Yesterday it made it up to 86 (F) which, with a breeze and passing clouds, seemed very warm but not debilitating.  Today, however, it has reached 80 just after 9:00 in the morning,   and I expect to be wrung out by the afternoon.

I’m busy writing another, longer post which I think will be funny, when I’m not busy at the Childcare, so my posts will be short for a while.



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The above map and radar image shows a warm front pushing north through New England, with a impressive little squall line rippling along the front.  The squall passed just south of us, but we had just enough thunder to awake me from a sound sleep.

I’d crashed way too early, before 8:00, thinking I’d just nap.  Next thing I knew it was nearly 11:00.  I suppose I’m just paying the price for refusing to “graciously give up the things of my youth.” Or, to put it another way, “refusing to grow up and act my age.”  However I don’t know what else to do; I can’t afford to hire hands.

 The Good Lord has given me a body which has refused to get pot bellied and arthritic like my peers, and I suppose the reason I remain strong is so I can work my butt off.

I spent most of Monday mowing the Childcare playground, and using the clippings to mulch the garden.  The recent rains has done wonderful things for both the growth of grass and weeds. I did inherit a rider mower from a neighbor who is moving away, but this only enables me to also mow more than I did walking behind my old mower, including part of the pasture the goats don’t adequately crop.  It was getting a bit brushy, so I rented a brush hog last summer to beat back the brush, and now I’m mowing the pasture, to keep weeds down and turn it to turf.

Sitting on the mower gives me time to ruminate, and what I think about is: Why the heck am I bothering to fight back the brush on this pasture?  I remind myself of my great-great-grandfather, who my grandfather told me his father told him about.  (The male side of my family tends to have sons when they are well past thirty, forty, and even fifty, which increases the spread between generations, and my great-great-grandfather was born in 1797.)

That old man apparently bewailed the fact the good-for-nothing younger generation, (my great-grandfather,) didn’t appreciate all the work that went into clearing the land, and were allowing fields to grow over and become puckerbrush.  Things only got worse, and New Hampshire, which once was a sort of OPEC of the Northeast, supplying the “gasoline” for a horse-drawn world, (IE hay,) has gone from 90% pasture to 90% forest.

I wonder why I fight to keep my little patch of pasture from growing over.  Partly it for the Childcare, (the older kids play baseball in it,) and partly it is because that field can be a corn field, if we ever need to grow all our own food (and it is far easier to plow up a pasture than a forest.) However I’d rather be writing than mowing and lugging mulch.

Tuesday I spent wrestling a rear-tine rototiller in the garden, which meant today I woke and remembered I’m sixty.  I could feel the front coming in every bone.  However, besides my work watching the kids at the Childcare, I had to go get some heavy fence posts to expand the electric fence, to keep the goats out of the garden. Because goats are psychic, they knew what I was up to, and as soon as I was gone they made a determined dash for my brocolli seedling, and ate roughly half before my sister-in-law drove them off by spraying them with the garden hose.  So I had to start right in with the fencing when I got back, though all I wanted to do was snooze.

Either that, or work on on an essay I think might be pretty funny, that is only half done.

In fact, that is what I’ll spend the rest of this this bout of insomnia doing.



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Above is the ECMWF Day 3-7 map, showing above average temperatures coming to the northeast part of the USA.  (I was alerted to this map by Joe Bastardi’s blog at WeatherBELL.)

This made me click over to the Accuweather point-and-click forecast, which informed me that, after a warm front pushes through tomorrow, we could expect temperatures of 88 degrees (F) on Thursday, 93 on Friday, and 91 on Saturday.

An official heat wave requires three full days with temperatures above 90.  However I am going to take a page from Jim Hansens’s book, and “adjust” Thursdays temperature from 88 to 90.  (If need be I’ll move my thermometer into the sun.)

In any case it is going to get a lot warmer than it’s been.  Snow was mixed into the cold rain two days ago.  Right now, as I sit at 3:45 AM with insomnia, it is 39 (F.)

This means it is time to get the corn, squash and beans in.  I held off, as the seeds rot when the soil gets too cold, but now I have to work hard and swiftly.  We have only 24 days until the days start getting shorter, and only 95 days until September and the first chance of an early frost.  (In my bones I feel that next winter will start off quickly and harshly.)

