What to consider when moving forward with a gray divorce

There are many reasons why a Texas couple may choose to move forward with divorce. No matter how long you have been married, there are a number of factors that can cause problems and eventually lead to the decision to divorce. This is also true for couples over the age of 50.

When an older couple divorces, it can be especially complex and difficult to navigate the issue at hand. There are fewer opportunities to recoup financial losses, especially if you or your spouse retired. Additionally, there can be significant assets, some accumulated over decades together, that a couple will have to address and divide. This is not easy, no matter how amicable the two parties may be.

Your gray divorce and your future

When facing the prospect of a gray divorce, there are many factors to consider. One of the most important issues will be the full protection of your future financial interests. Older individuals have a lot at stake in a divorce, and it is in your interests to be thoughtful and careful about the choices you make and the decisions to which you agree. 

The number of gray divorces is at a higher rate than it has been at any other point in history. This could be for many reasons, including longer lifespans and changing cultural perspective on divorce. Regardless of the specific reason why you decided to move forward with this decision, there are important financial issues to consider, including: 

  • Alimony is not necessarily a guarantee, and if you are eligible, you may not get quite as much as you hope.
  • Divorce will impact your retirement savings, which may lead to a need to adjust your plans for the future.
  • You might not be able to stay in your family home. It is important to consider if you can afford to stay there on your post-divorce financial resources. 

These are just a few of the issues that could impact your retirement, lifestyle and plans for your golden years. It is in your interests to think about the long-term effect of each choice you make.

There is a lot on the line, but you do not have to face it alone. A complete evaluation of your case with an experienced family law attorney can help you understand how you can intentionally pursue a strong and stable post-divorce future. Gray divorce is complex, but you can seek an outcome that allows you to look to the future with confidence.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

Should there be an age that children are told they are adopted by law?

I recently read an article in the Telegraph & Argus about a Bradford man who found out he was adopted at the age of 49.  He is now calling for a change in the law so that every adopted child is told the truth when they turn 18 years old.

Reading his experience made me consider my own situation. I always knew I was adopted however it would have been very difficult for my parents to hide that given they are Caucasian and I am Sri Lankan. I knew the truth from a very young age and I was always reassured that I could ask as many (or as few) questions as I wanted to. This meant I was able to digest information at a pace that was right for me rather than being overwhelmed.

Should there be an age that children are told that they are adopted, or should the decision be left to the adoptive parents?

Having thought about this for some time, I do not think there is a right or simple answer!

To go 18 years believing the people in your life are your biological family and then be told that everything you thought was true isn’t, is likely to have a very serious impact on someone’s mental health. Someone in that situation could experience trust issues in the future, feelings of loss and confusion. In family law it is recognised that children are different: one 8-year-old may be much more mature than a 13-year-old and the way to deliver news to people should be varied depending on their personality. Shouldn’t this common-sense approach be applied to telling someone they are adopted?

What should a child/adult be told?

Should an adopted person be told everything in one go or should they be told at a pace appropriate for them? This follows on from the above point that everyone processes information differently. As an adult, I prefer having all the information I possibly can as that helps me process things but as a child that would have been overwhelming.

What if the circumstances surrounding a child’s adoption are upsetting?

My story was straightforward: my biological mother wanted a better life for me. Not everyone can say that. I have family friends who adopted a child who was taken away from his birth mother because she abused drugs, another adopted because her biological mother was raped. In those circumstances, I am not so sure I would want to know my background.

Not all family relationships are straightforward

As a family solicitor, I understand relationships are complicated. As the saying goes you cannot choose your family. We regularly see clients who are estranged from members of their family for various reasons or parents that are no longer involved in the lives of their children because of separation. Practically speaking, how would that be dealt with if there was a set age that a person must be told they are adopted?

The practical side

I am well versed when it comes to explaining why I have no idea if there is a history of heart disease in my family. I was diagnosed with a genetic condition at the age of 19 yet this is something I probably would have been aware of sooner had I had knowledge of my family medical history. On the other hand, many people don’t necessarily want to know, if given the choice, what the future might hold for them, in this regard.

The chance to have a larger family

The article I read referred to the person who found out he was adopted, feeling as though he had lost out on having two families and sad for the time that he had missed with them. Having a law compelling parents to tell their child they are adopted would give people the opportunity to search for their biological family if they wished to and to find out the truth about where they came from.

