Thunder Megaphone – A Glacial Valley Can Focus and Amplify Thunder Into a Most Extraordinary Sound

We’ve all heard thunder, and we all know what causes it. Many of us have heard two distinct kinds of thunder, but perhaps we never really noticed or thought about it. Recently, I heard a third kind of thunder.

“Ordinary” thunder – a thoroughly extraordinary sound, but the kind of thunder we hear most often – happens when lightning occurs at some distance from the observer. The initial sound of the lightning bolt echoes off surrounding objects and air masses. Because it is echoed so many times, the thunder stretches out into many, many seconds, even though the initial sound might have lasted a second or two at most. Moreover, because the initial sound echoes off soft things with indistinct surfaces – clouds, thermoclines, and weather fronts – and because many echoes reach the ears of the observer at different times, the original sound is greatly distorted. Almost all high frequency components are filtered out, and the observer hears mostly a low-pitched rumble.

When lightning strikes very close to the observer, within a few hundred feet, the sound is entirely different. The observer might not hear echoes of the thunder at all, but only the pure initial sound. It is a single, sharp, intense “POW!” It may be followed by a much quieter, but still loud, whistling or hissing sound.

But what about that third kind of lightning?

I was camping alone in Crawford Notch State Park in northern New Hampshire, when thunderstorms began rolling into the valley just after dinner. I tidied up my campsite just before the rain started, then retreated to my tent. One thunderstorm passed without much incident.

Darkness had fallen by the time the second thunderstorm rolled up from the south. I occupied myself by counting the time interval between lightning and thunder to track the movements of the storms. Fifteen seconds before the thunder rolled up from somewhere west of Mount Bemis, and I knew the storm was just under three miles southwest of me. Seven seconds between the flash and the rumble beyond Frankenstein Cliff, and I knew the storm was passing nearly a mile and a half to my west.

And then it happened!

A flash. I counted eleven seconds. And I heard a sound unlike any thunder I had ever heard before.

The cacophony included at least half a dozen rapid repetitions of the “POW!” of a nearby lightning strike. But at the same time, there was the rumbling and roaring of “ordinary” thunder, but much, much louder than usual.

Before I could figure out what that sound was, there was another flash somewhere to the north. Again I counted eleven seconds, and again I heard that utterly incredible crackling and powing and rumbling and roaring.

This time, I figured it out.

It was a lightning strike right within the upper reaches of Crawford Notch just a couple of miles north of me. It was right within a gigantic stone megaphone formed by Webster Cliff on the east, Mount Field and Mount Willey on the west, and the old glacial cirque of Mount Willard for a backstop on the north.

And this 1,500 foot deep, three-mile-long granite megaphone was pointed right at Dry River Campground.

Yes, the beautiful U-shaped glacial valley of Crawford Notch is a nearly perfect megaphone, albeit open on top. The bare stone faces of Mount Willard and Webster Cliff echoed the initial “POW!” of the thunder almost undistorted. The western slope of the notch is a bit more heavily wooded, but there’s enough bare ledge and rockslide there to provide a pretty good echo. The open top of the notch was covered by the underbelly of the thunderstorm itself, which provided enough of a soft echoic surface to create the usual rumbling of thunder in addition to the clean “POW!” echoes off the rock faces.

But all of this sound was extraordinarily loud because of the megaphone that focused it all right on me and my campsite.

After I got this all figured out, there was a third lightning flash in the north. Yes, eleven second later, there was that glorious, unearthly sound again.

I wondered why I had never heard this kind of thunder before. I have probably experienced thunderstorms in Crawford Notch at least a dozen times over the years, but never heard the Thunder Megaphone.

My best guess is that I probably have heard it before, but never noticed it. Most of the times I’ve camped there, it was with a crowd of friends and family. Much goes on when a thunderstorm rolls in. Ponchos have to be broken out and put on, while at the same time, various disorderly what-nots need to get stashed into cars and tents before they get soaked. There is a bit of yelling and shouting to be done, and paradoxically among the mayhem, kids and dogs need to have their fears calmed. Meanwhile, tarps over the tents and picnic tables are flapping in the gales, making a poor imitation of thunder themselves.

In all my 25 years camping in Crawford Notch, this may have been the first time I experienced a thunderstorm while I was camping there alone. There was no tarp over the tent, and I had anticipated the thunderstorm well enough to get everything into the car long before the rain started.

So, when the lightning and thunder came, I had nothing to do but observe.

What a treat!

I half hope we get a thunderstorm the next time we go camping in the mouth of the Thunder Megaphone.

Happiness Or Housework – Get Organized For Both!

If you are like most women with a family, you are still at work on your “free” time. Time off is not for rest or play, but for trudging up that steep hill of never-ending chores. Housework organization is necessary, but remember as Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project says, “The days are long but the years are short!”

How do we master the tricky balance of keeping our sanity while having a reasonably clean and organized home?

Delegate

Many working women, including “stay at home” Moms, still do more than their fair share of work. Think about this: if someone had to pay for that family maintenance work, the estimate runs upwards towards $100,000 yearly!

Want to see your time? Get some paper and divide the page into three columns. In the first column, list all of the weekly household tasks. In the next column, the approximate time it takes per week. In the third column, who’s doing it. Now add up everyone’s time, and get delegating!

Even young children can put clothes away, pick up after themselves and help with simple chores. My six year old granddaughter can run the vacuum through the high traffic areas. Encouraging kids in positive ways from a young age saves countless hours spent arguing later on! My Mother was always stressed over doing housework on her day off. I don’t blame her, but it didn’t help motivate me much!

Get Organized With The 4 B’s

Life Coach and author Martha Beck created a prioritizing tool called The 4 B’s: Bag It, Barter It, Better It and Batch It.

