LOCAL VIEW –I’m A Loser–

January and early February tend to be the hardest times to get through, in New Hampshire, with the holidays past and the bitterest winds blowing. It is bad enough when one is hale and healthy, but when you are under doctor’s orders to keep exertion to a minimum, you feel bed-ridden and can become a real sourpuss, and write morbid sonnets like this one:

It is cruel January, the Mad Moon,
When sanity swings from a slender thread
And brave men whistle a graveyard tune
As tombstones clutch moon shadows of dread.

Attempting smiles, good people bare their teeth.
“Nice try,” I think, but see through the pale mask
To the heavy heart lurking underneath
And the way their life has become a task.

Why did we ever move so very far north?
Eden was warm. You could wear a fig leaf.
Here bitter winds bring bitter words forth
And we bite our tongues, or else cause wives grief.

Life was made for joy, but the cruel Deceiver
Relishes stale air, and our cabin fever.

I’m usually better at making a joke of cabin fever, even when I catch it. Sometimes, rather than fighting it, I go with it, exaggerating it to such a degree it becomes laughable. For example, here is an example of such January humor:

THE CARDINAL SONNET

The east blushes blue. A cardinal tweets,
Insanely loud in the subzero hush.
Jaunty red plumage black against dawn, he greets
Winter’s conquest with counter-claims, a rush
Of twitters, and then, “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!” he yells:
A winced headache to all with hangovers
And a plague to sleep. “Tweet! Tweet!” It compels
Curses from virgin lips; even pushovers
Push back against the madness of claiming
A white waste of tundra for a dull spouse
Who likely thinks he’s mad, and is shaming
Him by basking in Florida. What house
Can he claim for her when the odds are so low?
”Tweet! Tweet!” screams the cardinal at seven below.

However sometimes even I get serious. Perhaps it is a side effect of having a kidney removed. (Not that I failed to see the humor of paying a surgeon more than I can make in two years to make me feel one hell of a lot worse than I have ever felt in my life.) However it hurt to laugh, so I stopped, and got serious.

One of the most serious things I found to think about, when tapped on the shoulder by my own mortality, was the simple fact that not all of my dreams may come true.

I have tended to use hopes and dreams to lure myself on through life, like a stubborn donkey is lured by a dangling apple on a string just in front of its nose. Deluding myself with hope has worked for decades, but all of a sudden it became outdated. It occurred to me, “Maybe I won’t make a million overnight, solving all my financial woes by writing a silly song that mysteriously becomes a one-hit-wonder.”  (Other people buy lottery tickets, but I write silly songs.)

It was amazing how black life became, when I simply gave up on some hopes. Rather than imagining myself as an eventual “winner”, I accepted the fact I was a “loser”. After all, not all our dreams can come true, and we are often happier because they don’t. For example, when we go to a class reunion we sometimes meet people we long-ago dreamed might marry us, take a hard look, and then thank God that particular dream didn’t come true. However giving up on some of my current hopes made everything look pitch black.

It sure didn’t help that the New England Patriots chose just then to lose the championship game. Then it wasn’t just me; the whole darn town got depressed. It was especially hard because Tom Brady took such a beating, was clobbered and flattened so constantly, yet fought back so bravely to the very verge of tying the game up, only to lose at the end. It was like seeing that you can try, you can be brave, you can be tougher than nails, and still be a loser.

Of course, because I am an a old fossil, the old Beatle’s song, “I’m A Loser”, started drifting through my head. That always seemed like am odd tune for the Beatles to write, considering they were far more than a one-hit-wonder, and were unbelievably successful and rolling in dough when in their twenties. (I sure wasn’t.) If any were winners, it sure seemed they were. How could they write about being losers? But they wrote it, so I decided to take a look at it, through the wonders of the internet.

It seems incredible that they were doing that stuff fifty years ago. Half a century!  What was it that made them so attractive? To me it seems it was the simple fact they dared be honest, dared confess they were human and mortal and not always winners. They took public confession to unheard-of levels, and people simply couldn’t help but like them for their honesty.  However they were not merely honest, they were proud of it.

When I look back at that time, fifty years ago, when I was not quite a teenager yet, one thing I recall is what fakes and phonies all the grown-ups all seemed to be. When a guy saw a pretty woman ahead he’d suck in his gut and walk in a manner that seemed, to me as a mere boy, to be preposterous. I dreaded the idea that someday I’d have to act that way, if I was to grow up. It seemed everyone was trying desperately hard to be better than they were, to be winners and hide the fact they were losers. Then along came the Beatles, and sung, “I’m a loser, and not what I appear to be,” and it was such a relief, and so refreshing. Rather than girls rejecting them for being losers, teenyboppers shrieked shrill adoration. (I was also a loser, but girls sure didn’t shriek adoration over me, but perhaps that was because I wasn’t proud of it, and was always cringing when my true self was revealed. You hardly ever saw the Beatles cringing.)

It is only a step further to arrive at “Nowhere Man”. I wondered what person the Beatles were writing about, when they wrote that song, and was surprised to learn John was writing about himself, and writing a song to himself.

In other words, when you examine the lives of so-called “winners”, what you discover is that they were also losers. They were also mortal, and human, and prone to all the sufferings ordinary people face. Yet they were just a bit less ashamed of it, and were not held back by shame.

Pride doesn’t always come before the fall. When you are proud about being honest, and about confessing, and about being truthful, pride can actually uplift, at least for a little while.

 

 

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The return of the Nudger–(January 25-30, 2016)

The building of the cold over the Arctic Sea didn’t last all that long before the next onslaught of Atlantic mildness came north, with some Pacific mildness pinching in from the other side.

The build up of cold air was close to its peak on January 25, though the nudging Atlantic air can be seen poking towards the pole on the temperature maps

DMI3 0125 mslp_latest.big DMI3 0125 temp_latest.bigDMI3 0125B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0125B temp_latest.big

By January 26 the Pacific air is also becoming apparent, as it pinches in from the top of the temperature map.

DMI3 0126B mslp_latest.big DMI3 0126B temp_latest.big

Today (January 27) we see the invasion continuing, and the area of deep blue on the temperature graph greatly reduced.

DMI3 0127 mslp_latest.big DMI3 0127 temp_latest.bigDMI3 0127B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0127B temp_latest.big

This warming at the Pole does verify certain Alarmist computer models that predict warming will be greatest at the Pole, however the problem is that the cold air hasn’t simply vanished. It has been displaced, and nudged south. In fact this is bad news for people who don’t like winter down at 40 degrees latitude, like myself, for the cold will not be staying up where it belongs, and where bears are adapted and have white fur. Instead it will be heading where bears have to sleep the winter away, and humans aren’t so lucky, and must stay awake, spending a fortune attempting to keep from going bonkers by sliding down steep hills on flat sticks, or drinking colossal amounts of hot buttered rum.

A problem seems to exist in the idea that a warmer Pole will make the world warmer, simply because the cold does get nudged south, and in some cases all the way south to lands where people are not accustomed to cold weather. I already posted the picture of the snow-covered palms in Saudi Arabia:Saudi Snow 2 fotonoticia_20160116113053_1280

However now the cold has nudged right through China, giving relatively mild places like Hong Kong snow on its hills, and even further south into Indochina and India. Perhaps the most touching picture is from Thailand, where the army has rushed to bring thousand of blankets and warm hats to villagers who don’t have such things.Thailand Cold 30277820-01_big

The sad thing is that people are actually dying of the cold in such places, although the cold might not seem cold by northerner’s standards. Hypothermia can set in when temperatures drop below 60°F, and when they get down to 45°C (+7.5°C) it can mean serious hardship for unprotected peoples, especially the very old and very young. There has been a lot of sickness reported in places like Bangladesh, as a direct result of temperatures dropping below 50°F.

http://iceagenow.info/bangladesh-at-least-286-children-hospitalized-with-cold-related-diseases-in-24-hours/   This is only one of many stories posted at the Iceagenow site, describing the cold being nudged south from the Pole into southeast Asia. Where places like Korea are used to such onslaughts from the north, places like Thailand and Bangladesh are not. I am quite certain if you were to tell such shivering people that the cold is proof of Global Warming they would respond in a manner that might not be polite, yet I have read some Alarmists write exactly such stretchings of credulity.

It makes me aware we need to broaden our outlooks, when we talk of the “Warming Pole”, for the Arctic Sea is not all that large an area, if you look at a globe, rather than at one of the distorted maps that make Greenland look bigger than Australia. We need to recognize that warming over one small area does not add up to warming over the entirety of the Northern Hemisphere.

We also need to recognize the ebb and flow of vast rivers of air from north to south, as well as from east to west, and the fact the north to south (or meridienal) flows could be set off by the north and south being in some way out of balance, while an east to west (or zonal) flow indicates the north and south are in more of a balance.

I wonder if the “Quiet Sun” is causing a colder Pole, which puts things out of balance, and requires more of a meridienal flow to bring things back into balance. It should at least be considered. All the milder air rushing north might be a result of cold, in a sense like leaving the draft to a flue open and having the warm air in your living-room make a beeline  to the fireplace and up the chimney. I suggest this because I see little sign of all the mild air rushing up to the arctic making the planet warmer. Rather I see all that mild air gets colder, once it gets up there, as the heat is lost to space in the 24-hour darkness of midwinter. Perhaps the sea-ice will not get quite as thick as it otherwise might get, in the Arctic Sea, but I doubt a little less sea-ice will make much of a difference to the planet as a whole, especially with snow-cover further south, reflecting sunshine further south, and also some coastal waters freezing outside of the Arctic Sea, further south than usual, for example in the Yellow Sea in China’s Shandong province.

Yellow Sea 2 eca86bd9e2f918124c250aYellow Sea 3 eca86bd9e2f918124c2402Yellow Sea Ice 1 eca86bd9e2f918124c250bApparently not even China’s smog caused any Global Warming, along that coast. It simply becomes one more image, that adds to the sneaking suspicion that a warmer Pole doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a warmer Earth.

A lot of the cold across China and Southeast Asia was due to an earlier nudge of mild air into the arctic, and it is to be hoped they get a bit of a break due to the recent pause, when cold air built in the arctic. There seems a definite “lag” between the occurrence of events at the Pole, and when the resultant responses are seen further south.

For example, the blizzard in Washington DC occurred even after the last nudging was over at the Pole. It took a while for that nudged, cold air to travel south. Now, even though the current build-up of cold seems over at the Pole, Washington DC seems likely to experience a January Thaw.  It will again take a while for the currently nudged cold to travel south, but computer models are showing the next arctic invasion reaching Washington in a week, perhaps with another blizzard. (Joseph D’Aleo has a brilliant analysis of the various computer runs at the Professional Weatherbell Site, but the one map (of many) that has the most bearing on this discussion is this one):Next onslaught eps_t850a_exnamer_41

This is the European model’s “solution” for February 6, right after a storm moves away from North America, dragging cold all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is impossible to locate where the possible storm (or storms) will track at this early date, but the result is plain, and people in Ohio will shiver, imagining air ten degrees below normal in early February. However I point up to the Canadian Archipelago. Temperatures are forecast to be ten degrees above normal, up there. Once again we see what certain Alarmists will call “proof” of Global Warming. It will not matter if there are frosts in the orange groves of Florida.

All I can do is watch and wait. I remember that these cold outbreaks are occurring when we are amidst the end of a strong El Nino, when (adding in “lag time”) the planet’s atmosphere should be at its warmest. It is slightly unnerving to think how much colder it might get as we sink into the cycle of a La Nina, however perhaps we can hope a La Nina might cause a more zonal flow to take over, with the cold trapped up at the Pole next winter. But this would also cause certain Alarmists to reveal their hypocrisy, I fear, for if the cold was trapped up at the Pole, they likely would stop focusing up there, and instead focus on how it was less wintry further south.

The thing about hypocrisy is that it only works so long before people catch on. A snake oil salesman out in the American West always had to move on to the next town, because people in the old town started to doubt. In the case of the Global Warming, it has been pitched world-wide, and there is no new town to move to. If NASA suddenly gets interested in building a base on Mars, you will know it is because they need to move to a new planet, after all the nonsense Hansen oversaw.

In Turkey they likely doubt NASA’s wasted breath about Global Warming, for this winter they have been unfortunately situated at a place where they get snow whether storms swing north or are nudged south.  Their snowfall totals are unreal, for a land so far south.Turkey Snow 1530223

This is the landscape some Syrian refugees are fleeing through. It is not a pretty picture, seen in that light. But it does get me thinking along lines which I’ll save for some other post, about humans who love their neighbors, versus humans who hate. Isis is obviously filled with hate, but I sadly I know some Alarmists who are not much better, because they use their own incapacity to solve preconceived problems (which may not be as horrible as they imagine) such as “overpopulation”, as an excuse to propose drastic and inhumane measures. It seemingly does not occur to them that what they propose fails the lodestone-touch of “does it love your neighbor?” (I could go on, but that is enough of a rave for now.)

