Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Raw Power, Baby!

Thought for the day:  The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the place isn't there the second time around.  [Willie Tyler]

[THEME: Amateur radio]

Are you a fan of storms? Do thunder boomers get your adrenaline pumping, and does LIGHTNING make your heart beat faster, and your eyes glow with excitement?

Oh, yeah. Me, too.

You know what lightning is, don't you? Pure unbridled electricity. A single bolt of lightning carries more than enough power to fulfill all your electrical needs for your entire lifetime. Absolutely mind-boggling.  If we could only tame and control it, huh? 

Alas, unless your name is Frankenstein, we can't tame it, but we must always respect it. The most important thing to understand about lightning is it goes where it wants to go. Which means, by the way, in spite of the thought for the day, lightning can and does strike in the same place twice, and has, in fact, caused damage at our address several times. Contrary to what you may think, lightning won't necessarily strike the tallest target, and may very well ignore a perfectly good lightning rod in favor of zapping another spot altogether. It strikes where it wants to strike.

The typical amateur radio operator has multiple antennas in the air, and often has tall towers holding some of those antennas. Talk about tempting  targets in a lightning storm. And as if those targets weren't enticing enough, most of us also have a good bit of amateur radio gear inside our homes. So it's imperative that we do all we can to provide our equipment with a semblance of LIGHTNING PROTECTION

Whole books have been written on this subject, but I'm gonna boil it down to a few simple points. First, ground, ground, ground. Ground antennas, ground towers, and ground equipment. And in the event of a thunderstorm,

  • Disconnect antennas and
  • Pull plugs. (Be advised that surge protectors aren't designed to handle a lightning strike.) 
                                           Oh yeah, and one other highly important point:  

Be very, very careful which hat you wear in a thunderstorm.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work. [Mark Twain]


  1. You wear it well Susan! Be careful of the lightning, but do consider a career as a hat designer! Julie

  2. I love hats and I think you just designed the one I am going to wear for Mother's Day. How apropos. heehee

    You look awesome in it. I really like the one eye/sly smirky smile you have working those flowers. When I see pics of you like this it just confirms why I like you so much. Thanks for the smiles!

    How many times has your house been hit? Are all the strikes because of your equipment or is it because of your "electric" personality? [Even I can't believe I went there. I blame lack of sleep. heehee]

    I am glad that you all are fine after the strikes. That is scary. I love lightening storms too, especially with thunder, but not to the point of being hit. :)

    Have a great day my friend. :)

  3. You've about said it all Suzy. Lightening does indeed do what it wants. And another thing, about half of lightening strikes go from the earth to the sky. Now that's a chilling thought. Stand in the wrong place and zap! Pants on fire.

  4. Lovely chapeau there Susan.

    I have a very healthy fear of lightening. My mom used to pull most plugs out of their sockets when a storm came. I don't do that, but I do turn off the computer. I have heard of many people having their's getting fried by a lightening strike.

  5. Julie- Oh, yeah. I could start a new trend ... might as well use those old metal colanders for something, eh?

    Skippy- Glad ya like my goofy picture. Lightning has had its way with us four times. Once, it struck a nearby transformer, but the surge was great enough to damage some equipment in our house. The worst was the time it killed our dog. She happened to be in the yard at the time. (When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.)Another time, my husband was actually talking on a radio when it got zapped. But we've never been hurt personally. We've got lightning protection out the wazoo. (And I leave my "hat" on the shelf ...)

    Mr. C- You're right, and it can also pulse from sky to ground and back again multiple times. Scariest to me, though, is the fact that a person can get struck by lightning when there isn't so much as a cloud in the sky. There've been stories of golfers playing on a blue-skied day, but a bolt of lightning strikes them ... "outta the blue." The storm is miles away, but the lightning ... goes where it wants to go.

