Allamakee County Chronicles XXIX – Lightning

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Outdoors, Science, Yoots | 188 comments

Note:  A prologue from my upcoming autobiography, Life’s Too Short to Smoke Cheap Cigars (Or to Drink Cheap Whiskey.)


Thunderstorms are a fact of life in the Upper Midwest in summertime.

The big storms are caused by cold air masses colliding with warm air masses.  We don’t have them very often up here in the Great Land; you’ll get a small rainy spell with a little lightning now and then, but not the big, towering boomers we got back in Iowa, mostly because there are almost never any warm air masses up in Alaska to collide with the cold air masses.

In truth I kind of miss them.  (I don’t miss the sticky, humid heat that generally precedes them, though; not by a long shot.)  There’s an excitement to the really big storms, and the good part is that they are usually followed by a cool spell.  There’s nothing quite like the cool, clean air after a really big boomer.

But all that comes with a couple of costs.  One of those is tornadoes, but I’ll take up that topic in another installment.  The other would be lightning, and that favorite research subject of Ben Franklin’s has featured prominently in a couple of instances in my own young life.

Same Thing, Different Place

Colorado has its own share of thunderstorms as well, and at high altitudes, they can get a bit… weird.

One of that state’s interesting feature is the highest paved highway in the world, that being the Mount Evans Scenic Highway, which tops out on the 14,130-foot summit of that peak, where there is a small, domed observatory.  One day, when my oldest daughter was about eight, I decided to take her up that highway to admire the incredible views from the summit.

When we got to the top of the road, though, there were gray clouds hovering overhead, seemingly within touching distance.  They were grumbling with that weird, tinny sound that high-altitude lightning has.

The kid was excited, though, and the views were still there, so we got out of my pickup and started having a look around.  There were several other groups already present, so I figured things would be OK.

As we admired the views, though, an odd buzzing sound kept intruding.  I couldn’t figure it out.  It wasn’t a sound an insect would make, and flying insects were not present on that bare, windswept peak in any case.  I looked around for the source of the noise as the clouds muttered overhead.

Finally, I homed in on the source.  The steel doors of the observatory dome opening and closed on a hinge supported by a steel armature that arced up over the top of the dome.  And, as I watched, static electricity was arcing across the gap between dome and armature.

The clouds’ muttering got louder.

I called my daughter, who came running to my side.  “We need to go,” I told her.  She protested but not too much, as she was an unusually well-behaved child.  As I took her hand, I heard a sharp pop.

About six feet away stood a college-age kid, wearing one of those retarded knit jester’s caps with a half-dozen tassels.  The pop had been the sound of the cap levitating off his head, accompanied by his hair suddenly standing on end.  “Whoa, dude,” he said to his friend, “did you see that?”

“Get down!” I shouted at him.  I grabbed my kid, pushed her down to the rocky ground and, having no desire to have her see this guy incinerated in front of her young eyes, covered her face with my hands.  We waited for a few moments for the inevitable strike…

…which turned out to be evitable after all.  Nothing happened.  The college kid, in his ignorance, continued to stand as he and his buddy made a fairly good “Beavis and Butthead laughing” impression.  I got my daughter into the truck and got the hell out of there.


Some people, though, just seem to attract Zeus’s wrath.

In my early twenties, I counted among my friends in low places several members of the local chapters of the Sons of Silence MC with whom, despite my not being a member of that august organization, I shared beers with on occasion.  On the whole they were pretty decent enough guys, if you overlooked some of the less-than-legal aspects of their activities, and if you were on good terms with them, it greatly enhanced your place on everybody’s personal “don’t fuck with” list.

One on occasion, at an outdoor kegger in the back yard of the house the Sons owned down in Waterloo, I was introduced to one of their members who was a bit… off.  His eyes were perpetually opened wide, and constantly roamed about as though he had little control of where his gaze went.  Once in a while his eyes would seem to wander independently of each other, a phenomenon that was downright unsettling.  His speech consisted mostly of slurs and the occasional outburst; his hair looked like Don King’s on a particularly bad hair day.  Overall, his appearance and demeanor had most folks wondering about his physical and mental well-being, as he looked like a young Christopher Lloyd crossed with a Brillo pad and talked like someone who had just ingested far too much caffeine.

After making “conversation” with him for a few moments, I politely excused myself and approached another friend of mine, who I (and everyone else) knew only as Wolf.  “What’s up with that guy?” I asked.

“He’s been hit by lightning,” Wolf replied.  “Four times.”


“Four,” Wolf confirmed.  He took a pull at a red Solo cup filled with Miller High Life and went on.  “Once while he was fishing.  Once walking across a plowed field.  Once on his Harley on the highway, and once walking on the side of the road.”

“How the hell is he still alive?”

Wolf shrugged.  “Nobody knows.  Guy’s a human lightning rod.  Why do you think we call him Sparky?”