The best response seems to be to counter balderdash by quietly, steadily and persistently reporting observations of the Truth. I figure Truth is a mighty big thing, much bigger than I am, and Truth involves allies I can’t even imagine exist. “Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you”.

It will be interesting to watch the sea-ice this spring and summer, after a winter of above-normal temperatures. My guess is that the “extent” should start out low but, due to the “Quiet Sun”, fail to shrink to the levels some Alarmists are hoping for. We’ll see what Truth shows us.

JANUARY 28  –SNOW IN KUWAIT “FIRST TIME EVER”

Kuwait Snow Untitled_21

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/snow-falls-kuwait-first-time-ever-1565913282

FRIDAY UPDATE  –The Pole as an Engine–

When the milder air heads up to the Pole it rises, creating low pressure at the surface. It also created low pressure because all the moisture condenses, and you basically have steam (which takes up a lot of room) becoming a small drop or flake (which takes up very little room). But when that is done it is done, and all you have left is air getting colder and colder in the 24 hour darkness, and cold air doesn’t rise. In a sense it is like a piston that was going up starts going down. The low pressure at the Pole turns into high pressure, as the cold air presses down, and eventually this weight of air starts rolling south as the next arctic outbreak, and that creates the opening for the next milder surge to head up to the Pole.

Or this is what I seem to be seeing, as a witness. Currently it looks like the last batch of mildness is starting to chill, and starting to press down, creating new high pressure. We’ll have to watch, and see how swiftly the temperatures chill.

Currently we are temporarily looking like we have created a textbook example of a Polar Cell, with low pressures cycling around a central high pressure at the Pole, and with air rising at the edges and sinking at the center. polar-cell-atmospherecirculation

The problem with this image is that it seems too stable, and fails to take into account the observation that high pressure doesn’t perpetually sit on the Pole. Low Pressure rudely tosses the textbook out the window and goes barging up there. That totally messes up the above illustration, for if you have air rising at the Pole it either turns the Polar Cell into a donut, with low pressure in the middle, or perhaps creates a fourth cell, which in all modesty I think should be called the Caleb Cell, or perhaps the Super Cell. However such cells never seem to last very long, which has got me thinking about the Pole as an engine, pulsing away, or perhaps as a huge inanimate lung, breathing in and out. While the above illustration is elegant, and gives the gist of what is going on up there, it is too simple, for simply observing shows us that either the Pole isn’t elegant, or its elegance is of a majesty beyond our simple minds.

I imagine the above illustration is most helpful when the flow is “zonal” and the cold is locked up at the Pole by a jet stream that is circular and sits on the earth like a halo. When the flow gets more devilish and loopy and “meridienal” we need a different illustration to help our small minds grasp the vast.

REPORTS FROM BUOYS

What was once the ice that Faboo (The north Pole Camera) sat upon continues to be flushed down the east coast of Greenland. Faboo’s last picture was on New Year’s Eve, while Fabootoo amazingly survives and keeps sending pictures. Unfortunately it only sends pictures at midnight, for some odd reason, and therefore we only see pitch black, though the camera has made it far enough south to see some light at noon, if only it would snap a picture at that time. Of course, it could be laying flat on its face, or be buried in snow, as the snow has fallen thickly on the east coast, as reported by the co-located Mass Balance Buoy 2015D, which reports snow four feet deep.

The sea-water is below freezing, so when snow falls on such water it doesn’t melt, but becomes slush and seed crystals for new ice. A lot of the ice is home-grown, and a lot has come all the way south from the North Pole with Faboo. I’ve never seen anyone try to determine how much of each type are in the mass of ice crushing south.

At this point the ice may be so fractured we can’t be sure Bouy 2015D is actually sitting on ice. Some of these devices float and report while in open water, and two years ago we had two GPS’s that began on the same floe, “co-located”, which wound up hundreds of miles apart.

In any case 2015D reported in at 71.34 N, 18.99 W Wednesday, which placed it 79.04 miles southeast of where it reported from on Saturday. Then, only a day later, it reported from 70.73 N, 19.42 W, another 43.14 miles southeast, so you can see it is really being whisked along by the wind and currents. Temperatures came in at -4.14 C on Wednesday and  -7.56 C on Thursday, which are warmer than we’ve seen further north, and indicates the gales by Iceland are wrapping around Atlantic mildness. Of course, temperatures are still below the freezing point of salt water, so “mildness” is a relative term.

Across the Pole we have O-buoys 8b, 13, 14, and 15 reporting, though their cameras don’t see much. Buoys 13 and 14 are far enough south to see some noon twilight, though the lenses are obscured with snow. This is evidence winter won’t last forever.Obuoy 13 0129 webcamAt this time of years the O-buoys are primarily important because they allow us to double check the surface temperature reading given by the satellites.  I think the satellites sometimes miss very thin layers of cold air, because the buoys sometimes fail to see the the Atlantic mildness coming north. O-buoy 8b did see the last invasion:Obuoy 8b 0129 temperature-1week

Notice how the cold has rebuilt, and also how the mildness never nudged above the freezing point of salt water.

The other buoys show less of an invasion of milder air at the surface. Obuoy 14 0129 temperature-1week

The location of the buoys can be found on the O-buoy homepage overview. You should bookmark this page for hours of time you will not be able to account for, all summer.

http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#overview/gpstracks

The cameras usually have their lenses start to clear off when the sun starts to peek over the horizon. That will be in February, for the more southerly cameras, and in March for the more northerly ones.

NORTH ATLANTIC INVASIONS LESSEN ICE EXTENT?

The ice extent graphs continue to show less than normal growth at the edges. On the Pacific side it is apparently due to the East Siberian blasts heading south more than east. Parts of northern Japan speak of a “mild” winter with less snow, as parts of southern Japan that rarely see snow have been buried.

On the Atlantic side we have watched the invasions of mild air push north, mostly through Barents Sea but occasionally even up through Fram Strait to the west. This prevents the growth of ice in two ways. First, it keeps the ice from spreading out to the south, and instead crushes it north. Second, milder air slows the process of freezing ice at the edges. (This tends to happen more to the east, in Barents Sea, as we’ve watched some very cold air come down through Fram Strait to the west.)

In any  case, both Barents Sea, and the Greenland Sea to its west, have less ice than normal.Barents Sea 20160129 recent365.anom.region.6Greenland Sea 20160129 recent365.anom.region.5If you add the two seas together, you account for a half million square km of the “missing” ice at the Pole, in the extent graph.DMI3 0129 icecover_current_new (1)The question is whether this ice is actually “missing”, or merely more compressed. As we have watched the ice off Greenland, we saw it be reluctant to come south at the start of the winter, in which case it was “missing” because the Arctic Ocean was not being robbed of its stash. Since then the ice has come surging south through Fram Strait, as it always does, as well as the Greenland coast home-grow some new ice due to extreme cold coming south.  We have also witnessed the ice be crushed west against the coast by the east winds of North Atlantic gales. It becomes very hard to say if ice is “missing”, when extent is not the same thing as volume, and the same amount of ice can be like a pat of butter, either a square pat, or spread out over an entire piece of toast. All we can say for certain is that the extent is “below average”.

To the east the winds have been far more steadily from the south, and the northern edge of the ice is clearly further north in Barents Sea. At times the air first entering the arctic has even been above freezing (though it swiftly cools) so it seems only logical that less ice would form, and any ice that formed would be compressed north. I think it can be said ice is “missing” here, because we could see how slow it was to form on the east coast of Svalbard and south of Frans Josef Land.Fram Ice 0129 general_20160129The edge of the ice is far from being static, as some seem to imagine, and a lot of changes could occur between now and when the actual melt begins.Melt and drift 20160128 arcticicespddrfnowcastTwo summers ago the ice actually increased in Barents Sea during the very months when most think of ice decreasing, and it will be interesting to watch to see if the same occurs again.

BIG GALES TO BATTER BRITAIN

It is hard for people to the south to imagine how deep the gales in the North Pacific and North Atlantic get. The gale that caused the hubbub in Washington DC barely got to 985 mb. People would be going ballistic if a gale got down to 950 mb so far south, but a gale that deep is north of Scotland, and will still be that low when it stalls just off the coast of Norway tomorrow. It will then be followed by another gale, (currently off the left side of the map below), which could be nearly as deep, and rather than stall could charge right across Britain and the Baltic on Monday.UIK Met 20160129 31339844What has this got to do with sea-ice? Well, it looks like the flow of Atlantic air is not going to be heading to the Pole for a while, but rather go blasting across Europe. To the south it might even involve some balmy air from the Azores, but it will also involve some less balmy North Atlantic air, which is why you see all those cold fronts on the map. However it won’t be the true blue Siberian air that comes from the east, so it won’t be cold fronts that bring winter-at-its-worst. It might even be “above-normal” in places, but it won’t be as far above-normal as it would be (though exactly the same air) if it was transplanted up to the North Pole.

My guess is that up at the Pole we’ll see some quietude, and the air getting colder in the darkness. (Of course, who knows what surprise could come from the Pacific side?)

However the current nudge of mild air has already done its damage, and the displaced cold air is coming south, down through Canada, with people in the American West getting ready for a blizzard, (though currently it looks like it won’t hit until after the elections in Iowa on Monday). (It is interesting to note that bad weather seems to help conservatives, while liberals can’t be bothered voting in bad weather.  Hmm.)

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/election-2016-iowa-caucus-snow-central-northern-plains-monday-night/55036213

SATURDAY  -ATLANTIC INVASION GIVES WAY TO WEAKER PACIFIC INFLOW AT POLE-

The huge gale off Norway is being downright selfish, and not sharing much Atlantic air with the Pole. The Atlantic air over the Pole is cooling, but a tendril of Pacific air can be seen sneaking in from the top of the temperature map.  This air is following a “weakness” that developed between the high pressure over the Pole and the high pressure over Siberia. It looks rather weak, but should be watched, as it interrupts cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada, at least for the time being.

SELFISH LOW OFF NORWAY CHANGING WINDS OVER EUROPE

Over at the always-interesting “Weatheraction News” Site I noticed Piers Corbyn had posted two maps which seem perfect, when it comes to showing how the jet stream across the Atlantic swings to and fro, sometimes looping up to the Pole and sometimes heading straight across and slamming into Europe. https://weatheraction.wordpress.com/

The first map is from around Christmas and shows an especially elongated loop north, and the second is from when the jet flattened out on January 11 (I think.)

Piers 1 screenshot_2016-01-11-10-51-35-13

Piers 2 screenshot_2016-01-11-10-52-02-13

The lower map above shows what a tricky business it is to judge the temperature of a west wind coming off the Atlantic into Europe. Some of the stream is coming up from the Azores, some is coming straight across, and some is coming straight down from the Pole, and they all converge over Europe. Good luck figuring that one out, fellows! (In mid January, the cold was predominate; I’ll talk more about the current tricky business later.)

What the above maps also show is that cross Atlantic jets are like a fire-hose that some foolish fireman dropped, which is snaking back and forth.

I actually have experience with high pressure hoses dropped by foolish people, for once I was the foreman of a crew that cleaned up a herring cannery between shifts. It is a great tale, for some other evening. What applies to this situation is how completely unpredictable the hose was, as it snaked to and fro and blasted people left and right. The entire crew was teenaged boys, and they were attempting to creep up on the hose from all angles, as if it was a living thing. All work had ground to a halt, as they used trash-can lids as shields, and waged war on a sort of dragon. They were losing, but having a blast and laughing their fool heads off, until, as the serious elder in the situation (at the old age of 26), I spoiled all the fun by slaying the dragon from afar. What I did, using my age and wisdom, was to shut off the faucet.

Unfortunately there is no faucet that shuts off the North Atlantic jet stream, nor any real way to get a grip on its nozzle. There are a few deluded types in certain political circles who think such a thing can be controlled by increasing taxes, erecting windmills, and closing efficient coal power plants, but that is another tale for another evening. The fact of the matter is that no mortal can control such power. (The best you can do is pray, and hope that the Creator of such power harkens to a flea, and has mercy, but few politicians are inclined to pray for mercy, because few have any mercy….[end of brief rave].)

Here is a satellite animation of the world’s weather for the year 2015. Focus on the storms crossing the the Atlantic, ignoring the rest of the planet. Just watching the Atlantic makes me pity the weather forecasters of Europe. Forecasting the continental USA is a piece of cake in comparison.

