Archive for the 'Survival' Category

63-year-old injured hiker rescued from Grand Canyon after friends leave him behind

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 1 week ago

That’s the headline.  Here’s the story.

63-year-old man suffering traumatic injuries was rescued from the north rim of the Grand Canyon on Friday evening after the group he was hiking with left him behind.

According to a Facebook post by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, they received an emergency call from a man using an Apple device through satellite connection at around 6 p.m. on September 15. Search and rescue then deployed via helicopter to the man’s given location at Kanab Creek, but had to land about a quarter mile away due to the difficult terrain and dark conditions.

“It was fortunate that the helicopter was able to rescue this injured hiker, as it would have taken an extended period of time for ground crews to reach his location.”

The rescue crew then proceeded through the creek on foot and located the man, finding him alone having fallen and suffered a shoulder injury that required emergency medical attention. The team was able to stabilize the hiker and transport him via helicopter to a hospital in Flagstaff.

The Sheriff’s Office reports that they don’t know exactly what time the original call was made, but they learned that the injury had occurred four hours prior to the call, at 2 p.m. that day, when the man was hiking with four other friends. Once he contacted authorities, the group, who were reportedly several days into a week-long backpacking trip, left him alone and continued with their hike – something rescuers warn hikers never to do.

Here is the Facebook post from the Mohave County Sheriffs Office Search and Rescue.  The commenters are hard on the so-called friends, but not sufficiently hard.  I’m going to be harder.

They are no friends of his.  In fact, he had a better chance of being assisted by a stranger than friends like that.  Man is made in God’s image.  Whether your hike is ruined or not, you stay with injured people.  Period.

Oh, I realize that there may be extenuating circumstances like someone who believes he can help better by stabilizing the patient and then going for help if there is no communication.  But there should have been communication.  You don’t go into the Bush without comms (i.e., a satellite uplink).  And in fact the call for help was sent that way.  They just abandoned him to whatever would befall him.

Had he perished, it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to see them indicted for homicide.  Said another way, if this had happened with my party, I might have sent other men for help and stayed with the patient (with the absolutely necessary med kit I carry, including Quikclot, tourniquets, medicines, gauze, etc.) and water, and ensured that the man was lifted out to safety.  It would have been my ministry to that man.  And God would have been watching me the entire time.  I would hear about it in eternity.

That man needs to find other people to hang with.  Those are dangerous men to be around.  They are the sort of people who take you out into the bush and let you get injured, and then leave you behind to fend off animals, seek out your own water, medicate yourself, and try to effect triage if necessary.

Listen to this.  After the call for help, they didn’t even leave him with the Apple device they used to call for help.  They just left him there in the dark.  What a bunch of jerks.

Folks, no trip is worth leaving a man behind to perish.  Don’t leave men on the trail.  Don’t walk off from them, even if they’re slower, even if they fall behind, even if you don’t like them.  They could get injured and you wouldn’t know because you’re down trail frolicking along your stupid, merry way.

Don’t … leave … men … behind!  If you’re part of a party, stay with the party.  It’s the right and honorable thing to do.

Grand Canyon hiker dies attempting to trek from south rim to north rim in single day

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago


A Grand Canyon hiker has died while attempting to hike rim-to-rim in a single day at the national park.

Ranjith Varma — a 55-year-old man from Manassas, Virginia — was attempting to hike from the Grand Canyon’s south rim to the north rim in a single day on Saturday when the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received an emergency call at approximately 1:55 p.m. of a “hiker in distress” on the North Kaibab Trail, about one mile south of Cottonwood Campround, according to a statement released by the National Park Service (NPS) on Monday.

“For the hearty souls who are willing to work for it – less than one percent of the Grand Canyon’s five million annual visitors – the real magic lies below the rim,” the National Parks Foundation says on their website. “On this epic Grand Canyon hike, you’ll leave from the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim, challenging your personal limits as you descend 14.3 miles and 6,000 feet to the bottom of the canyon before connecting with the Bright Angel Trail and climbing 4,500 feet and 9.6 miles back out again to the South Rim.”

That’s 23.9 miles and 10,500 feet of elevation change in a single day for a 55-year old man.  I’m not sure I could have done that at 22 years old on a cool day.  He was trying to do this on a hot day.

My bet is that he died from Rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), which is a breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue that has to be processed by your kidneys.  We’ve seen this before.

A man has got to know his limitations.

