Friday, August 31, 2012

The Story of Isaac as Told By James Ott of Watson, Louisiana

What an outstanding effort by James Ott of Watson, Louisiana in reporting on the progress of Hurricane Isaac as it passed over James' home in Watson! It was a riveting series of posts that had us all experiencing the hurricane right through our computer monitors - so lifelike and detailed.

I have known James Ott for over 40 years and I had a brilliant idea in asking him to journal the before, during and after in the life of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac. I knew people would be interested in such an online diary but I underestimated the sheer volume of that interest. James did not disappoint us with his concise reports and the way Isaac was affecting him, his family and his friends and neighbors. He did so with over a dozen quality "on the scene" reports that kept you on the edge of your seat anticipating the next one with little sleep for over two solid, harrowing days.

I can not begin to thank James enough for the yeoman's job he did in keeping us informed. He did these reports out of the kindness of his heart for an old friend while making sure at the same time that his family and property were as safe as could be. I hope that some day I'll be able to repay James for such kindness towards me and my blog readers.

James Ott, I am proud and honored to call you "Friend".

Thank you.

James' Journey with Isaac

In case you missed any of the action, I have listed all of James' reports in chronological order below, so you, too, can be part of the story James so graciously and brilliantly told us.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

UPDATE # 13! All Good Things Come To An End.

Well, it is 10 a.m. CST! August 30, 2012. Peace has come to Watson and the Baton Rouge area. Though a slow drizzle continues today, for a little while longer. Things are returning to a somewhat normal pace. Soon the kids will load up and travel to check on other loved ones and return to their home to assess any damage. Phone calls need to be made to check in or check on others in the families. We may try to take a drive and see just how much damage Isaac has inflicted upon Watson. If we got the worst he had to offer and any other storms in the future are not as bad, I think we can handle most anything. As with anything, all is in the Lord's hands. 
Now, if the electricity would re-establish itself, the generator can take a rest. 

For now, It's been real, it's been nice, but, most of all, it's been REAL NICE!! 

Thank's again, Toby!!


At 2:30 a.m. CST 
    The eye of TS Isaac is passing Baton Rouge and is headed toward New Roads, LA. Rain still falls and the wind is still blowing. Wind speeds are moderating downward now. I have gotten a couple of hours sleep tonight. All are sleeping peacefully now. Hopefully, by morning, things will start to improve. We are now on the backside of the storm. It can now SKI-DADDLE! On up the road! For all I care. ENOUGH! is enough....We have made it through and can begin the clean up(In a couple of days, after the water recedes). Hope y'all have enjoyed my ramblings. There will probably be just a couple more, if needed. If not, I have enjoyed reporting all that has been happening the last couple of days. I want to thank Toby Shoemaker for allowing me to participate by using his Blog page. Can I say it has been fun? Well, it has been an experience. Will update y'all a little later, as the situation warrants. Thanks, again......

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TS Isaac UPDATE #11

     At 10 p.m. CST, TS Isaac is moving north....FINALLY. It just won't move fast enough to suit me! My yard has become a lake. In south Louisiana when you buy property, you buy into the chance of flooding. Just about anywhere you buy. Drainage is the thing. If you have a good drainage lay out you can have a descent looking home place. When you get 10+ inches of rain in a short time your gonna HAVE FLOODING! Just about anywhere you live. Given time the water will leave and clean up can begin.
     I've failed to identify who I have been hunkering down with, by name. So, let me introduce everyone. Beginning with, my wife Lorna, step-son Stephen, daughter-in-law Lauren, our grand-daughter Miss Addison Lilly, and step-son Matthew. We have all taken turns keeping Miss Addy entertained, which is no small feat. Being that she about 20 months old, she is getting close to the terrible two's. So, her entertainment and satisfaction is paramount.....for peaceful co-exsistence. We are doing well though.
     Was just informed that the Baton Rouge area has received approximately 8 1/2 inches of rain so far today. Now, that is a local count, in different areas the amounts vary. For the amount of standing water here at my house 8 1/2 inches is a bit low.     
     Hoping for a little rest tonight. Will update again later.