Rather than poking fun at European forecasters, which is a cheap shot from afar, I decided to go look at Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps over at the Weatherbell Site. There are thousands. I first had to pick and chose between various models, and then chose between various versions, and decide upon what continent and then what specific sort of map to look at. I chose the surface-pressure-and-windspeed maps of Europe created by the Canadian JEM model, (which may overdo the size of storms, but seems to have a better grasp of winter, in some hard-to-describe way.) Glancing over 41 maps, I had to decide which ones to share with you (hoping I don’t get sued because I have provided free advertising for their excellent site). I decided to show the current, 24 hour, 48 hour, 72 hour and 96 hour maps.

Basically we start with the gale stalled off Norway, and then watch another storm charge across the Atlantic and pile right through Norway. Like Pacific storms attempting to plow across the American Rocky Mountains, storms don’t fare too well when they attempt to plow across Norway’s mountains, but even in a weakened state this storm does keep the west winds blowing across Europe. My job, as a layman forecaster, is to determine the source-region for the air in these west winds. Are they balmy west winds from the Azores? Are they cool winds from America? Or are they cold winds from the Greenland Sea?West 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_eur_1West 2 cmc_mslp_uv10m_eur_5West 3 cmc_mslp_uv10m_eur_9West 4 cmc_mslp_uv10m_eur_13West 5 cmc_mslp_uv10m_eur_17My guess is that, at first, a lot of Europe could get a break from winter. The storm currently off Norway could give the north a cold shot, but the source-regions for the rest looks like they are from the cool west, with even some balmy winds mixed in down towards Spain. But the final two maps show a lot of isobars aiming air right down from the north at western Europe, so my guess they might be seeing some colder weather appear in their forecasts by Tuesday.

Now we shall see how good a guesser I am.

In terms of sea-ice, it looks like the Pole is in for a break from Atlantic imports, and may even be exporting a bit. We’ll have to watch and see if the north winds are strong and persistent enough to spread the sea-ice south, which would produce one of those odd saw-tooth up-jags in the extent graph.

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Changing Pattern–(Updated Sunday Night)

The DMI maps are available again at long last, and seem to indicate the low pressure over the Pole is filling in, and the cold is starting to rebuild.                          DMI3 0122 mslp_latest.big DMI3 0122 temp_latest.bigDMI3 0122B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0122B temp_latest.big

Deep low pressure continues to stall between Iceland and Greenland, creating a southerly flow up through the North Atlantic, but the associated fronts and lows aren’t making the same progress past Fram Strait towards the Pole. The UK Met maps show the current storm weakening as it crawls from Denmark Strait up to Fram Strait, as a new Gale replaces it by midday Sunday down in Denmark Strait. Note all the fronts occlude and tangle to the north, failing to progress north. (Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)

UK Met 20160122 31143270 UK Met 20160122 2 day for 31146915

The Atlantic flow is expected to slowly collapse south and east, until it pours across Northern Europe.  (Jospeph D’Aleo has an excellent post about this shift at the Weatherbell Professional Site.) This will squeeze the cold currently over Europe back down over poor, snowbound Turkey (and any Syrian refugees) and then down to the Middle East, as western Europe gets a break from its current cold, and even may get some rain, but eastern Europe and Russia gets yet more snow. This developing spear of milder temperatures shows up especially clearly in Dr. Ryan Maue’s Canadian JEM model map for temperatures next Monday.DMI3 0122B cmc_t2m_asia_11It is not particularly “warming” to increase the Siberian snow-pack, which has been generating a copious supply of cold air this year. It’s to be hoped that the spear of mildness is bent southeast down to Mongolia, which has been suffering bitter cold, as the cold generated over Siberia’s snows escaped south towards China. The excellent researcher and contributor the Ice Age Now site,  Argiris Diamantis, found this press release about Mongolia’s plight, (which I haven’t seen mentioned in the mainstream media):

 Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support Mongolian herders facing severe winter. Published: 19 January 2016
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 158,000 Swiss francs (157,686 US dollars) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to assist 1,500 herder families (7,500 people) in Mongolia who are at risk of losing all their livestock to extreme sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall.
Based on the latest assessment report released by the Mongolian Government in early January 2016, 50 soums (districts) in 16 aimags (provinces) are currently categorized as being affected by dzud (the Mongolian term for severe winter conditions), while 120 soums in 20 provinces are facing a winter situation that is very close to dzud.
Snowfall and snowstorms are expected to continue unabated in the coming weeks with average temperatures of below -25 degrees Celsius during the day and around -40 degrees at night. This will potentially affect more than 965,000 people, especially vulnerable herders. The herders, most of whom are now facing difficult weather conditions and shortage of hay and fodder, are expected to start losing their livestock in the coming weeks. In order to obtain cash to buy food, hay and other necessities many herders have started selling their animals before they perish in the severe weather. However, the oversupply of livestock resulted in very low market prices, forcing herders to sell at abnormally unfavourable prices. This situation will have the worst consequences for vulnerable families with smaller herds.

(From http://iceagenow.info/17683-2/#more-17683 )

(This sad situation introduced me to a new word, “dzud”, which is a Mongolian word for the mass death of livestock.)

Besides the cold air escaping south, it is pouring east into the Pacific, giving Korea its bitterest cold of this winter, and speeding the freeze of Pacific coastal waters to the northeast, the Sea of Japan and especially the Sea of Obhotsk further north. These waters, outside the Arctic Ocean, have had below-normal-sea-ice so far this winter, and are one reason the ice extent graphs show “less than normal” ice. (Map from Wikipedia)240px-Sea_of_Okhotsk_mapWhile ice in these waters likely has a part to play in the intricate engineering of the PDO, it is likely wrong to put too much weight to the up-ticks in the extent graphs any increase here might create, (especially as ice on Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay were not included in “sea-ice extent graphs” last winter.) Also, in terms of the reflected sunlight and “albedo” equations that mean so much to some Alarmist theories, the amount of snow over Siberia (and Canada) should be factored in, as it far exceeds this possible increase of ice, but the albedo of snow-pack often isn’t included.

The thing I’m noticing more and more is how Siberia generates cold air masses, and what a huge factor this is all over Eurasia, and even across the Pole in Canada. Siberia is a gigantic region, and even the snow currently blocking the mountain passes in the North African nation of Tunisia can be traced back to the Steppes.

In any case, to return from Africa to the subject of the Arctic Ocean, some of the Siberian cold seems to be pouring north, and I am going to be keenly watching to see if the temperatures up at the Pole take a dive, after being relatively high during the time Atlantic air was flowing up that way. (The DMI has finally posted a new graph, for the mean temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude.)DMI3 0122 meanT_2016While temperatures have been as much as ten degrees above normal at the Pole, it should be noted this is no heatwave, and represents a mean temperature of -20C, at the “mildest”. This is “below zero”, for people like me who use Fahrenheit, and quite obviously no melting has been going on during this “heat wave”, (except for a brief thaw on the Atlantic side, that lasted only a matter of hours.)

I will also be keenly watching to see if a rebuilding of cold at the Pole is accompanied by a break from the cold, a so-called “January Thaw”,  further south. As it is, when milder temperatures push north colder temperatures seem to be pushed south, and, even as I write, a nor’easter is blowing up on the eastern coast of the USA, creating quite a hubbub, as the snows are falling further south than they did last winter, and Washington D.C. is getting clouted.

In a sense it seems to me almost as if the Arctic is breathing. It breathed cold out, and had to breathe warmth north to replace that cold, (or perhaps vice-versa). Now it is breathing the other way. The cold is refilling the Arctic Sea, but likely will be again exhaled, leading to the next outbreak of winter storms.

Spring seems a long way away, but we are currently at the depth of the cold, the bottom of the bottom. The coldest surface temperatures are usually around January 20, down where I live in New Hampshire, and the coldest temperatures aloft occur around February 1. I even saw a true sign of spring today, which was the first advertisement by “Quark Expeditions”, for people like me who would like to travel up to the Russian Barneo Base, a yearly airbase (and military exercise) that exists for roughly 45 days on the sea-ice at the North Pole. (Unfortunately I lack the $15,000.00 needed for a ticket, but surely some good reader will fund my research). (I want to meet and interview the fellows putting up next year’s North Pole Camera.)

http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/en/press-releases/2015/02/north-pole-land-or-sea-barneo-ice-camp-and-icebreaker-expedition-voyage-0

The sea-ice will keep expanding at the edges for another month, and in some areas the ice keeps growing thicker right into the spring, so there is still much to watch. Besides watching to see if there is late growth in below-normal Pacific areas such as the Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea, it will be interesting to watch the below-normal parts of Barents Sea on the Atlantic side, especially around Svalbard.Concentration 20160120 arcticicennowcastOf course a lot concerning the ice is very difficult to gauge. Is the ice tortured by storms, and crammed into pressure ridges? Is it thinner, due to greater snows acting as a muffler? The Navy’s thickness map attempts to measure this, but has some shortcomings.Thickness 20160121 arcticictnowcastOne thing I’ve noticed about the thickness map is that it can’t really tell you whether or where the ice will or won’t melt in the summer, as that is partly caused by where the ice moves, and also is dependent on the temperature of the water moving in, under the ice. Water temperatures are important, and it is great fun trying to figure out what the oceans are up to.

One of the most important factors in the flow of the currents involves the antics of the AMO and PDO, so I try to watch what they are up to

The AMO is still staying up in its “warm” phase (whereas last year it was taking a dive, in January). AMO January amo_short

The Pacific, on the other hand, seems likely to become colder, with the El Nino starting to fade, the so-called “Warm Blob” looking less robust, and the PDO starting down.PDO January pdo_short

One thing becoming apparent to me, as I try to fathom something as huge as even one of the oceans, is that the sloshes represented by the AMO and PDO are brought about by some mighty big butts in the bathtubs. Things such as the magnificent moods of the Sun, and the bigger volcano eruptions, can take a nice predictable cycle and knock it all out of whack. As I look back in time I can see all sorts of evidence of a sixty-year-cycle, but also times when a world shaking event, such as the eruption of Tamboro in 1815, threw some cannonballs into the bathtubs, and added sloshes to the sloshes. Considering some of the ocean’s up-wellings contain waters that are over a thousand years old, I wonder if some events occurring now had origins in calamities that occurred to Earth a thousand years ago. My sense of wonder grows and grows, the more I study.

One small comment at the end of a recent post by Joseph D’Aleo really got me thinking. He mentions, in an off-hand manner, “In upcoming winters as the sun goes into its deep slumber including geomagnetic activity which has a cycle that trails the sunspot/flux cycle, expect more persistent cold and the return of record snows further west as the AC/NAC become very negative. High latitude volcanoes seem to get more active in these periods and they help enhance blocking in winter and the cold.” (My bold).

I found this statement a bit disconcerting, because it exposed my own dismissal of the idea the Quiet Sun could have any effect on things such as earthquakes and volcanoes. I just took a practical view that sunshine might effect the temperature of the air and the surface waters of the sea, but sunshine couldn’t cause the continental plates to shift or volcanoes to explode. Sunshine just plain didn’t seem strong enough.

However I dismissed this idea without bothering to investigate the idea or look at data. Considering I’ve spent (and perhaps wasted) ten years investigating whether trace amounts of a trace gas could have earth-shaking consequences, including boiling oceans and the extinction of the human race, it doesn’t seem fair that I dismissed another idea off hand. But I confess: I did exactly that.

My study of the trace gas CO2 has taught me an amazing amount, and I am far more aware of its effects than I formerly was. Formerly I was only aware of CO2 when tried to see how far I could swim under water, and the CO2 levels in my blood told me it was time to come up for O2. Now I know all sorts of fascinating trivia. For example the CO2 levels in my garden spike during the night, when no photosynthesis is occurring, while a lot of fungus is contributing to a lot of CO2-producing rot. Therefore most of the plants in my garden rejoice at dawn, for the CO2 levels are at their peak, and they do most of their growing just after dawn, when the air is rich with CO2. Within a couple hours the CO2 levels plummet to levels so low plants can barely grow, due to the frenzied phtosynthysis of daybreak.

Now I ask you, isn’t that some interesting trivia?

However, in terms of sea-ice, try as I would, I could find no great effect from CO2 levels. Nor was there much effect from even sunshine, though it was obvious sunshine twenty-four hours a day did have a greater thawing effect than CO2.  Yet most of the effects on the amounts of sea-ice were caused by winds, and by currents of water under the ice.