Water Filtration For The Hunter And Backpacker

BY Herschel Smith
7 months ago

American Hunter.

What was supposed to be a short walk last fall turned into a lot more. Lost or misdirected depends on which one of us you ask, but either way it was a long slog through a thick swamp. It was below zero earlier that morning in Maine but had warmed up, and I was overdressed. I had pounded through my one bottle of water pretty fast. I had no trouble finding more, but remembered that the stream I was following originated in an active beaver dam. Beavers carry giardia. I’ve had it before and I never want it again. I was very thirsty by the time I got back to the truck and more interested in water than hunting. You can be sure I had a way to make water safe in my backpack the next day.

Hunters have two concerns: camp water and field water. Camp water must be safe to drink, wash dishes, brush your teeth and even make coffee. Hunters in the field also need an easy and lightweight way to make water safe to drink day to day. No water supply, no matter how remote, is safe to drink.

Be cautious about water that guides or other people insist is “safe.” They may have developed an immunity to the impurities in the water.

This is certainly true.  I once worked at a Christian camp in the mountains of S.C., and our water was fed from a spring but stored in a concrete block house that had to be contaminated with various sorts of microorganisms.  Working the entire summer there brought immunity to whatever contaminants were in the water.  By contrast, campers sometimes had stomach illnesses for the first few days of their stay, and sometimes the entire week.

I also passed an AT through-hiker on the trail once and asked him what he does for water.  He said, “When I see water I face-plant in it and drink as much as I can.”  He hadn’t had any problems, and this encounter happened in Virginia.

It’s always best to pre-filter any water to remove the chunks and debris. Coffee filters work great for this. T-shirts are okay, but dirty underwear is a poor choice.

Large debris and turbidity must be removed.

In Camp
• Boiling: Perhaps the best known and easiest way to deal with contaminated water is boiling the water. Boiling will kill bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms. At high elevations, though, the boiling point of water drops. To be 100 percent sure, boil for at least 10 minutes at sea level and add 10 more minutes for every 1,000 feet of elevation.

• Chemicals: Water purification chemicals are usually either iodine- or chlorine-based. But most are not 100 percent effective against giardia and cryptosporidium. They are best used in conjunction with a filter.

One of the best and least expensive chemicals you can use to purify drinking water is regular, unscented 5 percent to 8.25 percent household bleach. Mix one-half teaspoon of bleach per 5 gallons of clear water. If the water is cloudy, double the bleach. A slightly stronger mix, 1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water, is great to disinfect dishes and cooking areas.

Aquatabs tablets are used all over the world to kill off waterborne germs, but they are chlorine-based and alone may not be effective against giardia.

Potable Aqua iodine tablets are the iodine-based treatment. Because iodine tastes awful, the kit comes with two bottles of tablets; the second has ascorbic acid to remove the taste. It’s not a good idea to ingest this much iodine in your water long-term, but for a few days or weeks it’s fine.

• Filters: Filters are the best choice for safe drinking water for hunters. A gravity fed, high-capacity filter will work at making safe water all day if it is tended well. These work well for a camp-based operation where water can be filtered into a large holding tank or a clean 5-gallon jug.

In the Field
The key here is to carry something lightweight and portable in a backpack or pocket to treat the water you find as you hunt. There are three choices:

• Chemicals: The two-part system used by Aquamira Water Treatment Drops uses chlorine dioxide, which is what municipal water systems have used for years. The company says it will kill off giardia and cryptosporidium, making this a good choice for hunters. As with any chemical treatment, it takes time to work. I once used Aquamira Water Treatment Drops while packing out a sheep in the mountains of Yukon. I was thirsty and my companions were impatient, so I drank it too soon, before it had time to act, and wound up with a stomach bug.

• Ultraviolet Purification: Ultraviolet (UV) light works on DNA and prevents microbes from reproducing. (I wonder if we can use it on Congress?) Without reproduction, the microbes become far less dangerous.

Water treated with UV still contains microbes. They remain present in the water, but their means for reproduction are turned off, so the water is safe to drink.

UV works best with clear water so pre-filtering is a good idea. The UV light must be able to penetrate the water. The upside is UV adds nothing to the water for you to ingest. Also, the amount of water it can handle is almost limitless because as long as the unit remains working you will never run out.

