Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunset -- sharing the sky

Sunset over Lake Pontchartrain as we start our 24-mile journey back across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. I am every time amazed in the variety of sunsets -- no two are alike. We love to roll down the top of Linda's convertible and enjoy the breeze (of course down here, we usually have our air conditioning on, too).

Night gives fair warning of its coming and, for a time, the dark and light share the sky. As we approach the other side, New Orleans rises in the sky, ornamenting it with nightlights of the Crescent City Connection bridge and the light-sprinkled skyscrape of downtown.

-- steve buser

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pipe laying on the Energy Coast

Pipelines? You want pipelines? We've got 'em. This one is going right down the middle of Lake Pontchartrain. I captured this photo of a pipeline laying barge as we were heading across the Causeway one day. Don't worry, my wife was driving while I fiddled with my camera.

Inside the buildings on the raft, new sections of pipe are added and welded while the pipe is pushed out to the bottom of the lake (typically about 14 feet deep. You can see the water bubbling up from where the channel for the pipeline is being dug to hold it.

Why so many pipelines? Because this is the Energy coast, that imports and drills a large portion of our country's energy needs. Pipelines, it turns out, are one of the most efficient ways to move product. I dare say, this area ships more product underground that most areas its size ship overground.

-- steve buser

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hurricanes Ike and Gustav show what we depend on

I made a quick trip over to Beaumont, TX this week to check on my son, Shawn, who had a tree through his roof from Hurricane Ike. This sign reminded me of our return from Hurricane Gustav a few weeks ago. Staple were hard to come by. I remember going into the local grocery store to pickup bread, milk and eggs. There were no eggs. I got the second to last loaf of bread. I had to settle for whole milk, the only kind they had.

It is after disasters like this, that we learn how we depended on businesses and government to provide us with a comfortable way of life. Things can change dramatically in just a few hours.

Oh, by the way, things in Beaumont seemed to be getting back to normal quickly.

-- steve buser

Friday, September 26, 2008

Venetian Isles -- living on water in New Orleans

As we were flying in on the airplane to New Orleans, this was the view down at Venetian Isles, a waterfront subdivision in New Orleans East. The subdivisions with canals up to each block, took on a lot of water from Katrina ( The eye passed right by this area) and in Gustav and Ike which pushed water up from the Gulf.

On the right, is the pass from Lake Pontchartrain into Lake Catherine and eventually to the Gulf.

-- steve buser

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pelican pal does bridge bonding

This is one of the friendly pelicans that coast along the Causeway bridge over Lake Pontchartrain looking for food as they take advantage of the breeze blowing up over the bridge.

You would thing that at 65 mph it would be hard to shoot one of these guys. Well, it is. I had to shoot several of them before I got one I even partly liked. But, since he's going the same way with us, that means we were just passing him up about 35 mph.

Still, you have to have a steady hand, shoot rapid fire and have a lot of luck.

-steve buser

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clouds line up to be part of Ike

As we were flying out of New Orleans last week to head to Washington to watch our son's triathlon, these were the clouds out the window of the play. These were the last bands of clouds swirling into Hurricane Ike as it was passing over Houston. I guess we must have been over the middle of Mississippi when I shot this.

-- steve buser

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summer slides away

Crazy lazy days are gone. Fall has fell. This guy was taking advantage of the warm weather out on the lakefront of Lake Pontchartrain a few weeks ago to do some fishing. From what I saw, the fish were safe.

--steve buser

Monday, September 22, 2008

Which came first? Bird or Wire?

I have to admit I am timid about this.

My best gut feeling says don't do it.

But I need answers. I always seem kind of reckless in the pursuit of knowledge, so this will not be out of character.

But the law of unintended consequences is holding me back. "Think, Steve, you have no idea what this will lead to."

You know, like that Large Hadron Collider they talked about in Europe -- the professor that said if used, it would destroy the earth as we know it -- turn us all into one big black hole -- slowly eating away at the atoms and electrons that make us, us.

Or something even more real and closer to home. Remember in the Indiana Jones movie when they opened the Ark of the Covenant and suddenly the flesh started melting and falling off the body of everyone without a pure heart. Thank goodness Indiana Jones had a pure heart. Maybe that's why they chose him for the part.