Winds and currents can at least be attributed to the levels of sunshine reaching the earth, and I struggled to see CO2 might be the fausett turning on and turning off those levels of sunshine, but in the end it was too great a stretch to look at CO2, and not look at the sun itself, as the determiner of the levels of sunshine.

However it is one thing to see the sun as influencing winds and currents, and quiet another to see the sun as influencing earthquakes and volcanoes. Therefore I found Joseph D’Aleo’s comment  unnerving, because if anyone has sifted through the available data, it is he. Maybe he couched his language and used the word “seem”, when he said “High latitude volcanoes seem to get more active”, but when he stops to look at something, it gives me pause.

It was especially disturbing because of another thing I’ve been dismissing. That is the idea that undersea vents may contribute to the melt of sea-ice. I’ve seen creatures by those deep sea vents living quite happily in spitting distance from water so hot it only was kept from exploding into steam by enormous pressures, and if heat couldn’t even cross that short distance, I didn’t see how it could get to the surface.

But wouldn’t you just know it? The very day I read Joseph D’Aleo’s remark I came across this map:

Vent melts sea ice fig1_arctic

It was an illustration for this post:  http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/heat-from-deep-ocean-fault-punches-hole-in-arctic-ice-sheet.htm  .

I began to think: If the Quiet Sun could increase high latitude volcano eruptions, could it not increase high latitude undersea eruptions?  And could that not increase the melting of ice from below, even as the Quiet Sun made things colder and increased the ice from the top? And what sort of butt would this stick into the sloshing bathtubs of the PDO and AMO?

What a hideous complication!  But what a wonder to wonder about! (Don’t get me wrong; I am far from arriving at a firm conclusion, but I sure am wondering).

It makes me feel so sorry for the Alarmists who are so insistent upon CO2 being the one and only reason, for absolutely everything, that they never open their minds to the possibility of anything else. What a narrowness they live in. It must be like living in a crack.

UPDATE  —SATURDAY NIGHT—

I should likely note that the Camera Fabootoo is still producing pictures of darkness, and that the co-located Buoy 2015D is reporting another slight thaw, with temperatures of +0.16°, as pressures have plunged to 983.07 mb. Likely the winds are roaring. We are at 72.31° N, 17.03° W, which means we have moved 244.22 miles south-southwest since December 30. We are now closer to Denmark Strait than Fram Strait, and nearly as far south as the small, isolated  Norwegan Island of Jan Mayen, to the east.

The DMI maps show a weakening low crawling up the east coast of Greenland. The cold is building in the Arctic Sea, but an interesting tendril of milder air is extending up over the Pole from Svalbard, causing a noodle of low pressure north of Greenland.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE –Cold To Be Dislodged From Pole Again?–

Today’s DMI Maps continue to show the cold building up over the Arctic Sea.

However it appears this cold will be pushed off the Pole by new invasions of both Atlantic and Pacific air. Look at the Canadian Jem Model’s solution of what the temperatures will look like on Tuesday, up there. You can see the intense cold in East Siberia, and cross-polar flow to Canada getting squeezed by tendrils of milder air from both Oceans.DMI3 0124B cmc_t2m_arctic_9While looking at a NASA video of the blizzard that hit Washington DC my eyes were drawn, (because I’m a true sea-ice fanatic) to the upper right, to watch what was occurring in the North Atlantic. You can see a couple of very impressive surges heading straight for the East Coast of Greenland.

It looks to me as if it will stay “warm” over the Pole, with a meridenal pattern locked in. If it keeps up, it will be interesting to see what the long-term effect on the sea-ice is. I’ll make no predictions.

The effect on the media is more predictable, for those eager to find “evidence” of a melting arctic are bound to notice if it stays above normal in the Arctic Ocean. They will be all the more delighted if there is any sort of dip in the amount of sea-ice, which is something I myself would not be terribly surprised to see. But I will be considering whether it indicates things other than a “melting arctic”.

For one thing, having so much heat rushing to the Pole seems like it might be in response to the El Nino releasing heat and moisture. To have it rushing to the Pole is like warmth from your living-room rushing up your chimney.  It is a waste of home heating, with “home” being planet Earth. It would be far more efficient if the “damper was shut”, and a zonal pattern kept the winds circling around and around the Pole, with the cold locked up in the north, and the warmth hoarded further south.

Another thing to consider, and watch for, is the consequence of warm air rushing up to the Pole, which tends to be the cold getting dislodged and snows getting deep in places where it usually doesn’t, such as Washington DC and Turkey. Even though snows in southern latitudes tend to melt swiftly, and be gone by the end of February, they cannot have a “warming” effect while they last, especially when you consider the “albedo” of freshly fallen snow is huge. In terms of the “energy budget” (that Alarmists like to pretend we understand, and I don’t),  snow over areas that do get sunshine is bound to reflect more sunshine than a lack of sea-ice over areas that are under 24-hour-a-day darkness is liable to fail-to-reflect.

Once the sun starts coming north all these calculations will get more interesting, for then there is at least a chance of open waters absorbing some sunshine. However that won’t be until March.

Everything is likely to change very much by summer, because the El Nino is expected to fade fairly rapidly. Even if you include “lag time”, the very thing that may be fueling the current situation may vanish by next autumn, when a La Nina may be setting in. Just around the time I get things figured out, they are likely to completely change. To use the analogy I used above, a La Nina is like a cannonball plopping in the bathtub. I guess you can see why I am reluctant to venture a prediction.

I prefer to simply watch and wonder, so that is precisely what I intend to do.

ATLANTIC AIR HEADING TO THE POLE AGAIN

We seem to be switching back to the former pattern, so I figure this post about the “new pattern” is already obsolete, and it is time to start another post. For the record I will state that we have seen a break in the flow of arctic air, during the brief time it has been held up at the Pole, but I suspect the new post will watch the arctic wolves again starting south.

 

 

LOCAL VIEW –A Beltway Basher–(Updated and Concluded Sunday Morning)

A little low that gave us a couple inches of fluff blew up into a huge gale as it moved off to Labrador, and all day we’ve been shuddering in the howling north winds to its rear.

20160119 satsfc

The really cold air is further west, and is somewhat modified by passing over the Great Lakes, which are starting to freeze but are more open than they were last year. We are getting a shot from Hudson Bay, which is frozen over. Our only hope of moderated air is for the gale over Labrador to swing some Atlantic air around and down from the north, but such air is so greatly modified you can’t really call it warm. As it is the blasts of air we’re getting are bone dry. Dew points are at 0°F (-17°C)as temperatures struggle to reach 20°F (-7°C). It is the sort of day where the cat’s fur crackles with static, and it doesn’t want to be patted. I have a raging case of cabin fever, and don’t much want to be patted either.North America Jan 19 cmc_t2m_noram_3My fellow weather geeks are all excited by a storm that doesn’t exist, except in the imagination of computer models. The weak low over Texas in the above map is the forerunner of an impulse that could explode over the east coast. The American, Canadian and European models are all showing it. It is the sort of situation that once would fill me with excitement, as it would be a formidable foe to be fought, but now it only makes me crabby, as I am under doctor’s orders to avoid any sort of lifting that tenses my stomach muscles, after my operation. It a little like being presented with a beautiful woman or delicious meal when you are young and healthy, and yet told you aren’t allowed to touch or taste. A whirling blizzard of snow could be on its way, but I’m just suppose to sit idly by.

I am allowed to lift paper, which means I’m stuck with producing the slips that show all our customers how much they spent at our Farm-childcare last year. They need it for their taxes, for childcare is a tax-deduction. I don’t see why they can’t just do the job themselves. They should be well aware of what they spent. However the stupid government doesn’t trust them. They want lots and lots of slips of paper. As if this is something I need added to my life. I have to waste my time producing formal forms, handing them to my customers, who then have to waste their time shuffling the forms with other forms into a heap sent to the IRS, who then has to waste their time hunting for errors.  Someday all of us will stand before God, who will ask us how we spent our time on Earth, and we’ll answer, “Shuffling forms.”

I wouldn’t mind it so much if the government was so careful, and was meticulous about accounting for each penny they spent, but the irresponsible buffoons simply print money whenever they need it. It is complete hypocrisy for them to demand that tax-payers do what they don’t.

Obviously I’m very grumpy. I glance out the window as the wind shudders by, and see the swirling powder snow glittering in the sunshine, and don’t see a lick of beauty. I just feel the drafty house breathing cold air, and want to go out and shovel, to get my blood stirring, but can’t. I am allowed to go out and walk, but there is only so much doddering-about I can do outside before I just feel like a shuffling old man, out on his “constitutional”. I want action that has purpose.

I suppose finding beauty in a grim day is a worthwhile purpose, and I must begrudge that walking about in a howling, shuddering wind does nudge me with a sense that there is grandeur about, but it doesn’t last. As soon as I step back into the house I feel like I’m back in prison. The paperwork rankles. Even when I try to write a sonnet, the cabin fever sits on my head like a helmet of lead. Then the phone rings. It is yet another pollster, wanting to pick my brains about the upcoming New Hampshire Primary.

The pines have been roaring up in the hills
As the furnace is roaring, increasing my bills
And I am now pacing, cursing the shills
That constantly call up to poll “won’ts” and “wills”.

I feel I could rip out the damn telephone
If only those pollsters would leave me alone;
Pretenders, cajolers, they’re fake to the bone,
Part of a problem they pretend to disown.

The winter wind roars and the drifting snow hisses
Yet no one’s aware of what everyone misses.
There’s no warmth in the air, yet all say that this is
How it should be: All make-up and kisses.

It’s amazing the millions that madmen have spent
Creating a winter of my discontent.
The only time I really get out is to go to the hospital to get the bayonet wound in my gut looked at. Then I get a lot of odd flattery, odd because I’m told what great shape I’m in for my age, which is strange because they just took out a cancerous kidney. What kind of “great shape” is that? But apparently the surgeon appreciated not having to cut through any flab, and the nurse practitioner mentioned most guys my age have long lost their six-packs. She was a little concerned about a bump on my scar, which might be scar tissue but might be a tiny hernia, but she said the only reason she can see it at all is because I don’t have a spare tire around my middle. I muttered that I soon will have a spare tire, if I have to sit around not even allowed to to put wood in the fire, and she said I could put a log in, if it was under ten pounds. I suppose that is some progress.

The real thing I like about visiting the hospital is that it gives me a chance to grouse about paperwork. It is something people there are very willing commiserate about, seeing as how they now spend roughly half their time dealing with paper, at the expense of patients.

Considering how Washington seems to want everyone buried under a blizzard of paperwork, it would seem a sort of justice if they themselves got buried under a blizzard of white. Driving home I noticed the possible storm had made the mainstream media, but all the world seemed gray, not white. It was so cold there was no water, only ice and dust and litter  whipping in the wind. Even the low gas prices made me crabby.

I’m under no illusions that the low prices are occurring due to any kindness felt towards the common man.   They are part of a cruel war, and much suffering is resulting among oil workers. The aim is to bankrupt North American oil companies, so the dangers of competition, and of freedom from dependence on Arab oil, can be removed.  Or so I thought, until I heard the car radio mention that my idiot government is helping the non-Arab nation of Iran, which is not at good terms at all with Saudi Arabia, to flood the market with even more oil. This made absolutely no sense, if we care at all about protecting our own oil producers and developing any sort of energy-independence, however it has been so long since my government has made much sense that I can’t say it surprised me.

What did surprise me was the view my middle son held, when he came stamping into the house later. Without me even bringing the subject up, he said the flood of Iranian oil was a plot to absolutely ruin “Big Oil.”  He said so insanely does the government loathe all and any sorts of “fossil fuel” that they will do anything they can to destroy the competition to solar power and wind turbines, and, because solar power and wind turbines can’t possibly compete unless oil prices quadruple, they are resorting to the temporary step of having very low oil prices, as a way to quadruple those prices.

I thought he sounded radical and a bit paranoid. In other words, more like me than himself. Usually I’m the grouch, and he’s the fount of hope. Perhaps the howling wind and drifting snow and crackling static electricity even gets to the young. Or perhaps Washington has even worn down the  eternal optimism of youth. In which case they deserve a blizzard more than ever.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

We are still in the northerly flow, but the winds have died down. The initial impulse is nudging through the south, but there is still no sign of the following impulse, which will grow the imaginary monster storm. Perhaps it can be seen in the low pressure sinking south through the Rockies, and the bulge in the sub-tropical jet coming ashore on the Pacific coast of Mexico, but largely it is still all in the realm of imagination.20160120 satsfc

The models are still seeing the big storm, but are nudging it south and out to sea, which is fine with me, for now the Beltway gets blasted, as I only get dusted, at the northern edge of the storm.

