Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:50 pm UTC

Wednesday wrote:Anything that releases a bunch of energy at once is going to create a pressure wave. High explosives create true "shock waves" (blast waves) but low explosives don't.
Yeah, my impression was that true shock waves are supersonic, which obviously requires higher explosives than a mere pressure wave, which technically could describe any sound.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby WibblyWobbly » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:52 pm UTC

broken_escalator wrote:
Wednesday wrote:Anything that releases a bunch of energy at once is going to create a pressure wave. High explosives create true "shock waves" (blast waves) but low explosives don't.

Probably something I should just google around for, but does combustion release pressure waves?

I only ask because I think I've heard of situations where a bomb was made incorrectly so it would burn instead of explode, which sounds less dangerous.

I should think so, because the heating of air should produce variations in pressure. Those waves, though, would be traveling through air comparatively slowly; what we think of as a shock wave or blast wave is a longitudinal (pressure) wave gone supersonic.

Edit: Ninja'd.
Last edited by WibblyWobbly on Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Shepherdess » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:56 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Plus bombs made of duck* tape have all that duck tape to put the people back together. The great duck giveth and taketh away.

Sorry, just a bit of gallows humor. It helps me for things like this.

It came out in 1943 for use on miltary vehicles. part if the requirements were that it was waterproof, hence, duck. The fact that it can be used on ducts is a bonus.



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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:02 pm UTC

Combustion just describes what chemical reaction is occurring, and can happen very slowly (eg peat fire) or very quickly (eg C4). Explosions are basically reactions fast enough to overtake the dissipation of resulting gasses, and produce a single concussive pressure wave (i.e. a bang) rather than a "whoomf" or however you'd spell the sound rapidly igniting gasoline makes.

The detanation of high explosives and the deflagration of low explosives, Wikipedia informs me, are distinguished by whether the reaction is above or below the speed of sound in the explosive medium.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Zamfir » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:05 pm UTC

In high explosives, the burn front propagates supersonically through the explosive. It drives a shock in front of it. All gas expansion takes place after the shock., and much of that energy gets concentrated in the shock, a sudden front where the pressure increases. Basically, the expanding gas behind the shock travels subsonically relative to the shock, so new released pressure waves 'catch up' with the shock and make it stronger.


In low explosives, the burn goes subsonic. The pressure increase from the earliest burn races ahead of the burn front, and those from the later stages of the burn follow behind it. So now the total pressure increase is spread over a distance (roughly the time it took to burn, multiplied by the speed of sound), instead of concentrated in an almost infinitely thin shock.

If you put the low explosive in a strong container, the pressure will build up in the container until it breaks. That way you still get a more concentrated shock. Also, the increasing temperature and pressure in the container tends to speed up the explosion, again concentrating more energy in a short burst.

Mmm, ninjaed. Scary people here.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:08 pm UTC

A few quick notes:
Terrorist bombs designed to maim/injure are actually pretty common, they tend to have an enhanced fear-generating effect which is a primary goal of terrorist attacks, they also put extra strain on first responders and emergency services which can enhance the impact.

On that note, it's somewhat interesting that there doesn't appear to have been any secondary devices targeting first responders. It's possible that the second device was intended to target first responders and simply went off early

Having the bomb go off on live TV is novel, but not unprecedented. It was certainly a move intended to increase the fear generated by the attack.

It's not uncommon for claims of responsibility to show up a day, or even several days, after the actual attack. News agencies and law enforcement are flooded with information, mail and calls after events like this and it's easy for claims of responsibility to go unnoticed and/or buried for a period. The claim of responsibility could easily sitting in an inbox or voice-mail right now waiting to be discovered.

Glad all the forumites are ok, I hope everyone is reunited with their friends/family and they're alright.

All my feels to the victims, can't really offer more than that right now, but I would if I could.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby broken_escalator » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:18 pm UTC

Oh okay, thanks for the explanations!

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Wednesday » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:26 pm UTC

Aww, everyone beat me to it. That's almost the only thing I retained after taking chemistry, too.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:41 pm UTC

Chemistry class; come for the acid, stay for the explosions.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby ASW » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:44 pm UTC

I just saw this on the news, but they are saying the bombs were possibly made by pressure cookers. I find this interesting and relevant to the forum considering last week's What-If. Has anyone heard any more on this item?

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby ivnja » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:50 pm UTC

ASW wrote:I just saw this on the news, but they are saying the bombs were possibly made by pressure cookers. I find this interesting and relevant to the forum considering last week's What-If. Has anyone heard any more on this item?

Start with this post on the previous page of this thread.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Wednesday » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:57 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Chemistry class; come for the acid, stay for the explosions.


