Aug. 31, 2005

Cannonball Run

Chris and I are back home after our race over to Syracuse and back, and mother and step-father are safely returned to Cobourg. We drove through the last kicks of hurricane Katrina, which was reduced to heavy rain by the time it got this far north. 14 hours behind the wheel over two days... On the final leg of the journey Chris and I had fun singing along to Coldplay and The Jam.

It was nice to see my little nieces, and also nice to be able to stock up on my sister-in-law's Indian sauces. She and my brother started a company to produce her fresh gourmet sauces two years ago, but they're not available in Canada. Often we can't even get them in their little town, although they are available from a variety of gourmet stores including Whole Foods. (Google tells me that you can also buy them through Amazon here.) Although once again they didn't have any jars in the house the local organic grocery store had a good supply, which we did our best to clean out. Her sauces are delicious and make for a quick two-pot gourmet dinner. Yum.

The dog that my parents and my sister are "sharing", Biscuit, came with us on the trip. He's a generally well behaved puppy, but when he gets bored he is destructively curious! Chris is a bit intimidated by Biscuit as he is a nipper and a bit pushy. Backing away from a playful puppy just results in an undesired game of chase... Hopefully grandfather will train him.

I don't have much to say about the situation in Louisiana other than it's so strange to see this level of natural disaster in North America. I think we have a sense of being "immune to nature" here. Obviously not! The toll in lives and property isn't know yet, but it's going to be extensive. Just like the Asian tsunami last Christmas the survivors are waiting helplessly for aid to arrive. The survivors have numb expressions and it's hard to imagine the effort that will be needed to rebuild New Orleans.

Putting on my geologist's hard hat for a moment, New Orleans' problem is that it is build on the Mississippi delta. These deltas (Venice is in a similar situation) slowly subside as the sediment's own weight squeezes the water out. Normally this subsidence is overpowered by the arrival of new sediment, and the delta actually grows. Unfortunately our instinct to control erosion upstream cuts off the influx of new sediment, and what sediment that does arrive is flushed past New Orleans in man-made canals. Without the normal seasonal flooding to deposit new sediment the ground subsides. The levees we build to keep the subsiding ground dry just compound the problem!

Listening to: That's Entertainment (the acoustic demo version) by The Jam from Sound Affects.

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