O is for Oklahoma

Oklahoma USA is a little gem about a lonely spinster who avoids the harsh realities of post-war Britain by losing herself in Hollywood movies like “Oklahoma.”

*This nickname for Oklahomans stems from those who jumped the homesteading starting gun in 1889
*It’s Oklahoma’s leading crop & is especially big in the north, near the Kansas border
*Tahlequah, Oklahoma is the tribal capital of this Native American nation
*This humorist & native son lends his name to Oklahoma City’s main airport
*The National Weather Service’s storm prediction center is in this city, also home to the University of Oklahoma
And here’s a Daily Double I got right when I was on the show:
PUT ‘EM IN ORDER: Oklahoma statehood, California statehood, Nebraska statehood
(Answers at the end)

I’ve long had an almost irrational affection for Oklahoma. Maybe it’s because, when I put together my states of the Union jigsaw puzzle when I was a kid, the piece for the state looked like a deformed saucepan. Or maybe it’s that odd history of being Indian Territory for a long period that fascinated me.

I have referred to my first wife, who I married in college, as the Okie because she was born in Durant. I had a difficult time connecting with her father until he realized that I was on the OK side when the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State played teams from Texas, and ESPECIALLY the Longhorns of Texas.

I’ve been to Oklahoma only once, in 1995, to speak with the state Small Business Development Center program and explain the reference services NYS SBDC was then providing for other SBDCs.

There was a woman I knew who worked for an SBDC in Oklahoma City. Her building was right across the street from the Murrah Building, which was blown up on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people. She suffered severe injuries from flying glass and other items that acted as shrapnel. She wrote a very moving story about her recovery the following year, which I published in a newsletter; I need to find that again.

The tornadoes in Oklahoma, especially those in 1999 and 2013, saddened me greatly.

Here’s a song about Oklahoma from a British band, the Kinks, Oklahoma U.S.A. [LISTEN] from the Muswell Hillbillies album. Oklahoma USA is a little gem about a lonely spinster who avoids the harsh realities of post-war Britain by losing herself in Hollywood movies like “Oklahoma.” “It namechecks Rita Hayworth or Doris Day, Errol Flynn (‘But in her dreams, she is far away/ In Oklahoma U.S.A./ With Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae’).”

And speaking of Jones and MacRae, here’s the title song to certain Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II musical [LISTEN].

Finally, here’s Oklahoma Hills by Jack Guthrie [LISTEN], written by his famous cousin, Woody Guthrie, both Guthries coming from the state.

the Cherokee
Will Rogers (more on him soon)
California statehood, Nebraska statehood, Oklahoma statehood (not until 1907, which I actually knew because of the musical)

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

W is for Weird Weather

There are simpler things to do, though, such as planting a tree and taking less energy dependent transportation.

People in the US state of Oklahoma have had a tough year. The state’s “July average temperature was a scorching 88.9 degrees, the warmest to occur in any state during any month on record. State record hailstone measuring nearly 6” from Gotebo on May 23… At the other extreme, Oklahoma recorded its coldest temperature on record on February 10 when Nowata dipped to a frigid -31 degrees. On that same the day, the state’s heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record piled up, with 27 inches measured in Spavinaw. Not to mention non-weather related events, such as the 5.6 magnitude earthquake, the strongest on record.


The Sooner State is hardly the only one. Back in the spring, there were already more weather-related fatalities in the US than in all of 2010.  By the halfway point, NOAA had made it official: 2011 Among Most Extreme Weather Years in History. “Near the halfway point, 2011 has already seen eight weather-related disasters in the U.S. that caused more than $1 billion in damages.”

Then August 2011 set records in several locations for “torrid heat, torrential rain, and river flooding. You can thank, in part, an exceptional Plains drought and Hurricane Irene,” another billion-dollar event.

Of course, the question is why. A recent study linked air pollution to extreme weather. California is a leader in places where sometimes the air isn’t fit to breathe.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has urged countries to come up with disaster management plans to “adapt to the growing risk of extreme weather events linked to human-induced climate change.” See the report here. And the deniers are in full force.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We CAN minimize the damage by making changes. Valmeyer, Illinois “was once a community of about 900 on the banks of the Mississippi River, 25 miles south of St. Louis. The Great Flood of 1993 left 90 percent of Valmeyer’s buildings damaged beyond repair…Valmeyer would be rebuilt on a 500-acre parcel on a nearby bluff overlooking the river…with energy-efficient home construction…resource-efficient institutions and…future renewable energy development. When the Mississippi flooded again, the town was safe, though it would not have been had they rebuilt in the same location.

There are simpler things to do, though, such as planting a tree and taking less energy-dependent transportation. Meanwhile, check out NOAA’s State of the Climate, a Global Analysis. Interesting stuff.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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