Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lighning Rod? I don't think so!

When I heard the thunder I did what any red blooded photog would do: I grabbed the digital camera and ran outside to see what the first monsoon in this year's long march of thunderstorms would bring. I've done it many times before, probably will be MUCH more careful from now on. I ran out the way I was. It was hot, and we don't keep the AC down real low (80), so I was wearing sweat shorts only, no shoes, no shirt.

I walked carefully to the end of the drive, snapping stills of the black, roiling clouds to the south. When I reached the street the first rain drops began to fall, but the hot pavement was still dusty dry and stony enough to slow me down. The next roll of thunder sent me slowly back under the edge of the aluminum carport, watching the sky. I saw flashes off to the south, over the top of the "mountain" (really a 250' foothill of the eastern Tucsons. A quick twist and the camera went from still to video. The camera pointed at the sky to the south, I waited for the next flash, hoping to catch a lighning bolt striking behind the mountain. I got one. Captured it to video, by golly.

And while I was doing that, looking in the 2 1/2 inch screen for the image, my eyes drifted fromthe camera to an area in the clouds directly above my head. Standing as I was only 2 feet out from the carport's aluminum edge, I couldn't see all of the sky above. I could and did see the pretzel like shape of a huge cloud to cloud bolt, or the edge of the pretzel, directly overhead. Now I know what "my hair stood on end" means. When I was in high school we had a gent who brougt in a Van de Graf generator for an assembly demo. He called for volunteers to help set up, and our physics class got to be the set up crew. You can guess the rest. Got the full experience. In case you don't know what one is, Google it. It's not as much fun as it looks....

Neither, it turns out, is "nearly" being struck by lightning. My hands started tingling, all the way to my elbows, and so did my feet and legs: just like the generator of yore. Without shutting the camera down, I beat feet directly back in the house, getting a good sequence of said feet and the opening and closing of the door, along with full audio of me swearing.... Note the bare feet... how dumb is that?