Weather Crisis in Texas

May be an image of nature

Texas is a disaster right now. We’ve had Polar Vortec frigid temperatures for days on end, causing crazy high demands for heat. Of course. Except Texas isn’t prepared for this. Not.At.All. We’re used to super hot temps in the summer and rolling brownouts when we try to keep cool. But winter? No one could have expected this, even as meteorologists told us it was coming. We didn’t know the Texas power grid couldn’t handle the load as power plants froze up – and then water plants froze because they had no power, leaving millions of people without heat and/or water as the temps hovered in the teens.

There is no excuse for this, and even less for the way our governor and state leaders are blaming it on the Green New Deal with windmills going offline. Uh, hello? Yes, they went down – but they only account for a small portion of our state power. It’s a factor of greed with unregulated utilities choosing to opt for profits over weatherizing their power sources. And our ex-governor Rick Perry says Texans would suffer for days rather than submit to federal authority. Hey Rick, do you have power at your house?

I lived in New England for thirty years and I know how to prepare for a winter storm. Most Texans don’t have a clue. You fill the car with gas, pick up prescriptions, and stock up on bottled water and shelf-ready foods such as peanut butter with a grocery store run two days before the storm is due. You get out the snow shovels and ice melt, do laundry, and run the dishwasher so that everything that can be clean IS clean – in case you lose power. You fill bathtubs with water, watch the Weather Channel for the forecast, and get off the road as soon as you can. It’s time to hunker down – and to stay there until officials tell you it’s safe to be on the roads. I always brought work home, too, in case I wasn’t able to get out for a few days.

Maine did the best job of weather cleanup. They get lots of snow and know what to do with it, have plenty of trucks to plow and treat roads, and residents parked in lots off-street so plows could do their work. People are realistic about whether or not to drive. And people know how to prepare for a winter storm – they get lots of them, so they need to be practical so no one freaks out and wipes out the bread and milk sections of the store. Businesses mostly recognized that employees needed to travel safely and made closing/opening decisions accordingly.

Boston didn’t do as good a job as Maine. The roads were a lot worse, people didn’t pay attention to “no parking” rules, and public transporation on the T was often a mess. Universities (and there were many in Boston) almost never closed for weather because hey, the students lived on campus and who cared if the staff had problems getting in? But we had snow shovels and boots and knew how to plan, though the milk and bread sections did get empty.

New Haven was terrible for a place that saw a lot of winter. My town of Hamden was much better at plowing and treating roads; you could tell when you crossed the town line into New Haven because the roads were bad. Parking lots and sidewalks, theoretically treated, were a mess. But we rarely lost power, had lots of snow gear for ourselves and our vehicles (I had 3 shovels and many, many gloves and hats). We wiped out milk and bread and wine, too. But most of us, at least after one winter there, had basics in the pantry and closet and were ready.

People in Texas were not ready at all. They expected that things would warm up in a day or two and all would be back to normal. Ah, no. There was ice everywhere. Power was out at stores if you could even get to them. Medical equipment that depends on electricity failed, putting lives at risk. But no one could really prepare for days of no power, no heat, and no water. It was too damned cold – and it will happen again. The climate is changing and weather patterns are changing with it. I do not trust the Texas power infrastructure to put people’s lives over profits.

Consider StoryWorth

Looking for a gift idea? Consider StoryWorth.

Cost: $99/year (or less when they have a sale)

I gave a subscription to myself for Christmas. Once a week I get an email with a question to answer. They have over 300 questions so if I don’t like that one, I can choose another. I write about the topic and email it back, along with a photo or two. At the end of a year, my answers will be printed in a bound book. It’s a great way to save family stories in an easy to read format.

I have no husband, partner, or children. I’ve moved around for jobs in different parts of the country; no one went with me so no one knows the stories of my life there. But some day someone might be interested – a niece or great-nephew. And even if no one is ever interested, I’m glad to have a chance to get my stories, my history, my memories down while I can remember them.

I like to write and I like to let my mind wander about topics that I haven’t considered in a long time, such as how I got my first job and what were my favorite classes in college. For my genealogy friends, this is similar to #52Ancestors in that you get a different topic to write about each week, but you can do whatever you want with that topic. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done so far and wish I’d known about this earlier and could have given it to my dad (with me doing the typing). It’s not too late for you, though. Think about it!

I’m out of practice with cold

Emma watching birds

Texas is in the grip of a week of frigid temperatures with snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain. Which of course means huge problems with the electicity supply. People are losing power for days with temps in the single digits, while others have lost water, too, as water treatment plants shut down from cold or lack of power. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have kept my power throughout so far, though I’m expecting it to go any minute because, well, we lose power for no reason much of the time. This IS a big reason so it’s baffling – in a good way – that we’ve stayed plugged in and on.

