Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Miracle in the Cave

I just have to make a post detailing the miraculous rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team, since it was a remarkable story of endurance, and the lengths that perfect strangers will go to save someone else's child. So here goes:

12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach, Ekkapol Chantawongset, embarked on a team-building exercise on Saturday, June 23. The group set out on their bikes to the Tham Luang cave—a 45-minute ride from their school. The goal of the team-building exercise was to scrawl their names at the end of the 2.5 km (about 1.5 miles) tunnel in the cave as proof they’d completed the journey. This “rite of passage” was said to be crucial to the team’s training since they spend so much time together, and it was a way for the assistant coach to learn to manage the team on his own. 37-year-old head coach, Nopparat Kathawong, said that he didn’t know where Ekkapol would be taking the team, but that he trusted him to keep the boys safe. (He had an appointment, which is why he couldn't go along.)

The Tham Luang cave system—one of Thailand’s longest with a series of tunnels, slippery rocks and cliffs with stark drop-offs—was a place the boys knew well, since many of the boys had explored the nooks and crannies of the caves in the mountain range before. But what made this circumstance different was the time of year, as it was the beginning of the wet season. Sometime after the boys entered the cave, it started raining, and the tunnel filled with water and cut off the team's exit route. They had no choice but to keep forging ahead, deeper into the cave, where they found a dry ledge 4 km (about 2.5 miles) into the cave. They would be stranded there in total darkness for days.

When the head coach checked his phone at 7 PM that evening, there were at least 20 calls from worried parents, none of whose sons had come home. He realized that something had gone terribly wrong. One of the 13-year-old team members who hadn't gone with the rest of the team told Nopparat that the team had gone exploring in the Tham Luang caves. Nopparat raced to the cave, but all he found when he made it to the cave entrance that night were the boys’ bikes and bags next to what triggered his worst fears—water pouring out from the cave opening.

Over the next few days, rescuers from across Thailand began to devise a plan to locate and rescue the team. More than half a dozen foreign governments helped with the rescue effort, and over 1000 people were involved. On July 2, nine long days after the boys entered the cave, two divers found the team alive, huddled on a 10 sq meter (approx 107 sq foot) ledge. Getting the boys out of the cave would be a major ordeal since the boys were very weak, and most didn’t even know how to swim.

Long story short, all 12 boys and their coach were rescued; four boys on July 8, four more on July 9, and the final four boys and their coach on July 10. The final rescues happened just in time. The cave rescue could have easily ended in disaster. One of the pumps that had been pumping millions of gallons of water out of the cave to keep the waters from rising even further, failed, and the waters in the cave quickly began rising, leaving the last of the rescuers to scramble to get out of the cave.

I can't imagine the fear those boys must have felt being trapped in the dark with very little food and water, not knowing what time it was, how long they had been in the cave, what their families must've been thinking, when or IF they'd ever be rescued, and if this was how they were going to die. How did they survive? The boys had no food or snacks, but they did have a supply of drinkable water in the form of moisture dripping from the cave walls. The boys' assistant coach, Ekkapol, deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team calm. He drew on his years of experience as a monk, and taught the boys meditation techniques to help them stay calm and use as little air as possible, and told them to lie still to conserve their strength. He truly cared about the boys as if they were his own family.

The only tragedy in this saga was that Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL died from lack of oxygen while delivering oxygen tanks inside the cave on July 6. He was only 38 years old. This ordeal could have ended SO much worse in so many ways, all things considered. There were many miracles, and it was wonderful to see people from all over the world come to Thailand to aid in the rescue.

From nearly the first moment I heard about the missing soccer team, I knew it had "movie" written all over it, especially since all 13 Thai cave boys survived. I immediately thought of the movie "The 33" about the Chilean mine collapse, and this situation had a lot of similarities. I look forward to seeing the "Wild Boars" movie in the not-too-distant future. ("Wild Boars" is my prediction/suggestion for a fitting title for the potential movie.)

Here are a couple images of the Tham Luang cave system:
The boys were given a crash course in scuba diving, since that was the only way through the flooded areas. Each boy was fitted with a wetsuit and a full-face diving mask, and they were each accompanied by two experienced divers. If the boys had started panicking on the journey out of the cave (which took about three hours), that could quickly lead to a dire situation, so the boys were given sedatives to keep them calm. (I read that they were only semi-conscious.)

I read this description of the arduous journey out of the cave in one of the many articles I read about the ordeal: "During the hours-long trip out of the cave, each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers helping them navigate the dark, murky water. The most dangerous part of the journey was the first kilometer, during which the divers and boys were required to squeeze through a narrow, flooded channel. Rescuers needed to hold the boys' oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes. Having completed this section, the boys were then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who helped assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they could wade or walk through."
Pictures of the Wild Boars soccer team. The second picture was taken right before they left for the cave on June 23:
And here are four Navy SEALs (including a doctor who stayed with the team for a week after their discovery), who were the last group of rescuers to emerge from the cave on Tuesday, July 10:
The boys cried when they heard that Saman Kunan, the former Thai Navy SEAL died while assisting in the rescue effort. Here they are, still in the hospital, posing with Saman's photo that they all wrote messages on.

