What it’s like to recover from a natural disaster, Part III: Getting your shit together (Part 1)

This will probably be the longest post I write about this whole ordeal so I’m splitting it into two parts. Yes, I’m parting the parts. There’s so much shit that goes into getting your ducks in a row before you even begin to start tearing out your walls. It was confusing and overwhelming. Not even 24 hours after we’d been plucked from our flooded house by boat we were digging through more information than our minds could handle. We hadn’t even come to grips with the fact that we’d just left our home to be consumed by water – when we had to begin the circus act of getting help.

And what a circus act it is. Actually it’s more of an unorganized clusterfuck of flaming hoops swinging back and forth – and you’ve got to jump through them, but your leg is in a cast and you’re on crutches.

Hopefully this can help to serve as a bit of a primer for y’all.

FLOOD INSURANCE
Let’s start with the basics. If you live in a 100-year flood plain you are usually required to carry flood insurance. If you’re in a 500-year flood plain I believe it’s optional depending on your situation. Insurance is available to anyone, though. Our home is not in a flood plain, so we did not carry flood insurance even though we could have if we wanted. This would (should?) have been disclosed to us when we were signing the bank documents to secure the loan, and/or when we went to State Farm to get our homeowners insurance. Neither my wife or I can recall if it was brought up.  I’d estimate roughly 40% of our neighborhood had flood insurance – some from experience, others were just prudent.

The great thing about being insured is you’re covered usually up to around $250,000 or so – depending on damages. That amount is split between personal items and home construction. Depending on how much water you took on, $250,000 should cover you just fine – assuming you even qualify for the max payout. You can always appeal the decision and have another inspection as well should it come to that.

The bad thing about being insured is the insurance companies and NFIP are notorious for taking an exceedingly long time to conduct inspections and settle your claim (read: give you the monies). By the time we were already starting to build back months later some of our neighbors with flood insurance were still waiting to hear back. Many ended up appealing the insurance’s low-ball settlement as well.

In the end, having insurance at least guarantees you a pretty decent chunk of money. It may not be enough to replace your collection of X or get brand new marble floors – but it’s supposed to either. Because we were uninsured our only options for assistance were FEMA and the SBA.

We now have flood insurance. – though we are still not in a flood plain. This allowed us to get it for the cheapest possible price – $450/yr. The flood maps may be redrawn at some point and put us in a flood plain. Had that been the case our yearly premium would have been well over $1000. But now we are grandfathered in. I should also note obtaining flood insurance was a requisite for receiving an SBA loan for assistance (I’ll get into that later as well).

Important Note: If you have flood insurance you cannot apply for FEMA federal aid. Well, you can, you’ll just be denied because it’s double dipping. If they do by any chance grant you FEMA money you’ll have to pay it back once your flood insurance payment is disbursed.

So, the first thing you should do once your feet are on dry ground and you’ve got your wits about you is call your insurance company to get the ball rolling. Those in the neighborhood with insurance were still waiting for payouts, and some even for inspectors, or re-inspections, for months after we had already received FEMA aid and could start doing stuff. In the end you’ll probably be made a little more whole again but you’ll probably wait a little longer to get started and to get all your money.

FEMA AID & FEDERAL GRANT MONEY
The day after we evacuated I was already on the phone with FEMA and the FEMA website registering us for federal disaster aid. My first piece of advice is: DO NOT WAIT to start this process —- because it is quite a process.

Side note: WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING. Registration numbers. Logins. Passwords. Phone numbers. EVERYTHING. You will need all of this stuff for all the websites and people you talk to. Take notes on EVERYTHING. When you talk to FEMA on the phone, write down whatever directions they say. Write down any people or numbers. Write down dollar amounts or quotes. Everything. This applies to everyone you talk to and any service you register with for the entire duration of the process of rebuilding. Remember, this is the federal government and they are terrible at everything they do.

