Bomb Scare

Some readers might know we live in Hawaiʻi. To most, Hawaiʻi seems like a paradise; a promise of idyllic life filled with skin products made from coconuts. 

That last part is true, but there’s a darker, dangerous, and, frankly, unsettling aspect to living here. 

Yes, I’m speaking about the infrastructure. There is no Natural Gas service here, so people who want to use gas for cooking (much better than using electricity, I can tell you) have tanks outside their buildings and these tanks are regularly serviced by Hawaiʻi Gas. 

What you see there, dear readers, is a powerful bomb. Enough destructive power to take out most of the surrounding buildings, including our own.

Sure, sure, experts will tell you propane is safe, but experts also said that no way Trump would win. Besides, I’ve watched movies where people set off tanks by merely looking at them wrong.   

On a lighter note, this is what we read this morning to the sound of the emergency tone blaring on our phones . . . 

Well, crap. We hadn’t even changed into our exercise clothes yet! What the heck does one wear during a nuclear attack?

Well, I opted for my gym shorts and a dark t-shirt with pocket. The pocket to carry my sunglasses so I could watch the fireball and the dark shirt to better absorb the energy of the blast (I don’t particularly want to be around in the aftermath). 

Melisa opted for her favorite plaid shorts. If she was going to die, she wanted it to be in her favorite shorts.

That took two minutes during which we processed some things. 

One, the sirens were not going off. That’s right, Hawaiʻi has nuclear attack sirens (HERE and HERE).

Two, none of the TV channels had anything about a nuclear attack. We figured that at the very least Fox would be blaming Hillary and Obama, CNN and MSNBC would be blaming Trump and Republicans in general, and that the religious channels would be celebrating the Rapture. 

Instead, there was a basketball game on, some pundits talking about something that happened a few days ago, and the religious channels were doing what they always do . . . asking for money. 

So, I got on the internet. It took about ten minutes before Twitter confirmed it was a false alarm. Another five minutes before local news reported it. Finally, 38 minutes after the first alert . . . 

I saved those because, you know, if I survived the attack, sure as fluid excrement I was going to do a post on it. 

Here’s a screen capture of the two alerts . . . 

Now, I joke about this because we did find it funny. It was funny and we were making jokes even before we got confirmation it was a false alarm. 

The lack of sirens and lack of television coverage helped, but even before that, there was something about the alert that I knew was wrong. 

North Korea — the only probable source of said attack — does not have the capability to launch such an attack. This might come as a surprise to people used to reading scary headlines, but that’s a fact. They’ve not even tested a ballistic missile and they’ve yet to miniaturize a nuclear bomb to fit into a missile. That day might come, but today is not it.  

Now, some people in Honolulu — the probable target of any such attack — reacted as one might imagine and while I make light of the event, I do have some sympathy for people who panicked. I can imagine the stress associated with worrying both about oneself and one’s loved ones. Nuclear bombs are pretty scary. 

But, at the same time, I’m dismayed at the level of knowledge in the general population. Dismayed at the lack of critical examination of the event.  

Especially if one is concerned about this stuff, I would think one would want to be on top of it. One would inform themselves of the facts regarding North Korea’s capabilities, of the current state of tensions, of the fact talks have opened up between North and South Korea, and, most of all, that this is Hawaiʻi. I love the place, but honest, they don’t have their shit together in any other area of governing. Why would this be any different? After all, their very first test of the sirens kind of failed and their second test was little better. 

At the very least, check with someone before stuffing your kids into a sewer. Yes, that actually happened. 

I know people will want someone to lose their job over this, but I hope not. I have to assume this was an honest mistake and not one born of gross stupidity, and as such, I would expect the organization to stand by their personnel and not hang them out to dry. 

Besides, there were some positives from this because it exposed a number of flaws in the procedure for sending out warnings. It also showed that not all phone carriers received the warning, so not all people received the phone alert (why the sirens are also typically used). It also showed that local stations either did not received the emergency signal or were slow to respond. Finally, it showed that the system was not prepared for the flood of people trying to call or get on the website (both were jammed) and that it took too long to get reassurances out to people.  