    Arleen- Your mom was smart to pull the plugs. Even if something is turned off, it it's plugged into the socket, the surge from a lightning strike can still fry it. Surge protectors are great, but they aren't intended to stop the kind of surge caused by lightning. (Glad ya like my fancy chapeau!)

  6. Ha! LOVE your hat, dahling! :)

  7. Awesome post as usual Susan!

    And while I like your hat, it's never going to work -- too many holes for the brain-zapping rays from the TV to get through! You'll need too cover all the holes with aluminum foil if you don't want the government to be able to control your thoughts.

    And while you're at it, you should cover all your windows with foil, too. Can never be too sure...


  8. Great L post! I thought about doing lightning, but from the aspect of lighning vs. lightening and how people confusing them. Glad you didn't! ;-)

  9. Ha! Well, the colander works better than tinfoil at least.

    And I do love a good booming thunderstorm. :)

  10. Londa- HA! Thanks. You can borrow it any time.

    Chris- Nah, the holes are actually vents to let the smoke out after I get zapped.

    Tia- Thanks for stopping by, and you're right about a lot of people confusing the two words.

    L.G.- I'll bet you get to see some pretty awesome storms up there in the mountains, too.

  11. I sometimes remember to pull the computer out (my baby), but I should get better with it. I'm usually too excited watching the storm! Or in bed and simply too lazy.

    Now that's a hat! Where can I order one of those?

  12. P.S. I like the title of your book! Sounds like something I shall want to read. :)

  13. I used to love a good storm but since our climate has gone so bonky and the storms are so much more ferocious I have developed a healthy respect for them. We run around unplugging tv's and radios and cordless phones and whatever else we can get at.

  14. That hat! Hehe. Thanks for all the lightning tips. I'm always scared I'll get struck. They say one of the safest places you can be during a storm is your car, because the metal all around you will direct the lightning away from your body. Don't know if that's true or not, though.

  15. Carrie- I'm taking orders for that hat now. Unfortunately, I only have one, though, so it'll have to go to the highest bidder. HA! Glad you like the title of my book. God willing and the creeks don't rise, maybe you'll have the opportunity to read it someday.

    Delores- It DOES seem like storms have gotten nastier, doesn't it?

    Shelley- There's a lot of truth about being more safe inside an automobile during a storm. Certainly a lot more safe than the time I was caught a mile away from shore in a row boat! Thanks for stopping by.

  16. I didn't know that surge protectors weren't designed to handle a lighting strike! Nor did I realize a single strike could set you up for life in terms of energy needs. That has my cogs turning.

    Great hat, Sus. And I really like the Twain quote.

  17. Love the hat. :D

    I used to love storms, but now I've come to dread them because my dog is terrified of them. He's so scared he makes me miserable too. But I still love watching lightning, it's so amazing.

  18. Love your hat. LOL

    Thanks for the reminder about lightening. In addition to unplugging my computer, I also unplug phone lines coming into my office. Fried a few modems before I found out the lightening was riding the phone line.

  19. We used to live near a television tower and during a thunderstorm I would sit in the garage and watch the lightning strike the tower. Ironically, it was usually a better show than what the TV station was broadcasting.

  20. Where did you get that hat? Oh yes, the kitchen cupboard! They also say that if you heart the thunder you don't have to worry about the lightening! I have to admit that it gives me the jitters but then why shouldn't it. It's out to kill!

  21. Great picture!!! :-) Holy is too bad we can't bottle it up. Maybe with your skills, you could build something to catch it. Susan, the lightning tamer! ;-) Happy weekend!

  22. Suze- By the way, I love that you've been calling me Sus. That's what my mother used to call me. (Sounded like Suze.) Anyway, yeah, surge protectors can handle a run-of-the-mill power surge glitch on the line, but they can't handle the amount of juice in a lightning strike. And if you look inside of a protector after it's handled a big surge, you'll see it's pretty much fried.

