TIME TO START TAPPING THE MAPLES

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TIME TO START TAPPING THE MAPLES

The picture of the woodpecker is a joke. It is actually a picture of a yellow-bellied sapsucker, which drills rows of holes and then comes back later for the insects stuck in the sap. We have no interest in the bugs, only in the sap, with which we’ll make maple syrup.

Tapping maples is always a big hit with the children, who are always amazed, when I drill a tree, that the sap comes out so swiftly. It truly is under pressure, within the tree, though it doesn’t squirt out. It simply drips out faster than you would think possible, from a block of solid maple.

The kids ask “Why? Why? Why?” and sometimes they corner me, and I have to admit I don’t know. However the simple fact of the matter is that there is more mystery surrounding how sap rises in the spring than most care to admit.

In the summer it is fairly obvious that the evaporation up in the leaves can create a partial vacuum, which helps draw the sap up, but how can the sap be drawn up when there are no leaves?

There are various ideas about how thawing increases the pressure, and freezing decreases it, (creating a slow pulse, if not a pumping heart), however there are no valves, so you would think the flow would go aimlessly back and forth, without direction. In fact some even argue the sap doesn’t even rise, but instead moves in to the heartwood and then back out again.

The children have no interest in such complex thought, and are perfectly satisfied when I simply state the sap rises. Some don’t care much about that, and are only interested in pancakes and waffles. They seem perplexed when I tell them we can’t have syrup five minutes after the drops start plinking and plunking on the metal bucket’s bottom. So perhaps the lesson is actually about patience.

Knowing how impatient they are, I’ll let them drink the sap tomorrow. It is basically water with only the faintest flavor of maple. 95% of the water has to be boiled away to make syrup, which is a steamy later step the children enjoy. However I like to watch their eyes as they drink Dixie cups of the icy cold sap, straight from the pail, fresh from the tree.

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THE COLOR OF SLUSH

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THE COLOR OF SLUSH

 

            What a day!  Three inches of snow turning to an icy rain, and now back to snow.  It is hard to find the right adjective for this sort of weather, though I always liked a very proper Englishman’s description of an icy rain with a cruel wind, in London.  As he came in from the wet he spoke two words, with the stress on the first, “Filthy weather.”

            Of course, my wife always says, “There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing.”  I must have worn bad clothing, today.

            In fact I’m sure of it.  Because I began working in snow, I wore outer-pants over my jeans that were more along the lines of a snow-suit than a raincoat.  Rather than repelling the water they acted more like a sponge, and by the time I was done I was wet to the skin.  The jeans I wore underneath went directly into the drier when I got home;  hanging them by the fire would have made a puddle by the stove.

            I had to spend all that time outside for three reasons. 

            The first was the driveway of the Childcare.  When people first were arriving it was snowing to beat the band, but there wasn’t quite enough to use the snow-blower.  (If I set the snowblower’s-blade to “pavement level,” on a gravel drive, it scoops up gravel, which might machine-gun a neighbor across the road and result in a lawsuit, or break a window at the Childcare and result in the wrath of my wife, or scoop up a cobble and break the blade’s sheer-pins, which happens anyway.)  Therefore I was stuck with using an ancient implement known as a “snow shovel.” 

            Men of my advanced years drop dead on a regular basis, when they use such old-fashioned tools, but I just took the attitude that my heart needed the exercise, and I dashed to and fro across the parking lot, shoving the snow more than shoveling, trying to get it off the lot before rain changed it to slush.

            I’m a wise old man, in my way, and one thing I’ve learned from my sons is how to avoid work.  Therefore I don’t rush to and fro in parking lots unless I have a good reason, and in this case it involved a calculation about slush.

            If the snow is going to change to a warm rain it is wise to sit by the fire and toast your toes.  The snow will be slush-and-flush, and will basically flow away down the gutters without you raising a finger.  However, if the snow is going to turn to a cold rain and then back to snow, you think slush-and-rush, because the snow is much easier to move than heavy slush, and if rain turns the snow to slush and you don’t remove the slush, it freezes solid to a substance which is theoretically ice, but I think is actually iron.  Every rut and every footprint is fixed in place, sometimes for days on end.  Even as it starts to thaw it creates a miserable mixture of a non-stick surface and stumbling blocks. Therefore, even though sitting by a fire is attractive, in slush-and-rush situations it is always best to hustle and get the driveway clean..