We have such a short growing season this far north that it gives me an understanding how close to the edge my ancestors, who depended on their gardens, lived.  What a complete disaster 1815 (The legendary year of “Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death”) must have been, with the corn crops killed by frosts in June.  They then replanted, only to have many corn crops killed by a frost in July.  The corn that survived was killed by an early fall frost in late August.

All that work, and nothing to show for it.

Or imagine the Greenland Vikings, on farms where their elders had lived for 400 years, seeing the soil fail to even thaw.  (In the year 2020 my family will have lived in New England for 400 years.) All that work, and nothing to harvest.

They must have girded their loins and prepared to live on seal blubber, however one theory holds an interesting fate befell the Greenland Vikings.  Perhaps they had a prayer meeting, and asked God for warmer weather.  Then pirates swooped in, gathered them up, and sold them in Southern Europe as  white slaves.  There were apparently over a million white slaves back then, especially in the Ottoman Empire.  Many ships in the Mediterranean were galleys, propelled by men bending over oars.  It may seem a harsh fate, but maybe it beats starving to death in Greenland, and maybe some were not slaves forever, got promotions, and wound up living in cottages on the shores of the Aegean Sea, basking in warm Mediterranean sunshine, and ruminating over the mysterious ways in which God works.

If such a thing happened, you would think the sailors on the coasts would hear the tales.  Both Columbus and Cobot grew up in Italy, and could have heard such lore, and both sailed west in the 1490’s, seeking a New World, not long after the Vikings vanished from Greenland around 1480.

How’s that for a tale before sunrise?  But that is how my mind works when under the influence of insomnia. It wanders from New England to Greenland to the Ottoman Empire to Italy and back to North America.  It drifts back in time and then starts forward.

However the reality is that it is now 4:30 AM, and a robin has started singing in the dusk of a long day, and I’d better go back to bed and catch a quick hour of sleep before work.

A hands on view of tree growth and tree rings – one explanation for Briffa’s YAD061 lone tree core

This is a comment of mine  from back in 2009 that appeared as a “guest comment” in early October of that year.  It is now nearly 44 months later, and it seems Briffa is still attempting to “draw out the signal” he wants to see by including some tree-rings while excluding others.

I left this comment on the Climate Audit site:

Forgive me for mixing my metaphors, but I get the feeling Briffa is between a rock and a hard place; he wants to come in from the cold, but can’t very well bite the hand that feeds, and therefore is standing with one foot on the rowboat and one on the shore.

At least he seems more honest than others about what he is leaving out, in order to “draw out the signal” he is seeking to reveal (and wants to see.) The problem is that even an average Joe like me, who has worked cutting down trees, and has looked at tree rings, since age ten (1963) can see the problems Briffa is going to slip into.

When I was just commenting on these problems on WUWT in 2009 Anthony made a post of my comment, and it drew a surprising 199 other responses.

I’m afraid that if Briffa really wants to come in out of the cold, he is going to have to make a clean break with his old pals.

Such divorces from old friends and workplaces are difficult, but can be done. In my younger day I hung out with a bad crowd who were a lot of fun, but up to no good, and who got me into such trouble I finally had to walk away from their society. By then I had such a bad reputation that it took decades to clear my name, (and some still don’t trust me.) However I felt much better after making a fresh start.”

I am not all that impressed by the big word, “dendrochronolgy” simply because I know a thing or two about trees and tree rings, having worked in the woods a lot in my life, however before anyone assumes I am an authority, they should read this confession I wrote (comment 189 of the 199 comments,) back in 2009.

  1. Caleb says:

    I was delighted to see my comment elevated to the status of “Guest Comment,” and have been flattered by many of the nice things people have said about it. However I feel I gave a false impression, for many seem to believe I am far more honorable than I actually am.

    Therefore I would like to clarify that the reason I have spent so much time working in the woods is not because I am a successful lumberjack, but rather because I am an unsuccessful writer.

    If you have any experience with writers you know that a major aim of all writers is to avoid working a real job. If my life had followed the script I wrote for myself as a teenager, I never would have worked a real job at all. I only worked real jobs because I ran out of people to mooch off. Therefore I should not be equated with honorable people like “Joe the Plumber.”