I can appreciate that some people were stressed out, but one has to look at the benefits of this incident: we learned something about the system that would otherwise not have been evident until an actual attack occurred. 

Meanwhile . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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30 Responses to Bomb Scare

  1. That was a real hoot, hilarious and I can only add. “Only in America”!


  2. Eddy Winko says:

    A very calm and considered reaction, even funny.


  3. Emily Scott says:

    Glad you weren’t too freaked out by it. Text messages seem like an unreliable way of getting a message out, as they can be delayed or missed, but I’m impressed that you have sirens. If the nuclear missile had been real though, would seeking shelter have helped much?


    • disperser says:

      It’s not actually a text message. It’s an Emergency Alert and it’s a capability built into the phone and is part of a nationwide system meant to keep the public informed. The system alerts you of local disasters/dangers/etc. that might imperil one’s life. If you look at the list of Emergency Alerts I include above, the prior one was in October when we had some heavy rains that resulted in flash floods (we actually were driving on a road that was in the process of being flooded; we were the last car to make it through before the police blocked it off).

      There is actually a text alert that you can sign up for, but then you also get all the warnings (weather, marine, etc.) and it becomes a nuisance. To be clear, a warning is different from an alert; warnings indicate the potential for something to happen whereas an alert is telling you that something has either happening or has happened. Even on the alerts, you can choose which alerts you want to receive. For instance, I have Amber Alerts turned off because they give updates and I’m not generally anywhere near where the alert takes place (those alerts cover a wider area than your local alerts). Amber Alerts are alerts for children reported missing. Since they also hit television stations, we usually get them through the TV.

      The sirens already exist for tsunami warnings and they are tested once a month. in December, following big talk between the baby that runs our country and the baby that runs North Korea, a different tone alert was added in case of a nuclear attack. The first month it didn’t function properly and the second month it was too quiet for most people to hear (we didn’t hear it).

      There are sirens on the mainland as well and they are usually associated with weather events (tornadoes, mostly).

      As for seeking shelter, it won ‘t help for a direct hit. However, the yield of the current N.K. weapons is not that great (relatively speaking), so the prudent thing is to avoid the radiation blowing around in the aftermath, in which case staying indoor helps a lot. Any barrier between you and radiation diminishes the exposure.

      If interested, these sites give you an estimated radius of destruction (or boundary for safety) based on the yield of a nuclear weapon for your location. It also matters how high (altitude) the weapon is when it detonates. You can pick a location and other variables.


  4. You must have watched the Bond movies? A determined villain can be crazy enough to try almost anything!


    • disperser says:

      Are you referring to the Propane tank or the nuclear explosion?

      Seriously, if we are talking about the N.K. threat, I think the people running things there realize they have it pretty good and are running a scam that is personally beneficial to them (i.e. they have a great life). Now, it’s one thing if they are planning world domination, but my opinion is that they are playing a game to extract aid. I could be wrong, but I believe that they know they would be obliterated from the face of the Earth if they did anything.

      Unlike religious fanatics, I don’t think he wants to die for a greater cause.


  5. sandra getgood says:

    This is a really good post, with lots of information, sprinkled with your ever-present sense of humor and a large serving of common sense. I am imagining the two of you keeping your favorite shorts available for the next event. The one thought that came to my mind throughout reading your reports about this incident is that we all need to remember that anyone can make a mistake or push the wrong button…..and my mind kept flying to the very strange man in the White House, who might do such a thing deliberately in a moment of pique or boredom. Sigh. Glad Hawaii is safe for now.


  6. Andy Magee says:

    Only two words:

    Loved this.


