Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Big Time Storm

All is bright and calm in Portland this morning, with garbage and recycling trucks plying their beats. However, a great storm rages in the Atlantic states, from Jersey inland to the Great Lakes.  This was right before the 2012 presidential election.

Mom (Carol) is rocking back and forth in her chair ("unprecedented").  Her women are eyeing the nuclear power plants, full of distrust in the wake of Fukushima.  With all the grid problems to come, how might we conduct free and fair elections?  An extra joker was slipped into the deck.  The game of poker is now a game of something else (it's called "game changing").

Oregon has voting by mail.  There's a secret ballot envelope that goes inside an outer signed envelope, with the signature acting as a kind of thumb print, a practice in early banking as well, though stationery certainly helps.

I don't know to what extent the ability to "re-run" any election is electronically archived.  Those states with their act really together keep a record of all the ballots (delinked from identity) and are able to re-run the elections at will.  Universities download and study the data, doing all manner of statistics.  The data is safely anonymized meaning it's somewhat hard to trace back, but not impossible, especially where write-in candidates (obscure ones) feature.

Carol has her office back together.  We have CenturyLink wifi through much of the house, with signal tapering quite sharply outside the bubble.  Since the advent of 3G / 4G, I also have secondary wifi on at least one device and am able to talk to towers (cell towers) in the vicinity.

That's how tethering sometimes works, when you can't get onto an Internet access point and so avail of your cellular network's tower-based service.  Hurricanes may damage cell towers.  This will be one story among many to follow.  Telecommunications disruption hampers restoring services.

If there's any good news in this disaster it's the extra cleanup work before Xmas and the additional income this may engender, along with the physical workout (which is easy to overdo -- this is where churches and such need to offer R&R opportunities to the first responders and infrastructure rebuilders, if only bananas and sunglasses (whatever sponsors might spare and pass through that would be appreciated on the front lines)).

To what extent Food Not Bombs will be assisting with this emergency is hard to gauge from my vantage point (SE Chapter / PDX).  I know Keith McHenry himself worked long hours during Katrina to help coordinate among emergency services.  He stays in communication, is not out there to duck the responsibilities when on duty.  I haven't seen anything on the list though, which is mostly local traffic. Oh wait, this just in (linked from here).

Coordinating is a skill and well orchestrated emergency efforts make a big difference.

I expect offers of assistance from overseas teams.  It'd be wise to accept in many cases, would be my leading, even as the rest of the country responds, in part by absorbing refugees.  Sometimes it's a good time to move, when you've lost everything (or even just worldly goods).  Many North Americans will be re-assessing their next moves in light of Hurricane Sandy.