Royal Gorge Fire

Colorado Wildfires Continue to Devastate Front Range


Multiple wildfires raging in Colorado drove thousands more from their homes Wednesday. Wide areas of wooded residential areas near Colorado Springs were scorched. The fires forced the evacuation of inmates from the nearby Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, according to the Associated Press.

Colorado remains under a red-flag warning, with 95-degree temperatures and high winds contributing to the critical fire conditions, the National Weather Service reported.


Wildfires Burn Colorado

Black Forest Fire

The largest of the fires, the Black Forest Fire, has grown to nearly 8000 acres and destroyed or damaged up to 60 structures as it eats its way through a Colorado Springs neighborhood. The Black Forest Fire remains zero percent contained as of Wednesday morning and is burning fast thanks to winds and temperatures.

Black Forest Fire

The Black Forest Fire burns hot through forests overnight

The Black Forest Fire is anticipating air support and National Guard Troops to arrive Wednesday and relieve law enforcement officers who have been working non-stop. Army firefighters from Fort Carson have joined the fire line efforts south of Colorado Springs as well as the efforts in the Black Forest area. They brought bulldozer and air support to assist local fire crews with containment of the fires.

Three helicopters also are battling the Black Forest Fire, near the location of last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon Fire. That fire destroyed 346 homes and killed two. Lack of manpower combined with the weather continue to challenge firefighters. Over 150 firefighters and 130 law enforcement personnel are on the fire lines. Thus far, no injuries or fatalities have been reported.


Air Tanker drops fire retardant on Colorado Wildfire areas

Some personnel are engaged in search and rescue efforts to locate residents who resisted earlier evacuation orders. Officials fear some of these people may have lost their lives when the fire expanded. The El Paso County Sheriff stated unpredictable conditions make the fire scene extremely unpredictable. Priorities are saving lives and protecting the first responders and firefighters, he said. So far, there have been no injuries reported among the fire crews.

 Royal Gorge Fire

Another fire is burning the area around the Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City. Mandatory evacuations were in place for the surrounding area. So far, at least three tourist structures at one end of the famous bridge have been destroyed by the fire. The Royal Gorge Fire had burned more than 3800 acres as of Tuesday evening.

Containment remained at zero percent Tuesday night. Royal Gorge fire spokesman Gregg Goodland told the AP they expect to fight the fire for at least another week. Officials expressed concern for the Royal Gorge Bridge itself. The suspension bridge sits 950 feet over the Arkansas River, and fires are burning at either end of the structure.

The Denver Post reported structures at both ends of the Royal Gorge Bridge were lost to the fire on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, Fire Information Officer Goodland reported the fire burned less intensely overnight.

“We are not 100 percent certain that any portion of that line will hold under extreme fire conditions,” he said. “We have knocked a good portion of this fire down with some great firefighting work overnight, and throughout the day yesterday, but we are not going to call any of it contained until firefighters feel more confident about that.”

Royal Gorge Fire

Royal Gorge Tourist buildings lost to fire

Hero to Zero

Hero to Zero by Zach Fortier – Review 6-12-2013

Hero To ZeroHero To Zero by Zach Fortier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book from Zach Fortier as thanks for having read and reviewed his previous efforts.

Hero to Zero tells the stories of real life “hero” cops, and how they came to be viewed as great officers in their departments and their communities. Fortier then details their falls from grace, their loss of their police credentials and their careers. The causes? Usually greed, ego, or just plain stupid decisions – just like the rest of us. The stories are each fascinating in their own way, as are the behind-the-scenes details of life in law enforcement. Fortier has put out another excellent work with this book. I would give it 5 stars but for editing issues (easily fixed – hope his publisher does this ASAP!). Good work, Mr. Fortier!