Changing the law

When thinking about whether it would be appropriate to introduce a change in the law, it struck me how complicated it would be to do so. There are many charities out there who support families through the adoption journey because it is so complicated emotionally. Therefore, any change in the law would need to be considered with the implications and complexities in mind.


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Author: Shanika Varga-Haynes

Court IT meltdown: a sign of things to come?

“A ‘major disruption’ that affected multiple Ministry of Justice IT systems last week continues to cause chaos.”

So began a story in The Law Society Gazette on the 22nd of January. The story went on to explain that the Gazette had been told by ‘lawyers on the front line’ that trials had been delayed, jurors had been unable to enrol, and practitioners had been prevented from confirming attendance at court that would enable them to get paid.

Despite not practising myself, I had already picked up on this story from irate lawyers on Twitter, bemoaning problems with court computers, phones (which of course are digital) and email systems. One well-known family lawyer tweeted:

“No diaries, no phones, no email, courts can’t receive documents or fix hearings…really causing problems for judges, court staff, lawyers – and of course litigants and witnesses.”

And another eminent (but anonymous) legal commentator tweeted:

“Imagine the headlines if it were the NHS.
“But it’s only justice, so no one cares.”

Certainly, I don’t recall these problems causing much of a splash in the national media.

And what did the Ministry of Justice, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’) et al have to say? Well, they at least were able to send out emails. I received a series of them, mainly apologising profusely to those who had been affected by what they called “major IT network issues”. “We know”, they said, “how deeply frustrating this has been for our staff and people who use and work across the justice system.” Hmm.

What they didn’t know was what caused the issues, but we were assured that they “were not the result of a cyber attack and there was no loss of data.” I’m not entirely sure that that is reassuring. It seems that their systems were quite capable of going into meltdown on their own, without any outside interference. At least if they had been hacked, that might have provided some excuse.

Whatever the cause, we were informed that:

“As of 25 January, all Ministry of Justice (MoJ) sites are operational with IT network connectivity restored. We are continuing to carefully monitor the situation and will work with individual users where any issues arise.”

Although there was one further word of warning:

“It will take time for all aspects of the service to fully return to normal, as there is a backlog of work created by the disruption.”

Hopefully, the cause of these issues will be found, and steps will be taken to ensure that the same problem will not occur again. It does not, however, inspire confidence. Many were suggesting that the system is not as robust as it should be, as it was acquired “on the cheap”. I don’t know the truth of that allegation, but we all know that government departments generally, and the MoJ and HMCTS in particular, have been subjected to tight budget constraints in recent years, so there may be some truth in it.

Whatever, in a time when much of the justice system is being put online (ostensibly to make it more convenient for users, but in reality primarily as a cost-cutting exercise), incidents such as this do appear to be a warning of things to come. These IT systems have the effect of putting all of the justice eggs in one basket. Whereas in the pre-digital age there was little that could adversely affect the entire justice system, now it seems that it only takes some small software glitch to bring the whole edifice to its knees.

And the victims will not just be lawyers. They will be those who use the system, including family litigants. And it will not just be some small inconvenience, like having to wait around a bit longer at court. It could mean justice seriously delayed, which could be the difference between a successful outcome to a case and an unsuccessful one.

Yes, it’s true that few people seem to care about IT issues in the justice system. But they certainly will care when it is their case that is affected: their divorce settlement that is delayed, or their children that they are unable to see.

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Author: John Bolch

The Musée Mécanique

The Musée Mécanique

Good old-fashioned interactive multimedia

Fog, as I have said for many years, is my all-time favorite weather condition. Other than its impact on driving, I like everything about fog—the coolness, the dampness, the way it muffles sounds, and especially the mysterious, spooky quality it gives its surroundings. So the first time I took a streetcar out to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach many years ago, I was delighted to discover that, more often than not, the entire area is covered with fog. Morgen and I walked along the beach and up a hill to a building called the Cliff House, a restaurant with a majestic, sweeping view of the mist—and, occasionally, bits of the ocean and nearby Seal Rock. The Cliff House is a favorite tourist destination—not so much for the food but for the view, the gift shops, and a few other attractions nearby. The attraction we had gone there to see was located inconspicuously around the back, downstairs in the basement of the Cliff House—and advertised only by a small, folding wooden sign on the sidewalk near the restaurant that said, simply, “Musée Mécanique.”

