No, I’m not kidding, and neither are they.
Oklahoma City street crews are preparing for heavy snow.
Now before you think we’re all crazy, let me tell you — it’s practice.
The Streets Mainenance Division of the Public Works Department will have a practice session on Oct. 6. Crews will operate snow plows and familiarize themselves with snow routes.
The practice, which will be that morning on the south side near Will Rogers World Airport, also will give the news media a chance to see these people in action BEFORE a winter “event” occurs.
Streets Superintendent Mike DeGiacomo knows the importance of having his people undergo such training. Every action and detail learned now could be a dollar — or a life — saved later.
While Oklahoma City doesn’t experience the number of snow events each year that some other major cities do, there’s always the possibility that a strong winter storm will hit. At least two such storms in the past three years have caused major problems, not only here but in many areas of the state.
Motorists are quick to complain about city, county and state efforts to remove snow when these events occur. But officials point out the large number of miles of roadway that have to be maintained versus the number of available workers to do so, as well as weather conditions that quickly re-cover areas the crews have uncovered.
Public safety is a key concern, whether it be the motoring public or residents stranded in their homes.
So is it a good idea to practice snow removal when the weather is still on the warm side? You bet. And a “thanks” to all involved.
Learn more about Oklahoma’s weather and how to prepare for it by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma on NewsOK.
I’d like to say that in almost 40 years in this business, I’ve heard it all. But I can’t. They just keep coming.
I’ve quoted many times longtime columnist and former Managing Editor Frank Boggs, who said, “The readers always write.” To me, it’s the journalist’s version of “The customer’s always right.” You’re gonna hear from them.
It may not be a column or an editorial they disgreed with. But it doesn’t have to be a commentary on a story or photo they saw in the newspaper or on line. It might be something they saw or heard somewhere and just wanted to make a comment on it.
It can be entertaining, to say the least.
Here are some samples:
* * * * *
“Do we still have people on the moon? I saw a show about all that stuff we left up there and I wondered if the United States still had someone up there watching over it.”
I answered him best I could that I didn’t know of anyone still on the moon, and that the “stuff” we left up there from previous space missions was mostly discarded material no longer used or working.
* * * * *
There have been a few space-related “contacts.” Mostly, late-night phone calls involving unidentified flying objects.
“Has anyone else reported seeing that round thing with the blinking lights flying over the water plant last night?”
“It was big. It just kinda sat up there a while. I just wondered if anyone else saw it.”
He hung up right after saying he would call the local Air Force base and ask if it “showed up on their radar.”
Oh, well. The Air Force knows full well how to handle calls about UFOs, blinking lights and aliens.
* * * * *
“Can you get a ticket for driving a riding lawn mower when you’re drunk?”
If you’re driving it on a public street, it’s possible. The offense? It depends upon where and how you were driving.
* * * * *
“My sister and I were wondering … how do you make mud?”
Well, you get the necessary ingredients, such as dirt and water, and mix them together.
You can shape the mix and use it for building, but you need to do so before it hardens.
* * * * *
“Can you drown by drinking from a garden hose?”
Yes. It doesn’t take a lot of water to cause a drowning. A couple of inches can do it.
Please don’t try that at home.
* * * * *
And there’s always someone who wants to talk politics. So you get a call like this.
“Who’s going to be the next president?”
Simple. The one who gets the most votes … from the electoral college.
* * * * *
There are some unusual people out there, thinking unusual thoughts. See examples in http://knowit.newsok.com/unsual-weird-oklahoma and checkign the state, nation and world categories.
There are some visitors you just don’t want. Especially when they are green, with four long legs, antennae and bulging eyes.
Before you think I’ve lost it entirely and am seeing aliens … let me assure you, I’m not.
I haven’t been hitting the bottle, I’m not smoking something funny, I don’t shoot up and I don’t snort … other than in my sleep, or if I get real tickled.
I’m talking about grasshoppers. Big, fat, juicy ones. The kind that leap off the lawn furniture, flutter their wings, then land on you and attach to your clothing. They can grasp the material so tightly that they become very difficult to remove.
They can be quite a nuisance. A plague. It says so in the Bible. I’ve read it.