View all my reviews


6/11/2013 News of the Weird

Buy or Create Hilarious T-shirts and more

6/11/2013 from the Sick Fuck Files

Man said he put his penis in his passed-out 29-year old neighbor to save her life. CPR DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY   ( headline)

 Salt  Lake City Tribune – 6/10/2013

Police: St. George man claims he had sex with unconscious woman to ‘save’ her life

A 50-year-old St. George man is in trouble after he allegedly found a female neighbor unconscious on her front porch and allegedly claimed he had sex with her to try to warm her.

Rodger William Kelly told police he inserted his penis inside the unconscious 29-year-old on May 19 because “he was trying to save her life,” according to court documents.

“He said he did place it inside of her to try and get her temperature up,” police wrote in a probable cause statement filed in 5th District Court.

Police told Kelly that his actions amounted to rape. He was charged Monday with one count of first-degree felony rape. Rodger William Kelly, of St. George, was being held Tuesday at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County pending $25,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman said.


Rodger William Kelly mugshot

Kelly told officers that he found the woman passed out in front of her apartment and brought her inside his apartment, changed her clothes and put her on his bed. He said he then lay down next to her and hugged her to try to get her temperature up because she had been outside, then attempted intercourse to warm her.

When police arrived, responding to an unconscious person call, they said they found Kelly inside his apartment giving the woman CPR.

 “We believe through the investigation and our evidence that his claim is just not correct,” said St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain.

St George

Welcome to St. George Utah

The woman later told police she thought she might have been raped and recalled being dressed in a pair of the man’s underwear and shorts. She told police she had bruising on her pelvic and upper thighs, according to court documents.

The hospital was unable to complete a rape kit because the woman’s vaginal area was cleaned while she was sedated, according to court documents.

Kelly told police that the two previously were intimate, but admitted the woman had told him before the incident that she didn’t want to have sex with him again.

El Candigato Morris

Morris for Mayor of Xalapa

No Mas Ratas “Tired of rats, vote for a cat,” says this campaign poster for Morris, a cat that is “running” for mayor of Jalapa, Mexico. In Mexico “rats” is a euphemism used for corrupt politicians.

Sick of politicians in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, two residents entered their cat Morris as a candidate for mayor in the upcoming election. Morris, a black and white cat, pledges to “rid the city of rats” aka corrupt politicians. Jair Cuevas, one of the sponsors for the Morris campaign, gave the following statement. “Candidates here almost never fulfill their promises. Our candidate promises to sleep, eat, yawn, and play in the dirt. That is what he will do if he wins the election.”

Morris for Mayor

Time Magazine

Morris’ Facebook page has gone viral, gathering almost 100k likes in just one month. He is more popular than the traditional human candidates in the social network arena. He also has a Twitter account. Surveys show the people of Xalapa rate Morris as more “likeable” than three of the four other main candidates. His popularity should surpass the fourth candidate soon, according to Latino FoxNews. Campaign managers for Morris believe social media can give the citizens of Xalapa a creative way to fight corruption in their time. The campaign slogan “Xalapa without rats” is wildly popular in the city.

Morris for Mayor

Yes We Cat

Local Xalapa journalist Melina Zurita reports to ABC News that Morris represents indignation with Mexican politicians who win elections by buying votes and negotiating corrupt deals. Morris is appealing as a candidate for thousands who do not identify with traditional politicians, according to Zurita. Such feelings are widespread in Mexico.

Morris for Mayor

No more rats

Xalapa election authorities refuse to allow Morris on the ballot, so campaign managers are requesting people vote for him through the write-in process. Election officials threatened to invalidate ballots with pictures of cats or with Morris’ name on the write-in line. His campaign managers stated on the Facebook account that Morris becomes more important with every attack by the political elite.

Morris for Mayor

Vote for Morris

Freedom Room

The Freedom Room – Tiny Short-Stay Unit Designed by Prisoners

6/10/2013  As someone who works in the corrections industry, I found this article both amusing and fascinating.

