YANKEE LORE –Part 1–Summer Shudders–

Our winds swung right around from the sultry Southlands to the chilled waters of the Gulf of Maine the morning of July 13, and the change was remarkable. After a steamy summer night when fog formed with temperatures above 70° ( 21° C),  a night when one turns their pillow to find the cool side, dawn broke with heavy showers and a few rolls of distant thunder, and then winds turned east and a dark and murky drizzle fell, with temperatures sinking to 57° (14°C) at noon. Meanwhile, not all that far south of us, people still sweltered, with high humidity and temperatures touching 90° (32° C) in New York City.  The difference shows up as a rather boring-looking front on the weather map.

20170713 satsfc

Then today (July 24) it happened again. The wind blew in off the Gulf of Maine, and temperatures never got above 55° (13°C). A front again bisected the map, keeping the hot and humid air south. I dressed the kids at my childcare in rain-gear and took them blueberry-picking down an old deserted road in the wet woods, partly because once they get picking they stay busy and leave me like a shepherd watching his sheep graze, free to sniff the far-away ocean and dream of sailing….and ponder the sailor’s lore I’ve listened to over the years.

20170724 satsfc The innocuous-looking fronts just south of New Hampshire in the above maps  can make a huge difference,  and it was brought home to me by a friend who travels north and south. When I confessed shame about the pathetic corn I was growing in my garden, he told me lots of the better and more professional local farmers also had corn that was only knee high, while not all that far to the south it was already head high. (I will admit a few local farmers, growing mutant corn, utilizing black plastic,  and practicing what seems to be a sort of witchcraft, actually sold their first ears July 15.)

This might not mean much to people who live indoors and think corn grows in supermarkets, but it is a very big deal to the heartland of America. A certain utopia is contained in the lyrics:

“I’m goin’ t’live where the green grass grows,
Watch my corn pop up in rows…”

Now, before I discuss what it is like when your corn fails to “pop up in rows”,  (and the cultural change this creates in the idea of utopia), perhaps people should listen to a song from a more kindly, southern landscape, where life can be easier (if allowed).

Of course, anyone who has had anything to do with a farm knows corn doesn’t just “pop up in rows.” Even a fat, modern agribusinessmen, riding about in the air-conditioned cab of his enormous tractor listening to Tim McGraw on stereo, knows an enormous amount of work goes into the prelude to the days he can “sit back and watch the corn grow”.  For smaller toy-farmers like myself the work is even harder, (though perhaps we need to scrutinize Wall Street “futures” less, and dicker less with machinery and chemistry. ) However all who have invested so hugely in the planting know it is truly a joyous moment when one can “watch their corn pop up in rows.”

A brilliant boyhood friend (who flunked fourth grade because he was interested in studying the classics), once told me the gods were always attempting to teach humans a lesson, and then standing back amazed because rather than weeping and wailing humans had a habit of finding something to sing about. My ten-year-old buddy stated that when Zeus attempted to punish Sisyphus by giving him the job of rolling a rock up a slippery slope, only to see the rock escape just before the job was completed, and roll back down to the bottom again, Zeus expected Sisyphus to experience the agony of frustration, but instead Sisyphus learned to derive great joy in watching the rock bound down the slope, (resulting in the origins of rock-and-roll). In like manner, a great American poet stated the Grinch was baffled when he attempted to steal Christmas, and the Whos responded by singing.

Of course Jews, Christians, and Muslims, who hardly agree about anything, tend to all agree Dr. Suess is not an authorized prophet, and we should instead refer to the story of Adam and Eve. I say it’s the same story. The Serpent is the Grinch;  The Garden of Eden is the Stolen Christmas; And Adam and Eve are the “Whos” who, rather than weeping and wailing, produce music through all their following fiascoes, which somehow so touches the Creator’s heart that he can never quite rub them, (or their prodigy), out, (though maybe they have at times earned exile,) and instead the Creator can’t but help love us rascals, and, in the end, pours compassion on the undeserving.  (The Scriptures may be tedious at times, but make for interesting reading, though I confess I prefer the succinctness of Dr. Suess.)

I’ll bet you never knew watching “corn pop in rows” was such an esoteric subject, but that is probably because you have the misfortune of being doomed to spend too much time indoors. But also I bet you want to play hooky and run away from responsibility at times, especially in July.  You want to “get back to nature”. I warn you, a lot of work is involved. You need to “get your back into your living.”

As lovely as the idea of an agricultural utopia is, where you may have to grunt and sweat but in the end you “reap what you sow”, one also needs to admit the existence of an alternative universe, where you sow but do not “reap what you sow”, and don’t get to see your “corn pop up in rows.”

In the United States the prime example of this sort of meteorological injustice was the Dust Bowl. How then the farmers must have turned their eyes to heaven, and asked God, “Why?” The lack of an answer must have been troubling, but people never stopped singing. Woody Guthrie even sang of how the preacher took the money from the collection tray and fled town, in “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You.” Four million Americans became homeless and had to hit the road, but never stopped singing. Nor did they completely lose their optimism and faith.

Besides the people who lost everything in the Dust Bowl there were some farmers who were so tough, hardassed, (and financially smart), that they kept their farms despite a decade of abysmal weather. Then they experienced an amazing bonanza when rains finally returned, for not only did the corn “pop up in rows”, but they were highly paid for their corn, because World War Two was starting and men were needed for battle and making munitions, and few were left to farm. Farmers went from driving rattling junkers, even ancient Model T’s,  to driving brand new Cadillacs.

One old Kansas farmer I befriended confessed he didn’t really know how to handle the sudden wealth. What use is a Cadillac to a farmer? He said when the fields were frozen and there wasn’t much snow he and other farmers used to drink too much and roar about the flat, frozen fields in their Cadillacs at amazing speeds, sometimes towing children behind in the hoods of the old car they’d formerly driven.

Success can be a baffling experience to those who have learned to subsist without it. The old Kansas Farmer I befriended in some ways despised success, and after his children were raised (and were very successful, he’d proudly state), he horrified everyone by giving his wife all he had and hitting the road as a heavy-drinking hobo, which is how I came to know him.

I must say he was an exceptionally wily hobo. I witnessed his meteoric rise to a state where he again drove a Cadillac, but then he again simply couldn’t stand it, and again plunged to the level of a the curb.

How did he rise? Some kindly person dragged him into a center that sought to rehabilitate drunks, and he was so familiar with the routine that he not only went sober, but was running the place within six months. However there was something so false, so fake, and so phony about the pretense of such sobriety that he was eventually again seen driving his Cadillac in places Cadillac should not be driven.  This is usually described as “falling off the wagon”, but in this fellow’s case it likely should be called “falling off the Cadillac.”

The fellow should have been old enough to know better. He was no strapping youth, and his tough and wiry old body simply couldn’t handle the abuse that young men subject themselves to.  Drinking made his stomach bleed. I knew something was wrong, when I met him back in the gutter, so I dragged him up to the local hospital. The doctor informed me if I hadn’t done so, the fellow would have died a few hours later. This does not make me a hero. (The doctor is the hero.) Instead it makes me mystified, because I knew the fellow didn’t want to survive and be a success and drive a Cadillac. So then, what did he want? What was he seeking?

In some strange way he wanted to go home. He wanted to go back to the Dust Bowl, and the battle to make a desert bloom. I only knew him three years, but that was long enough to see every April made him crazy. He was filled with a frenzied craving to plant. It didn’t matter that the landscape was a desert; he’d berate the Navajo for not plowing the sand, for he knew how to eek out a crop from a Dust Bowl. That was his home, and he felt like a stranger when forced to live in the lap of luxury.

He did go home, back to Kansas, but he wrote me wonderful letters. His sister took him in. She was a retired nun. ( Before this I didn’t know the Vows involved pensions.) He likely tested her patience, for his letters described yet another episode of falling off the wagon and his stomach again bleeding and his life again being saved in the nick of time.  I thought to myself, “even back in Kansas, he craves another home, back in the Dust Bowl.” After a couple more letters the correspondence ceased forever. (I hope he finally found the home he yearned for, in his politically incorrect fashion).

In conclusion, this experience taught me that “home” is not always a place where corn “pops up in rows”, but can also be a pace where it fails to do so.

I happen to live at the northern boundary of where Indians were able to grow corn. (Modern hybrids can ripen in 65 days, but the original corn took 100-120 days.) I also live at the southern boundary of where sugar maples thrive. This boundary shifted to the north, during the Medieval Warm Period, and then sank to the south, during the Little Ice Age, and has since moved back a little north, during the current Modern Climate Optimum.

If you are a hobo like I am, (despite my trappings of responsibility and fatherhood), then you tend to ramble about in the woods every chance you get, and see all sorts of fascinating nooks where southern species crept north during the Medieval Warm Period, but were not driven south during the Little Ice Age. In a few select places, (usually colonized southern exposures),  southern species still cling to this day. It always gives me pause to see a micro-ecology that has no reason to be living so far north, when I am tramping through the woods. I feel like I’m back in my boyhood on Cape Cod,  when I suddenly walk midst sassafras, cat brier, and cedar. In like manner, I feel I’m abruptly in Canada when I tramp on and, not all that far away, on a north facing slope, see there are no deciduous trees whatsoever, and I tread a needle-paved path through spruce and firs.

The ebb and flow of climate especially effects sugar maples. They are hurt by midwinter thaws, for the sap starts to rise too early, and a subsequent deep-freeze cracks the sapwood and allows fungus to invade.  Therefore, though they can thrive as far south as Georgia, it is only in the highest parts of Georgia, where thaw is rare during the winter.

