Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The jet stream that brings cold air from Canada dips south towards these states and meets with warm air currents from the Gulf of Mexico. These meet with low pressure systems that move from west to east pulling with them strong thunderstorms and tornadoes. This area of land between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Range generally is flat and wide open, giving storms the ability to build strength and become large and destructive.
Texas actually has the most recorded tornadoes in US history with a little over 8,000 according the National Climatic Data Center as of 2009 (Oklahoma has recorded almost 3500). However, the NOAA states that the strongest tornado ever recorded on Earth with reported 318 mile per hour winds and an estimated $1 billion in damage was on May 3, 1999 in several counties in and around Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This fact was enough to draw major attention to Oklahoma City.
This particular tornado cut a path of destruction through some of the very same neighborhoods as the tornado that struck this past Monday afternoon, May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. This recent tornado demolished the Plaza Towers Elementery School in Moore killing nine children and injuring a couple of hundred more. Another school was hit and a nearby hospital along with hundreds of homes and businesses. The total death toll for this tornado was 24. But, neither of these two Oklahoma City huge tornadoes were by any means the deadliest in history.
The deadliest tornado in US history hit parts of Indiana, Missouri and Illinois in March of 1925 killing 695 people. In the top ten list of deadliest tornadoes in US history sits Joplin, Missouri at number seven with 162 deaths. This storm hit on May 22, 2011 and cut a path 3/4 mile wide by 22 miles long. However, the record deaths by a tornado (approximately 1300 and over 12,000 injuries) did not happen in America's Tornado Alley, but in Eastern India in the small country of Bangladesh in 1989.
In fact, if you happen to fear tornadoes and you live in Bangladesh, you might consider moving, because out of the 42 recorded deadliest tornadoes in world history (100 deaths or more), Bangladesh is in this list 24 times. But in this list of the deadliest tornadoes in the world, you will only find the state of Oklahoma listed once and it's not for Oklahoma City, it's for Woodward, Oklahoma in 1947 with 100 deaths.
Oklahoma City has received a lot of media attention lately for tornado damage because there has been at least three devastating tornadoes in this city within the past 15 years (1999, 2011 and 2013). These storms made front page news due to their destruction. But these tornadoes had only a few fatalaties by comparison. Twenty-four deaths is 24 more than is acceptable, but few in comparison to the 1300 deaths in Bangladesh in 1989 and the 695 in the tri-state tornado in 2011. Some tornadoes are highly destructive in property and others destructive with regard to lives. Most would agree that the loss of human life is far more devastating than any material loss.
With regard to material loss, however, some may consider that the damage done in property loss for the Oklahoma tornado far outweighs the property damage done in the Bangladesh tornadoes, because it's a poorer country and many of the homes and businesses are made from tin and mud. Much of the destruction there is also related to crops which in turn affects the economy, but is still less costly to replace than buildings and structures.
But since Oklahoma seems to be more prepared for tornadoes with stricter building codes and many people installing storm shelters, the death toll from these storms seems to, thankfully, stay at bay. So, when you consider the historical evidence, even though Oklahoma City seems to be a hot spot for big tornado news, it's not especially a hot spot for tornadoes.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Professional athletes and disabled vets can run in this same race side by side. An 80 year old man can compete next to an 18 year old college student. The Boston Marathon brings people from all walks of life together to compete in New England's most widely viewed sporting event. This race is always held on Patriot's Day or the third Monday in April and usually lasts about 3-4 hours long.
A record running time of 2 hours and 3 minutes was made in 2011 by a man from Kenya named Geoffrey Mutai. Some people might consider this man a hero for his success as a runner. Two individuals have literally died trying to run the Boston Marathon (Swedish man, 1962 and Cynthia Lucero, 2002) either from a heart attack or from a blood sodium level that became fatally low. Some people might consider these two people heroes for doing what they loved up to the moment they died. And then there's the father and son team (Dick and Rick Hoyt) that competed with father pushing son in a wheelchair for 30 years in a row in the Boston Marathon. Most people would consider these two gentlemen heroes.
This year, in 2013, the world saw another kind of hero at the Boston Marathon. These were the men and women who ran towards the sound of explosions that rocked Copley Square in downtown Boston as final runners were crossing the finish line. The normal reaction might be to run away from such a horror, but not these folks. Their immediate reaction was to see how they could help the injured. There was apparently not much thought given to the possibility of whether or not there might be another bomb nearby just waiting to ignite, one that might possibly injure them.
No, the most important concern to these people were the 175 injured ones and the 3 that were dying. In the minds of these heroes, the immediate physical needs of 178 crying and bleeding people were more important than the security of their own life. And these were strangers to them before that day. These heroes were sacrificing their safety for people that they would likely have never crossed paths with in their entire life had this horrific event not happened. What is it about some humans that drives them to do good in the face of personal danger? What is it about some humans that drives them to commit the most horrendous evil in the face of some personal gain or agenda?
