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We're going to have a booth at a minor-league baseball game and I need some easy disaster preparedness questions the kids can answer for prizes. Some of the questions I already have are:

How many feet of water does it take to float a car?
Name one item that should go in your emergency preparedness kit.
How often should you test your smoke alarms?

Any other ideas? Thanks for your help.

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You don't want to be on the phone or on the computer in case lightning strikes your house and shorts everything out. You also don't want to be taking a bath, washing your hands, or doing the dishes in case lightning strikes the house and the electricity finds its way through your pipes and electrocutes you.

I'm going to get in trouble with the Kemptown Elementary YMCA Kids' Club parents because I told the kids they could use that to get out of washing the dishes. But hey, anything to make the kids remember how to stay safe.

Next project: writing a disaster plan for my family. We are woefully deficient in the disaster supplies kit department and that's embarassing. If there were to be a tornado right now, we would be in such trouble. So the moral of the story is to go here and start making a plan and building a kit.  It's not that hard.  Really.


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Apartment complex fire call. 2 units destroyed and 5 evacuated. One of the renters didn't have insurance. Hence the reason why I have just a little more incentive to work on getting renter's insurance/fire safety/emergency preparedness info out to local apartment complexes. Just a little.

I got jambalaya for dinner tonight at the emergency services meeting. It was spicy but it still needed hot sauce. I've been unofficially contracted by the Health Department to get these cards with basic health info out to the kids in my presentations. Yet another good deed to be done for the people of Frederick County. And apparently I've reached 211 kids in my tornado presentations this month. Pretty cool, but also quite a ways away from my goal of 700.

To do list for tomorrow:
Xcall 5 more apartment complexes. Hey, those are easier than I thought.
Xbookmark tornado facts and pictures for easy access in my presentations. Presentations start back up Wednesday.
Xpick up Frederick paper on my way into work.
Xlisten to Jarhead en route to and home from work.
Xmake beans and rice for this week's lunches.
-write to the St. Bernard resident who helped us fix the ERV. I think I can get away with doing that at work.
-run a few miles in prep. for Main Street Mile Wednesday.
-request off for the first week of July, then start researching nola options for that week.

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That sums up my experience down in New Orleans more than any story I could tell you or any picture I could show you, and that's why I'll keep fighting for the people down there and keep telling my stories in hopes that more people outside of the Gulf Coast will realize that New Orleans is NOT OKAY. Not back to normal, either, no matter what they might show you in the news, or rather NOT show you. Just because the Garden District is pretty much back to normal and the French Quarter is all spiffed up and they had Mardi Gras does not mean everything is okey-dokey. 

For one thing, bureaucracy is keeping the levees from being fortified in time for hurricane season, which starts in 55 days.

For another thing, if you drive through St. Bernard Parish, you can still see stuff like this.  7 months later.  If us disaster relief workers who helped out down there need a mental health screening before we come home, I can only imagine what the people down there are going through.  Hats off to you.

Beyond that, there just are no words.


On a different note, Adam and I went to Copeland's in Columbia, Maryland today.  I got a hurricane made with the last of the mix on the premises, crawfish etouffee, and white chocolate bread pudding.  The hurricane wasn't nearly as strong as the ones I had down there, thank goodness, but they did serve it in the right glass.  Plus, where else can you find crawfish or anyone who even knows what etouffee is around here?  Anyone else who wants to try a little New Orleans food, let me know.  Michelle, you're getting there whether you like it or not, though I imagine you won't protest.

I love the kids over at Kemptown Elementary.  They were rather a disaster in and of themselves back at February's flood safety presentation, but they were so much fun today.  One of the girls saw my Katrina hat and told me about her cousins who are hurricane survivors and had the shirts to prove it.  Another girl grew up in Texas and knew all about tornadoes, but wanted to know why houses in the Dallas area don't have basements.  Water table too high, maybe?  Or possibly they're too expensive?  You got me, I gotta do some research.  Besides, there was at least a tornado watch out on Monday night (right during our hurricane debriefing), so the kids were extra-attentive.  They realized that what I was telling them was important.

Not including the Walkersville presentation Betty gave on Wednesday (she hasn't gotten me the numbers on that yet), here's my progress towards my goal of reaching 700 kids this month:  

Stupid word meter thingie isn't working.  Here's a link. 

I think that's enough for now.

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Please tell me why a funeral director needs to know CPR. Aren't most of their patrons...ummm...beyond that?

By the way, does anyone know if cheese floats? If so, it'd be useful in a disaster supplies kit for its entertainment value and you can eat pickles while you watch it float by.

(That's what I get for helping with a health and safety mass mailing and giving a rather wild flood safety presentation today.)

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...never mention the following items in a presentation to kids: toilet paper, long underwear, yellow snow.

One of the kids in my winter safety presentation yesterday became obsessed with the idea of putting a toilet in his disaster supplies kit, which set off a lot of obsession with bodily functions. Like I said, at least disaster education is never boring.

In other news, I finished The Kite Runner last night and A Million Little Pieces this morning. I'm going to cut back on my 50bookchallenge posts, so you'll get more details when I reach 10 for the year.

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Me: One of the things you need to have in an emergency supplies kit is warm clothing, like gloves...a hat...and a scarf.

