WARM STORM

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It took a while to scoop the cold air out of the valleys, but we did get our warmth. Even as late as 6:00 last night it was 37 in Concord and 34 in Laconia, here in New Hampshire, though warmth had rushed up the Hudson River, and it was nearly 60 in Albany, and warmth had also rushed up the coast of Maine, where it was in the 50’s.

You could see the low clouds zooming north, even as it remained cold and calm, but once that warmth scooped down the wind roared, and the snow vanished right before your eyes as fog streamed in the wind.

At our Childcare I was dealing with the childrens, “Why? Why? Why?” and among all the questions there were questions about why fog makes snow vanish so swiftly. I’ll have to write a quick blog about that later, if I have time.

Unfortunately the warmth visited us while it was dark, and we were sleeping. It was up to sixty here at daybreak, and still 56 as I drove a crew to kindergarten, but as I drove back it abruptly poured, and the temperature was 49 as I pulled into the Childcare, as the cold front roared through.

O well. It was nice while it lasted. Now I have to attend to a bit of wind damage.

A Rave: WE GOT GYPPED

Antarctic Icicles, Snow Hill Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

A Rave: WE GOT GYPPED

(I’m in the mood to rave, and to completely avoid thinking about insurance or insurance agents.)

As a weather nerd, I scan various weather sites, and therefore am acquainted with the chorus of madmen who like cold and snowstorms. (I only endure their company because I used to be one myself, back before the Wizard gave me my brains.)

You ought to hear the ruckus those nerds are now making, wailing and rending their garments and gnashing their teeth, about some thaw south of here.

All I can say is, a thaw sure sounds nice. We dropped below freezing back on January 20, and despite various promises of warm-ups on long-range forecasts, nothing ever thaws. The COLD is getting OLD. I wish I could export it to the weather geeks who want it so badly.

I had a crafty ancestor who did export the cold. He was a great-great-great-uncle, or some such thing, and he owned a schooner, and traded New England ice for Jamaican rum.

Sounds fair to me. But also suspiciously like a bit of a scam.

Apparently he had people out on our frozen lakes in the dead of winter with saws, cutting ice from those lakes, packing it in sawdust, loading it onto his schooner, and helping him to sail it south.

The first part sounds like darn, hard work to me, but the second part sounds OK. I’d like to be delivering ice in Jamaica, right now. I’m just not sure I could be trusted to sail back with a schooner full of rum. My steering might get a bit erratic around Cape Hatteras.

The amazing thing is that there was no scam. They got ice for their rum, and we got rum for our ice, and everyone had rum and ice, and was happy. No one felt gypped.

No such luck today. I wanted a thaw, and the weather nerds south of here wanted cold and snowstorms. Whereas I am a man about being disappointed, those nerds are having tantrums. They are have such a fits, about things that they can’t change, that they remind me of schoolmarms.

(I know exactly what schoolmarms would say, because I have an invisible one living just behind my left shoulder, in the back of my mind.)

Looking at this writing, that schoolmarm has already objected to the use of the word “gypped.” Apparently using that word offends gypsies, who are not from Egypt and prefer to be called “Roma,” (though they don’t seem to be from Rome or Romania, and Romanians aren’t Romans either, unless the Italians living in Rome are actually all Visigoths, who originally came from Romania, but enough of history…)

(I would ask that invisible schoolmarm sitting on my shoulder if she would prefer that, rather than my saying, “I got gypped,” I said, “I got Roma-ed,” but that would get me in such incredible trouble I don’t want to think about it, so I won’t go there.)

I should steer clear of slang, and simply say people didn’t get the weather they wanted. (That may be the schoolmarm’s problem, as well.) However I like the down-to-earth nature of slang, especially because it allows you to say stuff which political correctness keeps you from saying.

For example, take the word “scam.” According to schoolmarms it never appeared until 1964, (when it first poked up its head in a “slang dictionary,”) but in truth “scam” likely comes from Viking roots, and roughly means, “to behead, or chop the top off.” When a schoolmarm quietly skims the cream off milk in her kitchen, she likely doesn’t want to know her word “skim” has any connection to beheading like a crazed Viking berserker, but it does, just as when she peacefully stirs her cream into coffee, the word “stir” has a connection to the word “storm.”

Which neatly, cleverly and adroitly brings me back to the subject of storms, and the weather, and geeks down south getting all disappointed because they haven’t had a snowstorm.

Why desire winter? Too much winter is like being in stir. (“Jail,” for you schoolmarms who don’t use slang.) It makes you crazy, and I can only suppose those weather nerds down south of here have had too much sanity, for them to want winter, and to desire to be driven nuts. However up here in New Hampshire we have had enough winter.