Steripen is the best-known company for consumer UV water treatment. I carry one of the company’s rechargeable units in my backpack when hunting as it weighs almost nothing. It’s also a good choice for travel in Third World situations where I sterilize the hotel water before drinking it.

• Filtration: Portable filters are designed for backpackers, hunters and other people on the move. They are relatively light and fit easily in a backpack and are available at most outdoor stores. If you are in a North American wilderness situation or even in most rural locations, water that is filtered is pretty safe to drink.

I have three water filters.  One is a larger pump filter for quantity, the next size down is a Sawyer squeeze, and the smallest one is a Life Straw.

Do the Life Straws actually work?  Yes, they do.

This is Why You Carry Guns in the Weminuche Wilderness

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago

Because it’s the roughest, most dangerous place in the lower 48.


In the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 11, a black bear attacked a man who was working as a sheep herder in the San Juan National Forest of southwestern Colorado, about 23 miles northeast of Durango. According to a Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) press release issued yesterday evening, the man survived and was treated for head wounds and other severe lacerations. The bear was tracked down and killed by a federal agent less than 24 hours after the attack.

The 35-year-old herder was working for a permit holder of a sheep grazing allotment in the nearly 500,000-acre Weminuche Wilderness Area when the bear attacked him. It bit him on the head and left additional wounds on his left arm and hand, CPW said. It also left deep cuts on his left hip and scratches on his back.

The herder told CPW agents that he was awoken by the sounds of the bear preying on his sheep around 1 a.m. He fired a .30-30 rifle in response to the attack before the bruin charged and mauled him. “This is an unfortunate incident and we are thankful the victim was able to contact help to get emergency services deployed and that he was able to be extracted to receive necessary medical care,” CPW Area Wildlife Manager Adrian Archuleta said in the press release.

In the aftermath of the attack, the man managed to crawl to his tent and call his cousin for help. An airlift was summoned to the scene, and he was transported to the Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango.

See F&S for the rest of the story.

I’m assuming that he missed with his .30-30.  I would think that round would easily put down most black bears.

It’s good that he had the means to call for help – that area is rugged and is several hours from cell phone connectivity.

When I was there we all three carried firearms, and I carried a 1911 with a 10-round magazine and 22# spring with 450 SMC cartridges (230 gr. at 1130 FPS), along with additional ammunition and magazines.

I also carried a satellite texting phone capable of reaching 911.  Any rescue out of where we were would have required a helicopter because the hike for foot-borne rescuers would have been two or more days.  This is extremely rugged terrain and isolated area, and the sheep herder is blessed to be alive.

Best Camping Flashlights

BY Herschel Smith
8 months ago

Outdoor Life.

Camping Gear photo

A few remarks of my own.  First of all, it seems like every company now, in order to compete, has to offer a 1000 lumen flashlight.  Whether one needs that or not is a different story.  Inside a home for regular tasks, it’s blinding.  But blinding would be a good thing for a home invader, so there’s that going for it.

Second, weight matters.  In front of me I have two lights, one a very old SureFire, model 6P using two 123 Batteries, and the other a very high lumen Streamlight, ProTac HL3, using three 123 batteries.

For weight shavers and gram counters, it matters which one you choose if you’re hiking 10 miles up 3- or 4-thousand feet in two days.  Grams turn into Kg, Kg converts to more water you have to carry to stay hydrated, and on the vicious cycle goes.  Carrying more weight because it means more lumens is not a good decision for hikers and backpackers who care about weight.

Third, I won’t have a flashlight that is rechargeable-only.  In grid-down, whether more extended or simply for a few days because of storms, that matters more to me than anything else.  It can be rechargeable, only as long as it can take batteries too.

Fourth, some of these considerations are malleable depending upon whether you intend on carrying a weapon-mounted light.

Engineering Assessment of the OceanGate Titan Failure

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 1 week ago

The title of this article is rather broad and audacious, so let’s do what all good engineers would do and set the boundary conditions for the analysis.

All calculations will be approximate given the time invested in this analysis and the purpose thereto.  Some assumptions and engineering judgments will be made due to the lack of independently verified information and data.  This analysis is meant to be brief and the intended audience is both engineers and non-engineers (for educational purposes).  Why am I writing this – out of some sort of ghoulish focus on death?  Well, engineers study the ghoulish consequences of the failures of other engineers as part of our profession.  Consider the fact that most engineers can explain the cause of the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse (if you can’t, you shouldn’t be an engineer), the Tacoma Narrows bridge failure, the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, and the space shuttle Challenger disaster (where Morton Thiokol was told to take off their engineer hats and put on their manager hats when considering O-ring temperature certification).  This is part of what we do to become better.