It was more like "fail organic chem because my teacher sucked, take the summer school course and become good friends with the teacher, research almost nothing but explosives and watermelons because he was ex-atf."
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby ASW » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:58 pm UTC

ivnja wrote:
ASW wrote:I just saw this on the news, but they are saying the bombs were possibly made by pressure cookers. I find this interesting and relevant to the forum considering last week's What-If. Has anyone heard any more on this item?

Start with this post on the previous page of this thread.



Thanks, my skimming is not what it used to be. I was a little taken aback that we were not discussing it here yet.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby ivnja » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:37 pm UTC

For anyone that hasn't been checking the news, in addition to the 8 year old boy, they've now released the identity of a second deceased individual. It feels strange and uncomfortable putting a name here, so anyone that wants to know can look at their news outlet of choice.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:55 pm UTC

ASW wrote:I just saw this on the news, but they are saying the bombs were possibly made by pressure cookers. I find this interesting and relevant to the forum considering last week's What-If. Has anyone heard any more on this item?

Anyone from here forward posting this sort of hey-have-any-people-thought-of-the-What-If comment will be assumed to have completely not read the thread.


I'm watching this and I have to note that Rachel runs down some previous bombings and the kinds of bombs that were used- proving that in fact, Americans can make bombs and frequently make things like pipe bombs filled with nails. The clip is just under 7 minutes long.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:27 pm UTC

The Atlantic's Bruce Schneier wrote a short, but excellent piece on how the success or failure of this attack will be related to our reaction to it. It sums up my feelings rather well.
How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn't primarily a crime against people or property. It's a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.

Don't glorify the terrorists and their actions by calling this part of a "war on terror." Wars involve two legitimate sides. There's only one legitimate side here; those on the other are criminals. They should be found, arrested, and punished. But we need to be vigilant not to weaken the very freedoms and liberties that make this country great, meanwhile, just because we're scared.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:43 pm UTC

The Schneier quote eloquently expresses what I've been feeling.

I keep seeing that this or that official, up to and including President Obama, has declared this to be an Act Of Terrorism. Like some public official's statement has anything to do with. It sickens me, because once that phrase drops, the tragedy is no longer a murder or an attack, it's TerrorismTM. And anything that's TerrorismTM is going to used as political pressure to increase "security" through all sorts of laughably ineffective means.

I'm just waiting for my visits back to the area to become rife with useless security checkpoints, which will of course in no way dissuade any future murderers from devising and implementing a scheme that subverts them.

Who knows, maybe this time will be different. But probably not.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:44 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:In high explosives, the burn front propagates supersonically through the explosive. It drives a shock in front of it. All gas expansion takes place after the shock., and much of that energy gets concentrated in the shock, a sudden front where the pressure increases. Basically, the expanding gas behind the shock travels subsonically relative to the shock, so new released pressure waves 'catch up' with the shock and make it stronger.


In low explosives, the burn goes subsonic. The pressure increase from the earliest burn races ahead of the burn front, and those from the later stages of the burn follow behind it. So now the total pressure increase is spread over a distance (roughly the time it took to burn, multiplied by the speed of sound), instead of concentrated in an almost infinitely thin shock.

If you put the low explosive in a strong container, the pressure will build up in the container until it breaks. That way you still get a more concentrated shock. Also, the increasing temperature and pressure in the container tends to speed up the explosion, again concentrating more energy in a short burst.

Mmm, ninjaed. Scary people here.


To add to this info(which is all good), the video found here seems to have a bit of flash up in the smoke a couple of seconds in, as if some of the fuel is still burning. That'd be a good indication that it's homemade(which seemed likely anyway), as fuel/oxidizer mix is hard to get just right without substantial testing...but no commercial explosive is gonna screw that up.

On the topic of defeating terrorism, etc...one excellent way to look at it is to observe that past losses of freedom certainly didn't prevent such a tragic event. Therefore, reacting by trying to take away whatever freedoms happened to be involved here(say, by putting restrictions on pressure cookers) probably doesn't have a great shot at fixing these things in the future. At least, the quick, reactionary laws seem to be particularly failure prone. People have been observing for a while that crowds gather in many places that TSA can't protect, and here, unfortunately, we see that this vulnerability is not just theoretical. It's damned hard to fix from that end, too. Crowds happen all over the place. Can't have perfect security around every crowd. But we definitely can change our personal reactions to terrorism, yes.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Thesh » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:14 pm UTC

We also need to never forget that if something bad happens in this country, we should blame immigrants first, even if the authorities say they have no suspects:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/pos ... on-reform/
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:17 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:We also need to never forget that if something bad happens in this country, we should blame immigrants first, even if the authorities say they have no suspects:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/pos ... on-reform/


That seems like kind of a poor excuse, really. If it does turn out that, say, border security was relevant(though I doubt it), we can certainly fix the relevant issues then, once we actually have data. Acting on the rather stunningly bad initial reports is pretty much guaranteed to be premature. May as well fix the current issues with immigration, then, if data comes up later that more work is needed, have a round 2.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:27 pm UTC

FIXING THINGS BEFORE WE HAVE ACCURATE DATA MEANS THE TERRORISTS WIN

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Tualha » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:45 pm UTC

The xkcd "what if?" in question was posted by one Delphine Lourtau. It occurred to me, "what if" our mad bomber was doing one of those "haha I'm too smart for everyone" things, and "Delphine Lourtau" was an anagram of some hidden message. So I looked.