Across the yard, Sparky was apparently recounting one of the incidents.  “And there I was, ridin’ in the rain,” he expostulated, tossing his hands around wildly.  Beer from his own red Solo cup flew around the yard, causing several people to duck.  His right eye was focused on the young lady he was telling the story to, while the left wandered upward to look nervously at the clouds overhead.  “And before I knew it!  BOOM!  I mean BOOM!  Woke up in the cornfield, twenty feet from my scoot, both my boots was blowed off!  Wow, man that hurt!”  The young lady, grinning nervously, backed slowly away.

Of such things are local legends born.  I lost touch with the group some time after that, and never did find out Sparky’s ultimate fate, but I suspect somehow that whatever happened to him, a big old dose of atmospheric static electricity was probably involved.

This One Time:

It’s not commonly appreciated how much fishing rods can attract the dreaded dose of atmospheric energy.  Which brings us back to Allamakee County.

This is a story about Allamakee County, remember?

One late June afternoon during my thirteenth summer, my old buddy Jon and I bicycled over to the junction of North Bear and South Bear creeks, where the two smaller streams joined forces to form plain old Bear Creek, the same stream that ran through my parent’s property.  Right after the tributaries combined were several good-sized pools, which usually held good populations of hungry trout in the cold, spring-fed water.

We fished throughout the afternoon, somehow not managing to limit out.  As evening came on the sky grew dark, a cool wind freshened, and rain drops began to dapple the creek.  Warm as the day had been, the clouds looked heavy, and we could hear thunder in the near distance.

“Gonna be a drencher,” Jon opined with all the wisdom his fourteen-year-old self could muster.  “Won’t make it back to your house in time.”

“Guess we’d better find a place near here to wait it out.  Think we could make the old trapper’s cabin up top?”  I pointed to the hillside looming over us to the south.

Jon looked up the hill, at the steep slope covered with raspberry thickets.  “Don’t think so,” he said.  “Better find something closer.”

So, we decided to take shelter under the old iron bridge spanning Bear Creek near the old county campsite.

That’s right.  A bridge.  An iron bridge.  In case you slept through your elementary school science classes, iron conducts electricity.  The amount of iron you find in an old iron bridge, even a modest one like the old one spanning Bear Creek just upstream from Quandahl, can conduct a lot of electricity.

For about thirty minutes, we were well satisfied with our choice.  We were still able to fish from the bank under the north end of the iron bridge, and the tightly fitted heavy oak planking of the bridge made a better than fair roof.  But the rain grew heavier, the wind picked up, and the thunder slowly rolled in closer.

BOOM!  A bolt touched down on the hilltop above us.  Another struck a large cottonwood just a way upstream.

“Say,” I said, “you don’t think…”


“I mean, this bridge is iron.  And there’s a lot of lightning coming in.”

“Don’t worry,” Jon said.  His voice was filled with confidence.  “We’re just fine.  There are trees around taller than the bridge, nothing’s gonna hit…”

His voice was cut off by a sudden, blinding flash of light.

Near as we could figure out later, a bolt of lightning struck the top of the bridge, split up and ran down both sides of the iron framework, and jumped from there to the creek bank and the water.  But what it looked like to us was this:

The initial blinding flash gave way to curtains of sparks and arcs of electricity hitting the ground from either side of the bridge.  Strands of the electricity stuck down from the bridge frame to our fishing rods, which flew out of our hands.  At the same moment, the very ground beneath our feet shook from the impossible, roaring CRACK of the super-heated bolt hitting the bridge.  We both clapped our hands over our ears in agony.

Above our heads, the bridge frame rang like a bell.  The air sizzled; the ground crackled.  Runners and rivulets of white-hot electricity scampered around the creek bank, hitting the water and hissing, hitting the mud bank and sparkling, hitting our feet and making us dance like two demented jackrabbits suffering from a terminal case of St. Vitus’s Dance.

I made for the creek water, hoping to dunk my sparking, smoking shoes, but the water was alive, crackling with energy.  Jon leaped and instinctively grabbed a piece of the iron bridge frame and hung there, yelping; the iron frame was teeming with electricity that ran through him and arced from his sneakers to the ground, but the current locked his muscles and wouldn’t let him let go.

Then, as suddenly as it came on, it was over.  The rain really began to come down, turning the creek water white.  A heavy, drenching rain like that would quickly make the creek rise; it was time to go.

I looked at Jon.  Finally able to control his hands, he dropped to the mud of the creek bank.  Streaks of soot discolored his face.  His shoes, jeans and t-shirt smoldered.  His smoking hair stood out at 90-degree angles from his scalp.  Somehow, I knew I looked just the same.

“Let’s go,” Jon gasped.  We ran for where our bikes were parked up on the approach to the bridge, climbed aboard and pedaled for home.  When I stumbled in the front door, the Old Man looked up from his book and cast his optics over my scorched countenance.

“Got caught in the storm?” he said, his taciturn nature as always in evidence.

I nodded and headed off to dry off and change.

These Days…

As I’ve said, I kind of miss those good old big summer thunderstorms.  Alaska has its own weather phenomenon, of course, not least of which is snowfalls measured in feet and winter temps in the double-digits below zero.  Nowadays most of our thunderstorm time happens in our biannual Redneck Yacht Club family reunions at Lake of the Ozarks, where we can safely enjoy the storm from the covered decks of our rented cabins.