Moreover, the public needs to be more aware of things like this.  Every time an individual walks into a building or drives on a bridge, they are entrusting their very lives to engineers.  Let’s say all you do downtown on a given day is walk into a building to use the restroom.  How do you know that the HVAC system won’t kill you?  At the Bellevue-Stratford hotel, the engineers designed the intake air to be in the proximity of the condensation pooling, thus concentrating what is otherwise a fairly innocuous bacteria called Legionella to a finally fatal concentration to the occupants.

We’ll go in a sort of flow of consciousness fashion under headings for purposes of clarity, and rather than clutter the analysis with links, a series of source URLs will be posted at the end.  I will use information from those sources.  Understand that this puts us at the disadvantage of trusting what may be later learned to be erroneous information.

Final Pressure

Computation of the final pressure upon destruction of the vessel is fairly easy, but then fairly complicated, depending upon how precise you want to make it.  Under normal conditions, many mechanical engineers use a simple rule for conversion, i.e., 0.433 psi/ft.  This comes from the STP (standard temperature and pressure) value of 62.4 lbm/ft³ / 144 in²/ft² = 0.433 psi/ft.  So assuming that the vessel imploded at 4000 meters, this converts to 3.28084 ft/m ⋅ 4000 m = 13,123 ft, but we’ll use 13,000 feet.  The pressure at that depth is 13,000 ft ⋅ 0.433 psi/ft = 5629 psi.  This will be seen to be important later.

True enough, this is a simplification.  The assumption of 62.4 lbm/ft³ is at STP, and water becomes more dense down to 39.2 ºF (also, there is a compressibility factor for water to be incorporated).  So as the temperature of the water decreases and the pressure increases, the water will become more dense.  If asked to solve this more precisely, I would use the ASME steam table data and enter it into TableCurve-2D, then use the fit and coefficients it gave me to enter into MathCAD or JupyterLab for integration.  Another option might be just to solve the equations of state.  But the resultant value wouldn’t be much different than the one above.

Hull Fabrication

OceanGate apparently used a mixed composite of carbon and Titanium fibers wound with adhesive to construct the hull.  Whether this is a good design notwithstanding, the vessel had been to approximately this depth before.  Apparently, the assumption was that if it was safely done once, it can be safely done again.  But that doesn’t account for deformation where the crystalline structures slip, discontinuities form along grain boundaries, and you go beyond mere elastic deformation to loss of material strength.  The operations manager wanted NDE (non-destructive examination) to be performed on the hull and viewport (we’ll get to the viewport shortly).  The CEO responded that there was no NDE that could possibly be successful on this design, an assertion I flatly deny.  The chief of operations was fired because of his concerns.


From all available sources, it is apparent that the viewport was designed and certified down to a depth of 1300 meters, not 4000 meters.  I have found no information to contradict this.  This was perhaps the largest concern that the operations manager had.  The viewport material is essentially Plexiglas.  He wanted the viewport to be redesigned by the same company to be worthy and certified down to the same depth as the hull, of course, assuming the hull hadn’t sustained plastic deformation.  As the analyst says in the video I embed at the end, this is the most egregious failure of all.  I agree.  I would assess that it’s mostly likely that the catastrophic failure the Titan sustained was caused by the viewport.  It was previously stated by the CEO that each time he descended to that depth, the viewport deformed several inches inward.  Whether that was plastic deformation or not is unknown, but that’s what NDE might have determined.

Construction & Vessel Closure

Videos I have seen showed no concern for FME (foreign material exclusion) during either fabrication of the vessel or closure of the aft end (done externally, I’m assuming, with torquing passes on the bolts).  Foreign material in any of these design materials or in the closure head would of course completely negate any engineering analysis done on the vessel.


I am not an NDE engineer, but I know a bit about it.  There are many kinds of NDE: visual examination, eddy current testing, acoustic testing, dye penetrant testing, radiograph, ultrasonic testing.  Of these, I would surmise that UST would be effective, and I know for certain that radiograph would be a successful test of the hull, and I assume the viewport (I am less certain on the viewport, but the viewport may be an easier test by other means anyway).  Cobalt-60 is a commonly used radionuclide for radiography.  Grabbing David Kocher, ORNL/NUREG/TM-102, Co-60 emits two photons at 100% yield, 1.173 Mev and 1.332 MeV.  For simplification (so I don’t have to interpolate), we’ll use 1 MeV for our calculations.