Nothing solid enough to send to the FBI, but there were a couple that were kind of spooky.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Belial » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:58 pm UTC

Considering that the bomber would most likely be starting from the phrase and working toward the anagram, I like to think that, for a mad genius masterstroke, they could do better than "hurl nail deep out". Especially considering it wasn't a nailbomb.

Instead, consider that with a noisy enough pattern and a vague enough search parameter, you can find something seemingly relevant even in total randomness.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby WibblyWobbly » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:03 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Considering that the bomber would most likely be starting from the phrase and working toward the anagram, I like to think that, for a mad genius masterstroke, they could do better than "hurl nail deep out". Especially considering it wasn't a nailbomb.

Instead, consider that with a noisy enough pattern and a vague enough search parameter, you can find something seemingly relevant even in total randomness.

Also, consider that the "anagrammed" Delphine Lourtau might itself be an anagram of another name (either a really stupid bomber who anagrammed their own name or someone looking to lead investigators astray, or something that makes even less sense), which would in general be much harder to isolate on an internet anagram generator as most of those probably search through some sort of dictionary.

Although "Ultrahip Udon Eel" would be a great name for a criminal mastermind.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Tualha » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:06 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Considering that the bomber would most likely be starting from the phrase and working toward the anagram, I like to think that, for a mad genius masterstroke, they could do better than "hurl nail deep out".

Precisely why I concluded the scenario was unlikely.
Belial wrote:Especially considering it wasn't a nailbomb.

I've seen reports that some of the bombs did contain nails.
Belial wrote:Instead, consider that with a noisy enough pattern and a vague enough search parameter, you can find something seemingly relevant even in total randomness.

Of course. To quote Marooned in Realtime, "You can find any message if the coding scheme is nutty enough."

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby chem1190c » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:08 pm UTC

WibblyWobbly wrote:Although "Ultrahip Udon Eel" would be a great name for a criminal mastermind.


Or an appetizer at a sushi restaurant

edit: um, yes.. apparently my first post in this thread was a horrible pun. I doubt I'm the only one who uses humor to defuse a tense situation.

edit2: uuuh.. I just realized "defuse" may not be the best choice of words here

edit3: Ok. I should probably just shut up now.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:24 pm UTC

A thought on the number of deaths: which is at 3 at the moment. I think there were some comments about this being unusually low. I am inclined to agree, but I "blame" the low number of deaths on another factor. The proximity of the event towards Boston Medical, as well as a number of heroes who were available.

Warning: Graphic Image
Spoiler:
Image


Immediately after the bombs went off, many people lost limbs. I'd bet that if that happened in a more "typical" setting, those people would have died right there and then. But you had a rush of people with medical knowledge run in, and literally hold the exposed major arteries of the victims closed with their bare hands, saving many people's lives. You can see it in the picture above, where Carlos Arredondo is literally keeping that man from bleeding to death by pinching his exposed artery. You also have one of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation only a few blocks away from the whole event, filled with world-class surgeons.

Tourniquets were quickly applied to victims, and while they lost limbs in the event, they survived.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Adacore » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:50 pm UTC

Yeah, and added to that, there tends to be a fair amount of medical support staff and temporary facilities at the finish line to a major marathon, so the first responders were probably there in seconds, rather than minutes.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby eidako » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:53 pm UTC

Headline: "Worst Terrorist Attack Since 9/11"

Dear Media,

You are comparing an event where a handful of people were killed/maimed by a small bomb to one where many thousands died, caused immense property and economic damage, and violently changed the skyline of the nation's largest city. Yes, people having their legs blown off is a terrible thing, but terrible things frequently occur in this world. Please, please, please stop banging the 9/11 drum every time a sociopath commits a heinous crime. You are not helping people gain an understanding of the situation by comparing it to past events of a radically different scale.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:09 am UTC

This is probably useful to post far and wide.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/boston.asp
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Shepherdess » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:47 am UTC

I have to say, given the response of the people of Boston and the general success of Boston medical staff in stabilizing their patients with the most gruesome injuries, I think I want to live in Boston when I get enough money to move.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Metaphysician » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:53 am UTC

