Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 18th-24th is national lightning safety awareness week.

Each year lightning kills 50 to 100 people in the USA (500 injuries). During an average year in Colorado, lightning will kill 3 and injure 18 people. Men are struck by lightning four times more often than women. Colorado has the 3rd highest lightning casualty rate in the nation. A typical 100-million volt lightning flash can heat the air to more than 40,000°F. The contact voltage of a typical industrial electrical shock is 20 to 63 kilovolts, a lightning strike delivers about 300 kilovolts. The saying “lightning never strikes twice in the same place” is false. The Empire State Building is struck by lightning on average 100 times each year, and was once struck 15 times in 15 minutes.

People are struck by lightning all the time. In fact, here in Colorado, just last week a man was killed by lightning while walking to his parked car at the Mile-Hi Flea Market. Over the last few days, 69 people were killed by lightning in India.

Total Colorado Lightening Casualties.

Even airplanes get struck by lightning.
Airplane getting struck by lightning

Although most lightning mortality is through cardiac and neurologic events, other organ systems can be affected. Further complications may include respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary edema, renal failure, retinal lesions, and rhabdomyolysis. Most of the current from a lightning strike passes over the surface of the body in a process called “external flashover” and results in deep burns at the point of contact most commonly on the head, neck and shoulders. Sometimes the burns come in the form of Lichtenberg figures (graphic picture but SFW). Lightning can catch your hair on fire. All lightning strike burns are highly prone to infection. Other complications caused from lightning strike include: Contusion or internal hemorrhage of brain, lungs, liver, intestine or other organs, bone fractures and bruises, numbness/weakness in limbs, partial or complete (but temporary) paralysis, tympanic membrane ruptured (typical), transient blindness, photophobia , conjunctivitis, corneal damage, retinal abnormalities (macular hole), and cataracts.

If the physical effects weren’t enough, 70 percent of lightning survivors experience residual effects, most commonly affecting the brain (neuropsychiatric, vision and hearing). These effects can develop slowly, only becoming apparent much later. Survivors complain of intense headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other post-concussion types of symptoms. Survivors also experience difficulty sleeping, often sleeping excessively at first and then only two or three hours at a time. some develop seizure-like activity several weeks to months after the injury. Many lightning victims may suffer personality changes because of frontal lobe damage and become quite irritable and easy to anger. As a result, many isolate themselves, withdrawing from church, friends, family and other activities. Other neurologic disorders include: loss of consciousness or coma, amnesia, anxiety, confusion, aphasia, seizures, electroencephalographic abnormalities, brain damage, neuropathy, memory disorders, concentration disturbances, irritability, lightning storm phobia, and post traumatic stress disorder. The experience can be so dramatic that there is a Lightning Strike Survivors Support Group. The pathology of lightning, or keraunopathy, is known only to a few specialists.

And if all that wasn’t enough lightning will often explode, tear, shred, or burn your clothes right off you – leaving you not only very disoriented, but at least partially naked.

On a happier note, only about 20 percent of lightning victims are immediately struck dead.

Other links of note:

Wearing a bra can get you struck by lightning.

A recent scientific study strengthens the belief that metallic supports in modern bras could attract lightning and strike their wearers dead. An unconfirmed instance of this occurred circa 2000 in Hyde Park, London, when two women hiding under a tree died after being struck by lightning. The forensic report said “lightning discharge was channeled into the metal brassieres, leaving burn marks on the women’s chests.”

Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times. His wife was struck once. He died by suicide.

US lightning strikes during the last two hours
Selected Incidents from the “It Can’t Happen to Me” Library
Over 200 cool lightning photos
Tips on taking photographs of lightning
Stories of lightning strike survivors
Your chance of being struck by lightning: 1 in 280,000
Lightning Kills! posters
Lightning Kills public service announcement

Late Sweltering Nights

On Saturday I went to a backyard BBQ/ summer kickoff party. It was a lot of fun. Tons of good grub, and beer, and all you can drink mojitos with fresh crushed mint. It was a little bit of a different crew than I see normally so it was great to mix it up that way too.

The Gypsie Swing Revue :: Summer Kickoff Party 2006 :: Denver

Our wonderful hosts booked Gypsy Swing Revue to play for the shindig. Their sound is a throw back to the 30’s and 40’s with large influences from Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli (they played songs by both of these artists), and the like. If you’re so inclined, you can check them out most Wednesday nights at the Snug. It was the perfect music for dancing through a late, sweltering, Denver night. The band was talked into playing till 12:30 in the morning, allowing everyone to get there dancing shoes well greased.

Summer Kickoff Party 2006 :: Denver

Casa Bonita

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure/displeasure of eating at one of Denver’s – scratch that – the Nation’s landmark restaurants: Casa Bonita.

