Evil Jim (evil_jim) wrote,
Evil Jim

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Tornadoes, reunions and fires, oh my!

It's been a long and eventful week, one which actually began more than a week ago. Your humble chronicler will attempt to record all the events worth noting, but it may take a couple sessions to complete as the entry is begun late one Sunday night.

But first, some background music for those who desire such. sacredspud indirectly turned me on to Overclocked Remixes some time ago by linking to a remix of a track from Commander Keen. I downloaded the entire archive shortly after I acquired Elvis, my 80G hard drive some months ago and I still haven't gone through them all. Tonight, while searching for remixes of Wicked Child via Google I discovered VG Mix 2, another website devoted to remixing video game music. They have quite an archive but their organizational system leaves something to be desired so searching for a particular song may take time. Regardless, it's worth checking out for the immense volume of music it contains.

Class of 95 10 yr Reunion! Aug 13nd
The class reunion on the 14th went well, I'm surprised to say. I went with matt_william and Sarah who does not have a Live Journal. We arrived at perhaps half past six and there were already a dozen or so people there. We stuck to each other for a while since we're all wallflowers but we got to talk to all the other former geeks there: Gerald, Eric G., Kaleb and Michele S. later and others I can't remember because it's been more than a week since it happened. Eric H. and Merete greeted us, took our money and gave us nametags. Eric was pretty much the same as ever but Merete had definitely aged. I was surprised at how poorly some of the girls had stood up against Time. Those that were skinny and pretty in high school who I thought would always be that way because of how fastidious they were about their appearance were suddenly NOT. A couple who were pushing toward the edges of "slutty" in school were now full-blown skank. I was amused and disappointed at the same time.

The guys seemed to fare a little better. Jarred S. just lost a little hair but his wife was hot. For a while I thought she might be Corri S. until we started chatting. Chris F. gained some weight, a mustache and glasses and seemed to have toned down a bit. He was generally amicable to me despite our falling out in middle school. -- It was my fault and I wanted to apologize but after 12 years it didn't seem to be bothering him. -- Eric G. had grown even taller since last I saw him in '96 or '98 or so. There were others who I didn't remember being so tall but I didn't pay much attention the first time around. I tried not to stare too much.

I had the same conversation over and over for the first couple hours. "How've you been? What are you doing these days? Still live in town? You look good." Repeat, ad nauseam. I eventually got curious and left Matt and Sarah to start wandering around. I had the same conversation several more times but eventually ran into Michelle S. She told me her half of a story I'll never forget: During Syttende Mai weekend about five years ago we met at the Elves Palace while she was walking her little Scottie dog. We chatted for a while and I was happy to see her so I invited her to the post-poker run party I was attending with my father and his motorcycle club. She joined, we visited some more and I introduced her to a few people as an old classmate. Eventually she had to leave so I gave her my business card with my personal info (my aunt works in a print-shop.) But something I didn't know the reunion was when all that happened she had no idea who I was! She followed me because I was good looking and seemed nice and apparently knew her. It wasn't until she was driving home that day looking at my card wondering who the heck I was when she turned it over and almost got into an accident. On the back of the card was emblazoned the logo, "Friendly Edd's Whips & Chains Inc.", my trademark in high school.

Several people asked me about Whips & Chains and I was surprised about how memorable it was. It makes sense now since the logo of a big beefy arm flexing in a Jack Daniel's boarder it's not very straight forward logo and probably had a lot of people wondering for years just who Friendly Edd was and what his Whips & Chains were for. I considered wearing a shirt for occasion but but I didn't want to dress too casual and my current style leans more toward fedora and Hawaiian shirt. I wish I had found my stash of those cards a week earlier.

Besides Matt and Sarah I probably talked the most with Michelle. She was the only one I could convince to join me in watching for Perseid meteorites out on the pier away from the lights. It was nice to get away from the smoke and increasingly drunken crowd. The music from a neighbor's garage was better than that blaring from inside the bar, especially since it was mostly Pink Floyd. We watched the fish under the pier gasping under the rope lights strung out there and saw lots of stars but none that were shooting. The peak was cloudy this year so by then all that was left were stragglers.

