It’s been quite a week here at the ranch, which is why we haven’t had a show since Monday. Not only did we do a show that afternoon, but a few hours later, I was a guest on “Together Again Radio” with relationship coaches Marsha Dean Walker and Jim Eastwood. We discussed discrimination faced by the older, long-term unemployed jobseekers.
I’ll be back on that show the evening of Thursday, March 24, from 6-7pm Central to participate in the discussion on age discrimination with another guest, attorney Stanley Lubin.
We’ve used this week to step up the job search. As some of you may know, my last employer went through some Reductions In Force about a year and a half ago, and I was one of the casualties. So, money and benefits will soon run out unless something on the job front breaks pretty soon. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Also, please keep Sharon in your thoughts and prayers. My wife also is one of the producers of Gone to Texas and a frequent guest talking about what it’s like to live with temporal lobe epilepsy. Well, I can tell you that it can be pretty rough. She’s had an unusually high number of seizures this week, probably connected with the increased solar activity and the earthquakes in Japan. Those seizures, combined with her body adjusting to no more prescription pain killers, mean she’s had long, hard hours of full-body pain over many days.
But, we will get through this. Just keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Next week’s shows
A few notes about upcoming shows, one of them related to what Sharon’s going through right now.
The healing arts and the visual/performing arts are two topics we’ll cover next week on the big blogcast.
On Tuesday, March 22, at 2pm Central, Irene Hernandez, BS, LMT, will be along to talk about the benefits of alternative healing, particularly for pain management.
Irene’s bodywork studies include Dr. Upledger’s technique for CranioSacral Therapy (CST), Reiki (Master Level), and Pranic Healing. In her CST practice, Irene includes spiritual coaching with Essential Oil and Aura Soma essences and incorporates these personal blends into her clients’ sessions.
Then on Thursday, March 24, at 11am Central, we’ll talk with someone I’ve known for, well, let’s just say a long time, since our days growing up Paris. Illinois, not Texas or that that other place way over there.
Veletta Forsythe Lill is a former member of the Dallas City Council and the current Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District. She’ll join us to talk about the arts in Big D and about the current and future state of funding for the arts in Texas and in the USA.
We’re working on a time in the next week or so to visit with Nelson Duffle, a native Texan and former Austin television news colleague who now is a marketing strategist, business writer, and social media consultant at The Duffle Group.
He’ll be along to tell us everything we need to know about social networks and how they can work for you or against you. We’ll let you know when we confirm a date.
Solar flares and seizures
But right now, let’s get back to a question we raised Monday and on last week’s Open Blog Friday. That being the question of whether solar flares, earthquakes, and electromagnetic events trigger seizures in people with epilepsy, particularly temporal lobe epilepsy.
Sharon says they do, and that she is the living proof.
Here, let me share with you an excerpt from her blog entry posted yesterday on her Web site, Surviving Wonderland, my life with temporal lobe epilepsy.
The news that the sun was about to emit massive solar flares that could disrupt electronics here on Earth did not faze me. It should have. One night last week, I sat up in bed after feeling a “thump” between my eyes. It was a hard thump. The cats were not on the bed, and my husband was asleep in a position that made accusing him needless.
I did anyway, shaking him awake. I hurt and I wanted someone to take responsibility for it, even if it had been an accident. He declared his innocence, but I was suspicious.
The next day I began a difficult period during which I had seizures nearly every day, with a record three seizures in one night. Another night, I woke at 3 am to nerves that felt like an exposed nerve in a tooth, only this was throughout my entire body. The pain lasted several hours before I finally had a seizure and my body began to return to a normal state.
Each day, I experienced another seizure before I could gradually heal from the seizure of the night before. During the days, I had extreme weakness that felt as if my bones had turned to gelatin and I had been hit by a giant tuning fork. I downed sports drinks to combat the loss of electrolytes and took magnesium and Excedrin hoping they would relieve the pain. The body eats up magnesium during a seizure. Taking magnesium chloride tablets every day sometimes helps ease my post-seizure nerve pain.
I don’t take regular AEDs because I can’t tolerate the prescription drugs. Natural products for pain relief, along with alternative therapies such as massage or craniosacral therapy, are all that are available to me. And information. So when my husband told me about the massive solar flares and the information taken off NASA’s website, I listened.