    Many unsuccessful writers reach a point where they have to decide just how far they will go, to avoid getting a real job. Will you lie? Will you forge? Will you steal? Will you sleep with the editor?

    Being something of a prude, I would not go as far as some of my peers would, to get published. Some suggested this explained my lack of success, (though I myself think the reason for rejections was that my writing put people to sleep.)

    One trick, which my fellow writers seemed very adept at, was to get people to pay them for work they hadn’t done, and likely would never get around to doing. It was called “an advance,” and I had friends who were very good at getting advances. To me they seemed more like con artists than true artists. They were slick talkers, and landed an advance or endowment or grant, and spent all the money on wine, woman and song, and then awoke with terrible hangovers, flat broke. They called awaking with hangovers and being flat broke “the suffering of an artist,” and sometimes got patrons to pity them, and earned further grants and endowments and advances. It was quite a racket, but I was no good at it, and wound up washing dishes or cutting trees in the woods. Eventually I stopped telling people I was “a writer,” and just called myself “a landscaper and handyman.”

    Therefore, if you judge a man by the company he has kept, it should be obvious I don’t deserve some of the flattering comments people have showered on me. However I did learn one thing, during my time as an unsuccessful writer, and that was: “How to recognize a con-artist.”

    Naming no names, I often have felt I recognized the work of con-artists in the work of climate scientists, and have rudely and bluntly said as much. Over at Climate Audit my comments were quite regularly snipped, because I was too blunt. I feel Steve McIntyre deserves a great deal of credit for not allowing people like me to be rude and blunt, and to turn his site into a free-for-all. Rather than making accusations he keeps his cool, and politely states, “Excuse me, but it seems you made a mistake here.” I hugely respect his calm and collected manner, and am trying my best to learn how to emulate it.

    In the end I feel remaining calm and collected will bring truth back to the science of climate. Also I believe people will eventually learn as I have learned, and recognize real jobs are better than con jobs.”

    So you see, one of the few things I can actually claim to be an authority on is: Being an unsuccessful writer.  However one does not have to be an official authority on anything to get older and wiser, and to be able “to see through a brick wall with time.”  

    So there is still hope for Briffa.


Watts Up With That?

One of the great things about WUWT is that people from all walks of life frequent here. We have PhD’s right down to Average Joe  that read and post comments here. Everyone has something to contribute.

A general truism that I’ve noticed through life is that the people that actually work “hands on” with the things they study often know far more about them than the people that study them from afar. As in the case of the surface stations project, top scientists missed the fact that many of the climate monitoring stations are poorly sited because they never bothered to visit them to check the measurement environment. Yet the people in the field knew. Some scientists simply accepted the data the stations produced at face value and study its patterns, coaxing out details statistically. Such is the case with Briffa and Yamal tree rings apparently, since the tree ring…

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            The above map looks more like winter than the unofficial start of summer.  Temperatures here in New Hampshire are in the upper thirties this evening.  A bit of slush was mixed in with the rain, as I studied splatting circles on the windshield, between the wiper’s sweeps,  at a stoplight in Keene, as we drove home from eating out.

Last week we did talk a bit about a trip to the beach on Memorial Day Weekend, but as the week passed that seemed more and more like a bad idea, and sitting by a fire seemed more and more like a good idea.  Venturing out to a warm restaurant and eating Thai food seemed like a bad idea to me at first, as I looked out at the raw, sweeping rain, but I’m glad I got budged from my armchair by my wife, and enjoyed a meal with my three sons, my wife, my daughter-in-law and my three grandchildren.  These reunions will become more rare, I fear, as they head off into the big world.

When we noticed the slush on the windshield we recalled fishing derby chilled by falling snow around ten years ago, in late May.  My wife identified the date as May 25, linking it with a nephew’s birthday, but I’m not sure it was quite that late.

I then recalled a day in May back around 1975 0r 1976 when the leaves had just opened out, and there was a half foot of snow in the western suburbs of Boston.  I recalled hurrying to my boyhood neighborhood, where I was saddened to see many trees I had climbed as a boy had lost major limbs, or were broken down completely.