Latter on I had the pleasure of visiting with Rachelle B. For most of the evening she was in a crowd near the bar and difficult to reach but once people had started to file out and return to their respected hovels I was able to work my way over and say hi. She's still as radiant as ever and her pinball smile could command me to do anything if only she would ask (Yeah, I had a crush.) She was very friendly and kind as she always was and I found out she's living locally, working in farming, doing well and now married to the luckiest man in the world. (damn!)

Overall the reunion was a good time and I had a lot of fun. The people I didn't like from school days generally stuck to the bar where I didn't even have to think of them and I got to know the geeks a little better. I didn't know what to expect when I first got the invite and I admit to being a little nervous but I'm glad I went.

Church Fire! Aug 10st
Early Wednesday morning I saw this entry in crabmoon's journal. I'm sorry I missed it as it sounds like a spectacular blaze. I was sure to check the news the next morning and was able to glean a little information there before work. I saw Lindsay & Tick the next night and they had a surprise for me: photos and video of the fire in progress on my camera! They accidentally took it with them after the ren faire and had it on hand when they went out to investigate the fire which was blazing not three blocks away from their home. It was quite a sight! Notice, I'm not at all broken up about the fire. One thing this town has too damn many of is churches. Churches and bars. Churches, bars and those ugly sprawling beige subdivisions. Plus, the fire was in the middle of the night so no one was there to be hurt.

I only wish Lindsay had taken that photo that she thought up but chickened out of: fire in the background, her smiling and holding up the peace sign in the foreground. Actually, I would have liked to be in that photo. That would have been the next userpic for evil_jim [evil grins]

The following Sunday the sheep gathered faithfully in the parking lot to hold service which only goes to show that churches are not a necessary item.

Tornadoes! Aug 18rd
But the most eventful, ah, event by far took place on Thursday the 18th. The morning was cool so I had the air conditioning off and dressed appropriately knowing thunderstorms were predicted for the evening. Early in the day I stopped by SCS to visit matt_william and do lunch we talked about Japan, ordered pizza from Za Pit and generally had a good time visiting. By the time I left it had warmed up a bit and become a tad muggy but I still didn't touch the Evilmobevil's A/C on the way home.

Things didn't start to get interesting until I got to work. Things were just a tad above "slow" but getting to the point where I was easily bored. I remembered the predicted storms and thinking to myself it would be nice if they were just bad enough to cause the manager to halt work for a half hour so we could take an extended break while waiting for it to pass. A little before six o'clock I noticed it was raining and remembered that all the windows in my car were rolled down and rushed outside -- dancing between the drops all the way to avoid getting wet -- to close them. It came down pretty hard for a couple minutes there while I used my handy towel that I always keep in the car to wipe up what water I could that had accumulated inside. I noticed that the rain wasn't letting up and was psyching myself up to make a mad dash back to the building when I remembered my handy umbrella which I also keep in the car. But by this point the rain was such that half of me still got wet.

I returned to my work area only to hear the EAS warning/attention sound on the radio which plays over the PA system. I hustled over to the manager's desk and checked the local CBS affiliate website for their detailed weather radar. Big red blotches coming right at us! I turned on the weather radio and listened to the NOAA broadcast to hear a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch for our county and those surrounding. A couple people who had evidently noted the storm outside as well as me watching doppler radar gathered 'round ready to notify Tim, the manager, who had just then also noticed the crowd at the desk and wandered over. I explained what was going on and he quickly took charge from there. A few minutes later he made a building-wide page to call everyone up front to hide in the break room because a tornado warning had been issued. Score! Long break!

