maintain current consumption levels to 2020 (his target year for The Big Plan), and even beyond.

Buck: OPEC. Say it with me. You think you can just stop buying oil from the Saudis and the rest of OPEC, and force Iraq to sell it all to us instead at below the market price, and you think OPEC and the Iraqis and the rest of the Muslim nations will go along with that without much trouble? Dude, we’re going to need a LOT more troops to pull that one off, because it means going to war with the rest of the Middle East.

And even if we COULD do such a thing and get the rest of the oil producing nations to go along with it, we CAN'T actually GET the oil out of our own ground until the oil companies start actually USING the leases they already have in hand and start drilling! To do that, they need to build a WHOLE LOTTA stuff to make that happen. They claim that much of this drilling is so deep that it will take 'special' equipment to even reach it, and they don't HAVE IT. The estimates are that if they all jumped on board with the idea of using those permits and drilling TOMORROW, we wouldn't actually GET the oil until the year 2030 - 10 years AFTER Joe's 'target' year.

Joe American: By buying our own crude from ourselves, even at 20 percent less than current market price, we can then be investing around 30 billion dollars each week on oil alternative research, development and infrastructure.

Buck: The biggest problem with that scenario is that we won’t be buying it from OURSELVES – we’ll be buying it from Exxon, just like we do right now, and they’ve already shown that they have NO INTENTION of taking a hit on their profits. Not only that, but you can’t do something like that without seriously impacting the markets. Do you really think the vast money interests that are invested on Wall Street are just going to roll over, or do you think that they’re going to join with the oil executives and do whatever it takes to keep our Congress-critters voting the way that they like; the way that keeps them all making maximum profits? You like to yell “WAKE UP!” Look in the mirror next time.

Joe American: Right now, we send that money overseas to crude oil suppliers who build enormous palaces and give our money to their citizens. Spent in America, that money will secure our future, create jobs, stabilize our debt, and perhaps, fund health insurance for every one of us – all while paying less at the pump.

Buck: Sounds great in a speech or on paper – impossible to get past the money players that control the whole thing on Wall Street and in our Government. You simply can’t make sweeping changes to our over-bearing capitalist system like that without an actual revolution pal.

Don’t get me wrong – I agree with much of what you’re saying, and in a perfect world where things are fair and square and common sense prevails, we wouldn’t even be having this dialogue.

But we don’t live in that fantasy world. We live in a Super-capitalist world of sound bites, think tanks, “gotcha”-politics, Swift-boaters and Faux News; A place where you go on a rant like you did and people buy into it, and NEITHER you nor your supporters ACTUALLY bother to do any research of your own or look at the actual facts. That’s why you don’t know about the non-used drilling leases being stock-piled by the oil companies, or any of the rest of the stuff pointed out above. Instead, you take the sound bites developed by some partisan think-tank and spewed out by some partisan hack that Congress is BLOCKING drilling, and run with it. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

In fact, the rest of your little rant is similarly simple-minded, flawed and not well researched, so there’s really not much reason to spend yet more time pointing out the many problems on a par with those above.

You’re a prime example of WHY America is sliding downhill faster than our economy can keep up – no actual research, no actual facts, no actual thinking required; just pass along the sound bites fed to you by the money-maker’s think tanks that are designed to get them more of THEIR chosen representatives in OUR government so that they can have an even easier time of bending us all over.

Well done, Joe American.

Now, WHY would you DO that???! His web site says this:

"Joe" has written many published business articles, co-authored a book, hosted a television show, and made many business and some political speeches. He was a stauch Democrat early on and then later became a Republican, having gained more real world experience. At one point ,he was being considered for a run as a candidate, but decided to continue on his business career instead. Ultimately, he became an independent. His intrests in political topics and government has never diminished.

So, Joe's a right-wing businessman wanna-be politician who's been drinking the preznit's kool-aid laced with conservative bullshit. Now we know why he thinks the Iraqi people owe us a debt for bombing the shit out of them and destroying their country. It also explains why he's bashing the current Congress for "blocking" drilling, when they're doing no such thing. Now we know why he doesn't want us to question the oil executives, nor talk any more about how we got into Iraq in the first place, and we understand why he's just buying into and passing along the right wing's talking points. Yep, it all makes perfect sense at this point.

He can call himself an independent all he wants - Bill O'Reilly does that too, and I ain't buying it from him either.

There's a reason this guy sounds like a salesman and looks like an actor. I suspect there's also a reason why you can't reply to his video on You Tube unless you give him praise. You can't have an open dialogue on his web site either - all you can do is email "him".