Using ANSI/ANS-6.4.3, the mass attenuation coefficient for carbon at 1 MeV is 6.352E-2 cm²/g.  After doing research in which I found that most carbon fibers are being sold at around 1.5 g/cm³ density, I decided to conservatively use 2 g/cm³ to prove my point.  (6.352E-2 cm²/g) ⋅ (2 g/cm³) = μ = Linear Attenuation Coefficient = 0.127 cm(-1).  The hull is approximately 5″ thick ≈ 12.7 cm.  EXP(-0.127 ⋅ 12.7) = 0.1993.  Thus, 20% of the emitted photons would have completely penetrated the hull, and this doesn’t include buildup (in other words, these simple attenuation calculations assume death of the particle at first collision, but there are always follow-on particles).  Yes, there is a better way to do this calculation, i.e., with Monte Carlo transport analysis.  But doing so wouldn’t change the basic point.

Radiography would most certainly have been a successful means of NDE for the vessel.  After all, we perform radiography of pressure vessel nozzle welds in nuclear power plants.  I assess the claim made by OceanGate to be completely false, perhaps due to ignorance, perhaps because they didn’t have any safety culture to speak of.

Thoughts on What Engineering Is and Is Not

It is the solemn duty and responsibility of engineers to protect the safety and health of the public.  There are dishonest and corrupt actors in every profession, of course, but they are to be called out, shunned, and their license revoked.

Designing a vessel that can go to a shipwreck and view the remains may be fun, challenging, and motivating.  Doing it, whether successfully or not, is not engineering.  It’s clear from the words of the CEO himself that he held a low view of both safety and highly experienced analysts.  But it’s precisely those people he needed to hold him and the project accountable to proper engineering principles.

It’s also not engineering if you solve an ODE (ordinary differential equation).  Second year calculus students do this all day, every day, all across the globe.  That’s called mathematics.  Engineers use math a lot, but doing math doesn’t make you an engineer, and certainly not a good one.

If you want to understand the life of an engineer, consider that ODE in a different context.  A client asks you to solve an ODE for him to model a chemical or nuclear system.  To begin with, all equations need input.  Solving symbolically does him no good.  That input might be correct, or it might not be, and might be based on instrumentation that doesn’t have the range it needs, or left in the field in harsh conditions or not inspected and calibrated on regular intervals.  A simple field walkdown of the instrumentation the client is trusting indicates that workers are using impulse lines as ladders to get to valves above the instrument.  The impulse lines are bent or broken.  Thus, the engineer cannot trust that instrument.

The engineer must correct this with the client.  He must ensure that there is a calibration done on regular intervals, and he must also understand whether the inputs he has been given are normal operating conditions or transient conditions, and what happens when the system is not operating as intended.  The system is out of specification.  How does that effect his calculations?  What are the consequences of those out-of-normal operating conditions?

You see, he is responsible for every possible use of the system he’s modeling.  He must make that clear to the client, must document each and every assumption and engineering judgment in his file, and then write a document that, in today’s expectations, looks more like a book with footnotes, references, reference page numbers, and possible use of alternative methods to arrive at his results (if he used forward differencing in EXCEL, what does JupyterLab tell him and how well does it benchmark?).  Did he find errors in his work?  Did he find any computational instability due to numerical stiffness of the equations?  How did he document and display his results?  Can the client use it without confusion, or worse, mistakes and errors that may lead to personnel or equipment safety problems?

Next, on to the PowerPoint presentation of results to the client, along with recommendations for corrective actions, field notes and observations, and statements of liability.  After all, the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse occurred due to deviations the construction company made from the drawings and specifications.  But our engineer knows that the engineering firm was held responsible for not knowing that, and their errors and omissions insurance had to come to the rescue.

Unless there is complete and total traceability of inputs, references, communications, instrument calibrations, SSC (structure, system and component) qualifications and environmental conditions throughout the entire SSC train, no engineering has been done.  I repeat.  Unless these things obtain, engineering has not been done.  Someone is pretending to be an engineer, but he’s not doing engineering.

