I spent the last week in California visiting our West coast family and friends (some came down from Oregon as well). As usual the jokes and remarks about Oklahoma started almost as soon as our
covered wagon plane landed. Here are a couple of examples:
- “You have paved roads back there?”
- “How many outhouses does your double-wide have?”
Real funny huh? I don’t get angry because I know they’re just joking. I think. Most of them have never been to Oklahoma (most probably can’t even pick it out on a map). Still, the latest bizarre news out of the Sooner state just adds fuel to the comedy.
Did you hear about the guy in the septic tank? Sounds like the start of another joke doesn’t it? But it’s no laughing matter. A Tulsa man found hiding in a septic tank under a women’s restroom has been charged as a peeping tom. Authorities say a woman and her 7-year-old daughter spotted 52-year-old Kenneth Enlow in the septic tank of a public bathroom at a park near Keystone Lake. (It just so happens that’s the lake we take our boat to all the time.)
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department got a call from the woman saying a man was inside the septic tank looking up at her and her daughter. Enlow, who was covered in feces, was pulled out by cops, hosed down, and hauled off to jail. Major Shannon Clark told Channel 8 that the woman and child “were a bit annoyed that some person would go to that extent to perpetuate whatever self-gratification to what they were trying to accomplish.” And a park goer added what he thought the suspect’s punishment should be: “I don’t want to sound like a barbarian but sit in his own feces for a while because people like that sure don’t need to be running around on the street. That’s just nasty.”
I can just hear my West coast relatives now. “The pooping Tom! Yeah, he’s in Oklahoma. You know, where the Bradshaws live.” Maybe they’ll forget about it by the next time I visit them.
If you twist my arm, I’ll show you some photos from my California vacation. Ouch! Okay, here they are.
I was off work last week, and did one of those “staycation” things. You know, stay home and save some money. It was great! Nice to hang around home with the family in the evenings instead of at work. Very relaxing. It also gave me the courage to try something I haven’t done since college … grow a ‘stache!
Mustaches are tough to develop when you’re on TV almost everyday, so I’ve avoided them. But last week I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a go.” The reaction? Not too many people saw my attempt some 35 years ago. I did find that old photo my mom took back then. Today, with smart phones and social media, it’s easy (or painful) to get instant feedback. Here’s a sample from Facebook and Twitter:
- “Love the stache” Marquita
- “Funny” Tosca (What does she mean by that?)
- “You have a mustache?” Alecia (Not a good sign.)
- “Lmao” Stephanie (Again, not a good sign.)
- “1980 called and they want their mustache back” Joe
- “Whatever you say Magnum” Joe again
- “I think it looks great Mark” Greta
- “I’m starting a (FB) page called Bradshaw KEEP THE STACHE” Mike (He didn’t)
- “Hmmmm” Barbara
Even my mom got in on it (I had just visited my parents in Oregon a couple of weeks before … sans ‘stache). And believe me, she’s not shy with her opinion. Did she love it? You be the judge. Here are a few of her comments on Facebook: “Don’t visit us with those hairy handles on.” “We do have a shed (dog house).” “Looks like an old man with a mustache.” I shot back: “Hey mom, maybe you should let dad grow one!” He’s a big boy now. After all, he’s 91.
Sunday afternoon, with my staycation wrapping up, I was looking for the tools to make me more presentable for work on Monday. I couldn’t find my razor, my blades and my shaving cream. My oldest son, David, had hidden them. At first I thought it was because he thought the mustache looked good on me. But I think he really wanted me to look silly on TV. I scoured the house and found an old razor and blade, slapped on some soap, and shaved it off.
But the mustache may be back. You’ve heard of No Shave November? That month is also a ratings period for TV. And it’s right before Anchorman 2 (Ron Burgundy) comes out. I could steal a scene from the first Anchorman movie and revise it a bit: “That’s going to do it for all of us here at Channel 8 news. You stay classy Tulsa. I’m Mark Bradshaw?”
Mom, did you type the question mark in the TelePrompter?
Here’s the official Anchorman 2 trailer:
My apologizes if it appears I’m stuck on writing about tornadoes, but tornadoes are a pretty big deal right now in Oklahoma. And there’s a disturbing update to one of the five that hit the Oklahoma City metro last week. The National Weather Service has upgraded the strength of the twister that struck El Reno on Friday from an EF-3 to an EF-5. Its size was also upgraded. The NWS says it had a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles.
The update means the Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF-5 tornadoes in only 11 days. The other hit Moore, which is just 25 miles away from El Reno, on May 20, killing 24 people and causing incredible damage.
