Sunday, April 27, 2014


First, I must apologize for not posting a blog last Sunday, but I was sick.  Although, all issues have not been solved I am better.

Here in the Midwest it is tornado season, and we are being prepared by the meteorologists in our area for the danger.  When I was a kid I lived in the country, and we stood in the yard to watch the tornadoes.  It is not something one should do, but back then we didn't understand how dangerous tornadoes could be.


Most of us having listened to our forecasters have a good idea of what causes tornadoes, but just in case you haven't paid attention I have listed a simple explanation below. 

Tornadoes are caused by unstable air in the atmosphere.  The lower atmosphere tends to be warmer than normal while the upper atmosphere tends to be cooler than usual.  The varying temperatures combine with unstable wind speeds to make a tornado.

Where is tornado alley?  Below is a photo of tornado alley.

There are a number of other regions across the United States that see an exorbitant amount of tornadoes in a given year.

None more so than what's classified as Tornado Alley by the National Climatic Data Center.  On a smaller scale there also exists Dixie Alley in the south, Hoosier Alley in the upper Ohio Valley, and out east the Carolina Alley.  Every state in the contiguous U.S. has recorded at least one tornado since 1950, these regions of host the greatest threat in any given year. 

Stay safe and pay attention to your weather forecasters.  Have a great week and see you back here next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall, author
@ Eirelander Publishing

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Do Animals Know When Disaster is going to Happen?

Researchers are divided on this topic; some believe animals know when a natural disaster is going to happen and try to get to safety and others do not believe animals have any special powers.  We've all seen our pets and other animals act differently when the weather is going to change, but what about earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters?

I'm going to try to give some specifics about this, but even these are disagreed upon by those doing the research.  For instance, in Florida, researchers studying tagged sharks say they flee to deeper water just before a big hurricane arrives. They also may be sensing the air and water pressure changes caused by the big storm. 

Michelle Heupel, a scientist at the Mote Marine Laboratory who worked on the shark study, has told reporters. “When things change, they may not understand why it’s happening, but the change itself may trigger some instinct to move to an area that is safer for them.”

Many believe animals know when there is going to be an earthquake.  Researchers like Liz Von Muggenthaler — who appears in NATURE’s, Can Animals Predict Disaster? — believe animals can pick up the “infrasonic” sound pulses created by storms and earthquakes, and get a head start on fleeing to safety. It would make sense, she says, that the animals learn to associate such signals with danger.

An elephant trumpets wildly, breaks a chain holding it to a tree, and flees to higher ground — just before a massive tsunami crashes ashore, drowning hundreds of thousands of people. Did the elephant know the deadly wave was coming?

Could it be some creatures may be able to “hear” infrasound, — sounds produced by natural phenomena, including earthquakes, volcanoes, and storms, that are inaudible to the human ear. This ability may give elephants and other animals enough time to react and flee to safety.

Another explanation may lie in animals’ sensitivities to electromagnetic field variations. Quantum geophysicist Motoji Ikeya has found that certain animals react to changes in electrical currents. He now regularly monitors a catfish, the most sensitive of the creatures he has tested, to aid him in warning others of coming disaster.


It is thought seagulls will return to land if there is a barometric change. 

What happens to animals before storms roll in or at the onset of winter? Infrasonic sounds could still be the culprit because hurricanes and thunder produce sound waves at those frequencies. But there's also the matter of changes in barometric (air) and hydrostatic (water) pressure.

Birds and bees also appear to sense this drop in barometric pressure and will instinctively seek the cover of their nests or hives. Birds also use their ability to sense air pressure to determine when it's safe to migrate.

There have been interesting proposals about the validity of some animal folklore. Some Native Americans believe black bears choose different sleeping spots in their caves depending on how cold the winter will be, or the fur on a hare's feet will grow fluffier if heavy snows approach. While there's a chance these are simply coincidences, some have pointed out that science is based on observation, and folklore is based on centuries of observation -- although the observations haven't been conducted in controlled circumstances.

So far, science hasn't found a surefire way to answer many of the questions we have about animals' behaviors, perceptions and motivations. Until that time, it's hard to prove once and for all what's going on in their heads.

It's highly unlikely animals can predict weather in an ESP-sort of way, but they very well may be able to sense environmental signals that humans miss. Reaction is another key component: A human might sense a drop in barometric pressure, for example, but not feel compelled by that sensation to seek shelter before a storm hits, as an animal might.

Another potential reason animals might react to impending weather events and natural disasters differently than humans is because at least some of their five senses almost always surpass our own. Many weather occurrences generate noises in the infrasonic range, too low for people to usually hear, for example, but well within the hearing range of many animal species.

There are many ways the conditions of an environment may alter to give animals a heads-up that something rough is on the way. Apart from barometric pressure and sound waves, there can also be changes in hydrostatic, or water, pressure.

How animals pick up on and react to fluctuations in environmental signals likely varies from species to species, as well as among the individuals of those species.

Some day science may learn the answers to the question of:  Can animals predict the weather and other natural disasters?  Right now, there is no definitive answer. 

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, author
@ Eirelander Publishing

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tone of Voice

Your tone of voice can convey so much; for instance a soft voice can show sweetness or even timidity, a strong confident voice can show strength, a loud voice may show anger and a deep voice can sound gruff.

Author's need to use all kinds of voices for their characters, or they'll sound alike.  We have to differentiate our characters from one another and this requires giving each one of them personality traits.  Their tone of voice is just one portion of developing our character, but a very important part. 

Many of us know or have met someone with a deep voice who sounds gruff.  They can be abrupt to the point of rudeness, but the ones I've known have had hearts of gold.  You probably know people who talk so softly you have to ask them to repeat (sometimes people talk fast, and you have to ask them to repeat) themselves.  I have them in my family, and one of them thinks you should listen so you can hear her.  lol

People who have a strong even tone are confident; they enunciate clearly and no one has a problem hearing and understanding them.  There are people who speak loud, and it can be because they are angry, but it can be they are hard of hearing, or just their natural tone of voice. 

All of these things are great to use for your characters and should be worked into their personalities when you develop their profiles. 

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week, and I'll see you next Sunday. 

Sandra K. Marshall, Author @
Eirelander Publishing