Daily Update: Monday, November 30th, 2015

Andrew and 11-30 - Hurricane Season Ends

Today is the Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle (died mid- to late 1st century), and today is the last day of the annual six-month Hurricane Season.

Today’s Saint was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, and a fisherman like his brother. The Synoptic Gospels state that Jesus called Andrew and Peter from their boats to be fishers of men; the Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus, and that Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah and hastened to introduce him to his brother. In the gospels Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus. Legend holds that he preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, and along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kiev. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross”, supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been (though of course, the privilege of choosing one’s own method of execution is a rare privilege, indeed). He is the Patron Saint of fishermen, and rope-makers, and of the countries of Scotland, Barbados, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus, and Romania. And today is the last day of the annual six-month Hurricane Season. The most active season was 2005, during which 28 tropical cyclones formed, of which a record 15 became hurricanes (including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita). The least active season was the 1914 season, with only one known tropical cyclone developing during that year.Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, NOAA predicted the following ranges for 2015: six to eleven named storms, three to six hurricanes, and zero to two major hurricanes, indicating that activity would exceed the seasonal average of twelve named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. We actually had eleven named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Ana jumped the gun, forming on May 6th, making it the earliest storm to strike the United States. Hurricane Joaquin was the strongest storm, nearly reaching Category 5 status at one point. In SouthWestCentral Louisiana, we got the most weather from Hurricane Patricia, which was a Pacific cyclone.  This season is, again, a vivid reminder of what is always said at the beginning of each season; it does not matter what the forecast numbers say. If the season is active and no storm hits you personally, you think it was a busy year. If the forecast is for a slow year, and one storm hits you personally, you think it has been a bad season. One should prepare for each hurricane season the same way, no matter what the long-term forecast may be.

Last night Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Novena to the Immaculate Conception. Once at work I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions. When we clocked in, Richard was on Three Card Poker, while I was on Mini Baccarat. On my breaks I continued addressing Christmas Cards.