Without human intervention Sugar Maples would have moved slowly south during the chill of the dark age before the Medieval Warm period, and then been killed off, and then crept south again during the Little Ice Age.  However human intervention occurred. Rather than creeping south the Sugar Maples charged south. Puritans, understanding the commercial value of a tree that produced sugar,  transplanted sugar maples south, and, because it was the Little Ice Age, the transplants thrived. They were common on roadsides and in plantations right down to Cape Cod, but not in the woods, because man hadn’t transplanted them in the woods.

How can I make this determination? Back then there were no peer-reviewed studies by government funded geeks, counting the sugar maples by the roads and the sugar maples in the woods. Therefore I confess my conclusions are not exactly scientific, and are based on the old writings of people who lived back then and who were, without intending to look like scientists, simply observers, who liked sharing their observations with friends in letters.

One observer was Henry Thoreau. (He reminds me of myself because he thinks he is witty when he is not.) As I grew up I walked the same woods Henry Thoreau walked, and could compare what he saw with what I saw, because he took such copious notes that, judging from his writing, he must of been the sort of person who drinks too much coffee, talks your ear off, and is what the young call TMI. (Too much information.) I like his writing all the same,  feeling he is a brother, for like me he too was a sort of hobo inclined towards scientific observation. Just as my notes now express surprise at sassafras, cat-brier, and ceder in New Hampshire woods, he once bothered note a sugar maple in Massachusetts woods.

This demonstrates how my detective brain works. I ask myself, “Why does Thoreau mention, as an aside, a sugar maple, and not all the other trees? Such maples were not uncommon by streets. Why mention a specimen in woods full of other wonderful trees?”  The answer (to me) must be that the sugar maple stood out, for it was unusual. Not that Thoreau says it was unusual. He merely mentions it in passing.

I need to clearly state that leaping to this sort of conclusion is frowned upon, by strict historians. However I confess it is how my mind works. And I am about to embark upon a “history” which likely will make proper historians cringe. It is based not only upon reading-between-the-lines of writing you can actually read, but also upon conversations you never heard.  Just as I once got to know a Kansas farmer you can never know, I have heard first-hand testimony from old-timers in New England about a past which Historians cannot prove. But they didn’t interview the people I interviewed.

For example, when I was a small boy a very old lady came by our house once a week, and ran the sewing machine (which Dad bought for Mother, but which Mother was too sophisticated to ever use). This lady had spent her entire life sewing, and was stone deaf due to running sewing machines in thundering factories. I first met her when we first moved in, when I was two, and I was still too young to know boys are suppose to think old ladies are boring. In fact I found the woman fascinating, and as soon as she arrived I rushed to sit at her side and watch her sew. She could pick up a sock with a hole in it, do this thing called “darn”, and the hole shrank and vanished with amazing rapidity. She could also talk in an amazing way with gestures and with mouthed, unspoken words, as if we were two workers on a factory floor where the machinery was so loud speech was impossible. I was so young I was quick to learn this lip-reading language. We talked, among other things, of when she was a girl, in the 1870’s. I doubt what I absorbed about the 1870’s is allowable as “data”, in the eyes of college historians. Their loss, and my gain.

As I grew older I grew more wary of grown-ups, but still liked to eavesdrop on their conversations, (as long as I was not asked to step forward and perform). I lurked beneath coffee tables and under the grand piano as my parents, who were fairly young back then, nodded politely while drinking stuff called “sherry” with people who had silver hair. These old people occasionally told of what they had heard from even older people back when they themselves were young. Vistas opened up backwards into time, and my fertile mind carefully nourished all the lore I overheard.

One subject that always fascinated me, because it seemed to fascinate my elders, was the tale of what preceded the Puritans in Boston and the Pilgrims in Plymouth.

My detective brain has seized upon scant evidence, regarding not trees, but how people could feed themselves. People will not gather corn if the corn will not grow, and people will not tap maple trees where the sugar maples will not grow. Therefore the people of Massachusetts might differ from the people of New Hampshire, before anyone bothered write a map and draw lines on it. People to the south might be sugar-scorners, while people to the north might be farmer-scorners. Such a situation is fairly typical among humans, and I see no harm in it as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. People tend to be loyal to the home team, and scorn the visitors.

Long before Europeans arrived a cultural divide already existed among New England’s native Algonquins, with Hunter-gatherer clans to the north, and farmers to the south. Because the farmers could store a surplus of corn, I postulate they had some leisure and were the “elite” of that time, while the hunter-gathers lived a more hand-to-mouth existence, with little leisure, to the north. The more northern people were the Abernaki and Micmac,  while the Greatest of the southern “elite” were the Massachusetts.

Most of what we know about the pre-Pilgrim Indians comes from French and Dutch traders, though English and Basque cod-fishermen also stopped on off-shore islands to dry and salt their catches. Much more was known than was written, for, after all, traders have “trade-secrets”, and fishermen were illiterate. Much I heard and share with you would be called “hearsay” in a modern court of law.

The Massachusetts tribe seemed to live in the lap of luxury. Apparently they had a high-protein diet, for the men were six feet tall and the women five-ten, (as European Pilgrim men averaged around five-five and the women five-two). Spring involved the most work, with corn to plant. The rivers were so choked with fish, (Salmon, Shad, Herring, Sturgeon,  and even five-pound, sea-going Brook Trout), that fish was used for fertilizer in cornfields. (An English word for one species of herring actually meant “Fertilizer”,  in Algonquin.)

So important was the run of fish in the spring that it was against Massachusetts law to bring any feud to the side of a river when the fish were running. (Even Hatfield and McCoy, and Montague and Capulet, had to be friends by the rivers.)  A faint echo of this Native American law persisted even in my boyhood, when no one was suppose to object to total strangers trespassing to fish on their land, and also certain islands in Maine rivers belonged to Indians who lived far away.

Once summer weather arrived entire villages migrated to feast and party by the ocean, leaving only a few, and the dogs, to guard and tend to the cornfields in the sweltering inlands. Apparently on the beaches there were footraces and other sorts of athletic competition, and much singing and dancing. The piles of clam-shells the celebrations left on the shores were so huge it was worthwhile to mine them, in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Dutch traders sailing along the coast around 1600 stated there were as many campfires on the beaches during summer nights as there were stars in the summer sky.

But all was not well with this society of Algonquin elite. A different society, called the Iroquois, was causing such trouble to the west that the Algonquin basically retreated east from Vermont, and also increasing numbers of English, French, Dutch and Basque fishermen needed to be dealt with, to the northeast. Lastly, the hunter-gatherer members of the Algonquin tribe to the north felt some reason to behave disgruntled.

It is here the lore gets fascinating, for, if it is true that “United We Stand Divided We Fall”, then division among the Algonquin people might prove a fatal flaw. However the division between the Algonquin seemed to have some significant and mysterious roots.

The roots reach back to the 1400’s, when the Medieval Warm Period was ending by fits and starts. This was effecting people who traded with the Massachusetts elite, and these traders are basically a mystery.

We know that trade  did occur all across North America before Europeans arrived because Minnesota copper is found far from Minnesota, and Caribbean sea shells are found far from the Caribbean. We have no idea what people did this trading. We do have an idea of the major footpaths they followed for thousands of miles, and know they likely were not members of a stay-at-home tribe. They may have been a people apart, like the Tinkers and Gypsies in Europe. Your guess is as good as mine.

The lore I heard as a boy suggested that the traders, in the northeast at least, tended to be a people who had Viking roots. The sagas of the Vikings tends to suggest Greenlanders did trade in a verifiable manner east to Europe, but trade can be a brutal and selfish business, and the trade to the east became impractical. The Hanseatic League, combined with other factors (increased sea-ice; elephant ivory displacing walrus ivory; Greenland homespun fabric losing desirability; lack of interest on the part of Scandinavian Royalty and Papist Officials), simply made sailing east unprofitable. However the west remained open, and we know Vikings did sail at least to “Markland” for timber, but why should they have stopped there? (And why, with Europe so uncaring towards them, should they have shared “trade secrets” with Europe?)

One odd thing about Viking Greenland is that, judging from the graves that were so rudely exhumed, there were twice as many men as woman. This unnatural imbalance suggests it was a port where many traders passed through, with their homes, (and women), somewhere else. As trade to Europe ceased, Greenland may have been increasingly the-end-of-the-line for North American traders, perhaps persisting for a time because it was a place where Norse could be Norse, but not all that desirable as a home. Increasingly the traders turned to the south, and likely interbred with non-Norse peoples.

To the south, the Massachusetts Tribe had a name for sea-faring people to the north. The Massachusetts called such people the “Tarrantine”,  and did not seem to feel they were fellow Algonquin. (The first Puritans called them “Red Vikings”, and did not seem to feel they were fellow Caucasians.) Just for the sake of argument, let us pretend that, in the mid 1400’s, they were Greenland Vikings, increasingly assimilating into coastal clans of the Micmac tribe. Hypothetically fewer and fewer would have had blue eyes and blond hair, but Greenlanders were stunted compared to even Europeans, and likely Tarrantine were not as tall as the Massachusetts, or even the inland Micmac.

It would have been nice if the Tarrantine left some artifacts laying about. A single kernel of corn in the dirt archaeologists so painstakingly sift in Greenland would make headlines, but I have only ever read of a single grape seed being found up there. Likewise, I have only read of a single silver Viking penny found in a heap of clam-shells further south. Not that this surprises me. I have lived with poor people who are careful to consume every grain of rice on their plates, and recall the tools in tool-sheds during my boyhood, (back before tools had cords and batteries), contained many Great Depression items that were so worn by sharpening after sharpening that they had become ridiculous: Axes down to the nub;  scythes slender to the snapping point. Lastly, salt water is unforgiving to old iron, as any who have walked an old waterfront know.