It’s very cold. We’ve been advised to cut back electricity consumption and I’ve unplugged many “extra” things while keeping my blinds down on windows that have them. I’m extremely grateful that all my windows were replaced in the last 18 months with double-paned energy efficient windows that aren’t leaking cold air the way the old ones did. I’m wearing three pairs of socks, my warmest leggings and a sweater that I’m getting really sick of wearing. There are cute flannel sheets on the bed along with blankets and a quilt, so that’s toasty. And I’m using multiple throws wrapped around legs when sitting in one place.

I’m out of practice for this. Oh, I know how to prep for a storm and stocked up at the grocery store and Sam’s by noon on Saturday, got 4 bags of bird seed, and made sure I had plenty of cat food and litter. I didn’t need to go anywhere or do anything except stay inside and warm. But I have no snow boots or long puffy coat (it was finally too big to keep). No long underwear. No sheepskin slippers. There is no snow shovel or ice melt. I’m afraid to try to walk because I know there is ice under the snow. I manage to fall when there’s no reason to fall; this would guarantee I’d end up on my butt.

Because I knew this was coming, I brought work home on Friday and uploaded files to Dropbox so I could access what I needed. We cancelled church on Sunday because of icy conditions, and ended up closing the office for the full week. I’m going in to work on Saturday to do bulletins and PowerPoint slides, praying that there not be broken pipes or power problems when I get there.

We have been bird watching, the kitty girls and I. Ellie naturally wants to be out on the porch to do this even when it’s frigid. She is goofy. I can’t reach the bird feeder because of snow so am using a dust pan to help spread bird seed out the kitchen door, on the unscreened back porch, and in front by the dining room window. It’s a win-win since the birds are getting food and the cats can watch from the warmth of inside the house. We have so many birdies – little bitty sparrows, gold finches, red headed woodpeckers, big fat robins, brilliant scarlet cardinals, and cuddly bluebirds. And a bunch that I don’t know what they are but they’re hungry.

In today’s medical fun and games

I went to the doctor today about intermittent waves of weakness and pain in the upper right arm between shoulder and elbow but also up the neck into the scalp. No loss of motion or function, just sensation and pain. But not all the time. This started not long after my recent fall on the concrete floor of the garage. Hmmm, cause and effect? We think so.

With my comprehensive medical degree from WebMD, I had concluded it was a pinched nerve. The fact that I have pinched nerves in other places helped me reach this diagnosis. The doctor thought adding in a spinal x-ray might be helpful.

As you can maybe see in the grainy copy of a copy, my spine has lots of knobby little bone spurs and loss of cushioning between the vertebrae. This is not new and it looks like the rest of my spine, which explains the nerve burns for the lumbar area. And there are some black blobs, too.

The vertict is that the hard crash to the concrete floor jolted the spine and pinched a nerve. Yayy me for a good guess. There may also be a partial tear of the right bicept, but there’s not much we can do about that so we’re not going to test for it. If the weakness and pain continue or get worse, we’ll go for an MRI. But for now we’re just sticking with muscle relaxants, heat or ice, stretching, and massage.

In another medical update, I got my first Moderna Covid vaccine shot last Friday from NetHealth at Harvey Hall in Tyler. It was a very well oiled drive through process with many volunteers and great directions. I was very tired on Saturday and a little on Sunday but otherwise felt fine, and am to go back on February 26 for my second shot at a time TBD as we get closer. I would have taken either vaccine but really wanted Moderna because it was developed at Vanderbilt, my alma mater, with partial funding from Dolly Parton, who donated $1 million to help develop a vaccine. I love Dolly.

Last night I created a chart of 10 years worth of weight, BMI, and blood pressure rates. I went back to my Yale Patient Portal and dug through medical records to get some of that, adding more from the UT Health records here, plus my Noom info. Oh, it’s not weekly by any means. But as I get smaller, I find myself wondering when I was this size last and what I looked like then. When I see pictures of myself, I have zero idea since I mostly just see fat. There are a few that I think look really bony and skinny and I don’t like how I look there.

I’ve been going to physical therapy for my knee which is actually helping other body parts as well because, well, they’re all connected. I feel safe at the gym and go in the afternoons when it’s not at all crowded. And I just bought a new pair of New Balance shoes which should arrive today. I’m pretty sure the ones I’m wearing are too long for me so keep your fingers crossed that these new ones will work. If not, Zappos does a great job with returns. But I’d rather have the shoes when I hit the gym today.