Shortly after registering with FEMA for federal aid for Harvey, we were contacted by our case worker and they scheduled an inspection date for the house. Many of our neighbors had already had their inspections and said it was pretty simple: the inspector would come in, look around, take some pics, ask a few questions, notate stuff on their tablet, and peace out. Some even mentioned their inspector told them how much money they would probably get. Our guy wasn’t very talkative. He asked about what rooms were upstairs, what we were able to save, what we lost, etc. I didn’t get the best vibe after it was over. But all we could do was wait for the outcome.

The maximum amount of aid you can receive from FEMA is $33,000. The money is split into different categories such as ‘house repairs,’ ‘rental assistance,’ and ‘reimbursement.’ House repairs covers what they think you need to make the house safe and livable again. Rental Assistance helps pay for temporary housing while your house is repaired. The catch with that is they’ll give you what they think two months rent is (hint: it’s not), and then if you want more you have to reapply. But you can still only receive up to $33,000 so if you can swing rent on your own, just do that. For the 3rd category, they gave us some money back for the dehumidifiers we bought to help clean the house.

FEMA only gave us a little over $18,000. That’s it. $16,000 of that was for repairs, $2,000 for rental assistance since we had to rent an apartment, and about $300 to reimburse us for the dehumidifiers. Most of our neighbors received close to the maximum. So we didn’t understand why (like always) we got the shaft. Our house had exactly the same amount of water in it as theirs. We also lost everything on the first floor. But we basically received half of everyone else.

There is an appeal process, of course. In your account page on the FEMA website, where all the details and correspondence is kept, you can click a button to indicate you want to appeal a decision. Then you have to write a letter, submit evidence, and have your letter notarized. You can then either upload it to the website (what we did), or risk mailing it to FEMA and pray that it gets where it’s supposed to go. They tell you it could ‘take up to 90 days to get a response’ – and what they actually mean is ‘we’ll not do anything for 90 days, then on day 91 we’ll look at your letter, call you, and set up another inspection if your letter lends any credible information.’

So, we had another inspection. This guy was way more personable, and felt bad about how we were shafted before. He went through everything thoroughly, and told us we’d hear soon. Four days later, FEMA gave us another $6,500, bringing the total amount for house repairs to about $22,500. Still well short of the maximum and what our neighbors received. Let me tell you, though, when you’re rebuilding your entire first floor from floor to ceiling from the studs – $16,000 is a drop in the bucket. And that $6,500? Well, a master electrician will run you anywhere from $6,000 – 10,000 depending on how much work is needed.

We took what we could get and that money is long gone. FEMA will tell you their aid is not supposed to ‘make you whole again,’ it’s merely to help obtain the most basic elements to make your house safe & livable again. But it really doesn’t. Spend it wisely.

GETTING AN SBA LOAN
So; you don’t have flood insurance, you’re not independently wealthy, and FEMA barely gives enough to build new walls. What do you do? Well, you have to turn to the Small Business Association for a low interest loan. It’s just like getting a real bank loan except there are lots of other caveats that include things like liens on your house, and having contractors sign the papers as well. It’s all quite complicated, but they run a pretty tight ship. We were able to fill out all the paperwork and take care of everything at one of the many FEMA pop-up tents around the area.

After applying online, I received a call from our case worker for an interview about the condition of the house. I honestly can’t remember if they sent an inspector or just asked about what we lost. In the end, we were approved for a 30-year loan of $84,000 with an interest rate of 1.75%. Not too bad. They split it up and dedicate certain amounts for different parts of your reconstruction. For instance, they initially told us $45,000 was allocated home repair, $25,000 for personal property, and the rest for other things like landscaping and fencing, etc. The good thing is you can request to have the allocations moved around – which we eventually needed. They begin by disbursing $25,000 to you to begin with but require filings of court documents and bank forms and insurance forms before they will disburse the rest. There are a lot of hoops to jump through but in all honesty it’s been the easiest of everything so far.

The good thing is there’s no penalties for paying it off early, and payments don’t start until 1-year after the initial disbursement of the $25,000. Thankfully so far we haven’t had to touch any of that money since we’ve been fortunate to have money from friends, family, and donations from work. If all goes according to plan we should be able to pay back the entire $25,000 when the first payment is due. *crosses fingers*

Why did we get it, then? you’re probably asking. Well for one FEMA won’t take you seriously when you apply for your initial federal aid unless you’ve also applied for an SBA loan – it’s like they don’t want to give you much money if you can get it from someplace else. Secondly, it’s common sense because how else are you going to rebuild your entire first floor? The only other catch is that in order to get the SBA loan, you have to get flood insurance. So as you can see the whole thing is one big lasso of circular logic.