Or, an even truer story from the annals of history. Pandora's box.

You see my predicament. You know what the question is. You've wanted to ask it yourself.

You see the birds. You see the wire.

Tell you what. Lets ask this at the same time. On 3.


What did birds sit on before there were electric wires?

You see what happens don't you. That question leads to another and another and another until the whole world is filled with questions. You can't even pour yourself a cup of coffee because it, too, is full of questions.

When did the first bird sit on a wire?

Do the engineers design for the weight of the birds when they build the wire?

Why don't birds get hot? -- the wire heats up from the electricity flowing through it -- you've seen droopy wires stretched out on a hot summers day seeming to hang to the ground.

Can the birds hear the conversations going through a telephone wire?

Do they keep them secret?

Are they reading out thoughts.

Are they stealing our electricity?

Enough! I am overwhelmed. (actually I am just a little past whelmed, but that 's because of the medication I am on.)

Enough! Turn it off. Turn it off.

You egged me on. You led me to this. Don't run away and pretend you were not part of this.


--steve buser

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pelican packs perk my interest

Maybe it is just my imagination. Maybe not.

I have seen a lot more pelicans flying along the 24-mile-long Causeway bridge this year than I ever noticed before.

I think they ride the wind that the cars push off as they cruise by and the breeze naturally swirls up under the bridge My guess is it allows them to fly slower as they peer down looking for good eats. What I have noticed more of, though, is not the solitary pelican, but the flocks of them flying. These guys were flying along the bridge in a group of about 15 birds.

It may have something to do with the hurricanes and tropical storms that pushed them out of their normal habitats.

Interesting. It is small observations like this that get stored away in my memory and come back up when they tie together with some other new fact. Then, the "AH HA" moment occurs.

-- steve buser

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Finishing with a flair

The last 200 yards. Legs tired. Feet aching. Mind numb. Breaths are coming hard. Focus.

Then suddenly, your kids run out of the crowd and jog along side you, excited in your accomplishment. This is the part of the race that always brings a roaring cheer out of the crowd.

I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to show this picture before I get back to the daily New Orleans photos.

This is just one of those memorable times when you suddenly realize what the human spirit is all about. It's the kids' time to cheer on the parents, to lighten dad's load for once. These kids were elated, bubbling with intensity. All the long hours that Dad had put in were coming to fruition. They had been urging him on for weeks and their efforts paid off. They were proud for their father.

I was just shooting a few practice shots, so that when my son, Charlie, passed by I was all set to shoot. Then, these kinds of moments began happening one after the other. Amazing.

Charlie was participating in this triathlon in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. It was an event for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.

--steve buser

Friday, September 19, 2008

The bustling business of hurricane readiness

This picture was on the morning before we were heading out of town in the face of Hurricane Gustav. I was walking over to the coffee shop for a morning refresher. The Home Depot was just opening. These carts were lined all over the parking lot. It had obviously been a very busy night and apparently they didn't have enough help left to bring them in. I would think HD sold a lot of plywood and other hurricane supplies as people boarded up to get out of town.

We have survived unscathed a glancing blows by two hurricanes in the past few weeks. Now things are back settling down.

- steve buser

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Triumphant finish

We took a quick weekend trip up to Washington D.C. this week to support our son, Charlie (or Chuck as he likes to be called), in a triathlon he was running. The event, the Nation's Triathlon, was a fund-raiser for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. This is a picture of him about 300 or 400 feet short of the finish line. Obviously, its a good feeling to finish one of these grueling events -- 1 mile swim, 26 mile bike ride and 6 mile run.

--steve buser

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fly it high, guys

A bucket truck in to repair the damages from Hurricane Gustav (the one before Hurricane Ike) passed me by on the street the other day and I caught a glimpse of this. Old Glory proudly flying on the back with the bucket.

And why not. These guys have a lot to be proud of -- when a city of nearly 300,000 goes totally dark from a Hurricane and you can bring it back up in just a little more than a week, I think you deserve to be proud.