I start my day (before hitting the paperwork) with a visit to Weatherbell and a quick glance at Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps of the models, .

First look at the American GFS model maps for Saturday and Sunday.Belter 1 gfs_ptype_slp_noram_13 Belter 2 gfs_ptype_slp_noram_17Next is the European map of the storm slipping out to sea after clouting the mid-Atlantic, on Sunday.Belter 3 ecmwf_slp_precip_conus2_17Lastly, below are two maps showing the Canadian JEM models solutions, for Saturday and Sunday. Again the beltway gets blasted, as I broom the dust from my steps.

Belter 4 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_13 Belter 5 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_17

There is room for lots and lots of hype, the next few days. Interestingly, Joe Bastardi focused, in his video today, not on this imaginary storm, but on an even worse imaginary storm possible a week from tomorrow.

I wish Washington was imaginary, but that grousing will have to wait until future updates.

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE   -Hoopla! Hoopla! Hoopla!-

The funniest headline about the blizzard I’ve seen so far was from the New York Post, and stated, “This weekend will be WHITER THAN THE OSCARS”.  (Actually there is a chance most of the snow will stay south of NYC.)

In the Beltway, where the worst is suppose to hit, they were so focused on the snow expected to start on Friday that they got blindsided by only an inch of snow that snuck in on Wednesday evening. There were two to three hours before the salt trucks moved out, and the pavements were so cold that the small amount of snow turned the roads to grease, and traffic moved at a crawl with many fender-benders and spin-outs. (Perhaps they were reluctant to use up their salt before the “Big One”.)

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Crippling-Historic-Snowstorm-Expected-Blizzard-Watch-Issued-18-24-Inches-Possible-365957091.html

Meanwhile, the Big One still doesn’t exist. It is a figment of our imagination. All that the map shows is a weak low over Texas and a bulge on the tropical jet moving up through the Gulf of Mexico.20160121 satsfcThe GFS Model imagines the low over Texas will move to Memphis, Tennessee,  as a secondary bombs out just off the coast of Georgia and takes over, becoming the primary storm on Saturday, off Cape Hatteras. (Last winter these storms formed roughly 500 miles further north, pounding New England and sparing Washington, before kicking out to sea.) Below is the GFS models “solution” to how the storm will redevelop. (I chose five of the 41 maps Dr. Ryan Maue offers at the Weatherbell side, for this one run of the GFS model alone, involving the “surface pressure and precipitation type” features alone.) (The maps go out to 240 hours; I could spend all day looking at maps; but limited myself to the maps from 24, 36, 42, 48 and 54 hours from now.)

Bash 1 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_5Bash 2 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_7Bash 3 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_8Bash 4 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_9Bash 5 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_10The European and Canadian models also see the storm bombing out on the coast Saturday morning.Bash 6 ecmwf_slp_precip_conus2_11Bash 7 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_11Currently all the models see Washington buried under nearly 2 feet of snow.Bash 8 gfs_6hr_snow_acc_east2_16(1)

The thing to remember is that, at this point, all the above maps are showing is imaginary snow, imaginary drifts, and imaginary gales. Washington is very good when it comes to dealing with things that are purely imaginary (like Global Warming). It is likely to be incapable, when dealing with something that actually happens, (as we saw last night, as they dealt with a single inch of snow.)

FRIDAY NOONTIME UPDATE

It is still sunny and calm up here in New Hampshire, as the storm brews up over Washington, D.C..20160122 satsfc 20160122B satsfc20160122B rad_ec_640x480

The NAM computer model is making people up this far north a little nervous, as it shows the snow coming further north than other models.Nam Snow 21050122 hires_snow_ne_61

Nearly all models show Washington getting absolutely clobbered.

FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE

It was odd to watch the press conference down in Washington DC from their “Homeland Security” center, and see they were basically asking the public to go indoors and stay indoors for the next two days, so the roads would be clear for the various people allowed to be outside, (clearing the roads, or attempting to drive ambulances, fire trucks and utility crews to emergencies). It made me wonder a bit if people would obey. After all, it might be one of the biggest storms in a hundred years. Are you not allowed to go outside and experience it?

Up here in New Hampshire there are lots of people who like to go out for a drive during a bad storm. It used to drive me nuts, because I’d try to impress my teenagers with how bad a storm was, but they’d sneak out. I myself preferred walking in the roaring wind, and found it somewhat annoying to cross the road to be on the safe side, as cars came zooming by, lighting up the night with brilliant headlights. However I supposed it was warmer in a car, and modern types are not as tough as us old timers.

What was really annoying to me, in past storms,  was the people who would go too fast, trusting in their all-wheel or four-wheel drive, and then go plowing off the road, winding up out in a pasture. You’d see them there, engines still running, heaters still humming, headlights still brilliant and wipers still slapping, talking on their cell-phones, getting someone to come and rescue them. That’s not a real outdoors man, in my book. However I think New Hampshire people most would still laugh, if asked to stay home in a blizzard.

However perhaps it is different in cities, or perhaps Americans are becoming more like sheep. I thought it was amazing that the public so meekly complied, after the “Marathon Bombing”, when the government commanded that everyone stay in their homes. That wasn’t the rebllious spirit of New England I thought I knew.

In any case, radar shows the heavy stuff has started, down around Washington. 20160122C rad_ec_640x480Even though the storm hasn’t yet redeveloped on the coast. (Those of you used to European maps should note the “storm” currently has a minimum pressure of 1002 mb, which likely would be a sunny day in Norway.  That lack of deep low pressure is largely a matter of latitude. Pressures simply don’t get as low, so far south.)20160122C satsfcMeanwhile up here in New Hampshire we’ve only seen our blue skies gradually fade to gray, as the sun sunk down into a blear.Grtaying sky IMG_1644

SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE  –Our turn to be smug?–

It was a gray day up here in New Hampshire, without a single snowflake to be seen, sixty miles northwest of Boston, (though apparently Boston is now being dusted just a bit). The wind didn’t even pick up much, though one or two lone gusts came through, hinting at the hubbub to the south.

I myself steered clear of most of the news, avoiding the hubbub, and simply watched the weather maps show the progress of the storm, and the radar maps show the northern edge of the snow flirt with New Hampshire, and even snow aloft above me, but with the falling flakes sublimating to nothing as they fell, and never reaching the ground.

20160123 satsfc20160123C satsfc20160123D satsfc20160123 rad_ec_640x48020160123B rad_ec_640x48020160123C rad_ec_640x48020160123D rad_ec_640x480

I wondered at myself, and the way I was so disinterested in the hoop-la from further down south. My indifference didn’t seem very Christian or caring of me, and I wondered if maybe I wasn’t harboring some sort of residual resentment over the fact folk down south couldn’t see what all the fuss and bother was about up north, last year, when we got clobbered and they didn’t. In fact the the first big storm last winter was described as a “bust” even in New York City, as they had all the hubbub of blizzard warnings, and then barely an inch of snow. What they failed to recognize is that even thirty miles away, out on Long Island, people got buried.Last Year 20150125_20150128_2_62Where I live, in the above map, you’ll note there is a so-called “lollypop” of snow, indicating we got more than thirty inches of snow. In fact we got three feet, on the east-facing side of the hill where I live. But there were no breathless reporters producing live reports of how we fared. Could it be I was a bit hurt by the lack of attention? And now I’m thinking turn-about is fair play?

Forty years ago I had a wonderful and faithful dog I had to leave behind at my mother’s, without my personal attention, for two months, as I went on an adventure. When I returned I could see the dog from afar as I drove towards my mother’s house.  As I crested a distant rise the dog recognized (somehow) the sound of my little car, and I could see it jump up and turn on the lawn, and then start to wildly wave its tail. However when I got out of my car the dog suddenly remembered it was really, really pissed off at me, and abruptly stopped waving its tail, and began walking away with a grouchy expression, looking over its a shoulder in a way that said, beyond doubt, “Screw you.” (I ran across the lawn and begged forgiveness, and the cur did forgive me.)

It is funny how these two storms are nearly exactly a year apart, and the people who got the deep snow are so neatly divided. (The lone exception seems to be Long Island, which seemingly has the dubious privilege of getting clouted by both blizzards). It seems a sort of proof that Karma is equal, or at least it is proof that things average out, in the end.

I got to thinking, as I lived through the gray day, of how we should not let simple things like storms divide us.  If we allow snowflakes to divide us, how can we remain united when faced with more substantial things? We should be unswayed by trivial things like snowflakes. However, when I thought about it further, it seemed that was exactly what my fellow writers in the media are asked to do: To be trivial, to focus on short-term differences, in the name of sensationalism. Hmm. Could there be a sonnet in what I was glimpsing?

It was a dreary day under dreary skies,
And I stayed indoors and with bleary eyes
Watched some humdrum news where some dear-me guys
Tried to enthuse all, hiding weary eyes.

Somewhere far away snow is drifting deep.
Somewhere sons are late. Somewhere mothers weep.
Somewhere cars collide. Some are losing sleep
As the newsmen prance, promises to keep.

I thought I glimpsed, in their hyped-up eyes,
How darn tired they were of their tripe and lies
And the way they never get to write of skies
And instead must wear a King’s Fool’s disguise.

Well, that is what you get, when you’re not like me,
And put your paper’s paycheck before poetry.

In any case, I decided I should drop my silly grudge about how, last year, some folk down south said we folk up north were “fussing too much”. After all, if my dog could forgive me all those years ago, I could at least be a little interested in the doings of folk down south.

Almost immediately a picture was sent to my computer from the son of a friend of mine who has moved to Virginia. Because he was so far south the young father had neglected to buy, for his toddler son, a toy that is deemed essential in New England: A small sled. Yet now he was confronted with two feet of snow in Virginia. What could he do?

He got a large box that once had held a bulk-price amount of disposable diapers, did some swift cutting with a paring knife, punched two holes, inserted a rope, and created a sled to pull his little boy through the snow in. His wife took a picture, and I got to see how resourceful people are, when faced with the “storm of the century”…… (and also how they  do not fail to see such storms can be an excuse for joy, sheer joy.)

SUNDAY UPDATE  —All Over—

No snow at all is showing on radar this morning, as the gale slips out to sea. We didn’t even get a dusting here, as NYC got over two feet. There was sledding on Capital Hill. (some say it is the first time it has been allowed in 100 years.) (I notice the capital dome is being worked on. They need to work on the domes of the fellows inside, as well.) Baltimore also got over two feet.Sledding Capital 650x366_01232127_screen-shot-2016-01-23-at-4.26.32-pmI’m glad I’m not facing the clean-up they are facing in New Jersey.New Jersy Drifts 650x366_01240108_carssnowHere’s a final map, and then we can call this storm (and post) over. (However I should mention that the computer models did an amazing job of seeing the storm from five days away, and Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo did an even better job of seeing it from seven days away (and warning of such storms happening January (and February) back when computer models were saying we’d have a Mild El Nino January like 1998’s, back in December.)20160124 satsfc

 

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Dark and Dull– (With African Update) (And updates from other lands)

This tends to be the dullest time of year for watching sea-ice, as the noontime darkness creates a black hole in the satellite pictures, and the cameras down on the ice see nothing but darkness as well, when they bother to report. Also this year some unexplained reorganization at the Danish Meteorological Institute resulted in no graphs and maps for a long period as well. Worst of all, faithful Faboo (the North Pole Camera) was apparently caught up in all the grinding and crunching east of Greenland, and ceased reporting.

A major change occurred at the end of the old year, when a surge of Atlantic air rushed up to the Pole, creating a spike in the DMI temperature map which made the news. Because a new graph hasn’t been created for 2016 yet, we are left with this impressive spike as our last available guidance. The fact such surges have happened in the past, and are always followed by equally impressive down-spikes, isn’t yet apparent.DMI3 1231 meanT_2015

Faboo actually recorded this impressive surge, with temperatures of -21.0°C at 2100Z on December 27 soaring to +2.1°C at 0600Z in December 29. A second surge again lifted temperatures from -8.3°C on December 30 to +0.5°C six hours later….and then there was silence.

The silence was likely not due to all the ice melting in a flash, but rather because the huge mass of ice grinding south was brought to a halt and shoved north by these surges. Faboo reported its location as 75.369°N, 11.941°W at 1500Z on December 28 and then 75.618°N, 11.425°W at 0300Z on December 30, which represents an abrupt shift back to the north-northeast of 19.34 miles. Then, at the final report, Faboo was back down to 75.539°N, 11.741°W 15 hours later, which represents a shift 7.69 miles the exact opposite direction, south-southwest.