            The second reason I stayed out in filthy weather was due to a promise I made to five small boys to take them “on an adventure.”  I had a long hike planned, but looking at the way the snow was starting to fall swiftly, as huge flakes which were so sopping wet they hit you like globules of cold spit, I decided to shorten the hike, and seek the shelter of hemlocks.  As I reached the porch of the Childcare, already wet, my staff presented me with five, small, beaming boys, dressed in superior one-piece snow-suits that repelled water. Just the way they looked at me quashed a selfish desire I had to convince them to focus on skills involving crayons, indoors.

            I took them on a short loop, mostly under the cover of hemlocks and pines, which turned out to be even wetter than being out in the open.  Last Sunday’s storm left a lot of snow up in the boughs of those trees, and as the wind picked up from the east and the snow changed to rain, the snow up in the boughs turned to slush, and fell sloppily. Literally a rain of glop fell under the trees, bothering me much more than the boys, who once again had turned the tables on me.

`           I can’t say how often this happens:  I get a bit high and mighty about something, and four, five and six-year-olds put me in my place.  On this occasion it involved wearing the correct clothing.  Usually I am the one warmly dressed, at the children become mournful, for even when their parents dress them well they tend to discard clothing when my back is turned.  (When the snow melts in the spring we find all sorts of lost mittens, hats, scarves, and even the occasional jacket.)  Today I happened to have five of the best-dressed boys, and envied them, (as it is difficult to purchase such outfits if you are an adult.)  The boys likely could have waded chest-deep in ice-water and stayed warm and dry, as I wore neither my raincoat nor rain pants.  With every passing minute I was absorbing more water and gaining an extra pound.

            Our route moved through some puckerbrush pines.  (When a field grows-over the underbrush makes you pucker up your face as you walk through it, so the local term ifor an overgrown field is “puckerbrush.”) The snow gets deep there, for it drifts in from more windswept places and is protected from the sun, yet the trees there are not big enough to keep the snow up in their boughs.  I had to break the trail, in snow up to my thighs, as the boys labored along behind, with the same snow well above their waists.  (It is amazing how tiring it can be to break such a trail, and lets you understand why snowshoes and cross-country skis were invented.)

            Only a few years ago the field only held pines up to my knees, but now I could not see over the wind-tossed tops, nor far ahead along the route I picked through the thick boughs.  The pines were growing in what was actually a poor patch of pasture, due to a lot of bulldozed subsoil and clay spread over it when the farm pond was dug.  Perhaps the pine’s taproots penetrated to better soil beneath, but I’ve been struck by the irony of how swiftly they’ve grown, when forty years of labor could barely get the grass to grow there at all. 

            As far as the boys were concerned, we were at the far ends of the earth.  Though barely two hundred yards from the Childcare, they were in the depths of a northern forest, in snow up to their chests, and were quite utterly lost.  This was as I intended. An adventure is never truly an adventure if know exactly where you are.

            As we passed from the puckerbrush to some taller groves of beech, hemlock and pine the snow was less deep, and wading through it less tiresome, but still the boys wanted to sprawl comfortably in their snow-suits every twenty yards or so, catching their breath, as I already wanted to just hurry back to the Childcare and get the darn adventure over with.  It was a little embarrassing to me that they were so much more comfortable in the woods than I was.

            It was at this point we arrived at a place we call “Lightning Rock.”  (Named because the lightning struck several trees there, perhaps because (before I cleaned it up) the area was an old-time farm dump, and included metal such as tin cans, an old bedstead, and what appeared to be rusty sheet metal from a washing machine, and all that metal may have attracted lightning.)  One of the boys recognized where we were, and it was wonderful to watch their faces light up as, one by one, their young brains made the connections and they were no longer “lost.” 