Of course, we all get a little ansy when it is our house that still doesn't have power. Personally, I get a good feeling when I see these guys working.

Just think, they will no sooner throw the last switch on the Hurricane Gustav damage than they will have to head off rebuild what Hurricane Ike has done.

Fly it High, guys.

-steve buser

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weary weather warriors.

Two weeks, two hurricanes. It has been quite a ride. Fortunately for us, we just got a glancing blow from each. However, a glancing blow from a hurricane like these is like being a foot mat for an elephant for a couple days.

I gained a lot of respect for guys like the one above. They are out in the weather weather it is good, bad, terrible, or hurricane. These are the real weather warriors. This shot was from our , short evacuation to Perdido Key last week. Despite the fact that we had gale force winds almost the entire time we were there, these guys had to keep up the food hunting routine -- I assume a couple days without a good slimy dinner and he could get pretty weak. Fortunately, the beach always seems to have a good choice of delicacies -- if only the humans would get out of the way and leave it to the professionals.

By the way. I didn't get time to identify this bird. Got any idea what he is?

--steve buser

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Running Like the Wind

Near rain, nor floods, nor gale force winds will keep boys from enjoying the day. This trio of young men were enjoying a run on the lake front of Lake Pontchartrain which jumped the riprap barrier used to protect the levee from waves.

The boys are actually running on a paved bike path. The lake is usually about 100 feet out, just the other side of the barrier. The biggest push of Hurricane Ike's wind in the New Orleans area was sending water and waves to the northshore, but the southshore, a seen here, also got some of the surge.

If you look closely you can see two ducks on the water in the top center. They area laying very low in the water to keep from being lifted by the wind. At one point, the young men ran too close to the ducks and they lifted up to fly away. Two minutes later, flapping hard into the wind, they landed about 50 away.

The New Orleans area had several flooding issues to fight. Most people here had time to reflect. Their hearts, filled with memories of Hurricane Katrina, went out to the residents of Houston and Southeast Texas hit hard by Ikes fury.

--steve buser

Friday, September 12, 2008

Red sky at night -- no sailors delight

This couple takes a sundown levee walk last night on the Lake Pontchartrain south shore. The low clouds were spining past us and into the maelstrom of Hurricane Ike. They had an eery patena -- capturing light that had been filtered through several cloud layers and then reflecting off the lake.

The brisk wind made it a pleasure to walk in the the direction this couple was going. The return trip was the muscle building leg of the workout.

You couldn't be doing this today because the weather is a series of quickly passing squalls with tornado watches by the dozens.

It will be tapering off this evening as the action moves to the Houston area where Hurricane Ike is expected bully its way into shore. But already this morning, listening to the radio, there have been two or three emergency evacuations here of areas down by the Gulf -- apparently higher surges than were expected.

You can watch some of the tragedy unfolding in Houston from Hurricane Ike at I Do Not Like Ike

--steve buser

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike is sloshing around the Gulf of Mexico

Hurricane Ike filling up the Gulf of Mexico on its way to Texas. We are getting windy weather and occasional rains so far. Waves and tides are rising. An oil rig off the mouth of the Mississippi River just recorded winds of 50 knots. A buoy 180 nautical miles south of the Mouth of the Mississippi River is reporting wave heights of 30 feet. A lot of sloshing going on down there.

We are expected to have gusty winds, bands of rain and waves of 6 to 9 feet here.

If the forecasters are right (ITFAR)

--steve buser

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Situation returning to normal

I think this sign refers to the after-Gustav settling in. Don't worry, things are returning to normal. In most of the area curfews have been lifted, power is back on and life returns to the way it was. That of course is not true of the parishes close to the Gulf of Mexico that took the direct hit --they still have a lot of "digging out" to do post Hurricane Gustav.

It now looks like Hurricane Ike has decided to strike the Texas coast line -- guess he wants some place that has already been knocked down.