Freedom Room

Prisoner Designed Tiny Apartment

Freedom Rooms: Micro Apartments Designed by Prisoners

Freedom Room

The Freedom Room from the outside – exactly the size of a standard prison cell


Who has more experience living in cramped spaces than prisoners? Modeled after a jail cell, the ironically named Freedom Room is a 96-square-foot micro apartment offering “a different idea” for temporary and social housing, hotels and hostels. Inmates at Italy’s high-security prison in Spoleto served as consultants, using their intimate knowledge of tiny living spaces to create a living unit that is flexible and adaptable.

Freedom Room

Check out the interior of the Freedom Room!

In working with the prisoners, the Freedom Room project leaders discovered that by necessity, most prison furniture is used for purposes other than those intended. Objects have to be multi-functional in order for such a small space to serve as the one room they have available for functions ranging from studying to working out.

Freedom Room

Freedom Room Interior – Storage Galore

The designers explain that many prison cells are lined with shelving made of cigarette cartons, and storage can be hard to come by even for the few personal possessions the prisoners own. As a result, the prisoners packed the Freedom Room with as much storage as possible, with a doorway dividing the living area from the sleeping area doubling as a shelf.

Freedom Room

Freedom Room – View of the other side of the interior

In less than 100 square feet, the inmates have managed to fit a work/dining area, two beds, drawers, overhead storage, a kitchen with a slide-out cutting board serving as a counter, and a bathroom. Additional seating hangs from the wall. Even with all of this function, the apartment feels surprisingly spacious and uncluttered – a far cry from real jail cells, and a option for meeting the growing needs for increasingly compact living spaces.

Freedom Room

Freedom Room bath and kitchen areas

BedBathStore Summer Savings Event Promotion

Everything you need to Get Organized

Freelance Writer

6/10/2013 Links to Freelance Writing I’ve Done

I do freelance writing, copy writing and web content writing in my off hours, to earn a few extra bucks. Here are links to some of the pages I have written. Notice none have my byline on them. That’s because freelance writing often involves writing anonymously or selling the publishing rights to your articles.

Freelance Writer

The listing below is by no means exhaustive. I have completed well over 200 articles for and another 200-plus on Most recently, I was invited to be a member of the team writing travel articles for  Pretty exciting!

If you are interested in having me write something for you – be it web content, FAQ pages, articles, blog posts, or even product descriptions for online catalogs – please contact me!

Freelance keyboard

Links to Stuff I Wrote: – all US states copy and the FAQ portion of the landing page listed above – all US states copy and the FAQ portion of the landing page listed above – all copy on this page, as well as the linked articles under “About the Area” heading – entire article – entire article –FAQ article,

I have written articles in English tailored to US, UK, Canadian, and Australian readers. I’m flexible like that!

Freelance Writer Books

Mt. Everest

Mt. Everest’s Fallen Adventurers

The bodies of those claimed by the peaks of Everest remain preserved as warnings of the perils of the highest mountain in the world.

Many have climbed to the top of the world on Mt. Everest, and many have failed. What happens to those who fall to the perils of Everest, a mountain with a place labeled “The Death Zone” around 26,000 feet above sea level.

Mt. Everest - photo courtesy of Getty images

Mt. Everest – photo courtesy of Getty images

Above 26,000 feet, temperatures nosedive, winds buffet the mountain, and the ice creates a slippery and deadly risk to climbers. Low atmospheric pressure is the silent killer at this height, where only about ½ the oxygen exists compared to sea level. Climbers who fail to acclimate prior to the ascent can black out in minutes. It takes at least 12 hours to travel through this stretch of the great mountain.

The dead lie as they fell. This one was resting against a snow drift when he died.

The dead lie as they fell. This one was resting against a snow drift when he died.

For those who fall, they usually stay where they lie. It is often impossible to recover a body under the conditions that led to their demise. The rest on the ice and snows, reminding those that follow that a simple misstep, a careless mistake, or a freak act of nature, can send them to the same end.

