Archive for Environment

Volcano Awareness

Posted in Humor with tags , on April 17, 2010 by Wiggy

With all the seismic and volcanic activity in the world lately, I thought it might be a good idea to spread a little advice and information. You can thank me later…

Did you know May is actually Volcano Awareness Month? As the weather turns warmer each spring, more people head out to volcano-hazard-zones for sport and other recreation. Did you know one to two volcanic eruptions have occurred each century in the U.S. in the past 4,000 years? Since the United States declared independence in 1776, little more than 230-years-ago, seven volcanoes have erupted in the U.S. Northwest alone. May 18th each year marks the anniversary of the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Remember that one?

As a public service to any and all of my readers living within 300 miles of Yellowstone National Park and immediately down wind, we’ll review the dangers of living near an active volcano. Scientists and geologists studying the massive caldera have noted the dome on which Yellowstone sits has been swelling up 3 inches per year for the last several years and is filling with molten rock. That’s three times faster than ever observed since measurements began in 1923. The volcano at Yellowstone has produced massive eruptions 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago, all larger than the 1980 eruption of St. Helens.

Now, if I do the math correctly, 2 million minus 1.3 million is 700,000. 1.3 million minus 642,000 is 658,000 which is just under 700,000. And it’s been 642,000 years since the last one. Beginning to see a pattern here? I would have to say the next eruption falls well within the predicted geological timeframe.

Oh and by the way, scientists classify the Yellowstone volcano as a “Super-Volcano” because it covers 925 square miles. The pyroclastic flow would destroy almost everything in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska and southwestern Canada…in other words, most of the Lakota Republic. And there’s evidence the last major “super” eruption plunged the world into a freezing, volcanic winter which lasted a decade. On the bright side, I guess it would take care of global warming for a while. And the super-eruption has the potential to cover the entire United States in three feet of ash from a plume.

WWoW invites you to learn steps that you can take to prepare for the many hazards an active volcano can present.

Volcanic dangers include not only an eruption of a mountain and the associated lava flows, but also ash fall and debris flows. If you’re stupid enough to live or are vacationing near an active volcano, be familiar with the following:

Before a volcanic eruption:

Plan ahead. Have emergency supplies, food and water stored. Make sure these items can withstand sulfuric acid and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plan an evacuation route away from rivers or streams which may carry mud or debris flows. Vehicles should be able to run without air, so engine intakes don’t clog with 1,400 degree ash. They also need to be able to outrun a pyroclastic flow traveling 430 miles per hour.

Keep a battery-operated radio available at all times so you’ll know exactly when you’ll be vaporized by the superheated mix of pulverized lava.

If there’s an eruption predicted, monitor the radio or television for evacuation information. If you remain in an area where this information is broadcast and do not heed the warnings, you deserve what you get.

After a volcanic eruption:

Don’t approach the eruption area. You can recognize this area by its moonscape-like features and lack of any living creature or vegetation.

Be prepared to stay indoors and avoid downwind areas if ash fall is predicted. This snow-like ash is made of very fine rock and mineral particles. Although not poisonous, it can wreak havoc on lung tissue if you’re allergic to breathing hot gravel.

Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities…those authorities who weren’t smart enough to leave BEFORE the explosion.

Be aware of stream and river channels when evacuating. Those requiring special attention will be the ones clogged with mud, trees and dead animals.

Move toward higher ground if mudflows are approaching. This higher ground does NOT include the mountain which just exploded.

Follow the evacuation signs posted along roads and highways. These would include the ones not blown down by the initial blast wave or melted by lava.

If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, do yourself a favor and spend the next year in New Mexico…unless you have a fear of being abducted by a UFO or Scientologists.

Keep roofs free of ash in excess of 4 inches. If this is actually a problem, you’re definitely way too close.

Wash vegetables from the garden before eating…unless you’re mineral deficient.

In summary, the odds of being affected by a volcanic explosion while vacationing are probably slim. Living near an active volcano…well just remember Pompeii.

Wiggy – Volcanic Vitriol of Virtue

Did St. Nicholas Cause Global Warming?