Edit: I'm not alone in my assessment that this guy's a fraud and a shill: Click Here for more discussion about it, and also Click Here to see an even MORE comprehensive rebuttal at the Daily Kos.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Working on my web site

Buck at Work, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

I got a reminder the other day that my web site had a birthday. It turned 12 years old. In that time, it’s grown from a couple of little pages of HTML hand-coded in Notepad to a monster of hundreds of pages and 13,508 files, and growing. In other words, it went from a cute little baby to a 12 year old precocious pre-teen with a serious case of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The next phase of its life is going to be tricky. As any teen, it will be going through a period of transition. Its voice and appearance will be changing, and there will likely be some pretty ugly outbursts from time to time. But hey, it’s all part of growing up.

See, back in the day which, as it turns out, wasn’t all that long ago, there was very little in the way of web standardization. The internet wasn’t originally made to do what it does today with images and videos and sounds and all that jazz. It was a not-too-fancy text message system for geeks in laboratories and military installations; basically, a science experiment. But over time, geeks found new ways to use it to code, send and decode all kinds of things, like images and sounds and videos. And then the browser was born to make it easier to decode that stuff and view and hear it – Boom – Web pages. Put a bunch of them together – BOOM – Web sites.

But underneath it all, there was all this code coming from different places to try new ways of improving the speed and efficiency and ability in encoding, sending and receiving stuff, and then there were different kinds of code being written to decode it on the other side, and that started the first browser wars. Netscape took an early lead, but Microsoft saw the writing on the wall, introduced IE, built it into Windows and won that particular browser war skirmish by sheer brute force of numbers, since practically everyone was using Windows. Lawsuits followed, MS got slapped around a bit, but by the time the dust settled, it had the market.

Thing is, IE’s code was never all that great. They were kind of off doing their own thing, ignoring the meager standards that some early pioneers had decided would be a good thing to have, so that everyone writing code for web pages and for browsers were on the same page, and everyone out here in internet-user land could get consistency, no matter what machine or browser we used. Because those standards were not being implemented though, serious web designers had to write different code for different browsers, so that no matter what browser the end user was surfing with, they’d see what the designer intended (or close to it). It was a lot of work, and not-so-serious web page and site designers, like yours truly, just went with the flow, chose the browser most people were using at the time, IE, and wrote for it.

Anyway, using a glorified text messaging system to display web pages as though they were animated magazine pages, with not just text, but images, sounds and even video in certain places as a layout, meant ‘tricking’ the system a bit. You couldn’t just plop an image down on a page and it would stay where you put it, for example. You couldn’t just start typing and the text would flow around an image. That code transfer stuff wasn’t intended nor built for that. You had to create little walls of invisible virtual boxes to put stuff into, and the boxes wouldn’t go where you wanted them to either, unless you stuck them into other, bigger virtual boxes for positioning as well, and so on.

Those virtual boxes are called tables and cells, and designing web pages with HTML meant getting to know them inside and out so that you could exploit them to do your layout bidding. It also meant that the code for what looked like a simple web page to the viewer was anything but. And writing for IE, it was REALLY anything but. Coders call it ‘bloat’, because it adds a LOT of code, work, and download time to a page that should be a lot leaner and a lot simpler. And if you used a WYSIWG (What You See Is What You Get) web page editor, like MS FrontPage (yeah, I did that), you got even MORE bloat, and didn’t even know it, unless you bothered to look at the actual code being generated by the program. But unless you were really serious about your coding, you didn’t much care. All that mattered was that it looked the way you wanted it to when someone looked at that page in their (IE) browser. And with faster modems coming out all the time, the difference in load times between a lean page and a bloated page quickly became insignificant, so it REALLY didn’t matter much to the casual web page designer or the end user – except when the code was written for a browser you weren’t using, in which case the page would look kinda screwy, and you were advised to get IE (or whatever page it was ‘optimized’ for). How many times have you seen “This page is best viewed in IE”? Well, that’s what that’s all about.

The people in the back room who were working on standards never stopped though, and they came up with some REALLY good ideas, one of which is called CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and it’s now become a web norm for web designers. If you look at the underlying code of most any modern-day made web page, you’ll see code at the top of the page that defines the styles of that page, or a reference to a page that defines the styles for an entire site. There’s usually still some HTML down in the body of the page, and that includes some tables here and there, but much, much less of it, and most of it is just a reference back to the style sheet code.

The idea behind style sheets actually started out in the print advertising industry, which makes sense. You have some basic elements you want to work with; basically, some text and some images like a logo and maybe some art or photos. And you want to use them to create various things for your client; brochures, magazine ads, newspaper ads, posters, cards, etc. They all use the same basic elements, but the layouts are different for each medium so that they’ll fit correctly and be aesthetically pleasing. Well, once you’ve got a layout, or ‘style’, for a magazine page, you can change the individual elements at will, and they just slide right into their proper places, which are predefined. So you can use the same style sheet for a lot of different clients without constantly working up a new design – you just throw the new client’s text and art at it and you’re done, except for some minor tweaking maybe. Over time, you develop several nice style sheets, and then you can give your clients a choice that you can easily implement with a couple of clicks. Or, on the other hand, if you want to change the layout style to something completely new, you make a few adjustments, and all the elements just re-align to it. It’s very slick and efficient and just naturally expanded from the traditional paper mediums to the screen in front of you.