One of the earliest Everest dead to be found, face down where he fell

One of the earliest Everest dead to be found, face down where he fell

An injured climber unable to go on risks the lives of the entire climbing party. They are often abandoned by their climbing team simply because it is too dangerous to save them. Survival for the majority of the climbers takes precedence.

green boots on everes

This infamous climber’s neon green boots point the way to travelers during their ascent of the mountain

Over 150 explorers claimed by Mt. Everest lie in state in their icy, above-ground tombs. The conditions that killed them also preserve them. Many bodies are never located, and fewer still are recovered after being found. They lie as a grim and graphic reminder of the cost to reach the top of Everest.

Check out some books related to climbing Mt. Everest and the dangers of the adventure.

Kuiper Belt

Hidden Oceans in the Far Solar System?

New and ongoing discoveries by two interplanetary probes indicate oceans underneath miles of ice on distant moons.

NASA launched the New Horizons spacecraft in 2006, sending it on track for Pluto with a due date in July 2015. The journey will total over 3 billion miles. Pluto lives on the outskirts of the Solar System in the neighborhood of the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt houses multitudes of frozen objects believed to be leftover bits from the creation of the Solar System. Over 1600 have been catalogued thus far.

Kuiper Belt

Kuiper Belt – image

New Horizon will explore Pluto and its moons as well as some of the ice worlds in the Kuiper Belt. These far away objects have been largely untouched since the solar system was born billions of years ago. They could hold information about the origins and evolution of the solar system and planets.


Pluto temperatures average -387 F (-233 C) on a good day. The landscape is icy and dim perhaps similar to Arctic regions on Earth. The Sun probably appears as just a bright point in the sky and daytime on Pluto is likely darker than a stormy day on Earth. The Pluto sky, though, would be clear enough to see thousands of stars even in the daytime.

New Horizons is looking for evidence of a sub-surface ocean on Pluto. The outer surface of Pluto appears to be a thin nitrogen shell over water ice. Researchers believe the presence or absence of a bulge in the surface at the planet’s equator will provide this evidence. A bulge could be 10 km tall.


Pluto as it appears in the best images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo – NBC News

A bulge will indicate no ocean lies underneath, because liquid water moving over time would have reduced or eliminated the bulge. If New Horizons sees evidence of stretching of the surface due to temperature changes, however, that would be more indicative of an ocean. If an ocean exists on Pluto, potassium and other isotopes undergoing radioactive decay and emitting heat would probably maintain it. Potassium ions would be most likely to occur in a rocky planetary core, and would need to occur at about 1/10 the rate of that found in meteorites from the early Solar System. Researchers believe this is a good possibility for existing on Pluto.

The nature of the ice on the surface will also influence whether an ocean exists. Ice that is slushier and resists flowing would suck the heat out of the water beneath, causing the ocean to freeze. A more solid shell would hold in heat and maintain the ocean.

A planet wide ocean might be beneath 100-120 miles (165-200 km) of ice. The ocean itself might be from 60 to 105 miles (100 to 170 km) deep with an average depth of 100 miles (165 km). The planet might also have geysers similar to those found on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Neptune’s moon Triton.

New Horizon Status Update – Late May 2013

New Horizons will pass within 7750 miles of the surface of Pluto, providing high-resolution photos and mapping of the planet that currently appears as a blurry mix of brown and gold. Even images from farther away will be 10 times better than the best of those from the Hubble Space Telescope. Ridges and valleys of 260 feet (80 m) should be distinguishable. Water is necessary for life as we know it, and scientists are finding it farther out into the solar system than expected.

As of late May 2013, New Horizons was approximately 2.6 billion miles from the sun and about 600 million miles away from Pluto. Arrival at the distant world is under 700 days away. New Horizons has been underway over 2700 days since launch. It is currently involved in a wake-up period after 100 days in hibernation. It is undergoing a thorough annual checkup and software updates in addition to approach and close-encounter rehearsals.

In August, the ship will go back to sleep for several more months. The navigation team has determined the ship is on course, and no fuel needs to be spent making course corrections. This summer, the ship will be close enough to photograph Pluto separately from Charon, its largest moon. The first week of July is the 35th anniversary of the discovery of Charon.

Saturn and Jupiter’s Moons and the Cassini Spacecraft

Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto may have liquid oceans under their icy surfaces, and Saturn’s moon Titan probably has underground water. It may also have a ocean of ammonia-enriched water below the surface in addition to liquid methane surface lakes and seas.  Enceladus, another moon of Saturn, appears to have liquid water below the surface enhanced by giant geysers of water vapor, organic particles and ice particles erupting from fissures near the South Pole. The Cassini spacecraft has directly sampled these eruptions. Some asteroids may even have liquid water under their surfaces.


Beautiful Plumage – 1/18/2013 – JPL Image of Enceladus geyser plume. Image by Cassini Spacecraft in visible light reflected off Saturn. North on Enceladus is up and 45 degrees to the right in this image. Cassini was approximately 483,000 miles (777,000 km) from Enceladus when this image was captured. Image – Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mike Brown and Kevin Hand of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have announced the ice surface of Europa contains the same chemicals as the ocean underneath the surface. Future exploration of the moon could answer questions about life in that ocean just by analyzing the surface.

 Brown and Hand detected magnesium sulfate on one side of the moon, and surmise the surface contains other salt compounds that could only come from its ocean. The pair will use the same ground-based telescopes to examine Ganymede and perhaps Europa. Plans are in the works for the European Space Agency to send a mission to the Jovian system in 2030, including flybys of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

 Saturn’s Moon Dione

Other interesting news from distance iceballs includes that from the Cassini orbiter visiting Saturn’s moon Dione. Instruments onboard Cassini have found hints of a particle stream coming from the moon as well as images of features similar to the geysers on Enceladus. Images showed evidence of a possible liquid or slushy layer under the hard ice crust of Dione.

A surface feature called Janiculum Dorsa, a mountain ridge approximately 800 km long and 0.6-1.2 miles (1-2 km) tall appears to sit atop a part of the Dione crust that flexes by approximately 0.3 mile (0.5 km). This suggests the icy crust was warm when the ridge formed, and the best way to get that heat is through the presence of a subsurface ocean during the ridge’s creation.



Image: The Cassini spacecraft looks down almost directly at the north pole of Dione. The feature just left of the terminator line at bottom is Janiculum Dorsa, a long, roughly north-south trending ridge. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 22, 2008. The view was from a distance of approximately 650,000 kilometers (404,000 miles) from Dione. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Tidal pulls from Dione’s orbit – the stretching and squeezing as it gets closer to and farther away from Saturn in the orbit – and an icy crust capable of moving independently from the core of the moon could also produce the heat.  From a distance, the moon appears like nothing so much as a boring ice cue ball. Close up images of the Janiculum Dorsa ridge indicate the moon may still be geologically active today. It is a feature similar to those on Enceladus that houses the geysers. Dione could be a fossil of a world once like geyser moon Enceladus, or a weaker copy of Enceladus according to scientists at JPL.


Janiculum Dorsa, a mountain ridge on Dione, appears as a long, raised scar in the middle of this image from Cassini.

Dione has a diameter of 698 miles (1123 km) and is the fourth largest moon of Saturn. It is the 15th largest moon in the solar system, and orbits Saturn at approximately the same distance between Earth and her moon. It is one of 53 named satellites of the ringed planet. The moon is 1.48 as dense as water, indicating it has a dense core surrounded by ice. The average temperature on Dione is -302F (-186C). These temperatures cause the ice surface to behave much like rock.

Cassini also detected a faint oxygen atmosphere on Dione, equivalent to the oxygen density 300 mi (480 km) above Earth. Dione orbits with the same side always facing Saturn, a position referred to as “tidally locked.” The Earth’s moon orbits the same way in relation to Earth. Dione’s gravity keeps Helene and Polydeuces, two smaller moons,  locked into their orbital positions as the three travel around Saturn together.

Dione also influences the orbits of Enceladus and Mimas, two of Saturn’s larger moons. Scientists are still puzzling over why Enceladus became so geologically active with geysers and geologic activity, while Dione did not move as quickly.