Storm Update #10

It is now 6:45p.m. CST. Constant rain has run all ditches and creeks on our property to slightly overflowing. The winds have been bareable in the last few hours. Debris is minamal at this time, a few branches, a styrofoam cup or two, and not much else. I will post a couple of photos and video on my Facebook page, shortly. I believe we will survive the storm and mainly the cabin fever....I was able to get a couple of hours rest today. I will not sleep after dark. Always watching for that one thing that can turn a bad situation worse. We still have, probably a 12 to 18 hour window of rain and wind time left before this headache is over. At 8:26 p.m.CST our power went out. Generator kicked in to supply us with the all important ability at stay in contact with the outside world. Water is rising now. All ditches are past full our yard is becoming a small lake. The house will be okay. This will be the worst water episode, since we've lived here. If the rain would cease for an hour or two the levels would drop some. This is the part of this situation I really don't care for. Still have several hours to suffer though all of this wind and rain. 600,000 are without power at this time. Let's all really hope for the best. Prayer's are really welcome for all who are suffering at this time.


1:00 P.M. CST
        The Baton Rouge area is being warned by B.R. Mayor Kip Holden, that, within the next 30 minutes, or so, this area will feel the full force of hurricane winds and heavy rains for at least the rest of the day.
          Well, I guess we are about to get all that we have been waiting for, and, dreading for it to get here. The rain and winds have been steady for the last few hours. Higher gusting winds and heavier rains have begun within the last few minutes. Hopefully, the  Lord will watch over all who are out in this immoderate weather and all of us in the path of this storm. 
          On a side note, the hummingbirds who drink from my feeder have remained steadfast in their want for drink. Winds have not dampened their flying or their thirst. Though, they may have sought refuge from the approaching storm, at this time. 
          Over 500,000 in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas are without power at this time. So far our lights have flickered, but, still we have power. Eventually, we will relie on our generator to supply us the comfort that we all will surely need. We are sitting on our back porch out of the winds and rain. All of the storm action is coming out of the north. Our porch is a southern exposure, so, we can watch the storm for a while. Gale force winds have really begun now. We may not tarry on the back porch for much longer. 


9:00a.m. CST

RAIN! WIND! Steady as it goes, for now. Everything considered we are doing okay for now. The storm is moving at it's own pace and will depart these parts when it is ready. Well, I'm ready for it to move on to other parts of the country. Small amounts of debris scattered over our place and a few fallen trees throughout the Parish is about all we have as for damages, right now. New Orleans and the really low laying areas are beginning to flood. As we wait the rain falls and the winds continue. The really hard rain is yet to come. We're still here.

UPDATE #7 the Rain and Wind.

              Dateline: Watson, LA 1:45a.m.CST

Hurricane Isaac has FINALLY reached up from it's Gulf water power source and began to assault the Baton Rouge area. High winds (30 to 40mph, gusting higher) and rain have begun. The winds are a swirling type multi-directional force. The tree tops swirl and sway at the winds leasure. I hope the trees in our yard and around us can withstand this on slaught. I don't hold out much hope of escaping unscathed. The rain at this time is light. We are on the edge of the major bands of the Gulf enfused storm. Original predictions were for 6" to 12" of rain over the length of this weather event. Now reports say to expect 15" to 22" of rain. The entire southeastern portion of Louisiana is under a "Tornado Watch" until sometime later Wednesday. "Flood Watch" warnings are in effect, also. The storm is idling for now, no movement. Allowing it to suck up more water and build energy for it's push into the State and the Central U.S. Isaac is making, what local weather experts are calling, a "Jog" to the west at this time. When it makes it's northerly turn, they say it( the storm eye) will pass to the west of Baton Rouge. This is not a good thing. It puts the heaviest part of the storm over our area. In New Orleans, some 300,000 are without power at this time. With these latest developements, the probability of MAJOR damage throughout south Louisiana has been ramped up. Hang on folks we are in for a really bumpy ride. Be safe.........

