Monday, July 21, 2008
Pan Fried Marius
It is said that Florida is just a few years of inattention away from returning to the primordial swamp whence it came. The flora and fauna of this prehistoric paradise are as fierce as they are scenic. I have lived here long enough to know how to avoid the dinosaurs, and feral plants, and blood draining behemoth insects that thrive along this sun drenched peninsula, but the one thing I cannot avoid is the smiting hand of an angry deity. Today I was nearly smote.
Some of you know that we get more rain than any other of the contiguous states. Hawaii has us beat, but just barely. And being that topography is something we only read about, anything taller than a blade of grass is a fair target for lightning. I have seen some glorious displays of nature's electrical fury, from multi-pronged arcs that shoot across miles of sky, to the almost gentle caress of an incandescent filament as it gracefully detonated a power line transformer. But today I got a taste, thankfully a small taste, of the 1.21 gigawatt Hand-O-God(tm). We were heading home after spending a day in St. Pete, and I realized that we needed some beverages and cat food. It was raining like hell, since it was a summer afternoon, and even hailing a bit. Fortunately our car is old enough that a light hail storm is amusing. So I pulled into the Publix shopping center, annoyed by all the idiots who seem to think that the possibility of getting wet negates things like parking and traffic laws. Mrs. Marius opted to wait in the car, so after parking I took the one umbrella. I normally eschew such implements, but it was raining rather hard, so why not. I was halfway to the door, grumbling to myself about all the selfish, hydrophobic assholes, when a blinding flash and deafening explosion nearly knocked me to the ground. Judging by the direction and instantaneous crack of the thunder I think the bolt detonated just over the parking lot. Again, this is Florida and I have been relatively close to such strikes before, but what made this one different was the jolt of electricity that coursed over my skin. I've eaten enough current in my profession that I know what it feels like to have an electric charge course over me, and this one, if you'll forgive the choice of words, shocked the crap out of me. It wasn't enough to be painful, or dangerous, but once I realize just how close that bolt had to be to induce a current across my dry(I had an umbrella so my arms were dry) skin I quickened my pace just a tad. To be honest it was rather exhilarating, but I'll be very glad if that is as close as I ever get to licking the cosmic battery.
Marius the Slightly Singed