Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Minimal Flooding

Great news!  Article say the downtown ended up getting only a few feet of water: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20110830/NJNEWS/308300020/Bound-Brook-crediting-flood-controls-minimizing-Irene-damage?odyssey=nav|head.

That is stunning.  Basically, we got another 500 year flood similar to Tropical Storm Floyd, and there was only a few feet of water.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Probably my last Hurricane Irene post

Tomorrow, I am going to work at the new job I just started last week.  So, this is my last Hurricane Irene post.

Listening to Somerset County and Central Jersey Public Safety Live Audio feed from www.radioreference.com.  It sounds like Bound Brook is using police boats and checking on various calls.  It also sounds like there are posts and checkpoints, which makes a lot of sense to prevent looters.  There is a 7PM curfew.  The boats are responding to a bunch of false alarms going off at various places in the downtown of Bound Brook.  I would imagine that water is setting off a lot of false alarms.  There is a water victim who is being transferred via ambulance from the lost valley to Manville High School.  Then, a helicopter is going to Medivac the person to Somerset Hospital.  Sounds like there is more activity in Manville.  But, I also hear a constant helicopter flying sound coming from downtown Bound Brook.

National Weather Service updated the crest to be 41.8 feet at 2AM tonight, just slightly under Tropical Storm Floyd.  Hoping that the flood levies combined with the pumps will at least reduce the level of flooding.

With gratitude to PSE&G, National Guard, Police, Fire, OEM, Maintenance Department, Red Cross, divers, pilots, Council, Mayor and anyone else for all their hard work over this weekend and to come.  Readers, keep your eyes on www.boundbrookoem.org for updates.

What was supposed to happen

These pictures are now out of date.  They were taken around noon today.  The levy breached.  I just got electricity back on the north side of town, or I would have posted them sooner.  These pictures are from prior to 2 PM today. I don't know any details of what is happening now and I can only conjecture based upon my past experience.

I was really excited to see the flood gate working and my heart is broken to hear about the breach.  It saddens me to think about all the people who are being forced from their homes by nature.  It breaks my heart to see the national guard have to go in there to protect from looters.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks to all the different individuals and organizations working together to protect, save lives, and take care of the flood victims.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reminiscing on Hurricane Floyd

Sitting here streaming The Weather Channel.  About 7 years ago, we moved from West Main Street on the south side of Bound Brook across the tracks to the north side of town.  We lived on West Main Street during Hurricane Floyd.  There's a Tornado Watch right now and the rain is pounding on the roof of the sun porch where I am sitting typing this.  I'm also listening to these gusts of wind increasing.  We miss the excitement of the south side of town.  I feel separated from the action.  Why did we move?  We wanted more space, and the homes on the south side of Bound Brook are mostly 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses.  And, we prayed about it and felt that the Lord wanted us to move closer to her family.

That was a great photo of the closing of the flood gate going from Bound Brook to South Bound Brook on the OEM blog.  They would not be closing that unless they believed that perhaps it could help the downtown.  Hopefully, with the new pumps working, the flooding can be a few feet lower than it otherwise would be.  Time will tell.  Two of the deaths during Hurricane Floydd in 1999 were in Bound Brook.  During Floydd, some homes actually flooded into their second floors and an elderly couple could not get out of their homes and they drowned.  Their daughter attended our parish.

Tonight, I filled my tub with water just in case.  There is a Tornado Watch in effect.  All kinds of things go on in our town like Bound Brook when a Hurricane like this comes.  During Floyd, we stayed... something just hit the roof, a small branch or something... we stayed through the flood... one and a half basements steps short of the first floor.  Yep, we had 6 feet of water in our basement.  Lesson learned: don't leave paint in the basement.  It was yucky cleanup, but others suffered so much more than we did.  It was vigilante justice that first night.  There we were on West Main Street and the first night, there was no military presence or police protection.  Some of my neighbors had guns and I'm glad they did, because there were looters and there was no other protection.  The next night, the military and the state police came in force.  We were caught by surprise and my wife and I were escorted out of the "Flood Zone" by the national guard in a Humvee.  If we refused, we would have been arrested.  The next day, we snuck back in along the river, walking through a lot of oily toxic sludge probably shortened out lives by 5 years doing that.  The downtime has at least 3 superfund sites nearby so when there is a flood, there is risk of toxic sludge mixing in with the flood waters.  Lots of memories which I wouldn't trade for the world.

