Melanie, Colby, & Taylor Move-In
Dear Family and Friends,
Welcome to this week's "Thoughtlet."
These words are my personal diary and a weekly review of ideas,
beliefs, thoughts, or words that will hopefully be of some
benefit to you: my children, my family, and my friends.
Not finished yet
"On Monday morning Carlos and I drove into work at 6:30, as if it
were a regular day. Traffic was sparse. The office was very
quiet. It took me until about 9:00 to get my office unwrapped
from the plastic (as shown below) and put back together. There
were problems getting the computers back on-line, and it was
afternoon before we had access to the network, databases, and
other things which are essential to most of the work at GDC.
Tuesday Lee Bell was taking about a bad case of diarrhea when on
a recent trip to Mexico. I told him I had a real bad case in
Utah, the night Melanie and Jared and Colby and Taylor had to
evacuate Vidor, and I had could not sleep and was up all night
running to the toilet. Lee responded without loosing a beat,
`Well, after all Utah is just another third world country!'
Because we took the computer to Austin with us, it was down
for about a week. This was the first time in over a decade
that Walden 3-D, Inc. has been down and off-line for this long.
Oh well! It looks like we lost any e-mails sent during the
Thursday to Thursday week the computer was down. Marc Roulston
was busy, and I did not want to try and figure out which cables
went to which boxes. He was able to come over Wednesday after
work. The first e-mail was from Melanie on Tuesday, and I
first read it Thursday morning:
`WOW! What a week. As most of you know, the eye of Hurricane
Rita went straight through our town of Vidor, TX & affected
so much of the area around us. I thought I'd share our story
and send some pictures of damage. I'm very sorry - those of
you who are from Vidor - these pictures are mostly of the
damage to our properties. However, if you have not yet heard
about your property, you can call the church because they
have done assessments of all of the members of the church &
can tell you how things look on your property.
OK, we woke up Thursday morning to a mandatory evacuation
for Orange County because the storm had slightly turned more
north. We packed our house up as quick as possible and left
with Jared's family, his two grandmothers, and some cousins
to Many, Louisiana. Several members from our stake were
there at the LDS Chapel and we were going to be staying
there. It took us 12 hours to travel about 150 miles. It
was grueling because we didn't run the air while we were
idle (which was most of the time) - but considering we had
two babies and two 80 year old women... it could have been
a whole lot worse.
We arrived in Many about 1:30 in the morning and immediately
went to sleep in a room at the church - wall to wall with our
group. Friday was spent in anticipation of the storm. There
were about 100 people with us in this little chapel, so there
was cleaning and cooking and preparing for no water, electricity,
etc. that we were doing. It was really a remarkable experience
because we all combined our resources and came together - as
many do in times like this. Someone had brought a laptop
which gave us access to most of our information. Those from
southeast Texas know that all of the information leading up to
the storm was hard to listen to... the unexpected when it
potentially could change your entire life, goals, income, home,
etc. is just almost unbearable. Yet, as hard as it is to
listen to, you are glued to every word or tidbit you can find.
We had a few 'crazies' as we called them in our group - who
enjoyed exaggerating anything negative they heard, or didn't
hear, to truth. For example, it was going around that officials
were saying, "If you haven't left by now... you need to write
your social security number on your arm so that they can identify
your body" and other things like that.
Anyway, we went to bed fairly early that night. I woke up about
1:30 to this howling noise. I was asleep in the chapel and the
wind sounded like children screaming - it was unbearable to
listen to and I just could not go back to sleep. I went out
into the foyer and slowly others began to join me. As we sat
there - we saw the skirting from a temporary building out back
fly off. There were people sleeping in the temporary building
and so we quickly got them out of there. About 3:30am, we lost
power. We had close to all 100 people cuddled up in the foyer
with their flashlights gathered around the radio. We heard that
Beaumont was spared the storm surge, but it didn't comfort us
because we knew that our stake friends in Lake Charles were not.
One of Jared's cousins stayed back in Vidor. We were able to
get through to him on his cell phone about this time. He told
us, "the rain is coming down really hard... the winds pretty
loud... I think there's a Hurricane out there!" Then he told
us to stop calling because he was trying to sleep. I was
grateful for that phone call because we needed some comic
relief and it made us feel as if everything was going to be OK.
Somehow, I was able to go back to sleep until morning.
Saturday, we had no electricity, no water, and yet - it was a
positive experience for me and one that I will never forget.
As I mentioned earlier, everyone began combining their
resources, leadership began to form, and we were comfortable...
in good spirits... with food, water, a way to use the restroom.