One metal that lasts (and isn’t precious) is copper, but Native Americans had their own sources in the Great Lakes, and copper implements were one of the first trade-items brought over in the early 1500’s by the French. Also, with copper so versatile, early settlers had no respect for an ancient pot with a hole in it, and would hammer it into a more modern object. (I have heard tales of interesting copper objects plowed up in fields that were recycled with a swiftness that would make a modern archaeologist moan).

Tarrantine pottery would have been helpful, but the northern peoples were prone to use wooden barrels and woven baskets. (Pieces of barrels have been found as far north as Ellesmere Island.) Most of what existed in the 1400’s rusted and rotted,  and the further south you go the faster this rot occurred. Consequently (besides a single silver penny) there is no solid evidence Greenlanders ever traded to the south (as of yet).

Because of this lack of evidence archaeologists tend to be prigs when it comes to surmising where men might have sailed. I would suggest their lack of imagination demonstrates they’ve lived too long in libraries, or were never young, or never sailed, and perhaps all three, because they will not believe anything is possible until they have some crumb of dirt that proves it, but I will refrain from suggesting such rude things about archaeologist, even though some archaeologists sniff down their uplifted noses at me when I speak of the Tarrantine, and suggest ruder things back at me about “my type”.

I find it is wiser to ply archaeologists with liquor. There is another side to such people you’d never imagine was there when they are sober and insufferably stuffy. After a certain number of beers you discover a wild and dreamy side that knows amazing amounts of unproven lore, and hungers to be the one who finds proof of ancient sailor’s daring deeds. (For me the proof is in what modern sailors dare.) Such hungry archaeologists keep coming up with new ways of sifting the past, and may someday be able to test your colonial pewter and tell you whether the 1% copper in it came from France or Minnesota or…..somewhere else.

As it is we only have lore, and the known fact several thousand people living in Greenland faded from the sight of history. Of these thousands some may have simply moved back to Iceland. Some may have been taken by pirates to be sold as slaves to Arabs, (who apparently had over a million white slaves,) (and this may have been an improvement for Greenlanders, who might have found being a slave in the balmy breezes of the Mediterranean a piece of cake, compared a serf’s life in Greenland.) Some might have continued to trade as they always traded, but moved south to become the Tarrantine. This actually makes most sense to me, for people tend to stick to the lives they are most used to and are best at, and the old-school sailors were capable of deeds that seem impossible to the untrained. (Back before GPS I rode with a Maine lobster-man through pea-soup fog, from the mainland to the harbor of Mohegan Island, and, with only a compass to guide him, the lobster buoys outside of Mohegan Harbor appeared through the fog within seconds of when he said they should.)

Now travel back to such a fog in the year 1335. Into my vision appears a Tarrantine ship heading north, during one of the final warm summers of the Medieval Warm Period, with perhaps a load of lumber to trade in treeless Greenland, for perhaps polar bear fur, (or perhaps iron from a meteorite disgorged by glaciers…who knows?).

The south winds make that summer’s air “unprecedented” in its warmth, but foggy. The weather-wise sailors are well aware it is a good summer to sail north, with less sea-ice than usual. Besides the greed of trade, they are eager for adventure, and also to hear if there is any news from Europe in Greenland. Then, despite being far from land, they hear strange noises in the fog ahead…not whales. A vast dark shape looms up in the fog. Then they see the dark bulk of a huge sailing ship, bigger than any ship they ever dreamed could exist, heading south. It passes, with foreign faces looking down at them, as amazed to see them as they are, looking up.

This ship wound up as the Somerville Hulk, a spongy mass of rotting wood across the Charles River Basin from Boston Neck, and mentioned in a few early documents as a curiosity. It was a curiosity because decaying hulks, ruined by ship-worms, were common enough in European ports, but not across the Atlantic. It was also curious because it was twice the size of any English ship. Therefore most concluded it must be Spanish. The problem (for me at least) is that Spain also had no ships so large. The only ships so large existed in China.

Chinese Junk 220px-ZhengHeShips

In the early 1400’s a major change was afflicting the Chinese Navy. One emperor thought it was a good thing for China to expand its influence, and demand “tribute” from other  lands for its wisdom, and amazing Chinese “treasure fleets” explored (and asked tribute from) coasts far from China.

China ocean exploration 300px-Zheng_He

However a following emperor deemed it nonspiritual to demand “tribute” from others, and in the process turned China away from outreach and in towards isolationism. He deemed exploration and the Chinese navy instantaneously obsolete,  but confusion was added to his decree, because he only ruled for one year. In the interim before following rulers perpetuated the anti-navy policy, the genius admiral of the Chinese Navy,  “Zheng He”, sailed his seventh and final treasure fleet, during the years 1430-1434 .

The Chinese Navy was likely aware its glory-days were over, and they had passed from being the emperor’s favorites to being frowned upon. China was moving towards xenophobia, and I don’t blame them one bit. In many ways they were the most civilized people on earth, and everyone else was barbarians.  It was a fascinating time, which I will now butcher by attempting to put into a nutshell.

The Medieval Warm Period was both good and bad for civilization. It was good because it made people wealthy and able to be generous. It was bad because uncivilized people to the north also prospered. In Europe Viking’s abruptly raided south, and in China Mongols swept over the Great Wall and took over the entire country.  It took the Chinese a long time to boot the foreigners out. Then they were faced with a choice. Either they could attempt outreach, and make the rest of the world as civil as they were, or they could say to hell with everyone else, and try to build a new Great Wall. The treasure fleets of Zheng He represent the peak of outreach, when an African giraffe strolled the streets of China’s capital, and the Chinese fleet conquered Ceylon (Sri-Lanka).

There were two problems with this outreach. First, it was against the intrinsically poetic and peaceful roots of Chinese culture. (Buddhists are not suppose to lead fleets that conquer Ceylon.) Second, it ran smack dab into Islam. Arab fleets also wanted to control the Indian Ocean.

Unlike Buddhism, (and Christianity), Islam is able to embrace war, and to make (temporary) alliances with spiritually deplorable characters. Just as modern Islam calls itself “The religion of Peace” on one hand, while working with Stalinist murders on the other, back towards the end of the Medieval Warm Period Islam produced Tamerlane, who felt he was God’s Instrument,  and killed (it is estimated) 5% of the world’s population (17 million people.) He hated other religions, and what he did to the Hindus of Delhi was horrific, (basically the genocide of an entire, large city. He slaughtered 100,000 captives before the battle even began.)

Tamerlane’s dream was to be the next Genghis Khan, and to combine the power of Mongols with the power of Mohammed. He had an especial hate towards China, which had thrown the Mongols out, and an especial hate towards a religion (called heretical by the west and the Pope) which combined the pacifism of Christianity with the pacifism of Buddhism,  and was called “Nestorian.” Widespread before Tamerlane, it was nearly wiped out as he ruled. Though Tamerlane himself died attempting to invade China, Muslim mobs in China killed the last Nestorian bishop in the mid 1400’s. The Chinese response was apparently revulsion, and the xenophobic desire to boot all foreigners out. Islam was largely shown the door, and then the door slammed shut. The idea China could reach out, and civilize barbarians, faded away with Zheng He’s last treasure fleet.

However few sailors really are willing to give up on the sea. Even Zheng He himself did attempt to be an obedient land lubber, and built an amazing “porcelain tower” during his exile ashore, but in the end sea-fever took him on a seventh voyage, and he apparently died during the final voyage and was buried at sea.

What I suggest is that at least one of his ships, with their admiral dead and the news from home suggesting only shame and dishonor would await them upon their return, chose not to return.

In case you state there is no record of Chinese junks in the Atlantic, here is a record, prepared in Italy in 1450, of a Chinese junk by Gibraltar in 1420:

Chinese junks Atlantic 1420 220px-FraMauro1420Ship

One odd coincidence is that in 1420, just when the above map shows a Chinese junk beside Portugal, Henry the Navigator became extremely interested finding a route south around the bottom of Africa to India (and China). Before this time Portuguese sailors felt the world ended not all that far south. After this time the Portuguese technologically advanced their ships to sail where they couldn’t sail before,  (with the lanteen sail), and developed new routes for shipping that made camels crossing the Sahara obsolete, and made shipping spices through the Ottoman and Venetian Empires overly expensive, and made the Portuguese fabulously wealthy.

It might seem a bit of a stretch to take this one detail of an old map, and suggest Henry the Navigator was advised by China about a route under the bottom of Africa. It is an even more amazing stretch to suggest China knew about the Northwest Passage, (which would have been a Northeast Passage to them), and to mention there is even a theory that the junk in the above map could have come to Portugal not via the Cape of Good Hope, but via Baffin Bay.

It would seem that all we need to do, to check the veracity of such wild surmising, is read the history books of China itself.  One then gets a shock. Hand in hand with the power swing from China’s outreach-party to China’s isolationist-party there occurred an amazing attempt to erase any trace that the former party even existed. China largely “disappeared” the very existence of Zheng He, and the invention of the biggest ships the world had ever seen, and the extraordinary, praiseworthy exploits of the Chinese Navy.

To erase all history of the Chinese Navy’s amazing ships and amazing deeds seems in some ways more amazing than the navy itself, but in my time I have seen revisionist historians utterly change history, from what I was taught as a boy, to that which my grandchildren are taught. I have watched the history of the Medieval Warm Period be largely “erased”, and witnessed constant “adjustments” of temperature records. These are not the healthy revisions that occur naturally in science, with new discoveries, wherein new data fills in blank places where knowledge was lacking.  These are revisions where data exists, but knowledge is blotted out.