The Old Machine and the Sea

The Musée Mécanique (or Mechanical Museum) looked like something that belonged a century in the past—an effect enhanced considerably by the fog. Inside a large room with peeling paint and a crumbling ceiling was a collection of hundreds of very old mechanical toys, games, and other amusements. For example, there were dozens of automatons—machines in which small figures walk, dance, or otherwise move around when you insert a coin. There were fortune-telling machines, games to test your strength (the electric arm-wrestling machine was frighteningly strong), flip-card “movies,” a player piano, and all sorts of other mechanical shows and diversions. The amazing thing was that all these machines—ranging from the very campy to the very sophisticated—were fully functional. Admission was free, but nearly every machine required a quarter (or two) to operate it.

The money was well worth it, though: you just can’t get this kind of entertainment anymore. In the days before electronic toys and games, designers accomplished some impressive feats of engineering and miniaturization using simple motors, gears, levers, and springs. The result was an arcade that, while lacking video screens and digital controllers, was much more interesting and engaging than a modern gaming venue. The point of dropping in your change was not, in general, to win anything; it was simply to marvel at the skills of the machines’ designers.

The March of Quarters

The Musée Mécanique houses some of the last remnants of an amusement park called Playland at the Beach, which operated along San Francisco’s oceanfront from 1928 to 1972. When the park closed, a collector named Edward Zelinsky purchased its mechanical games from owner George Whitney, Jr. Zelinsky had already been collecting antique gadgets of this sort for decades, and had taught himself how to repair and maintain them. Shortly after acquiring the Playland machines, he put the bulk of his collection on public display in the basement of the Cliff House. He kept it going as a labor of love until his death in 2004, but his son, Dan, continues the work. The Musée Mécanique is now the world’s largest private collection of antique coin-operated arcade machines, and other than being updated to use quarters rather than the original pennies or nickels, the machines have kept all their original charm.

Returning to the Musée in early 2002, I saw a sign on the window that troubled me. It said the museum was likely to close permanently within a few months. I talked with the manager about it, and then a few weeks later, read a more detailed account in a local newspaper. The story was that the building, which is managed by the National Park Service, was badly in need of renovation. Following the repairs, the park service wanted to put a more profitable business in the spot where the Musée had been. They hoped to construct a new building nearby at some point in the future that could house the Musée’s collection, but there were no funds at the time for such a building, and in any case, there was no other space available for the Musée in the meantime. Left with no home for the machines, Zelinsky was considering whether to put the collection into storage indefinitely or simply auction it off.

The Musée Lives On

When the newspaper article was published, public outcry was immediate and overwhelming. Within a couple of weeks, more than 20,000 people had signed petitions asking the park service to save the Musée—to assure it a temporary home, as well as permanent housing after the Cliff House renovations were complete. Shortly thereafter, a follow-up article reported the good news: the park service had assured the owners that they would find a way to keep the Musée open. The Musée Mécanique is currently housed at Pier 45 on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. The original plan had been for it to return to new digs at or near the Cliff House in 2004, but that never happened, and I suspect that the museum’s current home will be more or less permanent.

The Fisherman’s Wharf location lacks the dilapidated charm of the Cliff House basement and is not nearly as foggy. On the bright side, it’s right in the thick of the city’s most densely touristy area, so it’s bound to attract more visitors. Admission is still free, but take a roll of quarters for a great value in entertainment—and nostalgia.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on June 9, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on November 4, 2004.

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Author: Joe Kissell

Thomas Paine Day

Portrait of Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was born on January 29, 1736 (at least, as it was reckoned at the time; going by today’s calendars it would have been February 9, 1737). In any case, Paine was one of the main driving forces behind American independence from Britain, as detailed in his famous pamphlet [Common Sense](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense(pamphlet)_. He’s also popularly remembered as a freethinker. Celebrate his sort-of birthday by thinking independently!

Image credit: Auguste Millière [Public domain]

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Author: Joe Kissell

Helping you protect your rights during a custody dispute

Getting a divorce can make anyone’s world spin. Whether it is a contested divorce or not, the process itself can cause many changes and concerns. And for Texas parents getting a divorce, this means determining a custody arrangement that benefits and child. It can be difficult to work through custody matters, often causing it to be a difficult and contentious divorce issue.

