ARTHUR TO HIT NEW ENGLAND?

UPDATES WILL BE ADDED TO BOTTOM OF POST Arthur June 30 vis0(1) JUNE 30  Arthur-To-Be is already showing a better  structure than I thought it would this early. (Ordinarily now would be when I was just perking up and noticing it, but over on his Blog at the WaetherBELL premium site Joe Bastardi pointed out this storm was possible on  Friday, and changed that to likely by Saturday.) It is drifting south, but likely to pause and then start drifting north tomorrow, and really be intensifying by Wednesday, but not really to start up the coast until Thursday, and the surf will be up on the east coast beaches on July 4th as this thing starts racing north, clipping Cape Hatteras bwfore turning out to sea…..or will it? That is always the question on the east coast. To be honest, I’ve been expecting New England to be clobbered since 1990, when the AMO turned warm.  In the 1930-1960 active-time New England had the 1938 monster, a huge Cape Cod hurricane in 1944, and then a mass of storms in the 1950’s, including Carol, Edna and Hazel in 1954.  Then it was quiet from 1960-1990, but I figured the 1990-2020 period would again see great activity. FAIL.  I keep rushing out thinking I’m Paul Revere and wind up looking like Chicken Little. I am even more of an Alarmist than a Global Warming fanatic, although this has nothing to do with Global Warming.  (Irene and Sandy were really not all that bad, compared to what the “Big One” could do.)  Therefore I just link to an article I wrote a couple of years ago, so I don’t have to go through the trouble of amassing the data all over again: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/ Here’s the current map. (Click for full-size view) Map June  30 USA Arthur-to-be is that meek low off Florida. What is likely to happen is that high up the coast will get out of the way and the front up in the Great plains will come east and sweep the hurricane out to sea. Sweet and simple, and likely to happen. But there is always that 5% chance of the typical solution not occurring, in weather. So I’m watching for the worst case scenario. That will occur if the low dragging the cold front down zooms away into Canada, and a secondary low gets left behind on the front, and rather than southwest winds pushing the hurricane out to sea, there are southeast winds ahead of that secondary low sucking the hurricane inland.  Also, if the hurricane gets strong quickly it lifts a lot of air, and what goes up must come down, and the high pressure at the edges can be “pumped” by descending air.  If the high to the north gets “pumped” it will also tend to resist a movement of the hurricane out to sea. A lot of the steering goes on up at the level shown by 500 mb maps, but I have my head up in the clouds too much as it is.  I highly recommend going and sitting at the feet of Joe Bastardi at his weatherBell Premium site. (This would be a good week to take advantage of their 7-day-free-trial.) Today he posted a 500 mb map of the strong westerly flow over New England in 1954, just 36 hours before Carol came roaring up the coast and smashed us. It looks impossible for a hurricane to penetrate that flow, but a low pressure trough to the west swung east and dug down.  Things can change very swiftly when they want to, and it is best to stay on your toes. Here’s the map from 1954: Carol 36 hours before comphour_9D2ytKyssN I’ll post updates at the bottom of this post as things develop. UPDATE  A good post by Joe Bastardi here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/30/bastardi-potential-nightmare-a-tropical-cyclone-coming-at-the-outer-banks-on-the-july-4-weekend/ UPDATE JULY 1 Some of the models are now seeing this with winds over 100 mph as it passes out to sea west of Hatteras. Currently it has winds below 35 mph and hasn’t even been named, off Florida. Arthur 1 satsfc (3)  (click to enlarge) Feeder bands starting to appear on radar, to the north of the low. A lot of thunderstorm activity over inland Florida could compete and weaken the storm a little later this afternoon. Arthur 1 rad_se_640x480 (Click to enlarge) 11:00 AM  —ARTHUR OFFICIALLY NAMED— NHC Places Arthur at 27.6N, 79.3W, drifting NW at 2 mph, pressure at 29.74, winds at 40 mph. They’re thinking it will be a hurricane in 72 hours; I’d say sooner. I’ll bet a nickle on 48 hrs. JULY 2 2:00 AM  —Up to 60 mph winds— 28.0 N, 79.1 W  Moving north at 4 mph. Pressure 29.56

July 2 2:00 PM  ---continuing to drift north---
LOCATION...29.4N 79.1W
ABOUT 110 MI...175 KM ENE OF CAPE CANAVERAL FLORIDA
ABOUT 235 MI...380 KM S OF CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...60 MPH...95 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 360 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...997 MB...29.44 INCHES

  Arthur July 2 vis0-lalo 

JULY 3 ---5:00 am UPDATE---
LOCATION...31.3N 79.1W
ABOUT 340 MI...545 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 190 MI...305 KM SSW OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 10 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...985 MB...29.09 INCHES


7:00 AM NO WATCHES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, BUT THEY DID INCLUDE THE FOUR WORDS  "TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS POSSIBLE" IN THE FRIDAY NIGHT    FORECAST,   AS AN ASIDE.


8:00 AM  ARTHUR STRENGTHENING—NOW A HURRICANE LOCATION…31.8N 78.7W ABOUT 300 MI…480 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA ABOUT 150 MI…240 KM SSW OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…80 MPH…130 KM/H PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 9 MPH…15 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…983 MB…29.03 INCHES I notice strong convection is wrapping around the south side, coming from the west side of the storm where you usually watch for a “dry slot” to be drawn in.  The fact we are seeing strong convection rather than a dry slot indicates to me this storm means business. Arthur July 3 vis0_lalo New England shouldn’t lower its guard yet, though all models show this storm out to sea.  Notice the cold front has become stationary to the west, and some low pressure is on the front west of the storm. Arthur July 3 90fwbg (click to enlarge) 11:00  AM  Arthur up to 90 mph winds

LOCATION...32.4N 78.5W
ABOUT 260 MI...415 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 110 MI...175 KM SSW OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...90 MPH...150 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...981 MB...28.97 INCHES

2:00 PM 

LOCATION...32.9N 78.3W
ABOUT  70 MI...115 KM SSW OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 225 MI...365 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...90 MPH...150 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...980 MB...28.94 INCHES

Joe Bastardi sees no trough split, and the storm going out to sea once north of Hattaras. Hmm. I’m nit so sure, but have to go run a childcare in ninty degree heat. That is a hurricane in and of itself. I’ll just keep the hose running and spray the wild animals down. JULY 4 —3:00 AM—HATTERAS GETTING CLOBBERED—

LOCATION...35.6N 75.9W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM SSW OF MANTEO NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 35 MI...55 KM NW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...100 MPH...155 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 40 DEGREES AT 22 MPH...35 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...973 MB...28.73 INCHES

 4:30 AM RADAR  Arthur July 4 rad_ec_640x480 (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Forecast shows hurricane missing New England, but gales on Cape and strong wind into Cape Cod Bay from northeast.

2:00 PM EDT Fri Jul 4
Location: 38.5°N 72.4°W
Moving: NE at 25 mph
Min pressure: 977 mb
Max sustained: 90 mph



8:00 PM EDT Fri Jul 4
Location: 40.3°N 69.6°W
Moving: NE at 28 mph
Min pressure: 976 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph

I’m glad I don’t have to make forecasts. While the radar at 8:00 PM shows the center and rain-bands still moving northeast as expected, north of the rain-bands the rain is heading to the northwest, right towards me. Outside it is rainy, with the low clouds moving opposite the way the radar is saying the rain showers are moving, with scud coming from the northeast. The map shows the front has stalled and a local low is right over us. It wouldn’t surprise me if the hurricane cut back, closer to Cape Cod, though that is not a forecast. The whole complex is rushing north so swiftly that even if it cut back drastically it likely would hit the Bay of Fundy and eastern Maine, and not here. But I never lower my guard until these things are past.

Arthur July 4 satsfc (3)Arthur July 4B rad_ne_640x480 (1) (Click images to enlarge)

If I was a boy, I’d be bummed out: Cold and rainy and no night for fireworks.

5:00 AM

LOCATION...43.1N 66.9W
ABOUT 65 MI...105 KM SW OF YARMOUTH NOVA SCOTIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...70 MPH...110 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 35 DEGREES AT 22 MPH...35 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...981 MB...28.97 INCHES

A beautiful, brisk morning, here in New Hampshire, with purple clouds sliding away to the east. A the world is rain-washed, and ready to grow. Last night the neighborhood was full of bangs and flashes, despite the rain, and even as I drifted off to sleep at ten the ruckus was still going on, so I think the children were happy.

I can at long last answer the question that began this post. No. Arthur will not hit New England. Even Nantucket only got gusts to sixty, with the steady winds down around 45 mph.  The rest of us only got the indirect consequence of needed rain, as the hurricane bumped against the cold front.

Before I put this story to bed, I should note that low pressure associated with Arthur could wobble and split, undulate and morph, and be a storm over the North Pole a week from Monday.

In terms of the next hurricane, nothing is in sight to the south. Sound the “all clear,” maybe until August, and get back to weeding the garden.

 

 

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A GRAIN OF SALT

Grain of salt article-2277028-1780B70B000005DC-332_964x781

(A lighthearted view of valleys of shadows)

PART ONE: RESPECT

One sign of healthy skepticism is that you take things with a grain of salt, but there is a problem inherent in having this attitude, namely “disrespect.” We are supposed to respect our elders and teachers, and I can’t say my skepticism has always led to such respect.

For example, as a teenager in the late 1960’s I embraced the Jack Weinberg quote, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” in a way that seriously thwarted learning from my elders. To be blunt, the reason I distrusted elders was because I wanted to break the law, and they’d put me in jail if they knew what I was up to. (I wish I could say I was breaking rules for some noble cause, such as pacifism, but that would be dishonest.)

Basically I wanted to do things elders would disapprove of, and didn’t want to hear elders rebuke me for doing things that they claimed were bad for me. Therefore, instead of learning from elders, I learned the hard way that many of the things they said were bad for me were, in fact, bad.

Apparently, if I was going to be skeptical, I should have been more skeptical of the statement, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” however it didn’t seem possible I’d ever be so old. That particular skepticism didn’t sink in until my thirtieth birthday approached, and I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “Oh Lord, I’m about to be one of those people you can’t trust.”

Now that I’m over sixty I thoroughly approve of respecting elders. In fact I have revised the Weinberg quote, and it now goes, “Don’t trust anyone under sixty.” After a significant pause I add, “And I wouldn’t trust those over sixty either.” After a second significant pause I conclude, “For that matter, I wouldn’t trust myself.”

The simple fact of the matter is that humans aren’t perfect. (Some say there are such things as Perfect Masters, but I can’t claim I’ve ever met one on the street.) Sooner or later everyone I’ve met, including myself, makes a mistake, and, by making that mistake they, in some way, shape or form, break the trust.   Even a minor mistake, such as being one minute late for an appointment, breaks the trust. Even if you have a thousand excuses, you failed to keep your word. Therefore it is quite true to state that no one can be trusted.

Life would be a complete drag if I took human imperfection to heart, and walked about scowling at everyone. Another attribute of humans is that, just as you can’t trust them to do right, you can’t trust them to do wrong, either. At times the most unlikely people pull off amazing deeds of kindness, strength and heroism. Humans are a lot like the weather in this respect: You can’t forecast them with 100% certainty.

Though you can’t trust humans to be perfect, you can develop a form of government that takes imperfection into account, and, through a system of checks and balances, makes it possible to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. In like manner you can create scientific disciplines that allow one to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. In fact all areas of life, right down to a game of darts, can be governed in a way that allows one to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. All people need to do is accept a system of rules.

This was precisely what I refused to do, as an ignorant, young jerk. People much smarter than I had worked long and hard to create various systems that effectively deal with the fact humans are prone to making mistakes, but their systems involved rules, and I didn’t like rules. I would find a better way, an “alternative lifestyle.” Rules didn’t seem to be the same as freedom, and I wanted to be free, unaware (to a ridiculous degree) that one thing I’d never be free from was making mistakes. Then, when my mistakes became apparent, I, in the spirit of a true do-it-yourselfer, set out to reinvent the wheel. Because I was very lucky, my mistakes didn’t kill me, and I eventually arrived at a solution that looked very much like a wheel.

Now I sit back and wonder, “What in God’s name was I thinking?” I wasted decades reinventing a wheel that teachers were trying to give me for free. What made me such a stupid rebel? What a mistake!

I suppose I could play the blame-game, and say someone else made a mistake that led to mine. America is a nation founded upon rebellion, and Americans are such rebels that even the motto on their money states you can’t trust humans. It was therefore my homeland that put rebellion in my blood.

Or I could blame women, (especially schoolmarms), because it was only when women got the vote that drinking beer became unconstitutional. Prohibition didn’t merely engender a disrespect for the law, but even for the Constitution our forefathers died for, yet, as a young boy, I could hear old-timers laugh about how they brewed beer in the basement, blithely unaware they were encouraging disrespect for the Constitution.

Or they laughed about how they drove 1000 miles in ten hours, though the speed limit signs said sixty-five.

On the fourth of July everyone set off fireworks in my Massachusetts neighborhood, though fireworks were illegal. Does that not celebrate independence from the Law? Is it not in the very nature of Americans to disobey elders, whether they be King George or one’s schoolmarm? It isn’t my fault! I am not to blame for the fact I wasted decades reinventing the wheel!

The blame-game may be fun, but it cannot pull you out of quicksand. At some point it simply doesn’t matter how you wound up to your neck. Getting out of the mess becomes the focus. However, providing you survive, it is a healthy intellectual exercise to look back and ponder the mistakes that got you into quicksand. Even if it doesn’t get you out of the ooze, it might help you to avoid jumping back in. It is in this spirit that I would like to cause trouble, by pointing the blame-game finger at the schoolmarms.

I think I can say, with a high degree of probability, that it is a mistake for schoolmarms to put boys (such as I once was) in rows of desks, and expect the boys to sit still. Boys squirm. Boys kick. Boys dream out the window, dip pigtails in inkwells, shoot spitballs, and fail to memorize six words of Shakespeare even while writing twenty lines of rhyming doggerel mocking schoolmarms, (with hilarious cartoon illustrations.) You are just begging for disaster if you fail to recognize boys will be boys. You will turn a boy who might have been law-abiding into a law-breaker.   Boys, by their very nature, need to run wild, and if you squelch this impulse you will have hell to pay.

(I’ve talked with schoolmarms who know this, for they have seen that boys sit most still and learn most right after recess, and right after summer vacation, and squirm worst and learn next to nothing just before recess, and when spring is in the air. However, being schoolmarms and not boys, they don’t even whimper when their government and/or teachers-union urge recesses and summer vacations be banned “so boys may learn more.”)

I actually think it isn’t a schoolmarm’s duty to discipline boys. That job is the father’s. If I wrote the laws, then, rather than a bad boy being expelled to the principle’s office, the boy would be sent by taxi to the father’s workplace. If the Dad was in jail, send the kid there. That would get men’s attention darn fast.

That never happened when I was little. I suppose I should point the blame-game finger at Dads, for when I was young they put widgets ahead of family, and ran away to the rush-hour each day-break, leaving their poor, defenseless sons in the quicksand of classrooms, and at the mercy of schoolmarms.

Due to a weird twist of fate, I grew up dead center in a wormhole in the space-time continuum, wherein I escaped the wrath of schoolmarms when it was expressed by caning, and escaped the wrath of schoolmarms as it is now expressed by drugging. When I made chaos out of their quiet classrooms, all I faced was the wrath of schoolmarms expressed by words.

Much of my skill with the use of the English language was absorbed from schoolmarm’s tongue-lashings. In order to keep order in classrooms of twenty to thirty Baby Boom rebels, they had to exploit adroit sarcasm and cynical sneering, and employ twists of dubious logic and clubbing condemnation. Their wit could be superb and set the entire class laughing, but when you are a little boy and the whole class is laughing at you, you do not think of witty rebuttals as much as you think of getting some sort of completely unholy and uncivilized revenge.   An abscess of resentment brewed in me. Schoolmarms may have kept me quelled, when I was small and helpless, but when my hormones hit and I swiftly loomed taller than they, all my study of their use of English came back to haunt them.

They had created a monster. True, Frankenstein is not usually portrayed as jovial, nor as being able to out-argue the doctor who bolted in his brains, but reality is often even stranger than a monster movie. I became an outlaw, but one of the most harmless outlaws imaginable. Initially my sinister activities involved dreaming out windows, wandering into the classroom after the bell, or shrugging when asked where my homework was. It was when I stopped shrugging, and started answering the sarcastic questions, that I think I set some sort of modern record for the most after-school detentions ever received for being cheerful.

Detentions were a half-hour spent sitting in a classroom after school, and were a bad idea when boys are bursting with energy. I could only serve four detentions a day, because the last bus left at four-thirty, and for a time it looked like I might not graduate due to not-having-served the amazing numbers of detentions I was amassing. It was at this point an uneasy truce descended. Likely the teachers dreaded the prospect of another year with me, though perhaps the teachers were also embarrassed by the prospect of failing a student who was going to win the award for creative writing, and not failing him because of his grades, but rather because he cheerfully answered their sarcastic questions. In any case they stopped being sarcastic, which meant I had won.

It was at this point, at my moment of victory, that I fell flat on my face. The culprit was drugs, but I’ll talk of that later. For now I want to remain on the topic of respecting elders.

Schoolmarms did teach me a sort of respect for elders, but it was not the sort of respect that leads to one rushing to elders, desiring their attention like a rock-star’s fan desires the star’s autograph. Instead my primary goal in school became to avoid the attention of schoolmarms.   They were the Gestapo, and I was the French Resistance. My respect was the sort of loathing respect one has for a bully. After the hormones hit and I won my victory I became like the Norwegian Resistance, and schoolmarms became like the trembling Quislings after the Gestapo had fled Norway.

Now I look back across a half century and wonder: What was it that made them the bad-guy Nazis, and me the good-guy? Why didn’t they seem like millionaires, loaded with knowledge, as I myself was a mere beggar, with the empty pockets of ignorance? Schoolmarms were offering me a free hand-out. What was I fleeing?

I think the answer lies in the single, dreaded word, “Drill.”

PART TWO: DRILL

Drill is a sort of necessary evil, in learning.

What most delight in, when learning, is having a light bulb go off in their head, and experiencing the sense of being on a mountain top and seeing for miles. When you “get it” the enlightenment abruptly makes you naturally high, (without damaging your memory as marijuana does.) (Natural enlightenment doesn’t cost money, either.)

However life has few mountaintops, and I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of my time down in dark valleys where you can’t see the forest for the trees, plodding gamely forward to cross the valley and get to the next mountaintop, fighting my way through shade so dark and dismal that mountaintops started to seem like they were only a dream. It is this travail that encompasses 95% of life and learning, and which we use the word “drill” to describe. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, drill is the thousands of such boring, banal, trivial steps necessary to cross a valley to reach the next mountaintop.

I didn’t understand this very well when young. Drill in many ways seemed the antithesis to “getting it”. Drill was doing the same dumb thing over and over and over again, and getting the same boring and predictable result. No light bulb went off in my head. What could be the value?

The first value lies in making something habitual, and I will see that value the next time I drive a long way with a lot on my mind, and arrive at my destination with next to zero memory of the drive. I will have paid hardly any attention to what made me brake or what made me speed up,   and I’d be hard pressed to describe the colors of the vehicles I passed or the landscape I drove through, yet I could describe in great detail some music or talk on the car’s radio, or the words of the person in the passenger seat, or the musings of my own mind. How is it I don’t hit a tree, considering I’m so inattentive to driving? The answer is that I underwent drill, as a young driver. Back then I paid attention to every car and every curve, over and over and over again, until driving became second nature to me.

Another example is seen in people who are organized. They irritate the heck out of me, but awe me. At some point, years ago, they subjected themselves to the drill of putting stuff away where it belongs, and now it is second nature to them. They don’t even need to think about it. When they see the complete state of chaos I live in, a look of pity fills their face if they are kind, and contempt if they are not.

I have only myself to blame for a lot of the confusion in my life, because I was an escape artist, when it came to drill. I drove schoolmarms to distraction. However I didn’t escape drill, for it turns out life itself is a drill. You may think you can escape certain things, but later on you find yourself in a situation that has an eerie similarity to the situation you ran away from. Life has certain realities we’d all like to avoid, but which are laws as fundamental as the law of gravity. They tend to involve basic realities like food, clothing and shelter, and if you try to avoid them you discover you can’t.

As an example, I’ll confess (and brag) I didn’t much like the idea of paying rent, when young. Why should I have to pay for being alive? I avoided paying any official rent, in terms of dollars, to an amazing degree. It would astound you how little I paid, before age thirty-seven, when I married and couldn’t avoid the problem any longer. However what I learned was that I paid even when I didn’t pay. If you sleep in your car, you pay with suffering. If you live with your mother, you pay in terms of putting up with her. If you sleep on a loading dock, you’ve got to be up by five AM. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

In one way or another we spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid the unavoidable, over and over and over again doing the same thing, making the same mistakes, and coming to the same inevitable conclusion. Is this not a drill?

This brings me to a quote you should be skeptical of:   “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” People bandy about that quote as if it were some sort of gospel, but who said it? Moses? Jesus? Mohammed? Mark Twain? Benjamin Franklin? Albert Einstein? Nope. Jane Fulton said it. Who the heck is Jane Fulton? She is a fictional character in a novel written by Rita Mae Brown. (Sure sounds like schoolmarms to me.)

In actual fact life drills us, and we tend to do the same thing over and over, but it only seems like we are doing the same thing. In actual fact we are learning by infinitesimal increments.

If you study the music of a great like Beethoven you can hear the sameness and see the increments. His earliest music is youthful, and if you didn’t know better you might think, “This is some young fellow trying to copy Beethoven.” Then, as the years pass, each opus is just the same Beethoven, over and over. However, by the ninth symphony, all those little increments have added up, and you are hearing a true Masterpiece.

It would be nice if these infinitesimal increments were each accompanied by infinitesimal light bulbs illuminating our minds, but quite often they involve failure, and rather than a light bulb one experiences a dud, a little wave of darkness. Rather than scribbling brilliant ideas, you have to clean your messy desk. “Oh well, back to the old drawing board,” and, “You’ve got to pay the dues if you want to sing the blues,” are phrases that express the tedium drill puts us through. It can be a real drag, and the last thing people need is the discouragement of Jane Fulton. If it were really true that, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” then there would be no reason to ever practice the piano.

Drill does bear fruits, and now that I’m over sixty I am seeing a few of those fruits. All the infinitesimal increments do add up, though I doubted they even existed when I was young. In fact, now that I myself am (against my will) the elder, I am in the position to tell modern youth what the elders of my youth couldn’t hammer through my thick skull: Boring drill has value.

If I am going to do this, I need to coin a word for the “infinitesimal increments.” because writing that phrase over and over will soon get old. (There may already be such a word, but my vocabulary lacks it.)   Until I can think of a better word, I’ll just call them “infinitums.” I define “infinitums” as the molecules of learning which, when strung together, create a “connection,” which in my symbolism is the journey down into a dark valley and up to the next mountaintop view.

I also, to be remotely scientific, need to spend some time studying how these infinitums initially collect in a child’s mind. It is not enough to merely remember being a child myself; I need achieve a better balance by seeing things from the side of a parent or teacher. Of course, it is hard to get these experiences when you are a dedicated artist sleeping in his car.   In fact, while sleeping in your car is proof you are dedicated artist; it is a bad way to pick up chicks, which is step one towards becoming a father and seeing childhood from the other side. Even if you do meet a woman made so crazy by love that she wants you, sleeping in your car will be one of the first habits she insists is bad, and seeks to train you away from. Women often fail to understand the dedication of a manly man, when he’s an artist.

This used to hurt my feelings. While I had a sense of humor about my plight, it seemed sad women didn’t seem to think I’d be a good father, especially as I was so good with kids. I was a sort of favorite-uncle wherever I went, and kids rushed to me like I was a rock star. (Some suggested that this hinted I shared a child’s level of maturity.) Inevitably people would always note my way with children, and helpfully suggest the same thing, “Have you ever considered writing children’s books?” This was a swift way to sour my sense of humor, and turn my face purple and make veins stick out, for it utterly belittled how serious I was. For crying out loud, I was sleeping in my car! Do you think that is child’s play?

A far better question would have been, “Have you ever considered spending twenty years as a father raising five kids, preferably spending at least ten years home-schooling, and making sure you work so close to home you are always available, and follow that time by then running a Childcare business at a small farm for seven years, caring for twenty to thirty small children?” This would have been the perfect way to study how children accumulate infinitums, and how teenagers utilize them.

Strangely, no one asked me that, as I was sleeping in my car in Gallup, New Mexico, 28 years ago. I sure didn’t ask myself that, and had arrived at the conclusion that marriage simply wasn’t in the cards for me, and I should stop chasing young babes, because I was starting to look like a dirty, old man. However I had odd dreams, as one does when sleeping in a car, as an inner voice started nudging me in a direction I never thought I’d go.

PART THREE: CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS

America owns an enormous need for responsible fathers, however there is no glory in a man watching over kids. Men comprise 3% of all “Childcare Professionals,” the pay stinks, the public worries such a man must be a pervert to take such a job, and the women often want to kick such a man upstairs as swiftly as possible. Male “Childcare Professionals” consequently resort to painfully labored bumper stickers to salvage their battered egos, such as the one that reads, “Men that change diapers change the world.” However children, especially boys, do need a man about. They learn through a sort of osmosis at times, and in the past absorbed amazing things just trotting along behind a father at a farm.

I am going to be superficial and lighthearted and merely skim over this topic, however it is a serious subject, and the men who have labored to awaken America to the dangers involved deserve credit. I’d recommend that people who have time should read “Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv; “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne; and “Let Them Play” by Jeff Johnson. That being said, I’ll now return to my focus on “infinitums,” and how it relates to drill.

Because I run a Childcare on my farm, I often get to watch small children perform repetitive actions, amassing infinitums without being aware they are drilling themselves. Over and over they will teeter along the same log, learning how to balance in the same way a pianist learns by practicing the same tune over and over.

It swiftly becomes apparent a degree of multitasking is occurring. Children don’t only work on one infinitum at a time: Even as they teeter down a log they may be looking towards another child, coveting some truck or doll, and calculating how to get it. Infinitums involving social skills occur simultaneously with those involving coordination, and it is for this reason I often prefer disorganized sports to organized sports. After all, even among adults baseball seems to require arguments with umpires, and if you hand children a soft plastic ball and bat, and simply stand back and let them play rather than bossing them about, they get right to work on the arguing. Eventually they get around to the game, however more than half of sandlot baseball is, and has always been, the arguing.

It also becomes apparent children are amassing infinitums more swiftly than adults ever do, and often do so unaware the unpleasantness of drill is involved; they feel practice is “play.” Occasionally you’ll see someone throwing stones at a stump or shooting a basketball at a hoop in a manner that looks very much like practice, however some repetitive activity seems different: It is a sort of solace, like an adult playing solitaire or knitting. The unpleasantness only enters the picture when you have to move the child a direction they don’t want to go.   Going against a child’s desires is like rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way.

Trickery is helpful. A child who has no desire to eat brown rice will develop an interest if they are told it is an odd foodstuff only grown-ups like. Tell the child it is gross, grown-up food, and they can’t have any, and the child’s interest will perk. Tell the child it is roasted wasp maggots, and they may even plead for a spoonful. If this seems bizarre, simply compare it to the behavior of young adults who won’t go out in a blizzard in December, but will leave the warmth of a lovely June day, heading off in a jet to Nepal to risk frostbite climbing Mount Everest. Common sense often has little to do with whether people desire a thing or not.

An ancient trick is to give the child no option. While children need the freedom to amass infinitums, they also need the security of set boundaries. Too many parents ask questions such as, “Would you like to put away your toys and get in the car?” The child simply and honestly answers, “No.” Soon getting into a car degenerates into a battle of wills, with the child forced to consider adult topics, as the parent asks, “Do you want me to lose my job because you won’t get in the car and my boss is furious because I’m late and we can’t pay the mortgage and lose the house and have to move?” The battle of wills is completely avoided if, rather than the parent, it is some detached power like the Law of Gravity in control, and the Child is simply told, “We must go.” When the inevitable “Why?” is voiced, children accept, “Because it is the law,” or “That is how we do things.” It actually makes them feel more secure to have the structure and regime we call “home.” Too many choices and too many questions and too much freedom breeds anxiety, and the behaviors attendant to fear.

That all ends when the hormones hit. At that point the individual takes whatever infinitums they have amassed at home and heads off to climb some Mount Everest, usually plunging into a valley on the way.

(One bizarre twist occurs when a child is growing amidst the horrors of war and genocide. In such situations a natural, survival-oriented urge to perpetuate the species kicks in, and the hormones hit earlier.   What is truly bizarre is that this early puberty is now seen in wealthy American homes, where one would think the children are protected. While some blame the early puberty on additives in food, others suggest modern childhoods are simply devastated by chronic uncertainty and fear.)

The world was far safer when I was young, as can be shown by the simple fact that when the urge to leave the safety of home and scale some Mount Everest hit me in the late 1960’s, I was able to hitchhike. I hitchhiked from the suburbs of Boston up the coast of Maine and then across to Quebec and down towards Toronto when I was only fifteen, sleeping in a sleeping bag under shrubs at the side of the road when I grew tired. The worst I ever faced was a slightly indecent proposition, which I politely refused. Mostly I met friendly and talkative people, and often got rides from families in station wagons. I doubt a fifteen-year-old would experience anything as nice as I experienced, these days.

However, though it is now a different and more dangerous world, the same dynamics still apply. You are setting out with an amassed collection of infinitums, which are basically preconceptions in need of many small adjustments. My advise to a young person heading off to some Mount Everest they see in the distance would be, “Don’t lose faith.” As they plunge down into the first valley the Mount Everest will vanish from view, and all they will see is clawing branches and shadow, and they will be afflicted by doubts, many of which have validity. However this is normal and natural, and part of a mysterious process that gets you to the other side of the valley, and the next view of the Mount Everest.

It is impossible to offer much more advice, for every individual is led by their own guiding light, which is something they alone see. Even among the small children at my Childcare I see a sumptuous variety of talents, yet I never would have the audacity of some government officials, who think they can predetermine talents and put people into the appropriate slots. Such an official might be correct, if they discovered a child was genetically predisposed to deafness, but be completely wrong to steer the child away from a career in music, if the child was Beethoven.

Talents are very real things, and it is quite obvious one child has perfect pitch while another is tone deaf, however how these talents play out in the world is a mystery, and often defies logic. I watched one little boy, who was completely and amazingly incapable of carrying even the simplest tune, display extreme joy over music. He would belt out songs in a most discordant way at the top of his lungs with his face beaming delight, even though all the other little children were extremely discouraging, even to the point of walking away with their hands over their ears. I can’t tell you what talents are at play in that case, or how they will work out over the years, and I furthermore feel anyone who thinks they can tell you a person’s future from aptitude tests is about as reliable as a palm reader.

In the end people tend to be governed not by an external government, but by a voice from within. What’s more, the internal voice doesn’t always mollycoddle and flatter, as I am advised to do as a “childcare provider.” I am advised to always accentuate the positive, and when a child swings at a baseball and misses the ball by a foot I am suppose to exclaim, “Oh!   Good swing!” However often the child will look at me wryly and shake their head, as they know they missed the ball by a foot. An internal voice has spoken like a skeptic, and told them the truth.

One time I ate lunch in the shade on a hot summer day by a playground, watching a teenager shoot hoops. He was obviously a basketball fanatic, for all other kids were either repetitively playing video games in air conditioned homes, or repetitively jumping off the diving board at the Town Pool, but this one youth was repetitively shooting hoops. He was much better than I ever was or will be, and at one point he had made ten baskets in a row, but each time he scowled and shook his head, for each shot caught the rim of the basket slightly. Then the eleventh shot swooshed through without touching the rim, “all net,” and he gave himself a little nod, and then moved to practice shooting from a different angle. He was completely oblivious he had an audience of one, and as I watched him I felt like I was watching someone conversing with their inner voice.

It is often hard to listen to inner prompting, for life is full of external demands, and the government is one voice, peer-pressure a second, ones spouse a third, and external things like weather conditions are a fourth. However in the end no one knows the make-up of our personal infinitums like our inner voice does, nor is as able to be the skeptic, pointing out our flaws. Other voices may be more seductive and flattering, telling us what we want to hear, but deep down we know we are not perfect, and have a voice who will tell us so, and drill us to be better. My advice to the young would be not to become discouraged, and to have faith, for some day you will be sixty, and see that you were not led astray. Other voices trail off. Governments fall, and peer-pressures fickly alter with fads, and weather changes, as do the seasons, and even a beloved spouse can depart, (though hopefully not,) and in the end that inner voice is the lone thing with you for the duration. It has a vested interest in your success, and will work to adjust your infinitums in a manner that leads you from the shadows.

However I would add a word of warning which all too few of my own generation seemed to heed: There is one thing that can play havoc with the natural processes that would ordinarily lead you across the valley and up to the next peak, and that one thing is drugs. Avoid them, unless you are interested in falling flat on your face.

PART FOUR; DRUGS

In kinder times the transition from a childhood home to a new life away from home wasn’t so drastic. Rather than a deep and dark valley it could even be a walk away into sunny glades in the same neighborhood, such as a young fox experiences when it trots away from its mother’s den. However this modern world is no utopia, and youth does face a huge and dark uncertainty upon leaving the nest. Despite all its wonderful benefits, progress is a sword that cuts two ways, and the winds of change, over the past century, have had a devastating effect on the certainty once inherent in traditions.   It is not merely quaint and rustic tribes that are rendered laughable, and which are in some senses mutilated, by progress; it is everyone.

In my grandfather’s youth a man could make a good living simply growing grass, for all vehicles ran on grass, and a hay farmer was the OPEC of that horse-drawn era. However in my grandfather’s lifetime horses became a rare sight on city streets. Where growing grass was once a way to make a good living, and had been a way to make a good living back into the mists of distant memory, it suddenly became a laughable thing to do.

The pace of progress has sped up and become in some ways frenetic, with the commercialization of computers. Forty years ago repairing electric typewriters was a good living. Now it is laughable. Twenty years ago repairing an Apple 2c computer was a high paying job. Now it is laughable. One becomes obsolete nearly as fast as one can learn.

When the world changes in a whirl, and one needs to run on a treadmill just to stay abreast, it is hard to respect elders. Their knowledge, technically at least, has become laughable. They’ve become anachronisms, and unless they know how to have fun being one, they are miserable anachronisms.

When the wisdom of elders looks laughable, a dark valley appears before the young. It does not matter if they are a young Sioux facing the twentieth century, or a young suburbanite facing the twenty-first. It is the unknown that terrifies. In the face of such dark depression, there is a temptation and tendency to turn to drugs. It doesn’t matter if you are an Indian turning to Peyote in the Native American Church, a hundred twenty years ago, or a Bostonian witnessing Timothy Leary turning to LSD in the 1960’s.

I have first hand experience of both Boston in the 1960’s and the Native American Church, and am under no danger of being awed by drugs, or the individuals who gained fame and wealth by extolling their so-called virtues. I know when a humbug is a humbug, for I was there when the Hum bugged.

Regarding Timothy Leary, when he got booted from Harvard both my father and stepfather taught there, and my eldest brother was a freshman there. I saw a side of that situation, at age ten, that you won’t read about in Wikipedia.

Regarding the Native American Church, my best friend in the 1980’s was a Navajo who had grown up in that church, and knew what it was like to have breakfast prepared by a mother coming down from Peyote, and could describe a side of that church you don’t read about in Wikipedia.

When he and I talked together about the dangers of drugs we did so with a level of understanding that, sadly, I haven’t achieved elsewhere. I count my inability to communicate my understanding of drug’s dangers as being among my greatest failures.

I once heard a tragic tale of a group of ditch diggers who unearthed some roots that smelled of parsnip. A burly man who liked parsnip was going to eat a root, but a slender man told him it was hemlock; (not the evergreen tree but the deadly poison.) The burly man laughed and didn’t believe it, but when he tried to eat the root the slender man jumped on him and tried to physically restrain him. The burly man easily flung him off, laughingly ate the poison, and within a half hour was dead, with the slender man watching and wondering what he could have done differently.

I feel like I know how that slender man felt, only rather than a half hour it has taken a half century. I would guess roughly half the intellectual potential of the Baby Boomer generation has been wasted, and I mean wasted.

I want to avoid going into all the details. What I know about Timothy Leary is slimy tabloid stuff, and worth big bucks. It will be in some forthcoming book, and you’ll have to pay. However the essence of what I learned is quite simple, and free.

The human mind is a marvelous thing, but anyone who pretends to understand how it works, in terms of test-tubes, molecules, and electrical wiring, is fooling himself and anyone who listens. The mind contains something outside of the physical, something beyond science, and beyond art, called “Life”.

Just to prove my point I have decided that, when I die, my deathbed will be on the pan of an extremely sensitive scientific scale. We will be able to see how much I weigh just before I flat-line, and just after, and in this manner will determine how much my life weighs. I hypothesize that the answer will be, “zero.” The only conclusion to such an experiment will be that Life, which is a very important thing to have, has no weight in the scientific literature.

For this reason I must use symbols such as “crossing a dark valley,” rather than remaining strictly scientific. Some may even accuse me of pseudoscience, and be quite correct. I have crossed the line that separates art from science, but before anyone accuses me of glorifying the status of an artist, I hasten to add artists are no experts on what life weighs, either.

The best artists have a huge appreciation of how beautiful life is, but a nasty habit of dying young. That alone proves they don’t understand life, for who willingly leaves what they love?

Even though science can’t measure life, I need to borrow some ideas from science in order to explain why drugs are such a hazard. (Any decent pseudoscience does this.) The concept I need to borrow is the idea of energy existing in an unapparent state, as latent energy or potential energy or whatever. This energy is stored in the things I earlier called “infinitums.”

Ordinarily this energy is gradually accumulated as one crosses the “dark valley,” and is released when one reach the “mountain view” of the far side, and experiences a “natural high.” What I imagine a drug like LSD does is release this energy prematurely, before one has done the necessary work required to “cross the valley.” Because one hasn’t done the necessary intellectual work, they can only flash backwards to a prior view. Symbolically, they walked a little way down into the dark valley, got scared, and ran back to an old mountain view. It may be a gorgeous, spectacular view, but they have made no forward progress.

Over the past half-century I have watched drugs destroy many fine minds, and what destroys them is not that they change, but rather that they don’t change. At age thirty they sound like they did at twenty. At age forty they sound like they did age twenty. By age fifty at the latest they start to crack. Just imagine how frustrated Beethoven would have felt if his ninth symphony sounded no different from his first. It would be maddening.

Of course a true pseudo-scientist doesn’t use common words like “maddening.” Late in his life Freud coined the word “schitzophrenogenic.” Rather than, “It is the maddening that drives people mad” he suggested “the schitzophrenogenic cause schizophrenia..” Pretty obvious, if you ask me, (and I tried to tell schoolmarms as much, back in school,) but in the case of drugs it is not a person or situation driving you mad. It is the drug.

The saddest part is that the one time such mind-altering drugs might actually help is when a person is suffering from natural schizophrenia. In such a case a person has headed down into the dark valley, and hit such a thicket of unsolvable problems their mind can’t take it. In such circumstances they truly need to back off, and return to an earlier starting point. LSD might help, in such extreme circumstances, however when LSD harms the person’s mind to begin with, repeating the drug cannot help. The damage is done, and is irrevocable.

In order to further stress the harm I need to bolster my pseudoscience by stealing another concept from real science, the concept energy is “concerved.” The energy fueling the sense of being “high” doesn’t simply vanish, as the high fades. It is absorbed back into the construct of infinitums. In the case of a natural high this is healthy, (though one never entirely enjoys coming down from inspiration,) while in the case of hallucinogens it is unhealthy.

In the case of natural euphoria, one has done the work to gather the data, and it comes together as an answer. Observations lead to a conclusion. Thesis and antithesis result in synthesis. There are many different ways of describing the process, but in the end it doesn’t matter if you call it a hypothesis or a gestalt, what you have is a completed puzzle rather than a mess of puzzle pieces, and it requires much less energy to hold the completed puzzle in your mind. Abruptly you have a surplus of energy, and are able to see a broad range of implications all at once. Elation fills the air.

Of course, one may then want to dissipate some of the energy by uncorking some bubbly and whooping it up, but one deserves it; one has worked long and hard and now has a reason to celebrate. One has created a tool, and life will be simpler because of that tool. It is not a thing that one will forget when the euphoria fades,   (as euphoria will, when the energy is reabsorbed into fresh infinitums as one gets back to work.) What one has accomplished is permanent.

In the case of unnatural euphonia one has done no work, yet as much (and perhaps much more) energy is released. One sees implications up the wazzoo, but there is no completed puzzle behind it all. Instead one merely sees old conclusions more intensely, and, when the energy is reabsorbed, it tends to be reabsorbed backwards towards those old conclusions, and to be lost from the infinitums that led away from those conclusions, “across the valley”, to modified conclusions.

This begs the question, “Why would anyone want to see the old conclusion?” The answer lies in the intensity of vision made possible by extra energy. For example, take a childhood conclusion, such as, “The sky is blue.” On LSD that becomes, “Wow man! The sky is blue!” Afterwards one can’t remember what was so impressive about the sky being blue. One “forgets,” and one yearns to return.

After all, childhood conclusions are often lovely (if you skip all the fears and tears and all the ungovernable fits of frustration and rage over weakness and inability.) Children view the world with a sense of wonder we are foolish to forget, yet do forget. Perhaps children simply have more mental energy available because they have such a colossal amount to learn, or perhaps we have a colossal amount of energy invested in what we have learned, and have very little left over, which leaves us jaded. In any case, people want to take LSD again, so they can again remember how blue the sky is. It is then that they note they cannot get as “high,” nor can they even remain high at all. Where alcohol allows a tippler to maintain a steady state, drugs do not.

This suggests a whole range of avenues for further thought, concerning how mental energy moves and is stored, however, considering we are discussing pseudoscience here, and there is no scientific way of verifying any of these ideas, I think I’ll just leap to my conclusions.

Perhaps the most insidious difference between natural and unnatural inspiration manifests in terms of the shackles we call habits. Because natural inspiration results in an actual tool, a conclusion you can use, life is naturally altered, and quite naturally habitual behavior also alters. In the case of unnatural inspiration habits can be suspended, but only the weakly held ones, (such as doing the dishes), are lost. The more obnoxious ones return, and sometimes return with a vengeance. (Initially LSD was seen as a cure for criminal behavior, and Peyote as a cure for alcoholism, but the hopes faded as the long-term results came in.) (One of the founders of the Native American Church later became disillusioned, and concluded, “Peyote is a trickster.”)

In the spirit of full disclosure I need to confess I did experiment with drugs as a teenager, and am quite sure I would have destroyed myself had it not been for sheer good fortune. I was quite convinced I was seeing more, and was an American pioneer venturing into a new frontier. (My inner voice was telling me otherwise, but I refused to listen.) Then I blundered across stretches of time and through several living situations where drugs were simply not available. This gave me a chance (that I was not seeking) to compare how my mind behaved on and off drugs, and also to compare my mind with the minds of close friends who were in living situations where drugs were always readily available. In any case, I became vehemently opposed to drugs while still a teenager.

In all the decades of arguing since then I haven’t talked a soul off drugs. In my opinion it is like trying to tell a glowing young man his new girlfriend is bad. However I do know all the arguments, and many are absurd. The same people who argue your experience isn’t valid because you haven’t tried a drug will tell you your experience is drug-deranged after you try it. About the only argument worth a hill of beans is., “It’s a free country, isn’t it?” And the best answer is, “Then why enslave yourself?”

In conclusion I will venture a couple of thoughts regarding those who persist in taking drugs. First, despite the fact they make it extremely difficult for their selves to “cross a dark valley,” they have a longing to progress, and they continue to think about the future. However, because they have so little practical experience of genuine progress, the future they talk about holds less and less contact with that which does exist, such as airplanes, and involves more and more stuff that does not exist, such as starships. If you tell them they are not pragmatic they respond you are not progressive. They see themselves as visionaries, but lack the common sense and experience necessary to evaluate the validity of the future they envision. (And if you think I am drifting toward the topic of Global Warming, and its vision of the future, you are catching my drift.)

Second, some have arrived at a point where they believe the concept of “crossing the valley” is impossible. They lose faith. They do not believe you can develop a form of government that takes imperfection into account, and which, through a system of checks and balances, makes it possible to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. They furthermore do not believe you can create scientific disciplines that allow one to make, recognize, recover-from and forgive mistakes. In essence, because they, for whatever reason, could not cross the valley, they feel crossing the valley is a humbug, and act accordingly.

True, some arrive at this faithless conclusion without drugs, but drugs can only greatly increase their number. They then own a dangerous concept, for rather than attempting to solve problems they attempt to remove problems. If the problem is hungry people, their solution is not to grow more food, but rather to reduce the population. If the problem is the burden of a twenty-year-mortgage, they cannot conceive of shouldering the burden and making 240 monthly payments, but rather they claim we have to do something about the banks. If the problem is debt, the last thing they think of is actually repaying the debt. And if you think I’m drifting towards the topic of our government, you catch my drift.

However I think I’ll skip drifting there. It is depressing to talk about weak people who see humanity and life through weakness-colored glasses. I’d rather talk about someone who was strong.

Late in his middle age Mark Twain suffered from a disastrous investment, and swiftly went from being an independently wealthy success to being a deeply indebted pauper. Rather than making excuses he hitched up his belt and went on a grueling, world-girdling speaking tour, though he far preferred writing at home, and once described stepping out into the lights of a stage as “walking out into darkness.” He persisted as months turned to years, and despite the deaths of those he loved, he in the end repaid every cent he owed. Why? I suppose he believed in a thing called “honor,” and that, just because a person had made a mistake, it didn’t mean he couldn’t cross a dark valley to see a better view.

Drugs were the greatest mistake of the Baby Boom generation, but after mistakes are made they can be recognized, recovered from, and forgiven. Perhaps the hardest part is the recognition.

PART FIVE: OPTIMISM

Sometimes, when bragging about the dark valleys that I’ve crossed and the Mount Everest I’ve aimed for, people give me an odd look and wonder how I can be cheerful, considering my adventures sound fairly grueling, and don’t always involve the highest aspects of human nature. I suppose there are various short answers, but I prefer a long one. Also, because to tell the same story over and over the same way is a bit boring, I never tell the tale the same way twice. This aggravates historians, and I apologize to them in advance as I invent this new version of how I became optimistic.

You wouldn’t think I would grow up talkative, for I was born amidst a bunch of bookworms. Everyone at home read a lot. The only talk was during wonderful dinners with wonderful guests, but in those days “children were to be seen and not heard,” and often I was fed and put to bed early, and only know how wonderful the talks were because I snuck out of bed and eavesdropped from as close to the dining room as I dared to get, (which on one occasion was right under the table.) The rest of the time a lot of reading was going on. Even when there was a family “project,” it tended to be done with people intently focusing on it in the same manner as people focus on a book.

In a household with six kids, projects could involve noise, and my parents learned to concentrate on their reading with an intensity it was difficult to penetrate. We used to joke that we could shout, “The back yard is on fire,” and we’d get nothing but a grunt, or a, “yes, dear.” In fact the only thing that could budge my parents was total silence. That got them up, because they knew we kids were up to something. However silence took a good five to ten minutes to get their attention, and at a very early age I learned the best way to get their immediate attention was to hand them a note that read: “The back yard is on fire.”

I’m not sure I could write more than that, (fires happened on several occasions,) but at some point I got dragged off to test my intelligence. My mother was convinced my ability to write, “the back yard is on fire”, was proof I was a genius; however the schoolmarm seemed to think it was proof I was a pyromaniac. In any case it had to be decided if I should attend a one-year smart-kid-kindergarten or a two-year slow-kid-kindergarten called “transition,” and testing was involved.

The first test involved drawing something with crayon, and I produced an elongated green pickle the schoolmarm scowled at disapprovingly. Then I asked, “Mom? How do you spell alligator?” As she gave me the letters and I wrote them down, she glanced at the schoolmarm triumphantly, and the woman looked worried, and moved me on to an actual written test.

What interested me was you had to fill in ovals with a special black pencil, and rather than a human grading it, a machine was going to do it. It was state-of-the-art IBM technology for the late 1950’s, but I soon tired of it. I’m not sure of what occurred, but dimly recollect I read a few questions, but I think after that I began filling in the ovals for inappropriate reasons. It may have had something to do with a war between red ants and black ants in my imagination. At some point the schoolmarm gently informed me I could only fill in one oval out of each row of four, and I then had to do some erasing. Then I handed the test in, it went through the machine, and it was discovered I was in the top 97%-to-99%, and I was put ahead into the first grade. This moved me from being the same size as my peers to being the class midget, and also to my first meeting with Burlwart Knuckledrag, who had stayed back a year, was two years older than I, and loomed up towards the ceiling.

That’s not his real name, by the way. I’m just adroitly avoiding a lawsuit. Not that Burlwart would sue me, for he taught me many good and useful things, such as how to run for my life. I also learned how to smile disarmingly, and how to talk very, very fast, with insane cheerfulness.

Roughly nine years later I suddenly began to grow very quickly and abruptly stood six feet tall, while Burlwart only grew to five-foot-five, but by then it was too late. My character had been formed, and I talked very, very fast, with insane cheerfulness. (This history may also explain why I am not fond of intelligence tests.)

Not long after that I began hitchhiking, and to me it seemed I should pay for the ride by making cheerful conversation. I learned how to tell different versions of the same story, depending on whether the person giving the ride was a truck driver or a preacher, and also learned to make stories up, however even that got boring, and it was then I discovered the really interesting thing to do was to get the other person to talk, and tell me a story. I learned how to ask cheerful questions.

It was difficult to get some people to talk. Some people only picked me up because they were dead tired, and needed someone to keep them from falling asleep at the wheel. They tended to be dour, and in no mood to tell stories, but, because I did a lot of hitchhiking and because there was nothing else to do while riding, I gradually learned various ways of asking the right questions. At this point I learned I could not only get a grumpy person to talk, but could make them more cheerful.

That was a bit of an ego trip at first, but became a problem. Back in my hometown my friends discovered I was good at cheering up grumpy people, and, because drugs were starting to enter the picture, I was the person they brought teenagers having a bad trip on LSD to. (They wouldn’t take a friend to a hospital, as that would involve the police and jail, or perhaps shock treatments in the psychiatric wing.) The job was mine, and I think I was pretty good at it, for cheering up a person on a bad trip mostly involved distracting them with things like music on the stereo, or fireworks, or tricks my dog could do. However it was draining.

Eventually my friends disillusioned me, mostly because the emotional exchange was a one-way street. It seemed they only came by when they were sad about losing a girl or a job. I cheered them up, and soon they’d have a new girl or job, and then I wasn’t so attractive, likely because they then had money to spend and I didn‘t. It was only when they were as broke as I was that my free psychiatry became attractive. I didn’t like the side of human nature I was seeing, and eventually summed it all up with a brief stanza, which I like to this day:

When you have trouble I am there.
When I have troubles, what?
When I am in my direst need
I find your doors are shut.

Splendid tidbits of self-pity like this might have expressed my heartache, but they tended to make my friends indignant. They had assumed I was listening to them moan and groan because I was a friend, and not because I wanted something back. They would accuse me of being manipulative, and so on and so forth. (Baby Boomers talked a lot about “interpersonal relationships,” even while proving they weren’t very good at them.)

I never made a red cent with my free psychiatry, (or with my poetry, for that matter,) however I suppose it was one way I avoided paying rent. People liked having me sleep in their garage, and having someone to moan and groan to, even if they didn’t want to hear any of my moaning and groaning. However I started to feel lonely, even in a crowd. People must have listened to me, in order to be cheered up, but there was a entire part of me that felt unheard, and was in some ways suppressed. My way of escaping that suppression was to get away and become a hermit. True, I was an extremely talkative hermit, but I was a hermit all the same.

This led me to living in a rent-free shack upon a dock on my stepfather’s property in Maine, which may sound idyllic but which, like most rent-free situations, could be extremely uncomfortable. For example the toilet was a hole in a chair over a hole in the floor, and the way of flushing it was high tide. This toilet wasn’t all that different from the heads in rich men’s yachts out in the harbor, and the local folk referred to the brown objects floating about in the harbor’s water as “harbor trout.”

Summers in the shack were not all that bad, (summers never are,) but winters were another matter, especially as the 1970’s passed and they became brutal. During the first few winters the harbor barely skimmed over with ice, but during later winters the ice extended far out into Casco Bay, and I could walk out to the islands. Water for the shack was a single cold water tap, and though I could keep the water going into November by running the tap constantly, the threat of frozen pipes meant the water had to be shut off in December, which made staying clean interestingly complex. One winter I simply gave up on the bother of doing dishes, and knew it was spring when they started to smell.

I went elsewhere to do laundry, which I had to do often, as I didn’t have much clothing. I was trying to emulate Henry Thoreau by having few possessions, and this meant I had one pair of pants I wore, and a second pair in the wash. This may sound very economical, but it had some shortcomings in wet weather. It caused me physical suffering, especially in terms of my socks and my feet. This occurred because the floor of the shack was amazingly cold.

The walls and ceiling of the shack were insulated, and it was heated by a pot-bellied stove, which kept the loft where I slept toasty warm, until the fire went out at two AM. The floor was freezing, despite a cheap carpet. I alternated between warming my feet by the fire and writing at my desk with my feet against the cold floor, and the warm, felt-lined boots I wore alternated between making my feet sweat and making them cold and clammy. After a while my feet turned a shade of maroon and began sweating profusely, and I discovered I had developed something called “trench foot.” The cure was to make sure your socks were always dry, and involved buying lots of socks, which I could barely afford. I had to change my socks quite often, and the carpet could be littered with sweat-drenched pairs. It was when I discovered the sweaty socks were all frozen to the carpet that I began to rethink the wisdom of my “alternative lifestyle.”

The shack had an interesting history, for it had begun life up atop a nearby embankment, as part of a summer retreat for Christian ministers, but had been blown down onto the ice on the harbor by a colossal gust of wind during a winter storm in the early 1900’s. Never a people to waste anything, the locals informed me they had slid it ashore, jacked it up, and built a dock under it.

I learned this by getting the locals to talk, which was an amazingly difficult thing to do. They had no need for free psychiatry and absolutely no interest in “interpersonal relationships.” Gossip was another matter, but you had to be part of the gang, and when I walked in to such a group, (usually at the local post office,) a dead silence would fall. By then I owned a car and had lost the advantages of hitchhiking, and I might never have gotten anyone to talk to me at all had I not had to do this odd thing called “get a job.” It then turned out that a workplace was the equivalent of spending long hours sitting beside a driver in a car, and I began to hear some stories. Once I knew a few stories I could retell them, and you can get even taciturn people talking if you cheerfully retell a story they know, and get a part of the story wrong. Sometimes I did this intentionally, but sometimes it only occurred due to my habit of embellishing.

At some point I wondered aloud if the shack had “spiritual vibes,” due to the fact ministers had once vacationed in it, and that made locals laugh and tell me about old Eddie, the laziest man alive, who had lived in the shack during World War Two. Back then, with German submarines lurking off shore and trying to shut down Portland, Casco Bay was abruptly a busy place, with concrete gun emplacements going up on every island, and the small, local ship-building yard suddenly important, because it lay in an inlet submarines couldn’t reach. Ships had to be built at top speed to replace the ones the Germans were sinking, and the harbor was dredged deeply and the mudflat beside it grew much taller, so even the maps changed. Everyone was working and doing their patriotic duty, except Eddie. Eddie would walk from the shack up to the street and down to the shipyard each morning, and punch in at the time clock. Ten minutes later he’d emerge from a cellar door and walk back to the shack along the water. At quitting time he’d walk back to the shipyard along the water, enter the cellar door, punch out, and walk home along the street. As far as I could gather, this was Eddie’s entire contribution to the war effort, and after I heard that tale I said nothing further about the shack having “vibes.” They might be “Eddie Vibes,” and I suspected I might have been told that tale because some felt I’d been infected by those vibes and had inherited Eddie’s title of being the laziest man alive.

After the war the government checks vanished, unemployment skyrocketed, and the locals suffered. A lady once pointed at a three-story, Victorian house by the water and told me it had sold for nine hundred dollars in 1950. However the shack went right on existing, through booms and busts and many a storm, until 1978.

People remember the great snows of February 1978, and the way the Boston waterfront was battered, but the local anchorage in Maine was protected from the northeast gales. It was a warmer, earlier gale from the southeast in January that lined up its winds perfectly with the mouth of the harbor, and taught me what the sea can do.

The shack could be a noisy place in a gale, and shook a little as the waves sloshed beneath it, but that January morning I awoke to a definite slam. When I looked down from the loft I noticed the carpet looked wet, along the cracks between the wide floorboards. Soon afterwards I noticed that, as a wave drove beneath the shack it compressed the air, and the carpet rose up on the floor as air whistled upwards through cracks, and then the carpet slapped down as the wave sucked out. I considered moving out, but knew the shack had withstood every storm for seventy years, including some hurricanes. I checked my tide chart, and saw the tide was high, and soon would fall. Another wave thumped against the side of the shack, and I looked out the window towards the entrance of the harbor.

It was a crazy scene through panes of glass smeared by pelting rain, of gray, foam-streaked waters, with waves more like the open sea than a harbor‘s chop, but strangest of all was the sense I had that I was looking uphill. That, then and there, decided me, and I started packing in a hurry.

It was as I was heading towards the door with my fourth cardboard box of bad poetry that the carpet arose with a whistling whoosh, a wave slammed the side of the shack, there was a loud crack, and suddenly there was a step-up in the doorway. I stepped up and out with my box, and turned to see my shack go gurgling down into the seething sea with all I owned. Gone were my Jimi Hendrix albums. Gone was my extra pair of pants. Gone was my granola.

The tide did eventually go out, and I did get my pants back, but the Jimi Hendrix albums were toast. It turns out storm driven mudflat mud is persuasive stuff, and once that grit gets in the grooves of a phonograph record, no amount of tender washing can make them play again. My life was facing some changes.

That was a wild winter, with February’s storms and my stepfather’s death ahead, but one nice thing was the tact of the locals. They didn’t ask me if I needed help or make me feel I was getting charity. Instead when any person needed a house sitter, I abruptly was on top of the list. And housesitting was much more comfortable than that old shack ever was.

You might think that was the end of the shack, but it wasn’t. It was jacked back up and the dock rebuilt more sturdily. You also might think I had learned my lesson, but I hadn’t. I figured the lesson was to build the shack two feet higher, and once that was accomplished I moved back in, and eventually faced a final winter of frozen feet.

At this point I had reached the hoary old age of twenty-six, and life was starting to look different to me. The world hadn’t changed that much, (it never really does, though progress changes the world’s outfits,) but to me the old people seemed smarter, and the young radicals, even my own self, didn’t look so smart. It was difficult for me to lay my finger on exactly what the change was, but it seemed to have something to do with the relationship skepticism had with optimism.

Formerly skepticism had seemed the enemy of optimism. Optimism was the can-do attitude, while skepticism said, “it will never work.” Now I was starting to see skepticism could be a friend of optimism. How this realization dawned on Marblehead is a bit of a mystery to me, but having my shack sink was helpful. It informed me that Truth was not merely an inner voice pointing out my mistakes; truth was also an outer reality pointing out my mistakes.

It didn’t keep me from being skeptical of authority.   After all, authority had stated the shack hadn’t been sunk before, and therefore was unlikely to sink, but “unlikely” wasn’t the same thing as “never could.” In fact it seemed the only time a skeptic should use the word “never” was when they said, “Never say never,” and therefore a true skeptic couldn’t tell me, “It will never work.” Consequently having mistakes pointed out went from something I feared to something I desired. The problem was getting the taciturn, old, Maine Yankees to actually talk.

Back then the old Maniacs relished their independence and individuality to a degree that made even Hippies seem a bit ordinary. It involved less loud clothing, and was expressed more in their attitudes and the way they lived their lives. It also involved the way they treated me. If I wanted to live in a freezing shack that occasionally sunk, that was my business, and “it was no skin off their nose.” That may have explained why they had nothing to say. They might roll their eyes and mutter they’d never chose what I chose, but they didn’t criticize much. You had to work hard to get them to say exactly why they wouldn’t choose what you were choosing.