History tends to repeat itself, and show us that the benefits of good behavior can become a liability. Good behavior makes people rich, but then rich people forget good behavior. Then bad behavior becomes their downfall. One way this downfall manifests is in the blotting out of knowledge. Due to some, weird twisting of sanity, ignorance is seen as preferable. In Truth, ignorance leads to bad engineering, and collapse, (which often is unforeseen, for if you have blotted out history you cannot foresee history’s repetition).

In some ways the elite prefer to be blind, and much of their education involves how to not-be-straight-forward, (which they call “diplomacy.”) It is an education like that of a girl who goes to charm school and learns to smile brilliantly, but can’t cook a turnip or change a diaper, and instead looks down her nose at skilled women. In the world of men the elite tend to rewrite the lessons of the past, disappearing important lessons, but, despite their efforts,  lore remembers.

Zheng He was not forgotten, in the taverns where sailors tell their wonderful tales. Some elite call such tales “tall tales”, but it is only because they prefer midgets. They miss the giants, and, though they deem themselves high society, they dwell in a basement. A few own yachts, but don’t dare sail the storms the “tall tales” talk about.  They fail to understand the thrill of adventure involves letting go of security.  The elite think security is a good thing, (especially financial security). Basically they are cowards. They dread risk, though risks are what someone once had to take to make the money the elite now cling to. Their wealth makes them poor. There is a world of fresh air and freedom real sailors know about that the elite are missing, in their xenophobic shrinking.  Upon hearing of the adventures of sailing men their immediate response is, “It cannot have happened.”

In some cases I can understand their doubt. Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the waves, and I can understand sophist’s doubt that a man could walk on water. But they also act as if other deeds are tantamount to walking on water, even when they are somewhat everyday, for men who dare to be great.

Most adventures go unrecorded. You only hear about them in taverns. Many sailors can’t write, (even if they aren’t officially illiterate), but they can tell a good tale. True, much of their talk is full of exaggeration and absurdity, and at times lacks the moral discretion that rules outside of taverns.  Much talk is rude and TMI, involving subjects such as how to remove the bras of the buxom, (which I suppose qualifies as an adventure), but this indiscretion walks hand in hand with honesty. Amidst all the blear and bluntness and occasional brawling, one is far more likely to hear about the existence Zheng-He in a tavern of sailors than amidst the tippling of the elite, who, even when soused, know that mentioning Zheng-he is taboo. In conclusion, there is a world of difference between those who crave adventure and those who crave security.

I myself prefer adventure, for it seems more honest.

Perhaps I was too protected and coddled when young, for when I became a teenager my greatest desire was to hit the road. Security was insipid; it was like stagnant water that leaves a fish gasping, for it holds no oxygen. Despite the fact I was basically timid, so incredibly dull was safety and financial security that, (at times against my better judgement), I was propelled into the world of adventure and risk. I think the word for this is, “Life.”

Perhaps I have had some second thoughts, now that I’m getting old, and have no pension, and at times feel like the grasshopper in the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. There are very real material reasons why the elite chose the basements they chose. So be it.  I would not have known the fresh air and thrilling breezes of adventure if I had worshiped security, nor would I have knowledge of sailor’s lore, such as the tale of  Zheng-he,  and many other topics known in sea-side taverns but avoided by the politically correct,  if I too was “correct”.

Don’t get me wrong. Much B.S. is spoken in taverns, much that is hyperbole or even intentionally bullshit: Trickery to test you and to see if you are a chump. It is a landscape full of reefs to reconnoiter, and it is important to fact-check, and to “trust but verify”,  but in the end such taverns are more honest than many hallways filled with jostling politicians. If you want to learn of a modern-day Zheng-he who the modern-day politically-correct are attempting to erase from the picture, (the same way Stalin photo-shopped purged politicians from public pictures),  then go to a sea-side tavern, and not a college filled with politically appointed bowers and scrapers. It is in the tavern you will meet the breath of fresh air that invigorates lore, and makes it mighty.

It is just such lore that speaks of the huge Somerville hulk. I am merely a voice passing the information on. But I don’t stop there. I also delight in imagining what the effect of such lore might be, if it were true.

For example, suppose a renegade ship from China did appear in Boston Harbor in 1435. What effect would this have  on the Massachusetts tribe, when this enormous Chinese junk arrived and decided to stay? Likely, 200 years before Harvard, it was as intellectually influential. Perhaps for many years the junk was maintained, and sailed from place to place, and Indians visited it to learn of ideas from far away.

Even after it was beached on the Somerville flats it might have been inhabited. Then, after its inhabitants moved on to better homes, it would have slowly decayed, with the gunnels finally falling, but the keel remaining as a landmark even when the wood was rotted brown as peat and as soft as cork.  By the time it was first noted by a few passing Europeans only a trace remained. But might a trace of the exotic also have remained in the culture of the Massachusetts tribe?

How ironic it is that the location of the Somerville Hulk is now likely beneath a lane of a highway called Memorial Drive, near a Harvard College that seemingly hates the exotic individuality of distinct cultures, and wants all students from all parts of the earth to come and learn to enact a bland sameness, a sort of U.N.-sponsored McCulturalism. Some Internationalist ideas currently espoused by Harvard amount to a denial of the sharp distinctions that make cultures as unique as fingerprints. To deny such sharp distinctions is to deny each culture’s history. (Not much different from Chinese authorities wanting to deny Zheng He existed.) The idea seems to be that such denial will prevent wars, but it also attempts to crush the individuality of cultures, (and of the individual), and also crushes unique talents, and this never goes over well with the people being crushed.

In any case, I have presented my case, which is: The Tarrantine. to the north, had a Norse sea-faring influence as the Massachusetts, to the south, had a Chinese sea-faring influence. I am well aware this presentation likely has veins bulging in the faces of historians and archaeologists, but I am simply being honest about the lore handed down to me.

(To be continued. Part Two will describe the tragic demise of the elite Massachusetts tribe, and other amazing lore learned from sailors in taverns, all of which occurred before the Pilgrims landed, and long before Harvard College was founded.)

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Awaiting The Break-up–

One aspect of watching ice melt is that one becomes aware of misconceptions we all have, and which the media should end but doesn’t.  For example, people tend to think certain parts of North America are arctic, when they are not. All one needs to do is trace lines of latitude from North America around to Europe, and one gets their eyebrows lifted. The southern tip of Greenland is at the latitude of Stockholm, Sweden; and the southern end of Hudson Bay is at the latitude of  Hamburg, Germany.

If course it spoils the thrill of sensationalism if you mention, showing water pour off a glacier in Greenland, that it is as far south as Stockholm. The public then would compare a picture of flowers blooming in a Swedish summer park with the craggy coast of Greenland, and it would seem less surprising that ice melts at the edge of Greenland’s icecap.

In like manner, when writing about how swiftly the ice breaks up in Hudson Bay, it spoils the element of Alarmism if you mention it is as far south as northern Germany. Rather than the melt seeming surprising it would seem surprising that ice remains in July, for people would think how surprising it would be if there was ice on the sea-coast of Germany in July.

The fact of the matter is that it thaws right up to the North Pole in July, and temperatures can be above freezing and still below normal.

DMI4 0712 meanT_2017

Once you become aware that thaw is the norm up there in July, what becomes more interesting are the places that dip below freezing. It is quite common, for temperatures only need be three degrees below normal, and the rain changes to snow.

One thing I miss very much is the cameras we used to have drifting around up there. As recently as 2014 2015 we had seven views, and could witness fresh falls of snow and brief refreezes of the melt-water pools.  These were especially interesting because the satellites tended to miss these events, perhaps because they occurred at the wrong time of day, perhaps because they happened in a very small area, perhaps because refreezes involved a very thin layer of air right at the surface, or perhaps for some other reason. In any case, they stopped funding the cameras. (Let us hope the de-funding was not because certain people didn’t approve that the cameras showed freezing where politicians claimed there was melting.)

The only camera we have this year is a tough one, O-buoy 14,  which refused to be crushed by ice, and survived the winter. It is not out in the Arctic Sea, but down in Parry Channel at a latitude of roughly 74° north.  I like having it located where it sits, still frozen fast in immobile ice, because it allows us to compare the current situation with the year 1819, when William Parry sailed HMS Helca and Griper in the same waters.

William Parry original.1770

Parry sailed further north and west of where O-buoy 14 now sits, and then, as ice reformed in September, they cut a channel for the two boats, to get close to the shore of Melville Island, where they’d be less exposed to the crushing and grinding of moving ice.

William Parry The_Crews_of_H.M.S._Hecla_&_Griper_Cutting_Into_Winter_Harbour,_Sept._26th,_1819

Then they waited for the ice to melt. It was a long, long wait; ten months in all. It is interesting to read how Parry kept his crew from going nuts, especially during the three months of winter darkness. They produced plays and published a newspaper and, as it grew light, conducted expeditions along the coast of Melville Island on foot. Also, when some of the men showed signs of scurvy, Parry planted mustard and cress seeds in his cabin and fed the sprouts to the afflicted men. The first signs of thaw were in March, but the ice remained six feet thick.

In the year 2017 our first signs of thaw were much later, but sudden, and we swiftly developed an impressive melt-water pool on June 29:

Obuoy 14 0629C webcam

Of course, the media would generate sensationalism with such a picture, crowing about how the arctic is melting. Then they would get very quiet when the water drained down through a crack in the ice, as it did by July 8:

Obuoy 14 0708B webcam

The media would get even quieter when the camera then showed signs of fresh snow, as it did on July 12:

Obuoy 14 0712 webcam

And last but not least, there was a cold spell associated with the above view, and the melt-water pools were skimmed with ice, which needed to be melted away to make a little progress on July 13:

Obuoy 14 0713 webcam

What this makes me wonder about is the fortitude of Parry’s crew. They never got moving until August 1. Can you imagine how they felt when it snowed in July? (Or did it snow, back then, when it was supposedly colder?)

