Monday, October 9, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting

It's been one week since the horrible Mandalay Bay massacre that began just after 10 PM on Sunday, October 1. I feel the need to make a post about it since it's a current event and piece of history… as unfortunate as it was.

On Thursday, September 28, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock checked into a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brought more than 30 firearms with him and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The Route 91 Harvest Festival (a country music festival) was taking place that weekend, and Paddock planned an elaborate attack on the crowd of concertgoers that had gathered to have a fun night out with some live music. Paddock used some sort of hammer to break the glass out of two of the windows in his suite, aimed his weapons, and started raining down bullets on the innocent people below. The attack lasted approximately 10 minutes, and when it was over, 58 people were dead and nearly 500 were wounded. In addition to his arsenal, Paddock had also brought power tools with him, in order to set up an elaborate security system, so that he would know when the police were closing in on his suite during the attack. He killed himself when the police breached his suite. He had even made calculations to account for elevation, wind speed, and distance to make sure his shots would do the most damage.

There was no apparent motive for the attack. Paddock left no note or manifesto to explain his actions (not that there could be any excuse or explanation that would bring comfort to those left reeling from the attack). People are left wondering why he did this. He didn't seem to be mentally ill, and he didn't have a criminal record. I think his heart was just filled with hate. He will certainly have a lot to answer for when he one day stands before God to be judged of Him.

Here is a look at where the Mandalay Bay hotel is in regards to the field were the concert was, and also the layout of the hotel suite:
Here are pictures of the poor victims, who literally had to run for their lives, or do their best to find  somewhere to hide behind, as well as pictures of police and other first responders that came to the scene:
If there is any bright spot in this horrible situation, it comes from the accounts of the people that did heroic things to save others around themeven complete strangers. Other people that heard about the shooting stood in line for hours in order to donate blood. Some people donated water and other nonperishable products for the police and other law enforcement officers that spent hours combing through the concert grounds collecting evidence. People all across the country, and even the world, donated money to the victim's relief fund, in order to help pay funeral and medical expenses for those that were killed/injured.
The evil of one madman can bring out the best in people as they do what they can to help their fellowmen. 💗

Monday, October 2, 2017

Christian's 2nd birthday

My nephew Christian turned two on September 7, and we celebrated his birthday a couple weeks ago. Chandra's family came over for dinner after church, and we had a nice, low-key dinner.

I hoped to get a picture of Christian and me, and he fortunately cooperated. He is such a sweet little guy. 
My mom had to get in on the picture action, too:
Chandra is such a good mom! Christian is so smart, and it's apparent that Chandra has done a good job teaching him, because he already knows so much. He's been counting for months, and can already count to at least 25. He also recognizes most, if not all of the letters, and is always pointing at letters that he sees on different things. He knows lots of colors. He also loves to sing songs, and it's so sweet when he spontaneously breaks into song. Christian also loves to help with everything. No matter what it is, Christian likes to help. I think it's adorable when my mom and Chandra are caring for me, and Christian wants to be right there helping.

Sometimes Christian gets into trouble, and has to have a timeout. My oldest sister Annette mentioned to Chandra and me one time when we were Skyping that she used to strap her daughter in her booster seat for timeouts, so that's what Chandra does with Christian. She puts him in his booster seat facing the corner at the landing of the stairs for two minutes. Christian usually cries and howls "all done" the entire time. Sometimes when Christian does something he knows he shouldn't, Chandra will correct him, and then he will look at her and give her a big smile and say, "I love you" (except he says "I… love… you" with a brief pause between each word). It's so hard not to laugh when he is so darn cute!
He also loves to play outside. When we went out to try to take a family picture of Chan's family, Christian had no desire to stop and pose… he likes to be on the go, running around, collecting pinecones, looking at the leaves, etc. Chandra had to wrestle him into her arms, and this was the best picture we could manage before Christian wriggled out of her arms and was off to keep exploring.
Christian's birthday cake. He needed a little help blowing out his birthday candle, but I think he was still happy to be sung to, because he clapped afterwards.
I picked out a gift that I thought Christian would like, and my mom and I got it for him. He did a great job opening the wrapping paper, unlike last year, where he was unsure of what to do.
We got him the Little People Noah's ark. I think he liked it, because he couldn't wait to get it out of the package, and then played with it for quite a while after it was open. It's really a cute Noah's ark, and very sturdy, unlike a lot of toys out there these days that seem to be rather flimsy. In the past two weeks, Christian has brought his Noah's ark over several times when he and Chandra have come over.
I just love Christian so much, and it's been wonderful to watch him grow up the past two years. I love all of my 25 nieces and nephews, but Christian is the only one that is local, that I get to see on a regular basis. The other day when he left to go home, Chandra brought him over to kiss me goodbye. After we kissed, he said, "One more!" I happily obliged. 😉 I hope he always loves me as much as he does right now. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse

I don't know if you heard, but there was a total solar eclipse yesterday. ;-) My mom and I first heard about the total solar eclipse sometime last year, and my mom promptly put it on our calendar. It's seriously been on our radar for quite a while. I lucked out and live smack dab in the middle of the 70 mile-wide band that would experience totality that stretched across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.
I planned on getting up into my wheelchair and going out, so that I could experience the eclipse first-hand. As the eclipse grew closer, I started hearing about all sorts of public viewing places where people could gather together to watch the eclipse. I don't like crowds and I hate feeling like I'm in the way, so I wanted to find a place to watch the eclipse where there wouldn't be a lot of people. A month or two ago I got the bright idea to go to the cemetery where my dad is buried. It's only five minutes from my house, it's up on a hill where we would have a great view, and it's quiet and peaceful. Perfect! I just hoped that no one else would think to congregate there. (There were only a couple other people there.) Another thing I wanted to add is that all of the local schools were off, which probably makes the eclipse all the more memorable for the young school-aged kids that watched the eclipse.

My sister Sharon thought about bringing her family up for the eclipse. They were just here three weeks ago for my mom's wedding, and Sharon wasn't sure if she wanted to take her kids out of school and drive up from Mississippi, but she decided that it would be worth it for this nearly once in a lifetime opportunity. Sharon would've had 89% coverage of the sun where she lives in Mississippi, but if you had the opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse instead of just a partial, it would be that much more amazing. Sharon's family came up on Saturday and stayed through Monday. On the way up, Sharon asked my mom if she minded if her friend, Angie (who used to live near Sharon in Mississippi) drove down from Michigan with her family and camped in our backyard. My mom said that that would be fine, but that it would be too hot to camp outside, so we made room for them to sleep in the house. Sharon's husband's brother, Clifton, and his husband, Chris (who goes by his last name "Beland") also came into town from Massachusetts for the eclipse. They stayed in St. Louis, but came down on Monday to watch the eclipse with us.

Chandra, and her husband, Joe, and Christian (who is almost 2) also came to the cemetery with us. I wondered if Christian would do okay, since I knew he wouldn't keep eclipse glasses on, and I didn't want his eyes to get damaged. However, he was completely oblivious to what was going on in the sky, and he just had fun running around with his cousin, Matt. I had been stressing about the eclipse glasses, and I didn't know if they would stay on my face since they were kind of floppy, and I couldn't use my hands to hold the glasses up. It worked out just fine, though, and I used a small hair clip to keep them secured to my head on one side. I also wondered if I would be able to see anything else above or below the glasses. I couldn't take them on and off, but I knew that I wanted to see how dim things were getting, and wanted to be able to look around and keep an eye on how things were progressing. I was able to recline my wheelchair back really far and stare up at the sun, which worked really well, and I was also able to look down and see how things looked where the glasses weren't covering my eyes. It worked perfectly!

