Yesterday it was raining and the temperature actually dropped into the upper 40’s. In June. There is actually a slight chance of us having a Nor’Easter on Friday. Oh, crazy New England weather, don’t ever change. Honestly, I still prefer you to baking in the humid Southern sun.
And speaking of insanity and bad weather, we are supposed to have a bad hurricane season this year. That wouldn’t be quite as troubling except that the current occupant of the White House has not yet put anyone in charge of NOAA, FEMA, or the NHC.* He can, however, find the time to go play a lot of golf and to tweet all sorts of crazy stuff. Needless to say, people in hurricane-prone places like Florida are starting to notice.
Well, since Trump is also planning to slash FEMA’s budget as well as the NOAA budget and the NASA budget, maybe they think we don’t need to worry about being able to predict the weather. We should just sit back and not worry about silly things like storm forecasts and we can just go back to the blissful days of yore, when major storms could sneak up on people with little to no warning and do horrendous damage.
Nah, that could never happen again, right?
*It turns out Trump did nominate someone to lead FEMA in late April, but the Senate has not yet voted on the nominee, probably because they are so busy trying to take away everyone’s health insurance.
Today is the day that we traditionally celebrate the men who have held the office of the President of the United States. Over the years that celebration has gone from actually thinking about the Founding Fathers to indulging in a long weekend, sales on automobiles, and deep discounts at your local mall or favorite online store.
Continue reading “Happy #PresidentsDay”
It’s that time of year again. The When Patients Heal You concert is back. Only this year we’ve moved out of the lecture hall at the BU Medical Center and we’re back at my alma mater, Boston University. In fact, we’ll be performing in the concert hall where I did my undergraduate recital lo these many years ago.
It will be much like years past, all the performers will be neurology patients of Boston Medical Center and many of them will be epileptics like me. We’ll all get to perform two pieces and probably bring the house down at the end with big sing a long with Denise at the keyboard.
There’s usually a reception afterward with tasty food and a chance to mingle with the performers and the medical staff who not only provide us with excellent care, they sometimes even perform with us. Please join us on Friday night for a great concert and a lot of fun. This is a free event. Tell your friends.
That’s a question I am often asked in winter here in Boston by people who know me, especially on particularly cold days. My answer is always no, no matter how snowy and miserable and cold it is. And the reason for that is because while I don’t mind cold winters, I really, really don’t like hot summers. Plenty of people don’t feel the same way, which is probably why so many people from the Northeast retire to Florida. But I would always rather put up with nasty Boston winters than brutal Alabama summers. And it’s why on days like today (when it’s supposed to get over 90 degrees) I long for winter to return.
Being the weather geek I am, let me break it down for you with some data.
Continue reading ““Do you miss the South now?””
As a part-time first responder who is interested in emergency management, disaster recovery, and safety in general, I read pretty much everything related to those topics that I can get my hands on, including a lot of stuff about how people respond in a crisis. It’s fascinating stuff, and some really excellent books have been written about it, such as Amanda Ripley’s The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why.
A side effect of this is that I have started paying attention to what I would call “unusual” deaths and accidents. People keep doing things that I would consider to be pretty damn unsafe, and it costs them. Recent examples are plenty. A man leaves the designated paths at Yellowstone, and falls into a spring that is so high-temperature and acidic that there is literally no body to recover. A young man accidentally shoots himself while taking a selfie with a pistol. A tourist in Australia goes swimming at 10 at night in an area clearly marked with signs warning about crocodiles and gets killed by a crocodile over 14 feet long. Or the guy in Georgia back in March who decided that it would be cool to pack an old lawnmower with 3 pounds of Tannerite and then shoot at it from only 40 feet away. He blew off his own leg, and the whole thing was caught on video.
And I realized that what all of these people had in common was this: a lack of fear. Specifically, a lack of what I would consider to be the healthy kind of fear.
Continue reading “Sometimes, fear is a good thing”
While searching for some videos on YouTube that might do a better job of explaining the phenomenon of rogue waves than I can, I actually found some really, really good material. First, one of my absolute favorite people on the Intertubes, Hank Green, who is also half of the awesome duo that is the vlog brothers. Here, Hank talks about rogue waves on his SciShow channel.
Continue reading “The science and history of rogue waves, part two”
In what could prove to be a huge step forward in predicting how rogue waves are formed, and thus a tool for saving lives at sea, researchers at MIT have found a way to give 2 to 3 minutes warning of an incoming rogue wave.
I know it probably sounds stupid, but it’s hard for me to explain how excited I am about this research. So much so that I am tempted to go speak with the researchers sometime (living in Cambridge does have its advantages). But to understand why I am geeking out about this, it might help for me to go into some detail about what we know about rogue waves, and how they have affected ships at sea, as well as oil rigs, lighthouses, and coastlines. This is one of those times that my love of history (especially maritime history) and my love of science come together.
Continue reading “The science and history of rogue waves, part one”
I have always thought of “Flat Earthers” as something of an insult, something you say about people who cling to long-disproved beliefs (hence the comment by President Obama a few years ago in reference to climate deniers). Honestly, I had no idea that the whole Flat Earth Society thing was making some sort of comeback, but apparently it is. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.
Continue reading “Flat Earthers and other science deniers”