You don’t get many really great stories out of doing things the safe way.  And that’s OK.  At my age, it’s probably for the best to have my recreations be a little more conservative – and a lot safer.  Besides, I’d hate to think that I went through all those great youthful adventures and not learned a thing or two.

At least, I hope so.

About The Author



Semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass. I’m firmly convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants were placed here for my personal amusement and entertainment, and I comport myself accordingly. Vote Animal/STEVE SMITH 2024!


  1. R C Dean

    Colorado has its own share of thunderstorms as well, and at high altitudes, they can get a bit… weird.

    Fond childhood memory. Bro Dean, Pater Dean and I were backpacking and fishing in Southern CO. We had a campsite at a pretty good altitude with a great view. Some thunderstorms were rolling across the countryside below us. The clouds were mostly below us, so we had an incredible view of active thunderstorms pretty much from above. Didn’t even get rained on.

  2. juris imprudent

    Appropriate as we had a hellacious thunderstorm last night with a couple of strikes all too close to the house.

  3. Ownbestenemy

    We just had a thunderstorm roll over us last night. It was beautiful, from the safety of our house. Teen #2 was all excited and wanted to go see his brother at work and I said nope. He even tried to say much what was above “there are trees/light posts/etc all taller and I will be fine”.

    Working around electricity for the past 15 years gave me a very healthy respect of it. While it is true that the lightning will most likely hit the tallest structure, doesn’t mean that it won’t jump to you if you are the best pathway to ground.

    And all the Sparkys I know were electricians for a reason. I seriously think they needed that shock in their lives. Intentionally it seems, from time to time, give themselves a nice little jolt. Sort of like being a kid and testing out a 9v battery on the tongue.

    • CPRM

      Not to mention, Vegas roads get dangerous the few the times it rains. Not only because most people there don’t know how to drive in the rain, but also the roads get real slick from all the things that never get washed away from regular rain. I even had one bad moment of hydroplaning as a transplant from a place where it rains every few days when it isn’t snowing every few days.

      • Ownbestenemy

        Yes. They have done a great job in the past decade on flood control but there are still a number of streets that turn from Eastern Avenue to The Easter River within 2 minutes of raining.

      • Ownbestenemy

        My teens have had their lessons in electricity from an early age. He was just being flippant and I think it was the sideways rain last night he wanted to go out in. But with the storm opening up right above us there was no way he was going to go and he knew that.

      • Scruffy Nerfherder

        I’ve seen a grown man’s hair stand on end with a approaching thunderstorm.

        While lightning did not strike, I think everyone on the 18th green shit themselves that day.

      • Lackadaisical

        bah, live a little.

  4. LCDR_Fish

    High plains is weird. I think I was between Limon and Denver on I-70 once (or E of Limon?) – already a mile above sea level – 2015ish. Ridiculous amount of rain/thunder dropping all at once – it was pretty obvious why they had built grooves into the pavement. Think I passed at least one car that had lost it and gone down the embankment.

    In college, one of my buddies was hit by lightning twice – in one summer – walking across the same quad.

    • Scruffy Nerfherder

      When God hates you so much he smites you twice.

      • Mojeaux

        There’s some wive’s tale about how, if you’ve already been struck once, you’re more likely to be struck again.

  5. CPRM

    in response to Tres about Polio on the last thread. People I know crippled from polio: 2. People I know who had the vid: 8. People I know that died of the vid or had any complications: 0. One person had both.

  6. R C Dean

    Probably the closest lightning strike I have ever experienced, that I know of, was in Tucson. I was in the living room, there were some clouds but the sun was shining. I hear a crack, which I initially thought was some kind of rifle shot but it didn’t sound right. I looked out the window, and I saw a could of dust around the base of a saguaro in our front yard, maybe 10 yards from the house. A few days later, you could see the damage along the side of the saguaro where the lightning had run down, and the top started to droop.

    Mrs. Dean and I went out to look at it one afternoon a week or so later. When we got back in the house, about a half hour later I looked outside and the saguaro had fallen, right across the rocks I had been standing on. Having a saguaro fall on you would be no joke – those things are heavy and covered in spines.

    • Mojeaux

      We had one so close it fried our refrigerator and freezer. The meat we had to toss…

      • Tres Cool

        The meat I had to toss…..G_d, I miss Craigslist Personals.

    • Ted S.

      Having a saguaro fall on you would be no joke

      Having a saguaro fall on someone else, however….

      • Swiss Servator

        “Tragedy is me getting a hangnail, comedy is you falling through an open manhole cover and dying.”

        /Mel Brooks

    • kinnath

      When I lived in Phoenix, there was a local news story about a guy having engine problems in a small plane.

      The pilot managed to get back to the airport, but lost the engine on final. He overshot the runway a bit a slid off the end of the runway. Safe landing.

      Except he ran into a saguaro. It fell onto of the aircraft and crushed the pilot to death.

      Full size, they way upwards of three tons.

