Soil and Water Don’t Mix (Most of the Time)

Dirt matters. A lot.

In comments about my post about the Harris County problem, Luke pointed out that I’d not really looked at the soil profile under Houston and its neighbors and upstream watershed. That’s in part because I wanted to compress a lot of data into a small post, and because I’m just not familiar with all the details of the soils in that part of the state. Sand or clay, loam, caleche, all respond differently based on the physics and chemistry of the soil and its component parts. I’m not a soils expert, and I’m not a construction engineer. So this is a sort of Dirt and Water 101: The quick and dirty version. Continue reading


How Floods Work: Harris County Edition

Welcome, Instapundit readers! Thanks for stopping by, and please be sure to read the comments. There are some excellent updates and additional information and observations from readers.

A lot of hand-wringing and second-guessing now and for the foreseeable future focuses on how a city as big as Houston (and the surrounding areas) could “be allowed” to flood. Setting aside the little problem of humans’ inability to steer storms and rain to or from desired locations, what we’re seeing is a combination of hydrology, urban development, and “excess” precipitation. And it is rather predictable that when you have certain combinations of the above, you get “flooding.” Flooding in this case means water in places where it is not desired, in sufficient quantities to cause damage and to endanger human and animal life. You see, Texas drains into Houston and Brownsville. Continue reading

The Playa Strikes Back

The playa that I drive past to and from the school now has water in it. So does every low spot, ditch, gutter, and grass-stem, as best I can tell. We’re bordering on 20 days in a row with rain or very heavy fog/drizzle. The good news is that it feels more like mid-September than late August. The not so good news is it also feels like July in Houston when you poke your nose out the door or open the window. And with moisture comes . . . mosquitoes. Continue reading

Political Vampires

There’s a joke that the word politics comes from the Greek ‘Poly” meaning many and “ticks” meaning blood-sucking insect. I’m not inclined to argue etymology—or entomology—but after watching part of a documentary about the Voyager program, I realized that political activists have sucked the joy out of a whole lot of places, including science, and planetary exploration. Instead of rejoicing over new discoveries and amazing accomplishments, the only thing on the news is division, accusation, and the infamous Shirt-storm. What in the name of little green apples happened? Continue reading

Flower Power! (OK, and potting soil, and rain power too)

So, you may recall that I gave in and brought home two pots of scraggly, desiccated miniature roses. I potted them up in decent soil, added water, and have been ignoring them, except to move them under cover when hail threatened.

The lavender colored ones had all died, so I got a red and white stripe and a purple. The purple turned out to be pink.

They just followed me home, Mom. Really!

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Signal Boost: The King’s Champion

Peter Grant’s fantasy novel, The King’s Champion, is live on Amazon.

I was allowed to read an advanced draft, and it is good!

An old, semi-retired soldier on his way back from visiting an older friend discovers that long-banished trouble has spilled over the border (and it kills his dog. Big, big mistake). The king is weak, unable to keep peace among the barons, even as hard danger marches closer.

But old men are dangerous men, and cunning. The King’s Champion girds himself for battle once more, and woe betide those who think that age is weakness.

History Always Roars Back

Many, many times in human history, someone—monarch, scholar, dictator, judge—attempts to erase the past, either in toto or to remove individuals, or people’s tribal histories. Thus far, each attempt appears to have failed. Yes, I know, if one had succeeded, we’d never know, because we’d never know what had existed that got erased. But when you look at the last 1000 years or so, we see multiple attempts to erase events and individuals, and they do not succeed. Something always lingers, and often it comes roaring back, especially over the last 200 years. Continue reading

Warm, Dark Music

Last Friday my mind was in an odd place, given that the liturgical season is well away from the nativity. Today is the Feast of the Assumption, or Dormition*, when according to tradition the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Yes, she died, but, eh, it’s complicated. There are some doctrines of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches that even I hesitate to comment on because of the depths of my ignorance, despite having read a great deal about them. But anyway… Continue reading

If I won the Lottery . . .

A friend of the family gave me a Powerball™ ticket. I’m writing on Friday, the drawing is Saturday. So I have 36 hours to wonder what I would do if I won the lottery.

  1. Get a few things off my Amazon Wish List. And some jewelry I’ve been eyeing, if it has not been sold yet. That accounts for about $1000, total. And maybe that white Edwardian dress, so $1400.
  2. Pay off some things, like my teeth and my pick-up, and help the folks with the new kitchen stuff we need. And with that other house thing that really needs to be done, but that is not an urgent fix. And help Sib and Sib-in-Law with some tweaks on their house.
  3. Give something to the Day Job’s endowment, but anonymously, and not a huge amount.
  4. Give some to various charities, like the Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, and a few other places that I know and trust.

Continue reading