We waited for nearly an hour. I tried working on my new poem but there was too much distraction. I tried reading but someone turned on the television where the weatherman had taken the station hostage to present continual coverage on the storms that were wreaking havoc through central Wisconsin. It was pretty intense. Tho' the weather outside hadn't changed much from wind and rain it was pretty severe north and south of us. I heard tornadoes had actually been spotted in Fitchburg and McFarland and began to worry. The storm subsided and we saw blue sky and sunlight to the west. It was still raining directly over us and we talked about what a great rainbow there must be outside somewhere. I began to relax but Tim made us stay put until long after any immediate threat outside appeared to have passed. He was probably waiting for the NOAA to lift the warnings for our area. Eventually we were released and sent back to work.

My first clue that something may be wrong came during the drive home from work. Less than a quarter mile from my house I saw flashing lights at the intersection at the bottom of the hill. I wasn't surprised since two or three times a year I pass a collision scene down there during my drive home at night. This was different, tho'. Police were there, yes, but there was no wrecked car and this time there were flares all over the road. Traffic ahead of me was being directed to the right instead of crawling straight through. I didn't have time to ask an officer what was going on and just followed the car ahead of me through the detour back to the main road. As I neared my neighborhood the next clue came when I saw there were no lights. Not in the houses or street lamps. Utterly dark save for the full moon. Crap! Power's out. Well, not surprised considering the storm.

The first thing I did was secure the stuff brought in from my car and bag from work so as not to trip on them, then threw open the curtains to let in as much moonlight as possible. My stash of emergency candles were easy enough to find and light and I set about getting to the phone to check my voicemail. -- For those who wonder why I have antiquated corded phones in my house, this is why. Cordless units need power to work, these don't. -- My answering machine picks up after four rings and voicemail eight. Since the former was out of commission the latter picked up several messages, each of them progressively worse. I answered them all and then several more which came in while I was using the phone line to answer the others. (a great reason to have the service.) With each call-back I pieced together what had happened while I patiently waited in the break room trying to figure out appropriate words that rhymed with "rise": Several tornadoes had touched down in the area, ripping through the northern stretch of my home town from west to east along the lake. Surprisingly, most of the town still had power (my parents only lost it for 20 minutes at ten o'clock) but mine had been out since the the storm first struck, judging by the timestamp of renny1780's message.

Feeding fish by candlelight isn't as fun as it sounds.

Once I got things ready around the house in preparation for a night without electricity I began writing the last journal entry, went out for a stroll in the quiet moonlight, then finished the entry and went to bed. During the walk I spoke with a couple neighbors that had actually seen the tornado and heard their frightening tales. As fascinated as I am by the phenomena I hope I am never this close to one again.

Friday I still had no power and forewent grocery shopping in favour of taking my present groceries to my parents' fridge and freezer. -- I could have just left them at home since two hours after I left for work it was restored. -- The drive into town was shocking. All the traffic slowed down to a crawl where the tornado crossed the highway. A shed or small house that had been in a distant field visible was now in a tree next to the road and the house across from it had no roof or windows. All the corn and vegitation was flattened and pointing east as if some giant had walked through, dragging its kill. As I neared town I could see to the left of me all the giant, ancient trees that had been smashed and torn apart. I saw broken houses beyond that I never knew existed because they were blocked by the trees. County B and other routes into the north end of town were barricaded off with a heavy police presence so only emergency vehicles or residents with a special pass could get in. My entry into town reminded me strongly of this passage from H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds:
Over the Maybury arch a train, a billowing tumult of white, firelit smoke, and a long caterpillar of lighted windows, went flying south--clatter, clatter, clap, rap, and it had gone. A dim group of people talked in the gate of one of the houses in the pretty little row of gables that was called Oriental Terrace. It was all so real and so familiar. And that behind me! It was frantic, fantastic! Such things, I told myself, could not be.

It was a shock, and one that will last. Wherever you live there are risks of natural disasters of one sort or another and this is the bane of the Midwest. Again, I hope never to have such a close-call for the rest of my life. All my friends and family are safe and have a place to stay while others are rebuilding. I'm thankful for that, and to have someone to read this post besides me. Speaking of, I've gone on for quite a bit now and this has taken several days to write. It's time to get back to writing about the present.

By the way, I backdated and posted the post I wrote Thursday night by candlelight. N'joy.

- E V I L O U T -
Tags: tornado

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