When I heard and read recently that the current drought was causing these generally rural creatures to change their addresses and move into the cities, looking for food, I wasn’t all that concerned. We live far enough in, I thought, that it wouldn’t be a problem. Besides, I hadn’t seen a grasshopper at our house in, well, I couldn’t remember when.
That all changed this morning.
Around dawn, I went out onto our patio and deck to get a feel for the weather conditions as I got ready for work. It was still a bit dark, with only the slightest of light in the east, so I turned on the patio light before I walked outside.
I took three or four steps out onto the deck, then spotted something on the corner of the swing. When I got closer, I noticed the eye and the movement of the antennae. Then, the whole body turned … toward me.
I checked around, but didn’t see others. One grasshopper an army does not make. It’s not time to head to the local lawn and garden store to purchase a spray. No need to break out the flamethrower. They’re not filling the air as they assault my lawn or outdoor plants.
But I’m going to keep an eye on the situation. I just hope I don’t dream about grasshopper invasions.
Read more about the grasshopper situation, and about Oklahoma’s weather conditions, by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma
To all those who have found no redeeming aspect of social networking: here’s a little story for you.
As severe weather Monday evening rolled through Oklahoma, it quickly became apparent there was a dangerous situation developing. The storms produced high winds, frequent lightning, heavy rain (though generally brief) and sometimes hail.
Even in the early reports from those who make their livings forecasting, tracking and evaluating storms, it was very apparent that Oklahoma winds were causing devastation once again. When you live here, you expect it. It’s even in our state song: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain … ”
But Oklahoma wind often is devastating, such as it was Monday night.
And so it was that I joined a group of current and former Ponca City and Enid residents in discussing what was happening in those areas. We hooked up on Facebook and began sharing information we were collecting from various sources, newspaper and TV web sites to wire services, from local police and fire departments to weather observers, and from residents themselves … those who still had electrical service or phones that allowed them to access the social network.
Over the course of the next three to four hours, we were able to get updates relating to communities within a large grid that was bounded roughly on the west from Meno south to Lawton, on the north from Meno to Ponca City, on the east from Ponca City to Ada, and from the south from Ada to Lawton. That’s a pretty fair chunk of real estate, if you check the map.
We were able to update each other on conditions and situations within that area, with all of us having family and friends in that grid. And here’s an interesting note. Some of those contributing weren’t even close to the storm-damaged area. One was in Florida, a couple in Texas, one in Kansas. They were communicating with their contacts in the “danger zone” whenever they could get through, then passing along the information.
The information these people collected and shared was helpful to those who lost power (such as near and in Enid, Ponca City, Perry, Stillwater, Piedmont and some parts of the Oklahoma City metro). Plus, the Facebooks sites for electric cooperatives and municipal governments were putting out updates and notices quickly. This information was relayed to those who could not sign on.
At one point, some 30 or so people were conversing and assisting. It was, indeed a joint effort. A good one. A beneficial one.
So next time you hear someone bashing the ridiculous, extreme use of social networking, remember the positives and ride out the storm.
See updates on the weather situation in Oklahoma on http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma
High temperatures will bring out the worst in all of us, medical experts say. Apparently, that happens in more ways than one.
It has been scientifically proven that excessive heat can and often does lead to anger. Emotions and tempers are on edge, with even the smallest, least significant event setting them off.
Here’s an “event” that caused me to boil, and it isn’t such a little one.
A large grassfire Tuesday on the southeast side of Oklahoma City burned a chunk of property and forced firefighters and residents out into the 107-degree (or higher) heat. With the recent lack of rainfall and with water a hot commodity, the fear was that the blaze would spread quickly through parched land and neighborhoods.
After a lengthy battle, firefighters were able to knock down the blaze. But then the story emerged of a man trying to take advantage of the situation and preying upon victims in the area.
The man, posing as an American Red Cross volunteer, offered the water to those on the fire scene and surrounding area … for $7 a bottle.
Luckily, the word on this man spread like wildfire. His discription was circulated quickly: an older white male with a white beard, in a dark-colored pickup. He also was wearing sunglasses and tan-colored pants.
