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Laffy Taffys, world climates and natural disasters

4 Feb
Clouds are one of my favorite aspects of "weather" (sunset in Serbia)

Clouds are one of my favorite aspects of “weather.” (sunset in Serbia)

This week in Nashville there was a beautiful 70 degree day, a crazy storm that produced 8 tornadoes, a sudden drop to 20 °F and substantial snow. Like, “you could see it on the ground” substantial.

Welcome to Tennessee! Where no one worries about global warming because, well, it’s always been like this.

Some of my fondest memories growing up include spending spring afternoons in our basement, the tornado siren blaring outside. Occasionally we sat under a mattress. We would listen to radio dramas and eat Laffy Taffys (or, if the power was out, ice cream!). Tornado warnings seemed to come twice a week.

One December, we had enough snow to build a small igloo, and then a few days later, we wore shorts to hike on Christmas Eve.

The crazy weather made me contemplate climates in other parts of the world, so I give you…Carly’s World Weather Lists!

Best overall climate:

Faulconbridge, Australia is rumored to be rated “the most equitable climate” by the World Meteorological Organization. It sits 1, 463 feet above sea level, has evenly distributed rainfall and year-round mild temperatures. If you’re not careful, you might forget there’s such a thing as seasons.

Most alien-like:

Dotted with volcanoes and never free of hazardous gases, Danakil Desert in Ethiopia supposedly has the oddest sights, smells, landscape and temperatures in one location.  Its nickname is “Hell on Earth.” Since there is lava just waiting to bubble over the surface of the ground, temperatures can reach up to 115 degrees regularly! There are salt flats, mineral springs, sulfur pits, lava lakes and acid ponds. It has the only below-sea-level volcano. Although not ideal for a relaxing vacation, Danakil is a hit tourism spot for thrill-seekers. I like thrills, but…I…don’t know…

Biggest temperature range:

Verkhoyansk, a town in Siberia, Russia, has a record high of 99.14 °F. Although that doesn’t sound high, let’s remember that it’s in Siberia. Also, their record low is -93.6 °F, giving the two extremes a difference of almost 200 degrees! And I thought Nashville weather was bipolar.

Most dangerous places to live:

Oklahoma City, OK. has been hit by more tornados than anywhere in the world.

The Phillipines cash in with the most hurricanes – they have up to 20 per year!

Japan and Indonesia are the earthquake capitals of the world. Indonesia has more earthquakes total, but Japan has more earthquakes per square kilometer.

Latacunga, Ecuador has been destroyed by the Cotopaxi Volcano four times in the past 300 years. And yet they keep rebuilding…

Well, the world has some pretty crazy places. I hope you, reading this, stay safe from disasters and have fun in your home’s climate! I still have a few months before tornado season starts, so maybe you’ll get a few more blog posts before my laptop is sucked into a swirling vortex of wind. There’s no place like home!

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An adventure in “Ethiopia”

1 Jan

My sister, our friend and I are prominent members of the “Sketchy Restaurant Club.” We are also the creators.

To belong to the club, you must meet with other members once a month or so and eat at an international restaurant that other, less radically awesome people might call sketchy (last time, our friend thought a man was going to kill us with a large knife, but it was really just tongs for refilling a customer’s hookah).

Yesterday we landed at a cozy little Ethiopian place, really just a house converted to a restaurant. The decor was primarily yellow with wooden chairs and woven basket tables. Nothing sketch about it.

When it came time to order, I chose kitfo, “steak seasoned with butter and spices.” A big draw of the dish was a side of homemade cottage cheese. And, you know, the butter.

After I made my order, the kind waitress paused, then said, “Are you new? You might want to order something else.”

I told her that yes, I was “new” to Ethiopian food, but that I’d eaten lots of Indian and Middle Eastern food, so it shouldn’t be too spicy.

Apparently spiciness wasn’t the problem. The waitress didn’t speak much English, though, so I couldn’t understand what the problem was except that it was steak cooked in butter instead of American sauce.

Again, I like my butter, so I told her I wanted it anyway.

When our food came out, it smelled amazing. The waitress dished it out in the traditional Ethiopian family style and supplied plenty of injera for us to use in place of forks. It was as she was dishing out the meat that I finally realized the problem.photo

Kitfo is kind of…not cooked very much (it’s more red than you can tell in this picture). And it’s also ground. The waitress thought I might not want it because Americans don’t normally eat raw hamburger. SHE WOULD BE RIGHT.

However, my pride and cheapness dictated that I at least try my food, so I bravely ate around seven bites and then spent the rest chowing down on my sister’s awaze tibs, contemplating death by E. coli.

Raw death aside, I was highly impressed by Ethiopian fare. Everyone else’s meat was tender and flavorful, although I didn’t enjoy the injera aside from it allowing for the meat to get from the plate to my mouth. But I suppose forks don’t taste good either.

Moral of the story: Don’t be a hero – listen to your waitress. But also take gastronomical risks! They mostly won’t kill you. Oh and eat internationally. You won’t regret it 😉