Like with FEMA – SAVE EVERYTHING. They require receipts to prove that you spent their money on rebuilding your house and not on hookers and blow. Though, it doesn’t say anything about not hiring hookers to rebuild your house or writing off blow as necessary materials….but I digress…

So that’s the, uh, brief, run down of everything we had to do to even get started. The follow-up to this post will be a kind of continuation – but deal more with the absolute bullshit we went through with everything else.

I hope this can help serve as a bit of a primer for anyone that finds themselves in a similar situation (but I hope not).

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments.

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What it’s like to recover from a natural disaster. Hint: It sucks balls. Part II: Aftermath & Advice

It’s safe to say we were not prepared for what we found when the water was gone. I’ll mostly let the pictures below do the talking, but it was devastating to say the least. We walked around, taking as many pictures as we could to document everything. I was finally able to get into the garage and look at the car and the bikes, too. Later in this post I’ll discuss what decisions we made during demolition and remediation.

But first – depressing photos (with captions)! NOTE: everything you see as how it it settled after the water. We didn’t touch anything. It was a goddamn mess.

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The first thing we saw when the front door opened.

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Entryway, looking toward the dining room.

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The living room – yes there is still about 4″ of muck water in the sunken living room. Had to pump it out. YUMMY.

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Dining room

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You can tell which way the water mostly flowed.

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Dining room, again.

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We lost so many books (and DVDs)

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This used to be our coat closet now it’s a mold storage unit

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Now the fridge is a 400 pound smell-box. Plus the 1970’s cupboards were falling apart. Note the mold.

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Utility room – the washing machine floated and tipped.

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My poor car.

Even though our lives were in ruins, we had to act fast. As you can see there was already fucktons of mold everywhere.

So here’s where the advice comes in. We’ve learned A LOT about remediation since this happened, so I’m here to share it with you should fate ever decide to drop this steaming pile of donkey shit on you as well. Here’s a quick list of bullet points to start you off, then I’ll get into more detail about our situation specifically.

DRYWALL
Many people in my neighborhood made the mistake of only removing the first 5 or so feet of drywall from the floor up. This was a huge mistake. You’ll hear the general rule of thumb is to take it out to ~3 feet above the water line. This works well if water depth was only a few inches, and if the water came and went relatively quickly. But you’ll remember the water was in our homes for two weeks. Drywall, and whatever moisture barrier/backing board you have on the outside of the studs will soak it up. and up. and up. Initially, we took it up to around 6-7 feet but in the end ended up taking out all the walls floor-to-ceiling on the entire first floor and garage.

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Drywall and insulation removed in the living room before we decided to remove it all.

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Demo in the downstairs bathroom.

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Demo in the hallway & kitchen.

In addition, we removed all the gypsum board that was originally put on the outside of the studs during the house’s construction because it too had been soaked and compromised with mold. Some folks in the neighborhood thought that it was OK to leave it and it would “dry out” so they left it – which again is a huge mistake. In a later post I’ll get into what further complications this caused during out rebuild.

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After we decided to take out everything.

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Everything removed in the dining room.

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The kitchen is a blank slate.

My advice is to err on the side of caution when tearing out your drywall. It’s all dependent on how much water was in your house and how long it was there. Don’t be afraid to play it safe and rip it all out. Yes, this will initially cost more to replace and rebuild but the peace of mind is worth it. Also, it’s much easier to replace full boards of drywall from floor to ceiling than it is to try to patch the bottom 4 feet. It takes really good drywall skills to create a nice smooth wall.

STUD CARE
Once the drywall is removed you’ll start to notice how your studs have been affected. Remember, water gets everywhere – even inside the walls. Our studs were surprisingly in OK shape. There was evidence of some mold, but thankfully there was hardly any wood rot. We were pleasantly surprised – and relieved.

