August 21, 2008

August 21, 2008
Greetings and thanks for joining me for a day in my life.

The weather in my part of the country is the big news for today due to Tropical Storm Faye. While it appears to still be heading near Jacksonville, the experts no longer expect it to strengthen to hurricane status. So let us hope we have dodged the bullet again this time. Not all parts of Florida were as lucky. Emergency crews launched airboats into submerged streets to rescue central Florida residents trapped by rising floodwaters from a stalled Tropical Storm Fay, which soaked the state for a third consecutive day. The storm could dump 30 inches of rain in some areas of Florida and the National Hurricane Center said up to 22 inches had already fallen near Melbourne, just south of Cape Canaveral on the state's central Atlantic coast. Forecasters originally expected Fay to energize over the ocean and possibly become a hurricane before landing in Florida for the third time later this week. The erratic storm first struck Monday, then veered out to sea before traversing east across the state, briefly strengthening, then stalling. The storm barely moved for most of Wednesday, dumping inches and inches of rain over coastal central Florida. The storm was 30 miles north of Cape Canaveral at 5 pm today. Its maximum sustained winds were back up to about 50 mph and it was expected to resume slowly moving north later Wednesday at about 2 mph. So that's the latest update as I blog this entry during the early evening. I will update you as any changes happen. Thanks to all of you for your well wishes and emails.

It was a very low key day at home for me. It has been raining outside almost all day so my poor dogs are not real happy right now. Harley and Sugar especially hate getting wet. Sugar can be down right obstinate about going out in the rain. Since it will probably be raining for the next three days, the dogs will have to get over their hatred of the rain sooner or later. Either that or have kidney damage. I took a nap today after watching the 1pm update on Tropical Storm Fay. I didn't wake up until I heard Gary come through the door around 5pm. He had to leave work early since the city buses stopped running at 5pm today because of the storm.

In the world news today, a jetliner heading to the popular Canary Islands vacation resort crashed during takeoff Wednesday, turning a wooded area off the end of a runway into a hellish scene of charred bodies and smoldering wreckage. Some 153 were believed dead which makes the crash Spain's worst air disaster in nearly 25 years. Only 19 people survived the midafternoon crash of the Spanair MD-82 at Madrid's Barajas International Airport, and some were in critical condition, said Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez, whose department oversees civil aviation in Spain. The airline didn't release a death toll, but said the plane carried 172 crew members and passengers, including two babies and 20 youngsters. There was no word on how many children died. Rescuers rushed the few survivors to hospitals, while emergency workers shrouded the dead in white sheets. One body lay on burned grass, an arm and a leg poking out. Later, a long convoy of black hearses rolled onto the airport grounds to carry bodies to a makeshift morgue set up at Madrid's main convention center the facility used for relatives to identify bodies after the 2004 Islamic terror bombings that killed 191 people on Madrid commuter trains. A steady stream of hearses arrived at the morgue under police escort Wednesday night. Mourners went to a special waiting area, avoiding photographers and reporters. It was not immediately clear what went wrong. Alvarez said the jetliner had barely gotten airborne when it veered right, crashed and broke into pieces. Investigators ruled out foul play and considered the crash an accident after the plane's flight data recorders had been recovered. While preparing for a first takeoff attempt, the plane's pilot reported a breakdown in a gauge that measures temperature outside the plane. The gauge was fixed, delaying the departure. It was on the second takeoff attempt that the plane crashed. Spanair Flight JK5022 originated in Barcelona and was headed for the city of Las Palmas. It was a code-share with Flight LH255 of the German carrier Lufthansa. The crashed plane passed an inspection in January and no problems had been reported since then. The plane was 15 years old and has been owned by Spanair the past nine. The DC-9/MD-80 family of twin-engine, medium-range jets enjoyed wide popularity among the world's airlines in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. This is just another reminder to live every day to the fullest. We never know when our last day has arrived.

More new on a problems that affects all of us. American consumers should brace for the biggest increase in food prices in nearly 20 years in 2008 and even more pain next year due to surging meat and produce prices. Food prices are forecast to rise by 5 percent to 6 percent this year, making it the largest annual increase since 1990. Just last month, USDA forecast food prices would climb between 4.5 and 5.5 percent in 2008. Prices are expected to rise by 4 percent to 5 percent in 2009, lead by red meat and poultry. The forecast, if correct, would be the third straight year where food prices have surged at least 4 percent. In its latest food prices report, USDA said the increase for 2008 was due partly to higher costs for meat, poultry and fish, which make up about 12 percent of total food spending. Overall, costs for these items are forecast to rise 3 percent compared to 2.5 percent estimated last month. Prices for fruits and vegetables, which account for more than 8 percent of food spending, will also rise 5.5 percent versus 5 percent predicted in July. USDA also forecast increases this year of 9.5 percent for cereals and bakery products, a 14 percent surge for eggs and a 13.5 percent hike for fats and oils. A broad range of commodities posted record highs this year, including corn and soybeans. Prices have since backed off as concerns over smaller crops due to a wet spring in the U.S. Midwest have largely dissipated. The cost of energy used to transport, package and process foods is still boosting food prices, even though energy prices have dropped. Oil has slumped from a record high above $147 a barrel on July 11 to $115. Americans spend more than $1 trillion a year on groceries, snacks, carry-out food and meals in restaurants. Farmers get 20 cents of the food dollar and the rest goes to processing, labor, transportation and distribution. So while I hate to say it. We need to get ready to tighten our belts even more as prices of almost everything continues to rise. God help us all.

Well I will update you on our storm and do another blog entry tomorrow as long as we have electricity. There has been a warning from JEA (Jacksonville Electric Authority) that up to half the city could lose power. So stand by. I am sure everything will be okay.

I hope it is drier where you are. Have a great tomorrow.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab