Pandemic in the park: did restrictions around DC’s Tidal Basin help flatten the curve?

Given the patchwork of regulatory subcultures that our country’s federalist system inevitable creates, it should come as no surprise that this vast, diverse country is eliciting widely variable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of the key metrics—confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries—and in the fuzzier, day-to-day manifestation of this most acute of public health

Tsunami tsignage: where to turn when the tidal tsurge tstrikes.

In the past, I’ve blogged about warnings of eminent disaster that owe their presence almost completely to geography: one of the nation’s busiest airports is replete with signs encouraging visitors to take shelter in the restrooms in the event of a tornado. Most Chicagoans (and most Midwesterners in general) know from a very young age

Palm tree pandemics: even in the Big Easy, winter can be a little difficult.

Many years ago I wrote an article exploring how trees of the palm family are widespread throughout southern Louisiana (specifically the New Orleans region), though they are not indigenous. In other words, they grow there quite easily but it is not their native habitat. If anything, the presence of palms in the southern US—or at

A hydrant below sea level: raising the stakes for mitigating property loss.

A bizarre piece of infrastructure like this will inevitably captivate a few more curiosity seekers than yours truly. As a Google Images search would prove, I’m not the first to snap a pic of something like this. Still, a fire hydrant elevated about 18 inches off the ground is hardly a typical sight even in

When steeples compete with summits.

The river-to-rail city of Cumberland, nestled between the prodigious hills that dominate western Maryland, may not be thriving, but it sure offers some charming, timeless vistas.   As is too often the case, this photo only partially captures its objective: the Cumberland skyline—a city of churches. It isn’t a big city at all, so the

Potty protections.

We’ve come to expect a certain iconography at our airports: restrooms, baggage claims, handicapped access, information centers, baby-changing stations, cabs. Less common: subways, light rail, prayer rooms, and, in this day and age, a smoker refuge. Perhaps I’m revealing my East Coast bias—or at least my tendency to orient myself in terms of where I

Biblical flooding on a biblical floodplain, Part II – Post-Diluvian Ponderings.    

The previous part of this lengthy blog offered the essential background on Zarephath, a small religious community in northern New Jersey, originally known as Pillar of Fire Church, built entirely on a floodplain. In 2011, every building in Zarephath suffered devastation from flooding induced by Hurricane Irene. But that wasn’t the first time. Hurricane Floyd

Biblical Flooding on a Biblical Floodplain, Part I – The recipe for natural disaster.

Whether wildfires, tornadoes, power plant meltdowns, explosions, epidemics, bankruptcies, school shootings, Godzilla invasions, or roving bands of undomesticated alpacas on the loose, the essential agreement for a disaster to capture the public eye is magnitude. This isn’t brain surgery. Size is generally the variable that semantically distinguishes disaster from catastrophe, or separates predicament from setback.

When steeples compete with summits.

The river-to-rail city of Cumberland, nestled between the prodigious hills that dominate western Maryland, may not be thriving, but it sure offers some charming, timeless vistas.   As is too often the case,

Potty protections.

We’ve come to expect a certain iconography at our airports: restrooms, baggage claims, handicapped access, information centers, baby-changing stations, cabs. Less common: subways, light rail, prayer rooms, and, in this day and age,