  7. Ozymandias

    A guy I flew with had scars on his palms and the bottom of his feet where the electricity had exited his body – after it struck him while he was in a tree as a 12 year-old. He told me and my young wife that story over a couples dinner and I made him re-tell it in the squadron ready room. Result: Call-sign FLASH
    I had never met anyone who survived an no-shit direct lightning strike, but the scars were all the evidence you needed. What’s worse is that upon being struck he was knocked out of the tree and that resulted in some broken limbs, as well. He had no recollection of any of it, only what he had been told by witnesses and after he had awoken in the hospital.

    • Ozymandias

      Hence why I have a very, very healthy respect for T-Storms. My wife and the little one think it’s a good idea to go frolic in the rain and consider me an old fuddy-duddy for exhorting them that “this is not a good idea” – from the safety of the front porch.
      Lightning strikes are not as uncommon as the vernacular expression would have us think. Ask a Floridian.

      • Mojeaux

        You know how to count between lightning flashes and thunder to figure out how far away the lightning might be, right?

      • Tres Cool

        I dont want to sound like UCS, but the speed of sound in air depends entirely on density. So you need to consider temperature,humidity…..

      • CPRM

        And the difference in that is more than the difference in time it takes different people to say Mississippi?

      • R C Dean

        I do the counting thing mostly to get a handle on whether its getting closer. Its almost a reflex now, when I see lightning.

        I’m not particularly hung up on whether that last strike was 3 miles away, or 3 miles and 100 yards away.

      • Mojeaux

        I didn’t say to calculate it to within a quarter mile.

        People want to frolic in the rain. It gives a rough guide to how long you can do that before you have to come in.

      • Plisade

        I use it when outdoors. 4 seconds per mile is a safe enough estimate.

      • Ownbestenemy

        Gotta divide by 5 though…according to the intertoobz

      • Ghostpatzer

        Gotta divide by 5 though

        4, 5, what’s the difference? Numbers deserve equity, too.

      • Ownbestenemy

        When 7 8 9, all equity was lost.

      • Plisade

        Unless 9 was “the rich.”

      • kinnath

        Simultaneous Boom and Lightning.

        Just shy of two weeks ago.

        The tree service took it out last Friday.

        My yard is naked now.

      • R C Dean

        Tragic. I grew up in the Texas panhandle, where there really aren’t any trees of any size. I hate to see a mature tree like that taken down.

        Even more annoying, is people who take them down, and don’t replace them.

      • kinnath

        It was a green ash. It was coming out one day or another.

        I have removed pretty much all of the ash trees from my property (and planted maples and oaks).

        This was in a good spot, so I let it grow. But I let it get too big to deal with myself.

        I was going to hire a service eventually. But nature decided I needed to spend 1300 bucks right now.

      • Mojeaux

        My neighborhood was planted with junk trees that don’t have a long lifespan (or drop spiky balls, damned sweet gum trees). There has been a lot of cutting down of very mature but dying trees in my neighborhood.

      • kinnath

        Ash trees are wonderful trees.

        But the emerald ash borer has made it to my county. This tree’s days were numbered.

      • kinnath

        To the immediate left of the ash tree is on the of the maples I planted. The ash tree was interfering with the growth of the maple.

        I needed to get the ash tree out sooner rather than later.

        But it did leave a gaping hole in my backyard when it came out.

      • CPRM

        “So the maples formed a union, and demanded equal rights…”

      • kinnath


        Which actually means punishing the ash trees.

      • Fatty Bolger

        Yeah, I remember lots of close strikes in Miami as a kid, where the flash and boom happen at the same time. Once I was looking out the back window of our house and saw lightning hit the power pole behind our back yard, then jump to our chain link fence, about 30 feet from where I was watching. We lost power for a while, but luckily there was no major damage.

      • rhywun

        We used to camp in our backyard every summer when I was little and I swear I saw lightning travel down the street out front one time. I dunno what Mom and boyfriend had against us because we got massive thunderstorms pretty frequently every summer.

      • Ownbestenemy

        Ive seen that once in my lifetime. Lightning going down a street. It was in Missouri at a family reunion. That was one mean storm and probably the second scariest in my life, besides being in a tornado.

      • Lackadaisical

        Probably just wanted some time alone…

  8. Ghostpatzer

    Great stuff, as always.

    Lightning is nothing to fuck around with. One of the victims in this link was the only son of a good friend and former co-worker. At the wake I was treated to the sight of a grown man blubbering like a baby; I don’t know how you go on after something like that.

    Several years afterward, I was at my son’s youth baseball game at a local field when the lightning alarm went off, and we all took shelter in our vehicles. About 15 minutes later the coaches decided it was safe to play again and ordered the kids back on the field. The spawn and I went home, much to their displeasure. Fortunately, nothing happened, but people really don’t appreciate how dangerous lightning really is.

  9. Fourscore

    If you’re on a lake fishing, get off and hide ’til the storm passes over. Carbon rods, aluminum boats and you are the tallest thing in the pond. Golfers, pay attention, too.

    Another great Allamakee story, Animal.

