The Unhappy Record of Roy Sullivan

As fears go, fear of lightning is a very healthy one. The next time Herr Doktor orders you to the roof to release the kites, consider re-negotiating your contract then and there!

Keraunopathy (or keraunomedicine) is the study of lightning casualties. You know know if they have a word for something that sounds rare, it probably isn’t so very. Statistically, the vast majority of victims are of the male gender (insert “too stupid to come in out of the thunderstorm” joke here), frequently golfers in Florida (on average the best place to meet Thor’s rage). The odds of a person being struck by lightning during an 80 year lifespan are commonly quoted at one in ten thousand, yet only floods cause more weather-related deaths.

Roy Sullivan

Roy Sullivan

The odds of being hit by lightning seven times in one lifetime have been calculated to be one in 2,187 followed by 21 zeroes. That is an awful lot of zeroes. But Roy Sullivan, a career park ranger, was a special case: he set the record for being struck by lightning and surviving.

Strikes One, Two and Three were pretty much run of the mill bad luck he thought, but after Strike Four, Roy started to suspect dark forces were at work.

Strike Five pretty much removed doubt: he saw the storm cloud forming and drove away quickly, but the cloud followed him. When he thought he’d outrun it and it was safe to leave his truck (vehicles are normally considered safe havens since they act as Faraday cages), that’s when the lightning pounced. He thought he actually saw the bolt that set fire to his hair that time.

Strike Six happened after another storm cloud also apparently gave chase when he ran to escape (it didn’t work that time either).

By Strike Seven, his last smiting, he must have been getting used to it: hit while fishing, he still had the energy defend his catch from a bear that sought to make the best of his misfortune… by beating it off with a stick.

The biblical Job had nothing on Roy Sullivan, but in the end it wasn’t lightning, but unrequited love, that proved to be his sad undoing:  Roy succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot at his home in Dooms, Virginia in 1983.

Lightning leaves it’s mark on the Earth as well: the Bolts-o-Zeus can fuse sandy soils into the mineral “fulgurite“. Some desert hiking trails even have “Don’t Become Fulgurite!” warning signs.

Nasty ambush at the 6th hole, that’ll cost you a stroke: the Kabul Golf Club is one of the world’s most dangerous, more from the mines, mortars and snipers than lightning. Shades of M.A.S.H!

Yay! I’m not quite middle aged yet!

“Will no one rid us of this troublesome candidate?”, the Koch Brothers cry out in anguish.

We should “keep calm and carry on”, right? Why do we panic when terrorists are such bozos?  Candy-colored terror warnings, indeed! Pshaw!

Q: How does watching “Resident Evil: Retribution” differ from  slamming you cock in a door supporting the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket?
A: The movie is only 2 hours long and the end of civilization is only fictional in it. And Mila has better legs. Next question?

What do the Boy Scouts and Catholic Church have in common? It might rhyme with “cover-up”.
Gotta love the pig:

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