I looked on epilepsy blog sites to see if anyone else had the same increase in seizures during the solar flares. Blog after blog complained of being bombarded with the worst seizures experienced. Some blogs tried to define the science surrounding the flares in an effort to explain how it affected those with epilepsy. Others just bemoaned the pain and difficulty.
The impact on me has been extreme but at the same time, I am grateful to have a wealth of information, both scientific and anecdotal with which to assess my experiences in the last week.
Understanding what causes a problem can take away the fear of the unknown. When a person manages epilepsy by attempting to avoid triggers, managing diet and taking supplements, each seizure is a source of questions. What did I do to cause this or was it just random? This last week has led to many questions concerning the vulnerability of my body to the surrounding environment. Did the solar flares cause all the problems? Who knows? The information surrounding the flares, however, it very compelling.
2003’s X45-class CME
So, what do you think? Well, I think it’s all kind of eerie. I’m looking online right now at a story from the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/3515788.stm that ran on March, 17, 2004, seven years ago yesterday. It followed up on a huge solar flare from November 4, 2003, one that was so massive that its radiation blinded our satellite detectors that were supposed to have recorded its true size.
By this time seven years ago, about four months after the event, physicists at New Zealand’s University of Otago estimated that the X45-class event was more than two times the size of the previous record flare.
Planet Earth did not take a direct hit at that time, though. Had the stars, quite literally, aligned just a little differently, that solar event could have taken out a lot of the radio communications and power grids here on the surface of the planet.
The previous record holders were X20 solar flares that struck the planet on Aug. 16, 1989, and April 2, 2001.
But, listen to this, the New Zealand researchers say the 2004 event produced X-ray radiation that bombarded Earth’s atmosphere equal to 5,000 suns. Luckily for us, none of that reached the planet’s surface. Or at least that’s what the scientists tell us.
Of course scientists and astronomers have studied these massive, high-energy solar flares over the past two centuries, and that includes the granddaddy of them all back in 1859. That’s when British astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed the beginnings of what now is known as the Carrington Effect: a super bright white light flare that produced; a supercharged energy outburst visible to the naked eye.
These puppies can harm satellites, astronauts, and GPS navigation devices. They can knock out satellite and ground communication, and electric grids. A Carrington Effect is rare and occurs during solar maximum.
The upside to one of these Carrington Effects is a super auroral storm. The one in 1859 created an aurora borealis that was so big and so bright that people in Cuba could read their newspapers at night without lights.
The NASA Science News (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare) site gives a pretty good account of what happened, starting on Sept. 1, 1859, when Carrington saw two brilliant beads of blinding white light appear over some sunspots, intensify rapidly, and become kidney-shaped. Within one minute, the lights faced until they became pinpoints and disappeared.
The whole thing lasted about five minutes. But by dawn the next day, the skies all over our planet erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that people could read their newspapers in what normally was darkness. These stunning auroras pulsated as far south as Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.
Here’s what I find really weird, and a key to why we believe solar flares do bad things to people with seizure disorders.
The world’s telegraph systems went nuts. Spark flew out, shocking telegraph operators and igniting the telegraph paper. But, even after telegraphers disconnected the batteries, the telegraphs continued to work, pulling their power from the electricity in the atmosphere. That’s because of the geomagnetic storm created by the shaking and quivering of the Earth’s magnetic field rocked by the super coronal mass ejection, or CME.
When the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth’s magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a geomagnetic storm.
Planning for another big one
Louis J. Lanzerotti is a retired Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories and the editor of the journal Space Weather (http://www.spaceweather.com). Lanzerotti became aware of the effects of solar geomagnetic storms on terrestrial communications when a huge solar flare knocked out long-distance telephone communication across Illinois on August 4, 1972. The effects on Earth of that CME eventually led AT&T to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables.
The NASA site says a similar flare on March 13, 1989, created geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Québec generating station in Canada, blacking out most of the province and plunging six million people into darkness for nine hours. And, the aurora-induced power surges melted power transformers in New Jersey.
In December 2005, X-rays from another solar storm disrupted satellite-to-ground communications and GPS signals for about 10 minutes. That may not sound like much, but as Lanzerotti noted, “I would not have wanted to be on a commercial airplane being guided in for a landing by GPS or on a ship being docked by GPS during that 10 minutes.”