It was really cool to hear the insects start chirping and buzzing as it got darker and darker. There were probably about five minutes of insect noises, just as the experts predicted. It was so fun and exciting to watch the moon eclipse more and more of the sun, and to know that totality was just minutes away. The temperature definitely cooled down a lot, too, as the sun got more covered. I was surprised that things weren't darker when the sun was about 90% eclipsed. I expected it to be much less light than it was. Something else that surprised me was how light it was when totality hit. I expected it to basically be black as night, but it was more like twilight. It was awesome, though! Seeing the corona was truly magical, and what made it better was experiencing it with wonderful family and friends. As soon as totality hit, people in the distance started setting off fireworks and firecrackers. I thought that was pretty funny. I think four planets were supposed to be visible during totality. I wasn't able to look around as much as I would have liked, but I did see a bright star-looking thing, which I believe was Venus. Totality lasted for 2 minutes and 25 seconds where we were, and it went by so quickly! As soon as the sun started peeking out, it got light almost immediately.

We documented by taking some pictures. Here are a couple group shots of our crew of 20:
I liked these pictures of Sharon's family looking at the sun right by my dad's grave:
Here are Sharon's two oldest girls, Elizabeth and Kate, with their friends and Hannah and Abby. Below that are my mom and Sharon's friend, Angie, with mom's new husband, David, and Angie's husband, Brian. (Mom and Angie are both newlyweds who married much taller men.)
Here I am with Beland. It was fun talking with him while we watched the sun slowly being eclipsed:
Here are Chandra and Joe:
I liked the picture above of the crowd lying in the grass looking up at the sun. And then below is Spencer who was in his element watching the eclipse (being a scientist, and all).
Above are Chan and Emi. Then, me in my eclipse shades, and below that is David when it was getting close to totality.
Here is Christian by his grandpa's grave (he wouldn't look at the camera), and then a picture of him and Matt. They had fun running around together. Matt just adores Christian, which I think is precious.
Here we were, finally at the moment of totality. Obviously, pictures do not do justice to the natural beauty of this phenomenon. The next picture is of the corona (although, I think it just looks like a big, bright full moon). On the following picture, you can see something that looks like a bright star on the edge of the picture on the right side, and that is Venus (I think).
Well, the great American eclipse of August 21, 2017 is now over. It was awesome, though, and it was definitely something I will always remember. Not just because of what I saw, but because of the circumstances of being with family and friends. And I'm so glad the weather was so good for viewing the eclipse! Sure, it was hot (about 93°), but we had clear skies with minimal cloud coverage. I'd been praying every day for at least a week that God would help the skies to be clear so that we could see the eclipse (and He didn't let me down!). God is good!

I wish I could take credit for these awesome photos of the eclipse, but I got them off of the Internet.
Here are a few facts that I learned about the eclipse:
  • For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse crossed the entire continental United States.
  • The last total solar eclipse in the greater St. Louis area was in 1442, and the next one won't happen again until 2505! 
  • The moon's shadow moved across the United States at an average speed of 1800 mph.
  • The totality started in Oregon at 10:16 am PT and ended in South Carolina at 2:49 pm ET. That’s 1 hour and 33 minutes to go from coast-to-coast.
  • The sun is 400x larger than the moon, but is 400x farther away, which is why the moon (which is much smaller) appears the same size as the sun (which is much larger).
  • The moon sometimes appears larger than at other times. This is because the moon's orbit around the earth is elliptical. Fortunately, the moon was closer to the earth and at perigee when this eclipse happened, so it's shadow covered the entire sun, resulting in a total solar eclipse. (If the moon would've been at apogee and farther away, we would've had an annular eclipse, since the moon's shadow wouldn't have covered the entire disk of the sun.)
With all of the terrible things that go on in the world, it was great to have this amazing natural phenomenon draw people all over the world together. It made me realize how small we are in the universe, and how majestic God's creations are.

Even though it's been 38 years since the last total solar eclipse (in the United States), we only have to wait seven short years for another total solar eclipse. There will be another one on April 8, 2024. I'm lucky that if I want to see it in totality, I will only have to travel one hour south, and this time totality will last about four minutes. I'm so lucky to live in such a great location to be able to behold two of these celestial events!
Path of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...