The NWS says last week’s tornado had winds that neared 295 mph. An EF-5, the highest number possible, is any tornado that has wind speeds of 200 mph or higher. AccuWeather Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell told USA Today that beats every world wind record except the more than 300 mph reading measured during the Moore, OK, tornado in 1999.
Friday’s massive tornado avoided the highly populated areas near and around Oklahoma City, which likely saved lives. The NWS’s Rick Smith told ABC News, “Any house would have been completely swept clean on the foundation.” I was in Moore hours after that EF-5 the week before. It leveled neighborhood after neighborhood. As for Friday’s twister, El Reno’s mayor Matt White told ABC News, “If it was two more miles this way, it would have wiped out all of downtown, almost every one of our subdivisions and almost all of our businesses. It would have taken out everything.”
Two rare EF-5 tornadoes in less than two weeks within miles of each other. One of them the widest twister ever recorded, and the second with the strongest winds ever. That’s crazy. Absolutely crazy!
I haven’t read Popular Mechanics since I was a kid (don’t ask me why I read it then), but a headline from one of the magazine’s online articles hit me like one of those grapefruit size chunks of hail that fell from the dark Oklahoma sky last week. It listed “8 of the Most Dangerous Places (To Live) on the Planet”. And guess what? One of those eight happens to be where I live!
Apparently I (or at least where I call home) have something in common with those who live in the deep freeze of Siberia, or in the shadow of “Fire Mountain” on the island of Java, or hurricane-ravaged Haiti, or along the so-called African Lake of Death in the Democratic of Congo/Rwanda, or in a part of China they call the Creeping Sandbox where drought and desert, wind and dust have swallowed up more than 100 square miles since 1950.
It’s hard to believe, but one of the most dangerous places to live on earth is a lot closer than Russia, China, Africa or Haiti. It’s a path I travel dozens of times every year. It’s where my boys go to college. It’s where I live. Popular Mechanics has included the I-44 Tornado Corridor between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in its Top 8 Most Dangerous list. Here’s what it says about it:
More than 1 million people reside along the Interstate 44 corridor that runs between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the Sooner State’s two most populous metropolitan areas. Each spring, as the cool, dry air from the Rocky Mountains glides across the lower plains, and the warm, wet air of the Gulf Coast comes north to meet it, the residents of this precarious stretch, locally called Tornado Alley, settle in for twister season.
Since 1890, more than 120 tornadoes have struck Oklahoma City and the surrounding area, which currently has a population of approximately 700,000. On May 3, 1999, an outbreak of 70 tornadoes stretched across Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Several of the most destructive storms swept through Oklahoma City, destroying 1700 homes and damaging another 6500. Even with modern prediction capabilities and early warning systems, 40 people died when an F-5 twister tore through Oklahoma City. In addition to the loss of life, this display of natural devastation caused more than $1 billion in damage. Since 1950, the longest the area has gone without a tornado is five years—from 1992 to 1998. (As if making up for lost time, in the 11 months that followed that record lull, 11 tornadoes hit.) For only three other periods during the last half-century has Oklahoma City gone more than two years without a tornado.
Northeast of Oklahoma City, along the same track that most tornado-producing storms travel, sits Tulsa, which has experienced its own share of devastation at the hands of Tornado Alley’s storms. Between 1950 and 2006, 69 tornadoes spun across Tulsa County—population 590,000—though none proved as deadly as the 1999 storm that hit Oklahoma City. But because of its geography—the city lies along the banks of the Arkansas River and is built atop an extensive series of creeks and their flood plains—Tulsa is particularly vulnerable to the rain that accompanies Oklahoma’s severe weather. Major floods in 1974, 1976 and 1984 caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
I admit the past couple of weeks have been devastating and exhausting for Oklahomans. I’ve witnessed widespread destruction I’ve only seen one other time in my life (Joplin 2011). It’s been bad. No, it’s been horrible. But to be considered one of the most dangerous places to live anywhere on earth? That surprises me. I don’t know. That may be taking it a bit too far.
But then again, have I just grown accustomed to living in Tornado Alley (last week an EF-2 tornado came within a few blocks of my neighborhood)? Maybe if I lived down the turnpike in Moore , and saw my house destroyed three times in the past 14 years by twisters, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit that I live in one of the most dangerous places on the planet!
Let me start off by saying, contrary to what some people think, we don’t get a thrill out of severe weather, in the news or weather department. We’re just as tired of tornadoes, hail storms, flooding and storm damage as you are. And last night’s latest round that swept through the Tulsa metro didn’t help.