The Office of Emergency Management is much more organized and efficient these days.  This time around, they initiated the curfew even before the flooding started.  We just got a reverse-911 recorded phone call warning us that as of 9PM tonight a curfew is now in effect.  I have a deep respect for the work done by all those volunteers and for how much more organized everything has become since Hurricane Floyd.  There will be lots of volunteers staffing make-shift Red Cross shelters in churches or schools.  The is almost always a fire somewhere due to a gas explosion during one of these Hurricanes in our town.  And, we have a great volunteer fire department which, in addition to putting out fires, drives around in the flood zone warning everyone of the impending flood and advising evacuation.  We have our council and mayor, making decisions and doing whatever needs to be done.  And, then, after the flood is over, during the recovery, they will take all kinds of flack from some residents who are going to wine and complain about everything.

During Hurricane Floyd in 1999, a few council members decided that this might be an opportunity to declare almost the whole flood zone a Redevelopment Area.  Among other things, they wanted to tear down West Main Street and replace our residential neighborhood with an office complex.  They were unsuccessful.  Many in the downtown feared a racist motive to remove our Latino contingent.  I was on the redevelopment advisory committee and I brought this concern to the committee.  I used the word "ethnic cleansing" which got a lot of white people in town upset with me.  In hindsight, I wish I had not used that word.  It was overly polemic.  On the other hand, if the concern was baseless, then I wonder why all those white people got so upset with me (disclaimer: I am a white person)?  Yet, there was eventually a DOJ settlement over that whole thing and the borough had to hire a Spanish speaking employee to help act as a liaison.  You would thing we would learn a thing or two.  Unfortunately, today's reverse-911 phone calls were all completely in English with no option for Spanish.  I hope all those Latino businesses on main street were warned that there could be 8 feet of water in their stores tomorrow.

When the flood waters went up in '99, there was a dog who was stuck in the basement across the street from us.  A neighbor went down and set him free from his leash so he could escape.  That dog knew that she saved his life.  Our part of West Main Street literally became an Island.  And, as the waters receded, that same neighbor decided to leave our Island on a rescue boat.  The dog tried to swim after her.  He loved her for saving his life.  We got to know our neighbors so well.  There is nothing like a flood to make you grow close to your neighbors.  My heart goes out to the good people who live in my old stomping grounds.

6 to 7 Feet Predicted in parts of downtown Bound Brook

National Weather Service has revised its water level estimates for Raritan River.  They are predicting a 37.5 foot crest, which implies 6 to 7 feet of water in the downtown around 8:45PM Sunday evening, which is the estimated crest.

National Weather Service predicting Flood conditions for Bound Brook

Oh no, hear we go again.  Right now, national weather service is predicting a crest of AT LEAST 34.8 feet at the Raritan River. Downtown floods around 30.5 or 31.5 feet (I'm trying to remember exactly, anyone feel free to e-mail me to correct me).  So, its preducted to be at least 3 or 4 feet of water in down town as of 7PM on Sunday.  I write "AT LEAST", because the chart hasn't flattened out.  I guess they only try to preduct 36 hours in advance.

Bound Brook residents should keep an eye on the blog at http://www.boundbrookoem.org/ for local updates.  Bound Brook OEM is reporting that Somerset County will be closing the flood gates at 6PM today.  The flood control project here is Bound Brook is so close to being completed, but it is not completed.  So, at the very last, from my own limited understanding, there is no gate over the tracks leaving Bound Brook going toward Bridgewater.  So, water can get in there essentially limiting the effectiveness of the flood control for this hurricane.

My heart goes out to everyone affected.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Job and www.Mild.Net is now in MVC 3!

