General Archive

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shake Up in Wichita Falls

EarthquakeMy wife & daughter and I were watching a movie on Netflix Saturday night, when I felt the couch start shaking a bit. At the same time, I noticed the TV shaking, and then looking around, saw the blinds shaking and a light flickering. There was also a lot of noise and some creaking, and I could hear the glasses rattling in our wine cabinet. My first thought was that a storm had just hit, since really powerful straight line winds that shake things up a bit aren't uncommon here. But this was a lot more shaking than that, especially on the ground floor since our house is built on a slab. I considered and immediately dismissed a tornado, since the sirens weren't going off. I even wondered if there had been a nearby explosion. By the time the shaking was done in about 5 seconds, though, I'd figured out what was going on.

It turns out, the largest earthquake to hit Oklahoma in recorded history happened on Saturday night, and we were close enough to feel it. The quake was centered near Sparks, which is about 150 miles from Wichita Falls, as the crow flies. According to Times Record News, "The USGS says the quake was shallow, about 3 miles deep. It was initially registered as 5.2 magnitude, but later upgraded to 5.6. It was the latest in a trio of tremors that struck Oklahoma Saturday."

The girl staying with us was up in her room studying at the time, and came running downstairs scared. I guess the shaking was worse on the second story. She said the ceiling fan was shaking pretty bad. But really, there wasn't any major damage - just a few slight cracks that maybe were already there and I just hadn't noticed before.

The quake did cause some more substantial damage to buildings in Oklahoma, but nothing I've seen that's truly catastrophic, and it doesn't look like anybody was seriously injured.

Earthquakes aren't unprecedented in Oklahoma. The Meers fault line runs through the state, causing on the order of 50 quakes a year. They're just not normally this strong.

So now I can check off an earthquake as something I've experienced. I realize that it was pretty minor, and people from California or other areas might not think much of it, but feeling a quake at all in Wichita Falls is something pretty out of the ordinary.

More Info:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Here are two great comics for Halloween. The first one, I'm pretty sure, is the original. Even with my left leaning tendencies, I've always found it pretty funny. The second is updated to turn the tables.

Halloween Comic - Democratic Version

Halloween Comic - Republican Version

Friday, October 21, 2011

Airplane Scam

Scam AlertA guy I work with was looking to buy a plane. He saw a few promising ads on craigslist, but his e-mail was down at the time, so he asked me to send a couple e-mails for him. About a month later, I finally got a response from one guy:

Sorry for the late response but I work in the US Air Force and it's very hard for me to reply faster. I wanted to let you know that the 1963 Cessna 172 Skyhawk is still available, i had a buyer but his loan did not get approved. The final price is $18,000 ,so if you are still interested please let me know ASAP.

Here is a link with more photos:

The plane was left to me by my father after he passed away last year. At this time the plane is in Olympia, WA in hangar on a private residence ,where my father lived. If you're not able to come pick this up, we can use Amazon Payments service to handle this deal. Let me know if you have any questions, for some reasons your previous email did not load on my screen.

Thank you,
Mike Seamon ,TSgt, USAF
375rd TRS/Det. 11
DSN 251-3397

My friend had already bought his plane by then, but I've been dreaming of owning a plane for years, and $18,000 for a 172 seemed like a hell of a deal. Of course, there's the old saying that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, but I still thought I'd look into it, even if just for curiosity. So, I sent the guy an e-mail asking for more info and a number to call him at. Here's the response I got.

Hi Jeff, this 1963 Cessna 172 Skyhawk is in excellent condition, never been involved in any kind of accidents, clean and clear title, no mechanical problems, no rust, no leaks, power options all functional and it will need nothing in the near future. I'm the owner of the aircraft but i don't really know the technical details, i'm not a pilot and i never used it, I inherited it from my father who took great care of this aircraft. It is a IFR certified ,constant speed propeller. All the details that i have from the Cessna you can find here:

I want to sell it because I don't have use for it and I could use some quick cash right now, rather than waiting for a better offer (selling takes a lot of time too... and time is money). So I'm willing to let it go for $18,000 , First come, First served.

We are in a dgt training mission here in Montana until 10th of November and i can't meet you to do the deal in person, but I have some great news for you.The shipping will take 7-10 days thru uShip and it will be free anywhere in USA, my previous buyer already paid for it and uShip didn't want to refund him so I have the aircraft sealed at a local shipping company that work with uShip, ready to be shipped out. If we cannot meet face2face I would like to use Amazon Payments purchase protection to take care of this deal, smooth and safe.

Let me know if you have any other questions, hope i didn't miss anything, if we use Amazon Payments program this is not a sight unseen deal anymore.

