Thursday, March 7, 2013

Inspiration from News




What inspires you? That’s the question that Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez ask writers in the Thursdays Child blog hop. Here’s my answer this week.

One thing that provokes ideas and thoughts for me is the news. The evening of February 28th, a man named Jeffrey Bush was sleeping when a sinkhole opened beneath him. Unfortunately, before help could reach him, the hole swallowed Mr. Bush. Apparently, unknown to all, Mr. Bush’s home sat atop a 100 foot wide cavern. He’s missing and presumed dead.

Tragic and shocking news. My condolences go out to his family and I wonder—how could this happen? What causes sink holes? How quickly do they develop? Are there any warning signs? 

To find answers, I appeal to Google. Here are 13 facts, I've gathered.



  1. Sinkholes have many names. They’re also called: sinks, snake holes, swallow holes, swallets, donines and cenotes.
  2. Sinkholes form when the ground is unstable. The surface may be comprised of clay or sand, but underneath there’s the presence of an aquifer, a layer of water-bearing permeable rock, most likely limestone.
Poster from the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute (link below)

  1. Limestone dissolves readily. Usually, this happens over time, and is unnoticed under the surface of the earth.
  2. Sometimes, however, heavy rains can trigger sink holes.
  3. Some warning signs that a sink hole may be forming are--trees or fence poles suddenly sagging or leaning.
  4. Inside homes, doors and windows abruptly refusing to close properly may be a sign of a sinkhole developing.
  5. Another clue to a growing sinkhole is water collecting in a place, where it never did before, a new pond forming.
  6. Another sign of a sinkhole might be plants dying abruptly. This may indicate changes in the water table.
  7. Most sinkholes are annoying, but not deadly. Often times, repairs can stop or shrink a sinkhole when it’s caught early.
  8. Engineers inject grout into the hole. The process is a lot like how dentists fill a cavity. The hardening grout can stabilize the water-dissolved bedrock.
  9. The central section of Florida is known for its marshy terrain, heavy rains and frequent bedrock collapses. Apparently, according to one source, the state possesses about 15,000 known sinkholes.
  10. Sometimes the lack of water contributes to sinkholes. Some underground cavities are filled with water, which actually hold up a thin overhang of earth. When the water level falls, the overhang loses its support and a hole forms.
  11. Sinkholes can be as small as 3 feet in circumference or as large as 2000 feet in diameter or depth. One of the most distinctive is the Qattara Depression in Egypt. It is 436 feet deep, 75 miles wide and 50 miles long.
 Qattara depression by Dixton selected for Google Earth.


I’m going to file the information I've gathered about sinkholes. Perhaps it will appear in story or perhaps not. I’m fine either way. I love learning new things, so I tune in CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 60 Minutes or Fox News. Often I find the stories there prove the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Do newscasts influence you? Cause you to change your mind? Or confirm what you already believe? Please share.



Sources




48 comments:

  1. wow, that qualifies as a freak accident alright. 15,000 sinkholes eh. bet that doesn't go in the Florida tourism flyers.

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    1. Pearl,
      I still would love to visit Florida even knowing about the sinkholes.

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  2. We had a sinkhole open in a road here some years ago. It nearly swallowed a car. Interesting information.I love to learn new things.

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    1. We had a big sinkhole downtown a few years back. An SUV fell into it. I started wondering about them then, but I only researched the holes recently.

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  3. Very sad and interesting. I have heard of sinkholes but these facts are new to me. Thanks for sharing them.

    What happened to Mr. Bush is shocking.

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    1. Tracey,
      I feel bad for Mr. Bush and his family, too.

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  4. Yes! I'm always listening to the news with an ear toward story. There's a MG book called The Mostly True Story of Jack that has a sink-hole-ish feeling to part of it. Can't say more.

    Can you imagine though? Shudders. I just hope he's living in some alternate realm.

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    Replies
    1. Jaye,

      I'll look for The Mostly True Story of Jack. Thanks.

      Delete
  5. Poor Jeffrey Bush... in reality, this is a sad news story.

    BUT, in the world of fiction, this is probably the beginning of a fantastic adventure in some, alternate dimension! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, I in no way want to make light of what happened to Jeffrey Bush. My research is part of my struggle to make sense out of what happened to him.

      Delete
  6. I saw this on the news too. So very sad. I'm now terrified of sinkholes, and wonder about a certain place in my backyard. Of course, the writer in me is imagining all sorts of troll-like creatures that might live in them. Thanks for sharing the facts :)

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    Replies
    1. My yard can be soggy, too. Another reason I should find out about these sinkholes.