 Regardless, scientists are discovering that subsurface liquid oceans are fairly common on these ice satellites. Other worlds of high interest for the presence of liquid water include dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, and Pluto’s moon Charon.

Read More about the exploration of the far solar system, the search for life off Earth, and the space missions mentioned in this article:

Dwarf Island Fox

Dwarf Island Foxes Saved From Extinction

The dwarf island fox, denizen of the Channel Islands off California’s coast, have bounced back from the brink of extinction in record time. The adorable pups were nearly eliminated by golden eagle imports to the islands. Their numbers were down to barely 100 foxes by 1999. Now, thanks to relocation of the golden eagles and concentrated breeding efforts by conservationists, the foxes number about 2500.


Dwarf Island Fox

Dwarf Island Fox
photo by Loren Javier

The foxes came to the Channel Islands between 6000 and 10,000 years ago as normal gray foxes. Over time, they evolved into smaller dwarf foxes due to restricted resources and space on the islands. This is one of the best examples of the phenomenon of island dwarfism in the animal kingdom. The tiny foxes evolved into six subspecies and thrived on their separate islands. At the height of their population, before 1940, it is estimated there were tens of thousands of the dwarf foxes on the islands.


Dwarf Island Fox

Dwarf Island Fox
photo by donjd2

Beginning in the 1940s, DDT insecticide killed off all the native bald eagles on the islands. This left an unfilled niche, quickly taken over by predatory golden eagles. Normally the golden eagles would have been chased from the islands by the bald eagles. The millions of pounds of DDT discharged into the ocean by chemical companies between the 1940s and the 1970s had contaminated the fish that were the primary food of the bald eagles. The golden eagles fed mainly on sheep and feral pigs introduced to the islands in the 1850s. They also snacked on dwarf foxes, quickly cutting the fox population to around 100 by 1999.


Channel Islands

View of Channel Islands – National Park
photo by Ian Shive/Aurora

The Nature Conservancy and the Park Service own about 76 percent of Santa Cruz Island, once home to the Chumash Indians. By the time fox recovery efforts began in 1999, the dwarf foxes lived on only three of the six islands. About 85 island foxes lived on Santa Cruz Island, and about 15 lived on San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands.  They were listed as an endangered species in 2004.


In 2006, captive-breeding programs for the foxes began on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. The feral pig and sheep populations, which had stripped the islands of vegetation cover for the foxes, were removed. Bald eagles were reintroduced to the islands, where they fed mainly on their preferred marine diets and left the foxes alone. Forty-four golden eagles were relocated to the mainland.


Dwarf Island Fox

Dwarf Island Fox

Free once again to live and breed without fear of being eaten by eagles, the island dwarf fox population rebounded with record speed. In less than a decade, they are ready to come off the endangered list according to biologists. Currently approximately 1300 foxes live on Santa Cruz Island, 500 on San Miguel and 600 on Santa Rosa. Equally promising is their survival rate of nearly 90 percent yearly.


The San Miguel and Santa Cruz subspecies populations are large enough and healthy enough that they are no longer endangered. Santa Rosa should be at that point in a few more years. The main concern for scientists at this point is whether the breeding population is too small to fight disease. Genetic diversity is required to give enough variation in the gene pool for genetic health. This “population bottleneck” can negatively affect a species’ ability to cope with diseases and environmental change.


Dwarf Island Fox

Dwarf Island Fox

The NPS and Nature Conservancy will continue to monitor the fox populations for signs of disease, parasites and pathogens. If it becomes apparent this has occurred, scientists may breed together different subspecies of the island dwarf foxes to try to improve genetic health.


Why They Act So Crazy – Science and Teenage Brain Development

Recent research shows the adolescent brain does not fully mature until approximately age 25. During the maturation process, the brain strengthens some neurons and neural connections through repeated use, and eliminates others through lack of use. Substance abuse further impairs and delays development, as and strengthens maladaptive neural connections through repeated use.