Check Hurricane Ike's progress at I Do Not Like Ike

--steve buser

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gustav evacuees return to Ike fears

I never used someone else's photo on this site before, but I thought this photo caught the feeling of what is going on in New Orleans. This is a FEMA photo by Barry Bahler. I used it on my new site IDoNotLikeIke where I am keeping up with the storm and trying to document somewhat the feeling that an approaching storm brings to residents in along the Gulf of Mexico. (take a look -- frequent updates)

The evacuees assisted by the cities, state and feds ae returning to the area by bus, train and plane. Most schools are opening back up today except in some parishes closer to the Gulf.
Power for Entergy, the largest provider of electricity in the region is more than 80% restored by an army of 14,000 workers from 24 states. Here's a excerpt from an Entergy presentation that shows how fast the power was restored in the New Orleans area.

Disaster relief programs are just getting into full gear. Meanwhile the eye on Ike continues.

--steve buser

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ike brings fears of turnaround evacuation

The Jefferson Parish staging center Saturday prepares for bringing back evacuees who had no access to transportation and were transported to shelters out of the area by buses.

An evacuee (left) waits for a ride, while a emergency worker helps her with her belongings.

The staging center was set up in the giant parking lot of a multi-screen theater in River Ridge.

Now the anxious waiting starts to see if another evacuation will be ordered this week for the New Orleans area as Hurricane Ike heads into the Gulf of Mexico.

Fears are that people are evacuation weary and many may choose to ride out what could be a major hurricane.

You can stay tuned to Hurricane Ike details here.

-steve buser

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Going home -- the continuing saga of Hurricane Gustav

We were debating when was the best time to start the trek back to New Orleans from our Hurricane Gustav Evacuation to Florida. Linda learned her parents were heading back to Mandeville because of the conditions in Alexandria, La where they had holed up from the storm, only to find it followed them. They told tales of tornadoes and a hotel without power. So on the road we were, leaving Perdido Key to the pelicans and other regulars who were showing back up.

We decided to try to meet them at their house to make sure things were okay. They weren't. The place looked normal and there was no damage, but there was also no power. That was not going to be tolerable for anyone for long in that stifling "after-the-hurricane" heat. Linda's dad is 87 and on oxygen so we needed better conditions.

We borrowed a generator from a friend, opened old wooden windows that hadn't be raised in years. Then we hooked up a big fan and try to blow air through the house. It worked somewhat, and got some that "closed-up-house" feeling out.

Her brother Danny showed up with a small window air conditioning unit a few minutes later and as darkness was stealing the light, the new appliance was shoved in the window and a cool, but not cold breeze poured out of it.

We decided we couldn't leave them alone. The unit could barely keep one room cool, so we all bunkered down in the living room (Linda, me, her parents, her mom's friend Ruth and Linda's sister Karen) on sofas, recliners, mattresses and what-have-you. We draped sheets over the open doorways to keep the cool contained.

All went well till this morning when Linda's dad got up to use the restroom. On the way back he slipped in the hall and split his head open. Off to the hospital with him we went. Probably a concussion.

It makes you realize how we depend on all the comforts that keep our society going. It also reinforces that warning that cities after hurricanes are filled with hidden dangers.

Hopefully power will be back up soon.

Gustav, goodby and good riddance.

--steve buser

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Gustav: Weather to go home?

The guys with the big bills were back yesterday as the offshore winds started subsiding a little bit. Still strong, the winds were apparently down to a pace that the pelicans didn't feel as threatened. They were enjoying soaring on the winds over the beach. Several of the pelicans were sitting on the poles in the bay behind us on Perdido Key, so I wander over for a few shots.

The clouds are still rolling across the beach and off to northwest to feed a dying Gustav. We are listening and watching the news trying to find out if it is safe to venture back to New Orleans and what the traffic will be like. Cells phones are hard to communicate by -- "All circuits are full at this time." Everybody must be checking in.

--steve buser

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Riding out Huricane Gustav

Riding out the storm can be done in style, as this young man shows in Perdido Key, Florida, where we were holed up, in windy and sometimes tropical storm conditions.

It looks as if we will not be able to go back to New Orleans until Thursday or Friday. They have to make the streets safe from the ravages of Hurricane Gustav. Meanwhile, our cabin-fever has become acute, so we are driving up and down the beach road.

--steve buser