As soon as they recognized where they were, they all turned straight back towards the Childcare, and I surmised they had enough adventuring for one day. That gave me a grim sense of satisfaction, for it is better that they had enough, than that they scowled at me for failing to bring them on an adventure I had promised them.

As we came over a shallow rise the farm buildings were laid out across the sodden, wind-swept pasture, and I paused to sniff the wind as two boys, who had lugged plastic sleds behind them the entire hike, attempted to sled down the sledding hill towards the Childcare. Already the snowflakes, or actually slush-flakes, were looking lonely as they fell in the wet mist, and the boys’ sleds barely moved on the slope, for the snow was like wet felt. However the boys insisted on “sledding,” which gave me plenty of time to scan the skies and watch the smoke from a chimney I could see, (though I did have to stoop, halfway down the hill, and empty slush from one boy’s sled.)

The southeast wind will bring you rain
And northeast winds bring snow,
But winds due east are like a beast
You cannot tame or know.

The winds were east, and smoke from the chimney swung back and forth, forsing me to change my forecast back and forth, especially because each time the wind swung slightly to the northeast the snowflakes would thicken, as if a giant hand flung confetti, and then, as the smoke swung the other way, the snowflakes would vanish and the wind would pelt sleety rain.  In the end I had to simply call it an east wind, and pity the forecasters.

I have seen forecasts change from “two inches of snow, turning to rain” to “eight inches, turning to rain,” and then to “sixteen inches, ending as rain,” with an east wind.  I’ve also seen forecasts for heavy snow be nothing but rain, rain, rain.

The small difference between 32 degrees (F) and 32.1 (F) makes a huge difference, and the border between rain and snow can be altered by subtle things such as the precipitation getting heavier, and bringing slightly colder air down from aloft. 

One would need ten thousand weather balloons, at all levels of the atmosphere, at all times, to get a clear picture of the goings-on overhead, and even then a swirl aloft could bring south a flat layer of arctic air, to meet a flat layer of tropical air coming north, like two cards in a shuffling deck, only shuffling cards don’t merge and create a downburst of snow and rain. 

In the end I wind up amazed anyone would even attempt to forecast what an east wind would do, and am even more amazed forecasters do as well as they do, when winds are from the east.  In essence they are cruising for a bruising, for they will never get things exactly right, and people who need to be exact, such as engineers, can be very critical.

 If you compare today’s weather map with the one from two weeks ago you can see the same sort of Primary low over the Great Lakes with a secondary forming on the coast, however where the secondary exploded into a blizzard, two weeks ago,  now the two lows are being squashed into a single, long, elongated area of low pressure.  It is fascinating to watch, and deserves a post all its own, however, to cut a long story short, there will be no single clear storm, but rather an elongated area of low pressure, forming separate blobs like indistinct beads on an indistinct string, and the winds will swing north and south, and the forecast will be “Maybe rain, maybe snow.”

Trudging behind the boys back to the Childcare porch, I could make my own forecast, which was, “It will be difficult to plan.”

The boys were still warm and dry, thanks to their excellent outfits, and burst inside to tell my staff all about their adventure, over a snack.  I, however, had to tend to some chores, though I was not warm and dry, and was hungry. 

Feeding the goats their hay was nice, for they were thankful, but hay sticks to you, when you are wet.  Also it sort of bugs me that they get fed when I don’t.

I just wanted to go home, but the entrance gate of the Childcare was broken. I wish there was someone I could frown at for breaking it, some child who swung on it or some parent who backed into it with their car, however, judging from the twisted metal of the lower hinge and the ripped-out screws, the true culprit was a perfectly positioned chunk of frozen snow.

Just as small rock positioned properly can serve as a fulcrum to a lever which moves a boulder many times larger than the small rock, a small chip of ice can serve as a fulcrum to the lever of a swinging gate, and twist metal and rip fat screws from hardwood.

This was an interesting tidbit of science to contemplate, as I hammered twisted metal flat and replaced screws, and sleet stung my face and cold water dripped down the back of my neck, and I also attempted to be spiritual and not contemplate how stupid the rule is, which states a gate of a Childcare must always latch easily.