Casa Bonita opened in 1974. It is over 52,000 square feet with seating for 1,100 guests and took one year to build. Since the Casa Bonita in Tulsa closed in September of 2005 (which I’m incredibly disappointed in never having had the chance to visit), Denver’s Casa Bonita is now one of a kind – with the exception of the soon to be open Casa Viva and The Mayan (which was sued by Casa Bonita). Casa Bonita achieved national recognition recently with it’s appearance on South Park.

I think it’s easily described as the offspring of a broken down Disneyland, less than stellar Taco Bell, long airport security lines, the Las Vegas Strip, Chunky Cheese, and good liquid acid.

Nearly everyone who has lived in Denver, for any amount of time, is going to know what casa Bonita is. And most of those people are going to gag at the mere mention of it’s name. In fact, the reputation of the food at Casa Bonita is so poor it has been deemed “Casa Don’t-eat-a” by many Denverites. Casa Bonita is not for the week of heart or the week of stomach. It is just as plastic as Vegas (maybe more). And the food is some of the worst I’ve ever had. For reals.

The lines to get into the Casa can be horrendous. Go on a weeknight, less screaming children and little-to-no lines. If you decide to make a weekend night out of it you can expect lines up to an hour long to get in. And often a 30 minute line can form just to get the hell out of there. You’ve been warned. Trust me, this is one of the last places on earth you want to feel trapped.

After you have made your order and paid (you didn’t think they’re going let you see what’s on your plate before you paid did you), you are ushered to another cafeteria style line were you get a tray and wait until a young lady asks, “wachoo order?”. Soon your meal comes sliding out of a mysterious hole in the wall were it waits for you under the heating lamps. I love the fact that you never see where or by whom your food is made – it just appears through a hole!

Mystery Slot

I can only harsh on Casa Bonita for so long though. I personally, have spent many a childhood birthday at Casa Bonita. It will forever hold a nostalgic place in my heart, no matter how many times I end up puking in the fountain on the way out.

And so the fun begins. After getting your slop you’ll be lead to your seat. Everyone asks for a seat by the waterfall. Don’t. The smell of chlorine will get your stomach upset before you have a chance to drink your first coronaita. And they won’t seat you there anyway. One of the coolest things about Casa Bonita is all the cool rooms they can seat you in. There are gazebos, waterfall seating, mines, cave rooms, “open air” seating, and the governors mansion.

Miners Booths

This particular time we were seated in the magic room. This room had a cool chandelier and stage complete with red velvet curtain. There are magic shows every hour. The magician seemed like the saddest man on the planet but actually produced quite a few laughs.


In addition to magic shows, Casa Bonita has all kinds of other entertainment including pupppet shows, flame jugglers, a wishing well, a roaming mariachi band (which reportedly can’t play anything other than ‘happy birthday’), Black Barts cave, an arcade filled with 80’s video games and ski-ball, a souvenir store filled with absolute shit – and t-shirts, “authentic” Mexican dancers, a wishing well, piñatas for the kids, and all kinds of other stuff. Casa Bonita is great to go exploring in. Go thru a door your not supposed, search around, there is cool stuff to be found.

The Alley

The Puppet Show Is Closed

But by far the main attraction at Casa Bonita is the thirty-foot waterfall. Everyone seems to fall into the waterfall. If it’s not the regular divers doing flips, it’s Black Bart being shot by the sheriff and falling into the pool, or Chiquita the gorilla running around it escaping her captor and harassing the patrons. It’s the waterfall that makes Casa Bonita really unique. The diver’s at Casa Bonita even have there own blog featuring Chiquita.


Here are some Southpark screen caps and sounds.

Here are Casa Bonita My Space and Friendster accounts.

Go to Tiki Boyds and get a drink called the Casa Bonita. Refreshing!

Her reminiscing about Casa Bonita really hit home with me.

This dude made a video of his Casa Bonita experience.

Jeffery Sward has some great phtography of Casa Bonita.

The death metal band Carrion Crawler once did a short show on the Casa Bonita stage before getting kicked off.

Some more Casa Bonita photos can be found here.

This is a decent post about the Casa.

Casa Bonita at Night :: Denver

Please share you favorite / nostalgic / least favorite stories about the Casa. Or, just comment on how absolutly jealous you are of not being able to go here every weekend!

Holiday Lights

A while back SE was in town. We took a little architectural rehab tour of the Lodo area. While walking around, we tried to see if the Denver Gas & Electric (which is now a datacenter) building was lit up. Everyone was disappointed that it wasn’t. Well now for the holidays it’s been lit up again (Denver has lots of great christmas lights). So this one is for you SE…
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