These are lessons every engineering student learns in their classes all the way through school.  But incorporation of these principles takes time and experience, and rarely if ever have I seen a student fresh out of any school, regardless of pedigree or extent of education, display these attributes.  This approach has to be trained into people.  That’s the value of age and experience.

The CEO had a low view of that, apparently leading to confirmation bias.  Because I’ve done it before, I can do it again.  Chain of SSC qualifications (is the viewport qualified to the same depth as the hull), testing to detect plastic deformation, understanding material fatigue, spending a bit more money to ensure that proper engineering principles have been followed, obtaining fully independent review of his design – these are all things that were apparently not motivating or exciting or inspiring to him.  The fact that this craft had a fairly new design schema doesn’t negate the need for review by experienced engineers – it increases it.  The principles of physics, mathematics and engineering are timeless.

I am not saying that doing any or all of this would have prevented the implosion.  I am saying that this vessel was not “engineered.”  It was fabricated and set to voyage, but it was not engineered.  The company also apparently marketed this vessel as having industry and academic involvement that it didn’t have.

I assess this failure to likely have been preventable, and the company negligent.  Unfortunately, this will probably take its place as a case study alongside other engineering disasters like the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse, Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, the Texas A&M bonfire disaster, and the Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

UPDATE: Source.

New evidence continues to strongly suggest that OceanGate’s submersible, which catastrophically imploded and killed all five passengers on its way to the wreck of the Titanic last week, unfit for the journey.

Arnie Weissman, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, initially agreed to join the June expedition, the Washington Post reports, but backed out at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict. A May dive he was supposed to go on also was canceled due to bad weather.

A conversation he had with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush the night before the expedition, however, still haunts him to this day.

According to Weissman, Rush had bought the carbon fiber used to make the Titan “at a big discount from Boeing,” because “it was past its shelf life for use in airplanes.”

In other words, Rush knew that the carbon fiber — which is a very poor choice of material for a deepsea vessel, as many experts have pointed out — already potentially had flaws that could’ve played a role in the Titan’s tragic demise.

It’s yet another indication that Rush and OceanGate cut alarming corners in the development of the sub. In fact, experts had been warning them for years that building such a vessel while dismissing any efforts to have it qualified and tested by experts and regulators is a very bad idea.

Even after his death — Rush himself was on board during last week’s implosion — the CEO’s poor decision-making and rejections of prioritizing safety are starting to come to light.

“I responded right away, saying, ‘Don’t you have any concerns about that?'” Weissman told the WaPo, recalling his conversation about Rush’s decision to use expired carbon fiber for the hull of the Titan. “He was very dismissive and said: ‘No, it’s perfectly fine. Having all these certifications for airplanes is one thing, but the carbon fiber was perfectly sound.'”

Meaning what, exactly?  Certifications for aircraft are fine, but not necessary for sea craft?  Anyway, I don’t know how Boeing (or the manufacturer of the carbon fibers) ascertains a shelf life.  But this exchange goes to show a cavalier and dismissive attitude towards SSC certification and traceability.  I continue to believe the most likely failure point was the viewport, certified as we discussed above down to 1300 meters, or < 2000 psi.  If I was the manufacturer of the viewport, at this point in the warranty I would get very, very precise with my calculations of depth, temperature/density assumptions, and pressure, as well as fold in margin of safety.

UPDATE #2: U.S. Coast Guard Launches Investigation into Titan Submersible Implosion.

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced the launch of an investigation into the implosion of the Titan submersible that killed the five people on board.

The Deseret News reported that the Titan lost communications with the Canadian research ship Polar Prince about an hour and 45 minutes after the dive initially began and that the U.S. Navy heard a potential implosion of the submersible on June 18.

The Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation is looking into the case and is set to include officials “from Canada, France and the United Kingdom as they look into what caused the deadly implosion,” according to CBS News.

[ … ]

The Guardian reported that some questions being asked following the incident included questions about “the craft’s experimental design, safety standards and lack of certification” for the submersible.

“My primary goal is to prevent a similar occurrence by making the necessary recommendations to advance the safety of the maritime domain worldwide,” chief investigator Capt. Jason Neubauer said, according to ABC News.

[ … ]

Axios reported that Neubauer said that officials investigating the incident “are taking all proper precautions on site if we are to encounter any human remains.”

No human remains will be found.  Without trying to be ghoulish, the bodies have been incinerated and torn apart.  This is what happens when engineers don’t do their job.  However, this development does expand the potential scope of legal liability for the company, as well as cause pause to consider potential charges depending upon the outcome.