    Julie- All our dogs were terrified of lightning, too. No matter how big they were, they always wanted to sit on my lap and shiver. Or hide under the bed. Our cats don't seem to be bothered by it, though. They're as enamored as watching it as I am.

    Maryann- You're right; lightning can ride a telephone line, and take out telephones and modems, too. It's also not a good idea to take a shower during an electrical storm.

    G. Thomas- HA! I can believe that! Mother Nature's shows are almost always better than the drivel shown on TV.

    Rosalind- That's right. When our kids used to get frightened by the loud booms of thunder, we always reminded them that the noise couldn't hurt them, and that it FOLLOWED the lightning.

    Tracy Jo- Nah, I'll leave the lightning taming to somebody else. I'll stick with taming our cats. You have a wonderful weekend, too.

  23. Love the pics, too! Thanks for taking the time to drop by!

  24. Thanks for stopping by Susan. It's the Hurricanes we have to worry about here on the Texas coast. Looks like you're doing pretty well on building a PLATFORM. Good luck with the A-Z

  25. I love this new style of hats!!!
    I didn't know that about surge protectors...i really didn't know anything at all about amateur radios either until I started reading your blog!! thanks for the lessons!

  26. Nice headgear & thanks for your interesting post. I love nothing better than a good storm! When on holiday in Turkey, we had one that lasted nearly 24 hours :)

  27. Lady B- Glad you like the pics, and thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate it.

    James- We don't have much in the way of hurricanes here, but the tornado sirens wail a little too often. Thanks for stopping by.

    Momto8- Glad to hear you've been learning a little bit about amateur radio. Thanks.

    Anita- Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. That was a pretty long storm you experienced in Turkey. Good thing you enjoy them!

  28. Being raised in Southern California, I hardly knew what a storm was. I was a weather virgin, until I moved to the Ozarks and experienced my first tornado only five days later!
    Lightning scares the jeeters out of me.

  29. Jon- Oh yeah, "it never rains in Southern California", huh? Not much in Texas either, is it? Electrical storms fascinate me, but I can do quite well without the tornadoes, thank you very much. Or the hailstorms that leave dimple marks all over my car. Take care, cowboy.

  30. Lovely lady who wears the LATEST fashion. I thinks you're a trendsetter. Uh-huh!

    Now for the lightning. I like to be far away from it. Like near rubber. Isn't that a good thing??

    Following you back. Love your blog. You are a bodaciously cool trendsetter. *waving*

  31. Robyn- Now, I've been called a lot of things in my life, but "trendsetter" ain't one of them. How 'bout that? I'm "cool." AND "bodacious." (Who knew?) Thanks for stopping by and for signing on. Welcome aboard!

  32. I enjoyed reading this very interesting article on lightning. Despite the odds, you never know when your time is up.
    Thanks for posting this.

  33. Anthony- Yep, you're right; we never know. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take reasonable precautions. As much as I enjoy a good electrical storm, I've got no plans to climb to the top of a tower the next time one comes through. (Matter of fact, I'm not going up there on a sunny day, either!) Thank you for stopping by, and for signing on as a follower. Welcome aboard!

  34. I love lightning! You look so cute :)

  35. Hi Susan .. I always wondered what pans were for - now I know - add a flower or two and you have the latest creation.

    Lightning is some force - incredible power - I like seeing it .. but would rather it wasn't too close. Thunder rattles and rolls .. but it's not too bad mostly - 'cept when I jump.

    Cheers Hilary

  36. My absolute favourite place to be in during a storm is in a plane. I realize that it might not be the safest, but it is wonderful and scary all at the same time.

  37. Udita- Me, too. (Um, think there's something "wrong" with us?)

    Hilary- That's right. We crafty people have to make our hats out of something. When the storm is right overhead, and the thunder makes the house shake, the windows rattle, and the critters hide, I must admit, I might jump a little, too.

    Lady- I was only in an airplane during a storm once. That was also the only time I ever got airsick. It was pretty darned scary. (You must be tougher than I am!)