The old timers of these parts had a local joke, spoken around this time of year, which I haven’t heard in two decades. For what it is worth, they would, when walking into a market or the post office, casually say (in the manner people now say, “how are you?”) “Have you surrendered yet?”

Most people would smile and nod, because they knew they had surrendered and become slovenly. Too much winter made everyone look like they were having a bad-hair-day.

The only people who look worse than those who have surrendered are the people who try to escape the insanity and cabin-fever, by spending a week or two in Florida. After a spell of nasty cold the local folk somehow acclimatize, so that when it “warms” to the upper twenties (F) they practically wear T-shirts and walk smiling with spring coats unbuttoned, but the fellow fresh back from Florida hasn’t acclimatized and hunches shuddering down the same street wearing three overcoats and thick mittens and a Russian hat of fur, two feet tall.

In conclusion, winter is not good for humans. Darwin said we are related to monkeys, and that means we ought be on a tropical island or in a jungle. How the heck did we wind up here, amidst all this ice?

Deep down we yearn for warmth, and therefore, when the National Weather Bureau tantalized us with promises of warming, we monkeys can’t help fall for the scam, but we sure do feel gypped when warming doesn’t occur.

There should be a name for the little lows which form on warm fronts and then zip out to sea, pulling the warm front backwards behind them like a person closing a door.

The little low which formed on the our most recent advancing warm front gave us nearly two inches of snow, and then its cold-air-backwash managed to drop temperatures to 17 (F) this morning. (Heck of a way to run a “warm up.”)

Two inches of snow is not enough to ignore, but barely enough to bother with. In fact you can use such snows to determine whether or not your neighbor has “surrendered” or not.

In December everyone will be out and shoveling two inches, with their snow banks at crisp 90 degree angles, but by March everyone’s exhausted and ignores two inches as a dratted nuisance, and slurs like a drunk, “The sun’ll melt the darn stuff soon ‘nuff.” However at this midpoint in the winter some are still fighting, and some have surrendered.

I am proud to announce I am still fighting. I cranked up the snowblower and ran behind it in 6th gear, blowing the paltry two inches from the drive in pitch predawn dark, and even altered the scraper blade to ground level, (a level which would have scooped up cobbles and shot them through windows and concussed neighbors, if I used it on the gravel drive,) and then scoured the middle of the pond into a smooth skating rink for our Childcare.

Then I stood back and smugly waited for the thaw to turn that pond into a sleek sheen of melt water, which would then refreeze to perfect skating.

But what has happened? It never got above freezing here today, and now sleet is mixing with freezing rain, and there is a “Winter Weather Advisory.”

The warming? Manyana. Manyana. Manyana.

With the last frigid arctic high refusing to make way for the advancing warmth, and the next frigid arctic high charging in behind the advancing warmth, I’m a bit afraid the cold behind will catch up to the cold ahead, and the warmth will pass us by uplifted several thousand feet, as what is called an “occlusion.” That is great for the observers 6000 feet up, atop Mount Washington, but it is rough on us poor, shivering mortals down here on lower earth.

However the weather bureau also has a “high wind watch” for tomorrow, as apparently all the warmth they have been promising is getting squeezed into a squirt, and will howl by at top speed as southerly gales, before vanishing with a clap and a boom. (They also forecast thunder.)

Me? I’m feeling gypped and suspect a scam, but, as a writer, still respect weathermen, for I know how hard it is to deal in clouds.

To conclude, I’ll conclude something boring, which happens to be the basis of all sound science:

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

WARM FRONT APPROACHES

Weathermap Jan 29Thunder Probability Jan 29

High pressure has built over the southeast, and a warm southwest flow is trying to dislodge the cold air over us. We got a lovely inch of snow yesterday, as a low pressure formed on the warm front. That small storm has north winds to its rear, which have kept the warm front at bay. Once the little storm moves out to sea we will hopefully get into the southwest flow for just a bit. There may even be thunder as the warmth battles the arctic north, which ought return south day after tomorrow.

There could be some fireworks as the tropics battle the arctic in Texas, today.

We are so hardened by the cold that, even though it is still below freezing, it seems balmy. If it gets above freezing today, it will be the first time in over a week.

The little children will of course then decide hats and mittens are a bother, and part of the job of Childcare will be getting them to tell us where they left them, and to put them back on. (When the snow melts in the spring we sometimes find ten or twenty mittens, plus a few hats.)

Now I must go spread sand, as there is just enough freezing drizzle mixed in this pre-dawn to make it slippery. I may have trouble renewing my insurance. (Expect a future blog equating an insurance agent with an extortionist.)