The church had brought a lot of food to us from the Bishops
Storehouse. The amazing thing though, was that we didn't even
really need it for the time we were in Many. Our church spends
a lot of time on Emergency Preparedness and teaching people to
be self-reliant. We are encouraged to prepare by getting a year
supply of food, 72 hour kits, etc. I saw the powerful benefit
of this counsel this past weekend. We had anti-bacterial soap
to keep everyone clean. We had a generator to keep our
refrigerated food good. We had filled up the baptismal font
with water and we used that to flush toilets. We were washing
dishes with hot water.
My father-in-law owns the Bar-B-Q Restaurant and he had brought
a lot of food that would have otherwise gone bad. On Saturday
night, we ate chipped beef and link sandwiches, potato salad,
and jambalaya. Again I was just so impressed that we were able
to take care of 100 people - a blind man, two in wheelchairs, a
girl with down-syndrome, another who has seizures often (I can't
remember her disease), at least four women over 70, and several
My kids had such a great time. Colby was crying when we left
saying, "I want to live at that church." The other thing that
made our time in Many such a good experience was the treatment
we received from the LDS members that lived in Many. One family
lived directly across the street from the church. Until electricity
went out, they offered their home for showers and a TV for us to
get news (there was no cable at the church). They opened their
home to anything we needed. There was also a family that came to
visit us, not of our faith, that offered their pool for water to
flush toilets. Although we didn't end up using it, it was so neat
to see the community and their willingness to do whatever they
OK, so Saturday we wanted any information we could find. Cindy
Marion was with us. Her husband is a sheriff in our area and he
had stayed behind. He told us that North Vidor and Mauriceville
were devastated. Another friend had gone through and said it
looked like a bomb had gone off. Jared's cousin that stayed
behind had gone to several of our homes and given us reports of
our homes. By that evening, we were anxious to get home. We had
a meeting as a group and decided that, as resourceful as this
group had been, we were going to head back to Vidor in the morning.
We had enough to be self-reliant when we returned and those that
needed to continue on would leave from Vidor. Sunday morning came.
We had a very short and very spiritual sacrament meeting. The
young men passing the sacrament did so in shorts and t-shirts. I
don't think I'll ever see that again! There really wasn't much
said, but the songs we sang (thanks Kayla) and the spirit we felt
was just perfect. We had reason to rejoice without knowing yet
what we were about to face.
We returned home in much less time than it took to get to Louisiana.
There were policemen guarding the entrance into Vidor. Cindy knew
the policemen and they were going to let us in, but they said we
needed a police escort - they were worried about a riot from all
of the other cars they were not letting in. We went to the side
of the road and spent three hours trying to get a hold of Cindy's
husband to escort us in. After that time, the policemen guarding
the road left. They told us, "You are entering this county at your
own risk" and then we were allowed in.
As we drove down the roads, we had to weave from one side of the
road to the other to avoid debris and trees. We drove up through
Texla Road. There is a lot of damage. However, there are so many
homes that we saw where the trees fell just to the left or just to
the right of the house and we recognize that, for Vidor at least,
things could have been so much worse as a whole.
Our house is OK. We have some water damage in our play room. Our
fence is completely gone and our chimney fell off. Jared's parents
had one limb through their roof, about 6 huge pine trees in the
front and side fall, their carport and deck are damaged, and their
telephone and cable wires are down. The store had some damage to
the roofs of their catering room and pit. The carport there is
completely down, but the store itself looks great. This is our
only source of income and so we felt a tremendous amount of relief
We have many friends and family with more damage to their homes
and we are anxious to get this clean up process well on its way.
The kids and I stayed in Vidor Sunday, Monday, and half of Tuesday.
We had no electricity, water, sewage, etc. It has been an
interesting experience & that could be an entire different email.
Jared has stayed behind with his parents to work on the tremendous
cleanup effort. They are working to get the restaurant up and
For those of you from Beaumont or Vidor... don't go back. It
really is that miserable. I think we were the last family there
with little ones (that I knew). There are work crews of mostly
men being organized each day through the church so there is room
for help there. But it is too miserable to keep track of a family
there. There are no hospitals in Beaumont open. Looting is
starting to become a huge problem. Generators and gas is a
necessity and people are getting desperate. Communication is down
so it is hard to find out where and when to get ice, etc. It is
SO HOT! There are no traffic lights, so it is dangerous to drive.
Its just bad and the worst part is they say it will be 3-4 weeks
before we get electricity!