A comment points to this photo.

I would have to know more about how the interior inner lining was attached to the hull before I commented on it.  If there is a compressible barrier (such as cork) and the hull doesn’t sustain a lot of deformation, it’s possible this modification to the lining makes no difference.  However, if the lining becomes essentially an integral part of the hull and is compressed with it, then the screw holes become a “stress concentration point.”  Every mechanical engineer knows about stress concentrations at keys on shafts, teeth on gears, etc., that cause localized stress to degrade the whole structure.  It probably would have been better if the device was never mounted on anything attached to the hull.

I highly recommend these videos.

Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

Source 4

Source 5

Source 6

Source 7

Source 8

Source 9

Source 10

Source 11

Many more, too numerous to link.


Snakebite Management (pre-hospital)

8 months, 1 week ago

Prior, on ticks and Lyme disease.

Summer is here, and with it, four-legged critters, but they aren’t the only things in the woods that can harm you. The thing about snakes is they can be just about anywhere when it’s warm.

Important factoid: Most snake bites are strikes to the hand; check the area before working or grabbing things.


Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a medical toxicologist and emergency physician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. I have treated 600+ snakebites and direct one of the busiest snakebite services in the U.S.

I also love snakes and consider myself a member of the herpetology community. And I want to help prevent any bad outcomes (for both humans and snakes) if a snake-human interaction goes awry.

I hate snakes, especially Cotton Mouth Moccasins which can range widely in color and markings.

Cottonmouth, or Water Moccasin - Picture of North Carolina Museum of ...

These are the recommendations for pre-hospital treatment. I will have a different post dealing with hospital management.

Found at the link: Snakebite Management (in hospital) – Pit Vipers.

If you get bitten by a snake you suspect is (or may be) venomous:

1. Get away from the snake. No need to hurt the snake just because you’re angry, and you don’t want to incur additional injury.


2. If you (or someone else) can safely and quickly get a picture of the snake, great, but don’t waste time or risk a second envenomation. Ultimately, pit viper (rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins) envenomations are diagnosed clinically. As are coral snake bites, but most people can identify those. Just pray you have a doctor who knows what he or she is doing (see below)

If you can take a picture, you can shoot it first. Just sayin’. Pro tip: birdshot in .410 for a handgun. Outdoor Life lists several options with pros and cons for each. It may be illegal to kill snakes in your area; 3S treatments may apply.

3. Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry

4. Position the affected extremity appropriately. This is a little controversial, but some things are clear. For pit viper bites (which account for > 95% of the venomous snakebites in the U.S.), DO NOT PLACE BELOW HEART LEVEL. Almost all pit viper bites cause local tissue injury, and placing the affected extremity below heart level will cause the venom to collect in the extremity and will increase the hydrostatic pressures in the extremity. This will increase the potential damage to lymphatic vessels and increase the likelihood of some degree of permanent injury, such as post-exertional swelling. For copperhead and cottonmouth bites, in which local tissue is highly likely but the likelihood of systemic toxicity is low, I recommend placing the affected extremity ABOVE HEART LEVEL. In rattlesnake bites, it is reasonable to keep the affected extremity AT HEART LEVEL.These variations are for pre-hospital management. Once in the hospital, the affected extremity should always be elevated. This is emphasized in the unified treatment algorithm.

5. Get to an appropriate hospital. If you are having life-threatening signs and symptoms (e.g. airway issues, low blood pressure) get to the closest hospital for stabilization. They can then transfer you if needed to an expert. Otherwise, proceed directly to a hospital with a snakebite expert. If you interact with snakes a lot or are outside in snake-endemic areas, you should investigate your regional hospitals to locate one or more specialists. I can help you with this. It’s a pretty small community.

6. Avoid dangerous and/or stupid interventions:

  • DO NOT cut and suck. All this does is make a wound worse and potentially introduces bacteria into the wound
    • DO NOT apply a tourniquet. There is no benefit in cutting off an extremity’s arterial blood supply unless the patient is bleeding to death.
    • DO NOT apply any sort of constriction band or pressure immobilization for pit vipers. For the same reason that we do not place the affected extremity below heart level. The American College of Medical Toxicology has a position statement on this.
    • Pressure immobilization IS reasonable for coral snake bites.
    • DO NOT use electrical shock treatment. It does not “neutralize the venom” or whatever nonsense advocates claim. But it is a good way to cause permanent injury.
    • DO NOT apply heat.
    • DO NOT apply PROLONGED icepacks. A few minutes at a time is okay (say, 5 minutes on, 10 minutes off) but prolonged cryotherapy is bad for the tissue.