Assuming you don’t need to replace any studs, you definitely need to treat them. We painstakingly used a small wire brush to brush clean every single stud that was exposed. This helped get any residual mold or flood gunk off. This was a vital first step, as after we finished that we painted the bottom 1/3 of each stud (higher in some areas like the kitchen) with Zinsser mold killing primer. This kills any remaining mold that didn’t get brushed away, and also seals and protects the wood before you seal it up inside the wall again. Hopefully, should it encounter any water again, it will help protect the stud from further water damage. Make sure you don’t skip this step.

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Picture from a little further along – but to show how we treated the studs and sills with the Zinsser.

MOLD REMEDIATION
Finally, before you put up any new drywall, or seal up anything, make sure you get a qualified mold remediation specialist to come examine the house, take mold and wood moisture readings, and perform any treatments. We had two separate treatments at different intervals. The first was a treatment from a local Servpro that took moisture readings after we’d let the house dry out for about three weeks. He checked the studs and sills and gave us the all clear. He then sprayed every exposed stud and sill with a chemical compound that kills mold, treats the wood, and protects it from further infection. A month or so later, we decided to have another treatment – one that becomes aerosol and filters through your HVAC system and kills anything that has been transported in the time you’ve been back working at the house. This was a chlorine dioxide treatment. It’s been roughly 6 months since then and there’s been no sign of mold.

Mold is the biggest concern you need to worry about after a flood. It can be anywhere, and grow in places you weren’t expecting. Make sure you rip out everything in the walls – drywall, insulation, moisture barriers, etc. If you aren’t careful and do not remediate properly, it will come back – and it will be sealed up in your walls growing and there won’t be anything you can do about it except rip it out again.

While this post is pretty short I must stress that these various tasks took months. There is nothing short lived about recovering from a flood.

In my next post I will talk about all the steps we had to go through and all the flaming hoops we had to jump through for FEMA, the SBA, the city, county, banks, and God knows what else to get things rolling on repairs.

 

Twitter blocked my account because I told Ann Coulter to die in a fire

In response to this tweet:

Pretty sure it wasn’t the worst thing that’s been said on Twitter today.

I’m free to tweet again in 12 hours.

I guess next time I should just threaten nuclear war against her instead.

Let’s talk about this outfit from Banana Republic’s website

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 2.10.22 PMNo socks with dress shoes.

Ankle pants?

A T-shirt under a blazer.

The blazer’s sleeves are rolled up.

Is this stylish? Is this style? Companies like Banana Republic and J Crew certainly think so. I think it looks absurd. My internal thesaurus is failing me; I can’t even think of a word to describe how dumb it looks. Are those pants from when he was 15? Was his internal dialogue this morning “Hey the waist still fits – but they’re a little short since I’ve grown 6″ since then. Oh well, let’s do lunch!” 

Now I know this isn’t a real person and the store dressed this model to showcase some of its clothes, but, this is clearly staged as a full outfit. If this is how people in style are supposed to be dressing I’m glad I apparently have no style.

Where exactly are you going dressed like this? I certainly wouldn’t go to work sporting man-capris and no socks. Nor a plain t-shirt. Do you put it on to go to Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods (using these examples because only dumb hipsters would dress this way, and these are well known hipster destinations). You’re certainly not going to Denny’s dressed like that. Maybe a nice restaurant? I doubt it (the no socks thing). Probably not just tooling around town on errands, either. This must be exclusively for hanging out at independent coffee shops with other hipsters. I can’t think of anything else.

In summation, I think this animated GIF best expresses my feelings on this whole subject:
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Houston’s Toyota Center will take you for everything you’ve got before you even get your tickets.

I love music, and I love concerts. I understand some artists and bands command a higher price ticket than others – and I’m usually OK with that. I mean, I paid $94 in 2001 for a decent 100 level seat towards the back of the Carrier Dome to see Billy Joel & Elton John blow my mind. Worth every penny. I’ve paid roughly $40-60 to see Dave Matthews Band roughly 23 times since the late 90’s. Hell, I saw Peter Frampton in an incredibly small venue for almost $90 a ticket. Again, worth it.