In other words, the silence likely wasn’t silent, but rather was likely accompanied by the creaking, cracking, squealing, moaning, groaning and crunching of tons upon tons of ice being tortured this way and that by winds up near gale force. Eventually such ice does unkind things to cameras placed on what was, last April, smoothe and untroubled ice, but now is becoming a tumbled heap of slabs.

I was bitterly disappointed, for I had hopes Faboo might survive long enough to reach daylight further south, and give us a final few decent pictures before its demise, but the last picture of blackness was transmitted New Years Eve, and then, like a fellow who partied too much, there was silence on New Years Day.

I did keep an eye open, because in the past the GPS involved in such an array has managed to survive the mangling, and came bobbing up and, despite an antenna that likely looked like it was having a bad-hair-day, started to transmit the location of the dented buoy, even down to where (two years ago) it grounded on the North Coast of Iceland.

Therefore I wasn’t completely surprised to see the Mass Balance Bouy co-located with Faboo (Buoy 2015B) start transmitting, 17 days later, 177 miles further south-southwest. I was surprised other sensors also survived, reporting an air temperature of -16.65°C, a high barometer of 1029.81 mb, and a snow-depth of over three feet (but no ice thickness).

However I was completely flabbergasted when I saw this:NP3 2 0116 2015cam2_1

This is a picture from not Faboo, but the co-located camera at the site, Fabootoo. True, it may be laying flat on its face, but the simple fact it has survived and is still transmitting at all is something of a miracle.

In any case, the ice that started up by the North Pole is now so far south it is basically off the map.2015D_track 20160116 (1)

One important thing to keep in mind is that this ice hasn’t melted, and is drifting along in water below the freezing point of fresh water and therefore, because ice over a year old has exuded most of its salt and is largely fresh-water-ice, this ice is unlikely to melt any time soon. Keep your fingers crossed. Though we are at the edge of a grinding mass of ice in a stormy sea, there is still the slightest chance we might get a springtime picture from Fabootoo, even if it is from closer to Denmark Strait than Fram Strait. (Click map below to enlarge, and click again for detail)Fram Ice 0115 general_20160115

It is also interesting to note that, despite the surges of mild air from the south, enough freezing has occurred to create much new ice off the east coast of Greenland, which is added to the ice that has been flushed south. In fact, though the ice further east in Barents Sea is much below normal (as is the ice south of Bering Strait) the ice off the east coast of Greenland (and west of Greenland in Baffin Bay down to Newfoundland), is near normal.

Ice extent 20160115 N_bm_extent_hires

The Danish Meteorological Institute has at long last started updating its extent graphs, which can return us to the fuss about the difference between its 15% graph and it’s older 30% graph, which create very different impressions about whether there is less ice than normal (the 15% graph, from January 16) or more ice than normal (the 30% graph, from January 8).DMI3 0116 icecover_current_new (1)DMI3 0108 icecover_current (1)

I like the 30% graph because it has a longer history, though it does not include coastal areas, however I’m not certain how well the upkeep of the graph is managed, as it is deemed an “old” graph. I tend to focus on the 15% graph, if only because it does not trouble me greatly that ice is “below normal”, because I no longer think extent is the sole criterion of the so-called “health” of the arctic ice. As the years have passed I have increasingly seen other factors are involved.

For one thing, in terms of any sort of “heat budget” open water represents a loss of heat, at this time of year. The question of “albedo” doesn’t even arise when the Pole is in total darkness, and albedo will not become a variable until the sun pokes above the horizon in March. Until then the open water in Barents Sea and south of Bering Strait is a case of the ocean losing heat it might otherwise retain, if it were sheltered by a lid of ice.

Furthermore the surges of warmth to the pole, when the flow is meridienal rather than zonal, loses a lot of heat to the dark night skies. The only way such a flow might warm the planet is because there is increased snowfall, which might shelter the water under the ice from the very cold air masses above the ice.  Watching the thermometers of buoys such as O-buoy 8b has seen the “mild” air masses seldom get above -10°C, and often dip down to -30°C.Obuoy 8b 0117 temperature-1month

There will be an increase in interest in February, as the sea-ice extent arrives at its high point of the year, but most of the ice that counts in that peak is thin and flimsy ice that doesn’t last long, and in many cases is outside the Arctic Ocean. What seems of most interest is the temperature of the sea in the two primary entrance regions, Barents Sea and south of Bering Strait. These will be interesting areas to watch over the next few months, to see if they are protected at all by a brief ice-cover. As it is, their waters are stirred deeply by winds, and cannot stratify in the way they can when sheltered. I have a hunch this may play a part in the undulations of the PDO and AMO from warm to cold phases, but that is merely a matter of my wild surmising, at this point.

Currently the cold continues to be shunted south of the Pole, and to build over the deep snowcover of Siberia and Central Canada, as milder air swirls up to be squandered at the Pole. If I find time, I’ll talk more about this with an update.DMI3 0117 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

SAHARA UPDATE

At least once a year I have to include the Sahara Desert in a Sea-Ice post, just to demonstrate how long the reach of the North gets in January. Even though the nights aren’t much longer than the days that close to the equator, in the dry desert air it can drop below freezing, even in the Sahara, as is shown in this Dr. Ryan Maue map of Africa during the wee hours of the morning, (Canadian JEM model) from the Weatherbell site. Below freezing is pink. It is especially cold in Iran and Afghanistan, to the upper right of the map.Africa cold Jan 17 cmc_t2m_afr_3Things really get interesting when some cold air sneaks south aloft, as occurred in Saudi Arabia last week, with the cold backing southeast through Iran from Siberia.  Then the blazing heat at the surface, once the sun arises, sends updrafts up into the cold, and even with the moisture limited in the desert environment they can get amazing hailstorms and flash floods, (just as they get in the American west).Saudi Snow 14012016h01 http://iceagenow.info/snow-on-the-road-to-mecca/

While I originally thought the white stuff was hail, in Saudi Arabia, further reports indicate genuine snow occurred, which appears in all sorts of Saudi social-media postings, as snow is described as rare. In one local it was described as an event that happens “once a generation”, while in an another local it was described as “the first snow in 85 years.” All I can say I would not like to walk in another mans sandals, in such a situation.

Saudi Snow 2 fotonoticia_20160116113053_1280

It might be interesting for some to compare the cold of this year with the cold of last year, which brought snow to Algeria, and which I described in a post nearly exactly a year ago:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/snow-in-algeria/

TUESDAY’S UPDATE  –Europe’s Turn, and then Washington DC’s?–

It looks like winds have swung around to the south in Saudi Arabia, part of a general flow ahead of low pressure north and east of the Caspian. West of that low pressure cold air is being drawn down over all of Europe, with only the far west, Ireland and Portugal, missing the cold.  If that low pressure draws enough moisture and warmth north to intensify itself and persist, there is always the danger it will tap into the intense cold over Siberia, farther to its east, and the east winds on the north side of that low pressure will pull the cold back towards Europe. In the map below (with temperatures in Fahrenheit) you can see that on eastern Siberia temperatures are down aound -60°F.Eurasia Jan 19 cmc_t2m_asia_2In order to view these temperatures in some sort of context it is helpful to see if these temperatures are above or below normal,  and Dr. Ryan Maue supplies such a map over at Weaherbell Site.  It shows the milder air to the east of Europe, fueling the low pressure, and that further east the ridiculous cold in Siberia is cold even by their frigid standards.Eurasia Jan 19 cmc_t2x_anom5_asia_1As an aside, one thing I’ve noticed is that any refugees heading north from Syria through Turkey into the Balkans have had very rough sledding for well over a month. It doesn’t seem to matter if storms go north or south, Turkey gets clipped by them. (As if there isn’t enough misery already.)

Check http://iceagenow.info for specific stories about Europe’s winter.

Also you should note that the very top of the above map shows temperatures “white hot”, they are so far above normal. As this post is suppose to be about sea-ice, I likely should mention that. However the “white hot” temperatures, 15 degrees above normal, are still well below the freezing point of salt water, except for Barents Sea north of Norway. In fact all along the Siberian coast they are below zero Fahrenheit, (-17°C).

What this map shows is that what a meridienal flow does is to perhaps make it “warmer” up at the Pole, but look out below!  Not only is the dislocated cold air poured down upon Europe, but a pretty cold shot is now pouring down into North America as well. Below zero Fahrenheit air (gray) is jabbing across the Canadian border west of Lake Superior, even in the daytime.North America Jan 19 cmc_t2m_noram_3One thing very neat thing shown by the above map is how the Great Lakes are warming the air, as the air roars across them, and areas east of the lakes are to some degree protected. However the lakes are starting to freeze, and enough cold is sneaking by to generate a clash between the icey arctic and that nice, orange, juicy, humid, air over the Gulf of Mexico. There is a chance a big storm could swirl up and clobber Washington DC. (The consensus outside the beltway seems to be that them being buried by snow could be a good thing.)

Unless and until this potential storm slips harmlessly out to sea, it may hold most of my attention, and updates on sea-ice may be few and far between.

Nipigon Bridge Failure —Social Vs Real Engineering—

“Murphy’s Law” kicked in up in Canada, as a brand new bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway buckled. Nipigon 1 1297792332567_ORIGINAL

This obviously is due to a mistake in the engineering of the bridge. There is discussion about whether the buckling was caused by a storm’s high winds, or very cold temperatures causing cables to contract more than expected, or both, but it really doesn’t matter. Problems such as these are suppose to be discussed and solved before construction even begins. It is a bit late to be heading back to the old drawing board.Peter Arno drawing board cartoon, New Yorker 1941-8x6

It is at this point that the wonders of tracing down the reasons for the SNAFU start to appear. This is also known as “The Blame Game,” and involves the absurdity of politicians, and a sort of engineering that has very little to do with real engineering: Social Engineering. Call it “spin” if you will, but it involves attempting to warp reality in such a manner as to benefit some, and to basically crucify others.  It departs from firm foundations and launches into a sort of false reality which often creates the very engineering mistakes it later is in such a hurry to cover-up, or excuse, or blame on others, or in some way, shape or form deny responsibility for.

Already I’ve seen the “Blame Game” regarding the Nipigon Bridge blame Spain. I didn’t bother to dig into the details, but I gathered some thought the mystery of Canadian politics had involved employing a Spanish construction company, which had less-than-usual experience with arctic cold and what such cold can do to construction materials, in the building of the Nipigon Bridge. Others blamed China, because some of the materials had been obtained more cheaply abroad. It all struck me as somehow splendid. One can only marvel at the ability of some people to blame disaster, occurring on their own doorstep, on nations and peoples thousands of miles away.

This is not to say politics isn’t to blame, for often it is. Rather than the best engineer, some brother-in-law of a person who donated to the party-in-power’s election gets the job, though he happens to be a complete doophus. The result is then a doophus’s debacle, such as the buckling of a brand new bridge.

The buckling of the Nipigon Bridge was due to real problems with real engineering, and created a whole new set of real problems for Canada, as Canada’s major cross-country highway was cut. On one hand real engineers set to work coming up with real answers, to open at least one lane of the bridge. Nipigon 2 nipigonbridge02jpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

However these real solutions to real problems swiftly began to overlap the world of unreality created by social engineering. For example, the real engineers stated the most heavy loads could not cross the bridge, and this includes the super-heavy engines for wind-turbines, (which happen to be an unreal solution to the unreal problem of Global Warming). Those in charge of the real problem of wind turbine logistics then began to seek alternate routes down through the United States, but this of course involved crossing a border, which is an imaginary line involving passports, paperwork, and all sorts of complications involving paying politicians what are basically bribes, but is excused by calling them “fees”, or perhaps “tariffs”, or some other fancy-pants word.

At some point we are forced to stop and scratch our heads, and wonder why on earth we put up with Social Engineering.  All Social Engineering seems to do is to get in the way of doing jobs correctly in the first place, and then gets in the way of fixing the mistakes that Murphy’s Law makes all too common, even when we strive to do things correctly in the first place. Why don’t we strive to stick to what is real? Real Engineering seems to trump Social Engineering every day in every way.

I have thought long and hard about this subject, likely because as a schoolboy I was guilty of being a bald-faced liar, when it came to telling the teachers the truth regarding the whereabouts of my homework. The reality was too stark for me, and I sought to avoid facing reality. Had I been a true engineer I would have faced the facts, and the facts were I hadn’t done my homework and must bear the punishment. However I didn’t like those facts. I wanted to change the facts. And therefore I made up some of the most amazing stories teachers have ever heard. So incredible were my tales that teachers gaped, their jaws hanging in total astonishment, and they were unable to act. I paralyzed them with my bull, and then the bell rang, and I made a beeline out the door thinking I had escaped punishment.

