Winds of Change

I returned home from work last night at around 9:35 pm and my sister called me almost immediately as I walked in the door, informing me that my hometown (Midland, Ontario) was hit my a tornado.

My family, home and pets are all fine, as are most of my friends.  But it seems that the storm was very powerful and "it kind of split the town in half" said Midland Mayor Jim Downer last night on CTV newsnet.  The storm touched down near a long-standing fruit market, crossed over the lake (Little Lake), tore through a trailer park, and continued on through the south end of the main street's commercial district (damaging several business and homes).

Some of my west/east coast friends may be used to big storms due to their proximity to the oceans.  My friends in the American south have to live with a regular tornado threats every summer. But that's one of the reasons why I love the Great Lakes regions so much: very pretty, and the weather never gets too unpredictable.

I've never experienced a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, or a tsunami. In 1985, a tornado ripped through the city of Barrie, and it became a bit of a local legend: The Barrie Tornado was taught to us in elementary school as this crazy, freak thing that simply doesn't happen to us.  We would get big storms, sure, but a tornado?  That's something that happens to other people.

"Other" people.

Well, this tornado was a sobering reminder that these sorts of things can strike just about anywhere, and I have a new-found respect for anyone living in the so-called "tornado alley"  I've gone through a few hundred pictures and seen images of familiar and friendly places torn to shreds.  I've got a few friends that live in the trailer park that was nearly destroyed, and I still have yet to hear from all of them...I'm sure that at least a few of them are now homeless.   Considering how bad it could have been for me and mine, I got off pretty easy, but the next time I go home is going to be jarring.

Also, please don't make any jokes about how tornadoes always seem to hit trailer parks.  I have friends in there.

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Skepchicon 2010

Minnesotans, Manitobans, Wisconsans, and miscellaneous Mid-Westerners:

I'll be headed to Minneapolis, MN for Skepchicon 2010!  I'll be speaking on two panels ("Skepticism 101" and "Bulls**t Detection Kit: Why Pseudo-Science Doesn't Deliver"), sharing the tables with Pamela Gay, Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan and others! The full skeptic track schedule can be found here.

I'm very excited to finally meet my skepchick (and other) friends after all these years, and this should be a good consolation prize for my not being able to go to TAM (again).  If you're going to be in the region, come on out to what should be a really cool, intimate-but-not-that-kind-of-intimate get-together!

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Definitions Fail

I know I'm not really doing the atheist thing much these days, but I saw this on my way home from work tonight, and I thought you'd get a kick out of this one.

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