What I’m sick of is the extra fees and bullshit that brokers like Ticketmaster tacks on to the cost of a ticket. “Convenience fees” can nail you anywhere from $5-25 per ticket. I still don’t know what that even means. I’d think it’s actually easier, and most cost effective to have the tickets ordered through the self-sustaining online system – this way there are no phone operators to hold things up (or pay), or people in box offices doing much the same. Oh, and don’t forget another $5 for “order processing.” Again, bullshit because a computer did it. Whatever. Just suck the money out of me.

We all hate it. But we’ve paid it, bitching about it all the way.

BUT WAIT. IT GOT WORSE.

So I wanted to go see Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – because they rock your face off – here at the Toyota Center in Houston. We’ve seen them twice before and damn it’s always a kick ass show. So I went through the motions online to buy tickets and the below picture is what I was faced with:

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So let me get this straight…
If I want to have my tickets mailed to me – you know, like normal – I have to pay an additional $25? WTF. Same goes for picking them up at the venue at the Will Call window. $25? Seriously? The only free option is this Flash Seats nonsense – which is apparently an app they are forcing you to download to your smartphone and use to display your tickets to the ushers at the venue. What if you don’t have a smartphone? I didn’t until last month. And even so, what if I don’t want to put some random garbage application on it? I want my tickets mailed to me. For free – or a small nominal fee it sometimes was.

So now, for me and the wife to see Tom Petty, it’s cost $160 for mediocre seats? Seriously – look – section 423? C’mon. Here’s the seating chart:
Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.28.17 PMWhat’s even more annoying, is this is specific to the Toyota Center. I went onto Live Nation to check out a different stop on the tour: Darien Lake PAC in New York State. I went through the motions of buying tickets, and here’s what I found:
Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.31.21 PMAside from them also trying to get you to download a completely different app on your smartphone for free access to your tickets, if you just want them mailed to you it’s only $3.50. That’s at least reasonable. Though, if you think about it, this whole situation is basically just the ticket brokers holding onto your tickets until you pay a ransom to have them released to you.

You’re probably sitting there, reading this, ready to say “Dan. Just download the app. So what?” And to that I say: I shouldn’t have to. Nor do I want to put some random app I’ve never heard of on my phone just because some crappy system a stadium uses is forcing me to.

Anyway, needless to say we haven’t yet purchased tickets to go see Tom Petty.

Why soccer will never get a chance to become popular in the US

Every four years the World Cup comes around and a handful of Americans who enjoy soccer get to enjoy the immensity of the intensely awesome few weeks of fantastic matches. I love it. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup is a chance for people around the world to come together and support their country. Not in the sense of ‘hey, make sure you vote!’ but in the strongest sense of pride and image.

It’s no secret that soccer isn’t big in the US. Only a handful of cities have ‘professional’ teams, and without doing any research I bet it’s safe to say attendance719px-WC-2014-Brasil.svg at those games doesn’t hold a candle to the weekly football games in the fall. And that’s too bad, because despite it’s simplicity soccer requires an insane amount of athleticism.

First off, the pitch is huge. It’s roughly the same length as a football field (endzones includes), and about 20 yards wider. Secondly, the players are constantly in motion – for 45 minutes at a time. In all other US sports there are constant breaks or downtime. Think about it. In a baseball game, there’s probably about 3 minutes worth of actual action and running over the course of 9 innings. Everyone on the field is doing nothing until someone hits the ball. And even then the play could be over in less than 5 seconds. In football, play stops after every down, and every time possession changes. And plays often only extend around 10 yards on average I bet – then you stop again. The only sport that comes close would be basketball. But again, constant time-outs, foul shots, etc, cause everything to halt. But soccer players are running the whole time. Play rarely ceases for injuries or penalties, and the clock continues to run and then they play additional time after time has expired. Rugby is much the same, but again, it’s another sport that has a hard time catching on here even though it’s probably the most badass sport there is.

But that’s just a reason why soccer should be respected more than it is. The reason it won’t catch on in the US as much as it should is correlated: it won’t ever find a place on TV. Why? Because of commercials.