I am really exciting to be starting Monday a new contracting opportunity which will soon convert to full-time employment.  Presently, I am contractually bound as an employee of Robert Half Technology not to disclose the client.  However, once I convert from contractor to employee, I hope to share exciting details about the company where I start Monday.

I am hoping to get a chance to do some MVC work at this new company.  And, to celebrate this, I have already started my foray into this new (actually, it's really old) technology.  I have been pouring over the MVC videos over at www.tekpub.com, where I have purchased an annual subscription.  I highly recommend them.  You can check out some of their videos for free.

And, I have re-written my flagship website, www.Mild.Net completely in MVC!  If I have some time, I hope to share two of the hurdles I had to overcome to make this work.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Infragistics, XAML, jQuery and a job offer

Finished reading Eloquent Javascript and I also read CLR via C#, which I recommend highly to all C# developers.  A lot of job interviews and recruiter calls come and go.  But, I want to memorialize one in particular.

Todd Snyder from Infragistics e-mailed me and invited me to apply for a consultant position over there.  Infragistics is a .NET UI custom control vendor and they have a consulting group which travels all over the place helping customers to implement great front-ends with the Infragistics toolset.  I was nervous about the 50% travel part, but it was a unique opportunity to possibly work with bleeding edge developers and meet fascinating people in my travels.  I was excited about the opportunity.  They asked me up front about my salary requirements which I communicated to them.  After that, I had 3 phone interviews and an onsite interview, followed by a job offer -- more than 25% below my salary requirement,  because, they said, I don't know XAML.  So, I was talking to my nephew who works at Microsoft and I said to him, "How long would it take me to learn XAML?"  And he said that when he was a teaching assistant at Brown University, he covered it in about 3 hours.  Anyway, I went back to Infragistics and tried to work out an agreement that once I learned XAML, could I get an earlier review and a bump in salary at that point?  They refused to consider this.  So, on Wednesday, I declined the offer.

I was very sad for the past two days, constantly second guessing myself, questioning the opportunities I might have passed up.  It was a big decision and there was a lot in balance.  On the positive side, it was an opportunity for great growth professionally and personally, working with smart individuals who are passionate about their code.  I really enjoyed the tech interview with Todd and I would have loved to have worked with him.  On the negative side, I would be away from my family much longer than ever before and they tried to low-ball me on the salary.  And the reason?  That I didn't know XAML?  That cannot be the true reason.

So, I said to my nephew, "Benjamin, do you think its worth learning XAML?"  And he said to me exactly what I was thinking, "Nah, I think you'd do better investing in MVC."  Hmmm, yeah....  Infragistics is heavily invested in Silverlight and XAML.  They made a bet on that technology alongside Microsoft and, if Infragistics is wrong, Infragistics is going to have to do a lot of catch up, because their MVC and jQuery toolset is very limited at this point.  These are reasons I tell myself that I made the right decision.

A job description came into my inbox yesterday.  The job was in NYC, but the description captured my eye.  It said "searching for a senior-level front end web developer with extensive experience coding in Javascript, with a focus on using data-driven plugins from the jQuery library."  It called for "mastery of front-end web development in HTML and CSS, with a strong knowledge of Javascript coding and use of the jQuery library to interface with web services and implement large data retrieval and display capabilities."  Ahh, yes. A front-end that consumes web services via JSON using jQuery.  The future is here.  I said I was interested, if only they would consider a 50/50 onsite / work from home scenario.  Never heard back.

In honor of that job description, I am announcing that I have rewritten the part of my www.Mild.net homepage that displays the 5 latest blog summaries.  I threw out the server-side ListView that was populating my blog posts and I replaced it with a jQuery.ajax call to blogger via JSON populating the webpage via Microsoft's templating contribution to jQuery.  So, I am now consuming this blog on my homepage completely on the client-side.  I have made lemonade out of lemons.  Three cheers for jQuery and AJAX.  Hip, Hip, Horray!

And, on the job front, there are still four irons in the fire.  Hopefully, one of them will pan out and I will announce when I have some news to share.  Until then, back to the membership provider project.  Or maybe, I will take a side trip, and rewrite www.Mild.Net using MVC.