When we arrived back at home I noticed, on Joe Bastardi’s blog, a mention of a cold storm back on March 25, 1967, where a cold rain switched over to snow, which even accumulated as a thin slush on the deck of a yacht,  racing on Long Island Sound.

The point being that this sort of miserable weather, although uncommon, is not unheard of in New England.  It is not a sign of Global Warming or of Global Cooling.  It is not proof of Catastrophic Climate Change.  It is just a royal pain in the butt.

It was somewhat amazing how swiftly my garden went from too dry to too wet.  I’m glad I held off on planting corn, squash and beans, for this sort of weather is perfect for rotting such warmth-loving seeds. However I did get my eggplant and pepper seedlings in, and I fear they will not be happy.  Even if the weather warms next week, they do not take kindly to being chilled.  Even if there is no actual frost, they tend to sulk, and in some cases seem to sulk all summer.

The children at our Childcare didn’t sulk as much as you’d imagine, as the weather went from warm and muggy on Monday, to a humid, soggy midweek,  to showery, to abruptly chilly on Friday, as the rain let up for a bit, before the nor’easter brewed up on our coast.

The children were all too fascinated by how the mud, which had vanished in the drought, reappeared, and how our tiny pasture brook, which had also vanished, reappeared, as we had nearly three inches of rain in a series of heavy showers, during the week.  And, though we keep the kids nicely wrapped in rain gear, they have an amazing ability to accidentally sit in the brook, and there is nothing short of dressing them in a wet suit that can keep them dry, when they do that.

At one point I saw a haughty seven-year-old covet a pail a four-year-old girl was using to dip water up from the brook in.  The older girl tried to ask politely for the pail, and then tried guile, and then tried rearing up and blustering, but nothing worked.  The four-year-old was in no mood to share the pail. So the seven-year-old resorted to barbaric brute strength, but the four-year-old clung to the pail with a look like a snarling leopard. I was rushing forward to break up the fight, but before I could break it up the pail’s handle broke, and the four-year-old fell backwards and sat in deep, oozy mud.  The seven-year-old, who held the pail, saw me coming, and attempted to look nonchalant as the four-year-old wailed like an air raid siren. (Actually the seven-year old’s look of nonchalance was an amazingly good job of looking innocent, considering the circumstances, and I told her so, as I took the pail from her, whereupon she became a second air-raid siren.)  I cleaned up the four-year-old as best I could, but her mother later wondered about the mud in her child’s fanny-crack, when she undressed the four-year-old for a bath that night.

As a general rule, I expect such fiascoes, and therefore try to keep the kids away from the mud, unless the weather is truly hot and I can hose them down afterwards. However kids just love mud, so I need a stroke of genius to lure them away.  Unfortunately I was suffering from a shortfall of genius, and had to resort to being a mean, old grouch, and simply ordered them all uphill.

I don’t much like being a mean, old grouch. Getting glared at by a large number of children is not one of my favorite experiences. It makes me sigh, and it was as I sighed, and rolled my eyes towards heaven, that the answer came.

Just above my head a lower branch of a pasture oak made a ceiling of yellow-green leaves.  Sometimes I can make grouchy children laugh by reaching up and jarring the branch, which brings down a shower of droplets when the leaves are drenched by rain.  I then pretend to be upset by the mini-rain shower I cringe amidst, and the kids forget to hate me in fits of laughter.  However before I could resort to this ploy I noticed a little inchworm hanging from a tiny stand of web, and said, less than brilliantly, “Well I’ll be danged!  A little inchworm hanging from a tiny strand of web!”

It was a sort of miracle.  I highly advise rolling your eyes to heaven as often as possible, for the children all were cured: They forgot they hated me and each other, and instead were wonder-struck.

Unfortunately they all, nearly instantly, became covetous of the inchworm.  The boys said they deserved it, because worms are for boys, but the girls said they had just been crying like air raid sirens, and that meant they had suffered more and deserved the inchworm more.

Hatred towards me had been forgotten, however a new war between the sexes loomed, and I knew that if I sided the boys, the boys would fight among themselves about who got the worm, and if I sided with the girls the two girls would resume their battle.  I would again have to step in and would again wind up hated. The inchworm would end up torn in two or else totally smushed.  I again rolled my eyes to heaven.