You may not have noticed but while you’ve been enjoying the hell out of some awesome matches these past two weeks there haven’t been any breaks for commercials until half-time. ESPN has been awesome and has not cut away from the coverage to show commercials. Every other sport you watch on TV has constant commercials – because of all the breaks in play. If you’ve ever attended a football game, they actually have something called a ‘TV-Timeout,’ where play is delayed for longer just so commercials can be shown on TV. It’s the most obnoxious, momentum killing thing in sports. While a no-interruption broadcast of the game may fly for a once-every-four-years event being shown on a subscription only cable network, it will never, ever, fly on regular network television. Which is exactly where it needs to be to get more exposure.

USASevens_LogoRugby 7s is starting to gain ground here in the US, mostly because it’s going to be in the summer Olympics in two years. But it’s only aired on NBC. And even though rugby is much like soccer in that play is continuous NBC just had to break away every few minutes for commercials, making viewers actually miss parts of the game. Hell, how many commercials are there during the Olympics? Soccer will never gain footing on TV for the same exact reason. Heaven-forbid we go a whole 45 minutes without showing commercials. Oh blah blah blah I know it’s how networks gain revenue but spare me that drivel. There are plenty of hours not during the game to show your damn commercials – and it’s not like they’re hurting for money anyway. Yes, I know soccer is shown on TV from time to time. But not like baseball, or basketball, or football, and not on regular broadcast networks.

So there you have it. I’d love to be wrong, but something tells me I’m partially right. Sure, it may never gain traction simply because too many redneck idiots think it’s stupid and ‘football’ is way better. Whatever. But in the end, large scale exposure largely depends on broadcasting.

FOX News says: ‘BEWARE The LEGO Movie!!!’ Seriously, How are these people on TV?

Time and time again, clips from various news programs on the FOX News channel pop up on Youtube or other news sites proving, time and time again, beyond a reasonable doubt, they are the absolute worst people in the “news” industry – and overall just terrible human beings. I don’t understand who possibly buys into their garbage, but the scary part is so many people do.

This time, it’s The LEGO Movie.

Parents, everyone, beware! The LEGO Movie is indoctrinating your kids to hate capitalism and big business! No, really! It’s LEGO and Hollywood’s hidden agenda: to make 7 year olds come out of the movie thinking “I’m against freedom, capitalism, and monopolies! Down with CEOs!” Here’s the clip:

HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE ON TV

I don’t get it. Millions of qualified people are having trouble finding employment in dozens of different fields of work, while these morons are on television, making assloads of money, and influencing people.

By the way, I’m pretty sure the only thing your kids are coming out of The LEGO Movie thinking is:

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!

The Evolution vs. Creationism Debate

As many of you know, Ken Ham invited Bill Nye to a little debate the other night about the merits of evolution and creationism. Here’s the video of it if you didn’t catch it:

Now, I’m not going into depth about the specifics of the debate because we could be here for hours, but needless to say it has once again brought to the forefront the argument of science vs. religion – and more specifically evolution vs. creationism.

Buzzfeed, everyone’s favorite website for lists of things, featured this list yesterday, and I want to take a minute to respond to some of them (you should click the link to see the whole list). I am not religious and believe in evolution, and while I [mostly] respect other’s rights to believe in their own stuff it frightens me when people have such incredibly absurd beliefs about the nature of the world around them, and are passing these beliefs on to their children.

Yes. It is. Rings are evidence of growth. Growth is evidence of time. Why create trees with a mechanism that shows growth over time and a way of measuring the tree’s age if it had none to begin with because it just magically appeared? I won’t even get into plate tectonics, and layering of sedimentary rocks and fossils.

