The Texas City Disaster . . .

Not much new at work today,mostly just looking at some YouTube videos on different WordPress themes. When I finally move our two company websites from our in-house server up to Godaddy, I want to change the WP theme to something new, and a little easier to support.

I did get some use of my Duolingo Spanish lessons when we had a order from Zaragoza, Spain. We needed some clarification on the order so I gave it a shot. And I guess it worked because I got an answer back that I could also read.

I did have to be careful, because Spain Spanish is different from Mexican Spanish is different from South American Spanish. And South American Spanish is what I’m most familiar with.

Even the address can be strange. In Columbia, South America, where I lived, 3rd floor would be translated as ‘3er Piso’, or ‘Piso 3’. But in Spain, 3rd Floor is 3°.

Yes that’s a degree sign. It actually stands for the ‘o’ in ‘piso’ or ‘floor’. And since many apartment buildings don’t have number on the doors, you can also see an address like 3°, 5a. This means ‘3rd floor, 5th door’, with the ‘a’ coming from the word ‘puerta’, the Spanish word for ‘door’.

The other problem is getting the USPS online shipping software to take these strange addresses and print out a shipping label. But we finally got the package on its way.

When we moved to Texas and Houston in Dec. 1978, we very quickly heard about the 1947 Texas City Disaster.

On April 16th, 1947, 71 years ago today, the SS Grandcamp, tied up in the Texas City Harbor and loaded with 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and exploded, it sent a 15’ wave of water for 100 miles,  leveled over 1,000 buildings, destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant, and 1000’s of cars.

Texas City Explosion 1

Then 15 hours later the nearby cargo ship High Flyer, also loaded with ammonium nitrate, exploded, killing many of the police, firefighters, medical personnel , and even sightseers, who had rushed in the area.

Officially 567 people were killed, with 63 never identified.

Texas City Explosion 2

Additionally 113 people were listed as missing, since no body parts were every found. And it is speculated that there might be 100’s of other dead, visiting seamen and their families, travelers, etc.

On a more personal note, 27 of the 28 members of the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department were killed.

So imagine how Jan felt when years later our son Chris announced that he had just been hired as a Texas City Fireman.

Tomorrow Jan and I are heading up to Baytown for a consulting gig. A friend of a friend has an access gate that is controlled by a WiFi/Internet phone app. But it doesn’t work. In fact it seems it’s never worked right.

I’ve done some research, including downloading the manual, and I’ve got some starting ideas on what the problem is, or at least one of them. I suspect that this might be one of those cases where it’s a two-part problem. So we’ll have to see.

Thought for the Day:

I’m always profoundly disappointed when a liar’s pants don’t actually catch on fire.



A Great Trip, But The Homecoming, Not So Much . . .

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We both slept late this morning, probably because it was so cold, and the bed was so warm with our heated mattress pad. And even after we got up it was slow going, but finally about noon we started getting ready for our afternoon drive.

I guess we weren’t as out of practice as we thought after our 5 month sojourn here at Petticoat Junction because we were pulling out about 5 minutes after 1.  But we didn’t get far. Not even out of the park.

I noticed that my Delorme Street Atlas program was not getting a signal from the GPS antenna. Now my normal remedy for this is to unplug the USB connector and then plug it back in, but when I did this I got the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).


This is what shows up when Windows runs into an error that it absolutely can’t handle, throw up its hands, and says “I’m out of here.”

So I pulled over to the side and spent about 10 minutes rebooting several times, all with the same result. So finally I just set up my Silverleaf Engine Monitor Display and did without the GPS program.

Normally I have a display like this on the laptop that sits to my right.

Silverleaf 2

It gives me both audio and video route information, as well as expanded info on the rig and the engine. But now I’ll just have the computer display.

We finally left the park about 1:20 and got out on Hwy 6 south for about 10 miles until we crossed under I-45 and onto the feeder and headed back north. We did miss the first turn to get on the feeder, but apparently a lot of people do because it comes up so fast on a blind curve. But they have a handy-dandy U-turn right down the road for people just like us.

We then had a 12 mile run at Interstate speeds up the FM517 exit at Dickinson. From here we had planned to turn left and take 517 all the way up to Alvin and then back down Hwy 6 to Santa Fe and the park.

But we had done 30 miles with absolutely no problems so we decided to just turn onto FM646 and make a straight run home.

Getting parked back in our site I quickly discovered that we had no power at the pedestal. And it seemed like the problem might be in the breaker. When you turned it on, it didn’t make that sharp ‘clunk’ that you expect, but just a dull ‘snap’.

Now when a breaker really goes bad it has a spongy feel, but this one didn’t. But it just felt funny.

I texted the park owner about 3:15 who said he would be there shortly. But his definition of ‘shortly’ must be different than mine because he didn’t show up until about 6:30, 3 hours later.

He seemed pretty skeptical that a breaker that worked fine this morning would just die. But after measuring the voltage at the receptacle 2 or 3 times and the taking the cover off, he finally admitted it was a bad breaker. And luckily he had a spare, so we did have to wait until tomorrow for him to pick one up. So about 7pm we finally had power.

Lucky for us was that fact that the temp never made it about 65° today so we were comfortably waiting without needing to run the generator for the AC’s.

Finishing up, our test drive, the purpose of all this today, went off without a hitch, with the rig running fine. So we’re all set for our Illinois/Alabama trip in June. The only other prep thing is to have the RV Mobile Lube guy come out in May to change out all the filters and fluids on the rig and generator and we’ll be good to go.

Thought for the Day:

We should start referring to ‘Age’ as ‘Levels’. So when you’re LVL 80 it sounds more badass than just being old.


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