American Elephants


It Was 30 Years Ago Today! by American Elephant
May 18, 2010, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Environment, History, News, Science/Technology | Tags: , , , ,

[Ed. note: the following was originally posted 2 years ago on this infamous day]

Chances are, if you’re not from Washington or Oregon, the date May 18th has little meaning to you. Heck, even around here many don’t think of it unless someone reminds them. But I remember — every year. It’s one of the only world events I remember from back then — I was only ten after all; but the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980 was just the kind of event that little boys remember forever.

We were very fortunate, the mountain exploded northwards, but the winds carried the ash-cloud away to the southeast. I remember being somewhat disappointed that the ash wasn’t turning day to night for us like it was for all the people on the television. In fact, we didn’t seem to get any ash-fall at all, much to my chagrin; while people on the other side of the mountain were measuring it in inches, like snow.

So much excitement! …and so little pay off.

About the most exciting thing I personally experienced was standing on my father’s roof to see the enormous plume looking fairly small and unimpressive so many miles away. I’m not sure if we heard the explosion or not. They say people heard it as far as 700 miles away, and we were certainly much closer than that. I think we did — but that could just be my memory playing tricks on me.

So close, and yet so far. But I still remember it every year.

Where were you?

Update: Michael Rubin at the Corner links to an excellent photo montage on the eruption and the aftermath.



The mysterious moving rocks of Racetrack Playa by The Elephant's Child
August 5, 2008, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Environment, News of the Weird, Science/Technology | Tags: , , ,

This is a fascinating puzzle, and completely new to me — the moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California. The moving rocks, also called sailing stones or sliding rocks, slide across the surface of the playa leaving long tracks behind them. A playa is a seasonally dry lake bed. No one has ever seen the stones move, but the trails indicate that they do. Nor are these all little rocks, many are as big as a man, and some are as large as 750 lbs. For more pictures and possible explanation, follow the link above.



The NUPs Strike Again! by The Elephant's Child

8PM Saturday night, March 29 is designated as “Earth Hour”. The Greenies want us to turn off our lights for one hour, to demonstrate something or other. If you are interested, just google “Earth Hour 2008″. If you think it is a crock, consider yourself an Illumination Activist. Turn on all household lights, any heaters, air conditioners, automobile headlights, the stove’s self-cleaning cycle, the TV. all kitchen appliances, the stereo. Or have a Carbon Party.

David Warren not long ago wrote a column in which he spoke of “Naive Urban People”. I refer to them as NUPs. They love wild animals, particularly babies, and Nature — which they observe from their car windows. The average visit to the Grand Canyon — one of the wonders of the world — lasts 20 minutes. NUPs are deeply concerned about “global warming” and can’t be bothered to read up and find out what it is all about. They are careful to recycle, but don’t ask what it costs their municipal government. They are urban people, deeply uninformed about the natural world and how it works.

Perhaps you remember World Jump Day. A typical NUP production. You can Google that one too.




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