  10. CPRM

    I never had lightening strike near me while outside, but it has hit trees outside my house, hit power lines and phone lines that have caused sparks to fly out of a DVD player, traveled from my DSL line through my video card and messed up the card and the TV was connected to it.

  11. Penguin

    We get a fair amount of thunderstorms here in Florida. It all depends on the timing. If you’ve nowhere to go, that’s fine.

  12. blackjack

    I was on the salt at Bonneville when a thunderstorm started. It was pandemonium. There’s nothing out there but you for the lightning to hit. I was on my bike, so I rolled it over near the announcement booth and sat on it, hoping the tires would keep it insulated or something. Scary 20 minutes, that was.

  13. Fourscore

    I’m wishing we’d have some of those gully washers this summer. The drought has been serious in northern MN but apparently the southern half has near normal field crops. Here, without irrigation the grass is and has been brown all summer.

    The bees are flying early morning in the cool but about 10 AM they pretty much caller quits for the day. No flowers or blossoms to find.

  14. creech

    Are masks and vaccines effective against lightning? Dr. Fauci wants to know.

    • Gustave Lytton

      I would encourage him to hold up one of those 8 foot long novelty syringes in the middle of a thunderstorm in an open field to find out.

    • CPRM

      Triple mask for the Lightning variant.

      • Tres Cool

        That goes up the butt, right ?

    • Fourscore

      “Masks and vaccines effective against lightning, Dr. Fauci knows.”

      ‘Effective against both lightning and Covid, see, like the little teeny weeny things in the delta, lightning has great big particles, stands to reason the masks would work.” Fauci Logic

  15. Nephilium

    Up here the thunderstorms aren’t too bad, what you need to look out for is when the winds really kick up if you’re driving near the lake. There are a couple stretches of the freeway (I-90, OH 2) where on the really bad windy days, waves from the lake will crash over the freeway. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it sucks if you get caught in it.

    • Nephilium

      I was able to find some videos showing the waves going over the freeway on a local news site.

      • Fourscore

        Reminds me of the Jersey shore near Rumson

    • blackjack

      The only difference between men and boys is…

      • CPRM

        The alimony payments?

    • R C Dean

      The F-22 was awarded the Air Force contract in 1991, so . . . .

      • CPRM

        So Mattel, who was probably already manufacturing in China, got a hold of their designs?

      • CPRM

        So, the ‘losing, but still better than anything anyone else has’ design was given to a toy manufacturer?

      • R C Dean

        I’m pretty sure Mattel could design a toy based on the publicly available photos. In fact, I can’t imagine what use the actual blueprints would be to a toy manufacturer.

      • CPRM

        You guys are no fun at Conspiracy theorizing!

      • juris imprudent

        I did some IT work with Mattel back in the day, and I can tell you that the toy design facility is locked down every bit as tight as a bank and probably more so than a DoD unclassified space.

  16. Mojeaux

    My kid just texts me: I saw a garbage truck guy cry.

    Me: Why?

    Him: His truck caught on fire.

    Way to bury the lede, little dude.

    • blackjack

      I used to work on trash trucks. They burn a lot. The training says, if the load is on fire, dump it right now no matter where you are. The truck cost about a quarter million dollars. The trash costs much less. Our trucks were all LNG, so there’s a huge explosion risk, too.

    • Ted S.

      Did he get pictures?

    • CPRM

      Yeah, your son should at least tell you why he set that truck on fire.

      Alternate take:

      A dumpster fire like Black Widow is at least better than a garbage truck fire like Masters of the Universe: Revelation

  17. Scruffy Nerfherder

    I know one person who was struck by lightning on a golf course. The person she was playing with was killed, but she survived. What they don’t talk about is how it rewires you.

    I asked her son about it and he said “I don’t know who she is anymore, she’s acting nice towards me now.”

    • blackjack

      That’s what we call, a hoe in one. Sorry, too soon?

      • Scruffy Nerfherder

        It’s been over thirty years, so probably not too soon.

      • Tres Cool

        The woman at the country club bar said “earlier I was stung by a bee on the course.”
        A guy said, “where was the sting?” and she said “right between the 1st and 2nd hole.”

        He said, “Well, your stance is too wide.”

      • Scruffy Nerfherder


        I’m going to use that one. Thanks.

      • Tres Cool

        I’m here to help.

      • Lackadaisical


  18. The Other Kevin

    Holy crap that’s scary. Did the electricity look like something from Back to the Future?

    • blackjack

      Our state once outlawed all existing televisions based on future projected energy saving models. Never found out if there was a lag in deliveries because of it.

    • Scruffy Nerfherder

      So insanely stupid

    • Ownbestenemy

      So those states you cannot buy a microwave? Clothes washer? Dryer? Or is that Dell just saying…fuck it, we won’t play.

      • juris imprudent

        What? You expect progs to not create stupid regulations that don’t possibly accomplish the desired result but make them feel all smug and superior?