Of course I didn’t escape punishment. You can’t escape reality, as real engineers know. A day comes when the bridge you built simply falls down, like the gorgeous structure over Tacoma Narrows known as “Galloping Gertie”.

In my case the punishment wasn’t quite so dire. It was basically a test I sat down to take, and then flunked because I’d never done any homework. This led to further punishment, because if you get poor grades then doors that are open to others are closed to you. The only doors open to me were the doors that open if you call tell a tale so amazing it makes teachers gape.

Obviously I should have gone into politics. I was such an excellent liar I likely could have gone far. The problem was that the real reason my bull could be spell-binding, and enchant teachers to a point where they forgot to punish, was because, as strange as it sounds, my fabrications were founded on Truth.

The Truth was that I hadn’t done my homework because I’d found something better, and finer, and higher than homework. It is something most boys know about but many forget as they grow up, and it isn’t politics. It is something Mark Twain attempted to describe when he wrote “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”, and is every bit as much a Truth as the Truths incorporated by the best engineers. It is in some ways crucial to life, and is spiritual, and therefore is about as far from modern politics as one can get.

(I hope that explains why I was repelled from politics, despite apparently being an excellent liar. It is the best I can do.)

Now, when I start to speak of Higher Truths, I warn you I am starting to weave my enchantment, and you are in danger of becoming as spell-bound as my teachers once were. Keep in mind that Truth is Truth, and there is no way around it. Be firm, even grim. Remember that if a bridge isn’t built correctly it will buckle and sway, and that many more people than the stockholders in the shamed construction company will have to pay a price, to fix the mess made by incorrectness.

The point I wish to make is that there is a reason behind the bull of Social Engineering. Unfortunately it hidden from, and even called incorrect by, the politically-correct. The problem with political-correctness is that it seeks to profit from spirituality, which is basically ludicrous, and is in a sense like trying to make money off giving to the poor.

Suppose your brother-in-law is a complete doophus. The spiritual instinct is not to damn him, but rather to uplift him. The problem with the politically correct is that they assume uplifting the fellow means you should practice blatant nepotism, and give him the job of engineering a bridge that he will likely turn into a doophus’s debacle, meanwhile ignoring a far more qualified engineer who happens to be a total stranger, and unlikely to ever offer you any personal kick-back if you give him the job. And the problem with this political correctness is becoming increasing apparent, as brand new bridges fail, or major waterways silt up causing floods in England, or the US Navy’s latest high-speed troop transport is exposed as having a bow that crumples in gales.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-14/navy-s-fast-sealift-ships-can-t-stand-buffeting-from-high-seas

However we should not blame the instinct to upraise doophuses for these increasingly common examples of doophus’s debacles. Rather we should blame the selfishness attached to politically-correct nepotism and cronyism.

The distinction between the Social Engineering that seeks to uplift a doophus even at our own expense, and the Political Correctness that seeks to profit off a doophus, should be blatantly obvious, but tends to be hidden in a haze of economic uncertainty, wherein fewer and fewer are self-reliant farmers, and more and more are holders of government jobs or government pensions or government welfare, and are completely reliant on so-called benefactors who are in fact beneficiaries of reliance. In this haze it is only when a bridge buckles that we are abruptly faced with the facts.

Because it is important to highlight the distinction between uplift and personal profit, I searched about through the history of mankind for examples I could use, and quite by accident chanced upon an example involving the Father of my Country, George Washington. Of course, as soon as his name is evoked one is looked upon as being a bit maudlin, but this example was too perfect to ignore.

The year 1776 had pretty much seen Washington fall from the heights of popularity to the pits of what was close to ignominy. He’d moved from driving the British from an untenable position in Boston to attempting to defend an untenable position in New York, being driven from New York, and being driven in retreat across New Jersey. What was left of his army was half starved and in rags. 2000 troops had walked away simply because their enlistment was up. He was very nearly completely defeated. It was the black night that Tomas Paine described by stating, “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman“.

It is all well and good to talk in that grand manner, but without any evidence besides retreats and defeats, the politically-correct “sunshine patriot” tends to shun the loser, even if he once was a winner. Even one of Washington’s most steadfast and loyal friends, Joseph Reed, was starting to feel Washington might be too “indecisive”.  Washington relied so heavily on Reed that he once pleaded for Reed to return to service because Washington needed someone who could do more than follow him; Washington needed someone could think for him, but now Reed apparently didn’t think much of him,  and said as much in a letter to Washington’s second in command, Charles Lee.General_Charles_Lee

Meanwhile Charles Lee, despite Washington’s clear requests for reinforcements, was very slow leading his forces south, as he apparently thought joining Washington was likely a lose-lose proposition, and also apparently felt he should replace rather than assist Washington. He sent a letter back to Reed, who Washington had sent south to enlist reinforcements, but this letter happened to pass through Washington’s camp. Washington, desperate to learn how close Lee’s reinforcements were, opened the letter, and the opinions of the two men became glaringly obvious.

One can only imagine how Washington must have felt. Rather than reinforcements and rescue coming from north and from south there was basically conspiracy and collusion. It was a position where other desperadoes in other lands, and where other dictators in other times, would have have lopped off the heads of their opposition, calling them traitors. What Washington did was somewhat amazing. He resealed the letter and sent its on its way, including an apology to Joseph Reed for having opened another man’s mail.

That’s the end of the story, because right there you have an example of a man living on a different and higher level than your ordinary dictator or desperado. Despite Lee behaving like a doophus, and Reed behaving like a doophus, Washington uplifted, apparently gaining nothing but self-respect.

Of course, you likely want the story to go on, so I will mention that Lee, leading an army of over 2000, managed to get captured in his nightgown by 25 English soldiers on horses, because he was lollygagging three miles behind his troops, writing letters in a tavern. His second-in-command promptly led his troops south more than three times faster than Lee had planned. They were as haggard as Washington’s troops, and many lacked boots and, with their feet wrapped in rags, left the famous bloody footprints in the snow. Meanwhile Joseph Reed was writing Washington that he should consider a counterattack, which Washington was already in the final stages of undertaking, and which is remembered as the “Crossing of the Delaware” which resulted in the victory at Trenton on Christmas morning 1776. That victory was like a bolt from the blue to many who deemed Washington already defeated, and was such a huge boost to the moral of the Revolution that it is seen as the point when a pendulum swinging one way started to swing the other way.

I, however, see the swing as occurring when Washington opened the letter he was never intended to see. Why? Because if you want proof your fellow man sucks and isn’t worth the time of day, that letter supplied proof. However Washington apparently didn’t need proof. He already knew his fellow man sucked and wasn’t worth the time of day, but he didn’t use that as an excuse to behave like low-life himself.

This is something worth musing upon, as we have to deal with buckling bridges, and likely other signs of bad engineering. There is bad engineering of many sorts, and that includes bad “Social Engineering”. Even as we strive to be clear about the distinction between Real Engineering, (which deals with that which is), and Social Engineering, (which deals with how that is viewed), we should also strive to see the distinction between Social Engineering that is spiritual and uplifts, and Social Engineering that is basically selfish, politically-correct greed.

PS  —GREEK ENGINEERS ALSO NEED TO BRUSH UP THEIR BRIDGE WORK–Greek Bridge downloadThis is after a nasty winter storm this week.

“Winter shows teeth” in Greece – Video

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL VIEW —To Heal Or To Hell—

Snowy Road IMG_1614

This is the view I saw as I stepped out Saturday. Lovely, and annoying as hell. See that woodpile to the right of the road? I’m not allowed to touch it, though it is crying out like a wanton woman to be touched. Call it the wanton woodpile, if you will. It likely weighs wanton, if not two tons, and I’m not allowed to lift over five pounds. In revenge I’ll make five puns, and more, a wantan soup of puns, because my brains are in a crazed state, trying to make light of weighty subjects, light of darkness, poetry of pain.

I headed off to to the farm, and right away was confronted by another woodpile.Snowy Woodpile IMG_1622It is surprising how, once you are under doctor’s orders to shuffle about but not lift anything, you want to handle stuff. Look at the steps in the picture. I have a hungry hankering to sweep the snow off, but no, no, no. Not allowed. Once you are not allowed to touch, you want to touch. It awakens the criminal side of human nature, like putting a “wet paint” sign on a fence that isn’t wet, just to see how many passing people look left and right,  and then touch the paint.

Only six days ago I was in a hurry to get as much done as I could before my operation. Then, when I didn’t have to shuffle, I tended to, (if not shuffle), to spend a lot of time using my ax or maul or shovel or broom as a sort of prop, that held me up as I examined the clouds and contemplated uplifting, poetic stuff. Now, because uplifting is banned, little seems as uplifting as handling a piece of firewood, feeling the grit on palms, the visceral stickiness of sap, the ache in shoulders from swinging a maul.

You might think that this would be a perfect time to write poetry. Many have told me that I sure have griped enough, over the years, about never having time to write, and now I have  no excuse to gripe, as I now have time. And there was freshly fallen snow, which surely ought to have gotten some haiku bubbling in my brain. Instead I just felt crabby. It was too easy, perhaps. Perhaps it is cheating to write poetry without being scolded for doing so. You need the resistance. Otherwise it is like trying to shoot an arrow without a bow.

I did have half a sonnet that I started in the hospital. That seemed a challenge: To prove poetry can be found in any situation, no matter how dire or dark. However it was but an unfinished fragment:

I will be stern and sing a sonnet
Here in a hospital and in a pain,
A hole where my kidney was, and on it
Explosions of needles dragging the drain
Of all stamina towards a dull end.
Pain is like fireworks without light.
There’s no reward…

But it was hard to write, especially as I shared a room with an old wizard I called Oz because he was always behind a curtain, and he happened to have the most annoying family on earth. He would explain to them over the phone that he was in pain and exhausted and didn’t want company, and they especially shouldn’t come in if they were so sick with the ‘flu and strep throat and three colds, because he might catch their diseases, and five minutes later they’d all come bustling in and stay four hours haranguing the poor fellow with problems and details a person aged five should have been able to figure out on their own, but that these middle-aged-brats felt compelled to burden a fellow over seventy with. Oz was amazingly patient, but I think it was because he’d figured out how to stay very heavily medicated.

I wasn’t so swift. When a nurse appeared through the blur and asked me to rate my pain I’d say “4” and get a lousy little Tylenol, but Oz would always say “6” and get Oxycodone-Acetaminophen, or “8” and get good old Morphine. Also he would politely ask for other additional stuff I haven’t a clue about,  murmuring “and could I have a Phamphlox and Dweebinal with that,” or some such thing, the result being he was a very patient patient and I was not. As his family fretted endlessly about whether or not to serve fudge or cookies at intermission at the 4th grade school play he would dreamily murmur “I’m sure you will chose wisely and your efforts will be appreciated”, as I was on the verge of ripping aside the curtain and yelling at the family to give the guy some peace and to get the eff out and just what did they think they were doing belaboring a guy fresh from major surgery with hours of stupid, banal, pathetic and utterly useless drivel. I’m not sure a guy has ever been kicked out of a recovery room before, for bad behavior, but I felt I might very well soon be the first. In any case, that was one reason it was hard to finish my sonnet. Also something about my expression may have cued the nurses into the fact my level of psychological pain was around an “11” on a scale of ten, and they increased my “drip” of something or another, and things got warm and fuzzy, and who cares a flying flip about sonnets after that?

The nurses did a fairly good job of waking me up for my sleeping pill and getting me to eat nothing when I wasn’t hungry, and doing this thing called “checking your vitals”,  which I think means “seeing if you are still alive”. They didn’t need to push me to exercise because I wanted to escape Oz’s family, and also my surgeon did a pretty good job of impressing upon me that the faster I got moving the faster my body would get moving. When they put you under for surgery it pretty much shuts down your entire body except for (hopefully) your heart, and if you totter about afterwards pushing a rolling thing holding the tubes going in and the tubes going out, it stirs your blood and your guts start to gurgle again, and they can feed you a little jello and start removing various tubes. (Until then half the nurse’s job is to keep you untangled). In any case, I was a very good patient, when it came to tottering about pushing the rolling thing holding all the tubes and bags.

Tottering about did give me a chance to spy on the crowds of nurses, and see what in the world they did with themselves when they weren’t “checking vitals”. What they seem to do is paperwork. At any one time there were around 8 nurses working full-out at computers at the nursing station. Perhaps someone somewhere thinks that if you document everything there is less chance for malpractice, but I’m inclined to believe that the more you document the more they can find to sue you for. But perhaps that was just the drugs talking.