As I'm writing this email, many of you have seen many more pictures
than I have. I have not been able to see anything from Orange or
Lake Charles. I know that they have been affected much more than
us. Kathy - I wanted to go by your house on my way to Katy, but
they had all exits off of I-10 into Beaumont closed.
Let me explain my pictures really fast - my kids are getting real
tired & this email is the longest one I have ever written in my
OK, the first two pictures are of trailers about an 1/8th of a
mile from Jared's parents house. We are pretty sure a tornado
went through that street because of the amount of damage to these
trailers and several of the pines look like they were twisted off.
Kelly & Tammy - these are Misty's brothers' trailers.
The next two pictures are of Glenda & Jackie's (my in-laws) deck.
The 5th picture is of their carport. The next two are of trees
that fell in their hard.
The next picture is at our house... just of our chimney that fell
off. The next two are of our fence.
The 11th picture is from the Chevron on I-10 & the Vidor exit.
The next two are of the carport/catering room at Wrights BarBQ.
The next one is of their sign that fell off.
The next one is of the old Subway building that is next to Wrights.
It looks pretty bad and I took this picture just to show how lucky
the store was (the last picture).
Sorry these are mostly of our properties. I ran out of room on my
digital camera. I pray that each of you stay safe and I hope to
see you sooner than later.
I am staying at my dad's in Katy (281) 578-3966 if you need to
get a hold of me.
Melanie & family'
Melanie's photos are posted at http://www.walden3d.com/photos/Family/05_JaredMelanie/050922_Rita_Photos for those interested. On the same day we got photos of Katrina taken in Alabama from Andrea's walking lady friend Sharon Markley, which are at http://www.walden3d.com/photos/Texas/050929_Katrina_in_Alabama. These photos bring a new reality to the message behind Sara Ellyn's painting, which is intended to show the permanence of God's creations relative to the temporary nature of man's creations.
Of course, Melanie, Colby, & Taylor moved-in on Tuesday, the same
day she wrote the e-mail from Marti's house. It was really nice
to have the three of them with us. Good kids. And we had a lot
of fun playing together. Tuesday after work was Lincoln Logs.
Wednesday after work we spent time looking at my rock collection.
Thursday I pulled out the Zoom Tools, and these kept us busy until
they left the following week.
On Wednesday there were a couple of relevant e-mails:
We are trying to organize efforts to assist with hurricane victims
in East Texas, and are looking for about 15 brothers from our ward
who can potentially help this weekend (probably just Saturday) or
next weekend (possibly Saturday and Sunday).
Please answer the following questions:
I can help this Saturday (October 1)
I could help this weekend (Saturday and Sunday)
I could help next weekend (Saturday and Sunday)
I have a van or truck that I could bring
I have a chain saw or other power tools I could bring.
I need to get this information back to the stake by tomorrow night
Mark R. Beckstrom'
I stumbled across your impressive resume on the web while trying
to find out more about Landmark Graphics. However, I'm not quite
sure whether to thank you or curse you. Let me explain...
I entered the oil industry with my geology degree in late 1981.
Trained as a traditional subsurface geologist, I became accustomed
to hand-contouring, and have to this day always been very happy
with it. In the intervening years since I was unceremoniously
bounced out of the industry due to the downturn (circa 1986), I've
sat by and witnessed how the whole 3-D seismic craze has completely
engulfed the petroleum industry and my profession.
As someone keenly interested in re-entering petroleum geology, I
cannot find a single company job posting which doesn't mention the
knowledge of Landmark, or some variant, as an absolute minimum
requirement and necessity.
This puts me at a distinct disadvantage to the generation X-ers
who through the sheer blind luck of timing got into the oil
industry while 3-D took off to the stratosphere.
Since I'm not in possession of a small (or large) fortune, is
there some way that I, as an individual geologist not on an oil
company salary, can obtain an affordable copy of the software
(older version perhaps) that I could learn on. I guess it's not
quite the same as obtaining an older version of Word, WordPerfect,
or Lotus 1-2-3, like from a second-hand software shop, is it?
Any advice you might have for someone like me who wants an
affordable option for learning some of these newfangled softwares
would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!'
There were several e-mail's back and forth with this individual.
Turns out he is in Austin. Hopefully the directions I pointed
him at will be of some benefit (UT Austin, BEG, Open dTect, etc.).
As Andrea has said on several occasions, `No good deed goes
unpunished!' And as time goes on I find more and more geoscientists
who were displaced by the introduction of Landmark technology.
Oh well! The highlight of the day was to come home and to listen
to Colby and Melanie tell me about their day. They went swimming.