There is no exception to that rule.  Just as, if the inspector arrives in a howling blizzard, and finds a drift across a fire-exit, you can be “written up” for a blocked exit, you can also be “written up” if your front gate doesn’t latch correctly, even if the weather is filthy.

I know they have reasons for these rules.  They don’t want a child pushing through the gate, rushing into the parking lot, and dying a dreadful death beneath an SUV.  But what about me? Could I not die of pneumonia?

It is politically correct to focus on children, but what about the child care provider?  I mean, I’m the one actually doing the work.  All they do is get all dewy eyed and dream up rules.  Furthermore, in some cases I’m old enough to be their grandfather.  Why are they always saying, “It is for the children!”  Have they no respect for their elders?

Of course, if the following isn’t a scientific rule, it should be:  The moment that the violins of your self-pity hit their maximum pitch is the exact moment your hammer hits your thumb.

I had a few choice words to mutter at the slush at my feet, as I sucked my offended thumb, which, like me, never did anything to deserve the way it was treated. And, as I sneered at the slush, considering all the people to blame for my miserable predicament, it occurred to me the person to blame was the person who put the bit of ice in the position that was the perfect fulcrum to break the hinge.  And who was that person?  It was the snow-shoveler, namely myself.

Of course, even as I had shoveled that snow the violins of my self-pity were likely howling like cats, as I felt very sorry for myself for some infraction I can’t even remember, (let alone justify.) 

If I had been a better man while shoveling, then, rather than grumping about whatever it was I grumped about, I would have paid more attention to what was around me, and I then might have noticed the chip of ice lodging by the hinge, and might have thought to myself, “That piece of ice might stress the hinge.”  However I failed.  Therefore I had no one to blame but myself.

It stinks, when you are in the mood for pity, to get blame, but it helped me get the blasted job done.  I swung the gate a couple times, and it latched.  I could go home and be less wet. 

As I stooped to pick up my tools I noticed the pelting rain had turned the half-inch of snow, (which fell after I shoveled that area earlier,) to slush. I paused, noticing the color of slush.

Snow is white and water is clear, but slush has a hue all its own.  I would call it a battleship grey, but it has too many blues.

And that is what being aged sixty is like, I decided to myself, as I snapped the toolbox shut and headed home.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A DRUNKEN SAILOR…I MEAN, BROKEN WIND TURBINE

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(File photo from “Portsmouth Patch” website.)

Portsmouth, Rhode Island….Once a seaside abode of staggering sailors, but now the abode of staggering costs, waffling politicians, and the airheaded dream of “free” electricity.

Because I myself love to dream, and have many airheaded tendencies, I too thought it sounded lovely to stick a pin-wheel up into the blue sky and escape electricity bills.  However, because I have nose-dived and crashed and been burned so many times, (due to my airheaded tendencies,) I thought I’d do a bit of research before I surprised the heck out of my neighbors by popping a wind turbine up at my farm.  Even ten years ago I couldn’t see how it could work, and that was before I knew about the annoying noise, the distracting flickering, and the death of birds and bats.

What troubled me was the problem of storing the electricity from windy days for use on calm days.  I have a close friend who is a scholar at MIT, and we were trying to solve the problem of storage by inventing a huge fly-wheel that would pick up speed on windy days, and could generate power as it slowed on calm days.  It actually was the best idea I’ve ever heard, but building it involved me writing a novel that sold a million copies, to raise the funds. 

Fortunately I didn’t raise the funds, because I’d have a lot of angry neighbors by now, due the noise, flickering and dead creatures.

The people of Portsmouth are not so fortunate.  Read all about it at this link, and take particular care to read the comments, which suggest other towns in Southern New England have struggled with the same problem, and have solved the problem by taking the “futuristic” wind turbines down.

A hat-tip to Sandy McGee for a well written post.

  http://portsmouth.patch.com/articles/council-hears-wind-turbine-proposals

AMARILLO BLIZZARD

Amarillo came within a quarter-inch of breaking their all-time record for snow in 24 hours, by getting a little over 19 inches. How they measured it I cannot guess,  for they had steady winds of 40 mph, and a gust up to 75.  With wind like that you can have bare ground on one side of your house and a drift up to the eves on the other.  Also the wind packs the snow; it is not at all fluffy.  However I suppose they walk to some level place and measure.