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It is now 9:30p.m. CST. Still no rain, just a lot of gusting wind (25+mph). Not so, in New Orleans and further east in Mississippi. The rains have been pounding away at those folks since just about 6 p.m. I feel like a war correspondent waiting for that first burst of anti-aircraft fire at the outbreak of a nighttime air raid(maybe Edward R. Morrow, LOL). The rustling of the tree branches in the increasing winds is a precursor to what is coming. The strange lack of vehicle traffic on most roadways in these affected areas. Street lights shine in the distance, soon to be darkened by the lack of electricity. All of Livingston Parish is under a "Dusk to Dawn" curfew. We took the Grandbaby outside to let her cavort around in the breezy evening air. The spirited exuberance of a child is a marvel to watch. Her non-realization that something historic is occurring around her. Her lack of fear at the coming storm. We adults will worry enough about all things storm related, later. Now the kids will settle down with the baby in a hope she will peacefully sleep while the storm churns outside the walls of our home tonight. That's all for now. As Ed Morrow said, "Goodnight and Good luck".


At 5:45 p.m., the clock is ticking. The eye of Hurricane Isaac is about 35 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Still no rain in the Watson area, however, with in the next few hours we will be at full throttle with rain and wind. The eye of the storm will pass over New Orleans at about 8:00 p.m. and reach Baton Rouge at about 11:00 p.m. The sky is beginning to darken so rain is eminant. We have a generator built into our home, so, if the power goes down we will have backup. If the Internet hangs in there, I will send updates as the weather deteriorates. If not, I'll see y'all after the storm passes. We will be in the heart of the storm through tonight and ALL day tomorrow. We have the kids and the Grandbaby here with us this evening. We will have plenty to eat, movies to watch, and hopefully confortable conditions as long as we have power. That's all for now...........


At 1:30 p.m. CST, now Hurricane Isaac is churning in the Gulf. Winds here in Watson are beginning to gust and blow at 6 to 12 mph +or -. The wife and I took a leasurely trip to the local IHOP and enjoyed a good late breakfast. The local traffic was bustling, but, not jammed up bumper to bumper...YET! If you want to view the traffic cams for New Orleans and Baton Rouge area go to and click on the area cams you'd like to see. Stopped at the Watson Wal-Mart for a few extra things, just to be a little more prepared for the on slaught of Isaac. Still no rain in the Watson/Denham Springs/Baton Rouge area. However....IT IS STILL HOT! Even with the breeze blowing. Just believe the heat in the air and the warmth of the Gulf waters will just really fuel the storm up. Winds in the storm are at approximately 80+ mph with very little forward movement at this time. Local fire departments have stockpiled sand for sandbags that will be needed in many low lying areas of the Parish(Livingston Parish is where Watson is located). As most know Louisiana has Parishes instead of Counties. All for now......


At 7:45a.m. CST, rain has begun to fall. Skies are still partly cloudy to cloudy. The first outer band of heavy rain has reached the New Orleans area. A lighter band of showers is coming from the east from Hammond, LA towards the Baton Rouge area. Landfall is expected around 11:00p.m. So, for now the rain will come and go. Still light breeze blowing. Final preparations for the storms arrival are being made by many residents in the south Louisiana storm track areas. In the time it has taken me to type this update, the rain has stopped, for now. Got an e-mail from a co-worker at G.E.C. (boat captain for our underwater inspection team), he says, backwater from Lake Pontchartrain has risen above the street he lives on in Madisonville, LA. He lives near the banks of the Tchefuncte(chee-funk-ta) River at the mouth of the river near the lake. Gulf surge is always a concern in the New Orleans area. That's all for now.

A.M. Update....TS Isaac

At 5:30 a.m. CST TS Isaac is about 180 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA. Landfall should be sometime today. It will have reached Hurricane strength before that time. All things being equal, it seems to be very calm in the Baton Rouge area. Here in Watson(located about 15 miles northeast of B.R.) a slight breeze is blowing and skies are still partly cloudy. If you would like to check out Louisiana highway traffic, search LA. D.O.T.D. on the web. They have web cams for New Orleans and Baton Rouge traffic. Will post a web link later. Traffic is flowing nicely at this time. Basically the calm before the storm....LATER.