So there’s the background, and it all leads up to why my site is going to be going through those teenage changes I described above. It’s time for me to grow up too in terms of how I manage my web site and the pages on it because, well, it’s simply unmanageable in its present form. And that means that I’ve got to take all that old, bloated IE-based HTML code, and replace it with modern, standardized, CSS code. I’ve got a lot of learning to do, and a lot of work to implement what I learn, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

I’ve known it was coming for a long time; Years, actually. And a little over a month ago, I decided to actually get to it. So I went to my account on and started my training. And yesterday, I took my first baby steps into the wonderful world of CSS by updating my work page. And then IE cried when it looked at it, but I don’t care.

And the reason I don’t care is because IE sucks, and I don’t use it anymore! It’s all about Firefox now baby! Yep, there’s a new browser war going on as we speak, and Firefox is so awesome that when they came out with version 3 just the other day, over 15 million people downloaded it in something like 48 hours, and with good reason, I might add. It set a new Guinness World Record for most downloads in a short period of time.

If you’re not using Firefox yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. With the add-ons you can get for it (all free!) it’s the browser that puts the surf in web surfing. It’s so good, it’s insane! Seriously, you haven’t surfed until you’ve tried Firefox with the PicLens Add-on and jumped into a photo site like my account on Flickr or Google Images or other PicLens enabled sites. You’re not gonna believe how cool that is if you’ve yet to do that.

Between that and the hundreds of other great plug-ins you can get for it, plus all the built-in coolness it starts out with, like ad-blocking, it makes IE look and feel like the old piece of crap it really is. If you’re not already using it, – ‘nuff said. Just go get it, and don’t look back. You can thank me later.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cedar Rapids Flood

Cedar Rapids Flood-0166, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Well folks, just by coincidence, I'm right in the middle of one of the biggest disasters going on right now; the Great Flood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it is DEEP!

I got out on a long hike and had a look around today, and the downtown area is really screwed here. There's water over the roofs of some buildings, and that means that a LOT of people have lost a LOT from their lives here. In a word: devastating.

City Hall and the Courthouse are built on an island in the middle of the Cedar River. The island and all the bridges that connect it are completely under water at this point, with just the buildings sticking up out of it in the middle of the river, which is really something to see. I managed to get a few photos of it, though access is limited.

This is the home of Quaker Oats, and it's under water too. I got a few shots of that as well, though not great ones. Look close at my photos, and you'll see a train half submerged on a trestle that crosses the river. It was parked there to weigh down the bridge so that it wouldn't be swept downstream and do more damage.

You can see all the photos I've got so far by clicking the one above and following it to my Flickr account. I'll probably post some more to my blog later.

Meanwhile, I'm high and dry in my motel, and doing fine.

Cedar Rapids Underwater

Flooded Road 0029, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

By now most people who are paying any attention know that Cedar Rapids, Iowa is underwater since it's all over the national news. Last I heard it had already beat the record around here by 6 feet and was still on the rise.

It's got traffic messed up, folks have had to evacuate and find shelter, there are tractor trailers floating down the river that used to be the street. There was a joke on the news last night: "How do you know when you're in Iowa? You encounter carp as road-kill."

So, it's a real mess here, but I'm high and dry at the motel and, other than a power outage yesterday for a few hours, no real problems for me personally. The photo is a shot through the front windshield as we got to a road that's washed out and had to turn around and find another route. There's a lot of that going on right now around town.

I hope to get some better photos. This was on the move, so it's not the best, but I was busy at work.

I'll catch up more in a few days when I've got a few more photos.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Welcome to Iowa

Iowa Line 8617, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Just a quick note to say that I made the trip from Kansas City to Cedar Rapids, Iowa today and I'm all tucked in safe and sound at the motel.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kansas City

Kansas City 8554, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

I made it safe and sound to Kansas City to get some training at our corporate offices before heading off to the next job site. I'm only scheduled to be here a couple of weeks, so I'm taking in a few sights while I can.

It's a really nice place, from what little I've experienced so far. Great blues playing on the local NPR station, great Bar-B-Q and steaks to eat, interesting buildings, lots of sculptures, and landscapes to shoot, and a lot of nice people.

I spent a lot of time at Union Station today. What a fantastic building! It was incredible. I got a bunch of shots of it, and I'll start processing them and putting them up as I get time.