Above me the light was shining through the yellow-green leaves, which are much more translucent when just unfurled, before they darken to forest green with summer chlorophyll. As I looked up at them I saw the webs of their veining clearly, and then also saw a short, straight shadow.  I drew the leave carefully down and saw an inchworm on the upper side of a leaf. Then I carefully let the leaf rise back up, and said, somewhat casually, “Oh, it is easy to find inchworms, but I’ll only do it for the ones of you who don’t fight.”

The children instantaneously forgot their war, and I had their attention riveted on me as I pointed upward at the leaves, and told them to look for short, straight shadows, and then pretended to just discover the shadow of the inchworm.  I nonchalantly drew the twig down and showed them the small inchworm on the top of the leaf.

Then the true miracle happened.  Once I had showed them how to do it, and made it look so easy, they all began hunting inchworms.  A week that might have been remembered as, “The Week Of The Rotten Weather,” will instead be recalled as, “The Week Of The Inchworms,” for it turned out they were rather good at inchworm-hunting.  They found the typical little green ones, and even smaller lime-green ones, and fat grub-like deep-green caterpillars like the ones found on cabbages, and amazingly slender thread-like loopers, and even the despised (but beautiful) mini-caterpillars of just-hatched gypsy moth eggs.

They found so many inchworms I had to jokingly tell them to slow down, or the mother birds would have none left to feed their babies, (and I would run out of Dixie cups to hold them in.) The only down-side was the hint of displeasure parents later shot at me, as they arrived to pick up their children, and their children rushed to show them their new pets.  However this discomfort was more than made up for by the simple fact the children were utterly engrossed, completely happy, and got along well with each other as they shared the wonder of each new discovery.

It was only a fad, and fads are forgotten.  By next week inchworms will bore them, and they’ll move on to new interests.

However I did not forget to look heavenwards again, and be thankful. Once again I have turned children away from quarreling and fisticuffs, and taught them about nature, and once again I can take no real credit for it.

I can’t take credit despite the fact the nicer parents might even compliment me, saying, “I think it is so wonderful you teach our children about inchworms.”

I can’t take credit because I know deep down that, had I written down, “Teach about inchworms,” as a sort of agenda and curriculum, things would not have worked out so well.  In fact we likely wouldn’t have even found an inchworm, and I would have been so frustrated that, after rolling my eyes to heaven, my eyes would have fallen, downcast, and I would only then have noticed fiddle-heads, or polliwogs, or slugs in the grass, and they would have become the nature lesson, instead.

To be honest, when dealing with children it doesn’t pay to plan too far ahead.  An inch about does it.

In the same way, adults aren’t all that different.  It takes longer, and the sense of time is different, but adults also inchworm forward, from droughts to drenching, pretending all is planned, when it isn’t. Not by us, it isn’t.

This Memorial Day I’ll be missing an old man who used to attend our little church, who, as a teenager, landed on Omaha Beach.  He inched across the sand, one of the few who lived. He inched from moment to moment, horribly aware each moment could be his last, and indeed was the last moment for other teenagers, inching beside him.

The wind outside is gusting with unseasonable chill, as it did on the beaches of Normandy seven years before I was born.  That storm convinced the Germans there could be no invasion that day.  Had the weather been better, had the weather been “as planned,” the slaughter on all four beaches might have been even worse than the hell of Omaha beach, and the invasion might have failed.

We like to think we have all things planned out beforehand, but we don’t.  Powers beyond our consideration are always messing up our battle plans, our agendas and curricula, our organizations and schedules, to a degree where even when we insist they are set in concrete, they are so variable they seem like little more than fads.

Last week it was important to water my garden, but it would have been foolish to do so this week.  What seems to matter much, changes, as you move from drought to drenching.  However there are some things that do not change, and one of those things is remembering to glance up towards heaven in gratitude.

In their own way my garden’s seedlings are still grateful I watered them, though I’d look stupid if I watered them today.  Watering was not merely a fad.  The seedlings might be dead, if I didn’t water them, though water is no longer needed today.

In some ways brainless plants are smarter than us, for at times we see the efforts of our elders as foolish fads, and rather than grateful are resentful. We know nothing of the droughts they endured, and we think the fact they watered us proves they are all wet.

