Wednesday, April 12, 2006

late friday tornado blogging

Friday catblogging was pre-empted by multiple tornaodes in the area. While I did see one wall cloud and possible funnel right before it went over the house (and damn near was struck by lightning), it was too dark to get a photo. About half and hour later, another tornado went about 2 miles south of the house, and I got to hear a tornado for the first time.

Now, I've seen several tornadoes and funnel clouds in my life. Hell, one of my earliest memories is as a child going outside to play right after a bad storm. I saw matamus clouds hanging down on the back side of the cell that had just passed, then looked straight up. Directly overhead was a perfect spiral in the clouds, moving relatively fast. Yes, I've looked straight up in a funnel cloud. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I told Mom what I saw, and at the time she dismissed it, since by the time she looked outside the funnel had disappated, although the matamus was still overhead. A few months later a program on tornadoes was on PBS, and it talked about how matamus often was seen in tornadic cells. Mom believed what I had seen at that point.

I've seen tornadoes on the ground from a distance a copule of times, and been in two tornadoes in my life. One in elementary school when one went right over the school, and one in Tennessee when a storm snuck up on us while my parents, sister and I were going to the Smoky Mountains. Our car was almost blown over, we were in the inflow to the tornado which was on the ground which was less than a mile away.

Friday night was the first time I actually heard a tornado. Not suprising, it sounded like a lot of wind, very low pitched. Think of a jet engine from a distance so you don't hear any of the high-pitched sounds or of a train minus the sound of the wheels on rails. A low pitched, constant rumble. It doesn't sound exactly like a train, you can hear a rhythymic sound in a train that isn't there in a tornado. So there you go, a first-hand account of what a tornado sounds like.

View from my house, looking to the west-northwest at about 1815 hours (6:15pm for you non-24 hour time people). You can see the roation in the clouds. There was a tornado on the ground about 70 miles to the west at that time, heading in my direction at about 75 miles an hour.

Friday, April 07, 2006

i love the south

Snow? We have a spastic fit at 3 flakes. Tornadoes? We're in the "You're fucked area" for today. Seriously, 60% chance of tornadoes here today. Yes, seriously, we're more likely to get a tornado touchtown within 25 miles of any given point in North Alabama that not. And we're talking the big mothers - F2 or larger. I bet they don't close schools for tornadoes that have not yet occured in your area.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

about the name of this blog

Word Y. Smith left a comment wondering as to the origin of the meaning of "Oubliette", specifically how I define it in the header. I can't find the original comment to respond to, so I'll answer it here, since more people wonder the same thing.

"Oubliette" is a French word, stemming from the verb "oublier" - to forget. The "-ette" suffix means "small, little". Drop the "-er" from the verb, add "-ette", and you get a noun meaning, literally, "a little place to forget; a little place of forgetting".

As far what a traditional oubliette is, it's a small dungeon with only one way in or out, through a hole in the ceiling. Literally, one would put prisioners in there and forget about them, let them die slowly. In England, oubliettes that have been found in castles are generally round, and most have spikes in the floor. A prisioner was thrown in from a doorway 20 or more feet above the floor of the oubliette. The prisioner would die, horribly and slowly, impaled on the spikes, lying on the bodies and skeletons of those who previously died in the cell.

I can't remember which castle in England had it's oubliette excavated by an archeological team, but they found something along the lines of more than 50 bodies. One body on the top of the pile had a 19th century pocket watch. Yes, that particular oubliette had been used from the time the castle was built in the Middle Ages through the mid 1800s.

What you may be thinking about, Word Smith, is a Labrynth, which is a maze. I know in the movie "Labrynth" what is called the Oubliette, is really an underground labrynth, mimicing the above ground one. If the pit of hands hadn't gone anywhere, it would have been an oubliette.

I'm guessing the Norman Invasion brought that nice little piece of dungeon technology to England from France, hence the French name. My sources? Sorry that I can't quote them, but they are various documentaries, articles, books, and the entymology of the word. (Yes, I do know French.) J'oublie que libres je leger pour mon information.