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  7. We even followed that story over here in the UK. Unlucky and tragic.

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  8. AnthonyNorth,

    Are there sinkholes in the UK?

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  9. What I want to know is how to test of a sink hole. Without causing it to collapse. I mean, how do you tell the difference between a sink hole and and old septic system.

    Me? Worried? Why do you ask? :D

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    Replies
    1. Alice,
      I don't have the answer for you, but I agree. It's a concern.

      Delete
  10. I'm with Alice - I'd like to know how we can find them before they occur, so we don't have to have any more tragedies like the one which inspired your search.

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    Replies
    1. Kimberly,
      Yeah, I want to know how to find the holes, too. I bet we can learn more from the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute and I've got some other source links that might be helpful.

      Delete
  11. Sink holes are fascinating. I live just across the river from Philadelphia. They seem to have quite a few over there.

    13 Chapter Titles for tSLBoM

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  12. Vanessa,
    Thanks for sharing. I wonder if there's a lot of limestone under Philadelphia.

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  13. This was indeed a scary and tragic story, but one that definitely feeds the imagination. I had forgotten about the one in Milwaukee that ate that SUV. It's definitely something to keep in mind this time of year as we begin the thaw-freeze-thaw-pothole season. There always seem to be a few that crop up, though thankfully not 100-feet deep.

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    1. Yeah Heather,
      I remember that one too.

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  14. Shocking and fascinating. That must have been one big sinkhole. Just reading about it gives me a sinking feeling in my gut.

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  15. I was actually considering posting about the sinkhole (and a few other news stories) this week on TC! My mind was working more like Kate's though - wondering about a story where the sinkhole wasn't a random act of Nature, and what alternative reality the unfortunate Mr. Bush might find himself in when he woke up.

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  16. Rhiann,
    It's hard to turn off a muse, isn't it?

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  17. I'm showing this to my kids. We'ver been talking about sinkholes since they saw the one on the news! I love doing further research!

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  18. Heather,
    I'm glad to help. Thanks.

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  19. That sinkhole story was something else. I was way more interested in hearing about that than the DC 'blub' that was actually taking over the news around here.

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  20. Yeah, the sinkhole story struck me, too.

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  21. I'm thingking of an old Carole King song....

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  22. We had a sinkhole in our freeway one year, (in the town where I live.) I don't remember it causing any accidents, but it very well could have. Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    Noelle
    http://lifes-adventures.me

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  23. This whole sinkhole thing is totally wacky creepy! I avoid the news like the plague, so, I'm not normally inspired or influenced by it. Great post - loved all of the info...who knew?!

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  24. 2000 ft in diameter and depth is quite a scare!

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  25. Truth is often stranger (and in this case, more tragic) than fiction. The story was covered in NZ too, and I really felt for Mr Bush and his family. An awful thing to happen to anyone.

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  26. This is so sad, and so fascinating. I had no idea sinkholes happened so often in Florida. I have friends down there and they *all* claim to pity me for living in Chicagoland because we get snow. As I like to tell them, when the white stuff melts, our homes are still here. I was referring to hurricanes but it applies to sinkholes, too, doesn't it? I'll take the snow over this ANY DAY! (And yes, newscasts influence how I think. Or rather, WHAT I think about. I often see a news story and then go on and research it more on my own, through print or online.)

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    1. I'm with you. I'd take snow over sinkholes and hurricanes, but still I like visiting Florida.

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  27. I rarely watch the news because so often it's horrible, but I did catch this one. What a horrific experience both for him and his poor family.

    I have to admit though, I couldn't stop from exploring the "what ifs" of the situation.

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  28. I feel bad for Mr. Bush and his family, too.

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  29. Wow! I don't watch the news too often. What a way to go?! That's so scary! Thanks for the lesson in sinkholes. I love learning new things.

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  30. That's fascinating and terrifying. It reminds me of the Neil Shusterman novel Downsiders, have you read it? Thanks for joining us! Kristina x

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  31. I'm often inspired by news and events from around the world. I tend to funnel my emotions from the most inspirational stories into non-fiction blog posts / commentary, but those stories can be great fiction fodder too!

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  32. Because I'm a historical or fantasy author, news items won't directly lead me to a story idea, but parts of it may lead to something usable. Any sort of human behavior can be translated into a different time period, so for example if I hear a news story about friends or siblings separated for 50 years and reuniting, I might file that in my noggin somewhere and then get an idea for a reunion between characters after a long absence.

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