And if we cannot even understand our fellow mortals, (and our elders are, after all, fellow beings only slightly older than we are,) how much less can we understand mighty powers beyond our consideration, especially the power of a Maker who, I believe, cares for us?

We can’t.  We are mere inchworms, with the understanding of inchworms, compared to our Creator.

However we are inchworms who operate websites, and sometimes write rants that blare like air-raid sirens across the blogosphere to the far side of the planet,  thinking the level of our noise proves we care, while the silence of the Creator is proof he doesn’t.

At our worst we think we are mighty, and the Creator is just an uncaring inchworm, if He exists at all.

Then again, sometimes the slings and arrows of droughts and drenchings makes us a bit more humble, and we toy with the idea we ourselves might be the inchworms.

The odd thing is that it is when you are feeling at your smallest, and most insignificant, that you tend to roll your eyes towards heaven.  When at our least significant, we turn towards what is most magnificent. It doesn’t make much sense for a tiny thing to expect to be noticed by a huge thing, but we are not exactly sensible, when feeling small. We are like a terrible two-year-old tantruming that all the world must stop and heed him, when he stamps his foot.

Even odder is the sense I have that, when I roll my eyes to heaven, as a mere inchworm, I do get noticed. Despite all the things I forget to remember, even on Memorial Day, I am not forgotten.

Although I can’t remember
The day I was begotten,
And now get old, and oft forget,
I haven’t been forgotten.

Quote of the week – misplaced priorities

MY COMMENT:  Considering the money our government wastes on “green energy” businesses, which then go belly-up, and wastes on plum-grants to so-called “climate scientists,” who then refuse to show their data even in the face of FOI laws, and who produce forecasts which fail to verify, it seems a very great shame that children die because their schools lack storm cellars, NYC’s subways flood because they lack storm barriers, and New Orleans’s levees fail because recommended improvement aren’t made.

Watts Up With That?

One of the most shocking stories to come out of the Oklahoma tornado this week is this one. The mind reels that in the middle of tornado alley, in a place where a previous F5 tornado devastated the town in 1999, no safe room existed in the school.


Full story:

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. puts the issue into perspective with our QOTW:

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I awoke in the wee hours to the rumble of thunder, and lay in bed watching the dark outside light up with lightning.  Then I heard the trees sigh, as the rain came.  Soon it was drumming on the roof, and splashing down from the eves outside.

It was as if all the trees were sighing in thanks, for it has been a very dry spring.  I’ve had to water my seedlings daily, which is unusual in New England.  I’m more accustomed to the problem being too much rain, and having seeds rot.  In parts of the tilled garden I haven’t planted, the unwatered earth was dry as dust.

I won’t have to water, when the sun comes up.  Of course, there will be new problems.  The weeds will get a boost from the thunder-rain, which actually has plant-food in it.  I’m not sure of the details, but, as I understand it, the lightning, leaping from cloud to cloud, chemically alters the nitrogen in the air, turning it into trace amounts of fertilizer that falls with the rain.  This is why a summer rain gives plants more of a boost than watering with a garden hose does.

So I suppose I could consider weeds and be crabby about the rain, however I prefer to lie in bed and be grateful.  There is much to be grateful for, when thunder is high in the sky and benign.  It is the softer, hushing sort of thunder, totally different from what Oklahoma just went through.

We might get stronger storms when what is left of that Oklahoma monster passes over us, in 48 hours.  However I’m not going to worry about that, either.  For the moment we are  on the edge of a warm front extending east from that “bowling ball” low pressure area, and a ripple has come east along that front and has given us the blessing of rain.

It is best to count your blessings, for life has plenty of hardships.  If you focus only on the hardships, you are missing the point of life itself.

And what is the point?  Ah! Figuring that out is half the fun!

In the end we are only passing through.  Any shelter we devise is but a temporary tent, or perhaps a mobile home like a turtle’s shell.  Though we pass through beautiful landscapes, they cannot compare to where we are going, and therefore it does not pay to get too attached to any particular place or thing, which we will eventually depart from.

This includes hardships.  They too are temporary.  If we focus too much on what makes us sing sweet blues, we are as attached to our hardships as miser is his gold.

Sometimes it is good to just let go, turn off the news and computer and stop listening to politics, and to instead just listen to the rain on the roof.