Friday, March 28, 2014

All About Everything - Week Of March 25, 2014

Today's Topic: Boston Molasses Disaster (or the Great Molasses Flood)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of BostonMassachusetts in the United States. A large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and for many decades residents claimed that on hot summer days, the area still smelled of molasses.

The disaster occurred at the Purity Distilling Company facility on January 15, 1919. The temperature had risen above 40 °F (4.4 °C), climbing rapidly from the frigid temperatures of the preceding days. The stored molasses was awaiting transfer to the Purity plant situated between Willow Street and what is now named Evereteze Way, in Cambridge.

At about 12:30 in the afternoon near Keany Square, at 529 Commercial Street, a molasses tank 50 ft (15 m) tall, 90 ft (27 m) in diameter and containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal (8,700 m3) collapsed. Witnesses stated that as it collapsed, there was a loud rumbling sound, like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank, and that the ground shook as if a train were passing by.

The collapse unleashed a wave of molasses 25 feet (7.6 m) high at its peak, moving at 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). The molasses wave was of sufficient force to damage the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and tip a railroad car momentarily off the tracks. Author Stephen Puleo describes how nearby buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm). Puleo quotes a Boston Post report:

The Boston Globe reported that people "were picked up by a rush of air and hurled many feet." Others had debris hurled at them from the rush of sweet-smelling air. A truck was picked up and hurled into Boston Harbor. Approximately 150 were injured; 21 people and several horses were killed—some were crushed and drowned by the molasses. The wounded included people, horses, and dogs; coughing fits became one of the most common ailments after the initial blast.
* * *

Local residents brought a class-action lawsuit, one of the first held in Massachusetts, against the United States Industrial Alcohol Company (USIA), which had bought Purity Distilling in 1917. In spite of the company's attempts to claim that the tank had been blown up by anarchists. (because some of the alcohol produced was to be used in making munitions), a court-appointed auditor found USIA responsible after three years of hearings. United States Industrial Alcohol Company ultimately paid out $600,000 in out-of-court settlements (at least $10.7 million in 2012 dollars). Survivors of the fatal victims reportedly received approximately $7,000 per victim (approximately $125,000 in 2012 dollars).


Maybe it's because I live 3,000 miles from Boston, or maybe because I haven't spent nearly enough time on Wikipedia, but I had never heard about this disaster before yesterday, when I ran across a story about it in an old Highlights magazine.

It almost seems like something out of The Onion. I mean... molasses?! 

But it happened. And 21 people died. :(

Strangely/sadly, our region is currently dealing with the aftermath of a similar disaster, the Oso Mudslide. (I say similar because of how quickly it happened, with little to no warning, and how it destroyed so many lives.) But then I guess there are hundreds of disasters that have been "similar" -- tornadoes, earthquakes, flash floods, rock slides. It's scary how many deadly disasters just happen without any warning. And on THAT bright note....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bricks Cascade 2014: Photo Cascade! (P.S. Everything Is Awesome)

Okay, so I was going to post a bunch of photos here from Bricks Cascade, the Portland Lego Convention that was held in early March of 2014... but then I made a video with all the pictures instead, so NOW YOU GET A VIDEO:

And yes, I included some of my own creations in that slideshow of sorts... but wouldn't you?



So every time I go back and look at my posts about Bricks Cascades of the past, I feel bad that the 2014 one didn't get an actual blog post. Just a video. So I'm here to rectify that, as best as I can with my 5-years-in-the-future brain.

The theme of the 2014 Bricks Cascade was Are You Ready To MOC?

2014 was memorable for many reasons. It was my third Bricks Cascade, and the last one (for 3 years) in which I would have no major responsibilities (I became a theme co-coordinator in 2015).

This was the year the first LEGO Movie came out... in fact, it had only been in theaters about a month. We weren't sick of Everything Is Awesome yet.

2014 was the first & only year I gave a presentation! My topic was Building A Story, and it covered how to create a LEGO story (photography techniques, lighting, presentation methods, publicity, etc.)

I also took home my first-ever trophy at this convention!

And yes, I absolutely still have it on my shelf.

Besides the one-handed speed build, I participated in the partner speed build, the Freestyle/Master Build...

 and the Team Speed Build....

Set 10237, the Lord Of The Rings Tower Of Orthanc. (I got to keep the eagle!)

2014 was also notable as the last year my brother, Stan, attended the con with me. (I hope to convince him to return someday.) He made a cool transforming robot, or "hoverbot.")

He hopes to someday motorize the robot so that it can transform without any human assistance.

Here are some of the MOCs I brought to Bricks Cascade in 2014....

Happy Sunny Magical Princess Castle 2....

Micro Nativity...

"Ocean..." with a swimming shark...

Scrooge McDuck....

And a vignette of the Doggie Dash, 2014...

If I brought other things, I guess I forgot to take pictures of them.

Below are a few of the MOCs built by other people...

 So now I've properly blogged about 2014's Bricks Cascade! Hurray!

One goal accomplished. 425 to go.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oregon Zoo In Love

The folks at the Oregon Zoo want Valentine's Day to be special. So they put red and pink cardboard toys in the animals' exhibits and paint hearts on the glass windows, perhaps hoping it'll make the place lovely and magical for all the couples who visit the zoo on their Valentine's Day dates.

Buuut since the zoo's gates close at 4pm in the wintertime and since it's super cold out (there's still patches of snow on the ground, in fact), I've counted about thirty other visitors in the entire complex. Well! Happy Valentine's Day to me, because I get to see all the animals with ease, and have a mere .013% chance of being run over by a stroller! AND THE LION CUBS ARE OUT!

Please forgive the next nine thousand lion cub pictures. If you want other animals, scroll waaaay down.

Over in Polar Bear land, at first it looked as if the bears couldn't care less about the so-called most romantic day of the year. One looked awake and alert; the other just wanted to snooze.

"Hey, so... you want to play or something? ...No?"

"Guess I'll just wash my paws, then."

"...and play with this super cool garbage can..."


But THEN--

Mr. Sleepyhead woke up...

They both walked around for a bit...

And thennnn -- this happened...

SO CUTE. Also, that's the most action I've ever seen from either one of them. (Maybe they were digging the cold weather?)

In the end, the Polar Bears seemed to be the most affectionate animals at the zoo that day. The tigers were being their normal layabout selves....

"Want to join me for dinner tonight?"
"Want to go on a walk?"
"Want to scale the fence and eat that girl who's taking pictures of us?"
"Maybe later."

The Hippos were awake, for a change. Well, sort of?

Oh, hey, remember when I mentioned the Valentinesy window paint? Here's some of that:

It's paint, I promise. I mean, I'm pretty sure it is-- Uh... quick, look over here! More cute animals!

So... polar bears being the possible exception, I don't think the animals had any clue what day it was that day.

But I did. And the zoo was empty and the animals were adorable, and Valentine's Day at the Zoo gets four paws up from me!