Our modern buoy is at roughly 103° west longitude. Parry was able to sail as far west as 113°46’W in the late summer of 1820. Then they noticed ice starting to reform. Apparently no one was eager to spend another winter up there, so they sailed lickity-split east the entire length of Parry Channel, escaping into Baffin Bay and arriving back in England in October.

It will be fun to watch this camera’s view. We are in a race with the year 1820, to see if we can get the ice moving before August 1. (One interesting thing is that, while the Navy satellite suggests the ice in Parry Channel is moving, the GPS attached to O-buoy 14 shows no movement. Once again we see the value of having an on-the-spot witness.)

I actually want the ice to move, so the view shifts around and we can see mountains in the distance.

Stay Tuned!

(Hat tip to Stewart Pid for always keeping me abreast of O-buoy 14 news.)

LOCAL VIEW –Efts and Other Red Things in the Rain–

A wet spring has given way to a wet summer in New England, but spring’s bone-chilling rain has become the warm stuff of summer, and is actually nice to walk about in, even for an old geezer like myself. And our Childcare focuses on the outdoors, so even if I’d like to goof about indoors I’ve trapped myself into going out. The children are rather fatalistic about the situation, and are unusually resigned to adults who don’t know enough to come in out of the rain. My chief trouble comes from identifying who gets which boots, but fortunately the kids help me out.

Eft 3 IMG_5160

The world we head out into is especially green this year. We tend to hike three miles in four hours before lunch, which may seem slow, but the children stop a lot, and also likely circle about to such a degree they cover six miles for my three (measured by the pedometer in my cell phone.)

In such lush greenery anything red tend to bring progress to a screaming halt, especially if it is edible.Eft 6 FullSizeRender

It always fascinates me how some children only nibble a few strawberries, others stuff themselves, and some are natural born gatherers, and likely would the ones a tribe would assign to drying berries or making jam for the coming winter.

Eft 4 FullSizeRender

(Notice the sun has popped out. This means I am carrying an armload of raincoats, until the rain starts up again.) The rain has made the wild berries much larger than normal. Here is an especially plush one, in a child’s small hand.

Eft 5 IMG_5117

When we compared the flavor of wild berries to the enormous, plum-sized berries in the children’s lunches, I was somewhat disappointed that the consensus was that commercial berries were sweeter. This made it all the more interesting that many children seem to prefer the tart, wild ones.

I impressed upon the kids what a big job it was for their great-great-grandmothers to make even a single jar of jam, and what a treat jam was, once the season for strawberries was over. In the days before refrigeration a thick syrup of sugar was a way of preserving things, just as pickling was. (Also, if the berries were not excessively heated the remaining vitamin C in the jam prevented scurvy, during winter months.)

The kids tend to be unimpressed when I attempt to impress this sort of trivia into their brains, and hurry ahead to the next discovery, which happened to be a surprisingly red mushroom.

Eft 7 IMG_5158

These are actually the ordinary brown shelf mushrooms that grow from the sides of dead and dying trees, and sometimes are strong enough to sit upon. They only are colorful when actively growing.Eft 8 IMG_5174

They were growing with surprising speed in the wet weather, and were hues even a geezer like myself had never noticed before (usually they are more purple when growing). One may have added enough weight to cause a rotted branch to fall to the ground.

Eft 9 IMG_5171

What was interesting was that the fungus continued to grow, but made an adjustment for the fact “down” was in a new direction. (Notice the slug feasting).

Eft 12 IMG_5172

The children were not all that interested, as one fellow forging ahead had discovered an eft.

Eft 1 IMG_5170

It is hard to keep the kids from picking efts up and bringing them home in their pockets, or poking them with sticks. I try to again impress upon them that the salamander’s skin can’t take much abuse.

Eft 2 FullSizeRender

Efts are the juvinile form of a Newt, which is an interesting critter for it has somehow figured out three different ways to breathe. When it is a tadpole it looks like a minnow, only its gills stick out like feathers, even as it starts to grow legs.

Eft 13 800px-Circ1258_plates_17b

Then it grows lungs, and becomes the red eft on wet forest floors. But then it returns to the water and, after a final lungfull of air, can quit breathing, as it turns green and becomes a common eastern newt.

Eft 11 1024px-Redspotted_newt

At this point the newts breathe through their skin, using a process called “diffusion” which requires neither lungs nor gills. I was going to add that this is also how frogs can take a deep breath in the fall and then sleep in the mud under water all winter, but the children had had enough of my non-stop scientific trivia, and, as they realized we had left the unexplored part of the forest and were on a path they recognized, went rushing ahead to what they call “The Trampoline Tree”.

Eft 10 IMG_5180

These two hemlocks nearly fell over in a storm, but were kept from falling by neighboring trees. Their roots are great fun to bounce upon.

I suppose I could lecture the kids about how bouncing might hurt the fragile roots, but the trees will not last long in their current state, and I think children get enough of a guilt trip laid on them by PBS. PBS is downright prudish about nature, as if nature will be hurt by being touched. I don’t see how a nature-lover can be a lover if he or she never touches. Isn’t being a lover a hands-on experience?

I love when rain’s warm-blooded, and the green,
Green leaves are platting in July’s soft heart;
When the gutters are all flooded, and the queen
Of midsummer night’s dreaming plays a part
In romanticizing logic. Our thought
Gets too severe when we rush, rush, rush
To ensure our garden’s harvest is a lot,
And we never pause to hear how songbirds gush
Despite falling rain, despite distant thunder
Thumping nearer, and nearer, and nearer.
Are we not made poor by the great blunder
Of wearing blinders when we could see clearer?
All winter we waited for this sweet summer day.
All too soon glory will go waltzing away.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Peculiar Persistence– (Updated)

Polar Cell polar-cell-atmospherecirculation1


Above is a gloriously simplified view of how the atmosphere circulates air, distributing the warmth north from the equator and sending the cooled air south. The problem is that, like many wonderfully elegant ideas, it is more of an approximation than an actuality. The planet’s winds are never quite so neat and tidy, and on occasion the planet bucks the system, creating a sort of short circuit, wherein a jet-stream digs so far south and then rebounds so far north it is as if all three “cells” are combined into a single entity. When all three cells have troughs that match up and “phase” you might as well take the above diagram and crumple it up. A new elegant view is needed.

The above diagram is applicable to zonal flows, when the planet has achieved a temporary balance and the jet streams circles the planet in tidy circles, east to west. However balance is a tenuous reality on planets that can’t even be stable about the simplest things, and our particular planet can’t even make up its mind about whether it should be summer in the northern hemisphere or in the southern one. When you throw other wrenches into the works, such as a huge volcanic eruption, or the sun shifting dramatically into a “quiet” state,  then the balance starts to wobble. In a most amazing manner the planet regains its balance, but not without a bit of flailing, like a tightrope walker recovering from a gust of wind or a flock of birds landing on his balancing Pole.Tipping Point FullSizeRender

The period of recovery seems to be marked by the zonal flow of the jet streams becoming less east to west, and instead developing north to south to north loops, in which case the jet stream is called “meridional”. This sort of flow makes a shambles of the elegant idea of Hadley, Ferrel, and Polar Cells. To a certain extent you can warp the Hadley and Ferrel Cells, but the problems get mind-boggling once you involve the Polar Cell.

You see, according to the diagram above, the mild air should arrive at the Pole aloft, cool, and then sink, which would create high pressure pressing down on the Pole, and then you can have cold, heavy, dense air pressing cold-fronts south. But a meridional flow brings warm air north even at the surface, and creates rising air and low pressure right where air is theoretically sinking and making high pressure.

Obviously we need a brilliant mind to draw a new gloriously simplified diagram of how this new and interesting meridional pattern circulates air, bringing warmth north and distributing cold south. I’m probably not the guy. Apparently, in order to come up with an elegant idea, one must be in some way elegant, and I’m painfully aware I have shortcomings in this respect. (My wife won’t let me go out the door without checking me over to make sure my fly is zipped up, my nose is clean, and my shirt is right-side-out.)

Not that I am not full of suggestions, when I notice the high pressure is not sitting on the Pole as theory commands, and instead a low is plopped up there. Here’s an old post from two summers ago:


Some may suggest that being full of ideas merely means “I’m full of it”, but I hope to point out things brighter bulbs will illuminate. Sometimes knowledgeable people are so entrapped by their knowledge that they are slow to see when an old elegant idea, such as the diagram that begins this post, simply doesn’t cut the mustard any more, as a new situation is arising which the old elegant idea doesn’t apply to. For this reason kings of old didn’t merely have wise scholars in the throne-room, but also a fool called the “court jester”.

I tend to be a bit droll when examining isobars and isotherms up at the Pole. Likely I’m not half as funny as I think I am, and more dour scientists would take a dim view of my irreverence, if they ever heard of it.  Over the years I’ve had a way of naming both polar lows and polar highs, until even I couldn’t keep track of them all. (“Did I get tired, or did I just get lazy?”) Eventually I decided to call  all lows “Ralph”, (for no particular reason), and all highs “Byoof” (short for the most common high pressure, the “Beaufort High”).

My general sense is that I have been witness to a change from a time when high pressure predominated (in old posts it was named “Igor” and not “Byoof”), to a time where Ralph has a habit of reincarnating in all sorts of fascinating forms.

This post is merely the continuation of earlier observations. As always, I will likely get drawn into wasting time arguing with Alarmists who think “the science is settled”, and I am committing some offence by reporting what is new. (Why? The very word “NEWS” apparently is short for “North-East-West-South”, and merely pertains to what you see looking around. Theoretically it should have nothing to do with “leaning left” or “leaning right”.)