Melanie said `Your backyard landscaping is like the Garden of
Eden.' I could not help but think of Paul's painting, and the
effort I have put into attempting to create positive memories.
Thursday was spent finishing the Tiles delivered for the month of
September. We missed finishing the last two of the original 27
Tiles, largely because of missing two work days for Rita, and
the time to get everything back up and running. Oh well! The
highlight of the evening was reading one of the Twin Books to
Colby. He lasted for a couple of chapters.
Friday there was an e-mail from Ajay Kalsi requesting a bid for
doing a Sequence Stratigraphy interpretation project. Like most
discussions with Ajay it turned sour over the next few weeks
(see 0542.html), one of the few advantages
of being so far behind in writing a weekly Thoughtlet). The
highlight of this evening was reading to Colby from Dr. Seuss.
Saturday was my first chance to participate in hurricane disaster
relief. We met at the church at 3:30 AM and left at 3:45 AM with
work gloves, my camping hat, sunscreen, bug spray, water, and a
change of garments and shirt, which it turns out I did not use.
I rode over with Greg Branning, and sat up front to keep him
awake. We drove past Beaumont, over to Vidor, and took a care
package to Jared and red licorice as a birthday present to
Jackie Wright. It was completely back as we drove up to the
house. There was a generator running. We could shine the
flashlights and see the big pine trees that had fallen. There
were about 20 of these 50+ foot tall trees within falling
distance of the house. Nine had fallen. One was leaning
against the flag pole. One glanced the side of the house and
damaged the carport and the room Melanie and Jared used to live
in. The others all fell to the south. I asked Bishop Wright
how this happened. He said, we gathered up our stuff, gave
a blessing on the house, evacuated, and left what happened in
the hands of the Lord. My eyes tear up every time I think
about the protection the Wrights and other members of the church
in Vidor had. When I talked to Melanie about how I left a
blessing on our house, and how the storm had moved from Houston
to Vidor, it was easy to wonder if there is a relationship.
After talking to Jackie Wright, the relationship is that the
Lord takes care of those who have consistently served Him.
We were assigned to help with food distribution in Beaumont. We
ended up working with the National Guard. It was an interesting
day. We had 16 members from Nottingham Country Ward, and there
were probably two other wards with similar numbers, with each
person wearing a bright yellow `Mormon Helping Hands' T-shirt.
Then there were the members of the National Guard with their
dark green fatigues. They were in charge, and they were more
than willing to let us do much of the work. I spent most of the
day moving cases of water. There were nine 2 quart bottles per
box, so the boxes were fairly heavy, and we moved a lot of them.
The distribution was organized so that people lined their cars up
coming into the Mall. At the first station they told workers how
many people they were picking up food and water for. This
number was written on their windshield with a marker pen that was
always hard to read. Then they went to the next station and got
one bag of ice for each person. Then they came to our station
and got 1 box of water bottles for each person. Then they went
to a station where they got 1 lunch meal for each person. Then
they went to the last station, where they got bags of stuff.
This last station was the hold up of the whole line. The stuff
was not in any particular grouping. There were a lot of
sanitation kits, but mostly it was things like boxes of toothpaste,
boxes of soap, boxes of vitamins, boxes of razors, boxes of
deodorant, boxes of beans, boxes of cereal, etc. I did spend
some time sorting things into bags in the afternoon, and I
ended up on the line passing out the meals.
It was a really interesting experience. The National Guard did
a very good job. They had been doing it for several days, and
one lady had hurt her wrist loading ice. Others had learned how
tired they got, and so they were quick to stand back and let us
do most of the lifting. Most of them, men and women, had these
ugly tattoos. I could not help but think about and worry about
Matt and whether he is going to get sucked into marring his body,
his temple. When I was growing up, Mom had good friends that
lived in San Diego. They were rich. Their business was a tattoo
shop. I only know them as Aunt Nell and Uncle Hughy, and I'm
probably not spelling this right. We went to San Diego once
to visit them and to go to the San Diego Zoo. I remember Aunt
Nell taking me aside and telling me to never get a tattoo. Among
other things, she told me that you could not go to the temple
if you get a tattoo, and that she told all of the sailors who
came into her shop from Utah this. Based on what I have seen
the last few years, this is no longer a criteria. And I am
still repulsed whenever I see a tattoo. Oh well!