While some divorcing parents seek primary custody of their child, it is possible to seeking joint or shared custody. In the eyes of the law, Texas parents are viewed as having equal rights to their children, and at Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law, we understand this and fight for this for our clients.

Whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, our law firm not only helps you navigate post-divorce life but also helps you develop a plan to help address any custody concerns. If you are asserting your right as a father, this may look like illustrating that you can provide adequate care and are capable of being involved in the child’s life. Our attorneys take the time to protect the rights of our clients while also ensuring that the best interests of the child are also met.

To learn more, check out our law firm’s fathers’ rights website. Whether you are considering divorce, are going through the process or are dealing with post-divorce issues, it is vital to explore your rights and options. This will also help ensure that the rights and best interests of the child are best served.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

The view from our new President’s chambers

I don’t know exactly where the President of the Family Division’s chambers are located, but it must be a lofty perch. From it, the President evidently has a clear view of all he (or she) surveys. Accordingly, it has become a tradition that they should provide us lesser mortals with a picture of all that is wrong with the family justice system (and a pathway to how we should put it right), and our new President Sir Andrew McFarlane is continuing that tradition.

Unfortunately, our new President’s first View from his perch was published on a site behind a paywall, at least until that fact was pointed out (it now also appears on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website). Hopefully, this was just an oversight from a man new to the system, and all future Views will be free to, err… view.

So, what does the View contain?

Well, actually not a lot that is new. Much of what he wrote about refers to the ‘workload challenge’ faced by the family justice system as a result of the increase in children cases over the last few years, a topic that Sir Andrew already dealt with in more detail (as he says in the View) in his speech to the Association of Lawyers for Children Conference 2018 back in November, that I commented upon here in this post.

In a nutshell Sir Andrew is fearful that the stress of the workload, “in a system which is already sparely manned in terms of lawyers, court staff and judges”, will “risk the burn‐out of key and valued individuals”. His solution to this, or at least part of his solution, is to allow some corners to be cut, and some time limits to be exceeded.

Think of that for a moment. I find it quite remarkable that the man at the very top of the family justice system is advocating the cutting of corners. Surely, such a situation would have been unthinkable only a few short years ago? I’m not saying that Sir Andrew is wrong to make such a suggestion, just that the fact that he has is an indication of just what a state the system has found itself in. That state, of course, is not just due to the increase in children cases. It is also a result of years of under-funding by the government, and of the swinging legal aid cuts, that have (as was entirely foreseeable) burdened the system with a mass of litigants in person, who require extra judicial resources to deal with.

Of course, Sir Andrew is not talking of corner-cutting that will cause unsound outcomes, or that will adversely affect the welfare of children caught up in the family justice system. He makes a few suggestions of the sort of thing he has in mind, including setting the earliest and latest times that courts are expected to sit (how does this fit with the extended court hours pilot announced by HM Courts & Tribunals Service and the Ministry of Justice last November?); agreeing the latest time in the evening, and the earliest time in the morning, when it is acceptable to send an email to another lawyer in a case or to the court; and reducing the components to be  expected in a ‘Position  Statement’  to the minimum required, for example simply one side of A4, using bullet points. Quite what effect these things will have upon the workload of those involved in the family justice system, we will have to wait and see.

Otherwise, the View has little else to say. Sir Andrew does mention a couple of other news items of which we are already aware, such as the expansion of the Financial Remedies Court pilot, which he says is working well, and which he is confident  “will be a successful and popular development”, and also the guidance he issued in December regarding the anonymisation of family law judgments involving children, that he hopes will be applied by all Family Courts.

And that, really, was about it. Not that I’m complaining. Indeed, it is refreshing to have a President who is (for the moment at least) a little less proactive. Busy family law professionals have enough to do to keep up with new developments as it is – perhaps Sir Andrew is purposely giving them less to think about, in order to reduce the risk of burn-out!

The full text of the View can be found here.

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Author: John Bolch

The Discovery of Radium

Portrait of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie

Marie Curie’s miracle cure

One of the central paradoxes of scientific research and technological development is that while every new discovery brings previously unknown possibilities to light, these discoveries can also have negative effects that may not be readily apparent. For example, certain medicines may provide exciting new treatment options, but it’s only later that their side effects come to light. One of the most glaring examples of this was the thalidomide scandal in the late 1950s, when thousands of women took this drug to combat morning sickness during pregnancy, and it was later found to cause birth defects. Similarly, in the 19th century, opium was thought of as a cure-all before its highly addictive nature was fully understood.