  19. LCDR_Fish

    Didn’t think to ask this weekend but what would be a decent tip for someone rebuilding the in-home/crawlspace A/C unit (not the main pump outside). I thought it would be one or two guys, but it’s a 3 man team. I’ve only got $120 in cash on me. Is $40/guy polite?

    • Ted S.

      Can you procure hookers?

    • Scruffy Nerfherder

      That should be fine. Any HVAC tech ought to be getting paid quite well right now.

      • LCDR_Fish

        Thanks. It’s already a hefty chunk of change (on top of what’s covered by the warranty).

      • Scruffy Nerfherder

        Do yourself a favor and get the tech’s cell phone numbers. A lot of them do work on the side. Could come in handy.

      • Ownbestenemy

        ^^^ Especially an HVAC tech.

      • Tres Cool

        If you still can, and you’re legit happy, tell the tech “how do I contact you? Im going to let anyone I know that need a/c done about you”

        +5 subversive-YELP

    • R C Dean

      I don’t tip tradesmen. We just had both our AC units and air handlers replaced, too. Never even crossed my mind. I think the only time I might have was when we had our roof replaced by a crew of illegals in Illinois, but that may have just been me paying in cash – I don’t recall if I threw in a tip.

      I think $40/head is quite generous, really.

      • Ownbestenemy

        Typically don’t tip tradesmen either but the last one came on the hottest day to put in a new condenser unit. House was hot, outside was hot…they got a beer and a tip. Turned down the beer though..

      • R C Dean

        It was damn hot when they were here, but they couldn’t be arsed to arrive before 9:00, so I figured they volunteered to work during the heat of the day. I told them they could come as early as they wanted, and there are a lot of crews that start working at 6:00 am during the Tucson summer.

        We did fire up the evap cooler we have in the garage (for the home gym) while they were working there.

      • LCDR_Fish

        Yeah, it’s baking right now. High 80s to 90s and really humid and they’re under the house (maybe cooler down there? – spider webs too….) while I’ve got a few fans turned on me inside.

        These guys (referral from warranty) came from closer to Richmond. Generally don’t think they’d be in this county other than contract stuff like this – there are other local options for immediate stuff, etc.

      • Gustave Lytton

        Same with the guy who got our pump house back together when the pipe burst. I tipped him twenty for getting it fixed promptly and coming out right away (well his boss did the second). The first couple of companies I called were days to weeks out (can’t even come out on OT at the end of the day??).

    • Mojeaux

      Good heavens! Mr. Mojeaux and I just had that conversation. The dishwasher he won got delivered and installed today. I said, “I don’t have any money to tip.” He said, “I didn’t even think about it. Are we supposed to tip people like that?” “I have no idea, but it doesn’t ever hurt to tip.”

      • Tres Cool

        “It doesnt ever hurt to tip”

        I’m not even…low-hanging fruit

      • Mojeaux

        I do that for you.

        When are you going to make a series of your CL ads?

      • Tres Cool

        Id only do 1 or 2 at a time. Something of a teaser- “just the tip”
        Then they’d ask me to do links.

      • R C Dean


    • LCDR_Fish

      Slowly starting to cool down in here – thank God! Still 87, but 96 outside.

    • grrizzly

      I miss the days when tipping was among the biggest things I hated about America and Americans.

  20. kinnath

    The only place that I have been that has Tstorms that match the midwest thunderboomers is the Mogollon rim.

    We used to take the boy scouts to summer camp up there. Amazing night time storms.

    • R C Dean

      The absolute worst thunderstorm I experienced was in North Texas. It spawned multiple massive tornados, killing a number of people. I would say the bad monsoon thunderstorms can be worse than what I saw in Wisconsin, especially when they drop a microburst, but I would say the worst one I saw in Wisconsin (right after our outdoor wedding reception, even) is definitely in the top five.


      • Ownbestenemy

        Heh, I was just walking by our equipment and the TDWR, which is our Doppler weather radar was indicating a microburst just west of the airport.

      • kinnath

        The storm that hit my tree produced 20+ confirmed tornados, many of them within 20 miles of my house.

      • Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

        We got one in August of last year at the house, which dropped two inches of rain in under half an hour. Caused some leaks in the basement (like the flood the previous August wasn’t enough). Scary as Hell.

  21. Ownbestenemy

    The storms I miss, even though this year we are getting some monsoon weather, is the ones that rolled across up from the Rio Grande Valley through the Tularosa Basin of the Chihuahuan Desert. Many nights sitting at a radar site just watching the big sky engulfed by beautiful clouds and a desert getting lit up as bright as day.

  22. Plisade

    Back in the day in the Marines I had to hitch a ride on a fuel truck in the middle of the desert during a lightning storm. We’re already a fatalistic bunch so the ride was more exciting than stressful. Not so sure 50yo me would do that now, though.

  23. Gustave Lytton

    Excess and junked material is getting picked up at work this week. Took the opportunity to junk much of my predecessor’s old stuff I never use. Three gaylords of detritus. Probably six figures worth (when new) of obsolete test equipment and electronics gear. In ictu oculi, sic transit gloria mundi.

