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Posts Tagged ‘community’

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day, a Commonwealth holiday unfamiliar to most Americans, and a national holiday in Canada since 1871.

And it has nothing to do with fighters in a ring with a bell.

While its history is a little fuzzy, traditionally Boxing Day was thought of as a time for alms-giving, and for lords and ladies to distribute gifts to household servants, dependents and the poor. It was originally known as Offering Day.

Fiction-related note: Charles Dickens mentioned Boxing Day in “The Pickwick Papers,” which was published as a monthly serial in 1836 and 1837.

These days, Boxing Day in Canada is more like a second Black Friday, an excuse for big sales and shopping shopping shopping. 

I have no servants but as you may know, I like to contribute to the community and causes that matter to me. So today, I’ll help support some of the groups out there doing good.

No boxing necessary.

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Are You Ok?

This pandemic just keeps on keeping on, and while we are in a much better place than we were last year we’re not back to normal yet.

I watch my neighbors walk by, the teenager who gets off the school bus alone every day at 3:45, the man who drives a cab that may or may not be in demand, the new father who strolls up and down the street every afternoon, the older couple who always hold hands as they walk their dog, and the orange cat we are (almost) certain has a home.

I wave and say hello but mostly I want to ask, “Are you ok? Are your homes warm, your pantries full, your hearts whole?”

I know that in my neighborhood and others, the answers will not always be what I hope. And so I smile and wave and when I can, I help food pantries, animal rescues and other groups who do their best to keep our community strong. 

And that helps me be ok, too.

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Photo by Sonika Agarwal on Unsplash

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So I’m in my house one day last year as storm rolled in overhead. Dark clouds rained down, thunderous booms rumbled, and, off in the distance like God’s own strobe, lightning. I’m at my desk asking myself all the usual questions one does in such situations: Which direction is the storm tracking? Who pissed off the powers that be? Was that last strike closer? And that most critical question of the 21st century: will the power stay on long enough for me to meet my project deadline?

A little websploration later, and I discovered a very fun tool: Lightning Maps.

A project from Blitzortung.org, the site uses crowd-sourced data from a community of contributors with strike sensors:

“Blitzortung.org” is a lightning detection network for locating electromagnetic discharges in the atmosphere (lightning discharges) with VLF receivers based on the time of arrival (TOA) and time of group arrival (TOGA) method.

Lightning emits radio waves detectable from thousands of miles, if you have the right sensor. With more than 500 sensors, the network displays data from America, Europe and Oceania.

Think this is extra cool, have some skill with electronics and want to join in? Keep an eye on the Blitzortung forums to see when their next batch of sensors is available for purchase and deployment.

While the site makes it clear that the data are not suited for insurance or protection of life and property, it’s still a fun resource. I recommend it for anyone interested in a dynamic view of one of nature’s most dramatic forces.

Would you like to know more?

Check out how lightning works and the science of detection.

I prefer the beauty and simplicity of Lightning Maps but there are a number of alternatives. Visit Blitzortung.org for real-time and historical maps, or any of the alternative lightning maps at the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), the European Cooperation for Lightning Detection (EUCLID), and of course, NASA.

Next time a big storm comes through I plan to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn and ooh-ahh over the latest lightning strikes… at least until the power goes out:)

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