As I came to slowly start trusting people over thirty I tended to like the old outdoor-people more than the old indoor-people. Even their wrinkles were different. The indoor-people had thin, papery wrinkles, while the outdoor-people had thick wrinkles of leather. Also they had been to sea, and knew all about being wrong, because the coast of Maine is full of the currents and weathers and twists and turns that define the word “unpredictable.” In fact another reason those gruff old Yankees might not have ventured an opinion was because they didn’t like being wrong, and they knew that prediction often puts you in those boots.

To my dismay they proved invulnerable to my various cheerful techniques of getting people to talk. Often even a straightforward question would be answered with a mere shrug. In some cases they knew the value of their knowledge, and were shrewd, and waiting for an offer to be made and paid. In other cases they were busy, and it was hard to get them to stand still and talk. Lastly, I’m sure in some cases I annoyed them, and, because I was not a hitchhiker stuck beside them in a car; they could get away from me. In any case, when one actually said something I was all ears.

The sea-ice of the prior two years had been rough on sea-going men. The price of fish, lobsters and clams tended to rise in the winter, and they could make better money then, but the ice trapped them ashore. Not that they complained, for “security” was not a word they were very familiar with. When a storm blew up out of nothing, the weather bureau might have blushed at a botched forecast, but the sea-going men had to drive home through it, yet they treated it as a daily occurrence, like a commuter might treat a bad rush hour.

This was long before GPS, and most didn’t even have the clumsy electronics of LORAN aboard their boats, as electronics didn’t do well when drenched. They navigated by compass and primitive depth-sounder and an amazing memory of not only the shoreline, but the underwater landscape. Their ability in fog amazed me.

One time I was with a group of people who had missed a ferry out to an island, and a lobsterman took us out through the fog (for a decent fee, of course,) and the fog was so thick you could barely see a hundred feet. He seemed rather bored by the trip, glancing at the compass from time to time, and only once seemed the slightest bit concerned. He glanced at his watch, looked off to the left, (or port, if you insist on correctness), and abruptly wheeled and anxiously asked, “Have any of you got metal in your suitcases?” Even as he spoke a white shoulder of stone appeared to the left (or port) caped with deep brown seaweed and speckled with grey and silver gulls, and even as we gave our slightly guilty answers he steered starboard, and forty-five seconds later the island’s wharf hove into view.

The man’s concern was due to the fact metal near a compass can mess up its reading. However if you ever wonder why, in older poetry, the word “compass” has such an exaggerated importance, at times even symbolizing God, this story ought tell you the answer. At sea your compass was your best friend. (I suppose in the future people will wonder why the acronym “GPS” has importance in our modern poet’s poetic symbolism.)

Compared to these amazing, sea-going men I looked very poor, as I was no longer living on my stepfather’s land. The land had become my Mom’s, and no man can feel like a swashbuckling buccaneer when living with Mom. Not that she moved into the shack; she lived three houses away, but something about the situation swiftly became just plain humiliating.

Not that I could just leave when she was grieving. I had to be sure she was back on her feet. However no one gave me credit, and most lectured me about being scared of real jobs and getting out on my own, and how I was a wimp to be living so close to my mother.

I had other reasons for self-pity as well. You may have noticed this tale has no “romantic element.” That is because my romantic life was a complete shambles. (It was actually a hilarious shambles, but I have noticed lawsuits usually have no sense of humor, so I’ll skip including the details.) Add to this heartbreak the fact my poetry only earned rejections slips, and the few people who actually read my poems were more appalled than appreciative, and also enter the fact all my summer jobs ended and no winter jobs appeared, and I was broke, and on top of all that, include the fact my nature owned the stupidity of a spurned young man attempting to slake an unquenchable thirst for beer, when he couldn’t afford very much, and perhaps you get an inkling of how difficult it was to be cheerful, my final winter in the shack. The violins of my self-pity were howling in full chorus.

Looking back thirty-five years, my behavior back then now looks rather silly, but back then I didn’t know what I now know. (You never do.) I didn’t feel I was crossing a dark valley. I felt I was walking into death itself, and when I finally did leave Maine my maudlin nature compared my predicament to that of Oates, during Scott’s ill fated Antarctic expedition of 1910, when he sacrificed himself hoping others might live, leaving the tent in a blizzard with the words, “I am just going outside and may be some time”.

Obviously the comparison was ridiculous, unless Oates walked to a warmer clime and lived past age sixty. If I had it all to do over again I’d spend a lot less time drinking beer and trying to get enough Dutch courage to face my fears of the future, and a lot more time appreciating the beauty of that land, those people, and even of my younger self.

I do give myself credit for having the courage to get over my fear and step out into the world, but also subtract some points because, for a person who was so big on optimism, my faith was so small. Fortunately just enough survived to whisper to me that making a mistake was not necessarily my end, but could be my friend.

The fact of the matter is that even during times of darkness the mind goes right on gathering infinitums that later turn out to have value. The observer goes right on observing; the skeptic goes right on noticing discrepancies to the expectations of theory. In a very real sense one is amassing a treasure while penniless. If youth only knew this they’d spend far less time singing blues, and far more time appreciating being young.

Perhaps I did know this, intuitively, for I never quite lost my sense of humor. If anyone said, “Youth is wasted on the young” I’d immediately respond “And wisdom’s wasted on the old.” I might be down but I wasn’t dead.

Also I never lost my sense of wonder, which seems vital if you intend to gather infinitums. Though as ingrown as the worst toenail, I never was such a hermit that I didn’t want to go out and see things, and, if not to communicate with humans, to commune with nature. In fact I now can see, looking back, treasures I gathered though I thought the time was full of emptiness.

One drizzly day I wandered down to the town landing and slouched there listening to the fishermen I’d grown to respect, and saw one make a mistake. I was no saint, and owned that snide human attribute that enjoys seeing wiser and better people slip on the ice. In this case it was proverbial ice, for the leather-faced old man made the mistake of forecasting the weather more than three days in advance.

It had seemed that at last we might catch a break, and return to having the harbor mostly free of ice during a winter. The water was cold, and a skim of ice kept forming, but then storms would pass to our west and we’d be on the warm side, and the waters would be churned and the ice be melted. Melting all the ice kept the waters cold, and a new skim of ice would form, but even a small lobster boat had no trouble plowing through such a skim. The waterfront crowd rumpled their brows a bit as the skim thickened the first week in January, but then an enormous storm stalled to our south, with its warm sector swiveled right around like a triangle to the north, and we got rain and strong winds and the ice was again melted. Furthermore as the stalled storm occluded it sucked in so much mild, maritime air that we were forecast to get days of drizzle and mildness before arctic air could return, and it was at that point the old salt made his foolish forecast: “If the hahbor hasn’t frozen ovah by the fifteenth of January, tain’t likely to freeze at all.”

Unless a man is Moses, he should be wary of making pronouncements in voice like Moses‘, for the weather seems to hear, and it immediately sets out to show the man who is boss. Although most occluded storms weaken and fade away, this one sucked in some sort of reinforcements and stayed strong, slowly drifting away to the north to Labrador, where it tapped into some air up over Greenland’s icecap and directed it straight down to Maine. Nor did it do so for just a day or two. For a fortnight the north wind shuddered the landscape, and the TV weatherman first remarked over how many days had passed with the temperatures staying below ten degrees, and then how many days had passed with the temperatures staying below five degrees. (-15 Celsius)

When the blast first hit I again went down to the town landing to slouch and hear the news, and the same fisherman was there. The harbor was rapidly skimming with ice right before everyone’s eyes, in broad daylight and under a bright sun, and though no one asked the old salt for an explanation for ice forming after January 15, perhaps he felt one was due, for he stated, “I’ve nevah seen a stoam remain as potint as this one’s doin‘.”

I’m not sure why this clicked in my mind the way it did, but there was something about the way the man could be incorrect without saying he’d been wrong that seized my imagination. For, in fact, he’d never spoken a falsehood. He’d merely spoken the truth he’d seen, and then spoke a truth he’d never seen before. This made me feel a lot better about how my own version of the truth had landed me in a mess.

My life was indeed a mess, for the blast of cold caught me off guard, and my shack was like an icebox, as I’d neglected to gather enough firewood. Faced with this dilemma I said the heck with it, and walked three houses away to sleep on a couch in my mother’s basement. (Cold that vicious swiftly drives pride into the background.) I only returned to the shack during the day, with an armload of her firewood, so I could pen poetic self-pity without worrying her. Then a tax refund appeared like a miracle in the mail, and this allowed me to buy a case of beer, and also to rent a chainsaw. A dead tree had fallen onto a mudflat down the shoreline, and I cut it up and had enough firewood to warm my shack, which allowed me to consume the case of beer outside of my mother‘s scrutiny. (She didn’t worry when I vanished, for she could see smoke from the shack’s stovepipe from her study window.)

I then became very cheerful, but after the two enjoyable days and nights of writing poetry and singing the blues had passed, dawn broke on a Marblehead more full of self-pity than ever. Seeking some sort of solace I guzzled a coffee and then stepped out of the shack to look at the sunrise, but rather than inspirational it was just yellow: Spun brass in a bitter north wind. So I walked down some wooden steps, and down the sloping, stony shore to the mudflat. Even my bleary eyes could see the new ice was still thin, only an inch of clear glass over the mud of battleship blue-gray. The coffee must have been kicking in, because I abruptly realized I was being offered an unique opportunity to study mudflat worms.

First I needed to test the ice. I noticed a driftwood branch up the stony shore, and, after kicking it a time or two to free it from the new ice, which tides had draped over it, and had affixed it to the stones with; I had myself a testing tool. Using the stick I carefully tapped the ice. It seemed surprisingly sturdy. I decided this was due to the fact the ice was supported by the mud beneath. Reassured, I crouched down and, carefully spreading my weight, began crawling out over the mudflat, looking through the ice for sea creatures in the mud.

Some familiar with Maine mudflats might know that, if I had broken through the ice, the mud likely would have only been ankle to calf deep. Clammers shluck through such mud on a daily basis. However I was very familiar with those mudflats, and knew several “honey pots” lay ahead of me. They are places where springs bubble up under the mud, are made of liquid clay of pottery-quality, often are covered by a leathery skin of harder clay that can’t quite hold up a man, and, when clammers break through such skins, they sometimes plunge over their heads and die. The ones ahead were only waist deep, I knew from experience, but they were nothing I wanted to re-experience on a morning when wind-chills were below zero. This explains my caution.

I was disappointed by the total lack of life I saw in the mud, and nearly quit and headed back to my shack. However curiosity drew me on. I was inventing various reasons for the lack of life when I noticed a peculiar hole in the ice, a foot wide, dead ahead. What was peculiar about the hole was that, though the ice I crawled upon showed mud an inch below, the hole showed water an inch down. What was it? A spring without a honey pot?

Very cautiously I crept close and looked down. What I saw was a rock on the mudflat, five feet down through shadowy water. Stunned, I realized I was not crawling on ice on a mudflat. I was crawling on ice over five feet of water.

What had happened was that, when the ice was an inch thick, it settled on the mudflat at low tide and the bottom was painted by mud. Then it arose with the next tide, grew to be two inches thick, again settled on the mudflat, and again the bottom was painted by mud. This happened over and over, and, judging from the muddy stripes on the sides of the hole in the ice, it had taken sixteen tides to grow the ice a foot thick.

(In case you are wondering how such a hole could exist, it was due to the fact that, when they dredged the harbor in World War two, they dredged up not only mud but stones and even small boulders. A small boulder with a pointed top made the hole in the ice. Each time the tide dropped the ice on the mudflat, that boulder poked a hole in it.)

I sat back on my haunches and just laughed over the mistake I had made. I had used all my skill and determined the ice was an inch thick, when in fact it was a foot thick. I stood up and began jumping up and down with all my might, still laughing, and it was like I was jumping on granite. How incredibly stupid all my care and caution then seemed.

This seemed a good image to use in a poem, and I put my elbow in one palm and my chin in the other to think about it, and as I looked down I could see an imprint of my knees, from when I sat back on my haunches to laugh. Tracings of white powder formed them. I’d noticed that white powder drifting over the ice in the wind, and had assumed it was snow, but something about how it drifted was different, and I squatted back down to have a closer look. Then I dipped a finger and tasted it. It was salt. I suddenly realized how very cold it was. Rather than salt melting ice, salt was extruded from ice. The realization made me shiver, and I headed back to my shack to get the stove going. As I walked I noticed the old men over at the town landing were watching me, and became aware they’d seen me jumping up and down laughing, and I blushed a little.

Looking back after all these years I can see even then my mind was picking up infinitums, which seemed useless at the time, but are handy to have now.

For example, during a recent discussion about core samples from the bottom of a bay, people were going over all the possible things that could deposit the yearly layers of mud, and no one mentioned mudflat mud on the bottom of ice, so I did. During another discussion about freshly fallen snow blowing around on top of the ice at the North Pole no one mentioned salt being blown around with it, so I did.

However back then such infinitums seemed worthless, like a repertoire of trivia. What really made me happy was having a new idea for a story or poem. The idea now buzzing in my brain seemed like a good one, for most tales involving thin ice involve people falling through. This one seemed different, and more hopeful, and perhaps even symbolic of life itself, for what had seemed could not possibly hold me up didn’t let me down.

Brimming with good cheer and optimism I trotted up the wooden steps and into the shack for my second cup of coffee, vowing that someday I’d find the words and write the tale.

ARCTIC SEA ICE MELT —The Thaw Begins—

This is the continuation of a long series of posts, the last of which can be found at:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/arctic-sea-ice-melt-the-death-spirals-death/

I have thought long and hard about why I am continuing this series of posts. In fact, if you go back through the posts you can see a number of different motives explained, as a prelude to each post.  The truth is my motives have been evolving.

Recently my president has given a number of speeches wherein he expressed contempt and derision towards people like me. I do not deserve such treatment, for all I have been doing is trying to see the truth.  Furthermore I have seen that the truth is not what the media has reported, concerning the arctic sea-ice.  It is not what the president apparently believes.

Back in 2007, when I first began entertaining grave doubts that the science of “Global Warming” was well founded, I felt it was a healthy scientific debate, lively and in many ways enjoyable.  I felt we would get to the truth through the process of examining the issues carefully and thoroughly. Now it seems I was naive,

It increasing seems this debate has never been about science. It has been about policy.  I say this because, now that the scientific evidence is disproving many of the hypothesized results of Global Warming, the politicians don’t alter their course. If they were basing their judgement on science, they would alter their course.

I feel that, if a person bases their choices on policy, they should be honest about it. They should be man enough to step forward and clearly state the real reasons they are making the choices they are making.  It is cowardly to be afraid to speak the unvarnished truth, and dishonest to pretend that decisions are based on “science” when they are not.

The president has absolutely no reason to say the cruel things he has said about people like me, and I have every reason to be offended.  I am a seeker of truth, not a denier of truth.

The silver lining is that the president is perhaps being a little more honest, when he expresses contempt for me. I can only return the favor, and state that the president is coming across as a dishonest coward who is now taking on the attributes of a bully.

I intended to conclude this series after a year, which would be now, in June. However the reasons behind this series have evolved a long way from watching ice melt, admiring the beauty of God’s creation, and pointing out a few mistakes reporters were making. Now I am determined to confront the president of the United States with the truth, even if I am a flea taking on an elephant.

One thing we have been told is that the sea-ice of the Arctic is in a “death spiral,” and that once the ice is gone the arctic ocean will absorb more sunshine due to a changed “albedo,” and that this will lead to the calamity of runaway Global  Warming.  I doubt this, as there was much less ice up there when the Vikings farmed in Greenland, and it led to no runaway warming back then, however before we even discuss that subject we need to see the ice melt.

It is failing to do so. The media is doing its best to sell papers with alarming pictures, but the facts are different.  The media can make news with pictures of open water at the Pole, then conveniently forget to show a picture from a few days later that shows the water gone, as happened last summer:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/lake-north-pole-vanishes/

This year a splendid lead has opened in front of our North Pole Camera, and we are offered a chance to study the dynamics of such leads opening and then crushing shut.  However we are liable to see shrieking headlines and pictures of the open water of two days ago (top picture) and then fail to see today’s picture of the lead again closing (bottom picture.)

NP2 June 16 15

NP2 June 18 18

(You can left-click these pictures for a larger and clearer view, or right-click them and chose the open-to-a-new-tab option if you don’t want to leave this site.)

To have a lead open so close to the camera does put the camera in danger, and we may be dumped into the sea at some point. I can only imagine the hoopla the media would make of such an event.  However the fact is the arctic ocean is always fractured, and there are pictures of submarines surfacing in leads at the Pole in the 1950’s and 1980’s.

USS_Skate_-_0857806Sub at pole NP1987

(Click images to enlarge)

And in the 1970’s a lead even opened right under a scientific base:

Aidjex 2 MainCamp

This year the Pole is particularly pulverized due to storms (see prior posts) but this doesn’t mean the open water will suck up more sunshine and melt more ice.  In fact even a government computer model is showing the ice will float around and refuse to melt, and by August we will see, rather than  the “ice-free Pole” the media has been hyping, ice levels that are higher than normal.  (By  the way, as a way of waffling, the term “ice-free Pole” has been recently redefined, and now 1 million km2 if ice counts as “ice-free.”)  Not that I trust computer models, but this one shows nearly 7 million km2 at the minimum in September.

Extent Graph June 18 sieMon (Double-click for larger and clearer graphs)

Lastly, the DMI graph for temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude shows that the thaw is ten days late, and only now is the summer thaw starting. (It happens every year in the 24-hour-a-day sunshine, and usually ends in late August or at the start of September, when the sun gets low.)

DMI2 0618 meanT_2014 Click to enlarge

All in all it seems the only death in the “death spiral” is that it is dead wrong. The only way to reduce the extent this summer is for a cross-polar-flow to flush a huge amount into the North Atlantic, which would be bad news for Europe because a chilled North Atlantic would make for a colder Europe, however if such a flush does occur you can depend on the media to point at the reduced extent and claim it is proof it is warmer. (This is basically what happened in 2007.)

The president will then state that “the science is settled.” It isn’t and never has been. I’ll simply share my observations, and Truth will do the talking for me.  As long as the president keeps yammering the Truth will keep hammering.

I am fairly busy with my real job, as well as other aspects of my life, but will try to post DMI maps and North Pole Camera pictures twice a day.  Below are the final entries from my last post. (You will have to forgive me for naming storms.) However before I begin this post’s entries I should note my links, so you can go look for yourself if you get weary of my ranting.

The DMI Site:   http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/index.uk.php

North Pole Camera: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/index.html

WUWT Sea Ice Page:  http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

Also I recommend a week’s free trial of the WeatherBELL premium site. After you become addicted it will cost the price of a cup of coffee each day: http://www.weatherbell.com/premium/

OK. On with the updates, which will keep being added on at the bottom of this post:

JUNE 18  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0618 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0618 temp_latest.big (1)

“Carrot,” over the Kara Sea, is drawing from some very warm air (up in the 80′s) in central Siberia, and the models keep flip-flopping over whether it will be drawn towards that warm air and track east along the coast, or whether it will copy prior storms and head for the Pole.

Very cool air is being drawn south over Scandinavia by “Elsie,” which looks like it will stall and sit over Finland all week. The air swirling in Elsie is fairly dry so they may get some spells of sunshine, but any warmth will have to be home grown.

A tiny low is rippling up over the top of the blocking Atlantic high, and is just east of Iceland.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —The lead closes again—

NP2 June 17D 14 (1)NP2 June 18 18

Judging from isobars, the wind has likely shifted to the north, and the ice has shifted in a way that is closing up the lead.  Although the lead looks grayer I think it is due to lighting, and not due to it freezing over, as temperatures are not below the freezing point of salt water. (There is a chance wind-blown freshwater snow, with a melting point of 32, has landed in seawater that is down around 30,  and in such cases the snow doesn’t melt right away.)

JUNE 18   —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0618B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0618B temp_latest.big (1)

“Carrot” is looking flattened by the high northwest of Greenland, as it tries to move towards the Pole. “Elsie” is dawdling about, east of Finland.  The large blocking high continues to sit south of Iceland. Temperatures at the Pole are nearly up to normal.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Will we ever see the sun?—

NP2 June 18C 18

 

The far side of the lead is moving slowly right to left, in this picture from 4:00 PM.  When the lead closed it looks like it built up slight pressure ridges that appear to be more like slush than ice.  This shush is a possibility, as temperatures have been above the freezing point of salt water but below the melting point of fresh water, for the past 24 hours.  There has been almost no variation. Temperatures were at -1.1°C at noon yesterday and were at -1.1°C at noon today. The high was -0.8°C at midnight, and the low was -1.2°C at 9:00 AM.

This sort of flat-lining is fairly common, during the summer.  Ice-water remains at a constant temperature until all the ice is melted. Therefore the air close to that ice-water will remain at a fairly constant temperature. (This is why people go to the beach in summer heat; the air close to that water is cooler.)

The westward drift of our ice has continued, but our northward movement stopped at 85.280°N at midnight, and we have started south again, end up at 85.267°N, 14.922°E at noon.  Winds slacked off considerably to less than 5 mph, but a bit of a northly breeze stiffened to 13 mph right at noon.  The barometric pressure has continued rising to 1022.1 mb.

It sure has seemed more cloudy than normal this spring, not only here but also over at O-buoy 9 and O-buoy 10. You have to search through the film records to find the sunny days, which were actually what attracted me to the North Pole Camera in the first place. I find gloom far less attractive. I suppose we should blame the “Quiet Sun,” according to the theories of Svenmark, and should scratch our grizzled jaws, glance up at the gray overcast, and mutter, “Blast those cosmic rays.”

JUNE 19  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0619 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0619 temp_latest.big (1)

 

Though weak and flattened, “Carrot” looks like it will be yet another storm that will move out and over the Pole. A sort of Fujiwhara effect is developing between it and “Elsie,” and Elsie may be pulled east along the Siberian coast. A cross-polar-flow seems to be developing from Central Siberia to Norway. (This would be very cold in the winter, but draws warm air from inland Siberia out over the Arctic Sea in the summer.)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Lead reopens in snow squalls—

The first two pictures are taken five minutes apart around 10:00 PM last night. In the second picture the far side of the lead, in the central distance, has vanished in a snow squall.

NP2 June 18D 11

NP2 June 18E 12

The next picture is from 4:00 AM this morning, and shows the far side of the lead can barely be seen. Although all the open water is impressive, it is important to remember it is more due to shifting winds than warm temperatures.  Last year at this time days of bright sunshine was already starting to turn snow to slush and create melt-water pools. This year we appear to have a dusting of freshly fallen snow, which has the highest possible “albedo”, when it comes to reflecting incoming sunlight.

NP2 June 19 18

JUNE 20  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0620 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0620 temp_latest.big (1)

“Carrot” has drifted up  over our camera, as “Elsie strengthens east of Finland. The noontime side of the Pole (top of these maps) is nearly entirely above freezing, as the midnight side over our camera remains below freezing.

I’m sorry for sparse updates, but I am engrossed in other writing.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —DULL AND GRAY—

NP2 June 20 18

Because the weather is absolutely gorgeous here in New Hampshire, these gray pictures are losing their appeal.

Once again we didn’t quite break freezing. Temperatures got up to -0.2°C at 6:00 AM yesterday, before settling back to -0.4°C at noon.  Our camera continued to drift south and west, ending the period at 85.168°N, 14.031°E. The barometer slipped down to 1013.0 mb in a steady breeze of around 10 mph

JUNE 20 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0620B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0620B temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Above freezing—
>NP2 June 20B 17

Temperatures finally made it above freezing, reaching +0.1°C ay 3:00 PM yesterday, before promptly dipping back down to -0.8°C at (:00 PM. Then it rose slowly, getting above freezing at 9:00 AM and touching +0.2°C at noon.

The barometer was steady,at 1012.1 mb at noon, and winds remained firmly a bit above 10mph.

Our southward drift continued, but our westward drift stopped at 13.968°E at 9:00 Pm, and we moved back east, finishing at noon at 85.080°N, 14.270°E .

There is a black object at our edge of the lead, about a quarter of the way across from the right margin. I have no idea what it is.

JUNE 21  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0621 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0621 temp_latest.big (1)

 

“Carrot” is weakening over the Camera, as “Elsie” seems to have occluded, and to be kicking a secondary “zipper” east along the Siberian coast. (I’ll call it “Elsieson”.) A sort of wall of high pressure is extending northwards towards our camera, and may extend over the Pole as “carrot” fades away, bur a weakness in the high pressure is allowing bits of squished low pressure across the Atlantic past Iceland towards the Baltic. South of there the high remains parked just west of Ireland. This is keeping anything big from crossing the Atlantic, and it looks like the next low to head for the Pole will come north from the Black Sea. (If it amounts to anything I’ll call it “Blackie.”)

It looks like the thaw is having trouble getting to the Pole.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  — Wan sunshine—

NP2 June 20D 13NP2 June 21 16

 

Top picture is from 10:00 PM yesterday, and bottom from 4:00 AM today.  I’m scanning for signs of thaw, and don’t see much.  If you look at last year’s pictures you notice a softening of the snow, a lack of crispness. Also a very obvious sign is little drops of water on the lens,  as from now until late August it does rain and drizzle up there.

As the thaw proceeds darker areas appear in the snow, as it gets slushy. The darker areas absorb more sunlight than fresh snow, and the thawing speeds up, and last year we saw a nice example of a melt-water pool appear right in front of the camera. I’m not sure about getting a pool this year. The water might drain away off the edge of the lead.

I think the lead may have closed up slightly in the second picture, but not much. I assume the water appears gray in the second picture because it is reflecting the milky sky, and not because it has slush floating in it, which is sometimes the case.

JUNE 21  —DMI Afternoon maps—

DMI2 0621B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0621B temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —At last some blue skies—

NP2 June 21C 18

It looks like there is slush in the lead’s water.

JUNE 22 —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0622 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0622 temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA —The chill persists—

NP2 June 21D 16

 

The sludge in the lead is moving from the right to the left. Formerly this was from south to north, when the camera faced east, but I notice this picture is from last night at around 10:00 PM, and the sun is in the center. The sun used to be in the center of the pictures from around 4:00 AM. Obviously the ice our camera is on has swiveled right around, and in the picture we are facing northwest.

This is what messes up the site’s wind vane, I think. It is bad enough magnetic north varies a lot, as we drift from 90 north to 85 north, but also the entire berg is twirling around.

If you want to read something funny, look back in these posts to last August, when I am completely puzzled by the way the camera seemed to always drift straight up wind.  I came up with three incorrect theories for the phenomenon before light dawned on Marblehead, and I realized the wind-vane’s readings were 180 degrees off.

As the sky is turning gray again, it could be warming up.

NORTH POLE CAMERA —Not warmer. Big berg cruising by.—

NP2 June 22B 18

 

 

A fairly large berg is cruising into view, moving from right to left. Some large bergs are chips that have calved off glaciers, but this one looks like a piece of a larger pressure ridge.  The winds have shifted to the east, and it is colder.

During that sunny spell yesterday temperatures jumped from -2.0°C at noon to +0.5°C at 5:00 PM, which perhaps indicates that, for a month or two, the sun warms enough to keep the clear sky from leading to radiational cooling. By late August that reverses, and a clear sky goes hand in hand with a temperature drop.  I’m not sure when the clouds rolled in, but the temperature dipped back down to -2.4°C by 8:00 PM. They had risen back up to -1.1°C by 3:00 AM today, but slid back down to -1.8°C by noon. We can’t seem to get our thaw off the ground.

Winds dropped to a dead calm during the sunny spell, and then became light from the east, around 5 mph.  Our camera stopped drifting south at 85.041°N at ^:00 PM yesterday, and we have inched a little north since then. Most of our movement has been to the west, after our eastward drift stopped at 15.190°E at 3:00 PM yesterday. At noon we were at 85.048°N, 14.830°E. The pressure has slowly risen to 1023.1 mb.

JUNE 22 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0622B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0622B temp_latest.big (1)

 

I’ve half expected “Elsieson” to curve north and make a run for the Pole, as so many other lows have done that, but it is starting to look like it will fade inland, to the southeast.  However by tomorrow morning “Blackie” will start to be visible, as it moves up into the weak low pressure left behind by “Elsie”s” occluded remnants.

There is an intriguing ridge of high pressure running up from the Azores to the Arctic, and then over to Canada.  Lows can barely squeeze over a bit of a col south of Iceland, but there’s not much left of them when they get across the Atlantic. It looks like this feature will persist for a while. It will bring a little mild air up its west side, up the coast of Greenland, and I imagine this will prevent ice from exiting south through Fram Strait.  Over our camera it looks like things will be storm free and calm for a while. On the east side the winds will be north, especially with Blackie’s west-side north winds, and I imagine all of Scandinavia will experience a north wind. I imagine this will also prevent the surface waters of the Gulf Stream from making much headway into the Barents Sea.

If anyone in Scandinavia visits, I’d be very interested to know what the early summer is like. It looks pretty cold, for the start of this week, from this far away.

QUICK PEEK AT UK MET MAP

UK Met June 22 15554111

 

This map does a good job of showing the ridge extending north from the Azores to the Arctic, with the weakness in it south of Iceland. The storm back towards Labrador is stalled, and can only manage to send weak “zippers” east over the col. One has made it to the Baltic and joined with Elsie’s remnants to reinforce Blackie, which is half-off the map, at the top right. Blackie moved more northeast than I expected, but now is being swung to the northwest by the business in the Baltic.

I see that low is sitting off Spain again.  When I’m rich I’ll hire people there and in Italy to report, because it seems they’ve had some interesting weather as well, with this blocking pattern.

Actually I suppose I could do the work myself, by surfing the web, but I’ve been busy writing something fairly long and (hopefully) humorous I hope to post here this week. Once it is done I may have more time to watch the ice.

SNOW IN NORTHERN NORWAY

Norway Snow P1040378-700x525

 

http://www.icenews.is/2014/06/22/snow-in-june-only-in-norway/

JUNE 23 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0623 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0623 temp_latest.big (1)

As long as that ridge of high pressure stays in place in the middle of the Atlantic not much ice can be exported south through Fram Strait. Cold air is being exported down the east side of the ridge over Norway, leaving less sub-freezing air over the Pole. In fact this is the most summery map we have yet seen.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —LEAD AGAIN CLOSES—

NP2 June 23 12NP2 June 23B 15

 

The top picture is from 4:00 AM, and the bottom from 10:00 AM. These pictures can be clicked for larger and clearer views.

It looks like our iceberg drifted to the central distance, and then got jammed into our side of the lead. It isn’t moving, as the far side of the lead moves right to left. I think we are still looking north, and the winds are east.  That patch of darkness in the cloud above the horizon just left of the central distance is likely a patch of open water reflecting against the low cloud.

I’m still busy with other writing, but hope to be done today.

JUNE 23  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0623B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0623B temp_latest.big (1)

“Blackie” has appeared, just south of Barents Sea, and is contributing to the north winds over Scandinavia.  A surprising little tongue of cold extends south from the Pole over our Camera.

The winds are light at the camera. There are no recent pictures, for some reason. Perhaps the solar batteries are low, with all the gloomy weather. The less than 5 mph winds have apparently continued from the ENE, as the ice our camera is on has crept WSW to 85.022°N, 14.599°E.

I’m surprised by how low the temperatures have been. The high was -1.6°C at 3:00 PM yesterday, and the low was -3.2°C at 3:00 AM this morning, and at the end of our 24-hour-period at noon it was at -2.7°C. It has got to warm up soon, but this is one heck of a way to run a summer thaw, so far.

The barometer remains high and steady, at 1023.1 mb at noon.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —4:00 PM Picture: Much the same—

NP2 June 23C 18

 

It is rough trying to make news out of nothing happening, but I’ll do my best.

The water looks glassy and slush free, and it looks like our berg has busted free, taking a small chunk of our side of the lead with it. This may suggest the high pressure has crested, and winds are around to the west, though quite calm. A west wind might be warmer.

It would be interesting if our side of the lead kept being chipped away during the summer, with the water coming closer and closer until…STAY TUNED!!!

JUNE 24  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0624 mslp_latest.bigDMi2 0624 temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Never-ending Gray—

NP2 June 23D 13NP2 June 24 18

 

JUNE 24  —Afternoon DMI Maps—

DMI2 0624B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0624B temp_latest.big (1)

 

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Lead again widens—

NP2 June 24C 18

 

At long last a bit of thawing has hit, after it stayed surprisingly cold during the past 24 hour period, and was down to -3.6°C at midnight., in winds under 5 mph. The winds picked up a little to 9 mph, likely from the SSW, as temperatures rose to +0.5°C at noon. The pressures fell slowly to 1020.7 mb, hinting that the crest of the ridge of high pressure is to the east now.

We nearly got across 85 degrees latitude, stopping just short at 85.011°N at midnight, before starting back north while heading steadily east, and ending the 24-hour-period at  85.021°N, 14.832°E at noon.

JUNE 25   —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0625 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0625 temp_latest.big (1)

The main feature continues to be the ridge of high pressure in the middle of the north Atlantic. The interaction between it and “Blackie,” weak and stalled just east of Finland, gives Scandinaia some cold winds, which pushed a cold front down to England and gave them some summer thunder. Meanwhile the other side of the high is creating a “wrong way wind” in Fram Strait, and prevents the export of sea ice.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Signs of thaw as gloom continues—

NP2 June 24D 10NP2 June 25 17

 

The above pictures are from 10:00 last night (top) and 4:00 this morning (bottom),  and if you compare them you can see the snow has slumped a little by the snow stakes. This sort of fog can be a snow-eater, for as the water condenses on the snow, (like water on the side of a cold glass on a summer day,) it releases latent heat.

Initially the top of the sea-ice can be much colder than the air, as it remembers the chill of winter, however by late June the sea-ice and the air are usually only a degree or two apart.

Considering a high pressure ridge crested over us, you’d think we’d get sunshine, but I suppose the west side of the high is importing moist Atlantic air up the east coast of Greenland, creating this fog.

*******

9:32 am  …..AND A GLIMPSE OF SUN!

NP2 June 25B 15

9:39 am  …..AND IT’S GONE…

NP2 June 25B 18

JUNE 25 —DMI Afternoon Maps—

DMI2 0625b mslp_latest.bigDMI2  0625btemp_latest.big (1)

JUNE 26  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0626 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0626 temp_latest.big (1)

The Atlantic ridge persists, but is weaker. South of this map it is allowing weak low pressure across the Atlantic, which may brew up something in the Baltic Sea in three days. Another low, suppressed well south in central Europe, likely will become stronger north of the Black Sea, but will not head straight north as “Blackie” did, and instead will slide northeast towards central Siberia. The Pole looks likely to enjoy calm and be ruled by high pressure into next week.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —A data glitch—

For some reason the camera not only failed to report yesterday’s position and temperature and pressure and wind, but erased the data from the day before. I have no clue what the problem is.

The first picture is from 3:30 PM yesterday, and shows the sun straight ahead, which means our camera has swung 180 degrees and now is looking west-southwest.NP2 June 25C 16

The second picture is from (:30 PM last night, and shows the lead has closed up again, Both clouds and the ice across the lead are moving from right to left, which suggests the wind is back to the north.

Buoy 2014E: , roughly 90 miles north at 86.58 N, 9.20 E, is reporting temperatures at  -0.50 C this morning, so we could be back below freezing ourselves. The thaw continues to be minimal, as is shown by the DMI temperature graph.

DMI2 0626 meanT_2014 (click to enlarge)

JUNE 26 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0626B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0626B temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Data updated. Calm and thawing—

NP2 June 26B 14 (1)NP2 June 26C 18

These pictures are taken at 3:30 PM (top) and (:30 PM (bottom) and show very little movement of the ice, indicative of light winds, or calm.

The camera data was updated, and show temperatures have remained above freezing for over two days. Yesterday they achieved a high at 6:00 Am of +0.8°C, and then sank to +0.1°C at 6:00 PM, and then gradually rose to today’s high at noon, +1.1°C. This is the warmest we’ve seen this summer.

Pressures have fallen slightly and then leveled off, and were at 1016.3mb at noon. Winds have been light, between 5 and 10 mph, pushing our camera slowly north and east, to a final position of 85.074°N, 15.337°E.

JUNE 27   —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0627 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0627 temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Thaw shrinking snow—

NP2 June 27 17

The lead is only a little wider, with the far side moving left to right, which may be south winds moving that ice, or may be due to the fact our berg is spinning around in a counter-clockwise fashion. We need a view of the sun to see which way we are facing.

If you look at the snow-stakes you can notice the snow is shrinking. Just to the right of the big buoy’s base may be the first puddle of the year, though it also may merely be exposed ice.

The writing I’ve been occupied with recently was published on WUWT, which has me excited and busy elsewhere.

JUNE 27  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0627B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0627B temp_latest.big (1)

The arctic is nearly up to normal. The sub-freezing temperature up towards Bering Strait is only due to midnight being up that way. The sub-freezing pools of air north o Barents Sea are the last real cold left.  Now it is very interesting to see cold pools develop, and try to think how can come to be, with the sun up constantly.

Carrot” “Blackie” is drifting east in West Siberia, but the next news is likely that low at the top of Hudson Bay, expected to cross southern Greenland. (Call it therefore “Spinach.”) It is hard to trust the models these days, as they are having a hard time with patterns world-wide and are flip-flopping a lot, but they suggest Spinach could be the first genuine Atlantic gale we’ve seen in a long time, south of Iceland by midweek.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Still heading north—

NP2 June 27B 15NP2 June 27C 17

The above pictures are from 9:30 AM (top) and 3:30 PM, (bottom). The ice across the lead is sliding away to the left and we may be slipping free of it into some open water to the right. Thaw is continueing, and may be with us until August. Temperatures are fairly steady, just above freezing, with the low at +0.6°C at 3:00 AM and the high at +1.3°C at 9:00 AM, and temperatures back to +1.0°C at noon. Perhaps a little Atlantic warmth is leaking north, as winds continue to push us north and west, to 85.143°N, 15.630°E. We had nearly moved south of 85 degrees but soon will be ten miles north of there.  Rather than ice flushing south into the Atlantic it is being being packed back up towards the Pole, for the time being.  Winds are steady at 10-15 mph. Pressure again slowly rising, to 1019.8 mb.

JUNE 28  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0628 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0628 temp_latest.big (1)

Carrot” “Blackie” continues to roll east through Siberia as “Spinach” enters Baffin Bay.  The long ridge of high pressure, basically from the Azores to the Pole, is breaking apart in the Atlantic south of the above map and allowing weak low pressure to cross England and pool in the Baltic.

Noon temperatures are at the top of the map and midnight at the bottom. It is a summer map, with thawing prevalent.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Gray weather continues; more open water—

Np2 June 27D 12

The dimly seen sun shows the camera has swung back slightly and we are looking northwest, at the picture was taken at 9:30 last night.  Thawing continues, as more of the snow-stakes are seen. I think the lead hasn’t widened as much as the pan of ice forming the far side has simply shifted to the left. On the right horizon are the silhouettes of some large bergs.

NP2 June 28 16

This picture is from 3:30 AM, and shows the ice across the lead towards the center is moving back, left to right, so perhaps the lead is again closing.

JUNE 28  —DMI Afternoon Maps—Temperature Tiger—

DMI2 0628B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0628B temp_latest.big (1)

I’m not sure why the temperature map is stripes. Likely it is an interesting glitch. At any rate, it looks like a spot of sub-freezing temperatures found our camera, despite the fact it is noon. The sub freezing temperatures towards the top of the map are because it is midnight on that side of the earth, and even above the arctic circle, where the sun doesn’t set, if you are near the circle the sun dips down to the horizon and temperatures dip as well.

Carrot” “Blackie” appears to be weakening over central Siberia, as “Spinach” starts the weird process of what I call “morfistication,” as a storm transiting a mountain range or icecap. Sometimes the icecap seems to kill storms, but often they reform on the other side mysteriously, or sort of blurb around the bottom tip of Greenland, and this one may do both. In any case there could be a summer gale over Iceland by Wedensday, which would be quite a change from the Azores to North Pole ridge of high pressure.

Weak low pressure managed to penetrate the ridge, and now is over the Baltic.  It likely will hang about and be a bit of a bummer for boater, though nothing big.  O’ll include a UK Met map to show it.