What is new, to me at least, is that Ralph refuses to go away. He is making me look bad, because I thought he was brought about by the 2015 El Nino, and I forecast he would be less obvious this summer.

Indeed, when I last commented on the DMI maps back on June 9, it looked like Ralph had been knocked off the Pole and Byoof was going to dominate, with even a ridge of high pressure protruding into the North Atlantic.

72 hours later, even though the old Ralph was pushed south into a loop-de-loop in the Kara Sea, (like a well-mannered storm on the boundary between the Polar and Ferral Cells), a new Ralph was oozing north through Baffin Bay to the Pole north of Greenland. Though very weak, he divided the Atlantic part of Byoof from the Pacific.


Even though the Atlantic protrusion of Byoof was eroded away, it still looked like Byoof was going to shove the weak, new Ralph off the Pole. Indeed models suggested Byoof would dominate.


By June 13 the new Ralph was pushed south of Svalbard, as the old Ralph continued to mill about in the Kara Sea, and it looked like Byoof was dominant.


12 hours later it seemed Byoof was backing off the Pole, as the new Ralph, fading towards Norway, was nearly gone, but sucking up some Atlantic reinforcements. I was suppose to be attending to getting ready for a brief vacation with my wife, and not suppose to be fascinated by these maps.


36 hours later Byoof is looking weaker, and a reinforced new Ralph siutheast of Svalbard is reinforcing the old Ralph. The models are no longer showing Byoof as master of the Pole, and are starting to suggest the old and new Ralph’s will become a power on the Siberian side.


The next day I’m on vacation, but sneaking peaks as Byoof retreats and Ralph grows.



These maps are smaller because I saved them on my cell phone on my brief vacation. Ralph is back! What happened to Byoof?


By June 19 Byoof was starting to reestablish high pressure towards Canada. The Models suggested Ralph would fade and back off the Pole.  The maps that follow show that Ralph had a strange persistence, and Byoof a strange weakness. It makes me think the models have a bias that is built in, because they have built in preconceptions based upon the elegant idea I began this post with. Mother Nature is showing us that the elegant idea may work with a zonal pattern, but she has other ideas up her sleeve.

If I have time I’ll offer my analysis of the maps below, covering June 19- July 9. But tomorrow is Monday and my money from “Big Oil” has never materialized. Therefore I have to work a real job and may not get around to goofing off in the manner that most delights me. So, let me whip off a synopsis of what seemed wonderful as I watched:

Byoof keeps trying to push Ralph off the Pole, but Ralph has a stubborn way of drawing north reinforcements, so that, even when the center of Ralph is off the Pole, a lobe or trough of low pressure protrudes towards the Pole, resisting the claims of Byoof.

What does this all mean? Your guess is as good as mine, and likely better than those who focus primarily on models. The models,  one you look more than five days ahead, have missed Ralph being what Ralph continues to be.

Anyway, I share the maps so you can make up your own mind:






St this point we have arrived at the solstice, where the sun is at its highest at the Pole. The 24-hour sunshine is keeping the Mean Temperature above freezing, but Ralph’s clouds and perhaps some evaporative-cooling is keeping  temperatures from getting above normal. A flow of milder air in through Bering Strait is starting to develop as Byoof and Ralph mesh.




An interesting, weak low is north of Bering Strait on June 21. In rgw nwxt few days it seems to be pulled into Ralph, swinging around the north coast of Canada, as if it was a chip in Ralph’s in-flowing whirlpool.






By June 24 a second pulse of “inflow” is drawn north through Bering Strait and from east Siberia. Also a third “inflow” is wobbling around in the Kara Sea, loop-de-looping but still generally trending to circle northeast towards the Pole.


Rather than fading, as models had suggested, Ralph strengthed, apparently fed by the Pacific-side inflow.


At this point my attention switched from Pacific to Atlantic inflows. Pulse #1 continued to wobble in the Kara Sea as Pulse #2 approached Norway from the North Atlantic.




By June 27 Pulse #1 has wobbled inland and then up into the Laptev Sea, as Pulse #2 crosses Finland into Russia. Ralph is finally starting to fade. At this point the models were suggesting Byoof would get pumped and extend high pressure right over the Pole.




By June 29 Ralph has faded and Byoof was pumped, but Pulse #1 in the East Siberian Sea, and Pulse #2 in the Kara Sea, were keeping Byoof at bay.  I should also note that as Ralph faded there were some remarkably cold temperatures associated with his weakening. (You need to remember the “average” is above freezing, and the polar map can sometimes hold no below-freezing isotherms in July.)




The June 30 map shows Pulse 1 and 2 starting a Fujiwhara dance on the Asian side as Byoof is contained on the Pacific side, and the flow between the low and high pressure bringing mild air north through Bering Strait. Despite the mild inflow the temperature map shows more sub-freezing temperatures on the Greenland and West-Eurasian side than I can ever remember seeing at the height of the summer thaw.


The DMI temperature map showed a dip, and the next day it actually touched the blue line of freezing I looked back through the DMI maps and couldn’t find any other example of the polar mean temperature touching freezing so late (or so early.) Therefore I suppose it should be called “unprecedented.”DMI4 0629 meanT_2017


By July 1 Ralph seemed to have faded, and Byoof was attempting to build into the Atlantic, but a ghost of Ralph remained as a low oozed up through Baffin Bay and supported a trough over the Pole. In some ways that trough is the remnant of Pulse#1, still involved in a Fujiwhara dance with Pulse #2, which is down in Laptev Sea. A very weak Atlantic low off the coast of Norway surprised the models by creeping north and into the picture the following few days.




Despite all efforts of Byoof to extend into the Atlantic over the Pole, the ghost of Ralph remained as a trough on July 3, and new the little Norwegan low (Pulse #4) is eroding the high pressure in the North Atlantic.


I should mention at this point there was a surprising (not) lack of hoopla about how cold it had been over Greenland. A few years back a once-every-fifty-year event made headlines, as there was a brief thaw at the summit, but this year there was dead silence about once-every-fifty-year cold.

Greenland July Record Cold FullSizeRender

Greenland July Record Cold 2 FullSizeRender

(If it was not for the Realclimate Site I would have known nothing about this event.)

I myself was more focused on the uncanny ability of Ralph to regenerate over the Pole.  In the following few days both the weak Atlantic (Pulse #4) and weak Siberian (Pulse #3) lows nudged north and shook hands at the Pole, forming a new but definite “Ralph.” Meanwhile temperatures recovered to near normal.






By July 5 a new entity (Pulse #5) was appearing in the Laptev Sea, and started to do a Fujiwhara dance with the new, weak Ralph.






On July 7 an Atlantic entity (Pulse #6) is creeping into the dance from Barents Sea. Byoof is fading as Pulse #5 develops into a tight little gale.




As the Atlantic and Pacific pulses do their Fujiwhara dance high pressure finally starts to build, but not from the Canadian side, but rather the east Siberian side.





On July 10 we again saw Ralph smugly sitting on the Pole, defying the diagram we began this post with. Models were again saying Ralph would fade away and Byoof would at long last build over the Pole.

This morning the models are again changing their minds, and suggesting a new reinforcement of Ralph will move up from the Atlantic. (I suppose we should call it Pulse #7.)

The thaw is continuing, as it always does, but temperatures have yet to get above normal. I wonder if the persistent chill isn’t one factor that fuels Ralph.

DMI4 0710 meanT_2017

Hopefully I can update further this evening.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Mann The Pumps–(with afterthought)

Michael Mann vs Tim Ball graphs

The above graphs explain, in a nutshell, the battle that I, along with many others, have faced since 1999, nearly two decades. The Medieval Warm Period, so obvious in the lower graph, was simply “erased” by the upper graph, created by Michael Mann.

I cannot describe the scorn and belittling I have faced, even from people near and dear to me, for questioning Mann’s graph, and the IPCC which made the “hockey stick graph” so notorious (by using it for the cover of its 2001 report). I didn’t even need to say Mann’s graph was incorrect. I only needed ask to see the data.

At first I felt very alone. The politically correct had a vast support-group, wherein people busily patted each other’s back and stroked each others precious egos, as my poor ego got punctured. But I simply couldn’t shut up. Not that I was always as brave as I could have been; there were times I was far too polite to people who were not the slightest bit polite in return.

Fortunately on certain occasions, (sometimes involving a few beers), my sense of humor would kick in. My best weapon seemed to be hilarity, and reducing others arguments to absurdity. Not that this convinced many, but it did get me in touch with a few others, who appreciated my way of questioning, and who told me, privately, that they too had questions. After 2005 I started to feel less alone. On the web a counter-support-group began to appear. (One of the biggest jokes was that Alarmists accused us of being “funded by Big Oil”).

We didn’t need funding, for our fuel was curiosity, and a thirst for Truth. And we didn’t merely question Alarmists, but each other. Consequently we came up with more answers than Alarmists, who simply accepted Mann’s graph and insisted it was wrong to question.

The Alarmists always seemed to appeal to authority, insisting that we mere mortals could not understand the “science”, and that if we didn’t swallow what we were told we were “deniers.” That was a rich vein that supplied me with hundreds of jokes, because it is so wrong, so against both principles of science and Free Speech.

Gradually I became aware that there were scientists who questioned the hockey stick graph as well. When their questions went unanswered they became increasingly outspoken. Then they were belittled as being “too old” and “backwards.” The late Bill Gray and Dr. Tim Ball refused to be quiet, despite subtle and not-so-subtle threats that they would see funding cut, and be “marginalized.”

These secret tactics on the part of certain Climate Scientists became obvious in 2009 when their emails were made public during “Climategate.” It was at this time Michael Mann was revealed as a particularly nasty person, and a bully. In the nearly eight years since he has made no effort to appear any nicer.