Posted in Humor with tags , on December 5, 2009 by Wiggy

St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, is celebrated by a large portion of the Christian world population. This includes the Dutch, Belgian, Italian, German, Lebanese, Palestinian Christian, Swiss, Austrian, Russian, Czech, Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, French and Portuguese. Please forgive me if I left out any other European or Asian countries who may venerate this day, as I’m not currently up on the daily social and religious aspects of Armenia, Moldova, Albania, Macedonia, etc.

Previously “Did Noah’s Ark Cause Global Warming” uncovered the little know fact the species-sparing ancient mariner known as Noah may have played a part in the world’s greatest impending natural disaster. We now look at another possible trigger behind the recent explosion of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the negative affects on the global climate. We’ll forget while writing this, it was sixteen degrees and snowing at my home.

We can thank the overly-generous Patron Saint of Sailors and ex-Bishop of the Greek colonial city of Myra, St. Nicholas, or St. Nick for short, solely for the commercialization of several religious and not-so-religious holidays including Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Diwali, Boxing Day, Yalda, Soyal, Bodhi and Festivus. This Portage of the Present, Gulliver of the Gift, is chiefly responsible for the appearance of holiday decorations in department stores the day after Halloween. Disclaimer: please note the utilization of the word “holiday” in lieu of Christmas in the previous sentence is purely for political correctness and as not to offend any readers of the Wiccan, Jewish, Buddhist, Canadian or Seinfeldian persuasion. What you may not realize is St. Nicholas should also be recognized as a major contributing factor to the global warming problem. Just think about the number of mail order catalogs each household receives during the holiday season!

Let’s for argument sake assume a typical mail order catalog weighs one pound, realizing anyone who’s ever ordered anything from Cabela’s, scourge of the mail carrier, knows this outdoor catalog, which one receives at least weekly from October through December, weighs closer to two and a half pounds. There are approximately 111,400,000 households in the U.S., according to the U.S. census bureau. As I can’t accurately speak to the winter holiday selling/purchasing habits or the postal efficiency of our holiday-celebrating-brethren in the rest of the civilized world, I’ll err on the side of conservatism and not include them.

If each household averages just one mail order catalog a day…my mailbox averages at least 4 per day…that’s 111,400,000 catalogs. This conservatism takes into account such factors as hermits/manifesto authors and residents of questionable status. The illiterate and NASCAR fans aren’t excluded, as they can at least look at the pretty pictures. Multiply the number of catalogs by one pound per catalog for a total of 111,400,000 pounds of wasted paper each day. To add the “green” factor to these calculations, we’ll generously assume at least 25 percent of households recycle their coated-paper publications. That brings the number down to 83,550,000 pounds or 41,775 tons per day.

With the holiday mail order shopping season, by some perverse reason, beginning on approximately October 1st each year…at least that’s when the increase in postal poundage seems to begin…let’s calculate the duration. Using the 2007 calendar, as global warming seems to have picked up particular attention that year with campaigning politicians and left-coast entertainers, it gives us the following: 25 mail delivery days in October and 24 in November, taking into account the non-postal delivery days of Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. Let’s assume 25 delivery days in December taking into account the non-delivery day of Christmas. The 25 delivery days in December, for arguments sake, includes the inefficiency of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver all mail order catalogs before December 25th and accounts for delivery in rain, sleet and gloom of night. That works out to be 74 mail delivery days during the holiday season. Multiply by the previously calculated 41,775 tons per day, it leaves us with 3,091,350 tons of discarded, useless, electronics, apparel, and knick-knack catalogs each winter holiday season.

To keep this intellectual diatribe brief, I won’t bore you with the statistics and details of the tree fiber, to paper pulp, to paginated-kitchen-clutter process. One can only imagine how many naturally-occurring greenhouse-gas filters are slaughtered to produce the three million-plus tons of retail sales brochures, inflicted on every household in America each holiday season. And this doesn’t even consider the energy, chemicals or helpless, furry, woodland creatures which were consumed in the printing and production processes.

These back-breakers of the U.S. postal professional also serve as one of the main grounds for worker compensation filings for USPS employees, rivaled only second to animal attacks…specifically from annoying yapping lap dogs with Napoleon complex, which have no value except as a fashion accessory to over-shopped Hollywood “celebrities.”

Marc “Wiggy” Kovacs
Calculating Composer of Complex Concoctions and Colloquialism