Long time residents know enough to expect a blizzard in the southern Great Plains, though they are not as common as they are up in the Dakotas.  However newcomers can be lulled by a couple of mild winters, and then don’t know what hit them.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the snow, 19 inches is what Amarillo gets, on average, during an entire winter. On Monday they got it all on one day.

I wonder how the wind turbines withstood the tempest?

THE COLORS OF SNOW

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THE COLORS OF SNOW

 

            It is hard to be properly cynical, and to muster a Monday morning sneer, when every twig of every tree is heaped with fluffy snow and the dawn is breathless.  The best I could do was muster a wry disbelief, which I was thinking of twisting into the sort of scorn a tough guy displays towards frilly fashion, however when the children started arriving at the farm, and they all wore the dazed smiles of people who have awoken in heaven, I was totally outnumbered.  I got mugged by beauty, and couldn’t help but be happy and smile.

            We got about ten inches in all, all without much wind.  A weak storm went out to sea, without turning into the typical Atlantic gale, and it was trailed by a weak front, or actually a sort of appendage of low pressure, dangling back to the storm’s west over New Hampshire. The weather geeks spoke knowingly of a “second vort-max,” but only after it happened.  The truth was that the forecast was for four to six inches, and there was only an “advisory” (less than six inches) rather than a “warning” (more than six inches,) and the knowing got fooled, as the sky had a sense of humor.

            At six on Sunday morning there was only light snow and around a half inch on the ground, so there seemed to be no need to cancel church.  By eight there was nearly six inches of heavy, wet snow, with flakes plunging swiftly at times, as if flakes were about to turn to raindrops, and then it again became light, mixing with a very light mist.  It was so mild and windless cleaning up was no bother, and, with the weather radar showing the very edge of the snow over us, and moving away, it seemed the snow was over.

            However then the “second vort-max,” (whatever the heck that is,) did its thing.  The edge of the snow kept reforming to our southwest, even as it seemed to move away to our northeast, and the world again suddenly looked like someone had given a snow globe a shake.  The sky was so bright that the unseen sun could still melt the snow, and the six inches of fluff settled to three, but then a couple more would fall.  Again it would look like it was stopping and then the snow globe would be given another shake.  When I say we got ten inches it is only a generalization, as the fresh snow kept being compacted, and then receiving a fresh topping.

            I used the snow as an excuse to avoid the work of cleaning up at the Childcare for as long as I could.  Why snow-blow the drive when it will just snow again?  However as evening came on I could procrastinate no longer, and did the job.  Loose cobbles on the drive promptly broke sheer-pins on two of the six blades, and I’d used up my stock of pins and had to invent replacements with six-penny nails.  The snow didn’t blow, but came out of the blower’s chute like a stream of white soup, and would occasionally pack in the works and need to be dug out with a stick, but by twilight the job was done.  As the roar of the engine ceased it was totally quiet, so quiet you could hear the sound of the fat flakes falling, as the snow globe got another shake.  By the time I arrived at work on Monday morning there were two more inches of fluff.

            So I had my reasons to look crabby, with more work to do and my nice plans messed up by the snow.  I had it all settled that the kids would trot behind me and learn about hanging sap buckets on maples, as I pontificated knowingly about how Indians called this time “The Sap Moon,” and how fluffy snow was called “Sugar Snow.”  Now it was going to be difficult for the small ones to even walk away from the walkways, and I had to come up with a Plan B.

            To the east was a purple wall of cloud, like an extra range of hills, gilded with the pink of sunrise.  All around me the snow was pink, against a sky of pure blue to the west.  Then the sun peeked over the clouds, pure gold, and all the snow abruptly was a light orange, paling swiftly to the color of butter.  I kept waiting for snow to behave itself, and be white like snow is suppose to be, but it never did.  It borrowed the blue of the sky, or the faintest tint of green where shaded by pines, and only came close to being white when puffy white clouds began to spring up under the warm sun, but those clouds had purple bottoms, and I then noted a faint reflection of that purple on the snow.