We left at about 5:00, and drove straight to the Stake Center,
with a bit of a detour at West I-610, where we tried to get on
the HOV lane, and were not able to because the entrance was
blocked. The result was we were about 15 minutes late for
General Priesthood Meeting. However, we were still there in
time to hear the talks praising those who have been helping
in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas wearing the bright
yellow `Mormon Helping Hands' T-shirts. It felt good to sit
in the back of Priesthood meeting all dirty and in a bright
yellow shirt listening to these words. Especially when the
prophet referred to the example being set by the bright yellow
shirts, and expressed his personal thanks to all who have
helped. I was quite interested in his talk. My notes say:
`The Gulf States have suffered destruction. There has been a
great opportunity to help. Those of many denominations have
accomplished much. Thousands of hours have been put into
service. Many have worn shirts saying, "Mormon Helping Hands."
They have followed the pattern of the Nephites, quoting Alma,
"Having no respect to member or not." Thanks to all who
helped. This is not the punishment of the Lord. This old
world is not a stranger to calamity. The 24th Chapter of
Matthew warns us of our time. There was unimaginable
destruction in the America's at the Savior's death. The
plague of the 14th century took millions of lives. In 79 AD
Pompeii was destroyed. Chicago burned. San Francisco had an
earthquake at the turn of the century. The hurricane of
1900 in Galveston. The terrible tsunami earlier this year.
"For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes,
lightening, tempests, waves heaving beyond their bounds."
The tsunami and hurricanes heave themselves beyond bounds.
In Sudan there are many killed and homeless. The end is not
yet. Expect more calamities in the future. It was not
raining when Noah built his ark. If we are prepared we will
not be afraid. "Keep us safe on Zion's hill." We call on
the Lord for help after we keep his commandments. The Jaradite
and Nephite Nations were totally destroyed because of
unrighteousness. The Salt Lake Valley is a primary earthquake
zone. This is the primary reason we have been reworking the
tabernacle. The best storehouse is the family storeroom. For
75 years we have been counseled to store food and dollars for
a rainy day. We do not want to cause a run on the grocery
stores. Remember the dream of Pharaoh. The Lord will bless
us if we walk in obedience to his light and gospel.'
I was blown away by these comments. Last year when the Prophet
announced the work on the tabernacle, I told Andrea that he was
warning of an impending earthquake. This year, it could not be
much plainer. In fact I wrote my professor, Robert Smith, and
asked him if anyone else commented on this talk. He did not
respond, but I expect I will see him at the SEG, and it will
be interesting to hear his comments. Especially since one of
the projects he had us work on was how to tell the population
of an area about an earthquake prediction. We also spent a
lot of time talking about how when there is a major earthquake
in the Salt Lake Valley, there will be several serious problems.
First, the clay underlying the valley will all move, and the
roads and airport runways will no longer be working. I think
they should have pontoon runways ready to put on the Great Salt
Lake, so that emergency help can be brought into the valley.
Second, all of the houses built on Lake Bonneville sand benches
will come rolling down the mountains, and it will make the
annual problems in California look like a Sunday picnic. Anyway,
Audrey and Josh, I think your house is safer than many, and it
is good to be prepared. For if we are prepared we will not fear.
I was definitely tired when I got home. And it was good to be
greeted by hugs from kids who didn't notice how dirty and
sweaty I was. They had even built some more things with the
Zoom Tools, since I had played with them on Thursday and Friday
nights. As I recall, Jared had come over from Vidor. I
definitely slept well. It was nice to be able to watch both
sessions of General Conference on Sunday at home and with
family. The kids were pretty good, and sat through most of
conference. In summary for the week, it was wonderful to have
Melanie, Colby, & Taylor move-in, even if it was only for a week."
Since the 38th week of 1996 I have written a weekly "Thoughtlet"
(little statements of big thoughts which mean a lot to me).
Until the 43rd week of 2004 I sent these out as an e-mail. They
were intended to be big thoughts which mean a lot to me.
Over time the process evolved into a personal diary. These notes
were shared with my family because I know how important the
written word can be. Concerned about how easy it is to drift and
forget our roots and our potential among all of distractions of
daily life, I thought this was a good way to reach those I love.
It no longer feels right to send out an e-mail and "force" my kids
and my family to be aware of my life and struggles.
Everyone has their own life to lead, and their own struggles to
work through. I will continue this effort, and will continue to
make my notes publicly accessible (unless I learn of
misuse by someone who finds out about them, and then will
pursue a legal remedy to copyright infringement and I will put the Thoughtlets
behind a password).
The index to download any of these Thoughtlets is at
or you can e-mail me with
questions or requests at
(note if you are not on my e-mail "whitelist" you must send 2 e-mails
within 24 hours of each other in order for your e-mail to not be trashed).
With all my love,
(H. Roice Nelson, Jr.)