Banks County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 15, 2004


Column

By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
September 15, 2004

Hurricane season not too unusual
I can remember watching a movie once where the main character was discussing where he wanted to live. He discounted all of the central United States because of tornadoes, California because of earthquakes, the northeast because of snow storms and the south because of hurricanes. And I thought, listening to him and living in North Georgia my entire life, that hurricanes never adversely affected me nestled so far inland, but if he wanted to tell everyone that, it was fine with me; perhaps his negative advertising would solve some of the transportation problems in Atlanta and the overcrowding at my school lunch table.
But I am ready to admit I was wrong, hurricanes can and do affect inland Georgia and Ivan may do serious damage. But is this really an unusually active hurricane season? And, even more perplexing, why would meteorologists suggest naming a hurricane after a Russian czar who was dubbed “terrible” by his own subjects because he was so vicious?
There were 19 named Atlantic storms in 1995—only four of them hit Florida. That was an active year, but Florida didn’t feel the brunt of it. Now she is. Meteorologists believe the law of averages is catching up to the Sunshine State since she has been largely hurricane-free, facing two hurricanes in 1999 and 2000 and one storm each in the last three years.
National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield went so far as to say that the only thing unusual is the number of years Florida went without being plagued by hurricanes. Hurricane probabilities, published by world meteorologists suggest that Florida will be hit by 118.6 hurricanes in a century, 38.7 of them being major hurricanes. This year, the season started with Tropical Storm Bonnie with Hurricane Charley in her wake, then, three weeks later, Hurricane Frances made landfall and now, a week and a half later, Ivan is barreling toward Florida’s panhandle as a Category 5 hurricane. There is something about a hurricane that just begs for a name. It lives for weeks in the warm tropical waters, often seeming to take on a personality that is suited to their name.
Tropical cyclones, of which hurricanes are one, are the only weather phenomenon to be named. Hurricanes occur only in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Cyclones are the Asian cousins of the hurricane, occurring only in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. A storm is only named when it reaches tropical storm strength with winds of 39 mph and becomes a hurricane or typhoon when it reaches 74 mph.
But hurricanes haven’t always had names ascribed to them. Before 1950, hurricane forecasters used the hurricane’s location to refer to it, but the location was always changing and reporting on hurricanes became very confusing for the forecasters and the public. Because of this, in 1950, forecasters began naming the hurricanes using the international phonetic alphabet of the time: Able, Baker, Charlie and so on.
Three years later, English female names were substituted for the phonetic alphabet in a six year cycle where names were reused every six years as long as the name had not been retired. In 1979, the World Meteorological Organization decided to alternate men and women’s names and use French, Spanish and English names. That same year, Hurricanes David and Frederick (the second and third male-named hurricanes) did tremendous damage and the names were retired (my point in this is that the men got off to a very rough start). The first male name used, Bob (1979, 1985, 1991), was retired in 1991 after it wrecked New England. A regional committee selects the new names to replace those that have been retired. Ivan “The Terrible” will surely be retired after this year with more than 60 deaths already reported. I’d like to suggest that perhaps hated and power hungry diplomats not make the list in the future. It seems to be just asking for a hurricane to live up to the reputation of its name.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column

By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
September 15, 2004

Grandparents, and those like them
Did you know that this is the week to celebrate grandparents? It began on Sunday, September 12, with the official National Grandparents Day. (I noticed this because Maysville Elementary School has an article inviting grandparents to breakfast all week.)
While I don’t really think it’s the best idea to set aside a day to “consumerize” special people and events, as our capitalist culture is wont to do, it’s never a bad idea at any time to acknowledge the importance people with experience and knowledge, skills and good advice, caring and love and simply an abundance of life history have for you.
Grandparents, for example, or those who have been like grandparents or parents or mentors in your life. Age doesn’t have to be a factor nor, really, does biology. If you have a family member who falls into that category, count yourself lucky. If there is someone else in your life who fits the description, again, congratulations.
My grandmother’s church held homecoming on Sunday. If you think that’s not the place to sample some life skills, you haven’t tried out the long table’s worth of food, from barbecue to biscuits, deviled eggs to fried okra, chocolate cake to pecan pie. Wash it down with sweet tea and you can barely stand, much less move.
I’ve written about this before, the sitting down among the gravestones of the church cemetery, perpetuating the early September ritual of an old church in the Center community. Life and death and a plateful of food.
But it is something to think about – those rituals, those stories, those recipes, plus the more tangible bits of family history like the homeplace, the piece of furniture with special meaning, the photo that is passed down through the generations. They help to shape us, whether we realize it at the time of our “growing up” or not.
There comes a point when you find you are viewing your parents, your grandparents, your family as individuals and people with their own histories and stories, rather than solely in their capacity as “Grandmother” or “Papa” within the realm of your existence. You may never really know them, any more than you “really know” anybody, but it’s interesting to catch glimpses here and there.
Do you know how your grandparents met? Do you know what your grandmother looked like as a girl — do you favor her? What did your grandfather hope to do in his lifetime? What did they do and where did they live before you? Who were they and who are they? What was important to them and why?
Even if it is too late to ask the questions, you may find that hints remain in the things left behind, whether the flowers planted long ago that still bloom every spring, the certain smile in an old photograph, the careful handwriting on a day’s work of canned goods, the everyday minutiae, the particulars that their friends and other family remember.
What traits did you inherit? What is it that you’d like to be remembered for?
It’s more than a day and a week, it’s life and lives and more lives intertwined and intermingled. But, because we may not often come out and say it, we can celebrate our grandparents, and those like them, this week.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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