UL MET MAP  —Bummer for Boaters—

UK Met June 28 15720866 (Click map to enlarge)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Unexpected freeze—

NP2 June 28B 14 (1)NP2 June 28B 15

The top picture is from 9:30 AM, when temperatures had crashed to -1.5°C. The slushy-looking area at the right base of the big buoy has whitened somewhat, and likely refroze. By noon the temperature was down to the day’s low of -1.8°C. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow;’s report to get an idea of the temperature in the second picture, which is from 3:30 PM.

The temperature seemed to start dropping as soon as the winds shifted from southwest to southeast. We have continued north, but eastward motion ceased at 3:00 PM yesterday at 15.653°E, and we’ve started sliding back west. The noon position was 85.196°N, 15.490°E. We’ve been creeping the “wrong way,” back north, for four and a half days.

After narrowing for a while the lead is again widening. Some ghostly silhouettes of bigger bergs are again drifting along the upper right horizon, now moving from left to right.

JUNE 29  —DMI  Morning Maps—

DMI2 0629 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0629 temp_latest.big (1)

I’ve been so excited about getting Part One of “A Grain of Salt” published on WUWT that I forgot the names of my storms, and was calling “Blackie” “Carrot.”  In any case, whatever-the-heck-it’s called is over in central Siberia, with more low pressure trailing back to the west, all suppressed well south of the arctic. A northern reflection of the second low is in Barents Sea, while to its west a morpistcated piece of “Spinach” has crossed Breenland and is parked southwest of Svalbard.

It is interesting that the area of sub-freezing temperatures has increased around the Pole. How can it get colder in 24-hour sunshine? The salt water is below freezing, and cooling the air?

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Collision—

NP2 June 28D 13

This first picture is from 9:30 last night. We’ve collided with a large floe of ice. Judging from the sun, our camera is pointed northwest, but has turned around five degrees further north.  The floe across the lead is moving slightly left to right.

NP2 June 29 17

This picture is from 3:30 AM, and I’m not sure what is going on. I think the same floe is straight ahead, but a chunk towards the right margin has broken off. It seems fairly calm, as nothing appears to be moving.

*******

Below is the 9:30 AM picture, and shows things are back on the move. The ice is moving right to left now, and the bigger bergs are (I assume) out of view to the left, as thinner ice slides by.

In the past 24 hour period the temperatures were quite cold, hitting the low of  -2.4°C at 6:00 PM yesterday, and still at -2.4°C at midnight, when they were starting to rise. They were at  -1.3°C at 6:00 AM, and then sprang up to freezing at roughly the time the picture below was taken, and at noon were at +0.2°C. Meanwhile the wind was shifting from ESE to ENE, as our northward movement ceased at 6:00 AM, achieving  85.207°N before inching south. The movement west was steady, as winds stiffened a little to over 10 mph. and we ended the day at 85.204°N, 14.807°E.  The pressure has fallen very slightly, to 1018.2 mb.

NP2 June 29B 14 (1)

JUNE 29  —DMI Afternoon Maps—

DMI2 0629B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0629B temp_latest.big (1)

JUNE 30  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0630 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0630 temp_latest.big (1)

If you compare the two sets of maps above you can see how the freezing temperatures appear and disappear over towards Bering Strait, depending on whether it is midnight, (top set of maps) or noon (bottom set of maps.)  This demonstrates there is some diurnal variation, even where the sun never fully sets.  (You also have to keep in mind that when it is noon on the top it is midnight on the bottom, and vice versa.)

The bottom map shows two pockets of cold air moving along the Siberian coast, one behind Blackie in central Siberia and one over towards Bering Strait. A low down over the Baltic, (I’ll call it “Hid,” because I can’t see it,) is at last bringing some milder air north and giving Scandinavia a break from north winds. There is only a small pocket of cold left up at the Pole north of our Camera.

The high over the Pole is creating a textbook zonal pattern, and we may even have a textbook Polar Cell, like the Ferrel and Hadley Cells in more southern latitudes.  The weather hasn’t been obeying the textbooks much, this years, with storms over the Pole, but we are getting a break from that, and things are generally calm up there.

“Spinach” crashed into Greenland, and I’m going to rename the two morfisticated chunks “Spin” (towards the southern tip of Greenland), and “Ach” (weak and moving east over Svalbard).  Spin could grow to be the first Icelandic gale we’ve seen in a long time, if it gets reinforced by a second low now over Labrador off the above map, which could shoot under Greenland and join Spin.

NORTH POLE CAMERA —Mighty gloomy—

NP2 June 30 18

The lead is opened up wide, likely because the ice can spread out more as it drifts to the southwest.  (At times this can actually increase the “extent,” as the same amount of ice covers a larger area…which is a good reason to pay attention to “area” graphs, and not just “extent” graphs.)

I originally liked the North Pole Camera because I liked the pictures of white snow and blue sky, when it got up to ninety down here in New Hampshire. This year there’s hardly ever any blue and white. It is just gray, gray, gray. I can’t say it is all that appealing.

EVEN  LESS APPEALING 9:30 AM PICTURE

NP2 June 30B 15

 3:30 PM —AT LEAST THE LENS DRIED OFF—

NP2 June 30C 18

 

The lead remains wide.  Is our edge getting worn away?

Temperatures hovered at freezing or ja tenth or two above, then dripped briefly to  -0.4°C between midnight ans 3:00 AM, before rising again to +0.5°C at noon. Winds have slacked off to 5-10 mph, as oue camera crept south a little, but mostly moved west, to 85.185°N, 14.051°E at noon. Pressure has fallen slightly to 1014.2 mb.

JUNE 30  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS

DMI2 0630B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0630B temp_latest.big (1)

JULY 1  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0701 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0701 temp_latest.big (1)

“Spin” continues to brew up southwest of Iceland, as “Ach” remaons weak over Svalbard. The other main feature continues to be the high pressure over the Arctic Sea, and is quasi-zonal flow.

A “heat wave” is occurring north of Alaska, with temperatures up over plus five. The ice is pretty thick there, but must be slushy. The sub-freezing pool continues to be in the Kara Sea.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —The gray thaw resumes—

NP2 June 30D 12NP2 July 1 17

The top picture is from 9:30 PM last night, and the bottom is from 3:30 AM this morning.  The snow is again starting to look grayer, which is indicative of slush. The lead continues to remain wide, and the satellite pictures show many cakes of ice jostling together in a packed sea.  I’m not sure it is right to call the lead a lead any more, as it is less like a crack in solid ice and more like water between floating islands, but I’ll keep on calling it a lead for the sake of consistency.

As this post is becoming long and unwieldy, I’ll start a new one at:: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/arctic-sea-ice-melt-crunch-time/

ARCTIC SEA ICE MELT —THE DEATH SPIRAL’S DEATH—

This is the continuation of a long series of posts, the last of which can be found at:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/arctic-sea-ice-melt-the-approaching-thaw/

Originally I was going to end this series at this point, because it is again June, and a year is long enough to study ice melting and refreezing, unless you get paid for doing so.  However it looks like the Alarmists who were talking about the Arctic Sea’s ice being in a “death spiral” are about to be embarrassed. I don’t want to miss it, especially because I was called some rude words back in 2007, when I stated the lack of sea ice that summer was no big deal.

The CPC model causing the embarrassment creates these graphs:

Death Spiral 1 sieMon (Click for clearer image)

The lower graph shows the amount of ice shrinking, as it does every summer, when the temperatures are above freezing for around two months.  However the upper graph shows the shrinkage will be less than normal, and the amount of ice remaining at the minimum in September will be above normal.

How can this be? We were told that the North Pole would be ice-free by 2013, and instead we are seeing not merely the normal amount of ice, but even more ice than normal!

The next DMI graph shows that polar temperatures are not rising as quickly as usual this spring, and the thaw isn’t starting on schedule.

DMI2 0609B meanT_2014 (Click to enlarge.)

In this post I will continue to observe what is happening up there, and perhaps share some ideas I have about why it is not warming up there. I’ll try to post maps of the conditions up there, and pictures from the North Pole Camera, twice a day.

WORDS OF WARNING

The ice up in the Arctic Sea is amazingly smashed up, after two winters and summers of storms.  The storms are likely due to the fact the Atlantic and Pacific cycles, (called the AMO and PDO,) are out of sync.  Therefore rather than a relatively calm “zonal” pattern the jet stream shows the exaggerated loops of a “medinianal” pattern, which is not calm and which cracks up the ice, exposing open water even when it is minus-forty, (which is my favorite temperature, as it is the one time Celsius and Fahrenheit agree.)

It is obvious that exposing open water, (during the ten months of the year when temperatures will cool the water more than the water would be cooled if it were sheltered under an igloo of ice), will create a cooler sea which makes for cooler air. It also forms more ice, but that ice is crunched together like an accordion, creating a formation called a “pressure ridge,” even as yet more open water appears as a long crack called a “lead.”  Barring any influxes of warm water under the ice, open water is generally a sign of cooling.

However the media is also cracked up and loopy, and any sign of open water makes them wild. If there is one thing I have learned, during the year I’ve spent simply observing the ice, it is that the media hasn’t done its homework.  Many reporters do not even fact-check, and merely are parrots, while those who do glance north have only the most rudimentary understanding, and make the dumb mistakes I made when I first began studying, but never learn as I have learned.

(You can go back through these posts to see my dumb mistakes; I make no effort to hide them.)

The media does make an effort to hide its mistakes, and even misinforms the public, for its mistakes are blazing headlines, while the corrections are in small print on page forty-seven, when they correct themselves at all.

A fine example of this was the hoopla made about a melt-water pool that appeared in front of the North Pole Camera last summer, that some called “Lake North Pole.” Such pools become common at the Pole, after temperatures have been above freezing during the 24-hour-a-day sunshine for weeks on end, however the media produced a great deal of hype about “Lake North Pole,” insisting it was proof the Pole was melting.  I said it was a pool, and would eventually drain away through a crack in the ice.  That was what happened, but the media never showed pictures of the bare ice, and the fresh covering of snow that covered that ice within 72 hours. Therefore the media was guilty of a sin of omission,  showing the public a picture of water at the Pole, but never showing follow-up pictures.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/lake-north-pole-vanishes/

This year we have the experience of a “lead” opening up dangerously close to the North  Pole Camera. I fear we may eventually lose the camera, but so far we have experienced a wonderful view of the crack opening and exposing water, which skims with ice and then slams closed, showing us the jumble of a pressure ridge.

My warning to you is that you are liable to see pictures of the open water, and the media will “forget” to mention, or show pictures of, the pressure ridges.  Of course, this will be a moot point if the coming storm drowns our camera.

THE COMING STORM

This storm hasn’t developed yet, but is forecast by the GFS model and the Canadian “GEM” model to be lashing our camera with gale force winds in 84 hours.  Below is the GEM model’s prediction of pressure and wind speed. (Double click to fully enlarge)

Lappy June 10 forecast cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_15

(Because I steal these maps from the WeatherBELL site, I feel obliged to give them a free commercial. The site costs me the price of a cup of coffee a day, but you can get a free week-long trial offer.  The maps alone, produced by Dr. Ryan Maue, are worth it. There are quite literally thousands. Are you interested in the humidity in Scotland four days from now? You can find the map.  The wind? The dew points? There are maps, for many different models. There are also learned daily posts by Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo.)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Before the storm–

NP2 June 9D 15

(Click to enlarge.)  The view at 10:00 PM is gloomy, despite the midnight sun. The wind is at our back, and the ice we are on is moving in the direction the camera is aiming, to the east.  The lead straight ahead appears to be narrowing, after growing wide yesterday. (See prior post.)

You can get these neat pictures at the NPEO website at:  http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2014/webcams1and2.html

We will have to wait until they post data at noon tomorrow to see what the temperature is. It is quite cold to our north, -6.74 C at Buoy 2014E: a hundred miles north, but to our west, just north of Greenland at Buoy 2014D: it is a relatively mild  -0.50 C, which is closer to normal. After all, ordinarily the summer thaw has started by now.

JUNE 10  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0610 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0610 temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA   —No storm in sight—

NP2 June 10B 14 (1)NP2 June 10C 18

(click pictures to enlarge them)

These pictures are from 4:00 AM (left) and 10:00 AM (right) this morning. The clouds are moving away and to the right, so my guess is winds are northwest. The camera data isn’t in yet, but my lunch break is over.

*******

Our southward drift slowed to a halt, with a slight .002° bump back to the north at the very end, but our eastward movement was steady and across 14° longitude for the first time,  ending up at 85.561°N, 14.066°E at noon.  The breeze was steadily 10-15 mph. Pressures fell slightly to 1014.8 mb, as temperatures attempted to climb back to normal, rising to -2.9°C at midnight, falling back to -3.8°C at 6:00 AM, and rising again to -2.7°C at noon.  (This remains below the freezing point of salt water.)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —gathering gloom—

NP2 June 10D 10NP2 June 10E 15

These pictures are from 4:00 PM (left) and 10:00 PM (right) and show the loss of distinct features that arctic adventures sometimes describe when weather gets gray. It is as if a sort of white-out occurs even without snow or fog, and they describe stumbling over bumps in the snow that they fail to see, due to the lack of shadows.

In the first picture no motion is detectable in the distant ice, and in the second some of the small flows in the lead are drifting to the right.

At Buoy 2014E:, north at 87.26 N, 10.91 E, temperatures have dropped from around -3.50°C to -5.29° C.  Although a two degree drop might not seem like much, at times such slight variations seem to be associated with gloomy weather, and may be indicative of subtle arctic fronts. Perhaps colder air is curling south.

JUNE 11  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

DMI2 0611 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0611 temp_latest.big (1)

The isobar map shows the storm I dubbed “Greeny” is weakening over the Pole, as “Lappy” starts to move north from the Laptev Sea.  Lappy is the one which may cause a ruckus up there.

The isotherm map is starting to look more like summer, over on the Pacific side.  Remember that the average temperature is above freezing from now until August, but that doesn’t mean a few areas of below freezing temperature don’t drift about, especially south of the Arctic Circle where there is a brief arctic night (or twilight).  Even north of the circle the sun can dip low at midnight, and create a slight diurnal variation as night swings around and around the Pole. (In in above maps midnight is at the bottom.)  However the above map is still below normal, as there are very few pools of above-freezing temperature around the Pole itself.

It is very warm in western Siberia, and Lappy is drawing some of that warmth north to serve as gasoline to fuel its development as it spins north.  Although I like the simplicity of the DMI maps, I turn to Dr, Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL maps to get a better idea of land temperatures around the arctic. This is the 0000z Canadian JEM “initial” run, from the same time as the above DMI maps.

DMI2 0611 cmc_t2m_arctic_1 (double click to fully enlarge)

(Ignore the mass of “9’s” and “0’s” smudging the left side of the map; that is just a glitch.)

This map nicely shows the western Siberian late-afternoon warmth, cooling instantly as it is pulled north over the Arctic Sea. However that cooling only occurs at the surface, at 2 meters (six feet) and up even fifty feet the air remains mild (and likely more humid) longer. It is that warmer air that will fuel Lappy, and as it runs out Lappy will weaken.

You can look at the same map in the GFS model, if you can stand the fact that, (likely due to politically-incorrect chauvinism,)  they flip the map upside down so they are front and center at the bottom.

DMI2 0611 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 (double click to fully enlarge)

You might think that, as these are both “intital” runs, and the same real data is plugged in, the maps would be the same, but if you have the time to blow examining the maps you can spot differences.  This is due to the ways the models fill in the blank spaces between the actual weather stations. In a sense it isn’t that different from the old days, when two different weathermen might draw in the isobars and isotherms on maps, and arrive at different results. And, considering the models don’t even have the same starting points, you can see why they might arrive at utterly different solutions in the maps they produce of future conditions.

In any case, the maps show the “gasoline” sucked north to fuel the possible storm. Now we have only to sit back and watch, to see if the storm actually develops.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —A clear patch—

NP2 May10B 17

I’ve heard these patches of clear sky referred to as “weather holes” by people up in the north, which likely is due to having to fly everywhere, and being able to see well enough to land. The clouds are moving away and to the right, as the large berg at the right margin is shifting to the left, perhaps closing up the lead in the center distance.

In order to grasp how fractured the ice is up there, on clear days I like to look down from outer space via a satellite.  Using Google maps you can move a little hand around the screen, and in the lower left you’ll see the latitude and longitude the little hand is covering.  Here’s a link to a permalink I (hopefully) captured yesterday.

http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2014-06-10/7-N85.10713-E19.12761

NORTH POLE CAMERA   —Some beautiful shots—

NP2 June 11B 17NP2 June 11B 18

I recomend opening the two pictures above on separate tabs, and then clicking between the two. They are from 10:00 AM and 10:05 AM this morning.  Besides the high clouds moving against the low, polar stratosphere, there is a bit of activity on the edge of the lead towards the middle right margin. The ice in or across the lead is edging right to left, (and perhaps shrinking the area of open water dead ahead,) and also it looks like the remnant of a pressure ridge on our side of the lead slumps down slightly into the water, hinting there is open water hidden from view there.  Also very nice is, above the pressure ridge on the far side of the lead, one can see the distant horizon, and a stretch of flat, white ice stretching off to what may be yet another pressure ridge, on the very fringe of the horizon.

I sure do enjoy these moments of excellent visibility. There haven’t been all that many, this spring.

********

The winds have apparently swing back towards the north, for the brief .002° northward blip at the end of yesterday’s record was purely a blip, and the southward and eastward motion resumed, bringing us to 85.515°N, 14.693°E at noon. Winds have been fairly steady, between 10 and 15 mph, and the barometer has only dropped slightly to 1011.6mb.

Temperatures trended down to -4.0°C at midnight, and then bounced about, up to -3.0°C at 3:00 AM, down to  -5.0°C  at 6:00 AM, up to -3.3°C at 9:00 AM, and down to -4.7°C at noon.  It should be noted that none of these bounces gets us above the freezing point of salt water, which is one heck of a way to run a thaw.

JUNE 11 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0611B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0611B temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is starting his cross polar swing, but the warm air fueling him hasn’t made much of a dent in the below normal temperatures over the Pole.  It is fairly hard to start a thaw with temperatures down around -3. Just as we had a slow start to spring down here, they’re having a slow start to thawing up there, this spring.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —-Again the gloom

NP2 June 11C 18

It sure must be hard for the crowd focused on “albedo” to have the sun popping in and out like this. One moment you are basing calculations on open water absorbing sunlight, and the next there is no sunlight.

At the moment there is no motion visible when I compare pictures, so I suppose we are wedged up against the far side of the lead. It looks a little warmer, as no skim of ice seems to be forming on the open water.

Although there is no island of sub-minus-five isotherms on the above DMI map, I was surprised to see a reading of -7.07° C at Buoy 2012G: , north of the Canadian archipelago, and a reading of -8.46° C at Buoy 2014B: , north of Alaska.

It has occurred to me that all winter the cross-polar-flow was piling up the ice north of Greenland and the Canadian archipelago, and now that heap of slabs is being dispersed by the east winds into the waters north of Svalbard; waters that were surprisingly ice-free last winter. (Those who followed this post back in April may remember the arctic adventurers exclaiming over the size of the pressure ridges close to Canada, and posting pictures of ridges that dwarfed a six-foot-tall man.)  If you think of those ridges as reservoirs of slabs, quite a flood of those slabs is capable of coming out of hiding, north of Greenland, and if they don’t head south through Fram Strait, and instead ride across the strait to the waters north and northeast of Svalbard, we could see areas of Barents Sea have a greater extent on the first day of summer than they had in the dead of winter.

JUNE 12  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0612 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0612 temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is making his move towards the Pole. Furthermore, he seems to be at long last dragging a plume of milder air up from East Siberia.  We may actually see a chance of thawing closer to the Pole. The failure of the Pole to start thawing this year is starting to get ridiculous:

DMI2 0612 meanT_2014 (Click to enlarge)

A quick look at Dr. Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map of the situation 24 hours from now (GEM model) raises my left eyebrow a bit.

DMI2 0612 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5 (Double click to fully enlarge)

What is fascinating to me is the strong winds upwind of our camera. The red stripe is 40 mph winds, that decrease to green 20 mph winds, and finally blue 10 mph winds. The stronger winds will move the sea-ice faster.