All 12 boys and their coach were released from the hospital today, one week after being rescued from the cave. An international press conference was held so the press could ask the boys questions. 
What a happy ending to a story that could've ended so tragically.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ruby Recap: 0-3 Months

I love being an aunt! Unfortunately, most of my nieces and nephews lived far away, except Christian and Ruby. I'm so grateful to be able to see them several times a week. I love interacting with them and watching them change and grow. Little Ruby turned 3 months old earlier this month, so I thought I'd make a post recapping her first three months of life, mostly with pictures. 

Here she is stretched out on the beautiful little quilt my sister Annette made for her:
The pictures below were taken on one of Ruby's first Sundays going to church:
Another week all dressed up for church:
Christian LOVES Ruby, and is always checking on her to see what she's up to. He loves to give her hugs and kisses.
She has been so mellow and happy so far, so I hope that continues:
Ruby also really loves having baths:
This has been one of my favorite outfits that Ruby has worn:
And I just have to include these pictures of "Cool Man" Christian:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Ancestry DNA Results

Today is my 34th birthday. My sister Chandra gave me an early birthday present just after Mother's Day: an Ancestry DNA kit. She knew that I'd been interested in getting my DNA tested for several years, so when Ancestry ran a Mother's Day special and was selling the kits for $59 (instead of the usual $99), she bought three of themone for me, one for her, and one for her husband. She was too excited to wait to give it to me for my birthday, so she gave it to me as soon as it arrived. The three of us wasted no time in getting our kits ready. It was super easy; you just register online, spit in the little tube, seal it up, and mail it back to the lab. Your results are ready anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks later.

My results were no real surprise. I knew I largely had European roots, and that's what my results reflected. The one thing that did surprise me is that I didn't have more Irish ancestryI thought I did. I also found it interesting that the migration portion of the results showed that my people migrated to Pennsylvania. I DID have ancestors in Pennsylvania... in fact, that's where my dad was born.
Europe West 
Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein

Great Britain
Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales

Iberian Peninsula
Primarily located in: Spain, Portugal

Caucasus
Primarily located in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey

Scandinavia
Primarily located in: Sweden, Norway, Denmark

European Jewish
Primarily located in: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel

Europe East
Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia

Ireland/Scotland/Wales
Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland

Europe South
Primarily located in: Italy, Greece

As excited as I was to get my DNA results, I think I was even more excited to see Chandra's. We obviously aren't biologically related, so hers was much more of mystery to me. Her husband, Joe, is Caucasian, but some of the Coleman family lore is that some of their ancestors were Native American, so I was eager to see if the test would confirm that as fact. Sadly, it did not. Too bad, because that would've been neat.

Here are their results:
It's amazing to me just how much your DNA can tell you about yourself and your ancestors. DNA is your own personal calling card, and it's been used to solve crimes decades after they've been committed. In fact, there is cutting-edge technology that has recently been developed that investigators have utilized where they take the DNA that's been recovered from crime scenes, and they use the different characteristics (that's not the right word, but I can't think of how to describe it) to come up with a composite picture of what the person would look like, based on what your DNA says about your heritage, and what your facial features would look like, etc. It's pretty amazing, and has aided law enforcement in nailing criminals. Don't go committing any crimes, because you never know when your DNA will be your downfall!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Another Royal Wedding


Prince Harry married Meghan Markle just over a week ago, on May 19. I didn't get up at 5 AM to watch, like I did for Prince William's wedding to Kate, but I did record the news coverage of it, and I started watching it as soon as I got up. I was excited to see what Meghan's wedding dress looked like. I expected her to wear a lavish wedding dress, but it was actually quite plain and subdued. I was a little disappointed in the dress, but it grew on me. After all, Meghan is gorgeous, so she really didn't need anything ornate or overly embellished. Prince Harry looked nice, as well, and he looked really happy. It's too bad that his mother, Princess Diana, wasn't alive to see her son get married, but I'm sure she was there in spirit.

Meghan and Harry's love story seems like a bit of a fairytale. She, an American actress, and he, a prince, met after being paired up on a blind date. They fell in love and  decided to get married. Meghan is 36 (the same age that Princess Diana was when she was tragically killed), and is a biracial divorcée. It wasn't long ago that a member of the royal family wouldn't have been allowed to marry a biracial divorcée, so their union is rather remarkable. Meghan's situation seems to parallel Grace Kelly, who was also an American actress who retired from acting after falling in love with and marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Some people on Facebook were complaining about all of the hype on TV surrounding the royal wedding, and they were saying they couldn't care less. I, personally, much rather hear about Meghan and Harry's wedding, than to hear about corrupt politicians, or the latest idiotic thing President Trump has said or done, or to hear about another school shooting, or another celebrity that has sexually abused women, or terrible natural disasters that are wreaking havoc in people's lives. At least this is happy news!

Here are some pictures from the big day: 
Introducing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex:
Here are Prince Charles and Camilla, along with Doria Ragland, mother of Meghan Markle. I thought Doria looked so pretty at the wedding.
There's nothing cuter than George and Charlotte, who were a page boy and bridesmaid in the wedding party.
Meghan changed into another dress for the reception. Again, not the kind of dress that I expected, but she looks beautiful:
Here are the formal wedding portraits released from Kensington Palace:
I also wanted to mention the happy news that Prince William and Kate had their third child on April 23, a boy named Louis Arthur Charles (Louis pronounced "Looey"). I was so happy when I heard that they were having another child. Here are pictures of Kate leaving the hospital, mere hours after giving birth.
I loved this picture of Charlotte holding her baby brother. 💗
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