  7. mvschulze says:

    Good discussion on this event. And the nukemap link(s) show an informative perspective on how one rogue detonation, even a very high yield weapon, would initially effect only a relitively small (albeit, highly populated) area (likely on Oahu.) Did you see much evidence of others “panicking” near you? M:-)


    • disperser says:

      We didn’t see many people. A few were concerned but nothing approaching the panic of some people in Honolulu, but then, they would be the primary target (I’m assuming) so I can understand their heightened concern.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Crazy!!! In several ways. Wow. (add shocked face and sad face)
    Glad you handled all of that wisely…with humor (and shorts) intact!
    And then you wrote this important info-filled post with humor sprinkled in and made me laugh! :-D
    Glad you, Melisa, and Hawaii are still there…safe and sound!
    BTW: what does one do if one doesn’t have a school desk to hide under? Just wonderin’…I don’t have a school desk.
    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      Thanks, diem3.

      As for the desks . . . I think I might invest in a business that builds individual and family-sized school desks (ma, da, and live-at-home adult). Also, many extra large desks as some of the locals tend to be on the heavy side. Well, to tell the truth, so do most Americans. Them old 1950s desks are just not going to cut it as far as nuclear attack shelters go.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. macquie says:

    Though it was not false alarm about missile attack, something similar had happened in Japan before; the meteorological bureau sent a false alarm about a big quake hitting Tokyo and surroundings (level 7 or higher). I was in Sydney but caught the alarm with the app on my mobile. It was funny but I was really scared when I first received it, and can imagine how people there felt fear.
    Anyway, glad it ended like a joke.


    • disperser says:

      Thank you.

      . . . and, well, it was funny to me and I made a joke of it on the blog, but it was fairly traumatic to a lot of people.

      I probably shouldn’t make light of it, but I can’t help seeing the humor in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • macquie says:

        Oh I never meant to criticize. I think I see your point why it was funny, yes all technology things that is never get it right but we are so dependent and run like helter-skelter. ;-)


      • disperser says:

        I didn’t take it as a criticism.

        It’s just that I know it really hit some people hard so it feels strange for me to laugh about it.

        I wish they’d been more critical before panicking, but not everyone reacts the same.


  10. PiedType says:

    Thought about you immediately when I heard about this. I should have known how analytical and unruffled you’d be. I learned decades ago to be that way about tornado warnings but I’m not sure how I’d have reacted to a missile warning. So relieved it was a false alarm and all’s well.


    • disperser says:

      Well, I don’t look good in ruffles, so it was a no-brainer.

      I really can’t take too much praise other than to say that in most situations, it pays to take a moment to assess things. Not if you’re standing on some train tracks and a train is barreling down on you, and not if someone is running toward you with a machete dripping with blood. In those cases, you let adrenaline do its things and hope your sphincter holds.


  11. hinterlanded says:

    Every household in Scotland received an instruction booklet on how to survive a nuclear blast in the 1970’s. The top tips being to place a brown paper bag over your head to protect you from a nuclear flash and to wear stout shoes if you had to go outside.


    • disperser says:

      Oddly, I’ve often been the target of similar suggestions . . . except for the shoes bit.

      As for how effective it would be, it seems to me the paper would easily combust and thus, after temporarily protecting one’s eyes, would quickly turn into a problem in its own right.

      . . . but I do like stout shoes.

      Seriously, there were some truly silly — to modern eyes — suggestions in the infancy of the nuclear age. It’s also disturbing reading the casual way that human subjects were exposed to high levels of radioactivity during bomb tests and before people understood the danger.


  12. renxkyoko says:

    The first thing that I thought of when I heard about the scare was you and your wife’s well-being. Sweet Mary . I was like, omg, disperser ! ! ! Anyway, take care . I hope all is well with you and the Mrs.


    • disperser says:

      As I said above, we were (and are) fine. Thank you, ren, for your concern.

      . . . I did briefly ponder whether if I were exposed to a blast I would acquire some superpower . . . like being able to eat as many malasadas as I wanted without ever gaining weight.

      Maybe next time.


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