Ahh. Trying to use science to disprove science. I bet you $100 you don’t even know what the 2nd law of thermodynamics is, and why it could possibly disprove evolution. You just heard someone say it and now you say it too – just like when people said Obama was a Socialist and couldn’t actually give any reasons why. Now I won’t pretend to understand thermodynamics but from what I do understand according to entropy, the universe and all the molecules in it are moving from order to disorder. The reason Creationists believe this disproves evolution is because they believe evolution means increasing biological complexity. The reason this does not disprove evolution is because evolution does not necessarily mean biologically we are getting more complex. Evolution is adaptation to one’s environment. Survival of the fittest means the organisms that evolve and adapt the best to their changing environment will be the most fit to reproduce. It does not mean your genetic makeup gets exponentially complex. The majority of the current human genome is almost identical to the mapped genome of Neanderthals and chimpanzees, the only differences are the slight mutations in the DNA that allowed this offspring to survive better in it’s new environment, and then reproduce sharing this new adaptation, while the others died out. Entropy & thermodynamics have nothing to do with evolution.

Ok.
I literally didn’t know what to type here because what the hell?
First, obviously God cares not for proper grammar. Secondly, a sunset occurs when the rotation of the Earth causes the sun to fall behind the horizon from your perspective location on the Earth’s surface. The colors are a result of light interacting with the atmosphere (that’s a simple, easy explanation). I don’t understand where the disconnect is here? Even if you believed the Earth was still at the center of the solar system, and the Sun revolved around it, there would still be sunsets. This makes no sense.

Oh alright. I give up. We all know sunsets are made by the little Indian girl program in The Matrix.

I’ll assume you’re referring to the idea of intelligence and consciousness since that’s the closest thing I could find when I googled the word ‘noetics’ because no one knows what that is (nice job, that degree in philosophy is already paying off!). To answer the question: What about it? Humans aren’t the only organisms with consciousness. How did we all get it? I don’t know for sure – because I don’t think anyone does – but I’d be willing to wager it has something to do with how the brain developed and uses all them fancy chemicals and neurotransmitters and other words that doctors use. Also, remember, consciousness isn’t limited to humans. Try to disprove that next time you’re hanging out with your dog or cat. And are you also suggesting that Lucy or Neanderthals weren’t self-aware and had no consciousness?

Uh, yes.

Who believes this?  Oh yeah, this guy:

Science is not a theory – science is an encompassing field of study. Apparently this lady has decided to completely ignore the scientific method – you know, that series of steps that tests, observes, and attempts to repeat results of occurrences in nature. What this lady wrote makes no sense. And I object to it being taught in school because science taught in school is factual science based on the scientific method, not the Bible.

So my entire life’s purpose is to put all my eggs in the God basket hoping that I am worthy enough in my faith that he will rescue me from the putrid, festering, cesspool of evil that apparently the Earth is? That sounds like a pretty crappy existence. Who says you have to have a purpose? You exist because your parents had sex and the birds and the bees happened and then you grew up into an adult. Life is life. Some people feel like they have a purpose and they do things like run charities and join Doctors Without Borders or something. That’s awesome. Me, I prefer to watch Star Trek and laugh at cat videos. Does that mean my life has no purpose? Does that mean I have absolutely no reason for existing? My entire life is worthless and useless? Not sure about that.

You can’t see it, but I’m shaking my head in disbelief.
The more simple answer is it all depends on how the organism, be it a plant, insect, or proto-human, is preserved at the time of it’s death. This answer doesn’t even require science, just common freaking sense.

It’s the same reason we haven’t found millions of dinosaur fossils, or why the Grand Canyon exists: they degrade, erode, disintegrate, decompose. If rocks can be weathered away – then certainly an organisms body and skeleton can. Lucy was remarkably preserved – we got lucky. Today, we entomb bodies in coffins, and still they deteriorate over time. I don’t think Lucy’s people had a habit of leaving their dead in airtight coffins for future scientists to find. They could have been left where they died, and the bones could have been spread around for miles by scavengers.

Oh, also, Lucy wasn’t found by herself. We have found plenty of partial skeletons of Lucy’s friends, and other levels of evolutionary neanderthals. Try again.

I hate this argument. Hate it.
Ok, first, we didn’t come from monkeys. More accurately, we came from apes. But the short, easy answer is there are many different species of apes, monkeys and chimps, and humans derived from that one particular one that happened to have the right genetic mutation at the right time and survived and adapted. The other species continued on in their own versions. Evolution doesn’t mean you just replace your entire species or group of organisms.

So there you have it folks. These people are out there, and they’re serious. It’s frightening.