Think of it in terms of cars on a freeway. You have a bunch of fast cars stepping on the gas, catching up to a bunch of slower cars, (and remember sea-ice has no brakes). Hmm. What do you suppose will happen? Stay tuned!!!

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —a cold scene—

NP2 June 12 17

(Click picture for larger, clearer view.)

The open water dead ahead appears to be partially skimmed by ice. The ice across the lead is shifting to the right, perhaps due to northwest winds from our left, or perhaps the berg our camera sits upon is plowing ahead, shoving the ice aside.

There is cold air to our north, -6.34 C at Buoy 2014E: , but behind our backs (north of Greenland) some much milder air is available, and it is  -0.36 C at Buoy 2014D:.  Also it has warmed in the broad daylight of noon north of the Canadian archipelago and Alaska, up to -2.14 C at Buoy 2012G: and up to  -3.43 C at Buoy 2014B: .

JUNE 12   —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0612B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0612B temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is approaching Pole and strong winds are starting to influence our camera. It looks like some above-freezing air is trying to work north from the southwest.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —The lead claps shut—

NP2 June 12B 11NP2 June 12C 15

(Click pictures to enlarge) They are from 10:00 AM (left) and 4:00 PM (right).  Apparently it is crunch time, and there is no longer any sign of open water ahead.  I’m wondering if we’ll see some big pressure ridges form.

*******

Our southward drift continued, and our eastward movement was steady and across 15° longitude for the first time,  ending up at 85.431°N, 15.184°E at noon.  The breeze gradually strengthened to a steady 20 mph. Pressures slowly fell to 1007.5 mb, as temperatures remains below the freezing point of salt water, rising to -4.2°C  at midnight, falling back to the day’s low of -5.3°C  at 6:00 AM, and rising again to the day’s high of -3.0°C at noon.

 JUNE 13 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0613 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0613 temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is passing over the Pole and curving towards Scandinavia. It seems likely to pass northeast of our camera. At this point it is cut off from it’s original source of “gasoline,” and though the isotherm map shows some mild air being drawn in from north of Canada that warmth is largely due to noontime heating, and Lappy is likely to weaken.

The next polar invader will likely be that low inland in central Siberia, which seems likely to move north, again through the Laptev Sea, but to head for Alaska rather than the Pole. (I’ll dub it Lapeto [Lappy Two])

As a weakened Lappy digs into Scandinavia it seems likely to scoop up a low from the Baltic, and some models show that storm again heading right for the Pole, with surprising strength, next week. Usually things are pretty quiet up there in the summer, which is why summer storms make news.

The storm in the summer of 2012 made news because it stirred up warmer water from below, which increased the ice-melt. My pet theory is that the warmer layer of water that was stratified beneath the ice is “used up,” or at least doesn’t exist to the same extent, so current storms do not have the same power to melt ice.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Nothing to see here; move along—

NP2 June 13 18

It is difficult to know if the fog is fog or very fine particles of snow. The snow stakes show no accumulation, and, if anything, show some slight signs the snow is being scoured away by the strong winds.

To get a better view I cross the Pole to 87.8 north and 154.9 west, where the storm has already passed, and peek out O-buoy 9’s camera at a windswept world. Temperatures there are below minus five C. (By the way, this camera looked out over a flat landscape, without any pressure ridges, last fall.)

webcam(1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Not much to see, but we’ve been cruising—

NP2 June 13C 18

The view has been gray all day, but the wind is gradually picking up, and now is steadily 25 mph. The pressure bottomed out at  992.9 mb at 6:00 AM and is now rising, at   998.0mb at noon. Temperature rose as the pressure fell, to -1.3°C at 3:00 AM, but then began falling as the pressures rose, to -4.1°C at noon.

The camera made some impressive speed south and east, crossing 16 degrees longitude and getting as far east as 16.406°E before the wind must have veered into the northeast, and we shifted back west.  (I wish I could see what this is doing to the ice.)  Our position at noon was  85.327°N, 16.293°E.

JUNE 13  —DMI Afternoon Maps—

DMI2 0613B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0613B temp_latest.big (1)

JUNE 14  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0614 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0614 temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” continues to move away from the Pole, and likely will start to weaken as it slides down towards Scandinavia. The blocking high continues to sit in the North Atlantic. Scandinavia looks likely to  get northeast winds as Lappy nudges that high, and low pressure oozes up from the Baltic towards the Kara Sea. (If a storm develops there I’ll dub it “Carrot.”) “Lapeto” has developed as expected in the Laptev Sea.

The isotherms are showing more above-freezing temperatures, especially towards Canada.  Perhaps the thaw will finally begin.  However I wonder if these polar storms have an over-all cooling effect.  They transport a lit of heat and moisture up to the low polar stratosphere, where a lot of latent heat is lost as moisture condenses and then turns to snow.  However then the air warms while descending.  (While some summer thunderstorms generate a cooling effect, sometimes the uplifted air is quite hot when it comes back down, due to a sort of Chinook-effect.) I have no answer to my own question,  and can only watch and witness.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —The murk and the glimmer—

NP2 June 13D 14 (1)NP2 June 14 17

The above pictures are from 10:00 PM last night (top) and 4:00 AM this morning (bottom). (Click them for larger and clearer views.) It looks like there has been a little snow, though it could be frozen fog on the snow stakes. Our camera’s foundation didn’t crumble in the storm, and the pressure ridges on the right horizon don’t seem especially giant, though the lighting is poor.  Our lead, straight ahead, is cracked open, likely by the shift in movement from eastward to westward, but the crack isn’t particularly wide at this point. It would be nice to get some better lighting.

I’m already looking ahead to see if the Pole gets calm. Over at the WeatherBELL site, Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps have the GEM model showing “Carrot” up over the Pole in only five days, even stronger than Lappy is.  Hmm. No rest for the poor icebergs.

NP2 June 14 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_21

(Double click for full-sized map)

(The GFS model has a much different solution, with “Carrot” staying south and the Pole much warmer.)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Drat!  Ice on lens!—NP2 June 14B 17

Well, I guess we can infer it is warm aloft, and cold at the surface.  Beyond that, all we can do is hope for warm sunshine to melt off the lens.

10:00 Am and still no view

NP2 June 14C 16

4:00 PM  —They must have used a defroster—

NP2 June 14C 18

It was stormy last night, with winds above 25 mph for hours around midnight, and the barometer falling again to 994.8 mb at midnight. Temperatures hit the day’s low of -4.5°C at 9:00 PM and then began rising to the day’s high of -2.1°C at 3:00 AM. After midnight the winds began slacking and the barometer rose, with the wind at 14 mph and the barometer at 1003.9 mb. Temperatures fell to -3.6°C at 9:00 AM but bounced back up to -2.8°C at noon, finishing another full day with temperatures below the freezing point of salt water.

Our camera moved steadily south, but its westward movement was arrested by a lurch east for a while around midnight, before westward movement resumed, and we ended the day at 85.154°N, 15.555°E.

I assume some sort of defroster was used, as the temperatures have remained below freezing in the area. In the fall we have to wait longer for a frozen lens to clear, perhaps because the sun is lower and the solar cells can’t be used for defrosting.

It looks like our nearby lead is slammed closed fairly tightly for the time being, but the dark clouds on the fringe of the horizon may indicate open water beneath.

JUNE 14  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0614B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0614B temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is heading down towards Svalbard and weakening slightly, (though not as swiftly as I expected.) “Lapeto” is leaving the Laptev Sea over the New Siberian Islands, and drawing mild air (and fuel) north over the East Siberian Sea. There is no sign of “Carrot” forming in the Kara Sea yet. Temperatures remain below normal around the Pole,  but are rising.

JUNE 15  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0615 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0615 temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is weakening as he completes his lap, moving back down towards Eurasia. A ridge of high pressure behind it will build north and between Lappy and Lapeto.  As that ridge passes over our camera north winds will give way to calm, and then a period of south winds. Behind that ridge weak low pressure [“Elsie”, for Ellesmere Island in northern Canada] will move along the north coast of Greenland and add to the south winds, but this northward push of our ice looks like it will give way to a major southward surge, as “Carrot” moves towards the Pole next week. “Carrot” can be seen over Russia, between 50° and 60° at the lower right fringe of the circular map.  It looks like Scandinavia is in for an extended period of north winds.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Gray and grinding—

10:00 PM  NP2 June 14D 11

  4:00 AM  NP2 June 15 17

  10:00 AM NP2 June 15B 18

The ice across the lead appears to be moving parallel to the ice our camera is on, grinding against it.

JUNE 15  —Afternoon DMI Maps—

DMI2 0615B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0615B temp_latest.big (1)

As “Lappy” fades in Barents Sea,  the north winds behind it are giving way to calm as a ridge of high pressure extends north from the blocking high over the North Atlantic. While that blocking high has been keeping much warm Atlantic air from coming north, it does have a west side, pumping warmth north. When the blogger “stewart pid” today pointed out how warm the west side of Greenland was, we discussed a number of factors, but later it occurred to me that the blocking high may simply be pumping milder Atlantic air around that side of Greenland.  In any case, an invasion of above-freezing air has wedged north on the Canadian side of the Pole, and is clearly seen on the temperature map.  Perhaps the thaw will at long last begin, as the DMI temperature graph shows we are finally close to the freezing point.

DMI2 0615B meanT_2014 (click to enlarge)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —A Calm Descends—

NP2 June 15C 18

Though the view remains gray the winds have slackened to 5 mph. The ice across the lead has come to a halt.  Things are quieter, for the time being.  Our camera survived another storm. The barometer has risen rapidly to 1015.3 mb at noon, and I’m hoping we might get some sunshine soon.

Then again we might not, as it is warming and that often brings clouds.  Temperaturs have bounced around, but mostly have been above the freezing point of salt water. Our high was -0.9°C at 9:00 last night, and is has settled back to -1.7°C at noon.

Our movement has been slower, but steadily south and west, winding us up at  85.092°N, 14.554°E at noon.

A QUICK PEEK AT THE UK MET

I”m going to paste in the initial map, and then the map for next Saturday. The thing to noticre is that high west of Ireland that simply refuses to budge. It forces storms to work around its periphery, and must be a challange for forecasters. The Italian forecaster has to figure out the blurbs squeezing under the high and passing through the Mediterranean, and the Swedish forecaster has to look west for stuff squeezing over the top and east for stuff backing up and north for stuff bulging down from the Pole.  (This high looks nice for Ireland, but not so nice for Scandinavia.)

UK Met June 15 15373081UK Met June 15 next sat 15385507

JUNE 16  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0616 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0616 temp_latest.big (1)

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Great pictures of lead opening up—

The first picture is from 10:00 PM last night, and the second (lower) picture is from 4:00 AM this morning. Notice how only half of the volume of the pressure ridge stays on our side of the lead, while the other half has gone sailing off.

NP2 June 15D 13NP2 June 16 15

JUNE 16  —DMI Afternoon Maps—

DMI2 0616B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0616B temp_latest.big (1)

“Lappy” is fading into “Carrot,” now just emerging into the Kara Sea. “Lapeto” has a trailer now, “Lapedoto,” and together they are going to exit through the Bering Strait. Weak low “Elsie” now is north of Greenland and heading for our camera, giving us south winds.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Lead remains open—

NP2 June 16B 18

Winds shifted and the camera is headed back northeast,  at 85.134°N,15.234°E at noon.

Barometer is falling, down to 1007.4 mb. Temperature hit its low at midnight at -3.1°C, and its high of -1.5°C at 9:00 AM, and had dropped to -2.2°C by noon.

JUNE 17  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI2 0617 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0617 temp_latest.big (1)

The thaw has finally  begun, on the Canadian side, as the sub-freezing cold continues on the Eurasian side.

“Elsie:” is drifting over our camera, and the south winds will shift to the north behind it. “Carrot” is forming over the Kara Sea, but is no longer forecast to charge the Pole.  Models now show a storm-track along the coast of Siberia, with Carrot following Lapeto and Lapedoto.

Sorry if I’m late posting maps. I’m engrossed with other writing.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —skies remain gray; lead remains open—

NP2 june 16C 12NP2 June 17 18

These pictures are from 10:00 PM yesterday (top) and 4:00 AM today, (bottom). The far side of the lead is slightly closer. The lead shows no sign of refreezing, but can’t absorb much sunshine if it remains cloudy.  It would be interesting to know if the Pole has been significantly cloudier this spring.

JUNE 17  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI2 0617B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0617B temp_latest.big (1)

“Carrot” is the big boy on the block, swirling up in the Kara Sea as “Lapeto” weakens over by Bering Strait.  “Elsie” is an interesting little low as it dives southeast into Norway, for it seems to be getting reinforsements from a practically invisible storm-track over the big high blocking the North Atlantic. These dive through the Baltic and then seem to stall and gather force just east of Finland. You  can see a small storm sitting there now. You can’t see a tiny low being squeezed over the top of Iceland.  These storms will all gather together east of Finland the next few days. I guess I’ll continue to call it “Elsie” although it is actually a conglomeration. There are also impulses coming north from the Steppes to join the fray. I doubt the computer models will handle it well; there is simply too much subtlety.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —Surprisingly strong winds—

NP2 June 17B 14 (1)NP2 June 17C 18

The top picture is from 10:00 AM and the bottom is from 3:45 PM.  If you open them onto new tabs, and then click back and forth between the two tabs, you should be able to see the distant silhouette of an iceberg near the right margin of the horizon of the first picture, and about a sixth of the way across, further left, in the second. It looks grey and ghostly and big as a battleship, but I surmise it is far smaller, and the other side of the lead is closer than the fish-eye lens makes it appear.  Why?  Because winds are a steady 16 mph in both pictures, likely with higher gusts, but there is no sign of whitecaps on the open water. (I could be wrong; it’s just my perception.)

These southerly winds lifted our temperatures up close to freezing, up to the high of -0.5°C at midnight, when the winds were up over 20 mph. Then the temperatures dipped slightly, back down to -1.1°C at noon. As this opposes diurnal variation (which is slight but does exists, now that we are nearly 300 miles south of the Pole,) I assume some slightly different air mass is involved. The winds did shift and stop our eastward movement at 15.401°E at 9:00 AM, and lurch us back west, but we’ve continued to move north, and at noon were at  85.260°N, 15.348°E.

Pressures bottomed out at 1005.6mb at 9:00 PM last night as “Elsie” passed, and have risen back to 1015.2mb at noon. I was surprised Elsie, who had such a small blip in terms of pressure, had the winds she had.

JUNE 18  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI2 0618 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0618 temp_latest.big (1)

“Carrot,” over the Kara Sea, is drawing from some very warm air (up in the 80’s) in central Siberia, and the models keep flip-flopping over whether it will be drawn towards that warm air and track east along the coast, or whether it will copy prior storms and head for the Pole.

Very cool air is being drawn south over Scandinavia by “Elsie,” which looks like it will stall and sit over Finland all week. The air swirling in Elsie is fairly dry so they may get some spells of sunshine, but any warmth will have to be home grown.

A tiny low is rippling up over the top of the blocking Atlantic high, and is just east of Finland.

The thaw is finally beginning at the Pole, so I think I’ll start a new post today.

NORTH POLE CAMERA  —The lead closes again—

NP2 June 17D 14 (1)NP2 June 18 18

Judging from isobars, the wind has likely shifted to the north, and the ice has shifted in a way that is closing up the lead.  Although the lead looks grayer I think it is due to lighting, and not due to it freezing over, as I temperatures are not below the freezing point of salt water. (There is a chance wind-blown freshwater snow, with a melting point of 32, has landed in seawater that is down around 30,  and in such cases the snow doesn’t melt right away.)

This post will be continued at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/arctic-sea-ice-melt-the-thaw-begins/

LOCAL VIEW —Foxes and falling behind—

This is the continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/local-view-planting-corn/

Earlier these “local view” posts were part of my “Arctic Sea Ice” posts, because the arctic does come south and seize New England in the winter, however now it is June, lush and green, and our foxes are not arctic.

My wife took the above photo, and I included it last year in a somewhat long-winded and peculiar post about my long association with foxes.   https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/baby-foxes/

In the above picture you should notice no green lushness. It isn’t June, and the mother fox already has three mouths to feed. This year, at the same time, there was still snow, and the cold was cruel, and as a consequence some of the little mouths to feed didn’t get fed, and the mother fox only has one mouth left to feed, this June.

At our childcare children learn about nature.  They are not incarcerated in a steel-fenced-in yard, more befitting a criminal penitentiary, called a “playground.”  They run free, within much wider bounds, and though carefully supervised they are not “organized,” and when they play their play is not “organized sports,”  and when they learn about nature she is not an “organized nature.”

Other kids learn about nature indoors, and when they see foxes it is on video, and they have a most peculiar idea about nature. They feel nature is a fragile thing, and humans break it.  Rather than loving the fields and streams, and wanting to hike the forests and hills, they want to stay indoors, because they feel they can do it no good by approaching nature.

By the time little children leave my childcare for kindergarten at age five they are smarter than that, and smarter than a lot of full grown environmentalists. Rather than fearing nature they love nature.

To be blunt, I think a lot of full grown environmentalists have never done what my kids do. They have never watched a mother fox by her den with her pups.  They have never raised chickens. They have never known how infuriating it is to have a best hen nabbed by a mother fox in broad daylight.

It goes on and on from there. Lots of environmentalists have never hoed corn under a hot sun. Nor have they picked that corn, roasted it over hot coals, and munched it on a summer afternoon. Not that I make my kids do this, (or trust them with a campfire,) but they tend to tag along as I do this stuff, and learn through a sort of osmosis. I get the distinct impression many environmentalists never learned in this manner, and instead only watched videos at a penitentiary childcare.

My kids know Nature is no fragile thing. I don’t teach them this. She does. If you leave your videos and get out in the weather, you learn what a mother fox knows: Mother Nature can kick your ass,  and leave you feeling darn lucky you have even one of your children alive.

The people in Washington DC are unaware of this reality, called “Nature”. They live in an illusion wherein, if you don’t grow corn, you can eat corn, by printing it out on a printing press. They are bankrupt, but feel they have power because they can print out lots of hundred dollar bills. In this delusion they ignore the worst winter we’ve had since the 1970’s, and insanely yammer about Global Warming. After a winter where the poor could barely afford to stay warm, they think it wise to increase the cost of heating with Carbon taxes.

Hello? Hello? Anyone at home in those skulls?

I am not able to print money when I need it, and cannot feed the kids at my childcare corn unless I plant it. At age sixty-one, I’m finding it harder to do all the digging. To be honest, I’m falling behind. For crying out loud!  It is June, and I’m just getting the beans and squash planted!

Oh, I suppose I could play the blame-game. We did get our last frost on May 29, which is very late. I’ve had other responsibilities to attend to, as well. However, when dealing with Mother Nature, the blame-game doesn’t work. She is one tough cookie, and isn’t about to listen if I whimper, “But I’m sixty-one.”  Or, well, maybe she’ll listen, but her mercy may be to put me out of my misery.  I prefer to shut up and work.

In any case I was down on my knees, working manure and wood ashes into the soil, this evening, and then covering the stirred soil with a layer of mellow topsoil, and planting hills of winter squash. (When squash has a basement of such richness you can get some spectacular yields), (if the vine borers don’t attack).  As I worked I became aware the crows were cawing like crazy in the trees past the edge of the pasture, and the cawing was coming closer. I froze, and remained very still in my crouch, and saw a fox come trotting out into the pasture.  To my delight it was followed by bounding baby, (I’m never sure whether you call them “pups” or “kits”).

I was surprised they didn’t head for my chickens, but rather in the general direction of my goats, who were all attentively cocking radar ears towards the foxes.  The mother would trot ahead to some hole a vole or mouse made, sniff at it, and the pup-kit, which had lagged behind, would come dashing up to sniff as well, and then be left behind sniffing, as the mother trotted ahead to the next lesson. However she abruptly froze in her tracks.  She hadn’t noticed me, but rather my bored dog, sitting by my truck waiting for me to be done with the nonsense of squash.

Without much fuss the mother fox headed the other way, still pausing at interesting tussocks of grass and divots in the pasture, and waiting for her kit-cub to boundingly catch up. I was hoping my dumb dog wouldn’t notice, but abruptly she sat up, and then took off like a rocket for the mother fox and her pup-kit.

