Happy Mole Day!

A rerun, yes. But still…

The author before caffeine.

The author before caffeine.

Oops! Wrong mole!

This mole.

This mole.

Double pun for the win!

Double pun for the win!

Happy Mole Day!


The Beauty of Industry

The folks in the van had been on the road far too long, driving to Baton Rouge for a meeting. The midnight hour was a lot closer than I cared to contemplate, and even with four drivers, it had been a really, really long day. Really long. So it was with great relief that the sign for Baton Rouge appeared beside the road.

We emerged from the trees and buildings and beheld one of the oil refineries. It was beautiful.

Like this.

Continue reading

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

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

Orion and the Fog

Sunday night Redquarters got just over an inch of rain. Most of that within ten minutes as a massive, oh-my-heavens-paddle-faster squall line slammed into the city. It had already flattened the airport at Dalhart, and the fear was the 80 mph winds would hit Amarillo. With waterlogged ground and big trees… We were lucky. First came the frog-strangler, then the wind. And then the skies cleared. Continue reading

August ’17 Playa Report

I was away in June, and July was a “wee bit” busy writing. Plus the construction season is upon us, making getting to the playa of record a little bit of a pain. However, the road is more open, and the playa has gotten over two inches of rain in the last four days.

For those readers new to the blog since the last playa report, I’ve been informally chronicling a rainwater lake, or playa, for a year or so now. Playa lakes are a vital feature of the Llano Estacado and High Plains. No one knows how they formed, and some are tiny, while others cover almost a square mile. Many are “dry” and only get water from rain and snow, while a few have springs in them, or had them before the water table dropped. They are refuges for wildlife, migratory birds, and native plants, and are considered an endangered land form of the Great Plains. Developers think they are a pain in the patoot, home owners who discover that the developer put their houses in the bottom of a playa think they are [censored, censored censored], ranchers like then, and farmers tried to level them out, or converted them into tail water pits for irrigation. Continue reading