            I didn’t have the slightest problem with the kids.  They all arrived well dressed, and all seemed enchanted by the snow, with dreamy smiles.  The most innocent pleasures satisfied them.  Rather than making a straight path across the pasture I tramped a curvy one, and they laughed, running around the curves.  Then we stood beneath a great pine as the touch of the sun started the snow falling from boughs in the stillness, pretending the pine was bombing us, and they thought that was great fun.  The snow was perfect for rolling snowballs, and soon the hill held an army of snowmen, plus a huge rabbit we decided would terrify coyotes, if they dared creep near.  Then we rolled a single snowball down the hill until it was enormous and too huge to budge, and the children rolled a smaller ball next to it so they could climb the giant one and play King Of The Mountain.  This did cause some quarreling, but tears were strangely absent.  Even when a tremendous snowball fight broke out, (which is against the rules,) there wasn’t a tear, which may be a first.

            I didn’t even get grumpy when a member of my staff came up with a plan that made extra work for me.  That definitely is a first.  We are supposed to discuss all plans ahead of time, but perhaps I was in no position to criticize, with my own plan A in ruins.

            The plan involved building volcanoes of snow, with a Dixie cup of baking soda on top, into which was poured vinegar stained with food coloring.  The chemical reaction made the volcanoes “erupt,” staining the snow.  There were a few jokes with parents, when they noticed some of the snow was “yellow snow,” but the children thought the snow being some color besides white was wonderful.

            It just goes to show you:  Snow doesn’t always have to be white, and Mondays don’t always have to be grumpy.

            Now it is a Tuesday morning, and the radio announces there is another winter storm warning, for snow starting this evening.  Yesterday’s fluffy snow is all packed down and refrozen, and I have to head out early to spread sand on the drive.  (I also have to work on proving that Tuesdays don’t always have to be grumpy.)

ARIZONA SNOW

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In the more prudish days of my youth, it was deemed rude to speak in a forthright manner of wardrobe failures of any sort, so a code was developed. If a man had not zipped up his fly, he was asked the question, “What do airplanes do?” (Fly)

Back at that time women wore an undergarment called a slip, and it was deemed embarrassing to have that slip hang lower than the dress, and show white along the dress’ bottom fringe. The way one woman alerted another that their slip was showing was to simply say, “It is snowing down south.”

In the same manner, the way to tell a Global Warming Alarmist that they have been chumps, dupes and sold a bill of goods by con artists is not to be blunt and rude, but rather to simply say, “It is snowing down south.”

The last week saw many snowfall records set across the USA. These records are discussed in great detail, and commented upon at length, at the What’s Up With That bog, in this post: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/23/over-650-snow-records-set-in-usa-this-week-another-wonky-surface-station-located/#comments

However if you don’t have time for all those details, these sentences can be used, “The record furthest south, in Paradise, AZ, of 6.3 inches snowfall, beat the old 2 inch record going all the way back to 1896. Paradise, AZ is just 40 miles from the Mexican border.”

It’s snowing down south. Alarmist are suffering more than a wardrobe failure. They are an emperor without clothes.

A RANT: THE SILENT SUN

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A RANT: THE SILENT SUN

It is a bit absurd to worry about the sun when I can’t even see it during a day of gloom and freezing drizzle, but the above enlargement shows what I can’t see: The recent flurry of sunspots is ending. Therefore, should I be in the mood to ignore the wise motto, “Don’t Worry; Be Happy,” I have something new to worry about.

Those who care about sunspots give each spot, (or close-group-of-them,) a number, and track them as they move across the sun, as the sun rotates. Groups 1671 and 1678 have just rotated out of sight, and the remaining groups are dimming and fading out. One spot has simply vanished, and all that remain are 1675 and 1676, one of which is so pale it hardly counts as a “spot,” and one of which is shrinking and about to rotate from view. In fact it is possible we may, in the next few days, have a “Spotless” sun.

