Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1985 - Summer of Hurricanes (paca)

First, the quick update on Flossie is that it is passing south of the Big Isle today and should pass south of Oahu tomorrow sometime. Afternoon or evening, I think. The prediction is that it will be far enough away to not be a huge concern. They are forecasting sustained winds of 25-30 mph with a few inches of rain here. Hopefully, this will be the correct forecast. Apparently 15 years ago a hurricane was supposed to pass south of us and then at the last moment turned straight north and zapped Kaua'i and O'ahu**. But they all swear that isn't going to happen this time.

I should have known better than to travel to an island to live, because yours truly is in fact a hurricane magnet. They will literally follow me around the world. Picture if you will....

***Imagine me waving my arms here, going "doo boo doo, doo boo doo" to take you back in time***

It's 1985 and DuranDuran's The Reflex is playing in the background. A young lad of 11 is playing outside under the clothelines, white sheets blowing in a stiff breeze. The boy with crew cut hair spins round and round on a tire swing holding a paper airplane making it fly. "Zoom! G.I. Joe to the rescue! He swoops down and trains his guns on the evil Decepticons! But, oh no! Megatron hits G.I. Joe's plane which crashes to the ground! What will he do? Da dum da dumm!! It's the Thundercats to the rescue! Thundercats! Ho!"

But suddenly the boy notices large gray clouds out of the corner of his eye, passing slowly over the soybean fields, advancing towards the house! What could it be?

The boy dashes into the house, the white screen door slapping the doorframe hard behind him.

"Mama! Mama!"

"What is it, my little sweetpea?!"

"Mama, a hurricane's a'comin'."

(Notes: I have never in fact had a crew cut, a tire swing, or a clothesline at any house I lived in. I'm just pretending to do 80s nostalgia meets a Michael Bay movie.)

Mama grabs up her skirts and dashes to the window.

OK, I can't keep it up. The brief version is that in one summer I was hit with four hurricanes in four different states. First up, one comes through Louisiana where I grew up. Later, we go visit the grandparents in Houston and another hits it directly. Tired of all this Gulf Coast crap, I (and the llama) go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia. What happens there? Another hurricane. We were all moved from our tents to stay in the trailers of big rigs. Finally, I come up with a full-proof plan. I know! I'll leave the South and go to boarding school in New Jersey! How many hurricanes come up to New Jersey?! Apparently, at least one does, because Gloria heads right at me.

About halfway through this last paragraph, I realized I've told this story before. Oh well. It'll only get worse as I get older, so you all might as well get used to it.

"Smoochie, I'll eat anything!"***

**What the heck are all these apostrophes that paca keeps inserting into Hawaiian words, like Hawai'i and O'ahu?
That is an okina according to the Hawaiian term for the letter and is one of the consonants of the language. It's a glottal stop phonetically, which means that you constrict your vocal cords (the glottis) temporarily, preventing them from vibrating and from any sound coming out. They are a really common consonant in the languages of the world, just not so much in English, French, Spanish, etc. English actually has them, but they aren't consciously heard. The most common way to say the word "cotton" naturally and quickly, not carefully and slowly, replaces the [t] sound in the middle with a brief glottal stop. Also, if you are trying to say words that begin with vowels in a hyperarticulate manner, an English speaker will often add a glottal stop at the beginning to make the vowel burst out and be very separate from whatever is before it. And, yes, I am supposed to be the teaching assistant for Articulatory Phonetics here starting just next week.

*** I'll explain "Smoochie, I'll eat anything!" at a later time, mostly when I get bored doing real work.


December/Stacia said...

Well that does beat me. I managed to get hit by four of them in one summer, too, but they didn't follow me anywhere. I was just at home.

Glad it looks like the danger's passed (fingers crossed)--I saw the headline this morning that it's been downgraded to a tropical storm, so that's good news too.

writtenwyrdd said...

Iwa, 1982. I was on Oahu. What a mess!