Is is possible that we were all created with the inherent tendency to do good, but some reject that tendency because of a more powerful craving? The craving to serve self. Some day we'll likely know the answer to that question. But for these hundreds of individuals who shared this horrible experience in Boston's Copley Square on April 15, 2013, their lives will never be the same. Whether they be victims of the terrible blast, horrified onlookers or heroes running to save lives, these minds and hearts have been forever stamped with the fact that there are evil villains in this world...but there are also self-sacrificing heroes nearby.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
|The wasp is circled above|
I was trying to think quickly about what might be a good remedy for the pain and swelling. And concerns about whether or not she would be allergic were flashing across my mind as well since she has never been stung before. I thought about ice first, so my husband and I moved quickly towards the concession stands to purchase a cup of ice.
But then I remembered a story I had heard many years ago about tobacco juice. It seems the story goes that a young boy had been poking a stick at a wasp nest high up in a tree trying to knock it down when the nest fell on the back of his neck and down into his shirt. The boy was stung anywhere from 20-30 times before getting the nest out of his shirt.
He ran to a friend's house screaming and crying for help. At his friend's house, there lived an old black woman who quickly grabbed her snuff spit can and began dousing tobacco juice on the back of his neck. As gross as this sounds, this old woman more than likely saved the boys life with this home remedy. It seems that tobacco juice has the ability to draw out the venom and provide an incredible amount of relief from the pain.
Allergic reactions to wasp stings can be very serious. If you notice intense swelling in the face, throat or mouth, trouble breathing or rapid heartbeat, get medical attention immediately. This can be a life threatening situation and is called anaphylactic reaction. This serious reaction can lead to cardiac arrest and unconsciousness in less than 10 minutes and death within an hour.
If you know you are allergic to wasp stings, you should carry wasp sting medicine with you at all times. Examples of these include prescriptions for emergency epinephrine auto-injectors like EpiPen or Twinject. It is also recommended that you wear a medical ID bracelet displaying your allergy to wasp stings. Most of this information would apply to bee stings as well.
Less serious reactions include pain, redness, itching and swelling at the sting sight, particularly a tiny red blister. For these less serious stings, a person can be given a dose of Benadryl or other antihistamine to counteract the affect of wasp venom. Many home remedies have been tried to help alleviate pain, itch and the swelling symptoms of a less serious reaction. These include ice, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar and tobacco juice.
Sometimes when a person is stung, you will still be able to see the stinger sticking out of the skin. This was the case with my granddaughter. It happened all so quickly. We had just left the face painting booth where she had picked out a bright blue animal print that she was so proud of. We stopped to play some games and then I remember she was walking in front of me with a huge yellow stuffed dolphin under her arm that my husband had just won for her by shooting basketball hoops.
We stopped by the restroom trailer to take a picture and then we were moving back towards the crowds and concessions. When looking back at the picture we took, we could see the wasp on the dolphin's side. All at once, she screamed and I could see something fluttering on her arm. She dropped the dolphin and she quickly pulled out of her arm a brownish/reddish stinger.
We were processing the moment, trying to decide what next to do for her, when she started crying in pain. According to NIH.GOV's Medline Plus, when removing the stinger, try not to puncture the venom bag as this could release more venom into your system. However, my granddaughter didn't wait for us to help her with that. She simply jerked it out in panic. This may have made her sting more painful.
At the concession stand, I asked the man giving us some ice if he smoked cigarettes and we explained our granddaughter's plight. He did not, but he referred us to two boys at the end of the booth who were taking a break from their work. They both dipped snuff or chewed chewing tobacco. We approached them and offered to buy a pinch, but they refused any money after they heard our story and willingly offered us a pinch of tobacco. I mixed it with a little water and made a small poultice to place directly on her sting.
Within minutes, she stopped crying and was ready for her next ride. We encouraged her to leave it on for a few minutes to do it's job of drawing out the poison. About 20 minutes was all she could wait and so we let her remove it. On the way home, she said it was starting to hurt again, so we stopped at a store and purchased a can of chewing tobacco and made another poultice to wear the rest of the way home. By the time we got home, all the symptoms of her sting were nearly gone and by today, completely gone. We were very thankful that she was not allergic and we praised her for her bravery. Getting stung is no easy thing to endure.
Many times over the years I have often wondered why tobacco even exists on this planet that the wonderful Creator made so perfect. Especially when you consider it's carcinomic affects on humans who smoke it. But, even this otherwise destructive plant has some medicinal value.
Monday, January 14, 2013
The XYBoard comes with a 3.2 Android Honeycomb operating system, pinch to zoom touch screen and both portrait and landscape angles keyboard. You can get up to 32 gigabytes (GB) of internal storage and it comes with 1 gigabyte of memory. In addition, it comes with a 1.6 gigahertzes (GHz) dual core processor (information processing speed). However, the best part about this baby is that not only does it have WI-FI (wireless internet) capabilities, it also has built-in HotSpot (internet service) available that you can share with your phone service and other devices. So, you can have internet service anywhere you go (as long as Verizon phone service is available in that area) and not just at your favorite cafe, fast food restaurant or hotel.