In those eight years there are certain questions that Mann has never answered, for, when asked to produce the data behind the hockey stick, he has refused. In court in the USA he managed to get this data called “personal papers”. Rather than open and honest, he appeared to be conducting a cover-up, and never seemed to lack the money needed to perpetuate his cover-up.

Those who demanded answers received threats. Eventually Dr. Tim Ball, weighing the evidence, stated Michael Mann belonged not at Penn State but in the State Pen. Mann countered with a lawsuit, and Tim Ball basically said, “Bring It On.” Though well past retirement age, Dr. Ball has proven to be a remarkable fighter.

The Canadian courts have proven to be different than the courts south of the border, and they demanded to see the data. Mann apparently couldn’t risk it, and by refusing to produce evidence has not only lost the case, but appears to be a scofflaw and faces paying court fees, and more.

It sure took a long time, but the sense of vindication is very sweet.

Read about the mess Mann is in here: (Not that the mysterious money-bags funding Mann won’t manage to bail Mann out, in some legalistic manner, but he will be even more stained than he already is, if such a rescue occurs.)



I whipped off the above post in the morning twilight before rushing off to work, and have had all day to mull things over, when I’ve had time to think. The one thing that keeps occurring to me is what an almighty waste of time it is, having to deal with what increasingly looks like “bad science”.

As a small-time farmer, I do not approve of beating plowshares into swords,  because if we make swords we have less food to munch and more wounds to stitch. As a small-time scientist I do not approve of the same thing in science, because every hour of time spent battling “bad science” is an hour which might otherwise have been spent doing “good science.”

If Michael Mann had any dignity or decency he would simply (and proudly) make his data public, certain he would be vindicated as a man who honestly cares about Truth. The fact he has the audacity to claim that some sort of Right To Privacy makes his data “personal” and “protected” seems to suggest he does not believe it could withstand public scrutiny. The fact he is so amazingly funded, and has such a prestigious job and paycheck, seems to suggest there are others, behind the scenes, who also do not believe his data could withstand public scrutiny. In other words, they do not believe his efforts would be vindicated.  And what does that also suggest?  The opposite of vindication is to be condemned.

At this point I ask, “What’s so bad about being condemned?” If you stand by the Truth, condemnation is water off a duck’s back, for if you stand by the Truth you can be a mental midget, but you are standing by a towering Pal. If you stand by the Truth than Truth will stand by you.

The people who dared question Mann’s graph have faced being condemned for nearly two decades. Rather than simply answering the questions and producing the data, Alarmists have preferred to be nasty, and call Skeptics all sorts of insulting things. Mann seemed to be gifted, when it came to insulting others. You might even call such treatment “Mann-handling”.

Such rough treatment may not be fun, but again I ask, “What’s so bad about being condemned?” If you are standing by Truth, the manhandling is like that of a child with puny fists. It is laughable.

However for the bully, the mere fact you laugh at his threats is intolerable. On one hand he poses, shedding crocodile tears about how tender and sensitive he is, and on the other hand his crocodile smile attempts to sue your socks off.

It takes guts to stand up to a crocodile, and I admire Dr. Tim Ball greatly for having the guts. He has put his data forward for public scrutiny where Mann hid his, and moved forward from that honest gesture of everyday science to demonstrate, step by step, Mann’s unwillingness to be truthful and adhere to everyday science, until Mann’s skulking could not be mistaken, by any honest person, as the behavior of someone who wants to share the beauty of Truth with others. And, if Mann is not that sort of honorable person, (who wants to lovingly share), what does that make Mann?

It makes Mann a man who has something to hide.

It makes the people supporting Mann co-conspirators.

It is pity our world is infested with creatures that suck blood like leeches or ticks or mosquitoes. However they do exist. Even if we’d like to focus on higher things, there are times we need to deal with the low life.

Even if a farmer doesn’t beat his plowshares into swords, there comes a time to buy some sort of environmentally-friendly pesticide.

LOCAL VIEW –Liberty–

Liberty Bell LibertyBellPavillion02

Liberty is a cracked concept, and I think we Americans have been taken to school in many respects for the past fifty years, learning Freedom isn’t free, and liberty is no simple undertaking.

Not that I still don’t believe our Maker wants us free. It is just that we, in our ignorance, seem to make the most incredible mistakes, when it comes to mistaking chains as being freedom.

As a former smoker, I am well aware I was free to start smoking, but not so free when it came to quitting. When I tried to quit, I felt so awful that the only escape seemed to be to buy another pack, to be “free” of withdrawal symptoms. I chose my chains. And for years I was so blasted healthy that I got away with abusing my body, but the final ten years I smoked were more and more miserable, with a horrible cough and increasing weakness. Only when emphysema had me practically crawling, and cancer cost me a kidney, did I finally quit.

The experience was humbling, and allowed me to be less sneering towards my fellow mortals who demonstrate their addictions. Pity and mercy are good qualities, especially when dealing with arrogant fools (like I once was) who insist upon destructive behavior.

One particularly destructive behavior involves people’s desire for security.  People all but sell their souls for the “benefits” of a job. Even though they are never sick, they are so afraid of medical expenses that they cling to some job that stunts their spiritual growth and eventually makes them sick. They are so afraid of being poor when they get old that they cling to a job that kills them before they get old, for a promised “pension.” They think they have a “good” job, but live a shrunken life in a booth like a poor toll-taker on a turnpike.

I am quite serious about this. I have seen an amazing number of men endure decades of degradation in factories and government jobs for the “benefits”, and then drop dead surprisingly soon after they retire. It is as if, when they finally arrive at the day they “have it made”, it hits them that what they have made amounts to a big zero, and the revelation kills them.

I tend to be more forgiving of the need for security in the case of a woman with a babe in her arms. Her chest was made for feeding, not thumping with fists like a manly gorilla. She is more vulnerable, and has a greater need for security, and men are suppose to display guts and gain that security, by going without that security.

I know that some will call me a sexist for saying what I just said, but even the old Norman Rockwell painting “Freedom From Fear” shows the woman tucking the children in bed, as the man deals with the newspaper.


I know that critics of the above picture will point out the man isn’t fighting. They will assume he is some fat-cat capitalist, and sending sons off to die so he can sit smugly at home. What they fail to see is that he has done something right, to create Freedom From Fear for the women and children. What he has done-right is out of the picture, behind the scenes, and only suggested by the fact he is holding a newspaper. Also critics fail to see the alternative is ridiculous. I know it, for I lived it, back when I believed women were liberated by being promiscuous without having babies. This new “freedom from fear” was perhaps accidentally portrayed by Mad Magazine:


Even if Mad Magazine had some utterly different aim, they used what Jung would have called an “archetype”.  The woman does the tucking, and the man deals with the newspaper. The woman is more tender, and the man is more tough. The woman is more concerned with immediate and personal security, and the man is more able to go without such things.

I have great respect for men who die young in battle. I even have respect for men who die in middle age working life-sapping jobs in factories or government bureaucracies. But when I was young I thought there was a greater battle to fight, and I have fought it.

I am anti-war, because war is stupid, and I am anti-life-sapping bureaucracies and factories, because they too are stupid. I am a firm believer in “If Only People Weren’t Stupid.”

The polite word for “Stupid” is “Ignorance.” Ignorance is something we all can confess to, because only God has the omniscience that knows everything. We, as mortals, can either side with attempting to end our ignorance, or side with furthering it. If you have done your best to side with the former, you side with “good”, and if you side with the latter, then, sad to say, you are “evil.”

Men who suffer tedious work to support their homes are, up to a point, like soldiers suffering wounds to save their homelands. They are heroes. But past a certain point they should not go. Past a certain point they are being loyal to a Hitler, and damning their wife and children to the social destruction eventually earned by dictators. They should have told their boss, “Take this job and shove it”, but lacked guts. They were timid and cowardly, and subservient to ignorance, thinking some medical insurance or pension mattered more than freedom from ignorance. They were not free from fear, and when fear controlled them they became like addicts.

I was not prone to this particular addiction, because, after I had been loyal and faithful to a boss up to a certain point, and excused his sins as “shortcomings” up to a certain point, I drew the line. It did not seem to be a matter of my brains as much as it was my stomach. I had guts, so I got fired. This is the price of Liberty: Good-bye health insurance, good-bye sick-pay, good-bye vacation-pay, good-bye pension. You are reduced to the status of a hobo. But you haven’t sold your soul and, praise great God almighty, you are Free!

There is some suffering involved in being a hobo, but in my humble opinion it sure beats the suffering of the alternative. I tried out the alternatives, and even worked a union job for an amazing two years. So I talk of the alternatives with a little bit of experience, when I say slavery stinks, when compared to Liberty.

At times it can be strange, when I confess to people I was a hobo until age 37. When I describe getting fired from job after job, rich people get green with envy. Many never dared, because they were addicted to money. At times, when I was younger, talking of my life as a bum became downright awkward, because rich men’s wives looked at me lustfully, (I suppose because a hobo sometimes is a man, and a rich man sometimes is not).

In other words, Liberty has little to do with money. To some this is obvious, but to others this is like saying up is down, because they are addicted to ignorance. In fact they are the ones saying down is up. And history shows that these down-is-up people do get their comeuppance.

America (so far, at least) has always tended to side with Liberty, and not down-is-up people. Not that America isn’t misled by its down-is-up minorities, (Mad Avenue bankers  addicted to money, Washington politicians addicted to power, Hollywood imbeciles addicted to fame), but so far these attempts to capsize Liberty have always been righted by the sanity of tiny, little people.