Cyclone Oswald’s deep spindrift foam in Queensland

It is summer in Australia, and they suffered oppressive heat and drought in the North until Oswald drenched them and broke the heat. 

Hat tip to Joe D’Aleo at his site on WeatherBELL for alerting me to the foam.  When living by the sea, I’ve seen spindrift pile up on beaches like this, but never more than perhaps six inches deep. It is not pollution, but due to organic stuff in the water, and seems to happen more when the weather and water is warm.  (I saw it more in Myrtle Beach than Maine, and seldom in Santa Cruz’s very cold surf.)

My insurance agent would love seeing that car nearly hit the police.

EDUCATING A GEEZER

EDUCATING A GEEZER

Like Rodney Dangerfield, we old geezer’s get no respect. We are smarter than we look. In fact the word “geezer” may be derived from the word “guise,” and come from the idea old men were crafty and clever.

However the State Of New Hampshire, in its infinite wisdom, has decided I, as a “Child Care Professional,” need “continuing education.” First it was six hours a year, and then twelve, and now sixteen, and apparently the Federal Government has plans to push the requirement up to thirty hours a year.

So much for respecting the wisdom of elders… They think I’m just a dumb old dog. They don’t even respect the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

They also have no idea of how exhausting it is to watch other people’s children, especially if you truly care. By the time a Saturday comes around what a Child Care Professional really needs is rest. The last thing they need is a long drive to a seminar somewhere, and long hours spent getting lectured by people who may be barely a third your age, and nearly always lack your experience.

Now, if Child Care Professionals were members of the Teacher’s Union, we could take time off during the workweek. The taxpayers would pick up the tab, and the taxpayers would also have to figure out what to do with their children. Teachers shut down the school for their “professional days.” The taxpayers still have to go to work on those days, in order to make the money to pay the taxes, so what they have to do is spend even more money and entrust their children to old geezers like me, if I have any room at my Childcare, on those days.

While the Teacher’s Union makes sure teachers take this time off on the taxpayers dime, (and also makes more work for teachers, for it takes teachers to teach teachers on “professional days,”) we Child Care Professional must pay for “continuing education” out of our own pockets.

Perhaps this is just the Teacher’s Union’s way of putting the squeeze on Child Care Professionals, and forcing us to join their union, and perhaps in the end it will work, however for the time being all it is succeeding in doing is irritating the heck out of old geezers like myself.

It was especially irritating because the past week sapped me, partly because that is simply a side effect of sub-zero cold, and partly because I have been sneezed upon and coughed upon by little children all week.

Likely some of these children belonged home in bed, but in a bad economy taxpayers can’t afford to take time off, even when they themselves are sneezing and coughing, and therefore what they tend to do, out of their desperation, is to load their children up on aspirin and antihistamines and cough syrup, plop them in our laps, and then run like heck for the door, (occasionally even shutting off their cell phones as they go, though most merely cross their fingers and pray.) Then the medications wear off, and we have a sick child on our hands.

Parents are aware our Childcare emphasizes being outside, but being outside, and getting fresh air and exercise, isn’t always the best thing for a sick child. In some cases it can lead to pneumonia. Therefore, until we can locate the parent and get them to return and pick up their child, we have to run a short-term infirmary, which involves deranging our schedule, keeping a member of our staff (and often some children) indoors, and being exposed to a steady stream of hacking and sneezes.

Amazingly, I seldom get sick. For nearly two months there has been a nasty cough going around town which has laid up some of my friends for a fortnight, but perhaps my immune system is bolstered by constant exposure to children’s germs, for I have remained as healthy as a horse, until this Friday, when I noticed I was sniffling and coughing just a bit.

Therefore the last thing I needed was a day of “continuing education.” However I “needed my 6.5 hours,” and therefore, where a sane society would have had me in bed sipping chicken soup, I had to be out before dawn, with temperatures down near zero (F), driving halfway across the state to a distant college (which was likely full of interesting new viruses and bacteria for my immune system to battle.)

As I walked in I was not in a mood conducive to respecting authority. To be quite honest, I flipped open my notebook and prepared to note every idiosyncrasy of the lecturer, so I could write a scathing mockery of the system, for this blog.

Much to my surprise, things seemed different. We didn’t get lectured. To be quite honest, the lecturers themselves seemed fully aware too much is being asked of Child Care Professionals.

“Child Care Professional” is one of the lowest paid occupations in the nation, but if such people didn’t exist, could others go to work? Could teachers teach or nurses nurse?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating a new union or new government Department Of Daycare.

However I am saying attitudes are changing. Be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.