7. DO NOT use one of those commercially-available suctions devices. They don’t remove venom. They just suck. See the best-titled editorial ever here.Do not bring the snake to the hospital. A dead snake can still envenomate you, and I hate when people kill snakes. And as much as I like snakes, I do acknowledge it becomes a logistical difficulty when someone brings a live snake to the ED. And, as I said before, we don’t need to see the snake to provide appropriate treatment.

I love when people kill snakes.

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The Worst Storm Of My Life

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 3 weeks ago

Wisdom from his son: “Let’s not sleep on a ridge any more.”

Yea, I could have told him that too.  However, I see the alure of the camp site. If he thought there would be no foul weather, it’s easier for him to see what he wants to see and get where he wants to go for hunting from the top of the ridge.

If I’m going to sleep high, I prefer to find a strong patch of evergreens to help block the wind.  Large boulders will do that too.  There were both just down from the ridgeline. But you have to be careful around trees because they can come down on you if there are any dead ones.

The storm starts around 15 minutes.  I’m surprised the tent survived.

What You Should Know About Lyme Disease

9 months, 1 week ago

Summer is fast approaching and with it four-legged critters become more of a threat to humans but they aren’t the only thing in the woods that can harm you.

In our last article, we discussed general aspects of those tiny but problematic arachnids: ticks. Perhaps the most well-known disease transmitted by ticks is Lyme Disease.

Spring and Fall are seasons that ticks are commonly known to bite humans. The most well-known disease passed by ticks to humans is known as “Lyme disease.” Lyme disease was unknown until about 1975, where it was first diagnosed in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. Since then, Lyme has become the most common tick-borne illness in the Northern Hemisphere, so common that May is officially Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Lyme Disease is caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. Another species, Borrelia mayonii, has also been shown to also cause the disease. Both are carried by Ixodes scapularis, also known as the blacklegged or deer tick, in the East, upper Midwest, and all the way down south to Texas. The western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) can be found all along the Pacific coast. Ticks are responsible for more than Lyme disease; they’re also responsible for transmitting babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and other infections.

In settings where winters are milder and acorns abundant, the population of animals that ticks like to feed upon increases. These include mice, a favorite of baby ticks, and deer, popular targets for adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are estimating many tens of thousands of Lyme cases in humans per year (three times the number reported 20 years ago).

One time while hiking, I picked up nine ticks. As I approached a shoulder-high grassy field, I thought better of entering it for several reasons, but the whole hike, something about the place was deeply bothering me. There are places in Tennessee where you should only go if you live there. Even the people who grow up here know that if it seems like a place you shouldn’t be, well, you shouldn’t. I only hiked a bit and stayed on a known trail, but somehow, I was covered in the American Dog Tick (Wood Tick). Nasty creatures, and a very disappointing hike as I wanted to establish knowledge of the area. I entered the area previously from the other end of the trail, went so far, and wanted to see the rest of the route on a single-day venture by entering from the other end. The lesson was, that area would not fit within the purposes I needed; maybe it was a success after all.

The article covers prevention, symptoms, treatments, and other tick-borne diseases.

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Go Bag Spring Cleaning

9 months, 2 weeks ago

Friendly reminder post. Some folks have a specific date or event that signal seasonal gear swap and home changes. Depending upon your area, it’s time to inspect and swap items in your car kit/go-bag/get-home bag. Dump the bag(s), and inspect all items. For those items you had a mind to upgrade, do just that, relegating lesser items to backup roles. Swap out cold for warm gear as needed for your specific area/elevation. This may include items other than clothing. Sometimes it can be tricky as some zones still have a snowpack, but it reaches almost 60F during the day.

Do what you want with your firearms gear but doing a semiannual inspection and review is always a good idea. Might as well do it in conjunction with the other stuff.

Know your heart, your family or team, your area, and your gear. If you got fat or lazy this winter, fix that right now!

Here are a couple of videos with quick-hit tips for survival. I like this guy. No muss, no politics, no cussing, straight delivery, seemingly without the desire for a cult of personality around his channel. If he ever did a presentation or event in my area, I’d probably go.



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