Middle school boy in Boys and Girls Club: Did you make that scarf?

Me: Yeah.

Boy: 'Cause you look cute wearing it.

Middle school boys can be such flirts. :P

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Today I get a scenic tour of northwestern Frederick County and a long trip home. Better yet, one of the two schools for which I'm giving a winter storms presentation only has 3 kids.

Oh well. I'd give a presentation for one person if it came down to that, and all that extra time in the car will give me a leg up in the 50bookchallenge game. Lots of time for books on tape. Good thing too, because A Million Little Pieces on CD is almost in at the library, and I'm esp. interested to read it after all the controversy lately.


EDIT (10:51 am): A Million Little Pieces is in transit from the library. Yay!
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Scroll down to the bottom:

Apparently I also made a more recent edition of the paper, but I'm still waiting to hear on that.


Life Update

Nov. 7th, 2005 09:28 am
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Once again, if I want anyone to read this and leave me comments, I should probably write more often, so here's an update since last Thursday.

Thursday-presentation at Frederick Country Day school. Those preschoolers were so cute, and they got a kick out of crawling out from under a blanket to practice crawling low under smoke from a house fire. So much more effective than that last presentation.

Friday-Really slow day. I did get in 5 miles in the evening though.

Saturday-10 mile "long" run with the NCR Trail Snails. Most of them were either recovering from Marine Corps last weekend or tapering for a 50 mile ultra ( in a couple of weeks. I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to run with someone-running may be an individual sport, but it doesn't have to be lonely!

Saturday evening Dad and I went to Eric's final marching band competition of the season. I thought they did a lot better than 78.5, but there's always next year. And those cowbells that the River Hill spectators took delight in ringing constantly were really annoying.

Sunday-Spent the morning sleeping in and watching the minute-by-minute NYC Marathon ( elite results. I had to leave around noon so I didn't get to see the end or the highlights on TV at 2. We spent the afternoon on Dad's boat and the evening at Heidi's GBYO concert, which was even better than I expected. Especially blue cathedral.

I also ran 4 miles, uptempo at a 9:50 pace. I'll take that as a good sign that my legs are well on their way to recovering from Baltimore ( and getting ready for NCR ( in 3 weeks.

And today it's once again really slow, but at least I have a presentation tomorrow that I need to get ready for, not to mention Coleen and Tom's wedding on Saturday and handbell performances Sunday morning.

Now that I'm actually updating again, I expect comments!

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Ya know, it's really hard to teach kids about fire safety when teachers keep contradicting you, telling you you're wrong 'cause that's not what their fire marshall grandpa told them when they were little. Ever think that things might have changed in the past 30 years? They seemed to think I was pretty incompetent when it came to pre-k kids as well. At least the kids liked practicing escaping from a fire by crawling low under a blanket. Whether or not their teachers were acting like idiots is not my problem.

I can't wait to get back to running. Maybe this is why I stopped running marathons for awhile, I hate taking time off from training to recover.

Maybe it's just the rain that's putting me in a bad mood. Rain, begone!

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So I went to the other end of the spectrum today, presentation-wise. Elementary-schoolers to senior citizens. It would have been nice if they would have told me what kind of space I'd be working in, and it also would have been nice if they would have told me how many people would be there so I could bring enough materials with me. Oh well. If there's one thing I've learned working for the Red Cross, it's that you have to be able to turn on a dime. If worse comes to worse and they need more winter storm safety brochures or something, we're only about 10 minutes up the road.

And, try as I might, I can't get the image of a 90-year-old woman riding her scooter down the highway in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. One of my presentees called me right after I left and wanted to know what she should do if she needed to evacuate. No friends in the area and family lives a mile away. No car either. I told her to ask the supervisors in charge of the senior community what their plans were and tried to remind her that disasters usually don't come out of nowhere on clear October days...meaning you probably don't want to be riding your scooter down the street if you have to evacuate. I can only hope I talked some sense into her.

Phew, am I glad tomorrow's a presentation-free day.

10 days until the Baltimore Marathon!

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Today was the first day I actually got to do what I thought I would be doing for the Red Cross...Community Disaster Education (CDE) presentations. I spent nearly all day at The Banner School in Frederick teaching kids about fire safety and family disaster kits. I think the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders were my favorites, just old enough to catch on pretty quickly and have a very active imagination, but still young enough to pay attention. That's where the 7th and 8th graders got interesting. Especially the 8th graders. There were way too many of them crammed into one classroom, and their teachers spent more time talking to the kids or talking amongst themselves than keeping the class under control. About all they got out it seemed to be that space blankets and pocket radios are pretty cool and that old apples are yucky. Oh well. My next presentations in 2 weeks will run K-6, so I won't have to deal with that.

The handbell choir is performing for the first time this Sunday. The first time this year, anyway. I'm not too pleased about getting there by 7:10 when I have to get up around 5 on Saturday. Saturday's the TNT 20 miler for the MCM, and I'm volunteering. I think they want to start running at 7, which means getting together around 6 to drive 20 miles up to the Maryland line. Then I have to do my run afterwards. Needless to say, napping will be part of the picture on Saturday.

Baltimore Marathon in 11 days! Woo hoo!



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