Monday, August 27, 2012

From Louisiana: James Ott Live Blogs TS Isaac

Here's a reminder that my long-time friend James Ott will be live blogging from Watson, Louisiana about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac as events warrant. So be sure to check back as often as possible on The Lower 48 (Plus 2) as the situation on the ground in LA and Mississippi deteriorates due to the passing through of Isaac.
Image from

There's no better way to get storm coverage than from an eyewitness right in the middle of the action, and James will be your eyes and ears to what is going on on the Gulf Coast as events unfold.

For those of you on the Gulf Coast, please take this storm very seriously and heed the advice and orders of your local officials regarding what actions you should take to remain safe in the wake of the storm.

Also, if are safely able to do so, please send any photos of the weather in your area to lower48plus2 AT gmail DOT com. Or if you'd like to volunteer information about what's going on in your location, please feel free to do so in the comment section. But, again, do so only if you know you are safely doing so. We can always get your account or photos of the weather in your locale after the storm has passed.

Head Honcho, The Lower 48 (Plus 2)

TS Isaac Update #2

Outer bands of Isaac are nearing New Orleans

Watching radar that shows the outer rain bands of TS Isaac are nearing New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS. The clouds here in Watson, LA are scattered at this time, but, building up. Temps are moderating down a little. Waiting for the breezes to pick up. Very little breeze at this time. The eye of the storm is nowhere near land, so, these early signs don't bod well for Louisiana. Hopefully the storm will decelerate when it comes inland. Expecting 60+ mph winds (gusting to 75+mph) to reach Baton Rouge, probably early Wednesday morning. Local news programs are at full throttle with their storm track coverage. Reports of "NO GAS" at local stations already. Later!

Waiting for Isaac August 2012


As we sit here , the storm is at least a day away. It is quite calm and HOT, about 90 degrees. The clouds are beginning to show that  early, eerie, on set of something that may or may not be DISASTER in the form of sheets of rain and blasts of high winds and debris. Gasoline lines at local stores are getting to be a hazzard (lines reaching the shoulders of the highway). Everyone in the Baton Rouge area is on a kind of high alert. But, being patient and waiting to see just what will happen. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the target days for the storm. Where will it come inland and where will it go? Grand Ilse is already evacuated. New Orleans is beginning to sense the time to go is nearing. The massive water pumps are in place and hopefully will do the job they were designed for. No Contra flow of traffic at this time. The storm is tracking the same path as Katrina, and we all know what kinda disaster that lady was. As I wait, I will close with the fact that for 18 and a half years, I worked as a bridge inspector for the State of Louisiana. All those years our bridge crew and inspectors had to work any and all storms that came along. Sometimes a massive effort to clear highways and waterways of debris. Now, as a retiree, all I have to be responsible for is, my family and my home.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What It Means to Be a Texan by Coach Bum Phillips

Home w/ Colors Provided by God
What your about to read is something that every Texan should dust off and read every once in a while. We often take for granted what a special place God gave us as a Home and this story will remind and humble us at the same time.

I think as a Texas ex-pat living in New England, I see Texas from a different perspective than those of you still living there. Maybe not being able to go fishing in my beloved East Texas or see for the first time ever the raw beauty and magnificence of Big Bend will do that to a guy. Although I choose to live here, I miss Texas terribly, but she is always in my heart.

God has blessed her, but he has blessed me infinitely more by gracing me with privilege, nay Honor, of being a Texan.

by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I'd wrote and I didn't have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can't even begin to do it justice.

Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Grandad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between.

Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call "home" as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here's what I really want to say.

Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin about where I've been and what I've done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn't ever been, and didn't too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about "the time they went to Europe." So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they'd ever met me. "Hey cowboy, we love Texas." I guess the hat tipped em off.

But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em.  They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn't even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they'd never met one.

That's when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8?  Do you know whyevery time I cross the border I say, "Lord, please don't let me die in_____"?  Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid?

I can tell you that right quick. You.

The samespirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis' plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stanfield ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago? What would make my friend Elizabeth say, "I don't know if I can marry a man who doesn't love Texas like I do?" Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what usedto be a nation that is now a state?

Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to everyone of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is is alive in all of us, even if we can't stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it's our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a"Native Texan" or an "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could" sticker on his car understands.

Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean. My Dad's buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that's what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire. To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, "what the Hell is that?" when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn't the shape, it isn't the state, it's the state of mind.

You're what makes Texas. The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that's what Texas means to you, that's what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, "Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway."

When was the last time you went to a person's house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can't. But I bet my ass you can't drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven't done business with someone called AllTex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn't lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he'll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she'll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say "I'm a republican," or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, "I'm a Methodist," or "I'm a lawyer," or "I'm a Smith," they tell you they're a Texan.

I got nothin against all those other places, and Lord knows they've probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it's for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn't be here enjoying this if it weren't for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn't know the story, tell them.

When William Barrettt Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren't your average everyday men. Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that's why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there's no mountain that we can't climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas. It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we're Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something.

So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It's true because we believe it's true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I'm talking about, this ain't for you. But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you're the reason I wrote this night, and this is for you.

So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.
Texas is the damnedest Lady you ever saw - John Wayne.

Amen, Duke. Amen.

***Thanks to***

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cuttin' the Mustard for Over a Century

Still Cuttin' the Mustard
My main(e) (<---pun) goal in writing this blog is to feature something you haven't previously known about, and today I may have reached that goal. Unless you have strong connections to Maine (Eastport specifically), like living/have lived here or have family or friends here, chances are you've never heard of Raye's Mustard. You are gonna thank me by the end of this post.

Raye's is located in Eastport and has been at the same location for 105 years using the same stone grinding machinery for that entire time! Here's a four minute video that walks you through the whole process of how Raye's Mustard is made. Even watching the video gives you the feeling of traveling back to 1903, the very beginning of of this legendary business.

Today, in 2012, Raye's, recently spotlighted on The Cooking Channel, has more types of mustard than the Octomom and Kate plus Eight together have kids. My personal favorite is the sweet and spicy, but I have tried several different flavors and each is very tasty.  Raye's really is a good product and they offer a large variety of mustards to choose from so your sandwich will never be the same twice in a row.

Pride, tradition and those 105 year old seed mills have proven to be a winner in New England...and maybe your state, too.

***DISCLAIMER : I WAS NOT compensated in any way by Raye's Mustard for writing this post.I genuinely like and use their product...I have some in my 'fridge right now.***

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's National Clown Week!

One thing about being American is that we never let good reason to celebrate something sneak past us. We have just concluded National Ice Cream Month and we are full steam ahead into National Clown Week!

Number 1 By a Nose
We owe a lot to those guys with the big red noses and even bigger feet. They have created hundreds of millions of smiles on faces of all ages over the years and they show no sign of letting up any time soon. And in tribute to All Clowns, past and present, we celebrate the first week in August as National Clown Week in their honor.

From the World's Most Famous Clown, Bozo, to the clown who participates in the circus or even the clown in a local parade, there is much more to clowns than the aforementioned big noses and feet. I think today would be a very opportune time to learn some stuff about clowns that many of us don't know. Or, for Old Dudes like me, have forgotten.

What better place to get a ton of information on clowns than National Clown

Facts and Trivia About Clowns
  • Did you know the word "clown" is related to the word "klutz"?
  • Not everybody is fan of clowns. In fact, thousands of people suffer from coulrophobia. Don't worry, that's not some deadly tropical disease, it means the "fear of clowns".
  • Did you know that there was once a Clown College ? Studenta at Clown College took courses in stilt-walking, ballet and juggling amongst others. Today there is Clown School amd many Junior Colleges around the country offer Clown classes.
  • There is a whole network of clown-related organizations like clown schools, clown groups even newslettres specifically for clowns.
  • Besides birthdays and the like, clowns also hire out for educational events. Clowns ain't dummies
You might be surprised at the actual number of clown resources available with the simple click of a mouse button. It's truly amazing, just like our funny friends, the klutzes, I mean clowns.

There's enough information just on the web sites I highlighted to keep you busy learning all about clowns for hours on end and then some. Simply follow the links I provided and click on other links in site you land on. There's some really cool stuff out there. :0)

And I'm not just clowning around.