Scared Teen

Professionals working with adolescents need to be aware of brain development, brain functions, and the interactions with environment, substance abuse and other issues. Appropriate expectations of the teen must be in place, but must also take into account that their capabilities are functionally different from those of an adult. Assist teens to learn their strengths and to compensate for their weaknesses, and to think through risky behaviors and to think independently.

Structures in the brain delayed during normal adolescence.

The Amygdala: Regulates emotional reactions.  Teenagers have a tendency to react explosively and to misread others’ emotions. The amygdala or “drama center” of the brain develops far faster than the rest of the teenage brain, leaving other brain structures unable to respond appropriate or to control the emotional outbursts.

Prefrontal Cortex: Regulates information processing, judgment and behavioral control. We see this adolescent brain immaturity in teens’ poor judgment and impulsivity, foreseeing consequences and setting goals and plans. This is one of the last areas of the brain to mature, and we can clearly see that teen behavior makes more sense in the context of an immature prefrontal cortex. This area also manages organization, problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to learn from experience.

Limbic System:  Holds the pleasure and emotion centers, modulates the libido, and contains circuits vital for memory and motivation.

Temporal Lobe:  Critical for understanding and processing language, as well as middle term and complex memories. The temporal lobe controls auditory and visual learning and emotional stability.

Adults with alcohol use disorders had a significantly smaller volume of the hippocampus, a brain structure primarily responsible for memory.

Teen Brains

Effects on Behavior and Mood

Combine a fully active and developed amygdala with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, many of the mood swings and behaviors blamed on “raging hormones” make sense. The prefrontal cortex acts as the “brake” on all thoughts and feelings people have. It is the last area of the brain to develop, not fully maturing until at least age 24.

Unfortunately, this particular developmental lag also puts the adolescent at risk for making poor decisions, such as abusing drugs. Introduction of many drugs and alcohol into the still-developing teenage brain may have long-lasting and profound consequences. Substances can disrupt brain function in critical areas related to memory, motivation, learning, judgment, and behavior control. Not surprisingly, teens who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse often have school and family problems, poor school performance, physical and mental health problems and involvement with the juvenile justice system.

What is Normal?

Sensation seeking, impulsive and risk taking behavior are quite normal until the brain development process is complete. A typical teen with a development will prefer activities with peers that are exciting, and novel activities that provide interesting input. They will have a tendency to be attentive to social interactions, as well as to have difficulty controlling emotions. They also will struggle with the ability to consider negative consequences of their actions. Scare tactics, such as the DARE program, are ineffective for this reason – teens are simply less able to process fear of punishment.


The underdeveloped adolescent brain leads teens be more influenced by peers than adults are, and more prone to “group think. They engage in risky behavior more often than adults, in part due to their sense of invincibility. They get more of a “rush from taking risks, and rarely think about the possibility of consequences. Still – developing impulse control skills affects teenage reckless behavior. They experience rapid and extreme mood changes connected with their troubles with self-control. Part of a teen developing their own identity is experimenting with different activities and adult rules. However, their judgment and impulse control may result in making poor choices.

Environment plays a crucial role in determining whether a teen’s immature judgment will lead to criminal behavior. Most delinquent youth do not continue to commit crimes as adults.  Substance abuse has a negative effect on these odds. The younger a teen is when they start using substances, the more likely they are to self-report addiction later in life. Increased hormonal production may lead to greater drug use, and the still-developing amygdala definitely increases the teen’s feelings of social disinhibition when intoxicated, compared to adults.

Adolescence is a period of significant brain maturation, and one incomplete until the mid-twenties. Teens are more likely to react impulsively or on instinct without thinking of consequences when they face stress or emotional decisions. Professionals who work with teens must understand the primary developmental differences between adults and adolescents. They need to encourage growth in teens thinking, and be open about risks involved with teen behavior choices.

 Adolescents should receive acknowledgment and reward for independent thinking, and be assisted with setting goals. Future oriented thinking is difficult for teens, and they will need assistance in this. Professionals should also help them recognize and utilize their unique strengths