I commanded my dog to stop, and as usual it didn’t. Some people think my dog is named, “El Seeno,” and is Hispanic, but actually her name is “Elsie”, but I am always yelling “Elsie! No!” at the top of my lungs.

Elsie is an utterly illogical dog. She cowers from butterflies yet attacks bees, despite being repetitively stung. She savagely barks at jets passing miles overhead, yet will yawn at a great blue heron landing by the farm pond. She’s scared of cats, but now was heading at roughly thirty miles an hour towards a mother fox protecting a lone surviving child. I sat back to see what would happen.

The little fox made a beeline for the edge of the trees, but the mother fox didn’t bolt, and instead trotted smiling towards the charging dog. Then she did an astounding thing. She sat down on her haunches and simply waited, in a most nonchalant way. Elsie never slowed, and in fact increased her speed. Then the mother fox barked a high and scratchy yowl-yap, and ran off in a zig-zag, first one way and then another, but never the way her baby went.  Elsie hardly swerved at all, and was close behind the fox as they vanished into the trees by the south side of the pasture.  I heard a yowl-yap from that direction, and then from the west edge of the pasture, and then, more distantly, from the west-northwest, which likely indicated a reunion with her pup-kit, as that was direction the child had fled. I knew it had nothing to do with Elsie, for Elsie reappeared way back at the south edge of the pasture.

I thought she looked a bit humbled. It reminded me of a time she chased an otter into some shubbery, with her tail high and wagging, and only got half way into the shubbery before her tail went down, and she came carefully backing out. Perhaps that dog is not quite as dumb as she looks. However I did praise her as she came back panting, despite the fact she disobeyed, because my chickens are safe a little longer.

And the moral of this story is this: Mother Nature isn’t fragile. I might be fragile, and my dog might be fragile, but she isn’t.

The only sad thing is this event happened on the weekend, and the kids at my childcare didn’t get to witness it.

A nice ending to the hottest day so far, this spring.

LV June 8B satsfc (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POET’S PLAN: Two party system; The EPA is “NEITHER.”

TWO PARTY SYSTEM? THE EPA IS NEITHER.

If God had wanted me to learn about computers, He would have arranged my life differently. I was all ready to start work at a computer place in Scott’s Valley, California, back in 1984, and back then I was the sort of worker who is not only avid to learn, but capable of learning. I was “a quick study,” (and what old Yankees called “thefty,” which is a word that has pretty much faded from use, but meant you could figure out how to get a job done even if you lacked the proper training and tools; a word a bit like the politically-incorrect phrase, “nigger rigging,” but “thefty” had more positive associations.)

I was so quick to catch on to what a job entailed, and so eager to figure out ways to solve problems, that I often was swiftly promoted. Often such promotions involved doing twice the work for a five-cent-per-hour-raise. Also it tended to make other workers hostile, (and when a Union was involved, it was actually forbidden.) Lastly, such promotion often was a dead-end, and then, as soon as my job became repetitive, and involved no challenges or learning, I tended to find some excuse to leave. In which case I should not blame God, because the simple fact was that, by 1984, I was well on my way to working well over a hundred jobs. My vagrancy was my own doing. The only way to blame God, (or to give God credit,) is because he shaped me the way I am; IE: I can’t stand repetitive jobs that don’t involve learning.

However the job I was about to start in Scott’s Valley might have been different. For one thing, the starting wage was well over minimum wage, and that can make a man like me put up with boredom a little longer. Second, it offered training, and a whole universe of classes pertaining to computers. To learn about computers in 1984 would have put me well ahead-of-the-curve.

Instead I swiftly found myself in Window Rock, Arizona, in the bureaucratic offices of the Navajo Tribe, somewhat illegally indirectly leeching a bit of money Congress intended to be used to train Navajo youth to be modern. And what was the so-called “modern” thing I was learning? It was how to repair an IBM electric typewriter.

Talk about a totally useless skill to learn! Within a decade it was hard to even find an IBM typewriter in an office building.

How did I come to move from Scotts Valley to Window Rock? Well, “some people claim there’s a woman to blame,” and I‘ll admit a little of that was involved. However even before the woman appeared the job in Scott‘s Valley vanished. The place closed its doors on the very day I was suppose to start work.

Apparently the management of that place decided to tell Microsoft and Apple where to get off. They were tired of having to design stuff to fit Microsoft and Apple hardware, and told Microsoft and Apple to design hardware to fit their stuff. (Why do I have the sneaky suspicion cocaine was involved?) They promptly lost huge contracts and had to close their doors.

If I‘d been working there you might be able to blame me. You could suggest I had caught management‘s ear, and poisoned their business-sense with bad advice. However, as I hadn’t even walked through the door for my first day of work, this is not an occasion where I can be blamed.

Unless you believe in God, and can imagine God was horrified at the prospect of a poet like me becoming a computer geek.

Usually God is patient, and leaves us in our messes to figure things out for ourselves, with our flimsy and meager “Free Will,” but perhaps, in dire circumstances, when a poet like me is about to become a computer geek, (well “ahead of his time”, and likely also relatively wealthy and corrupted by all the bad things filthy lucre does,) God will intervene. He will plant the idea in the skulls of management that it is a wise business move to challenge Microsoft and Apple.

If you believe God can intervene in that manner, then it probably is my fault that a little start-up operation in Scott’s Valley went bankrupt.

In any case I spent the next four years about as far away from computers as you could get, in the lower 48 states of the USA. Not that I stopped learning. But my study involved very different things.

One thing I happened to study was bureaucracy. I couldn’t help it, in that area, especially during the time I spent fixing electric typewriters. (I only worked that job part time, and at times it was a very small part of my time.)

To be honest, few things seemed more out of place in that Navajo landscape than modern gizmos, whether they were out-of-date electric typewriters or more-modern computers. However bureaucracy was invading the wild west big time. Not only was there the Cowboy bureaucracy, (State, County and City,) and the Indian bureaucracy, (Tribe and Chapter Houses,) effecting the roads, hospitals, colleges and libraries, but there was The Bureau of Land Management, The Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Veteren’s Administration, which were neither Cowboy nor Indian. I learned a lot about the strange world of the “Neither”, repairing typewriters.

“Neither” is the brainless bureaucracy that thought it was helpful to teach Navajo youth how to repair electric typewriters, when that was a skill that would make the teenager obsolete before age twenty-nine.

“Neither” is also the out-of-touch logic of the EPA, all these years later, as they deem it wise to shut down coal mines and coal power plants, which will impoverish, if not actually freeze, the poor.

Even though I didn’t study computers, I did study the stupidity of “Neither,” as it effected really classy Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, Hispanics and wise-but-nearly-illiterate Cowboys. Though I missed my chance to be ahead-of-the-curve, in Scott’s Valley, in terms of computers, I was ahead-of-the-curve, in terms of what it feels like to be a Navajo, or any other ordinary people, facing the bureaucratic “Neither.”

It used to be we could feel pity for Navajo, but now we need to feel pity for ourselves. It is all Americans who are now the Native Americans, facing the monstrosity of the “Neither.”

(Past my bedtime. From here on this is just notes for a follow-up essay.)

Coming to grips with this monster is no easy task. It is hydra-headed, and while some heads are obvious, others are not. I’ve spent years thinking about the problem, and I’m not helped when my computer crashes, my notes are lost, and I haven’t learned enough about fixing computers to fix the problem.

However, though I can’t fix a crashed computer, covered in dust and cobwebs in my attic, a guy from Puerto Rico salvaged the memory in the hulk, which I assumed was as lost as papers in a house fire.

The fellow did not gain his computer skills through being educated by a Federal grant of any sort. In fact he learned much the same way I have learned: He was given certain gifts by God, and life has a way of bringing out our gifts, because they are what survives the hammering life puts us through.

Such gifts are best developed in a free society. Attempts by the “Neither” to nourish such gifts seldom help and often hinder, because the only person who understands the gift is the person with the gift.  Outsiders cannot be insiders. In the end, the attempts of the “Neither” to legislate spirituality are bound to fail, for they fail to recognize the worth of the individual spirit, and instead attempt to deal with individuals as clumsy groupings of people who are sort-of-alike..

Then the “Neither” attempts to organize those “groupings” into an organized system, and often sees unintended consequences be the result.   When you limit the freedom of individuals you limit individual’s ability to demonstrate their gifts, and in the end you lose.

Fortunately I didn’t need to deal with licences or forms or bureaucracy of any sort to rescue the memory of my crashed computer. I, as a free individual, found another free individual who had developed the gifts I haven’t developed.  That is how things work best.

Among the slew of lost documents, I found the following profound-but-silly poem, which I can’t remember writing. Although irreverent, and a bit embarrassing, I think the poem does a good job of describing the difficulty a person who loves to learn goes through, and furthermore hints at an eventual escape from duality and the false-thought of “Neither.”

I offer it hoping it will encourage those who think they are alone, and are the only ones who see the falsity of “Neither,” and pray the poem may even inspire them to resist the bureaucratic buffoonery we are enduring,

     SEDUCING STUDENTS

Some teachers say, “Stop slugging,
And learn to coo and sigh
Over Shakespeare’s sonnets
And how skylarks kiss the sky,”
But soon as class is over
It is time for Rugby’s slugging.
Then teacher’s do not like it much
If students coo of hugging,

Unless, of course, the hug is like
A wrestler’s embrace,
The sort of hug which grinds the green
Of sod upon your face,
But if you truly crouch and clout
Opponents in the nose
You learn it’s nearly naughty as
Handing them a rose.

Teachers have to channel you;
Contain you and restrain you.
Although you’re not a horse, they’ve got
To spur you and to rein you,
But when they tried to saddle me
I said, “Get off my back!
My freedom’s my virginity;
I have a thing you lack.”

Still they felt they had to start me
And they felt they had to stop me.
“Emulate! Imitate!
But, never, never copy!
Fifty footnotes earns an ‘A!’
A plagiarist’s a sneak!
Talk when you are spoken to
But never, never speak!”

They said, “Both in sports and poems
Comes times to bow to rules.
Obey, and be submissive,
As cowed as Hitler’s fools;
For both in sports and poetry
Comes times to set all free
And race along the sidelines
Like a spirit soaring free!”

What a tricky task they faced
Teaching, “Don’t, but do.”
I was like a Juliet
And teachers, Montigue.
Knowledge has the sweetest lips.
I knew I was unkissed.
The teachers urged that I lie still
And then, “Resist! Resist!”

But when I was a student
I couldn’t stand be goosed.
I’d slap away the teacher’s leer
And wouldn’t be seduced.
I wouldn’t take the ball and run
Down sidelines like I should.
I streaked across the sidelines
And I headed for the wood.

I heard the voices hollering
That I had lost my mind.
I listened as the voices
Finally faded, far behind,
But I felt not a bit of shame
For being out of bounds
And broke the school’s commandment
About staying on its grounds.

Then I learned that schools protect.
The world is not so nice.
Though schools can seem too squishy
The world’s as hard as ice.
Where schools seduce with blandishments,
“Please don’t be an escapist,”
The world does not seduce at all.
The world’s a clumsy rapist.

What a rugby game it is
When business holds the ball!
The greedy build their mansions up
But greed then covets all
‘Til greed tears lovely mansions down
And revolution’s red
Is all that’s left of rainbows
That were promised to the dead.

The poor go limping down a field
With sidelines creeping near
Until they’re in an alley
Ruled by slumlord’s fisted fear.
Finally there’s a riot
And the scrum’s a savage game:
The balls are rolling human heads
But sidelines are the same.

But when I was a worker
I couldn’t stand be goosed.
When Left and Right spoke promises
I wouldn’t be seduced.
They were just opposing sides
Which form an alley’s hall,
And thinking back to days in school
I smiled and took the ball.

I’d learned that if you scale the walls
You stay in states you’re in:
East to west, or west to east,
You stay within Berlin.
Though you may clamber eastwards
Over scrums to dawning day
You’ll find you’re soon in shadow
And can’t see the sunset’s ray.

Wherever there’s a standing wall
There shadows will persist.
The morning that you fall in love
Makes you an anarchist.
We cannot love a thing of fear
That pushes us apart.
Something about every wall’s
Offensive to the heart.

The wall remains as long as rules
Are bricked to build them up.
I took the ball I held and gave
It to a passing pup.
To heck with rules. To heck with scrums.
To heck with hugs and slugs.
To heck with rolled-out carpets
And to heck with pulled-out rugs.

The dog I gave the ball to
Made the answer plain as day:
It wagged its tail and with its eyes
Said, “Come on! Let us play!”
And that is the seduction
Which every student faces,
And that’s what the predicament
Of the human race is.

LOCAL VIEW —Planting corn—

This is the continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/local-view-a-day-to-skip-planting/

LV June 1B satsfc (3) (Click to enlarge.)

That high pressure moving off the coast of New England gave us a gorgeous day. The local joke was, “May was so cold, we could hardly wait for June.”  It was as if the skies actually heeded the changing page of the calender.

However the cold spring may have already done its damage.  I live on the border of southern lands where the Native Americans grew corn, and northern lands where they only hunted and gathered.  True, those Indians lived back in the Little Ice Age, and if you believe in “Global Warming” that boundary has shifted north.  However the simple fact of the matter is we had our last frost May 29,  and if I had corn growing I’d need to now replant.

I grow three kinds of Indian corn, (Oriental, Popcorn, and Strawberry,) and all three take around 110 days to mature.  If you plant on June first, they will be ripening around September tenth. That is cutting it very close, in terms of our first frost.

Fortunately we have better corns than that these days, and I planted 144 feet of a variety  which matures in 67 days (on August 6) and 144 feet of a variety that matures in 91 days, (August 30.)  I hope to plant a second block of the first variety, so we have sweet corn ripening around August 17.

While I won’t avoid making a few bucks selling extra corn to the general public, mostly I grow corn for the Childcare,  based on the farm.  The Childcare pays the bills. There is no way a tiny farm can compete with agribusiness, but there is no way agribusiness can compete with me, when it comes to treating children well.

At my Childcare children get to see the small, yellow seeds planted, get to see the tiny shoots spring up until they tower high above their little heads, get to pick the cobs, get to roast the cobs with the husks still on them in a campfire, and get to shuck the roasted husks, and butter the ears, and then salt and eat corn so fresh and so delicious that it makes what agribusiness offers taste like a skunk.

Agribusiness has bankrupted the family farm, turned farming communities into ghost towns, and produced children who eat their rubbish and are oddly malnourished. Such children are not merely malnourished physically, but are strangely deprived, and disturbed mentally.

I get disturbed kids arriving at my Childcare, and don’t need to do any sort of psychological stuff to see them swiftly made better.  They just hang around with me as I hoe, and watch as the plants shoot up until they tower, and finally munch corn on the cob. Sunshine, fresh air, and good food does a lot, but also contact with fundamental and rudimentary realities, such as how corn grows, gives children something agribusiness robs them of.

I don’t do a thing. The corn does it. Even things such as the worms organic corn has in its cobs, (which agribusiness’s corn lacks,) does something wholesome for children when they, with thair fascination, study such worms.

I reiterate that I do nothing, beyond recognizing and appreciating how beautiful is this gift called “corn,” and sharing it with little kids, during the sunny days of summer.

JUNE 2  —Gorgeous morning—

LV June 2 satsfc (3) (click to enlarge)

One of the few bad things about a morning this lovely is that you can’t write about it, because it calls you out to be in it.  (That may explain why storms get more press.)

JUNE 3  —Brief heat—

LV June 3 satsfc (3) (Click to enlarge)

A small boy broke his wrist at our Childcare yesterday, which tends to derange things.

Thunder to our west

LV June 3 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A weak sea breeze may weaken these storms. I need to keep working until dark to take advantage of “thunder rain.” I’ll explain later.

*******

JUNE 4   —Weakened rains—

LV June 4 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

 A lovely sea breeze surged well inland in the afternoon yesterday, coming from milder waters south of Cape Cod and lacking the rawness of most back-door-fronts, and when that west-moving feature hit the east-moving line of storms, the static abruptly ceased on the AM  radio.  We got no thunder at all, but that doesn’t remove all the nitrogen lightning puts into the cloud’s water vapor, and the rains we got were likely “thunder rains,” and likely will promote a surge of growth.

After Childcare was done I planted 315 feet of corn and prepped some holes for seedlings, planting six cauliflower and six Brussels sprout plants before the swarms of mosquitoes drove me indoors.  Then I stayed up late thinking and writing about the crazy EPA attempt to bypass voters and congress.

******

Strange, gloomy day, though an employee told me it was bright and sunny when she left her house this morning, only four miles to our northwest. She said it was like driving down into a fog bank by the sea.  Though the showers continued weakly away to the east, it was as if the front itself stalled and came back west as a weak warm front.  And in fact a warm front shows on the map:

LV June 4 satsfc (3)

That low to our south looks suspiciously like a summer nor’easter in the making.  Also I am suspicious of the low way down in the Gulf of Mexico.  The first tropical storm of the season?

The son of a friend dropped by to chat today. He works on a real money-making farm out in New York State. It was interesting to compare how they operate to how we operate  on our Toy Farm here.

I got all the mowing done today, besides the ordinary Childcare stuff.  I want mowing out of the way, so I can focus on planting. Making the place look tidy seems fairly useless, in terms of farming, though I suppose the cut grass does make good mulch.

I’ve decided flowers at the entry of a Childcare is a bad idea. The blooms seem to be a magnet for balls of all shapes and sizes.

JUNE 5  —Summer nor’easter—

LV June 5 satsfc (3)LV June 5 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Winds are still light and from the south, as the cold front that pushed past on Tuesday retrograded as a warm front yesterday, and now exists as an orange dashed line on the above map. However a new circulation is taking over, and winds have become calm in many spots, and are becoming light northeast airs at the coast. The rain is lifting north and reached us at eight o’clock,  but all the small children at the Childcare were  already dressed in their rain-gear, and headed off across the wet meadows on a hike, twelve splashes of color on the green background, zipping this way and that as the two elders walked more slowly, in a straight line.

I have a weekly meeting of church elders at the farm. We’ll likely discuss how the Sun shines, even when hidden by clouds.

This rain is watering my corn. Furthermore it is falling at sixty degrees. Any colder, and the seed can rot in the ground, so I’m lucky. It is best to look at the bright side, on a gloomy day.

Sun peeked out at sunset. Warmer weather ahead.

LV June 5B satsfc (3)

The storm is drifting out to sea, without the winds picking up from the northeast, so we’ve been spared the truly cold air from waters north of Cape Cod.  Tomorrow the sun will shine with the amazing power of June, and once again our warmth will come on north winds, this time due to weak high pressure bulging down from Hudson Bay, rather than Labrador.

Children are very hard to care for on rainy days, and I didn’t get as much done in the garden as I had hoped. I did hill the potatoes. And the corn did get watered, though not by me.

JUNE 6  —Refreshing breezes—

LV June 6 satsfc (3)

 

The map shows yesterday’s rain drifting up into the Maritime Provinces, and our area getting the wrap-around clouds behind it, and refreshing breezes from the north.

I got one chore done this morning that I’ve been avoiding. A little grape vine I put in around five years ago has become a snarl that is turning a small pine into an arbor, which I don’t mind, but also is reaching up and grabbing the electrical lines into my house.  I figured trimming the vines back from those wires would get me zapped, but either I’m still alive after getting the job done, or else the afterlife is indistinguishable from life.  Best of all, the internet still works.

However cool breezes are the best winds to work in, so I can’t sit here dawdling.

JUNE 7  —Beautiful weather—

LV June 7 satsfc (3) (click to enlarge)

Gotta work.

*******

Did some rototilling, wheeled brown gold out into the garden, and planted four rows of beans, (green, wax and shell,)(total of 250 feet,) plus eight celery seedlings and six eggplant seedlings, and got ten hills of cucumbers in, (salad and pickling.) Prepped some squash hills, which I’ll work in tomorrow.

The sun was quite hot, but the north wind made it bone dry.  The wind slacked off in the late afternoon. Tomorrow I imagine the sultry humidity will creep in, as winds shift to the south on the other side of the high pressure.

The soil is surprisingly dry.  Despot heavy rains not far west and south of here, we seem on the edge of a drought.

LV June 7B satsfc (3) (click to enlarge)

Since I’m done planting corn, I’ll continue this series of posts with a new post at : https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/local-view-foxes-and-falling-behind/