And get this. He also wore a T-shirt with “Give Blood” on it.
Rusty Surrette from the Red Cross sent out an alert to news media, asking that anyone who sees this man should call his organization at 202-0010 with details, including an updated description. As Surrette noted, “Red Cross disaster assistance is always free … ”
Here’s an example of someone trying to take advantage of a disadvantage to serve his own needs or wants. What some people won’t do to try to turn a buck, even if it’s misrepresentation to the max.
If you can help identify this person, please do. And go to http://knowit.newsok.com/charity-oklahoma to see how you can help those in need … legitimately.
We thought we had seen her for the last time. Our son’s aging golden retriever was missing. Her arthritic hip, poor hearing and bad eyesight certainly weren’t in her favor. Plus, with temperatures consistently at or above 105 degrees, we knew she was going to have to have water to survive.
It didn’t look good when we learned she and her much-younger playmate — a sleek, black, lab mix — had made their escape from our vacationing son’s backyard. How they got out remains a mystery. There was no sign of digging, no boards gapped wide enough they could get through, no short fences to jump over, and the latch on the side gate was closed. The only thing for certain was that they were gone.
The golden had been a part of our lives for 12 years. Our son got her as a pup, and I can still remember when he brought her home. She was a long-legged, active, slobbering but incredibly friendly puppy that loved to be right up against you and wagged her tail rapidly at any sign of attention.
Early on, she had a tick problem, resulting from the rural setting in which she was born. But repeated treatments and baths, which she actually never seemed to mind, did their job. Our granddaughter, little more than a toddler at that point, named her. The reddish-blond, golden retriever became “Blue.”
If you’ve ever had a golden, you know that they love people. Blue was no exception. And as she grew bigger, she became even more so. If you were on the floor, or anywhere she could get near you, you could count on her being there. And a dog that large puts off lots of heat. No problem in colder weather, but in the summer months, she could be quite warm.
She loved attention, loved to play. She loved to mother smaller dogs, letting them crawl over her as she laid on her side and using her big paws to playfully knock them around or cuddle them.
It wasn’t long after son and his family moved to their new house that they got the lab mix. This pup was more active than Blue, who was beginning to show signs of her age. The “newcomer” — Micco — also was very curious. It may have been that curiosity, years later, that led to the disappearance.
A friend who had been feeding and watering them, noticed that they were missing. Throughout the day and into the night, we searched unsuccessfully. We made signs describing the pair and giving our phone number, placing them with other such notices in the area. But we feared the heat would take its toll, particularly on the older Blue.
The next morning, the phone rang. It was a man named Bennie, who lived about a half-mile from our son’s home, who had seen one of our signs. He asked if one of the dogs was named Blue, which he had seen on her collar. He said he had found them about 36 hours earlier, wandering down the street.
After getting the pertinent information, I drove over and got the story from Bennie and his wife, Suzie, two wonderful people who love animals. They had cared for the dogs, cleaned them up, fed and watered them, while repeatedly calling the owner’s number. Bennie said that when he saw the sign, he knew it had to be the two dogs they had found.
When they opened their side gate and we called their names, the “escapees” came running. They were ready to go home and I think they realized this “adventure” was over.
We’re very thankful Bennie and Suzy found Blue and Micco. It was our good fortune to have people who care about animals find them. And, as I told them, it made some people very happy to know their pets were safe.
You sure can get attached to a pet, even if it isn’t yours.
Learn more about pets and how to take care of them at http://knowit.newsok.com/pets-Oklahoma
I’m beginning to think I don’t ever want to retire. Seriously. Life may be more enjoyable — and safer — if I keep working.
I’m heading back to work Monday, and none too soon. This vacation has been anything but relaxing.
It began peaceful enough. At least, for the first seven hours. That ended with a sales call I knew I shouldn’t have answered. But when it’s shortly after dawn and you are still groggy from sleep, you don’t always make the right decision … like picking up the phone.
Oh, well. That got me up and moving. I actually got a few inside chores done that day and the next while trying to limit outside activities to cooler times of the day … or, night, when temperatures dropped to the mid- to high 90s.
But then things began to happen.