After work I picked up my prescriptions at the Pharmacy. On our way home I started reading the November 16th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine.  We stopped at Wal-Mart, where I made five more copies of my Christmas 2015 photo. (The FujiFilm Kiosk app works great with the Wal-Mart Instant Photo kiosk.) Richard meanwhile got cat food. When we got home, I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad, then took a nap. I watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and Richard went to bed. Michelle showed up momentarily to get her mail, then left again, and I lit my Advent Candle. In the College Basketball Polls our LSU Men’s and LSU Women’s teams are both unranked. And in a few minutes our LSU Men’s Basketball team will be playing an away game in Charleston; I will report the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor; instead we will note that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, an initiative begun in 2012 for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in response to increasing commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. I will set the alarm for half-an-hour early, and we will go to the casino and sign the Early Out list. On my breaks at work I will finish addressing Christmas Cards. If we get out early, once home I will take a nap, then I will go through my books and my closet to see what I can take over to the Thrift Store. And our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing a home game with Texas Southern, and our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon comes to us from Evel Knievel, American motorcycle daredevil and entertainer. Born as Robert Craig Knievel in 1938 in Butte, Montana, he was raised by his paternal grandparents after his parents’ divorce. At the age of eight, he attended a Joie Chitwood Auto Daredevil Show, to which he gave credit for his later career choice to become a motorcycle daredevil. He ended high school after his sophomore year and got a job in the copper mines with the Anaconda Mining Company as a diamond drill operator. He was then promoted to surface duty where he drove a large earth mover. He was dismissed when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into Butte’s main power line; the incident left the city without electricity for several hours. Idle, Knievel began to find himself in more and more trouble around Butte. Always looking for new thrills and challenges, he participated in local professional rodeos and ski jumping events, including winning the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men’s ski jumping championship in 1959. During the late 1950s he joined the United States Army; his athletic ability allowed him to join the track team where he was a pole vaulter. After his army stint, Knievel returned to Butte where he met and married his first wife, and after the birth of his first son, he realized that he needed to come up with a new way to support his family financially. Using the hunting and fishing skills his grandfather had taught him, he started the Sur-Kill Guide Service. He guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee, they would get the big game animal they wanted or he would refund their money. Business was very good until game wardens realized that Knievel was taking his clients into Yellowstone National Park to find prey. The Park Service ordered him to cease and desist this poaching. In response Knievel, who was learning about the culling of elk in Yellowstone, decided to hitchhike from Butte to Washington, D.C. in December 1961 to raise awareness and to have the elk relocated to areas where hunting was permitted. After his conspicuous trek (he hitchhiked with a 54-inch wide rack of elk antlers and a petition with 3,000 signatures), he presented his case to Representative Arnold Olsen, Senator Mike Mansfield and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. As a result of his efforts, the culling was stopped, and the animals have since been regularly captured and relocated to areas of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. After returning home from Washington he decided to stop committing crime. He joined the motocross circuit and had moderate success, but he still couldn’t make enough money to support his family. During 1962 Knievel broke his collarbone and shoulder in a motocross accident. The doctors said he couldn’t race for at least six months, so to help support his family he switched careers and sold insurance for the Combined Insurance Company of America. He was successful as an insurance salesman (even selling insurance policies to several institutionalized mental patients) and wanted recognition for his efforts; when the company refused to promote him to vice-president after a few months on the job he quit. Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington. There, he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted motocross racing. Despite his best efforts the store eventually closed. Still trying to support his family, he recalled the Joie Chitwood show he saw as a boy and decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a twenty-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and having his back wheel hit the box containing the rattlesnakes, he managed to land safely. He started traveling from small town to small town as a solo act. To get ahead of other motorcycle stunt people who were jumping animals or pools of water, Knievel started jumping cars. He began adding more and more cars to his jumps when he would return to the same venue in order to get people to come out and see him again. With each successful jump, the public wanted him to jump one more car. On May 30, 1967, he successfully cleared sixteen cars in Gardena, California. Then he attempted the same jump on July 28, 1967, in Graham, Washington, where he had his next serious crash. Knievel finally received some national exposure when actor Joey Bishop had him on as a guest of The Joey Bishop Show. While in Las Vegas, to watch Dick Tiger successfully defend his WBA and WBC light heavyweight titles at the Las Vegas Convention Center on November 17, 1967, Knievel first saw the fountains at Caesars Palace and decided to jump them. He used his own money to have actor/director John Derek produce a film of the Caesars’ jump. To keep costs low, Derek used his then-wife Linda Evans as one of the camera operators; it was Evans who filmed Knievel’s famous landing. As a result of the crash he suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in a coma for 29 days. After his crash and recovery Knievel was more famous than ever. Ironically, when he finally achieved the fame and possible fortune that he always wanted, his doctors were telling him that he might never walk without the aid of crutches, let alone ride and jump motorcycles. To keep his name in the news, Knievel started describing his biggest stunt ever, a motorcycle jump across the Grand Canyon, but by 1971, he realized that the United States government would never allow him to perform the stunt. To keep his fans interested, Knievel considered several other stunts that might match the publicity that would have been generated by jumping the canyon. The launch at Snake River Canyon was on September 8, 1974, at 3:36 p.m. MDT. The deployed chute caused enough drag that even though the skycycle made it all the way across the canyon to the north rim, the prevailing winds caused it to drift back south into the canyon. By the time it hit the bottom of the canyon, it landed only a few feet from the water on the same side of the canyon it had been launched from; if he had landed in the water he would have drowned due to a jumpsuit/harness malfunction which kept him strapped in the vehicle. Knievel survived the jump with only minor injuries. After the Snake River jump, he returned to motorcycle jumping with ABC Wide World of Sports televising several jumps. After a failed shark jump, he retired from major performances and limited his appearances to smaller venues to help launch the career of his son, Robbie Knievel. His last stunt show, which did not include a jump, took place in March 1980 in Puerto Rico. However, Knievel would officially finish his career as a daredevil as a touring “companion” of his son, Robbie, limiting his performance to speaking only, rather than stunt riding. His last appearance with Robbie (on tour) was in March 1981 in Hollywood, Florida. During the 1980s, he would drive around the country in a recreational vehicle selling works of art allegedly painted by him. After several years of obscurity, Knievel made a significant marketing comeback in the 1990s, representing Maxim Casino, Little Caesar’s, Harley-Davidson, and other firms. In 1993 he was diagnosed with hepatitis C, apparently contracted during one of his many reconstructive surgeries. He needed a liver transplant in 1999 as a result of the condition. In 1999, Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. On October 9, 2005, he promoted his last public “motorcycle ride” at the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson dealership to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although he was originally scheduled to lead a benefit ride through Milwaukee, Knievel never rode the motorcycle because he had suffered a mild (non-debilitating) stroke prior to the appearance and limited his visit to a signing session (died 2007): “I guess I thought I was Elvis Presley but I’ll tell ya something. All Elvis did was stand on a stage and play a guitar. He never fell off on that pavement at no 80 mph.”

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