Of course they are not all nurses. Some are technicians, and administrators, and aids, and technical administrative aides, and administrative technicians, and certified nurse’s assistant’s ITs, all clickity-clicking away on their keyboards like blue blazes, as I went doddering by in a nightgown drafty to the rear, pushing a contraption with squeaky wheels, pausing to comment on paintings by Monet on the walls, but largely ignored. You’d think I’d get more attention. What if I was escaping? To me it seemed paperwork had more priority than patients,  and it would do them good if I taught them all a lesson by bolting for the parking lot, but the elevator was so far away, and all uphill, and my bed was nearby and cooing my name. So my escape was not completed, just like my sonnet.

The worst thing was that I got a case of the hiccups, which is not good if you have a hole for a kidney, because each hic is followed by an explosion of pain measuring several megatons. (Likely they are called hick-ouches by true doctors). Fortunately an administrative-technical-assistant’s-IT’s-technical-aide happened to be in my room just then. Also known as “the cleaning lady”, this gruff, good-hearted, old crone, smelling ever-so-slightly of forbidden cigarettes, told me to quit the machismo bullshit and push the stupid call-button by my bed, and tell the nurse I was a “9”,  because “your butt sure is a “9”, heh, heh, heh.” And as the crude,rude, lewd lady departed I thought to myself that her mop-and-brush-holding contraption also had squeaky wheels, like mine did, and that strangely she was more like a nurse than the nurses,  on some down-to-earth level science can’t measure with gauges and tubes.

Then I hit the “call” button, and when a nurse wandered in I said I was quite OK but each hiccup was a “9”, and I must admit a crease of care and concern did appear on her brow, and she injected something into my IV, and nearly instantly I was feeling no pain, and drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately I then discovered I apparently had used up my allotment for deep sleep during my operation, and couldn’t sleep longer than ten minutes. Not that I could fully wake up. But I could note the hands of the clock had moved ten minutes. It was a long night, full of time standing still in ten-minute-increments, and lacking any sort of lines that I could use to complete my sonnet.

It did occur to me that spiritually I was a complete failure, because it hadn’t even occurred to me to hit the call-button to God when the hiccups started exploding needles in my gut. Instead I was like your typical American addict, and I immediately turned to drugs. Far have we fallen from the fortitude of our forefathers, who were given bullets to bite for their pain.

Towards what I supposed was dawn, (though Oz got the window, and the light never changed much on my side of the room),  I started to think of how typical it is of puny mortals to reach for the wrong things. A drowning man does not grasp for God; he grasps for straws.

Hmm. Now that seemed a thought more sonnet-like. And into my head came a perfect couplet, just superb for ending a sonnet with. Of course, like the case of Coleridge and “Kubla Khan,” as soon as I sat up I forgot the darn couplet. That seems to be a problem with anything resembling opium. You may think you’re a genius, but you can’t persuade anyone because you forget where you put the evidence.

It just made me want to get out of the darn hospital, and I did a lot of huffing and puffing around the nurse’s station pushing my squeaky-wheeled thing, trying to get my blood flowing and my guts properly gurgling, as that seems to be what they cared most about. They didn’t seem to care much about whether I’d turned to narcotics rather than God, but were very pleased by how much urine my remaining kidney was producing. I supposed piss was the measure of a man, in their eyes, but I took the haughty view man is made for higher things, and was a bit offended when they kept asking me if I’d passed gas or not. The indignity of it all! I did relent a bit, however, when I discovered that when I passed gas I’d get some jello. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, they say, and jello provided me with the sublime motivation needed to heal myself, and by evening they were starting to remove all the tubes. But now I figured I was spiritually in deeper trouble, because rather than God I’d turned to jello.

Things were not going so well for Oz behind the curtain, as rather than having tubes removed he was having them reinserted, and his family was taking it hard, by scolding him as a sort of back-slider and hinting he was causing them a lot of inconvenience. The fellow was a complete saint, assuring them it would not trouble him if they went out to dinner without him, and so forth. I found it helpful to be in close proximity to a person who put me to shame with his tolerance and patience. Also I had been given a good book about the Galveston Hurricane (“Isaac’s Storm”) which reminded me what morons we humans can be, in the face of impending disaster and death.

I was starting to get some better ideas about how to finish my sonnet, building upon the idea that we might reach out for straws rather than God when drowning, but sometimes even though we are grasping for straws we feel the grip of a warm hand.  Sometimes, even though we attempt to drown the lifeguard coming out to save us, they clout us on the chin and drag us unconscious to shore. However having my guts come back to life and eating so much jello was causing all sorts of cramps, as was the fact that surgery involved my belly being inflated like a balloon, and deflation left some bubbles lodged between my abdomen and rib-cage, and when I called these various needles of jabbing pain an “8” I was given two Percocet, and all of a sudden sonnets became meaningless. I slept in installments of two hours the second night, inter-spaced with periods of time standing still within a bleak dullness devoid of poetry.

The next day my entire aim was to get the heck out of there, and I succeeded, limping bravely out in the evening and heading home with my wife. I was told I was allowed to eat all the solid food I wanted, and given a bottle of Percocet to use if I wanted to dull the pain, (but I can’t say I trust the stuff much, having known people I loved who became addicts to it.) And that brings me back to Saturday morning, and stepping out gingerly to look at my home frosted with new fallen snow.

Snowy home IMG_1616

The dusting of snow did seem a nice touch, even though it made me crabby because I couldn’t remove any of it. It awoke the boy in me me, who always liked snow (partly because I didn’t have to remove it at home, and I got paid jingling quarters for removing it from the neighbor’s). It even seemed remotely like a good omen, like reaching out for a straw and feeling a warm hand, and an old hymn came into my my mind, and I decided to go indoors and research it.

The hymn was, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, and I figured I’d find out there was some good story behind the inspiration of the hymn, because there often are good stories behind good hymns. However in this case the fellow just happened to get sick a lot, and spent a lot of time bedridden. He only lasted a year as a preacher, because he got sick then as well, and wound up bedridden. I wasn’t sure this fellow’s story was one I wanted to hear. His name was Thomas Obadiah Chisholm, born in 1866.Chisholm 1_TO

In any case, being in bed so much meant he had plenty of time to write poems, 1200 in all, many which were published in small Christian magazines but none of which made much money. He had a wife and two daughters to support and had to crawl out of bed when he could and scraped by selling insurance, yet somehow just enough money always appeared to get him by, and he was grateful to God for that, and at age 56 wrote one particular poem thanking God for just enough money, (which is actually all any man needs). That poem was in a collection he sent to a friend, who liked the poem so much he wrote a tune for it, and the hymn became popular in one lonely town out west. Somehow, years later, the song was noticed by the singers that accompanied Billy Graham during a tour of England, and the hymn became popular across the Atlantic, just after World War Two,  when he was over seventy and still working selling insurance. In fact he was still working after age eighty, when I was born, and kept right on working until he retired at age 87.  To be honest, the fellow sounds like a bit of a hypochondriac, considering he was bedridden so much yet out-lived just about all his peers, dying at age 94 in 1960, writing poems right to the end. chisholm 2 _thomasI wasn’t sure this was exactly the example of healing I needed just now, because I’m not in the mood to still be selling insurance when I’m eighty-seven.

It also brought me back to the fact I hadn’t finished my sonnet, but I was too crabby to deal with that right away. First I had to deal with the fact that I was not allowed to do any work, not even stick a log into the fire, and didn’t like the sensation of being useless. However then I remembered paperwork, which is something my family seems to loathe completely, from great-grandparents down to first-graders. Unlike bureaucrats, we are sensible people who know paperwork has nothing to do with planting, weeding, hilling, growing, harvesting, cooking and mashing potatoes.  However, just as nurses have to do heaps of paperwork in hospitals though paperwork has nothing to do with healing, our Farm-childcare has to do heaps of paperwork. So there was a job I could do that didn’t involve lifting. I could even feel a bit noble about doing it. However that doesn’t make it even a little bit less detestable.

And perhaps it was the detestable nature of the paperwork that supplied the bow that shoots the arrow. After only an hour of dealing with receipts I was so sick of it I felt the old urge to goof-off stir in me, and from such is poetry born. Even though it is sort of cheating to complete the hospital sonnet when I wasn’t in the hospital any more, I figured I’d give it a try.

I will be stern and sing a sonnet
Here in a hospital and in a pain,
A hole where my kidney was, and on it
Explosions of needles dragging the drain
Of all stamina towards a dull end.
Pain is like fireworks without light.
There’s no reward, no way for brains to fend
Off futility with promised delight.
Faith is a shambles, writhing in its rout.
Shame turns from God and cries, “Give me meds!”
A knife silhouetted snuffs the wick out
And black descends strangely tinted with reds
For Drownder’s fingers know straw-grasping’s neurotic
And the Real Lifeguard is no hell’s narcotic.

However that sonnet seems mostly about what healing isn’t. I am more interested in what healing is. After all, because I am now a so-called “cancer survivor”, healing is now a matter of life or death.

This subject is something I intend to delve deeply upon in future posts, but at this point I can only say, likely appearing horribly ungrateful to the surgeon and nurses who saved my life (at least temporarily), that we should be honest and confess we haven’t a clue what healing involves. We are fools to measure urine and passing gas and call that healing. Somehow that belittles the very majesty of life.

The alternative, of course, is to visualize the Christ, healing with a touch of the hand or even a glance, but that just seems too darned unscientific for some.

However allow me to digress just a little back to when my father was a young surgeon and my mother was a young nurse, and antibiotics were just first being mentioned in medical journals. They had been taught and trained in a world where there was no real cure for staph infections, and TB was a death sentence much like cancer in some ways now is. There were all sorts of ways to slow the progress of TB, and even to cause it to go into a sort of remission, but to many it was a slow, prolonged and particularly horrible death, as were other bacterial infections, including sexually transmitted ones such as syphilis and gonorrhea. Their training included treating many who faced a future that was very bleak, and involved dying by slow stages and degrees.

My father told me one way to prolong the life of a man dying of TB was to remove the lung that was infected worse, as that would allow the healthier lung to no longer have to deal with a sort of spillover of germs from the basically dead lung. He said the operation was particularly bloody and resembled, as he put it, “a cannibal’s barbecue”, and that afterwards the person would be hunched over to one side, but often able to recover to a surprising degree. I can recall one such hunched-over fellow who worked at our local hardware store.

Then, like a miracle, penicillin entered the picture, and rather than that barbaric operation you only needed take a pill, and every TB bacteria in your body dropped dead, just like that.

My mother and father experienced a time when it was like Jesus walked through the hospitals and all sorts of doomed and dying people were healed. Not just people dying the slow strangulation of TB, but people facing the rotting brains of syphilis, were amazingly and abruptly germ-free, cleansed, and faced a future full of unexpected hope. It was a heady time, and absolutely no one thought of suing doctors for their work, because most were filled with joy and gratitude. A healing none had expected had appeared out of the blue.

What a gift was given, and what a joy it was to work at hospitals at that time! But what was the marvelous healing? Just some mold you can find growing blue on an orange. Just a little pill. At the time it was a wonder, but people slowly came to take healing for granted, and the wonder has faded away, until now we are brought back to the original question: What is healing? And we are brought to the original answer: We really don’t know.

What we know is the joy we feel when it occurs, and the misery we suffer when it doesn’t.

Medicine struggles to grope through the darkness of ignorance, striving to bring us joy, even as malpractice lawyers hinder them more than they help, but the true essence of joy seems a subject as much in the realm of art as it is of science. Many who suffer do not go to a doctor, but rather go to a Beethoven symphony, and are healed by what a deaf man heard.

So perhaps sonnets do have a part to play in hospitals, after all. Some pseudoscience and psychology just barely seems to suggest as much, but unfortunately they are big on drugs, and most couldn’t write a sonnet if their life depended on it. As far as I’m concerned, sonnets hold the part of healing we are completely missing, and drugs don’t.

We tend to have too much wax in our ears, which is why it took a deaf guy like Beethoven to teach us so much about joy in music. I feel we are equally deaf about what brings the joy of healing, and I want to study it more.

I confess my ignorance, but will say this much: Part of healing involves care, and family can be full of that. Though I’m allowed to eat any food I want, my guts are taking their sweet time to get over the insult they have been subjected to, and one of my daughters is concerned and making sure I get enough roughage in my diet, and therefore I am touched when I come cramping down the stairs in the dim light before dawn and see this still-life on the kitchen counter. Snowy still-life IMG_1632

Where some might see clutter, I smell a stew and sense caring, and hear a sonnet of healing. In like manner, I have a little granddaughter, who wonders why she can’t leap onto my lap:Snowy Jace IMG_1625

And this reminds me an important part of healing is that you must want to get better.

And for the time being, I figure I’ve said enough on this subject.