Early on day three, I decided to do some trimming outside along the fence and around the walk and driveway. It only took a couple of hours. But that afternoon, whether due to the heat or some bug I picked up, I began feeling bad. And it got worse, and worse.
By nightfall, I was unable to stay up any length of time. Lying or sitting down with glass of iced tea and a good fan was my favorite activity.
That carried into the next day, when I could only get out of bed long enough to get a drink of water or head to the restroom.
Next came a plumbing problem, necessitating a trip to the hardware store to get a new flush kit. Meanwhile, the lid on the toilet tank fell onto the floor and shattered into about five large pieces, with several chips and shards, of course.
We had talked about possibly using some of my time off to visit family, maybe even those in Kansas City. But the high temperatures have been making life miserable there, too. Plus, I’m a firm believer in not spreading your sickness to those you care about.
Scratch one trip.
The next day, while feeling a bit better, I tried to move a couple of things in the garage and strained my back. One of those strains that makes you sick to your stomach, which I already was. Oh, joy.
I gave it until the following day, when I felt like I finally might get a break. I did — a break in the windshield on my pickup. Apparently, it took a small rock that hit it just hard enough to start a crack.
I tried to arrange for a service job, but could do no better than two days later. Time to park it and wait. I wasn’t exactly feeling like going anywhere anyway.
Trying to take it easy and not do anything to cause more problems, I figured a short trip to the store wouldn’t cause any more damage … other than to the bank account.
As we were checking out, my little finger got caught in the metal basket on the grocery cart.
On my last day off, the service man came out to look at the windshield and hopefully stop the crack from advancing. His verdict? Nope. Couldn’t fix it. The crack was now too long. A windshield replacement is ahead.
So, with sore back and stomach, a cracked windshield, a topless toilet tank and a discolored little finger, I’m ending this vacation. I need to get back to work to get some rest.
There’s more to our “know it” communities than news about Edmond, Midwest City, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon, and there’s an open invitation to you to become part of it.
Each of these communities has other cities and towns nearby. Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and another begins, and.or there is overlap. We set up the online communities to include them.
“Why didn’t you just use north, south, east and west?” a reader once asked me.
We needed a focal point, a center for each coverage area. Problem was, we still had some equally (or nearly as) large cities close enough in some areas that it almost required a double-emphasis name. For instance, Edmond and Guthrie; Midwest City and Del City; Norman and Moore; or Yukon and Mustang.
There also are those who believe that Bricktown is almost a city within itself … and within Oklahoma City.
So why didn’t we put together separate “know it” communities for each of them? For now, it’s more manageable, more functional to do it this way. Will that change in the future? We’ll see. Just about anything is possible.
We do have a “play position,” or key story on the page for each community. That allows us to emphasize a story from any of the cities and towns in that area. You might have a big event occurring in Guthrie or Piedmont in the lead position in “know it: Edmond.” Or, it might be a critical city council meeting in Moore that leads “know it: Norman.” The top story for “know it: Yukon” might be something big in Mustang.
You see how it works.
But there’s more. You can contribute to the coverage for your area.
If you’re looking for a way to get the news out about an upcoming event, deliver a word of praise, or perhaps an update or follow-up is needed to those in your community. Here’s a possibility for you. Our “know it” geographical communities can help.
Need some help getting the word out about your upcoming event? Maybe you want to say “thanks” to an individual or group. Or, it could be that you need to send an update or reminder about a community happening.
Our “know it” geographical communities can help.
Readers can use Twitter feeds to get their messages out in the five “know it” online communities — Edmond, Mid-Del, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon. These include the surrounding area for each city.
Each community has a specific hashtag, similar to other web tags, that helps add personal messages, or “tweets,” to a category. Hashtags have the “hash” or “pound” sign preceding them.
The specific hashtags for the “know it” communities are:
- Edmond area — #knowedmond
- Mid-Del area — #knowmwc
- Norman area — #knownorman
- Oklahoma City area — #knowokc
- Yukon area — #knowyukon
The tags also can be added to other hash tags, such as #NewsOK or #okpreps.
Each “know it” community features a special area titled “NEWS SUBMITTED BY YOU,” where information such as news releases can be added.