Two personal thoughts from last night. I knew thousands of Paul McCartney fans were piling into the BOK Center just as a wall cloud was passing through downtown. My wife and two of my boys were among them. I text my wife just before the downpour and high winds hit, telling her to hunker down. I’m sure she wasn’t the only Beatles fan that started the concert wringing out their soaked clothes. Fortunately, it was nothing worse than that.
About an hour later, it did get worse. And closer to home. A tornado formed in the nearby suburb of Broken Arrow….within a half mile of our house. I knew my youngest son was home alone. I called. And called. And called. Was he buried under rubble? So many thoughts went through my head. I had just gotten back from several days in Moore, where I saw so much destruction. Here’s what it looked like from a distance. Near our neighborhood. This video was sent to us by one of our viewers.
See why that scared me? Finally, he answered. Here’s how our conversation went:
- Tommy: “What?”
- Me: “Are you okay?”
- Tommy: “What are you talking about?”
- Me: “Not to scare you, but there’s a tornado near there.”
- Tommy: “Oh really? Cool. Do you want me to get in the car and chase it?”
- Me: “No, Tommy. Stay right there. Glad you’re okay.”
From there the twister moved east through Broken Arrow. Thankfully, it was nothing like the EF-5 that hit Moore last week. Nothing at all. But still, it was a tornado, causing structural damage, but no injuries. Minor as far as tornadoes go, but it continued to inflict major damage on Oklahomans’ psyche.
Not to scare you, but forecasters warn that large hail and more tornadoes could strafe parts of Oklahoma again today (Friday). Yeah, I hear you. I’m tired of it too.
UPDATE: The National Weather Service says it was probably an EF-2 tornado that hit Broken Arrow, with winds of 125 to 135 mph. It had a path of destruction about six miles long.
Memorial Day is the day set aside for remembering those who have fallen in the service of their country. First known as Decoration Day, it originated after the Civil War to remember the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers in that bloodiest of American conflicts. We now use the day to remember all of those who have fallen while in the armed services, going back to the origins of the country.
Memorial Day 2013
When I was in Moore, OK this week covering the tornado disaster (Moore Tornado: What Victims Need Most Is “Prayer”) I was incredibly impressed with the outpouring of love and support from fellow Oklahomans. So many people want to help the victims. The water, food and supplies poured into this devastated community.
I’m also impressed with how many people outside our state want to do what they can to help out. That includes children all over the country impacted by what they’ve seen on TV this week. For them, the tragedy hits closer to home after seeing what the EF-5 twister did to two Moore elementary schools, Briarwood and Plaza Towers. Seven of the dead were 3rd graders at Plaza Towers.
My niece Emma’s 3rd grade class in the Sacramento, California suburb of Elk Grove is one of so many classes around the country who took the time to write notes of love and encouragement to their fellow students two thousand miles away. It may have been the most important lesson of the year for Mrs. Bryant’s students at Bradshaw Christian School (no relation). I thought I’d share a few of the 3rd graders’ cards with you before we send them on to Moore.
How can the same community suffer so much, so many times? That’s what so many people are asking. I just got back from spending a few days in Moore, Oklahoma. This week it was hit by an EF-5 tornado. That means the storm that roared through here was packing winds greater than 200 miles per hour!
I walk through neighborhoods once bustling with kids playing ball in their front yard, or dads mowing the lawn. I step over ripped out stop signs and carefully walk around twisted steel that used to be cars. The games and routine chores along this street, and hundreds more, are replaced with disbelief and grieving.
I see a woman just sitting in the rubble that used to be her home. She’s sifting through photos she’s salvaged. Memories of better times that the twister can’t take from her. She looks up at me and angrily waves me away. I let her grieve in private.
Just down the street there’s some commotion. A man is holding a cat. Turns out his name is Ben. Her name is Miss Priss. And they were just reunited. Ben has been looking for Miss Priss for two days under the destruction. She must have found a pocket of safety, and decided to emerge at that moment.
I learn Miss Priss’ story of survival isn’t the only one in Ben’s family. While he was at work when the twister hit, his wife was at home. She survived by jumping into their underground shelter just as it blew apart their home. And his daughter is a second grader at Plaza Towers elementary, where seven children were killed. She survived by huddling in a hallway with her teacher and classmates. Ben told me he still has everything that really matters to him.