Along the same lines, Marie Sklodowska Curie’s discovery of the element radium in 1898 at first seemed to lead the way to a variety of novel medical treatments, but as the properties of radioactive materials became better known, radium’s health benefits came to seem more limited. Once added to everything from toothpaste to face cream, radium’s reputation went from cutting edge to dangerous within a few short decades.

The Element of Surprise

Marie Curie’s eventual discovery of radium was first set into motion by the research of French physicist Henri Becquerel, who noticed that materials containing uranium produced rays that fogged photographic plates. Looking into this phenomenon further, Marie Curie found that not only uranium, but also the element thorium, caused these effects regardless of their physical state (for example, dry or wet, crushed or solid), and from this deduced that the rays were part of the elements’ atomic makeup. She coined the word “radioactivity” to describe this property of these two elements, and along with other scientists of the time, opened the way to a new understanding that the atom was not the smallest unit of matter, but that even smaller particles (notably electrons) existed within it.

Building on this information, and on her observation that two uranium-containing compounds, pitchblende and chalcolite, produced much more radiation than uranium alone, Marie Curie speculated that there were other, as yet unknown, elements in these compounds. After extensive experimentation, aided by her husband Pierre Curie, Marie Curie was able to identify two new elements in pitchblende, which she called polonium (after her native Poland), and radium (after the Latin word for “ray”). Although the process of isolating radium involved processing a ton of pitchblende in order to obtain just a fraction of a gram of radium, even with similar levels of effort, the Curies found that it was impossible to isolate polonium. Later on, when the principle of radioactive decay was developed, scientists realized that the short half-life of polonium—138 days—was the reason for this problem.

Radium Reign

With the help of industrial partners who could produce radium much more quickly in their processing facilities than it was possible to do in the lab, the Curies began to develop new uses for this marvelous material. However, the Curies never became rich because of their discovery, but as a service to the scientific community and the rest of the world, freely shared their method of obtaining radium. One of the first uses of radium was as an anti-cancer treatment, owing to its observed ability to damage tissue. The resulting treatment, known as Curietherapy in France, and radiumtherapy elsewhere, is still used in some instances to treat cancer today.

However, as with any health fad, there are those who take it too far, usually for financial gain. Because radium was seen as providing health benefits in one area, its use was expanded to other areas for which there was no proven benefit. This was especially the case in the 1920s, when advertising campaigns for face creams with names such as Tho-Radia and Radior claimed that “the amazing Energy of Radium has proved a boon to the human skin.” What purchasers of these products didn’t realize was that the “glow” they were seeking was not necessarily the kind they would actually receive.

Losing Its Glow

In fact, the luminescent property of radium was precisely what made it attractive to manufacturers of clocks, watches, and other technical instruments, for whom its glow-in-the-dark ability was commercially advantageous. However, the use of radium-based paints for such applications was eventually found to be extremely dangerous, after many workers exposed to the paint died from the effects of radiation.

The growing awareness of radium’s toxicity made it seem less and less suited to general use, and when Marie Curie died in 1934, it was speculated that her exposure to radiation played a part in her death. Scientists now know that radium damages bone marrow particularly, because the body treats it as calcium, depositing it in the bones and providing it easy access to the marrow.

Although the benefits of radium fall far short of what it was once believed it could do, with careful handling radium still proves useful in medical treatment and scientific research. In addition, the story of its discovery is inspiring and laid the groundwork for many other important advances in science (If you’re ever in Paris, I highly recommend a visit to the Musée Curie, where you can see the actual office and lab used by Marie Curie in her later experiments). But the next time you hear something being praised as a miracle cure-all, remember that the truth may be more complicated than it seems.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on January 30, 2008.

Image credit: Photographer unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Morgen Jahnke

Data Privacy Day

Data privacy icon

Since 2008, January 28 of each year has been Data Privacy Day, an occasion for learning about the numerous threats to the privacy of your personal data and what you can do about them. It so happens I’ve written an entire book on this topic: Take Control of Your Online Privacy. It tells you who’s after your personal data and why, what you should (and shouldn’t) worry about, and what concrete, practical steps you can take to protect yourself without withdrawing entirely from the online world. I hope you’ll check it out!

