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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, September 8, 2016

TOF and the Lightning

TOF meant to comment a couple weeks ago, but God was stalking him.

On the way home from the surgeon -- last follow-up, hooray! -- driving along the south face of South Mountain (or whatever they call it out in the wilds by Allentown) lightning struck the hillside.

Just as we passed by, too. Missed us by maybe a couple hundred yards. It struck about halfway up the mountainside, the only time TOF ever had a close-up view of a lightning bolt, and about as close as he ever wants to have such a view.

It was a broad, white streak straight from sky to ground, no zig-zag, and the thunder was not the rolling thunder of a distant bolt but a sharp snap with clean edges, like sheet metal. There was of course no lag between the sight and the sound and, man, it was loud. It set no fire that TOF could see, but we tarried not.

The physical therapist commented when TOF saw her later that week that she had once treated a man who had survived a lightning bolt -- twice. This was a man from whom TOF would ask for a lottery number or a stock tip. Or not: there are different kinds of luck.

12 comments:

  1. My uncle made the mistake of tying to finish the back nine. Said he jumped up and ran 100 yards to the clubhouse. It was there that he discovers he had broken his leg.

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  2. We were driving past a transformer on a power pole once-- it was on the far side of the road, late night either after a movie or the fair, can't remember-- and it exploded.

    You could *feel* the electricity in the air, almost like a hum or almost the opposite how humidity feels when you first walk into it, before your skin is wet.
    I've felt something *like* it when I was far too close to far too much electricity, but not that strongly.

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  3. This might interest: https://what-if.xkcd.com/16/

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  5. I grew up west of Johannesburg. The whole interior plateau of southern Africa is lightning central during the summer months, esp. Nov-Jan.

    We used to listen for decreasing intervals between lightning and thunder. When it got to a certain level, the TV had to go off, anyone in the bath had to get out. If you were swimming, you got out as soon as you heard thunder. You knew the storm was right overhead when there was a flash, the phone went "peep!" followed by the sharpest, loudest bang! Your line of "a sharp snap with clean edges, like sheet metal", is exactly right!

    Traditional folklore at that latitude has it that witches cause lightning strikes that kill people. Every now and then, some lonely old woman in a rural district gets lynched because someone was struck by lightning.

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    1. Where I come from (northern Arizona, US), they know witches aren't responsible for lightning strikes (although certain things like having animals in the house during storms and weaving certain patterns in your blankets are said to attract lightning). But they do think witches use lightning-struck wood to curse people. Navajo witches, though, are almost exclusively male.

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  6. I was up close and personal to a very near shot driving through/away from a tropical storm in South Carolina many moons ago. It was purple and all encompassing and gave me an entirely new frame of reference for omnipotence. An awful, terrible thing. I am glad I "saw" it but I would not choose to do it again.

    TOF, you are being hastened to write more before the reaper comes. Heed the omen!

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    1. Good point. No wonder we see smiting by lightning as a paradigm example of the power of gods.

      Christi pax.

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    2. Good point. No wonder we see smiting by lightning as a paradigm example of the power of gods.

      Christi pax.

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  7. That doesn't sound like fun - glad you didn't end up conducting anything - but like an event it is good to think back having lived through. Such an experience for me was witnessing a hurricane front and center, including passing through the eye. The wind blows really, really hard, ripping remarkably large trees out of the ground. It rains a lot.

    Which reminds me: People talk about how sea level rise might cause Florida to become a shallow spot in the ocean as if that's a bad thing.

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  8. Lightening is a powerful thing! I was sitting on a porch during a thunder shower watching the rain and listening to the thunder coming nearer. Suddenly a flash about five-feet wide and the loudest BOOM! I'd ever heard appeared about forty-feet in front of me. It was terrifying and spectacular.

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  9. Lightening is a powerful thing! I was sitting on a porch during a thunder shower watching the rain and listening to the thunder coming nearer. Suddenly a flash about five-feet wide and the loudest BOOM! I'd ever heard appeared about forty-feet in front of me. It was terrifying and spectacular.

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