To use that area, the reader creates an e-mail with a document or photo attached, then sends it to the address for the particular community:
Here are some tips for using this feature:
- Add the e-mail address to your list of those who normally receive your news. (The other e-mail addresses will not appear online.)
- Send your information and/or photos as a SINGLE ATTACHMENT to your e-mail. (PLEASE NOTE: Text from the e-mail will not appear online. An attachment may be a WORD document [.doc], a text file [.txt], a portable document [.pdf], or a jpeg picture [.jpg].)
- The subject line will be your headline, so be specific about what is most important that you want to emphasize. Example: Cross Timbers Elementary plans open house on Tuesday.
- Avoid punctuation and ALL CAPS in your subject line, but do capitalize the first letter of the first word and all formal titles.
- Remember to tell others about this service!
All sites can be accessed by going to http://knowit.newsok.com.
Editors and reporters consider information submitted for possible use in other sections.
Each community link is a “window” into that city and area, its offerings, its people. These are living, growing communities online, just as they are in real life. We continuously look for new information to add to them, in addition to the items that flow there from The Oklahoman reports.
The design is such that readers can glean a wealth of information about their community, quickly and efficiently, by simply clicking on the topic, ranging from stories to facts and figures on people, services and locations.
It’s all here for you.
A couple of days before the long Fourth of July holiday weekend and a few reminders that just might help you have a safe time and save some time.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, along with county and municipal law enforcement, will be watching closely for those who have been drinking and are driving. That extends past the highways and into Oklahoma lakes as well. So, boaters beware.
Also, on the roadways, you had better have your seat belt on, and, in the water, have your life preserver.
As far as travel, check The Oklahoman and NewsOK for roadwork sites to be aware of, and be especially patient on south Interstate 35 north of the Red River.
In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said: “Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation report significant weekend traffic backups on I-35 this summer at Marietta near the Texas border, particularly Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Tie-ups are much less frequent during non-peak times, such as mornings and weekdays.
”In addition to the caution normally expected of drivers in and near work zones, motorists are asked to expect delays of at least one-half hour during peak travel times in this area. Delays are often longer in the event of collisions.
“The construction zone can be avoided by using an alternate route such as U.S. 77, which runs parallel to I-35 throughout most of the state. Other possible alternates include U.S. 69/U.S. 75, U.S. 81 and U.S. 377.
“A six-mile stretch of highway is being reconstructed in the area. The $13 million project is expected to continue until mid-October. However, incentives are being offered for early completion. All ramps remain open.”
ODOT is not kidding, folks. I traveled through that area a couple of weeks ago and it was just as described.
Weatherwise, it should be hot, so have plenty of water and plenty of sunscreen. You’re going to need it.
And lastly, be careful, with fireworks or any other activity. Make it a happy, safe celebration.
For a list of holiday activities, go to wimgo.com and entered a date and/or location. For additional information, go to:
Have a great holiday.
It’s going to be another hot one today, at least the highs 90s. And I didn’t need a professional weather forecaster to tell me that. It’s simple observation.
Here were the clues:
* The ponds nearby resemble paintings. In fact, if it weren’t for the ducks and geese swimming slowly and making tiny — if any– ripples, there would be no movement at all.
* Smoke plumes on the horizon from controlled burns are rising straight into the sky, for what looks like hundreds of feet.
* There is no swaying of tree lims. They are perfectly still.
* A construction crew doing dirtwork is not stirring up much dust, and what does rise as the crew’s vehicles quickly dissipates.
* A lone bicyclist, who appears soaked with perspiration, stops to take a sip of water, then douses himself.
* The heat from the sunny side of the building has warmed up the room early in the morning.
* Clouds appear to be many miles — and hours — away.
* It is summer in Oklahoma.
These are but a few of the signs that say “hot day ahead” in this part of the country, where temperatures already have reached 100 degrees or higher and you can be assured will do so again.
Those who enjoy this time of year and the heat can be happy. Those who prefer cooler weather will have to be patient. Your turn is coming.
Learn more about Oklahoma’s weather and how to live in and with it by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma and looking through the various stories, photos and resource material.