Image credit: PICOL- PIctorial COmmunication Language [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Joe Kissell


People sandboarding

Dry surfing or hot snowboarding?

It was in a high school English class that I first ran across Emerson’s famous quote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” Something about that struck a chord with me, and ever since, I have tried to nurture a healthy appreciation for paradox if not outright contradiction. For example, as I may have mentioned, sports are not among my top thousand or so favorite things in life. So I was chagrined to discover how many of the suggestions I received for topics to include on Interesting Thing of the Day were sports-related. Someone would very excitedly come up to me and say, “Hey! You’ve got to write about this cool piece of tennis trivia,” or “There’s this really amazing baseball story your readers would love to hear,” and I’d kind of grin and nod and pretend to make a mental note, all the while thinking there could hardly be anything less interesting to write about than sports. However, when my son Ben suggested an article on sandboarding, I had to admit that did sound sort of interesting—and at least I didn’t have to participate in it. So in the noble spirit of contradiction, I set out to discover what I could about this sport.

Getting Board with Sand

Sandboarding resembles snowboarding as seen through amber glasses. The general idea is the same; participants strap a short board to their feet and slide down a hill, only in this case the surface is sand rather than snow. Sandboarders sometimes say the experience is more like surfing than snowboarding, an impression undoubtedly enhanced by the lack of heavy clothing. As in snowboarding, the sport is sometimes recreational, sometimes competitive; some participants focus mainly on speed, others on acrobatics and tricks. But one of the biggest differences is that sand dunes don’t have lifts; to get to the top for a run, you must hike or take a four-wheel-drive vehicle (euphemistically known as a “chair lift”)—and a friend to drive it back down the hill. Unlike snow-covered mountains, sand dunes are constantly changing size and shape due to shifting winds, making fixed installations of lift equipment impossible.

The sandboards themselves are superficially very similar to snowboards, which is to say they’re about the same size and shape, and use similar bindings. However, since sand is much more abrasive, and with much higher friction than snow, some modifications are necessary to keep the boards running smoothly and to keep them from getting chewed up rapidly. The bottom surface of most sandboards is covered with a tougher, more slippery material than wood—often Formica or ABS plastic, though stainless steel is sometimes used as well. The choice of material must be matched to both the type of sand on which it will be used and the intended effect (lighter materials for acrobatics, slipperier ones for speed). Some riders wax their boards to reduce friction further and prolong the life of the board, but even under the best conditions sandboards wear out even more quickly than snowboards.

The Sand(boards) of Time

I initially assumed that sandboarding was a recent invention, a simple snowboarding knock-off. This is only approximately correct, however. On the one hand, sandboards have appropriated snowboard technology, and attracted snowboard riders, only in the last few decades. But there is evidence that ancient Egyptians were sliding down sand dunes on pieces of wood or pottery 3,000 years ago. Modern, upright sandboarding is believed to have been invented in Brazil in the 1940s. In recent years, though, advances in materials and techniques have led to much faster speeds and longer jumps than ever imagined before—professional sandboarders routinely reach speeds in excess of 60 mph (100 kph) and jump distances of 50 feet (15m) or more.

Sandboarding can be done anywhere there are sand dunes—which is a surprisingly large number of places. Certainly the deserts of Africa, Australia, and California are natural choices, but suitable sand dunes can be found all over the world—from Chile to the Athabasca sand dunes in Saskatchewan, Canada, from China to North Wales. The international sandboarding championships are held annually in Nurnberg, Germany, attracting as many as 50,000 fans. Florence, Oregon is the proud home of the world’s first sandboarding park, called Sand Master Park.

I should perhaps mention that, as sports go, the ones that involve standing on a board and moving very fast are among the last I’d personally be inclined to try. Whether the surface is water, snow, concrete, or sand, that whole mode of movement just doesn’t appeal to me. I do like the idea of sandboarding, especially the fact that it’s not as commercialized as snowboarding. But I think I’ll start out with sand tobogganing—or maybe just hold out for the 3D force-feedback sandboarding computer game, undoubtedly coming soon.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on July 15, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on February 13, 2005.

Image credit: CVN 75 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Joe Kissell