Thank you,
Mike Seamon ,TSgt, USAF
375rd TRS/Det. 11
DSN 251-3397

Wait. What? An airplane, sealed in a container ready to ship? Who in their right mind would buy an airplane without first performing a full inspection? I mean, I wouldn't even buy a car without looking it over first, and maintenance on an airplane is far more important.

Well, my wife thought the whole thing sounded fishy, too, so she did some digging, and found this page on a forum:
So they scam in planes too

Turns out that the whole thing's a scam. Oh well, it's like I wrote above - if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wichita Falls Summer Heat Wave Wrap Up

Hot ThermometerSummer's over, and the 10 day forecast has reasonable temperatures out till October 20th, so I think it's safe to assume that there aren't going to be any more heat wave records set this year, which makes now a good time to recap what records were set this year. In short, this was the hottest summer on record for Wichita Falls, combined with one of the worst droughts on record (with the potential to become the worst). Here are a few of the stats for this past summer and some of the records. All temps are Fahrenheit.


  • The average temperature for June, July, and August was 91.9º, compared to 88.5º for the previous record, the summer of 1980.
  • Between June, July, and August, there were only 4 days where the temperature didn't reach at least 100º.


  • Most consecutive days over 100º - 52
  • Most total days over 100º - 100
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 6th most consecutive days over 105º - 16, 11, & 9
  • Most total days over 105º - 66
  • 2nd most consecutive days over 110º - 4
  • Most total days over 110º - 12
  • Most consecutive days over 95º - 73
  • Most total days over 95º - 115
  • Most consecutive days over 90º - 100
  • 4th most total days over 90º - 137

Temperature Data Source (with a lot more info):
National Weather Service

The drought has been bad. According to Weather Underground, in June, July, and August, we got a total of 0.47" of rain, with absolutely no rain in July. We got just over half an inch in September, and just this past weekend we finally got 2.83". But there's still a lot more rain to go to get us back up to where we should be.

The heat wave and drought have been statewide, and have led to some pretty bad fires. The worst was the Bastrop County Complex fire. It burned from September 4th through the 30th, killed two people, destroyed 1600 homes and 34,000 acres of land, and caused around $250 million of insured property damage. A little closer to home for me was the fire I blogged about in August, where from my front door I watched the helicopter dropping water. Luckily, that fire caused minimal property damage, unlike so many of the other fires Texas has experienced this year.

So, it's been one hell of a hot summer here in Wichita Falls. Maybe one day I'll be able to tell my grand kids about the summer of 2011. Or maybe with global warming, this could be the start of a trend.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fire a Little Too Close for Comfort

This was the view from my front yard yesterday afternoon*:

Helicopter Dumping Water Just Outside Tanglewood
(Click to embiggen)

There was a pretty big fire right on the edge of our development. According to police spokesman, Sgt. Joe Snyder, the fire threatened 100 houses at its worst, but thankfully in the end only caused minor damage to the siding of two houses. Around 25 acres were charred when it was all over. 20 residents were evacuated, but none were injured. Four firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, after which they jumped right back into the thick of it fighting the fire.

We heard about the fire while we were out shopping, so we almost immediately returned back home to see what was going on. At that point, there were plumes of black smoke that we could see from a few miles away, and right near the entrance to the development, there were flames 20-30 feet high (by my estimate - my wife thinks they were higher, but it's also possible we could both be overestimating due to our excitement). The main entrance was closed, so we had to take the back way in. The picture above shows how close the fire was to our house - close enough to be a bit concerned, but not anywhere near as concerned as the people living in the houses that were evacuated. At one point, when the wind shifted, it got a little hazy around our house from the smoke, but most of the time the wind was blowing the smoke just north of us.

The helicopter showed up a little while after we got home, and by that point, the smoke wasn't nearly as bad. The helicpter stayed for around an hour or so making several dumps. Here are a couple more photos of it:

Closeup of Helicopter Dumping Water Just Outside Tanglewood
(Click to embiggen)

Closeup of Helicopter that Dumped Water Just Outside Tanglewood
(Click to embiggen)

From what I've heard, the best guess is that the fire started when an electrical transformer exploded. With as dry as it's been here, those sparks were enough to start the fire. Whether the transformer did actually start the fire or not, we were without power for several hours. With the heat wave here, it was starting to get pretty stuffy.

Thankfully, the firefighters were able to get the fire under control and prevent any major damage or injuries. And the power company was able to restore power within a couple hours of being allowed on site.

So, to the firefighters and utility workers who worked in the 106º heat to save our houses and give us our power back, I want to express my sincere and deepest gratitude.

More Info:

*Okay, technically, that was the view from my next door neighbor's yard - the tree in the bottom right of the photo blocked the view from our yard.


Selling Out