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Bad News

Earthquakes increasing yearly … and other stuff to get you all shook up

Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister

Tips for homeowners living in Earthquake-prone areas

An earthquake “micro-swarm” occurred in the town of Stroud on July 14, with scientists predicting that the quakes could go on for days. Fortunately, the quakes themselves were fairly minor, and no damage or injury was reported. However, since studies show that earthquakes are increasing yearly, we thought we’d offer some tips in advance for homeowners who might have accidentally built their house over someone’s wastewater injection well.

Try not to keep fragile knick-knacks, like decorative plates or flat-screen TVs, too high off the ground. It’s easy to put things on your shelf and forget about them, but smart homeowners know that the earth itself could literally move at any moment. Plan accordingly.

Consider getting insurance. It’s a little harder these days, since some insurers have more than doubled their premiums, while others have increased deductibles, or even stopped issuing earthquake coverage altogether (can you blame them?).  On the bright side, if you do manage to get covered, it looks like a payout is pretty much inevitable.

Be at peace with the mysteries of Mother Nature. When you feel a gentle rumbling, try some yoga breathing and reflect on the majesty of the earth interacting with thousands of gallons of industrial wastewater. It isn’t an earthquake; it’s just a magnitude 4 hiccup.

Ongoing coverage of our state’s massive education fail:

A panel of Oklahoma students, some from the Tulsa area, fielded questions from teachers and other educators, including State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, at the EngageOK education conference on July 11 about things they wish their teachers knew. Our speculations on what those things are:

  • We need better sex education. A slide show is the best way to see syphilis for the first time.
  • There should be a special lunchtime for kids who can’t afford to eat. There are a lot of them and it bums everyone else out.
  • Requiring drills for fires, tornados, bomb threats, school shootings, and now earthquakes is way too overwhelming. Instead, revive the simple “hide under your desk and await death” maneuver of the Cold War. 

Oklahoma VA doing “better”

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General released a report on July 11 that the Eastern Oklahoma Veterans Health Care System has improved greatly in recent months.

Presumably, this means that fewer veterans have died due to neglect, which was the case with Owen Reese Peterson, a Vietnam veteran who died of sepsis after being discovered to have maggots in his body last October at the Talihina veterans center. Or Leonard Smith, who choked to death while living in a special needs unit there.

High administrative turnover rates were partially blamed for the problems. Honestly, it’s such a relief to find out that the horrifying and unnecessary deaths of our state’s veterans weren’t really anybody’s fault. I mean, can you imagine how people would react if someone took responsibility?

The Inspector General notes in his report that 11 of 19 recommendations made in May 2016 have been fulfilled, or about 58 percent. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe said of veterans’ care: “We have solved the problem in Oklahoma.” This is a minor exaggeration, as a generous teacher would only give us a D-, but it does provide a morale boost for our troops at home, fighting for their lives in a jungle of red tape.

Did you know...

… the State Department of Human Services just got $30 million cut from its funding? Fortunately, most of those affected will be children and the elderly, and they don’t bring in very much tax money. After a while the herd will thin out and this problem will take care of itself.

… you can call a state or U.S. representative and say anything you want? It’s true! Feel strongly about an issue or upcoming bill? Severe disability and no access to insurance? Want the law out of your uterus? Sounds like a problem for your rep to hear about. They probably won’t personally listen to your message, but someone on their staff most likely has to. What would a nominal democracy be without the illusion of representation?

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