On this device, you can download games and apps, like the Kindle app for example, and have access to all your books, magazines and other reading material. And since it is a computer, you can create, save and edit documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint because it comes loaded with a full version of QuickOffice. When you're done, you can print them wirelessly with the pre-installed Motoprint application. There were some initial bugging issues with this product that seems to have been worked out. Priced at about $500, this tablet is definitely one that you would want to look closely at.
The Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2 is available in 7 inches or 10 inches in width and comes with some similiar features as the XYBoard. The operating system is Android 4.0, 4.1 and the Ice Cream Sandwich. It has front and rear cameras with rear pictures taking at 3.2 megapixels, but the front is only VGA (video graphics array) quality, meaning it will produce 4x6 pictures in pretty good quality, but no other size. It has 8+1 GB memory and up to 32 GB storage and comes with an SD card.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 comes with 1.2 GHz dual core processing speed and has a phone with speakerphone and airline mode options. In fact, it is the only tablet out there that has calling functions (if you don't count video chatting as a phone function). It can play music, videos and download apps (like the Kindle app) from Samsung Widget Gallery and Media Hub. The tablet is Microsoft Office compatible but does not come preloaded with it. Instead, it comes loaded with Polaris Office to create, edit and save documents. It is priced at about $350 for the 7 inch and about $600 for the 10 inch version.
The iPad2 is very similiar to the XYBoard, but different in a few important ways. The iPad2 also has front and back cameras but with much lower resolutions (0.92 megapixels). However, the iPad Mini, about 7 inches wide has 5 megapixels for its main camera. The iPad2 does have the option for 64 gigabytes of internal storage but only 512 megabytes of memory. The dual core processing speed of the iPad2 is slightly lower than the XYBoard at 1 gigahertz. The display screen, resolution and pixel density of the iPad2 are slightly lower than the XYBoard. The iPad2 does have the App Store (a huge resevoir of application choices), iCloud (an unlimited online storage site for music, documents, pictures, etc.) which are huge benefits for this product.
The iPad2 3G version has internal hotspot internet capability, but costs about $70 more and only comes with 16 gigabytes of internal storage. This product is priced at about $330 for 16 GB, $430 for 32 GB and $530 for 64 GB. The iPad3 or the iPad Retina Display has HD (high definition) screens easy on the eyes with 264 pixels per inch. All three iPads come with FaceTime video calling capabilities over WI-FI access. The price goes up about $100 on each storage size if you wish to add or share your cell phone wireless internet service to your tablet.
The Kindle Fire is a smaller display device, about 7 inches, that stores literally thousands of books, music, movies and other media. It comes with WI-FI access if your are nearby a wireless hotspot. You cannot use your cell phone service for this device and be able to get online. You can purchase and download books, media, games and apps from the Amazon store to play on your device. Screen resolution is about 216 pixels per inch (ppi). However, downsides to the Kindle Fire include the fact that they do not have cameras on any side, front or back or a computer operating system that allows any document creating. It's simply entertainment storage and web access. The new Kindle HD does have a front camera that takes 1.3 megapixels pictures. This device is priced at about $199.
It's rival, the Nook has a setup that is similiar with storage for books, music and other media and access to the internet via an external hotspot. The Nook is slightly lighter in weight, slightly better in resolution, slightly faster in processing, same in memory but comes with a lot less storage. However, the Nook has storage capabilities with an SD card that the Kindle does not. The Nook has no camera, so no video chatting is possible. The Nook also gives you an unlimited shopping experience at Barnes & Noble. This device is priced at about $199.
And then there's the Windows Surface RT (almost 11 inch tablet) and the Windows Surface 8 Pro coming in 2013. This little guy operates much like a desktop computer with up to 64 GB of storage and runs the Windows RT operating system. The Windows Surface Pro 8 is the only tablet that has ever been able to connect to a network of computers. Instead of a dual core processor, it has a quad-core with NIVIDIA Tegra 3 processing speed. It comes with Bluetooth WI-FI, front and rear facing cameras, both with 720 pixel HD LifeCams, two microphones and stereo speakers. It downloads music, apps, games and more just like other tablets. This tablet is priced at about $500 for the RT and about $900 for Pro 8.
So, there's a few things to think about when considering a tablet purchase that will bring you up to date in this ever changing age of technology. When deciding, think about what's important to you. Do you really need a good camera and video camera? Is it really important to also have HotSpot included? Then the Android XYBoard might be the one for you. If you really need a phone with your tablet, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is the answer for you. If you need networking and full computer capabilities, then the Windows Surface RT might be just the trick. The Kindle and the Nook are really fun, but everything they have to offer can be had with other tablets that do more. That's tough to swallow but sometimes the truth hurts.