By now you know that Moore was devastated by an EF-5 twister in 1999 and then an EF-4 in 2003. Now death and destruction has paid a return visit. How can that be? That’s what I heard so many times during my time in Moore. What amazes me as I look at the destruction of the Moore hospital, and the miles and miles of decimated neighborhoods, is the casualty count. How could a mile and a half wide twister that tore through a 17 mile path of devastation only kill 24 people? I don’t think I was the only one expecting the death toll to reach into the hundreds.
This week’s Moore disaster comes almost two years to the day of the twister that tore through Joplin, Missouri. It too destroyed the city’s hospital and leveled neighborhoods as far as the eye could see. Like Moore, I was in Joplin a few hours after it was hit. (See links to Joplin stories below) I’ll never forget the piles and piles of cars and trucks that had been tossed about like one of the footballs my boys toss around. Or the semi truck that was wrapped around a tree. Or the shocked look on victim’s faces. Some just sitting on the curb in front of what used to be their home. Others not knowing where to begin the massive clean-up, so they spend hours sweeping the dirt on their driveway into a dust pan.
The stories in Moore are eerily similar. One woman showed me a McDonald’s sign that blew into her front yard. A man told me after the 1999 tornado he started selling storm shelters, but hadn’t got to putting one into his newly remodeled home yet. “My ex-wife has a great one though,” he said. Like so many others, he was sifting through his broken belongings. I see years of possessions reduced to what can be held in things like red Radio Flyer wagons, or on the trunks of cars.
I remember in Joplin describing the scene as resembling a war zone. I’ve never been to a war zone, but I’ve seen what they look like on TV or in the movies. It looks like a war zone in Moore too. I ran into some Marines doing search and rescue/recovery. They pulled two people out of the rubble the night before. Alive! One of them rattled off the many wars he’s fought in many far off countries. “I’ve been in war zones,” he told me. “This is far worse than anything I’ve ever seen. Horrible. Horrible.”
Tempers are hot. I saw one man who was turned away from getting into his destroyed neighborhood jump out of his car, point a finger right in a cop’s face, and shout out 30 seconds of profane frustration at him. I was impressed at the cop’s restraint. He stood there and took the abuse, knowing what the tornado victim had been through. There are cops, military troops and federal agents everywhere. You could say Moore is under martial law. Roads are blocked, neighborhoods off-limits. It can take an hour to go a mile, and then told you can’t be there.
Even news crews aren’t welcome everywhere. Go figure! And believe me there are news organizations here from all over the world covering this. I hear Japanese, German, Spanish, Italian, and more. All the major networks. CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s rented RV was right next to where we set up shop. Satellite trucks, with their dishes protruding from them, are everywhere. We’re all here for the big story. As our crew is finishing up in one neighborhood (that we didn’t know was blocked off), a cop pulls up next to our vehicle and threatens to arrest us if we don’t leave. Later in the day, while in another neighborhood, a security guard warns us that two members of the media had been arrested in this same spot.
When I left Moore I had the same feeling I had when leaving Joplin two years earlier. Guilt. I have a home to go home to. Those who live in 12 thousand homes in Moore don’t. 12,000! I asked Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb what the victims needed the most right now. His one word answer? “Prayer!” That’s something all of us can do for the tornado victims tonight.
Ronald Wasserstein, the Executive Director of the American Statistical Association, says it’s tough to grasp the smallness of “1 in 175 million” because we never see 175 million distinct objects. Here’s what he writes in a blog for The Huffington Post (it’s a little long, but very interesting):
Imagine 175 million freshly minted one-dollar bills are being delivered to my house near Washington, D.C. One of those dollar bills is specially marked as the “lucky dollar bill.” You get to pick a dollar bill, and if you happen to pick the lucky dollar bill, you win all the dollar bills.
A straightforward mathematical calculation using the dimensions of a dollar bill reveals it will take two semi-trailers to deliver the 175,000,000 dollar bills to my house. Once these arrive, they will have to be unloaded, of course, so you will have a fair chance to pick the lucky dollar bill. So, we will lay them out end to end. How long will that line of dollar bills go?
If we start from my house, we’ll have enough dollar bills to go all the way south to Disney World in Orlando. Then we’ll still have enough to go clear across the country to Disneyland! But, even then, we are not out of dollar bills, so we can go north and make it all the way to Portland, Oregon. Still, we have dollar bills, enough to make it all the way east to Portland, Maine. And, fortunately, we’ll have enough to make it back to my house near DC, completing the loop.
Do we have any dollars bills left? Yes! We would still have enough dollar bills to go all the way around the loop a second time!