    • limey

      Three gaylords of detritus

      Dude they played Cruise to the Edge back ’12 right before they broke up. Totally bitchin’ 33 minute dumbek solo.

    • Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

      Probably six figures worth (when new) of obsolete test equipment and electronics gear.

      Man, it just hurts me when I read stuff like this. If I’d been anywhere near you, I woulda come and picked it all up for free. That stuff’s gold, particularly if you can rehab some of it.

      • Gustave Lytton

        This truly is obsolete, not just old O-scope type stuff. I saved the made in USA fluke multimeter for instance.

        This was one of them

        Bunch of CRT displays, old laptops. All junk and taking up space.

      • Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

        You’d be amazed at the stuff I can get out of “junk” and re-purpose. CRTs? Flyback transformers (just for hors d’oeuvres)!

  24. limey

    Bish you not gon cash me ouside in them thunna storms

  25. Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

    Back when I was a freshly-minted-and-scrubbed MBA, I went to work for the soon-to-be-former Edmonton Telephones in the summer of ’89, and met a young lady there, an avid jogger, who had gone running during a thunderstorm a few summers previous, and got hit by lightning, seen by a number of witnesses who were passing her in cars at the time. She was crumpled by the side of the road, her running shoes blown off, soaked to the skin and with a spiderweb of burns starting near the top of her skull and traveling all over her body, exiting at both feet.

    She woke up in the hospital with no memory at all of what happened, nor of anything about a day before the lightning strike (details of the strike itself had to be filled in by eyewitnesses). The docs were of the opinion that the electric discharge interfered with her short-term memory and perhaps “erased” some of the recent long-term stuff. I asked her if she was scared of lightning now. ”Nope. Don’t remember being hit, so no real fear of it. I don’t run in the rain anymore, though.”

    • limey

      So did she get superpowers or no?

      • Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

        She was already a beautiful, shapely blonde, so she had all the superpowers she needed.  ;-)

      • limey

        So you’re telling me that Marilyn came back from the dead and death was trying to claw her back to the underworld?

      • Ask your doctor if BEAM is right for you

        Better-looking than Marilyn, IMNSHO.

        If I hadn’t been involved in a relationship with the future Spousal Unit, I would’ve taken a run at her (and probably would’ve been shot down, TBH).

  26. The Other Kevin

    The other day someone mentioned something about the swimsuits on the women’s water polo team. I just saw for myself. That was a lot of ass cheeks.

  27. Not Adahn

    One of that state’s interesting feature is the highest paved highway in the world

    Good lord, you did grow up rural.

  28. Master JaimeRoberto (royal we/us)

    I’ve experienced the simultaneous flash and boom thrice. Once will in a car driving over Yosemite. Once while backpacking in the Sierra where it was impossible to not be under a tall tree. The last time was in Costa Rica in some mountain town while getting out of my car to fill up with gas in the dark of night. Stuff like that will make you feel small.

  29. Ownbestenemy

    Well..the VA is mandating vaccines…which means I will be presented a choice once other Federal agencies jump to it.

    • Stinky Wizzleteats

      Maybe hold off and see how the lawsuits shake out but it don’t look good.

      • R C Dean

        Well, the federal courts have already ruled you can mandate the vaccine while it is still under the EUA, without giving much thought how that is consistent with the requirement that you get informed consent to an EUA medication. Ordinarily, informed consent means “without inducement”, whether positive or negative.

        I don’t think they can throw out the exemptions for medical or religious reasons, though.

      • kinnath


        what’s so hard to understand?

      • Scruffy Nerfherder

        *mumbles litany of curse words under breath*

      • Ghostpatzer

        mumbles litany of curse words

        Religious exemption for curse words? Fuck, yeah!

      • Ownbestenemy

        Should note, they aren’t mandating for all the employees of the VA, just the heathcare workers for them. Interesting times.

      • R C Dean

        We’re going to mandate the vaccine.

        Have I mentioned I found an app that gives you a countdown in days remaining to whatever you want it to? I have mine set for (i) when my deferred comp vests and (ii) my planned retirement at the end of next year.

      • Lackadaisical

        (ii) my planned retirement at the end of next year.


        My dad just ‘retired’ (technically his work stopped calling him in), he must be getting bored because he offered to watch my son one day a week.

      • Ghostpatzer

        Good on your dad. Probably not bored, when you get to a certain age you miss having little ones around, especially if you can give them back when they get difficult.

      • Ted S.

        He wants to turn your son into a shitlord.

      • R C Dean

        My dad just ‘retired’ (technically his work stopped calling him in)

        Or, as we call it in Corporate, “fired”. 😉

    • LCDR_Fish

      Still optional for the Navy, etc. I just can’t stand wearing a mask and it’s the only way to get around it at work – or the wasted days quarantining and testing when I go out to the ships.

      I think nearly all the civ/ctr and mil inspectors I was with this month had been vaccinated. A couple folks had masks, but weren’t too serious. A few of the sailors on the ships were still wearing them too – which is just nuts under the circumstances.

      That’s what blew my mind too – the stupid DOD mandate at the beginning of Feb – seeing pics of folks in the field at NTC or elsewhere wearing masks – pure stupidity. One size fits all ignorance.