So, could we get hit by another Carrington Effect of the same size and magnitude as the one in 1859? Well, scientists say yes, but maybe not for another 500 years. It seems that the 1859 event was the largest to hit the planet in the past 500 years, which seems to scientists to be the cycle. But, they could be wrong, particularly because we’re just beginning to understand these things.
But, let’s play along and try to figure out what could happen if the sun decides to do something unexpected.
Lanzerotti points out that as electronic technologies have become more sophisticated and more embedded into everyday life, they have also become more vulnerable to solar activity. Power lines and long-distance telephone cables might be affected by auroral currents, as happened in Canada and New Jersey in 1989.
Radar, cell phones, and GPS systems could be disrupted. And, according to NASA, experts who have studied the question say there is little to be done to protect satellites from a Carrington-class flare. In fact, a recent paper estimates potential damage to the more than 900 satellites circling the planet right now could cost between $30 billion and $70 billion. The best solution, they say: a pipeline of communication satellites ready for launch.
Humans in space would be in peril, too. Spacewalking astronauts might have only minutes after the first flash of light to find shelter from energetic solar particles following close on the heels of those initial photons. Their spacecraft, and even the International Space Station, would probably have adequate shielding; but the key would be getting inside in time. And as we know from watching the amazing video from the ISS, you don’t move quickly in the vacuum of space. At least not if you want to live to tell about it.
NASA (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News031011-xclass.html) has another Web site dealing with the March 10 CME that hit us here at the ranch around 12:30am Central time. That’s the one that caused Sharon to wake up and accuse me of thumping her in the head.
NASA says that CME created a G1-class geomagnetic storm that caused Northern Lights over the US-Canadian border seen as far south as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. NASA warns that solar wind conditions favor more geomagnetic storming in the hours ahead. And, sky watchers, including those in the continental United States, should remain alert for auroras.
Web Bot Project predicted Japan quake?
Pretty wild stuff, huh?
Well, not as wild as this. Maybe you’ve heard of the Web Bot Project. If not, let me tell you a little about it.
Web Bot, or the Web Bot Project, refers to a software program created in 1997 by Clif High and George Ure, the self-titled Time Monks who started out trying to predict stock market trends. Their highly secret system is said to gather, analyze, and interpret news articles, blogs, forums, and other forms of Internet chatter to predict the future.
In 2001, the Time Monks noticed that stock market predictions were not the only matters accurately predicted by their web bot, so they started to track coincidence with occurrences and explored it further.
One of the first accurate predictions from the web bot was in June 2001 when it predicted an event within the next 60-90 days that would be life altering and of global proportions. We now know that terrorists attacked the United States about 90 days later on Sept. 11.
So, how does the Web Bob Project tie in with solar flares? Apparently, the Web Bot has found a “data gap’’ between late 2012 and May 2013. One explanation is that a devastating solar event knocks us back to the pre-electronic age.
Who knows? The Time Monks say their web bot also accurately predicted the 2001 and 2003 blackouts in the northeast part of the country; the crash of American Airlines flight 587; the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; Hurricane Katrina; the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; the BP oil spill; and Dick Cheney’s hunting accident.
But, the web bot fizzled out on its predictions that a big earthquake would hit Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest on Dec. 12, 2008; the U.S. dollar would completely collapse; civil unrest in this country would start on July 11 of last year and last until January of this year, possibly driven by skyrocketing food prices and the devaluation of the dollar; and a missile launch on Dec. 14 of last year would start World War III.
Now I’m finding just a whole lot of Web sites that claim the bot predicted last week’s earthquake in Japan. It seems Clif High predicted that what he called a Global Coastal Phenomena will gradually increase up until March or April of this year, at which time the situation could be disturbing for many people.
“Unusual movements of the Moon, brought on by anomalies in the magnetosphere could cause coastal disruptions.”
Well, tomorrow is a full moon, and at that time, the moon will be the closest it’s been to Earth since 1992 (http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-03/biggest-full-moon-20-years-almost-certainly-wont-cause-huge-natural-disaster)
As they used to say on SCTV: pretty scary boys and girls.