I took a break from coverage yesterday after it was clear there wouldn't be any new information. Today I turned on Anderson Cooper's coverage and am overwhelmed by the plethora of stories involving every day people that turned out to be badasses, civilians that stepped up to help the first responders in any way they could. Pretty inspiring stuff.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:02 am UTC

I have mixed feelings about all the ordinary people that helped. On the one hand, I really admire them for it and on the other hand, I want to call them idiots because my first instinct is that the chance of a secondary explosive meamt to hit first responders and good samaritans was non-trivial. I'm just really glad it turned out there weren't any secondary explosives.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Shepherdess » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:05 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I have mixed feelings about all the ordinary people that helped. On the one hand, I really admire them for it and on the other hand, I want to call them idiots because my first instinct is that the chance of a secondary explosive meamt to hit first responders and good samaritans was non-trivial. I'm just really glad it turned out there weren't any secondary explosives.


Isn't it bravery when you put your live at risk in order to save others?
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Hawknc » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:07 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I have mixed feelings about all the ordinary people that helped. On the one hand, I really admire them for it and on the other hand, I want to call them idiots because my first instinct is that the chance of a secondary explosive meamt to hit first responders and good samaritans was non-trivial. I'm just really glad it turned out there weren't any secondary explosives.

It's entirely possible that they considered the risk of a secondary explosion and decided to help anyway. They're only idiots if you think they should be valuing their own lives above others.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:08 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I have mixed feelings about all the ordinary people that helped. On the one hand, I really admire them for it and on the other hand, I want to call them idiots because my first instinct is that the chance of a secondary explosive meamt to hit first responders and good samaritans was non-trivial. I'm just really glad it turned out there weren't any secondary explosives.


*shrug* Secondaries can also be set to trigger on people fleeing into choke points. Fact of the matter is, in a messy situation like that, you really can't know if there are secondaries, and where they might be. You simply do the best you can with what's at hand. There's nothing wrong with looking out for yourself in that situation, but there's certainly nothing wrong with helping either, and props to those who did.

Got an update from one o' my friends. The initial report that he was fine was, while true, incomplete. He was having a bad run, stopped to take a breather for a bit, and as a result, the bomb blew a ways in front of him...with wife and kids watching. Coulda been damned bad, had they been standing in a little different place, or if he'd been running his usual pace, or anything. Freaky.

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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Shepherdess » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:18 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote:I have mixed feelings about all the ordinary people that helped. On the one hand, I really admire them for it and on the other hand, I want to call them idiots because my first instinct is that the chance of a secondary explosive meamt to hit first responders and good samaritans was non-trivial. I'm just really glad it turned out there weren't any secondary explosives.


*shrug* Secondaries can also be set to trigger on people fleeing into choke points. Fact of the matter is, in a messy situation like that, you really can't know if there are secondaries, and where they might be. You simply do the best you can with what's at hand. There's nothing wrong with looking out for yourself in that situation, but there's certainly nothing wrong with helping either, and props to those who did.

Got an update from one o' my friends. The initial report that he was fine was, while true, incomplete. He was having a bad run, stopped to take a breather for a bit, and as a result, the bomb blew a ways in front of him...with wife and kids watching. Coulda been damned bad, had they been standing in a little different place, or if he'd been running his usual pace, or anything. Freaky.


It's freaky for people who weren't even there, too. You just never know, do you?
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby Wednesday » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:41 am UTC

I have never been more proud to say that while I am not *from* Boston (though relatively nearby) I am definitely "of" Boston. Boston is totally in my blood. I've never felt prideful of having come from or lived in any place before, but holy shit am I proud to call myself a Bostonian.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:53 am UTC

Shepherdess wrote:I have to say, given the response of the people of Boston and the general success of Boston medical staff in stabilizing their patients with the most gruesome injuries, I think I want to live in Boston when I get enough money to move.

We are, in a way, fortunate that these bombs were at the finish line. Massachusetts General Hospital is a 2-minute ambulance ride away. And they were in close proximity to the medical tent. We have fewer casualties than we could have.

Even when we're not talking about traumatic situations, Boston is a pretty great city.
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Re: Bombing at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

Postby WibblyWobbly » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:38 am UTC

Fantastic Idea wrote:Even when we're not talking about traumatic situations, Boston is a pretty great city.


I've only ever been to Boston once, and only for a week (and it was in winter, so the weather didn't want to cooperate), but it still seemed like a very cool place. My family is originally from that area, and I'd always wanted to visit. I know a week is not even close to enough time to evaluate a city, but something seemed right about it. I don't know if I'll ever live there, but I definitely would like to go back. Maybe in warmer weather.

One thing I do remember (partially) was a little Italian place on Water St. that I thought was pretty excellent. Don't remember the name, but they seemed to do a hell of a business around lunch time for such a tiny little place.

I hope this doesn't change that character. I don't think it will, at least not for long.


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