When you study history this power-of-the-small becomes so apparent that, for me at least, I see the fingerprints of the Almighty. The laws of reaping-what-you-sow jump out at me, even in the exact same historical events where the down-is-up people claim to see proof that injustice pays. They have eyes but cannot see, yet deem themselves wise. They think they will get away with stealing Indian’s land, but later look up to see Sherman come marching through Georgia.  They think they can get rich clipper-shipping slaves and selling opium, but then their sons die marching through Georgia and their great-grandchildren die of heroin overdoses. The kick-back of Karma revisits sins on succeeding generations with a complex and inescapable perfection.

This is not to say down-is-up people can’t be gifted, brilliant organizers and administrators, but they can’t beat God. If they fail to see their gifts are given by God, and fail to be humble about being gifted, all the might in the world can be defeated by a flea, and a great army be stopped by a snowflake. Sennacherib marched 185,000 to Jerusalem, and his soldiers all died in in their sleep at its gates. Napoleon marched a huge Army into Russia, and few returned from the snowflakes alive.

The down-is-uppers tend to feel they are sharp as axes, and can cut others down, but what they fail to see is that no ax cuts by itself. The Creator created the ax, and can cast it aside. If our pride over the gifts we are given becomes that of a megalomaniac, rather than doing the cutting we are cut down. Of course, the powerful laugh at this concept, and say, “How can a tree cut down an ax?”  They never like learning the answer.

The time of Napoleon is fascinating, because he was a megalomaniac who began as a flea who the big-shots were blithely ignorant of, yet was given gifts that allowed him to become an ax that shook the world, before falling as the mighty all fall, into the afterglow of glory. As he disrupted the calm and disturbed the peace he forced friends and foes alike to dare to be great. Men had to leave the cozy security of home, leave wives and children,  and be men.

I like this time in American history because back then we were a flea, compared to European powers, and when the War of 1812 eventually erupted we were like a flea taking on an elephant. Not counting the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, we had a Navy of some 8 ships, and were taking on Britain’s 600. President Madison does not come across as exactly smart, (but, after all, he was a democrat).

However in order to find crews for its 600 ships England, (and to a lesser degree France), had to bully unwilling men onto their ships, and this had been going on for some ten years before the USA declared war. The impressing of American sailors ruffled American feathers, for, while the USA might have only had a 8 ship Navy, it had developed the second largest fleet of Merchantmen in the world, and these ships were not crewed by men bullied aboard by press gangs, but by men who dared put personal security aside, for their wife and children, and risked death on the bounding main, calling it liberty and relishing it. They wanted no part of Europe’s war, but Europe wanted American goods to supply their troops, and both sides wanted to prevent America from supplying the other side. Jefferson faced an undeclared war with France, (which was angry we didn’t side with them, after they had sided with us in our Revolution.) Jefferson also faced Arab states in North Africa who demanded we pay tribute. And the English were increasingly demanding as well.

Of course it was not Jefferson, and later Madison, who was actually out on the ocean facing these troubles. Besides courage, strength and wisdom, life as a merchantman demanded diplomatic skill, and often involved having to smile as the English or French absconded with your cargo, and sometimes your ship.  The amazing thing is that the sailors kept sailing. I suppose the profits were better than the profits from farming, and there was also the not inconsiderable fact that sailing is just plain wonderful fun, for many men.

In any case, the United States may have had a small Navy, but it had a wealth of excellent sailors who were out on the sea because they wanted to be there, as opposed to the English crews who sometimes had been dragged on board their boats kicking and screaming, and would desert at the first opportunity, though doing so meant they risked being hung.

What then happened, once war was declared, was that the American merchantmen turned into “privateers”. They were suppose to get an official slip of paper from the American government, but not everyone bothered. I think it is for this reason there are hugely varying estimates on how many privateers sailed against the English. Officially there were some 500 “licenced” ships, but I have read estimates there were well over a thousand privateers in actual fact. (If you had a licence you were suppose to report your booty, when you got home, at the custom house and pay a tax. Of course this was not always done, by sailors who knew a great deal about smuggling, and about getting around red tape. In fact, in New England, which was most dependent on merchantmen, and where the war was very unpopular, (called “Mr. Madison’s War”), one way around the British blockade was to meet with the blockaders. The British blockade was actually depriving Britain itself of supplies that were needed. Therefore some merchantmen arranged to be “captured”, and then, after goods were off-loaded and cash changed hands, they conveniently “escaped”. So you see, there is a way around red tape, if you look for it.)

When a privateer set sail it had a over-sized crew, for every time it captured an English ship some of its crew had to board the captured ship and sail it home. Some ships would sail off with over a hundred men and return home crewed by fifteen. Some of the ships they captured were recaptured by the British, but many captured ships sailed back into American ports loaded with needed supplies, and as they arrived they told a thrilling tale of the parent ship’s exploits.

Some of the tales are wonderful.  The Paul Jones set sail from New York in 1812 with 120 men aboard, but only 3 cannons. She had holes cut in the side for 17.  The captain had logs painted black to look like cannons and sailed up to the British merchant ship Hassan, which carried 14 guns, but had a crew of only 20. The Paul Jones sent the extra crew swarming up into the rigging to look like marines.   The captain of the Hassan was so fooled by the bluff that he surrendered without firing a shot. In this manner the Paul Jones not only gained a “prize ship”, but 14 cannons, and the captain was able to fill the Paul Jones’ gun mounts with actual guns.

Captain William Nichols, aboard the Decauter,  eluded the English frigate Guerriere, but was unable to elude a faster frigate despite throwing his cannons overboard to go faster. To everyone’s relief the faster frigate was the American ship Constitution, and Captain Nichols was then able to direct the Constitution where to find (and defeat) the Guerriere. However as the Constitution sailed out of sight the Decauter’s crew promptly mutinied, insisting they should head home because they had only two cannon left to fight with. After subduing the mutiny by bopping the ringleader over the head, Captain Nichols proceeded to get cannons by capturing seven ships in five days, and headed home with hardly any crew left aboard his own ship, after capturing a total of ten.

The official tally, kept by Lloyds of London, was 1175 British ships captured, of which 373 were captured back by the British Navy before getting back to the United States. The actual numbers were likely higher, as insurance rates got so high as the war went on some ships may have sailed without insurance. Though the British blockade deeply hurt American ports,  the English were forced to resort to sailing in convoys. They were able to keep troops supplied (except in the Great Lakes),  but the American privateers then sailed across to England, even into the mouth of the Thames, and made the English fishermen fear to go out and fish, resulting in a shortage of that staple to the English diet in English markets. Lastly, there is a lot we don’t know. Of the privateers that officially reported their existence to the American government, 317 never reported capturing any ship. Hmm. Makes you wonder what they were doing with themselves, sailing around out there all that time.

The thing that fascinates me was this was a completely disorganized effort. It was not military in nature, and involved no planning board writing up logistics. It was just a bunch of individual captains and their crews, going every which way without any particular order, and becoming a total thorn in the side of the British fleet.  It was not what one would expect, looking at the original of odds of 8 American ships against 600. To me it demonstrates what individuality can accomplish, when set against a vast and seemingly all-powerful organization. Watch out for the flea.

Meanwhile the Americans in charge (being democrats) were making a shambles of things. A flea smaller than even the United States was Upper Canada, but the political appointments in charge of the war made such a mess of things that little Canada initially whupped our butts.  Further south British troops marched into the White House and ate Madison’s dinner, before burning the place down.  (Baltimore was saved only because a political appointment was booted out, and replaced by a Revolutionary War veteran who knew his ass from his elbow.)

Another small flea that made a difference consisted of some 3000 black slaves, who used the war as a chance to make a dash for freedom. In many cases the men joined the British army and fought against their former masters. (After the war many were settled in Canada, while others settled with their families as farmers on the south coast of Trinidad, where they live to this day as the “Merikins”.) (So perhaps democrats do get credit for freeing some slaves….with the law of unintended consequences kicking in.)

It is odd how liberty works.

In the end the United States did quite well to escape that war with the event called “a draw”. (The real losers were the Indians….but that’s another story).

Happy Independence Day!

Liberty has its price. At dawn I pay
The toll and buckle my worn leather belt
And plod out into the duty of new day
And remember no dreams, nor how I felt
When young, but a cloud then catches my eye.

It’s just a wisp of white in the west;
Just a mare’s tail, a curl of cirrus in the sky,
But disturbs me from my dormancy’s rest.

Toil has its peace, a dulling mindlessness,
But the cloud’s a disturbing reminder
That Liberty’s more than mess after mess.
It’s aim is higher, sweeter, kinder.

Liberty’s price is: Blood waters it’s root,
But Liberty’s hope is a fine future fruit.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barrow Breakout–

Thaw and tides detached the ice from the shore by June 21, and some movement was seen by July 23. (Strong west winds blew the ladder across the roof and into the picture around the 22nd.)Barrow 20170623 05_27_09_508_ABCam_20170623_132400

The first real shifting of the ice was on June 24. A lot pilled up on the sandbar at the point to upper right, and remained grounded even when winds shifted  around to the east and blew the thinner ice away. Below is July 1 picture, with light onshore winds and temperature 33°F. (Someone removed one ladder but not the other.)

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(The ten day Barrow time-laps-animation will show the break-up a few more days, but updating will gradually vanish the view of it.)

Adventurers can now sail to Barrow from the west, but further east the way remains blocked. (Hudson Bay is also losing ice swiftly now, but ice to southwest remains thick).


The Pacific side of the Pole has seen south winds and the melt is ahead of schedule, while the Atlantic side has seen north winds and the melt is delayed.

As soon as the ice is gone air temperatures are able to rise more. It can be seen in the temperature map below. There is a difference between where ice is up against Alaska’s shore and where it is not.

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