      • juris imprudent

        One size fits all ignorance.

        Prog harder!!!

  30. Plisade

    I’m thinking of joining a local USCG Auxiliary unit. Anyone have experience with them, particularly the culture?

      • Ghostpatzer

        USCG is doing regime change now?

      • Ownbestenemy


      • Gustave Lytton

        Sadly, the Coast Guard has three overseas commands.

      • Plisade


      • Plisade

        Although I can’t figure out how to message a Glib. Is it part of the /community feature?

  31. Old Man With Candy

    We survived a tornado. Lightning don’t scare me much. /spits

    • Ownbestenemy

      ^^^ If you’ve never been in a tornado…as in you are kissing your ass hiding in a shitty long-term rental unit’s bathtub because there is no basement or shelter…lightning is not as scary. It touched down about 1/4 mile from the place and I was very lucky. The idiot trying to get from his car to the inside was not as he was pelted numerous times by hail.

  32. Tundra

    I was standing in my garage when my neighbor’s house was struck. It was shockingly loud, but did almost no damage to the house. I’ve also been in the north woods during some epic storms. Not pleasant.

    Good story, Animal!

    • Not Adahn

      I thought NZ was the favorite. Different weight class, or did they lose?

      • LCDR_Fish

        Probably different weight class. I think the athlete here is in the 55kg class.

    • Tundra

      Awesome. Thanks, Fish.

    • R C Dean

      Ah, the clean and jerk. The bane of my lifting. Its so bad, Mrs. Dean won’t let me do the press to overhead.

      • Tundra

        She’s not the boss of you!

        Although she’s probably right. Diminishing returns from some of those lifts as we fossilize.

      • R C Dean

        In the gym, she actually is the boss of me. Its that my form is so crap, she wants me to get the clean squared away before I go for the press. I just can’t “stick the landing” on the clean.

        My birthday present this year was my very own barbell. I had been using hers, but apparently I was getting boy cooties on it, so she got me one of my own. It is ten pounds heavier than hers, so, yay?

    • Ghostpatzer


    • Ownbestenemy

      Yep awesome for her and her fellow countrymen.

    • The Other Kevin

      This is exactly why I can’t resist the Olympics.

      The other day they had some 135 pound guys lifting 380 pounds. And they had female boxers who weighed 110. Incredible.

      • kinnath

        The sports are incredible.

        The sideshow circus imposed on the sports by the networks is horrendous.

        I loved the Olympics when I was young.

        I gave up when NBC destroyed them.

    • Ghostpatzer

      Some of these events are pretty scary (Heart Attack, Pneumonia…). This should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Thalidomide:


      In July of 1962, president John F. Kennedy and the American press began praising their heroine, FDA inspector Frances Kelsey, who prevented the drug’s approval within the United States despite pressure from the pharmaceutical company and FDA supervisors. Kelsey felt the application for thalidomide contained incomplete and insufficient data on its safety and effectiveness. Among her concerns was the lack of data indicating whether the drug could cross the placenta, which provides nourishment to a developing fetus.

      TLDR; It is not wise to rush drugs to market absent sufficient testing (yeah, I know, FDA and all. Still…). The vaccines may or not be safe, but at this point they are not (for me) worth the risk. And no bureaucrat has the right to force a vaccine on me.

      • Sean

        The vaccines may or not be safe, but at this point they are not (for me) worth the risk. And no bureaucrat has the right to force a vaccine on me.

        Exactly this.

  33. Loveconstitution1789

    Had an airliner I was on struck by lightning. The lights flickered and the pilot waited WAY too long to come on the intercom to say what happened. No damage requiring emergency landing. Ive flown so much, I know the warning signs of a bad flight. 99.999% of the time if the stewardesses look scared, theres trouble. If they are calm, chock it up to minor air mishap.

    Georgia has a bunch of thunderstorms, so lightning is common. Had a house or two struck by lightning. We always had a lightning rod, so its directed into the ground.

    We also have lightning bugs here so there is more than one way to get lightning in a bottle.

    • waffles


    • Ghostpatzer

      “… and there’s hamburger all over the highway in Mystic, Connecticut.” Minority groups unavailable for comment.

      That IS cool.

    • Swiss Servator

      “The Norwegian Meteor Network”


  34. Suthenboy

    About 20 years ago I was walking out of the woods to my jeep because a downpour came out of nowhere. I was about ten feet from my car standing in a couple of inches of water when POW!. A blinding bolt hit about 50 feet away. It shocked the piss out of me…knocked me down…. but no damage. At least none that I am aware of *hand twitches and I cant remember my birthday*.
    I stay inside when we have thunder storms these days.

  35. blackjack

    Well, I have another 10 quarantine starting last Friday. Not sure how it get’s paid for. I only had about 20 hours left of supplemental (covid) sick time after the last one. They might try and take sick time for it, despite it being mandatory. This time I have to fill out daily monitoring forms.

  36. westernsloper

    Good stuff thanks Animal! I have a lightning story I can share during a happy hour sometime.