Bag It means ditching it!. If you’re dusting once a week, can you Bag It and do it twice monthly? Let go of what you can. People that truly love you don’t care about a little dust on your end-table.

Barter It means trading, including with money, to have someone else do it. Women often say they can’t afford a cleaning person, but regularly spend it on a casual dinner out. Feel guilty paying someone to do “your” work? Think of it as a priceless investment, giving precious time back to you and your family!

Better It means adding something pleasurable to something dreadful. Hate doing dishes? Better It by making a playlist that rocks your energy! Make it a game and count the songs it takes to empty the sink. “Better it” for your kids and Google “games to get your kids to do chores!”

Batch It means doing similar tasks all at once. Pick one hour for family “just do it” time. Shut down the electronics and don’t do anything else during that time. Make it fun, and set up rewards for everyone, including yourself. Rewards are powerful motivators and don’t have to be complex or expensive.

Organize In Baby Steps

Break big jobs into small steps and start with the smallest one. Give yourself permission to stop after completing the first step. Telling ourselves we only have to take one baby step relieves motivation-sapping mental stress, and we may end up inspired to keep going!

Little things add up. Stash natural cleaning wipes in the bathroom and wipe surfaces a few times a week after your bathroom routine. You’re already in there and it takes 60 seconds to wipe out a sink. When you walk through a room, pick up a few things. (See next.)

Get in the habit of putting things in one place, even if it’s just in piles. Assign specific areas for papers, mail, dirty clothes, coats and shoes. Even a little bit of organization saves huge amounts of time looking for lost items, reduces clutter, and makes cleaning more efficient; sorting one pile is easier than finding it all over the place on cleaning day.

Well begun is half done. (Mary Poppins had it right!) Pick one thing, and just get started! It’s never as painful a task as we think and it’s usually done before we know it. Find a balance, make it fun, get it done and go on to live your life!

Learn to Speak Spanish Through Online Programs

The Spanish language is becoming increasingly more important to speak and understand. More than 420 million people speak Spanish, including those who speak it as a second or third language. Approximately 17 million of those are in the United States, making speaking Spanish more than just a passing fad. Fortunately, there are many online resources geared towards helping people learn how to speak Spanish.

Learn Conversational Spanish

The website, studyspanish.com, provides people with the opportunity to learn conversational Spanish. Although this program will not help you achieve fluency, by reading the lessons and repeating sounds and phrases with the audio attachments, you can be well on your way to carrying on a conversation. Sample beginning lessons are available online, and students can add to their knowledge with the purchase of CDs.

Courses, Tutors and Games in Spanish

Websites like 123teachme.com provide grammar, vocabulary, verb conjugations and sounds, like the other websites, but they also incorporated games and quizzes. These games and quizzes use vocabulary and phrases to test students knowledge and memory. People using this site can also work with Spanish tutors, people who know the language fluently, to get one-on-one help and accelerate the learning process.

Use Videos on Google and YouTube

Videos are available on YouTube and Google, and allow Spanish students to hear how the words are said, including accents and emphasis, but also see how they're said. Some of these videos use visual aids, displaying words and their pronunciation, like a book and audio tape would do, while others use people. The videos are for the beginning and advanced learners, depending upon the individuals needs and desires.

Learn Practical Spanish

Websites like e-spanol.hu/en outline the basics of Spanish, including grammar, vocabulary and expressions. This website provides games, quizzes, tests, word practices, audio videos and transcripts for students to test their knowledge and maximize they're Spanish skills.

Master Words and Phrases

For the beginning and advanced Spanish speakers, or students who simply want a larger vocabulary, websites like learn-spanish.co.il/ are ideal. This website lectures specific words and phrases that can make your Spanish more descriptive and detailed, including words relating to travel, color, shapes, sports, animals, food and clothing. However, this website does not include an audio, but only a simple visual of the words.

7 Questions to Ask Before Booking A DJ For Your Wedding

Scouting for an amazing disc jockey (DJ) for your wedding is not a stroll in the park since there are many things to put into consideration. However, before booking that DJ, he must be able to provide appropriate answers to the following questions in order to prove his competence.

1. Are you a full-time DJ?

It is important for you to know that the DJ you want to hire is not just a one-dimensional part timer who may not owe enough time to the job. He must be involved on a full-time basis with quality experience that cuts across various events. He must be a true performer that can handle tough audiences without stress and satisfy them.

2. How do you treat song requests?

You should engage a DJ that understands how to strike a balance between couple's song requests and those of the guests so that both parties are adequately satisfied.

3. How do you customize the music experience for each couple?

He should be able to provide a soundtrack for your wedding which is dependent on your taste, style and vision for the day. He should be able to willingly accept your must-play and do-not-play lists because you are supposed to be in control of the music that will be played on that day.

4. Can I hear some samples of mixing and blending of different tracks?

He should be able to blend between songs harmoniously to the point that you may not even be aware of it. There should not be artless silence between songs as this will make your party to be boring.

5. What sound equipment do you work with? Do you have back-up?

The equipment that a DJ makes use of is as important as musical instruments. His turntable, microphone, mixer, computer, etc., must be up-to-date in order to reel out the best mix for your party. It is also important to have back-up equipment to guard against unforeseen circumstances.

6. How do you get the crowd pumped?

DJs have a lot of baits to encourage guests to take on the dance floor. You can request for a video of past performances in order to gauge the skills of the DJ you want to hire in entertaining guests.

7. Why should I choose you as my wedding DJ?

Providing a satisfactory answer to this question will go a long way to prove that you are about to hire a competent DJ. He should be able to tell you what makes him unique in the industry and this will assist you in making a vital decision that will make your wedding successful.