Why worry about the sun’s face being free of spots, and clear and clean as a beautiful teenaged girl without acne? You’d think that would be a reason for relief, but I manage to fret.

The fact is that that the sun is at the peak of a sunspot cycle, and is suppose to have a lot of spots. The fact it doesn’t is cause for concern.

The concern is due to something which might be merely a coincidence: The last time that the sun failed to have spots during the peak of the sunspot-cycle was a time called “The Maunder Minimum,” and it just so happened that it was especially cold, during those years.

The Maunder Minimum occurred not long after Galileo got in trouble with the Pope for noticing sunspots. Despite the Pope’s disapproval, other guys with telescopes continued to peek at the sun, and they noticed when the new discovery became scarce. The Maunder Minimum began around 1645 and continued until 1715, and in the middle of that time thirty years passed when they only spotted (pun) fifty. In more recent 30-year periods people who look at the sun counted more than 40,000, during a thirty-year period.

In China they noted sunspots before Galileo, and their records speak of sunspots that, when the sun was an orange disc due to dust storms, could be seen with the naked eye. They noted when they didn’t see spots any more, and how the weather got cold.

The Maunder Minimum also caused problems for the dating-system that uses Carbon 14 to “radiocarbon date” old objects. Someone noticed that you could have a written page dated one date, but the radiocarbon date (from the paper of that page) was different. The same thing was noticed with old pieces of wood: counting the rings gave one date, while Carbon 14 dating gave another. Even without pausing to ponder how differences in the number of spots on the far-away sun could alter levels of radioactivity here on earth, it was obvious adjustments to the system of radiocarbon dating had to be made.

In the process of adjusting for this screw-up, it was noted there were similar screw-ups in the paperwork, going back in time to the earliest paper and tree-rings we have. Two earlier “minimums,” are called the “Wolf Minimum” and the “Spoer Minimum,” and they interested me because, along with the “Maunder Minimum” they form a trio that coincides with a very cold time called “The Little Ice Age.”

I learned a lot about the “Littler Ice Age” because, as a boy and young man, I was crazy about Vikings. I copied them, (a story for another winter evening,) and was very sad that their settlement up in Greenland failed. I wanted to know why that settlement failed, and in the process wound up, (back in the days before the internet,) walking into libraries and astounding bookworms, who didn’t expect to see a pirate like me in there. However I nosed through volumes of stuff, and became conversant about things you don’t expect pirates to know about, such as Carbon-14 dating and the Wolf Minimum, and the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

When Al Gore abruptly rewrote everything I had learned, with his movie, “The Inconvenient Truth,” I had questions. He used a graph called “The Hockey Stick” which basically showed there were no Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, and that only in recent times have temperatures warmed.

At first I was naïve and gullible, thinking Science had discovered something that negated what was known before. (After all, I lived through the discovery of “Continental Drift,” which negated much of the geology I had crammed down my throat in school, and when the adjustments to radiocarbon dating were made it negated the chronological ordering of haughty historians.) However, as I investigated, I discovered they actually hadn’t negated prior work. Instead Global Warming Alarmists were simply ignoring prior work.

They were doing this because they were, in terms of science, a merry band of pirates. Because I myself was a pirate, I knew all about the lame excuses used to break the tried-and-true rules. In fact, compared to me, Global Warming Alarmists were pretty pathetic, when it came to breaking the tried-and-true rules.

However, when I pointed out what pirates they were, I was scolded. It turned out people even more naïve and gullible than I was had decided Al Gore was something called “politically correct.” I was something called a “denier” to point out he was ignoring stuff like the Wolf Minimum ending the Medieval Warm Period, and Viking settlements in Greenland getting wiped out.

I am used to being scolded. After all, I’ve been a pirate attempting to emulate Vikings, in my time. (Just as Vikings didn’t see why monasteries should have all the gold and jewels and nuns, when they could walk in and take them, I didn’t see why the rich should be rich when I wasn’t…but that is a story for another evening.)

A bizarre role-reversal was taking place, and I was being scolded for being prissy and telling the truth! (It’s upsetting to a true pirate, when even the prissy do-gooders like Al Gore start swaggering about with black eye-patches and growling, “Arrgh-be, Matey!”)