Now imagine that you walk, bike or drive for as long as you want around the double loop, and when you decide to stop, you stoop over and pick up one dollar bill. Your chance of selecting the lucky dollar bill is one in 175 million, the same as your chance of winning the Powerball jackpot!
I have two thoughts here:
- I’d put a stop to Wasserstein’s little experiment once those 175 million freshly minted one-dollar bills were delivered to my house. Forget about laying them end-to-end and trying to pick one lucky bill!
- Wasserstein predicted what you’re probably thinking right now. “If so-and-so can do it, why can’t I?” Or, “Someone’s going to win it, why not me?” I couldn’t wait to read his answer to that, but it’ll have to wait. “I’ll explain that in a future post,” was his response.
I think playing the lottery comes down to what I read once: “Lottery tickets are about fantasizing, not winning.”
I’ve come to learn boating can be a lot like golfing. You can hit a great shot and think “Hey, this is easy. I’m pretty good at it.” Then shank two shots into the water (see Sergio Garcia).
A few of you have asked how our latest boating adventure went. We took it out on the lake again last weekend. I have good news. Some who know me may call it shocking news. We didn’t have any problems. It was quite an improvement over the first outing of the season and last summer, which I wrote about last week (Anchors Away: My Boating Adventures).
Sunday was Mother’s Day AND my youngest son’s 18th birthday. I had both Michelle and Tommy to keep happy. And both wanted to go fishing. So the four of us, including another son Jacob, got the boat out of storage and pulled it to Keystone, the closest lake to Tulsa.
The weather was warmer (70 degrees instead of 50). The fish were biting (we caught 2 this time). The boat’s bench seat cushion didn’t fly out onto the highway. The trailer didn’t come off the hitch. No dead batteries in the middle of the lake. No one ran the boat aground or bang it into the storage unit door. And Tommy actually listened to his dad when he screamed “Stop!”
So I would say we had a great time, but in golf terms, you never know where that next tee shot will go. Right Sergio?
ADDED: My condolences to the families of the two college students killed in a boating accident on Grand Lake this week. I’ve learned boating is a lot of fun, but it’s not without risk and danger. With the summer season upon us, let’s all practice safe boating. National Safe Boating Awareness Week kicks off today (May 18). Click here for valuable, potentially life-saving information. Thank you.
Check out this video of Mother’s Day on the water:
Americans have a serious case of lottery fever as we head into the weekend. The Powerball jackpot has ballooned to at least $600 million for Saturday’s drawing, and the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $190 million for Friday’s jackpot! We’ve never seen a pair of lotto jackpots like this at the same time.
30,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 odds!
But what are the odds? The chances of winning either is 1 in 175 million. To put that in context, you’re 250 times MORE likely to be struck by lightning. And the chance of a two-time winning ticket? According to one statistician, a staggering 1 in 30 quadrillion!! Despite the seemingly impossible long shot, people still spend their money on the game.
“Buy me a lottery ticket”
So I was just about ready to leave the gas station Thursday afternoon, when an older couple pulls up to the pumps next to me. They both get out of their car which looks like it’s being held together by duct tape. Here’s how their conversation went:
Him: “I only have four bucks.”
Her: “I want a Powerball ticket.”
Him: “But we need gas.”
Her: “Buy me a lottery ticket!”
Him: “Okay dear.”
I left at that point, but I assume they split their four dollars between half a gallon of gas and a wild dream of winning half a billion dollars in Saturday’s Powerball drawing. Like everyone else, they probably think “Someone’s got to win it, might as well be me.” Even if it means getting stranded on the road after running out of gas.
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “What do you do at work when you’re not on the news?”, I’d be richer than this Saturday’s Powerball jackpot. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.
Much of the time the promo department has Kristin, Jennifer and I out promoting something. For example, I was shooting a kids reading promo Thursday afternoon. I’ve loved to read all my life, and now go into schools encouraging kids to fall in love with reading. For the past 15 years or so I’ve been the unofficial media spokesperson for the Tulsa City/County Library Summer Reading Program.
Every year I shoot reading promos with the local library system’s mascot Buddy the Bookworm. A lot of them can be silly in order to get kids’ attention, but this last one pushes the envelope, at least for me. They rented one of those inflatable jupiter jumps for me to bounce around in while trying to remember my lines. Someone mentioned it’s probably been decades since I’ve jumped on one. I didn’t tell them they weren’t invented until I was in high school.
Here are a few of the outtakes of the promo shoot with Buddy. It’s something you won’t see when the final promo comes out soon. Now you know what I do when I’m not reading the news. Trust me, it’s not all fun and games. Wait a second, sometimes it is!