However, in a “progressive” way, that is what “Global Warming” amounts to. Because the “ends justify the means,” dishonesty and stealing becomes acceptable, and so-called “Progressives” become, in terms of truth, pirates.

It is very upsetting, to a pirate like me, when others don’t know their place.

Why? Well, if do-gooders don’t build the bridges, how can a pirate burn them?

In order to build a bridge, you have to obey the truth. Otherwise your bridge will be poorly engineered; it will be a “Galloping Gertie,” and will fall down.

Even a pirate has to know a thing or two about engineering, to keep his ship off the reefs, however Al Gore’s piracy lacks such brains. In terms of his own life, a reef he himself seems oblivious of, even as he himself is crushed by it, may be becoming apparent to others, however the “Progressive” piracy, which his “ends-justify-the-means” ruin has been built upon, still remains amazingly unquestioned.

Because of this I am one worried pirate. People are suckered into planning for “Global Warming” when the sun seems to be hinting at another “Little Ice Age.” In England suckers have even gone so far as to plant tropical plants, only to see them killed by the cold. They build solar cells where the sun is seldom shines, erect wind turbines where gales knock them down, and buy carbon-credits that aren’t worth a damn, even as the face of the sun shines without a blemish, without a sunspot at the very time it should be crowded with spots.

The last time the face of the sun was so unblemished, so pristine, so untroubled, the civilization of Greenland ceased to be. (Not only the Vikings, but also the “Dorsets.”)

There were other disasters. A quarter of the people in Finland starved to death. Native American “Mound Builder” nations suffered ruinous upheavals, and the Anazsazi ceased to be (except for Hopi and Zuni remnants.)

The worst thing, in my opinion, is that scientists do not yet understand why a quiet sun should cause such a chill. Svenmark has a half-decent theory concerning cosmic rays, and others venture ideas about ultra-violet rays effecting the ozone in the upper atmosphere, but at this point the truth remains that science has no proof that a quiet sun makes the planet cold.

For political reasons, very little money is spent proving a quiet sun makes the world cold. For political reasons, all the funding goes to the political correctness of Al Gore. For political reasons pseudo scientists ignore science, in order to promote their personal gain.

As a reformed pirate, I simply must tell you Progressives seem to me to be the most stupid pirates that ever existed. Even after a gallon of rum, Blackbeard would never launch his ship just above Niagara Falls, but that is what they are doing. It would be all right if, like Al Gore, they merely wanted to become waddling fatsos who ruin their own marriages and sell their own birthrights for a mass of potage, however the simple fact of the matter is that Alarmists want to take billions of other innocent people with them, as they fall.

Obviously, I am worried and unhappy. I am a mere crewmember on a ship of state captained by a madman. How can I possibly say, “Don’t worry; be happy?”

As a father and grandfather, I am supposed to take charge. I, a single vote, am supposed to alter the results of an election of imbeciles. I, a lone individual, am supposed to take on a faceless government. That government, which once cared for the individual, and once was of the people and for the people, could care less for me, for it is something called “Progressive.”

A Progressive congressman or congresswoman could care less what I think. They already know the answer, and don’t require my input. They know the world is warming, and deem the cries of their constituents about a growing chill nothing but the ravings of the rabble. What uses have they for thermometers, they who have computer models to tell them what the temperature was, is, and ever more shall be?

Even if the world actually were warming they would be wrong to treat constitutes the way they do. For all their talk of “diversity,” they only care for their own, and mostly for their own reelection.

Even though I detest Progressives, I’ve been yearning for Global Warming, and for the face of the sun to erupt with sunspots. A warm earth is a good earth, and I’d be glad to see Greenland green again, and 100,000 sheep and goats again grazing on its slopes and shores, as they once did, for even a stupid government can’t cause starvation when the climate is kind.

However the face of the sun has gone quiet. The smile we want on its face is unseen, and the voice we want is unheard.

Instead we have political smiles that are false and voices that lie to us.

` To me the silent sun seems like a Silent Son. I yearn for a Truth yet unspoken.